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The Titanic

September 2, 2016

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In the last decade of our communal experiment, as problems mounted and things became increasingly complex, we often employed the analogy of the Titanic. Wishing to keep our lifestyle afloat, but unsure of our ability to do so, we frantically adopted one emergency measure after another. In spite of all efforts, our social model was eventually abandoned, or rebooted into something else, as some prefer to call it. In short, the Titanic sank. A defeat? Not at all! It was actually a Godsend, a blessing in disguise that allowed many to progress and continue in their journey. It wasn’t painless, however, and as we now reflect on the past we usually do both, we reminisce on the good old days as well as come to some painful conclusions. Growing up isn’t easy but maturity is priceless.

Here is someone reflecting on something which I have also discovered since.

After decades of counseling, pastoring, and clumsy attempts at helping other people, I am coming to a not so obvious but compelling conclusion. Much of our helping is like hoping for a first-class accommodation on the Titanic. It feels good at the moment but it is going nowhere. The big tear in the hull is not addressed, and we are surprised when people drown, complain, or resort to lifeboats. Most of the people I have tried to fix still need fixing. The situation changed, but the core was never touched.

But what is the core? And how do we touch it? What does it mean essentially to help another person? … Call it grace, enlightenment, peak experience, baptism in the Spirit, revelation, consciousness, growth or surrender, but until such a threshold is passed, people are never helped in any true, lasting sense. After the early stages of identity and belonging are worked through, real transformation does not seem to take place apart from some kind of contact with the Transcendent or Absolute. We now live in a secular culture that is largely afraid to talk about such contact except in either fundamentalist or vague New Age language. Neither is sufficient to name the depth or the personal demand of the true God encounter. What characterizes the trustworthy conversion experience is a profound sense of meeting Another, who names me personally and yet calls me to a task beyond myself. Therapeutic healing will always be an effect, but it is never the goal itself or even a concern. One’s own wholeness pales into insignificance in relationship to the Wholeness one is now delighting in.” (Richard Rohr)

I can’t help but wonder about the cycle of birth, death and resurrection that we all know about, aware also that what does resurrect is never the same as what dies. To the inattentive eye, the new life is never as tangible or recognizable as the former. It is pointless then to hope for an institution that will represent the resurrected life. If we do, we are still looking for the old and not the new. We haven’t crossed our threshold yet, or our Jordan, as we used to call it. Eventually we will but it is a rare occurrence that our paths will cross again. When and if that happens, our congregational healing will only be an effect, not the goal and not even a concern. All that will pale in comparison to the personal resurrection that we will experience in the Wholeness.

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