Monday, 20 January 2014

Prophetic Picture from Within - It's time to sink or swim.

To continue.  I saw a picture:

I saw people paddling in a vast ocean.

The whole ocean appeared to be about a foot in depth.

The people were happy.  They were safe and the water felt good.

The ocean floor was steady, flat and could be relied on at all times.

The people wandered in the ocean, happy to experience it, and shared the experience together.

But then the ocean floor shook.

Holes appeared in it.

And then it gave way entirely and vanished.

The people discovered that the ocean was not a foot in depth.

The people began to sink.

Panic ensued.  People did not know what to do.

They discovered the ocean floor was not the true ocean floor.

Their safety had gone.

Would could they do?  Splash around.  And drown.

The people experienced hopelessness.

But then they discovered something wonderful.

They discovered another ocean floor.

Now they stood in the ocean, almost submerged.

The water covered their whole bodies and they could even duck and cover their heads.

It had felt wonderful on their ankles.

It now felt more wonderful on their bodies, more than they could have imagined.

And then, the people, who previously could only walk,

They learned to swim.

That's it.  That's what I saw.  At the time I was sitting in a church, towards the end of the service.  The congregation were singing a song as a response to the sermon - though it didn't seem any different to the songs before the sermon.  It was noisy.  I couldn't sing - not with integrity, not with honesty to myself.  So I sat.  In as much quiet as I could manage.  And I took up the mantra from earlier that morning.  And then saw that picture.

The people are the mass of humanity.
The ocean is the life of the spirit, the real, being, truth, wholeness, the beyond - whatever name you care to give it.
The shallow ocean floor, solid, safe, is theism - a belief in that one God in the sky in control of everything.

In my life that ocean floor has pretty much given way and I've been sinking, panicking, feeling like I will drown.  It's a scary thing to lose sight of the God who has been your only hope.

But I feel another ocean floor is coming into view and that there is so much more to experience in this "spirit" life, growing into the potential of a human being.  I feel that my God was in the ocean, part of the ocean.  But that my God obscured the greater ocean behind concepts, stone doctrines, and an exclusiveness that saw the greater ocean as non-existent or evil.

In many ways our society is going through the same process - from security, to panic, to confidence, a greater enlightenment and a greater human dignity.  That's scary too - it can be a mess as we explore and make mistakes in our exploration.  But it's hopeful.

We have choices when we lose theism.  Do we lose everything and live in despair - as many existentialists have been tempted to do?  Or do we look beyond into a greater reality, and learn to swim?

Of course, my picture and interpretation may be entirely wrong.

It could be that the one God is real, that He is Lord, Judge, Saviour, the only Hope, that rejecting him leads to an eternal punishment in fire.

I could be wrong.

In which case we're not going to swim.

We're all going to drown.

I don't think so.  But I'm not the one God.  I've been wrong before.  And this blog post isn't a holy Scripture which must be believed.  It's just an idea put forward to be considered.


  1. Thank you Claire - wow what a picture! I love the idea of swimming and it is a really good metaphor for the difference between a shallow placated 'religion' and a deeper, real awareness of the vastness of life and human experience...I think for me there is something inbetween 'losing theism' and believing in a judgemental punishing Lord. To me those are both extremes of belief and neither speaks to me of my experience with the Sacred/God/Spirit. I would emphasise that that is my experience, and recognise that it is not everybody's.

    1. I agree that the punishing Lord is an extreme - it's just the extreme that's been taught by most Christian churches for most of Christian history. And it's an extreme that many friends believe, seeing no possibly valid alternative readings of various bits of the Bible. But of course theism has so many richer possibilities. You're in the "many richer possibilities" zone, a much better place to be.

      I probably wouldn't have mentioned it at all if I'd written this next week. It's just that yesterday morning's sermon is still clear in my head, a sermon of the "you're offensive and evil without Jesus and there's no other hope for you" variety. There was a time that I would have lapped up that sermon and shouted a hearty "Amen!" I'd have happily preached it too.

      Experience is great. Spong sees a "church" where everyone's experience is affirmed as their entrance into the infinite, whether that's Christian, Buddhist or whatever else. A place where doctrine doesn't matter because it's all the result of a human trying to put into words that which cannot be put into words, where theism, atheism, pantheism and all points in between and beyond are all gateways to the sacred and to light, love, life, fulness. I may be twisting Spong's words into my own Monday afternoon visions a little. But only a little.

      I wouldn't have been able to enter into that a while ago. Oh, the arguments I've had with people! It's only with the loss of exclusivism - that my way isn't THE way, that Jesus isn't THE way (even considering Jn14:6) - that I can see the possibility. I still struggle with it sometimes - there are still some defences to be removed. And I'm still having to grapple with the idea that paradoxes and apparent contradictions hold together in the vastness.


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