Introduction to the PresentationYou have likely heard the saying that “where there is no vision the people perish.” And certainly it would appear that we live in a time where vision a pathology and blindness a virtue. Many observers over the past few decades have noticed that
- in times of cultural change and shock,
- when the stories religion and science tell us about who we are , why we are here and what we are supposed to do become too constricting to our questing human spirit,
- when the culture’s teachings omit something absolutely vital
- and when some aspect of the dominant doctrine deeply injures the soul
A Letter to President Barack ObamaDear President Obama, I am one of the some sixty million people who voted to give you one last chance to stand for love, for economic justice, and for the environment. I voted not so much for you but for the hope of the world. It would seem obvious now that a new paradigm is being birthed: one whose main question is, “Is this act loving? Is it kind, is it compassionate, does it cause pain and suffering to the other who is myself?” I ask this of you because the base that elected you, progressives, women, Latinos, people of color, Native peoples, unions, working class, and youth, do not support drone killings, Keystone pipelines, GMO foods, endless war, reductions on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, persecution of whistleblowers, and the appeasement of the far right in favor of increased wealth redistribution to the top 1 %. We want you to champion the desperately needed dialogue on climate change before we are extinct, as the World Bank now reports is a very real scenario. We want you to champion the saving of our environment while advocating, funding and empowering an earth-friendly economic system. We want you to bail out the people and punish the banks, not the other way around. And we want you to stop shaming our country with slavish and demeaning allegiance to Israel no matter how egregious her government’s conduct. Above all, we want you to read the handwriting on the wall: We Are All One People. There is no other. Our collective purpose is transformation and justice. Thus, it is not just your last chance personally, it is our collective last chance as a country to align ourselves with truth and hope. Either we choose love as the way to save this world or we choose politics as the way to destroy it. I pray you choose love. Sincerely, Richard Welker / PO Box 31704 / Santa Fe, NM 87594
Politicians, God, and a New Consciousness on Earth
By Richard WelkerYou may have heard of Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed candidate for senate in Indiana, who in a debate on Tuesday, 10/23/2012, responded to a question about whether abortion should be allowed in instances of incest or rape. His actual words were: “You know, this is that issue that every candidate for federal or even state office faces. And I have to certainly stand for life. I know that there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view. But I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have on abortion is in that case — of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” At first I thought what, God intended rape? Apparently not, as Mr. Mourdock further explained after the debate. “What I said was, in answering the question from my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life," Mourdock said. "Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape, no I don't think that," Mourdock said. "Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that's not even close to what I said." Ok. So if a woman gets pregnant as a result of incest or being raped, God intended the pregnancy, but HE did not intend the rape. That sounds like what Rick Santorum once said, "I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created -- in the sense of rape -- but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you," Santorum told CNN's Piers Morgan in January. "We have to make the best of a bad situation." So was Mourdock saying is that he believes that life is a gift from God, that God intends life no matter what, even if the woman is forced, coerced, incested, or raped? Did he mean that the gift of the unborn life trumps even the woman’s will and she must accept the consequences and live with it the rest of her life, unless of course her life is endangered? For me, trying to understand what has become the American obsession with the “right to life” that translates into “no exceptions” is more than confusing. It’s plain scary. Theologically, this position is so thorny that those who are anchored in it must twist themselves into embarrassing knots to justify it. Some, like Missouri Senator Todd Aiken even went so far in defending the staunch “no-exceptions” policy that he actually said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he opined. "But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child." This is such a denial of the facts as to be indefensible. But it does illuminate the problem of having to follow an image of God that is all loving, all-knowing and all-powerful and who then forces HIS “gift” on women whether they want it or not! It makes God out to be saying something like the following: Look people, I, the Lord your God, intend there to be life whenever and wherever a man puts his penis into a woman and ejaculates. PERIOD! No matter HOW that penis and sperm got there, nor to what human it is attached to, from the moment physical copulation occurs, I command you to respect that penis as the giver of life. I INTEND for that act to result in THE GIFT OF LIFE. I want to be very clear here. I don’t want condoms, morning-after pills, coat hangers, or anything else in the way. My law is final. I don’t care if the man is a Taliban, a terrorist, a Democrat, a communist, a pervert or the Devil himself. I don’t care if the man is her father or a war criminal who uses mass rape in the service of genocide. I certainly don’t care if the woman herself gives her consent although I do feel her pain. I don’t even care if the woman is basically a child. If she is old enough to ovulate she is old enough to take responsibility for the situation. MY sole intention here is that my gift of life be respected. A woman’s lot is to either accept MY gift of life with joy and resignation or whine about it for the rest of her life. There are no exceptions. Now hear me on this! I am the ONE POWERFUL GOD OF CREATION, merciful and loving! Anyone on earth who mocks MY command by using abortion, birth control, family planning or any other liberal intervention to thwart my will on earth, is a murderer or a sympathizer. Therefore, I will punish such people in the afterlife by putting them in hell forever. And make no mistake; I will put them in prison in this life as well, just as soon as my faithful on earth are fully elected. But listening to so many politicians speak for God’s intentions, it does not seem far-fetched at all to conclude that it is this same God, the giver-of-the-gift-of-life who is also involved in being the giver-of-the-gift-of-death and who thus, may sound something like the following: Those of you who accept my doctrine of The Right to Life are my faithful. Because you are my faithful, you are saved. Because you are saved, you are my Chosen People. Because you are my chosen people, you have dominion over everyone and everything else on Planet Earth. Because you have dominion, you are superior to every living thing and endowed to rule. Because you are superior and endowed to rule, you are right to exploit this earth relentlessly for maximum profit. Because you are right to exploit this earth, anyone who stands in your way must be revealed as a parasite, a weakling, and a nay-sayer, which realistically, includes half of your midst. Your success at securing vast amounts of wealth and dominion for MY HOLY PURPOSES is simply a sign from ME that you have MY favor and blessing. I say unto you that your Right to Life means it is your duty to preemptively root out your enemies before they root you. This means that I allow you to deliver whatever means are at your disposal to eradicate the godless and defeat those who oppose you. And although it is unfortunate that many “so-called” innocent men, women and children may come in harm’s way, MY doctrine of Pro-life means it is preferable that those who are jealous of your freedoms and way of life, those who are not my chosen, should be cleansed of opportunity or life as the case may be. Your reward is to harvest the spoils of this earth as you see fit and enter my heaven in rapture during the last days, which by the way, are coming right up. So be it. Amen Whew! The problem here in insisting that God is an all-loving, all-knowing and all-wise Divine Being intimately involved in the day-to-day affairs of men, who then behaves like an arrogant, cruel & petty tyrant, makes God look either clinically insane, infantile, or pathologically addicted to power. Of course, this is intolerable. It defies logic and reason, feeling and intuition, with no exceptions. (OK, I admit, there are some people who want God to act like Hitler). But my point is, such an image of a deity defies intelligence. No version of God or image of God can survive the perception of the people that the God they live under has become an irrational, incompetent, raging fool. And none ever has, even if they have been exceptionally lived. That is why, in my opinion, those who adhere to this increasingly unbelievable image of God are beginning to fall apart at the seams trying to find logical explanations to mend the increasing numbers of bizarre irrational behaviors that this God continues to exhibit. It seems to me that is also why, throughout history, there have been these amazing transitional periods of change where there is quite literally times involving a “Changing of the Gods.” Or, more properly, a changing of the image of God. Zoroaster, Buddha, Moses, Christ, Mohammed, Lao Tzu, Pakal of the Mayans; all came along at some critical juncture in the evolution of consciousness to renew the sacred relationship between God and man. Those messengers, saviors, world teachers and visionaries transmitted to people a new vision of themselves and their place in the universe, thus renewing and revitalizing their dying culture. This is the function of myth and every society has one, whether it’s alive and well, or sick and ailing. The transmission and the delivery of that new vision enables the people to re-imagine or re-image themselves in such a way as to once again find purpose and joy while restoring the earth to health and bounty. Thus, it is no accident that when a culture is in decay, when the leadership becomes tyrannical, impotent, callous, or resorts to lies and denials simply to maintain power, when things begin to fall apart, when there is chaos, violence and a return to fundamentalism, when the old stories no longer work because they are filled with rigid dogmatisms and empty ceremonies, that is the precise moment that new visionaries arrive to tell a new and a more accurate Story about who we are. I believe that we are in now in such a period of momentous consciousness change. It could certainly be described as a “Changing of the Gods” moment. The hostility and dogmatism that has focused on a woman’s right to terminate her own pregnancy appears to be a symptom of this change that is part of the general indicators mentioned above. I think that it is extremely significant that after thousands of years of historical evolution the highest value our culture can bestow upon a person’s worth is how much wealth and power they have accumulated. If that is the culminating zenith of our society, then it seems almost obvious that something new is about to come along. Taken together, the 2000 year-old Judaic-Christian religious paradigm and the 400 year-old scientific paradigm seem to me to be sadly, in their present forms, no longer powerful enough, complete enough, nor true enough to deal with the collective challenges now facing us. Quite simply, they are contained in very small boxes at a time when we need a much bigger box than they offer. Neither provides us with a complete enough vision of who we really are, what our role on planet earth is and what is noble and worth doing. Neither is able to identify nor admit the possibility of a direct visionary experience of spirit that is now emerging in a new form of human, the homo luminous man and woman. It seems then that the ground is ripe for seeding. As it stands, form has been tyrannizing essence and essence represents our greater and truer Self. The visionary experience of the founders of the great spiritual traditions who symbolized the ability of this greater Self to manifest on earth has degenerated into religious dogmas, fanaticism, literalism and sound bites. Science continues to pathologize genuine visionary experience and treat it with drugs. Meanwhile, cultural support for an actual experience of the Divine, of unity of life, of love, which is our true purpose and calling, has been completely marginalized. Vision is definitely not what we are getting from our religious or political leaders or our media, whose current images of God are utterly obsessed by abortion, gay marriage, terrorists, and the entitlement of those who insinuate their own superiority. So in summary, the little story of Mourdock’s comments on rape and abortion is really a much bigger story about the growing pains of birthing a new, shared, collective belief system, a new paradigm. Out of the chaos of this moment, out of the immolation of the Phoenix, something entirely new seems destined to rise from the ashes. In this new consciousness, time itself will be seen as cyclic, not just linear. Consciousness itself will be accepted as the prime causal element in the universe. The feminine will become equal with the masculine, hierarchies will be replaced by cooperation; war and violence will become obsolete. Feeling will takes its rightful place next to reason. Gaia herself may become the new religion and direct contact with Divine Spirit will be seen as one’s birthright, no intermediaries needed. The greatest value will be love, not power. The new vision, I think, will be a renewed experience of what it means to live on earth as a co-creator, where all are co-interdependent; all equal, all divine, all brothers and sisters, and all members of a vast and beautiful bio-sphere who is itself, finally preparing to join an even grander scheme in the intergalactic union of stars and cosmic brotherhood.
Throughout the history of mankind, shamans, mystics, artists & visionaries have recorded spontaneous encounters with the divine or the demonic. They have spoken of visions, visitations by gods, angels, supernatural beings,journeys to heavens and underworlds and ecstatic union with God.These experiences, luminescent as they are, resulted in the activation of archetypal forces so powerful that they transformed not only the individuals who had them but in some cases the entire cultural paradigm for hundreds or even thousands of years. Every religion owes its origins to this kind of experience. Many great achievements, both in art and science have had their source in visions, dreams and intuitions. Historically, the renewal of culture itself is deeply connected to this kind of visionary experience, to the creation of a living myth, a Great Story, that influences and even structures whole cultures. Our own 400-year old paradigm of western-based science has largely discredited such experiences as infantile regression or superstition at best, and psychosis and pathology at worst. The voice of the mystic, the visionary and the God-inspired has been silenced from our awareness, in favor of a rigidly rational view of reality that is exclusively physical, material and validated solely through objective measurement, dissection and the five senses. The power of this world-view, this paradigm, has had a massive influence on every aspect of our society. So successful has this world-view been that we scarcely notice the assumptions upon which it rests. We take it as fact that logic and reason are superior to emotion and intuition, that man is separate from nature, that the parts explain the whole, that subjective knowing is invalid, and that consciousness is a result of the brain’s chemistry. Science assumes life to be an accident: the product of random mutations of chemical and atomic bonds. Evidence that suggests that consciousness may be beyond the brain is categorically rejected. Paradoxically, a large majority of us profess faith in a supreme deity. Yet despite our stated reverence of such visionaries as Christ, Buddha, Mohammed and saints who have insisted that a direct experience of a transcendent or immanent reality is our birthright, it is much more likely that the visions these people experienced would today by rejected or pathologized by both the spiritual movements they founded and our mental health institutions. It has been said that where there is no vision the people perish. Our culture appears in a state of crisis, of rapid and acute change. The Judeo-Christian image of god that has structured Western civilization for 2000 years is dying. The old moral consensus is gone, the old vision no longer guides us, the old answers don’t work. Evidence of being favored and blessed by God has been reduced to the quantity of wealth and political power we enjoy. Our supreme science remains impotent to validate the core of our inner experience, a soul it denies is real. This loss of vision leads to demoralization, breakdown, fanaticism, psychosomatic distress, addiction and collective crisis. Yet, it is precisely in these times, where new conditions necessitate a radical re-examination of our most basic values and outlook, that these ancient encounters with the divine may rise again in new visionary forms for the purpose of renewing, revitalizing and transforming our culture and our lives. As Joseph Campbell has said, “at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light. It is not improbable then that we may encounter someone engaged in their own visionary, mystical or dark night of the soul experience. If we respond with acceptance and respect, moving beyond the limitations of our own paradigm, they may reveal to us the radical self-organizing and healing potential that exists within a psyche that has touched the transpersonal. In doing so we gift our own collective with perhaps the very thing it needs at this time, and so we ourselves become an agent of renewal.