Perception

Perception

Mark 10.46-52
Jesus and his followers came into Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, together with his disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, Timaeus’ son, was sitting beside the road.

When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” Many scolded him, telling him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, show me mercy!” 

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him forward.” They called the blind man, “Be encouraged! Get up! He’s calling you.” Throwing his coat to the side, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 

Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see.” Jesus said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” At once he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the way.

My first question after reading this story is whether it’s about sight or seeing. And I don’t mean to be glib or play semantic games. I honestly believe there is a difference in philosophical meaning between sight and seeing—and this is especially true in the context of Mark, written in the 1stCentury CE by and for people who understood the power of metaphorical storytelling far better than we.

Our natural tendency when we read this story is to assume Jesus restored Bartimaeus’ physical sight. That leads to all sorts of erroneous conclusions about miracles and Messiahs. Reading the story as a physical healing also moves the focus of the story to Jesus. Poor Bartimaeus is reduced to a prophetic cog in the mechanics of Mark’s ham-fisted attempt to reveal Jesus as a Messianic “fulfillment of prophecy.”

If we instead examine this story as a spiritual parable (which is how I encourage everyone to interpret everything in The Bible), this story is about Bartimaeus (who represents all of us, of course), not Jesus.

Honestly, we should try reading bible stories with the idea that none of them are about Jesus, per se. Instead, they’re about the people Jesus meets in his ministry and the way they respond as Jesus helps them discover their own Christlike God-connection for themselves. Jesus doesn’t do anything for anyone. He teaches them how to do it, or, as in the Bartimaeus’ story, says merely, “Go, you can already see, you’ve always been able to see, just do it.”

Why shouldn’t we think that Jesus, the most spiritually attuned, God-connected being that ever existed in the flesh, wouldn’t want to teach us how to do that for ourselves, too?

If you teach a man to fish… Remember that one?

The Bartimaeus story is not about the miracle of Jesus restoring sight. In fact, that’s never mentioned in the story. In the parable, Bartimaeus can see. This is not a story about a blind man suddenly seeing Jesus standing before him as a bewildered crowd looks on. No, this is a story about seeing differently, not with our eyes, but with our hearts. This is a story about changing our perception, and how that change awakens us to a new universe, a new world, an entirely new way of existing as a human being—as a CONSCIOUS human being.

Jesus begs his followers to see not just the world differently, but to perceive a new reality. He urges this because he is operating with a different perception of reality. He can see beyond this sensory world into a dimension more attuned to the only genuinely universal law: love.

Jesus sees “the nature of things,” rather than their worth as objects. It’s a mystical perception of the world. He sees the love of God imbued in everything and everyone, and that’s why it seems he does these miraculous healings. In fact, Jesus isn’t doing the healing, because he knows there is no healing to be done, at least not physically.

I think that for Jesus, “healing” meant, ultimately, to change one’s perception of the world from one based on the outer worth of an object to one based on the intrinsic value of love shared by all of us. Our job, our DUTY as followers of The Christ, is to look through the outer appearances of a world gone mad and into the loving core of truth that exists deep within: there is nothingbut God and God is love. Anything else is an incomplete perception.

If we really want to change the world we need to not only work hard to create equality and compassion, we also need to change our perception of the world as a place of give and take, us and them, winners and losers. I believe this drastic change in conscious connection to the ultimate Universal Consciousness is impossible without intense, deeply self-reflective spiritual practices, the type taught by Jesus of Nazareth, Siddhartha Gautama​, and others. Truthfully, what we’re ultimately after is a mystical experience—the kind Jesus shows is entirely possible when we learn how to see differently.

The Unifying Field

The Unifying Field

Galatians 4.8-9: At the time, when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved by things that aren’t gods by nature. But now, after knowing God (or rather, being known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless world system? Do you want to be slaves to it again?

You can tell whether or not a letter in the Bible claimed to be written by Paul actually was or not by just how hard a punch to the gut the letter packs. Paul never pulled punches, and here, he’s blunt: Listen, folks, after being awakened to the fact that you are beloved by God, you want to go back to the Empire? Whatevs.

We have to remember that Paul was working with a sense of urgency. He thought the current world was in its final throes, and that within his lifetime, Jesus would return to usher in a new global government of peace, love, equal justice, and general egalitarianism.

In the meantime, followers of Jesus were to do their best to discover this intimate relationship with Christ consciousness (oneness in all being with God) that Paul had found. That was the point of all this, after all. Paul wasn’t trying to make Christians. He was trying to wake people up to their own Christ nature, to create a bunch of little Jesuses, even imperfect ones, knowing their interconnected love could change the world.

To encourage this love movement, Paul speaks to his disciples in language they understand and knowing is powerful language. Throughout the Ancient Near East, from Judaism through Hinduism and Buddhism (there were no Christians then) knowing God is used to convey a profoundly intimate, spiritual at-one-ment with God, The Consciousness of the universe.

What does it mean “to know” God? For that matter, what does it mean to know anything? I know I have to pay my taxes every year. I know that if I don’t pay my water bill, I don’t receive water. I know the rain in Spain falls mostly on the plain. You know, general knowledge stuff, mostly learned from Hollywood musicals.

However, the sort of knowing Paul is talking about is an awareness of being known by God.

It sounds circular, but the reason to think of knowing and being known is to add another dimension to the way we consider God’s activity in the world–consciousness. At The Current, we often discuss God as an energy field, within which everything exists. Our ability to be aware of this awareness is the gift of consciousness.

If God is the conscious energy field of all being, and we are creations in that energy field, and we are conscious, then God, the original energy field, must also be not only conscious, but also the Primary Consciousness of any reality and all things seen and unseen.

Imagine a pool of water, perfectly still, stretching out all around you. That’s God as primary consciousness, as a field of conscious creativity. Even standing in the pool, you are still part of this activity. In fact, moving in the field causes ripples. You and God are not separate entities. There is no you AND God, there is only you, God. WE are one cosmic substance. That’s what we are to learn from Jesus. That’s what Paul wants us to know: We are One.

Paul gets it. When he talks about knowing God, he’s using ancient, mystical Jewish language. Remember, Paul was always a good, faithful, observant Jew. We must read him in context. While he wouldn’t understand the term consciousness, his use of the Greek word ginosko in conveys a deep sense of awakened understanding of God as more than the guy on a throne in heaven. Ginosko doesn’t mean “to learn,” it means “to perceive.”

To perceive God in our midst, we must be conscious of God in our midst and become aware of ourselves in the midst of God. That’s the infinite loop we’ve been talking about as well. It’s a loop of conscious awareness of all being, all activity, in all universes, as one being, one movement.

We are God’s creative, conscious energy fields. Working on becoming more aware of our actions and reactions in our world helps opens us to new, much higher, more Christ-like levels of consciousness. What if we could remember to channel God’s love in every interaction throughout the day. Can you imagine that? When you’re stuck in traffic and the light turn green and the person in front of you just. Sits. There.

Can you imagine God’s love flowing through you? Can you imagine stepping out of the situation and taking a God’s eye view by immersing yourself in God’s unifying field? Can you realize there is no difference between you and the person in the other car, other than your forgetting to know God and leaning on your horn for way too long?

There’s a terrific phrase in Hinduism that describes this singular state of being with God, this perception not of, but with God: Tat tvam asi, that thou art.

That signifies the pure consciousness field, God, the only reality, encompassing all being. Thou represents the individual, the self. But in truth, we are connected to the pure consciousness field because our identity is part of the overall consciousness of God.

The statement tat tvam asi, “that thou art” then becomes a transcendental meditation. It’s meant to help us know beyond our perceived human barriers, to see there are no barriers at all, there is only God, forming us, moving through us, nudging us awake to a greater awareness:

Tat tvam asi.

We are one.

Active Remembering

Active Remembering

As I was driving to church one day, pondering my presentation for Sunday and wondering if the Scripture I’d chosen really conveyed my idea, I saw this truck in front of me. After immediately proclaiming THANK YOU to the universe, I snapped the photo above so I would remember the quote and to look up Galatians 5.1 when I got to the office (No, I do not have large swaths of The Bible memorized).

Guess what? The quote, “Don’t forget where you came from” is not from Galatians 5. It’s not from Galatians at all. It’s not even biblical. I cannot find an attribution for the quote anywhere. All of which I find funny because, you know, the quote is about remembering, and nobody can remember the original author!

I understand how this sort of thing happens because I’ve always had a selective memory myself. I remember dates, facts, and figures reasonably well. I’m really good at Trivial Pursuit. Memorizing speeches, sermons, lines in a play—none of that comes naturally for me. In high school, I could memorize all the music for marching band, but learning one song took hours and hours.

Eventually, I started playing in bands that cover other people’s music (which is the majority of work for a professional musician). To learn a song, you have to listen to the original and learn your part. In my case, I would learn horn and keyboard parts, as well as the chord changes and forms of the tunes so I could cue and conduct.

This means listening to portions of the song at a time, over and over, until you hear what you think are the parts the musicians are playing on the record. Then the band rehearses and gets everything sounding great. You start playing the song live. Back in the day, this meant five or six nights a week, sometimes twice on a Sunday.

After you play a song every night for a few weeks, you get to know it well. That’s what someone means when they say they got the part “under their fingers.”

So, let’s say you play the song for a few months. What happens next is that one day you’re driving to the store and the original tune comes on the radio. You cock your head like a curious puppy and think, “Wow! That is not what I’m playing.”

That’s fine because when you play a song live, it evolves and becomes its own thing, different from the original. What we memorize is a copy, but not an exact copy, no matter how faithful to the original we think we are.

And so it goes with memories. They are never exact copies of the event itself, only softly-held whispers of a tune we alter without noticing.

Memories are more than mental recollections. They are physical marks imprinted like a branding iron on the neural network that is the human brain. I’ve never thought much about memories as something physical. I guess I always assumed memories were somehow stored electronically, similar to binary code in a computer. The reality is much more complicated.

In the 18th Century, scientists began to theorize that memories were somehow encoded in the nervous system. That’s also when Herman Ebbinghaus did the work leading to our contemporary understanding of sensory, short- and long-term memory.

It was the beginning of the 20th Century when German evolutionary biologist Richard Sermon proposed the groundbreaking idea thatlife experiences leave a physical trace. He called these traces engrams; a term still used today to describe the imprints every event in our lives leave on the brain.

Every event in our lives leaves a physical imprint on the brain.

Neuroscientist Ashish Ranpura says that “Fundamentally, memory represents a change in who we are. Our habits, our ideologies, our hopes and fears are all influenced by what we remember of our past.”

I had to reread that idea several times. Memory represents a change in who we are.

Perhaps that’s why the people ofThe Bibleare so concerned about remembering. They remember the trials and tribulations of being alive. They turn some of those memories into festivals and celebrations designed, ultimately, to help them remember they are people of God, to help them remember who they are, and to acknowledge how their memories have affected who they are as a people now. Once again, the example of these ancient authors is to stop and think about the journey, both personal and communal, all of it single-sourced from God, the consciousness of all being.

Never forget where you come from.

Here at The Current, we like to remember that all beings are interconnected. I think it’s more important than ever to remember those connections are formed from God, the ultimate love of the universe.

Remember who you come from.

Infinite Loop

Infinite Loop

Inifnite Loop
Hebrews 12.1-2 (CEB)
So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter.
 
Hebrews is written in the style of Paul for Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem sometime just before the Temple is destroyed around 70 CE. It is highly likely this letter was written by Priscilla, Paul’s confidante, probably his benefactor, and perhaps his greatest pupil.

While often classified as a letter, it lacks any traits of typical Hellenistic epistles, such as a preamble. Hebrews is more of a rhetorical essay. It’s meant to encourage Jewish followers of Jesus to persevere in their faith, to stay on this new path to God Jesus introduced.

When Hebrewswas written in the 60s, Romans were prosecuting members of The Way (the original Jesus movement) while fellow Jews were persecuting them. The stress of being outcast by both strangers and family exacerbated their confusion and distress over Jesus’ death.

Jewish people had expected a Messiah of war and retribution, not one who taught turning the other cheek and peaceful non-compliance. They definitely didn’t expect a Messiah that could die like any other human. Consequently, many were returning to the synagogue and their older, more comfortable path to God.

The author of Hebrews encourages Jesus’ people to hold fast to this new teaching, to this new way of being human in the world. Yes, new spiritual paradigms are difficult and scary, but using Jesus as an example, the author of Hebrews pleads with us to understand that this new spiritual journey is worth taking, even in the face of death.

At The Current, we spend a lot of time talking about new spiritual journeys. We understand that even as we gather in community, each of us is on a unique path to interconnection with God, and through God with each other.

Yet, while our journeys might often be solitary, they are never selfish. We quest for more profound communion with God because we intuitively sense that living a God-connected life changes the world for the better. Consciously tuning into God–through prayer, meditation, service, and study (for example), moves us individually to use our gifts for the good of all things, from people to planets. Then, we are moved in community to affirm and challenge each other, always pushing toward love unconditional.

Some of us may come to a spiritual journey through Jesus, just like our Jewish ancestors. Some might discover new paths to God through Buddha, Mohammed, Ram Das, a next-door neighbor, a lover, or even a chance meeting in line at the grocer.

In a single lifetime, a spiritual journey might (and I would suggest should) take many paths, through many religions and philosophies, diverging in different directions like river tributaries, yet ultimately all pointing toward love. Unconditional. Hebrews encourages us to follow those  diverse wisdom branches without fear.

Jesus shows that this journey—the experience of living and dying as a human being is what’s important. Why? Because every life is a God-connected life. Every path we take is a path to God. Every experience is connected to all other human experiences, and all the adventures non-humans in other galaxies and dimensions are having, and it’s all connected to God, feeding data directly into the beingof a God with an unquenchable appetite to be everything.

That means every noble quest we have in our lives is a spiritual adventure that’s part and parcel of the fabric of the universe.

Can you imagine that? Have you thought about that? When you go to the beach, you are the nerve endings in the fingertips of God. You are God’s cosmic connection feeling the oddly pleasant sting of the ocean spray as waves crash onto shore, smelling the suntan scents, trying to translate the screeches of lazily drifting Gulls.

When you climb a mountain, God embraces you with cloud-wet air, supports you with muddy clay, reminds you of your connection to the planet with the dirt left under your fingertips.

When you hold a newborn baby or bury a loved one, God experiences the heights of our joy and the depths of our sorrow. Everything in our lives, from our most extraordinary adventures to our most mundane moments, adds to the ever-growing wisdom and spiritual evolution of the entire universe. And that universe exists within us as much as we exist within it.
 
We are God-components, and we have a straightforward task: to live. To “run the race that is laid out before us,” as Priscilla wrote so long ago.
 
I think realizing that life is a God journey can help us avoid ruts, or getting stuck in one religious paradigm or another for too long. But that’s only half the story. 

Our existence is part of an endless loop into and from God. What does Paul write in Romans? From God, through God, to God, all are things. Our life experiences are processed by God as part of the evolutionary process of the universe. Being—existing, having material form, is part of an infinite loop of loving, creative consciousness. 
 
In the beginning God, in a moment of cosmic self-awareness, explodes into multiple universes, galaxies, planets, and creatures, including us. These things evolve over trillions of years, adding experiences to God, who ceaselessly reconstructs and retransmits new things based on those experiences, and so on, and so on, in an infinite loop of loving, imaginative inventiveness. God lives in us, not just figuratively. God is within us because God is us, and we are God. 
 
So, let’s live our lives in God, in Christ Conscious, Buddha-aware joy, laughter and love. Fearlessly go on new adventures. Take up new hobbies, eat different foods, and talk to people with dissimilar lifestyles and beliefs. Send a little more love into the cosmos, and see if, together, with intent, we can’t tip the balance of this current reality out of fearful fists and instead into loving embrace.
 
Let’s recognize every moment of every life as a moment in God that connects us all and weaves us together from and into one consciousness. Let’s fill our lives with a glorious collection of experiences, always remembering that we are participants in God’s infinite creative feedback loop. Feed wisely.
 
Question:How might looking at your life as a collector of experiences for God change your outlook?

Spiritual [Mis]match, part 3: Harmonic Dissonance

Spiritual [Mis]match, part 3: Harmonic Dissonance

We’ve been talking about evolutionary mismatch theory. This is the idea that, at least physically, we are out of sync with the globalized, industrialized society we’ve created. That got us thinking about spiritualmismatch and the possibility that our selfish genes are preventing us from being more God-connected, Christ-centered, enlightened beings.

In our discussion we’ve been talking about God as the fundamental, ethereal, quantum energy of the material world. All matter is formed through and from the being of God, the primary string connecting, and emanating into being, everything that exists. Jesus is where humans are perfectly aware of their harmonious oneness with God’s quantum energy.

In this cosmological view—this understanding of the way the universe works—God doesn’t form universes and galaxies, people, plants, and animals, from the outside. God is not an alien chemist in a lab.

I try not to think of God as a being beyond the universe. God becomes the universe. In fact, God is in a constant state of becoming, evolving into parallel realities, stars and planets; people of every color and type, all of it connected to everything, in a way I feel is beyond genetic.

In this view of Oneness with God, oneness with each other, where there can never be separation, God is more emanator than creator.

This idea is an essence of the creation story, you know. In the Bible, God forms things by breathing or speaking—I like to saysinging—life into existence. God is the fundamental Omthe sound of creation.

Hindu philosopher Subhamoy Das describes Om as, “a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism—omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. In itself, Brahman is incomprehensible, so some kind of symbol is essential to help us conceptualize the Unknowable. Om, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of God. That is why it is called pranava—meaning that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breath.”

God runs through our lives and through everything manifest and unmanifest. That same sentiment is evident throughout the Gospel of John.In today’s terms, that means this reality and all the other realities, this universe and all the other universes. It means an infinity of possible encounters with God, the source.

Nowthinking about God as Om, the fundamental tone, the Absolute which runs through all being, let’s reexamine the language in Genesis:

When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters— GOD SAID,“Let there be light.” And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. GOD NAMED the light Day and the darkness Night. 

There was evening and there was morning: the first day. 

GOD SAID, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters to separate the waters from each other.” God made the dome and separated the waters under the dome from the waters above the dome. And it happened in that way. GOD NAMED the dome Sky. 

There was evening and there was morning: the second day. 

GOD SAID, “Let the waters under the sky come together into one place so that the dry land can appear.” And that’s what happened. GOD NAMED the dry land Earth, and he NAMED the gathered waters Seas. God saw how good it was. GOD SAID, “Let the earth grow plant life: plants yielding seeds and fruit trees bearing fruit with seeds inside it, each according to its kind throughout the earth.” And that’s what happened.

Then the third day ends, and this form continues with God saying things and naming things until God has virtually (or perhaps literally, if there’s even a difference) sung an Aria of incomprehensible breadth and beauty, every name a note, every note a universe.

The concept of God as “sound” is a cornerstone of my personal theology. As a musician, the idea that there is a single fundamental vibration that forms everything in the universe is astounding, breathtaking, and inspiring.

Also, if everything is essentially sound, then we are music. Our world is music. Is it possible to heighten our senses so we can hear each other’s notes, and harmonize, or at least learn how to sing in tune with each other?

I love the idea of a singing God, a God so full of life it vibrates itself into all-being; God creating a symphony of symphonies.

Consider God sonically. Imagine a song that comes at once from nowhere and everywhere. In the beginning, God sings of trillions of realities filled with billions and billions of galaxies and untold forms of living creatures. Life is—we are—harmonized into this existence. Evolution is nature’s (God’s?) way of harmonizing life—not only in particular ecosystems, but also with the fundamental nature of the universe—God’s self.

Are we separated from this fundamental note once we’re created? Never. We only exist because we are vibrating in harmony with God—even if it often feels like there is no harmony in our lives, or our world.

Again, we perceive a mismatch. We are harmoniously-created beings living in dissonance.

Dissonance is what happens when musical notes get stacked in unusual and unexpected ways. Our ears hear notes that seem to be fighting with each other, rather than making a pretty sound. There is nothing “wrong” with dissonance. It’s not always because someone is playing a wrong note or making a mistake.

For example, in the early 20thcentury, composers began experimenting with new types of tonal scales and chords. Music was purposely dissonant, perhaps a reflection of the political changes taking place at the time, especially in Russia.

When Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring premiered, people rioted—throwing chairs at the stage, shooting off guns in the streets—largely because they had never heard such a cacophony coming from the orchestra (or seen such overtly sexual dance on a public stage).

In some way, I like to think that Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and other similar works were the result of an awakening human consciousness. Realizing we are living in a dissonance of our creation, not God’s, is uncomfortable.

Awakening to God as every and all being does sometimes make us want to riot in the streets, because awakening to God also makes us more aware of the oppressive cruelty of the systems we’ve created. At first glance, we seem naturally dissonant creatures. We might find it possible to believe we are God’s love songs, but we often find ourselves at odds with one another, with life, even with God. More mismatch.

Recognizing these mismatches is an important part of our spiritual awakening. Thinking about why the world is cruel when we are God in the flesh exercises our spiritual and intellectual muscles. As we think about God, I believe, we awaken more into the understanding that God surrounds us all the time. More importantly, we awaken to the understanding that God works from within all the time.

Living in harmonic dissonance is why the concept of tuning is so important to me. I believe we change the world not only through our actions but also through our energy. I believe we are supposed to be vibrating at a God harmonic and that culture is keeping us from attaining higher levels of human being. I think Jesus is an example of what we look like when we’re vibrating at the God harmonic—when we’re perfectly tuned.

And in truth, I don’t even need to be perfectly in tune, like Jesus. If I could get close enough that I just create more harmony than dissonance, I’d be happy. So, at our church, we practice consciously tuning into God’s perfect love. In some little way, I think that helps retune the entire world.

Question: How do you deal with harmonic dissonance in your life and in the world?

Spiritual [Mis]match, part 1

Spiritual [Mis]match, part 1

Ephesians 2:19-24
So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people, and you belong to God’s household. As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit.

Once attributed to Paul, most scholars now agree that the epistle to the faithful early Christian community in Ephesus is pseudonymous. The crux of the letter is to encourage its readers to “imitate God.”

The letter was written some time after Paul’s original letters had been circulating and acted, at least in part, as a summary of Paul’s ideas, which are then built upon, adapted, and improved for new people in a new era.

Partially because their gatherings were often illegal, the early Jesus movement was concerned about community building. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the early movement after Jesus’ death was all about solving what we can today consider the problem of “spiritual mismatch.” It’s the dilemma of beingbut not knowing, of actingwithout thinking,of behaving like animals rather than divinely inspired, whole, beloved, perfectly imperfect, interconnected humans being and becoming.

Spiritual mismatch is what happens when we awaken to a better way to be human together in a civilization filled with fear, hatred, and constant war.

Paul’s message is simple: we are to match Jesus act for act (that’s why God is living through us spiritually), thought for thought, and in so doing transcend our warring, tribal tendencies. For Paul, becoming a member of this new Jesus community meant exchanging old life as a cog in the bloody machinery of Empire for membership in a divinely graced, interconnected humanity of love.

Jesus represents the onemind of allbeing that interconnects material form. I describe God as the energy that creates and sustains all life, across multiple dimensions, parallel and perpendicular realities, from birth to death and beyond. We are God in the flesh, just like Jesus, because God is the being of all being. We’re materially inseparable. That’s part of Jesus’ revelation.

Most Christ-followers agree that Jesus somehow also represents a perfect union with God. The human Jesus is also the divine God. Unlike Jesus, most of us don’t live perfectly God-connected lives. In fact, many days I suspect lots of us feel completely disconnected from any sense of divine embrace.

I have long thought that this sense of spiritual disconnect was just that—a spiritual dilemma related to religious practices. However, I’ve recently been studying an aspect of evolution that has made me consider there may be a physical reason for our spiritual dis-ease.

Are our genes holding us back from being more like Christ? “Evolutionary Mismatch Theory” has implications for both our material lives and our spiritual practices.

Evolutionary mismatch theorists suggest that the slow process of evolution has not prepared our bodies for the abundance and homogeny of food we now eat regularly. We’re technologically advanced, but that technology has caused an enormous disjoint between, among other things, the food we consume (which is the food our body expects), and a diet that is more appropriate for our sedentary lifestyles.

“Evolutionary Mismatch” is the theory that our bodies—our genetic material, in fact—have not adjusted to this artificial reality of synthetic sweeteners and on-demand carbs we’ve created.

Mismatch theory is informing new medical concepts, especially the idea that many of our modern ailments—osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, cancer—are the result of our culturalrevolutionoutpacing our human body’sevolution.

Daniel Liberman, one of the leading researchers of mismatch theory, wrote, “An evolutionary perspective predicts that most diets and fitness programs will fail, as they do because we still don’t know how to counter once-adaptive primal instincts to eat donuts and take the elevator.”

Millions of years of evolution have tuned our bodies for lots of physical activity and a high carb diet.

In the past, we had to spend the day hunting for meat and gathering nuts, berries, and veggies. We spent a lot of energy looking for our food, and what we found or hunted recharged our batteries. We were like paleolithic cellphones. We’d get all used up during the day, then recharge at night.

In today’s globally connected, anything-you-want anytime-you-want-it society, most of us don’t have to spend anyenergy getting our food. The majority of us are certainly not hunting and gathering every day. A couple clicks on the computer screen and dinner arrives an hour later. A quick trip to the grocer allows us to choose from a dizzying array of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and meats that are now available year-long instead of seasonally. Pop a ready-meal into the Microwave and dinner is cooked in no time with little or no calories burned, and a guaranteed intake of ingredients our bodies no longer need.

All our contemporary habits exacerbate evolutionary mismatch. We’ve created a world with readily available food, but it’s not the kind of food that matches our now very sedentary lifestyle. Carbs and sugar are, however, the stuff our bodies still expect, the foods our cells still crave. So, we eat what once was fuel but is now deadly. We’re behind the evolutionary cellular wall. Our advances in technology have outpaced natural selection and adaptation, and that disconnect is killing us.

Lieberman goes on to say that, “many of the body’s features were adapted in environments from which we evolved, but have become maladapted in the modern environments we have now created.” (Daniel E. Lieberman, The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease).

In short, our bodies are still Paleolithic and driving us to eat a high carb, high sugar diet, even though we now mostly sit on our butts looking at screens all day.

This news fascinates me. And because I am prone to thinking about God in the mix of everything, I started wondering about how evolutionary mismatch might apply to our spiritual lives.

Today, in this postmodern world of questions and fuzzy logic, our spiritual hunger for the unified, love-filled, peaceful kin-dom of God remains unfulfilled. What if, as seems true of our bodies, we’re also spiritually out of sync? I believe we are evolving to be more like Jesus, and that spiritual evolution is a natural process. We’re jut out of step with that process.

Fortunately, Jesus left behind a school of study that was itself rooted in ancient Jewish traditions. We can still learn from him and adapt his ideas into new practices, new rituals, new songs and new conversations. Jesus shows us how to think differently and perhaps overcome our spiritual mismatch.

But I admit, I have to wonder: What if our ability to intellectually think spiritually is outpacing our genetic capacity for living a more ascended, Christ-like life? In short, what if the problem is in our genes?

For me, the solution is to remember that God is the substance of our being. When I think of blood flowing through my veins, I imagine the individual blood cells, then the molecules in those cells, and the atoms in the molecules, until I deconstruct the entire thing and I am left with nothing but God.

Just as we are beginning to understand that our genes push into unhealthy eating habits, perhaps they also push us into unhealthy spiritual habits—which in turn cause us to create a world of discord and dissonance, rather than love and peace.

We’ll discuss spiritual evolution and dissonance in the next two installments.

Question: How might evolutionary mismatch be affecting your relationship with God, and through God, your relationship to all other beings?

Monday Meditation 4-30-18

Monday Meditation 4-30-18

Monday Meditation
I force myself to sit quietly
and wait impatiently
for your touch.

I think about not thinking.

And then I tingle.

My skin buzzes.
My mind is free.
My soul escapes

and we are one.

I rest in your presence,
the knowing of all-knowing,
blanketed
by the silky-satin,
galaxy-filled folds
of heightened senses,
extraordinary perceptions,
for a more than real,
real.

In you I am complete,
calm,
focused,
so unconditionally loved that
I become love incarnate.

Returning to the unreal real
I am aware
of the infinite loop
of the incarnated universe
we all share
unaware,
until suddenly,
you are there.

Mantra: Make me love incarnate. Make the world love incarnate.

Intersect 4-2-18

Intersect 4-2-18

Monday Meditation
God of Gentle Encouragement,
reveal the power of peace within,
around and through,
me, our world,
and you.

Make me, us;
make us, we;
all love fulfilled.

Give us an unquenchable thirst
for reasonable minds
and compassionate actions.

Fill us with
the awareness of Universal Unity
that leads us to dis-integrate

reality’s lies of fear and hate.

Help us bear the light
for wounded hearts;
forgotten souls;
for our own mistakes,
for Gaia’s screech
at trenches and walls
and strip mines and malls.

God who reforms without from within,
resurrect the light of Christ in our souls

and the love of peace in our hearts,
so that we might finally learn
the art of being kind.

Amen.