Pastor Pat Bailey in front his church


Editor’s note: Rev. Pat Bailey, pastor of Telluride’s Christ Presbyterian Church, takes a developmental and evolutionary view of faith, spirituality, and religious community. Join him for his weekly blog as he explores the ever-changing landscapes of perspectives and consciousness and discusses both the challenges and promise of trying to make meaning in our evolving social context.

Pastor Pat Bailey in front his church

Pastor Pat Bailey

I recently attended a program at our wonderful Wilkinson Library featuring Barbara Marx Hubbard’s presentation of the evolution of consciousness in her DVD “Humanity Ascending”. It was a great program followed by a great discussion. Hubbard’s reputation as a futurist is based on a visionary experience she had as a young woman which convinced her human consciousness is evolving. Many others have come to that same perspective from a wide variety of experiences and disciplines, including science, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and yes, religion.

From a biological theory just 150 years ago, evolution has come to describe pretty much everything in our experience within time. We now can imagine too the evolution of thought, culture, religion, and consciousness. Evolutionary perspective can help us better understand our past and better anticipate potential futures. It can also help us wade through the differing worldviews that tend to polarize us in our present context.

Evolutionary perspective owes much of its expanding significance to postmodern worldviews. Postmodernism is a complex phenomenon representing diverse meanings in different disciplines and contexts. One of the more basic ideas of postmodernism, though, is that all of our perspectives or worldviews are intersubjectively constructed in relation to language and culture. This in itself implies that human perspectives are always changing. Givens such as the sun orbiting the earth and the divine right of kings are now artifacts of our evolutionary journey.

An evolutionary view of history also denies our assumed dissociation from the rest of Nature. In the environmental classic “The Immense Journey,” Loren Eiseley describes this deeply ingrained assumption very well:

“We see ourselves as the culmination and the end, and if we do indeed consider our passing, we think that sunlight will go with us and the earth be dark. We are the end. For us continents rose and fell, for us the waters and the air were mastered, for us the great living web has pulsated and grown more intricate” (p.57).

Evolutionary perspective not only makes us more humble about our presence within Nature, it also offers us a more expansive view of our future by placing it and us within the larger context of evolving life, evolving consciousness, evolving universe.

All that may all sound strange coming from someone who still values a particular religious tradition and who still serves a particular religious community. If, however, our religious worldviews are also evolving, then it might be possible for the deeper meanings of those worldviews to continue to translate into new consciousness. At Christ Church I often comment that you need not accept a 1st century cosmology in order to be a 21st century Christian. That also means that you need not read the tradition literally in order to experience divine mystery and to be in community with fellow spiritual seekers.

Please join me in the weeks ahead as we consider together what it means to be on an evolutionary journey through the changing landscapes of consciousness, perspective, and faith.

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