Christophany, Creativity, Church of the Planet Course DescriptionsAn Introductory Level Course from the Center for Christogenesis
Meeting 1: 11/29
Christogenesis and Christophany
Theologian and mystic Raimon Panikkar lamented that Christology lost its ability to answer the existential questions that challenge the growth of humanity, resonate with our lived experiences, and meet the spiritual needs of each new time, place, and circumstance. He identified an alarming chasm among faith in Christ, the cries of the poor, and the abuse of the earth. Frequently absorbed in their own tribalistic tendencies and insular attitudes, he thought that Christians had become far too blind to the realities of the world in which they lived. To disentangle them from their own self-imposed constraints, Panikkar brilliantly reoriented Christian thinking to the wisdom of the Patristics, namely, that the Incarnation was not simply a historical event frozen in time, but a throbbing, living cultural event in which the material and spiritual are indivisibly one. In every age, in every person, there is the opportunity—a deep inner capacity—to encounter and manifest Christ anew. This process of divine-human self-realization is called “Christophany.”
Christophany is an invitation for every person to evolve into God, to live from a new center of love, and to be drawn toward the fullness of life. Relying on Teilhard de Chardin as our primary lynchpin, this class will explore the unfolding and complexifying patten of evolution as the process of Christogenesis and the slow realization of Christophany—that each person is a “unique manifestation of the christic adventure of the whole of the reality on its way to the infinite mystery.” As we synthesize these thoughts, we will similarly offer some ways in which the notion of Christophany can radically transform spirituality.
Meeting 2: 12/6
The Dynamism of Personhood
The interwoven, relational character of our world and of our lives seems abundantly apparent to many. Globalization is a commonly used term to indicate that our world economy is so interrelated that jobs can move anywhere in the world and thus creates a new process of restructuring within the entire global economy. Human activities themselves are altering the world climate, creating global warming, causing massive extinction of species, among other devastating phenomena. Indeed, there is an urgency in coming to see the world more explicitly as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all our choices and actions have desirable consequences for the world and its inhabitants.
In this class, we will explore the need to understand the human person “as the spearhead of evolution,” an integral part of the world and its ongoing maturation, not an exception to it. This standpoint, as we will see, requires us to challenge and ultimately reject the prevailing philosophies and theologies that give primacy to Being over Becoming, to independence over relatedness, to things over processes, and to the notion that the human spirit is somehow an essentiality unique and isolated entity divorced from the cosmological and social web in which all things—including the life of the divine—live and move and have their becoming. To orient discussion, we will consider two principal questions: How might this matrix of complexified consciousness renew our human personhood and identity? How might a religious dimension of evolution offer direction to what the God-world relationship will become?
Meeting 3: 12/13
Putting on the Mind of Christ: A Consciousness of the Whole
In their most basic sense, the classic “Christian” sacraments—baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist—seek to make us whole. At their best, they form the church into greater expressions of community, deepen our relatedness, and reveal the ultimate horizon toward which the God-world relationship is advancing. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Saint Paul beautifully expresses that the Eucharist is the future glory of the entire universe: The whole universe is destined to be transformed into the presence of Christ, the full, powerful presence of entangled divine-human life. How might an expanded concept of Eucharist enrich and spur on the life of the Whole?
In this class, we will take a renewed look at Eucharist through the mind of the Risen Christ. Specifically, we will read Colossians 1:15-20 and 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 through the lens of Teilhard’s concept of “Cosmic Personalization.” Regardless of religion, we are a people who give thanks because we are constantly the recipients of gifts—richer life, richer consciousness, richer expressions of the Whole. That is the essence of Eucharist, the reason for our hope, and the promise of a sustainable community of creation. We have only to recognize these nascent capacities and actualize them.”
Meeting 4: 12/20
The Church of the Planet, Entanglement, and Creative Wholeness
The basis for church is the desire to belong, to recognize that we are all called to ministry, and to give of our talents to benefit the whole. Ilia Delio writes: “We have to reorient our priorities. What do we really want, and do we want it together? This is the question of being Church in the world. The idea of a single individual is an illusion and to live an illusory life is to bear the consequences of separation and isolation. Rather, we are to ‘live with a single passion, the desire to help forward the synthesis of Christ and the universe.’ We must have hope in the Church of tomorrow and desire to be part of its future.’”
Indeed, Delio’s observations call for a necessary reimagining of church in the twenty-first century. Following the themes of previous classes, this session will culminate in a discussion on future directions of church, especially in light of technological innovations. We will hopefully make it clear that the Teilhardian “Way” forward is to create and sustain a “Church of the Planet.”