Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I had dinner in Berkeley yesterday evening with Mark Schmanko, one of the editors of the recent JITP issue on Integral Religious Studies. One thing, among the many, that we talked about was a series of parallel movements taking place in our culture: the movement from the linguistification of God (which has taken place in many religious studies departments in academia), to the deepening and reversal of that trend, which Ferrer describes so well, where speech again becomes a sacramental performance of the divine or the real-as-sacred; or as Panikkar notes, a similar deepening of the secular, another in-folding movement of fulfillment through reversal, where with the deep valuation of time and becoming bequeathed by an evolutionary understanding the saeculum becomes, again, sacralized in its secularity, strangely lit, an occasion of mystery; and similarly, in OOO and related philosophical movements, a (re)valuation of matter which, for me, is deeply feminine and immanentist in spirit: matter-as-mater, as mother-body, as the fecundity of the deep: a new, we might say, matarealism.
Ah yes, my alma mat(t)er. But I prefer to (de-re)phrase it the saectum saectorum (from sanctum sanctorum), given my atheist bent, meaning the most common of the common. (In real terms this would be hydrogen.) Not to be confused with the rectum santorum.
I like saectum saectorum -- though given common connotations of 'common,' it has the danger of presenting 'matter' as 'all summed up,' fully known, nothing 'withdrawn' about it.
I don't like rectum santorum. That's just nasty!! :-O
Pannikar's use of saeculum is interesting referring to mystery. That's why I chose my de-re Latin phrase based on that usage, as intoning resonantly in that language creates a mysterious aura about it (as in Church). It is not just the common usage of common but that which is most common, like the most holy. Hydrogen is the most common and prevalent element in the universe, the very foundation of All but particularly stars. It's the fuel of cosmic combustion and yet the most mysterious phenomenon of All.
On a practical level, this is why hydrogen fuel-cell tech is on the forefront of clean, efficient energy. And no surprise that Rifkin plans to store energy as hydrogen once generated from his smart buildings. Hydrogen, the saectum saectorum, is the key to our sustainable future. It is quite literally hot stuff.
Nice - I like how you put that, and how you've linked it to Rifkin and some of our present urgent needs.
This post is coming from several places at once, and I'm not at all sure how / whether it all ties together, or needs to. I named two angles above -- Ferrer and Panikkar -- but my choice of the word matarealism, while related to the immanentist strand evident in Ferrer, Pannikar, and OOO, was also inspired by my talk with Mark about the life and work of Sera Beak, a very cool, Harvard-trained scholar of comparative religion and spiritual cowgirl / Redvolutionary. She is already well known for The Red Book and for her appearance in the Velcrow Ripper documentary, Fierce Light, among other things, but she has apparently written a mind-blowing and heart-breaking new work that Mark highly praises (which I look forward to reading once it is published). In her works, she advocates for a juicy, ir/reverent feminine spirituality and a wild/holy immanence, which is a message also emerging late in the work of folks like Andrew Harvey and Father Bede Griffiths, so in poetic-literary/postmeta fashion that gives a nod to Mary Magdalene and the wild women of Indian spirituality, I wanted to "de-re-mythologize" materialism as Mata-realism.
On a completely different note, I was also thinking of an essay Jim, from the old IPS forum, shared with me a few years ago, which raises the question, in the mind-body and "hard problem of consciousness" debates, of whether we really even have a good handle, philosophically, on what the "physical" is: The Body Problem. Dr. Montero makes a good case that progress likely cannot be made in the mind-body debates when "physical" remains an intuitive but philosophically vague concept, and that we might make better progress by wholly reframing the debate. I thought of this essay, particularly, in relation to OOO -- since it seems to sidestep some of the issues by blurring these boundaries and entangling these distinctions in their newly conceptualized "objects" (where "object" applies equally to tables, leptons, and thoughts, and all objects interface communicatively with others). The mother-of-all-philosophical problems becomes something altogether different in the transcendental-immanentist (father-mother) body (realism) of OOO.
Something occurred to me today after my last post, a point I brought up briefly in previous discussion with Tom about light. We might assume that light is a (or the) metaphysical Source, given its immaterial nature. But that never sat right with me, as it seems much more an affect of matter, almost a waste product. Like the sun, which has to burn hydrogen to emit light; matter is the Source and light a by-product. Even the big bang, according to some scientific creation myths, came about from very condensed dark matter, which got so hot it exploded and with it light.
I hear another voice in my head saying: But to be integral we must assume light and matter as co-creatively enacting. But I'm not so sure, at least scientifically, which came first. I know from some metaphysical traditions light came first, then involved into matter. Just wondering.
Sera Beak / Spiritual Cowgirl (linked to in Balder's above post) rocks. :)
A thought about the light/matter question raised above. In the Sun's world, it does seem that light is the product of a material process. But in our world, instead of leaving, light arrives, and it is fundamental to the life that has arisen here. For instance we can view a tree as the meeting place of two journeys: sunlight,drunk in by the leaves waving in the afternoon breeze, is persuaded to stay on Earth for awhile and to travel down into the dark earth, where this light (photosynthesized) enlivens the roots to drink in last evening's rain. Then this rain, absorbing nutrients along the way, flows uphill, reaching the leaves, where it empowers them to catch the sunlight in the net of the earth's longing to reach toward the heavens. In these two intersecting journeys (of light tarrying on its way out into a vastness/and the earth reaching up to the sky) material (tree roots, trunk, branches, leaves) feels like the wooden dance floor of a spirited whirling dervish of life. --Michael