Monthly Archives: October 2015
He was totally dialled in. Oblivious to the world. His white man afro was dancing wildly in the wind. His size 12 shoe reached out in front of him and gobbled up yards of bike path with each stride. I had never seen a skateboarder go so fast. The sun was setting, and the sea wall was bathed in the warm soft rays of final light. It was a beautiful night for a ride and he was taking full advantage of the relatively unpeopled path. I tucked in behind him on my road bike, within moments I was ready to pass, but I couldn’t get around him. He was now crouched low on his long board, leaning forward, hands outstretched, smiling from ear to ear. It looked as if his eyes were closed! In his enraptured state he was weaving all over the bike path and try as I might I couldn’t seem to get around him. Finally I got as close as I dared and hollered
His head jerked up, and he looked over at me with a sheepish grin, pulling out his earbuds he yelled
“Sorry dude, I was just feeling the groove!”
It’s good to feel the groove. Every now and then for a fleeting moment or two all of us are like that skateboarder, everything feels like it should, everything perfect, it’s “the groove.” Are those moments just dumb luck? Fortunate happenstance? Meaningless endorphins just doing their thing? Something great, then gone for ever?
What if these “groove” moments could be viewed not as experiences lost and memories ever dimming but rather as glimpses of a future that will be gained? What if we believed that the joys of today were mere tastes of an eternal banquet of joy to come? I think that’s the best way of looking it. Jesus has promised us great things and the great moments of our lives that pass so quickly should serve as joy and gratitude infusing reminders for us of what will be.
They tell the prophets,
“Don’t tell us what is right.
Tell us nice things.
Tell us lies.
2700 years ago the people wanted religion, but they wanted it to suit them, to make them happy and comfortable. This is exactly the kind of religion many in our world desire today. Religion that doesn’t actually make any claims, religion that doesn’t actually give directives for life, religion that doesn’t take a moral stance on anything. We want a religion that isn’t hard and doesn’t require sacrifice. Much to be preferred is a religion that just makes you feel good about yourself. Meditate, stretch, breathe, feel good, repeat. The principle deity of “tell us nice things religion” is self. In the end, self is a poor choice for a deity.
Ravi is not a happy camper and it shows. He knows it too, towards the end of his book he says,
“Some might even consider the tone of this book too strong or harsh.. it is hard not to get passionate when you read the bizarre twists of truth offered by the proponents of the New Spirituality.”
What are these “bizarre twist’s of truth” that have managed upset one of Christianity’s foremost apologists?
If truth is solid ground. Then new spirituality, is happy in the clouds. They shake their heads at those below who battle for truth. Their’s is a more noble stance, they think. Theirs which refuses to judge anything or anyone. But in doing that they have eradicated distinctions and words are now used to tell us that there is really no particular meaning to anything. Morality, time, essence, absolutes are all gone by the wayside in the name of spirituality, what is left for those in the clouds is to take pot shots at those below who still holds these distinctions. For Ravi, “Giving yourself the privilege of destroying other positions while parking your own position in an unidentifiable location is a form of linguistic terrorism” (14) Chopra, New Spiritualities most celebrated saint, says flatly there are no answers, and that hope is ultimately a sign of despair (92) Spirituality we are told is really just an expression of a universal hunger rather than an answer to anything. The hunger is satiated temporarily by whatever technique the guru prescribes. Ultimately the goal is self deification. “We will remain unfulfilled unless we nurture the seeds of divinity inside us. In reality, we are divinity in disguise, and the gods and goddesses in embryo that are contained within us seek to be fully materialized” says Chopra. (91) Ravi half jokes when he says he is not surprised that celebrities and spiritual guru’s have joined forces so well. “One thinks they are gods’ and the other tells them they are.”
Ravi is doing his best to catch a greased pig in a way. With N.S. everything is nothing, and nothing is everything, the human is God, and God is the human, there is hope, but there is not hope. There is meaning but no meaning, things are constantly shifting and nothing can be grasped, meaning is cloaked in ponderous terminology and so it is by design. Elkhart Tolle, when talking about suffering for example says, your suffering is good because it forces you to become nothing, to become as God, because God too is nothing” huh?
Ravi tries to lasso the cloud and catch the pig in two primary ways:
- Point out the inconsistencies. In a classic Ravi style assault of this particular belief system he says the following “Once a worldview has been established, it becomes the grid for making particular judgements. To say that there are no moral absolutes and then castigate Christians for being hypocritical assumes that hypocrisy is a moral flaw and a contradictory position and therefore, is to be vilified. To say that there is a spark of divinity in all of us and then treat the lower castes as “less divine” to even create such a system that categorizes people like this — is again to run afoul of reason. (Ravi will not let the new spirituality forget it’s roots in the east) Worldviews begin by definitions. Definitions create boundaries. Violations of those boundaries elicit condemnation. That condemnation itself excludes. It is impossible to sustain truth without excluding falsehood. All religions are exclusive.
- Point to a better story. This, in my opinion, was his most compelling point. Ultimately N.S. is an autonomous spirituality, it is a non personal theology with the individual self being all there is. Heaven is when self is lost in a union with an ultimate impersonal absolute. Heaven is a disconnect from relationship in this system. Christianity, is radically different than this. It teaches that at the heart of every human is a cry to belong. It’s why long lasting relationships are prized above everything today. We all still want “true love” to be true, even though we seem to see it less and less. Such an ultimate belonging is possible through a personal relationship with the God of the universe. Heaven in the Christian system, is when a person is welcomed into the presence of the Ultimate Being. Relationship trumps individual supremacy to me, making Christianity an infinitely better story.