Human Potential in an Age of Anxiety

Early Christian writers such as Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd c. AD and Gregory of Nyssa (4th c. AD) were cosmic, creative and bold in their thinking. The incarnation of God for them was not narrowly conceived as a remedy for sin but a much more exciting venture of growth, development and new life. Because the physical world reveals a divine capacity, they wrote, materiality is oriented toward perfectability. We can become something more, something better and whole precisely because God is at the heart of the material world. They called this movement toward more divine-human life, divinization. As Irenaeus wrote, salvation is not a path to God but a process by which humans become God. The human person is on a path of transformation from an incomplete form to a unified, glorious, eternal and transcendent form, a new divinized nature.  Gregory too thought that human nature is open, developmental and capable of becoming something more in God.   To be a person is not to be a separate or independent being, he said, but to stand out as a relationship within a shared being [our common humanity], as an individuated or distinctive self. This is true of God who is Trinity and of humans.  For Gregory, we human persons each distinctively express the one human being that is named in Scripture as “Adam” [Adamah]; that is, to be image of God is not to possess an individual existence; rather, it is to become human persons together, truly one. We human persons each distinctively express the one human being [Adamah]. Only collectively are we “image of God.”

Our systems have created structures of dependency that have virtually depleted the divine power within us. We have become a frightened, fragile people. The institutional Church continues to hold God ransom in structures of patriarchy and fear of violating a thousand laws, essentially thwarting the words of Jesus:  “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). The ecclesiastical control of God has created secular systems bereft of God.  Scholars have noted how technology and consumerism have replaced religion in the 21st century, building on human powers to invent, create and transcend ourselves.

Technology, in particular, is radically changing human personhood.  Through technology and the science of information we are beginning to realize that all matter is plastic, variable, changeable, hybrid-able; the human person is no longer a given but a person-in-transition.  It is time for us to acknowledge our growing powers and begin to take responsibility for them.  Drawing from the message of Jesus, we are to die and be transformed into something more wonderful, whole, good, compassionate, life-giving and glorious.  Such death is not after earthly life; it is earthly life.  Life seeks more life precisely because God is life, and the life of God is the heart of every aspect of earthly life.  This is the meaning of incarnation.  The person of Jesus reveals what it means to be human: trust, pray, hope, act by daring to cross thresholds.  God is doing new things, not for us but in us and through us.  We are Christ in evolution.

On November 20th I will be giving a webinar on “Human Potential in an Age of Anxiety,” showing why we need to trust the chaos of our lives, where God is flowing in the power of unconditional love.  I will elaborate some of the ideas of early Christian writers and discuss how these ideas have been hijacked by transhumanists, who seek perfectability and human enhancement through artificial intelligence.  I will also talk about the philosophy of the new materialisms, which are abounding today among continental thinkers but, without religion, cannot empower us to attain the wholeness of life we seek.

Teilhard de Chardin saw something precious and beautiful in Christianity and I must admit, I do as well.  It has nothing to do with triumphalism or the “true religion” idea, which actually depletes the Christian message.  Rather, it has to do with the core, fundamental belief in the incarnation.  Matter is filled with God, and God is in love with matter, and this mattering of God renders this whole physical universe an evolution in love.  It is a wonderful and exciting relationship that can animate every aspect of planetary life today.

I want to note as well that the Center for Christogenesis will hold a December conference on “The Infinite Within:  Who we are and what we are called to be.”   We have a fantastic lineup of speakers, and a number of workshops, which will help draw out the mystery of infinite love that lies deep within everything that exists.  This hidden infinite love, within and ahead of us, is the power of our future.

We have just elected a new president for a new era.  Life is never a closed system; it is constantly open to the future.  This is our cue.  We can contribute to the making of a new world order, new systems of planetary life, new ways of living with a vital, religious spirituality of wholeness by trusting the power of love at the heart of our lives.   This is the essential message of the Gospel and it is the heart of our Center for Christogenesis.

Each one of us is a vital center where Christ is being born where the dynamic energy of the Spirit continues to draw us together into a God-woven-theandric life. Because each of us plays a vital role in what this world becomes, I see a new world ahead; a new people, where the poor, the marginalized, the imprisoned and all those left outside the circles of comfort and security, will no more be alone or abandoned.  It is a vision of the future, a new religion of the earth, which unfolds in the present, in this moment.  We can and we must trust the divine power within us, lean on this power, drink from its fountain fullness, return love for love. We are co-creators with God in the working out of our future.  Our lives make a difference to God.  As Irenaeus wrote, the glory of the human person is God fully alive.

 

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New Creation is the Center for Christogenesis online magazine dedicated to deepening our awareness of God, Cosmos, and Humanity in a scientific age.

Ω Vision and Ω Spirit cover questions of the theology and spirituality of the Center for Christogenesis worldview. Other areas include our What is God Today? video series, the Visio Divina image gallery, a Resources section with videos and PowerPoints, and the latest from Ilia Delio.

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What is God Today? is an Center for Christogenesis video series featuring interviews with Ilia Delio on the meaning of the divine in the 21st century and what God is doing in our midst. Watch the Series

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A love letter to Ilia and Peirre Teilhard de Chardin Dear Ilia, I am so grateful to have found your books, your website, the Omega community and you, the prophet. Of course none of this was accidental. It all started with a car accident on my 21st birthday in 1968. I was driving alone at night, back to my job as a junior housemistress in a rural boarding school in Australia. Only my knee was badly injured in the accident but when I regained consciousness in the ambulance, I was aware of a terrible pain in my chest (bruising from the impact against the steering wheel before seat belts) as I struggled to breathe, it crossed my mind that I might be dying. I remember clearly thinking ‘what did the nuns teach us to do when one is dying?’. I was feeling pretty panicky by now and said the ‘Our Father’ as I was praying I relaxed with great relief because I knew from that moment (since never waived in my whole body conviction), that I actually, after all that teenage angst and doubt , did believe in God and more importantly that he/she believed in me. It was the greatest birthday gift I could have wished for . However it took about 15 years of ‘unfolding’’ to recognise the giftedness of this experience. The freedom of discovering that “faith” is not a noun but a verb of growing and becoming has given me licence to come and go, explore here and there, on and off. From Liberation theology, to the feminist project, sojouning with protestant friends and projects in social justice and ecological activism to Francis’ Laudato Si, the testament in scripture and finally home to the cosmic Christ and Teilhard de Chardin. Recently I get quite giddy, or ‘tipsy’, in awe and wonder at evolutionary creation and sometimes can cry at the privilege of being part of it. When I see an ant, busy about its business, or a weed struggling between the paving stones, I say to them,’even to be one of you would have been a great gig in this universe!, but to be chosen to be human through chance and natural selection, at this time of internet and DNA, to live in this country of security and more than my needs, to be a woman, a mother, grandmother and to have reached this consciousness of ’ unbearable wholeness’ and all that that means takes my breath away, like a car crash! Just one question. I don’t believe in “supernatural” any more. Is that heresy? The more I read about evolutionary biology and ponder on its implications for an evolutionary chistology, the more it seems to me that from the sub atomic to the cosmic scale, natural creativity, interconnectivity, communication networks, diversity, regeneration: have it all in hand. Thus the concept of ’super-nature’ is a tautology. I hope humanity can redeem itself, so that homo sapiens can continue to evolve into communities of healing and peace, but if not, then the infinite impulse will mourn the suffering and loss, but life is’ immortal and love is eternal’ (Bede Jarret) Resurrection goes on in the now, on the cusp of creating the future. Many thanks for your website. People like me need your company and inspiration. Patricia
Patricia Devlin
Monasterevin, co.Kildare.Ireland, AK
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