Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Last Days or Next Days?

[This is the second of five blogs from Israel where I am currently traveling with rabbis and evangelical ministers from Nashville.]

Are we in the last days? Is Israel reborn the herald of Armageddon and Christ’s return? This is the question challenging us during our visit to Meggido, the site of the final battle between good and evil as many Christians imagine it.

I am too much the historian to speak of last days. Every “last day” has proven only to be another yesterday as we move inexorably to yet another day. Yet I am too much the mystic not to feel the stirrings of something deep, profound, transformative, and terribly violent in these days in which we currently live. I do not see the ending of time, but I do sense the turning of the spiral of consciousness, a terrible turning (as all such turnings have been) that will leave us bloodied and yet also a bit more wise.

I believe we are living in a time when the earth is at last seen for what it is: a single living system floating in the vastness of space.

I believe we are living in a time when race, tribe, and religion are at last seen for what they are: veneers of difference obscuring our common humanity.

I believe we are living in a time when science is about to free religion from superstition that it might return to its prophetic task of calling people to justice, compassion, and humility.

I believe we are living in a time when religion is about to free science from its reductionist idolatry that it might again learn to wonder at the workings of God.

I believe we are living in a time when Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality—the table fellowship common to Jews, Christians, and Muslims— becomes paradigmatic on a global scale inviting all people to sit together and break bread; to enter into deep conversation and even deeper silence; to share their wisdom and their greater unknowing; and in this to find God not as a traveller finds a coin, but as a river flows into the sea.

But achieving this comes at a wicked price. Those who prefer yesterday to tomorrow will fight this turning to the death. The war against terror is a sideshow. The war against tomorrow is the main event. In this the Taliban of science, religion, and nationalism kick up idols to distract us from the One who is all, and to trick us into destroying that which is most precious and promising—each other and the earth.

This war is not about Jesus coming back, but about you and me coming forward. It is not about end times, but about new times. It is not about proving ancient myth, but about recovering timeless truth: seeing a vision of God and Gaia that honors all creatures as necessary players in the symphony of life.

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