Rev. Rich Lang
A loss of stories caused our crisis; a new narrative is the only cure
The crisis of Western Civilization is at its root a spiritual crisis concerning loss of identity and purpose. Western civilization is founded upon the redeemer myths of the Jewish-Christian sacred stories. The Jewish redeemer myth went something like this: The Creator has chosen the Jewish people to build a state (Israel) that will act as a light to the nations. Through this state (Zionism) the nations of the world will be blessed, they will live in peace with justice for all. But this redemptive dream failed and came to its conclusion when the Roman Empire crushed the Jewish state in 70 A.D. The Jewish followers of Jesus re-interpreted the redeemer myth locating its fulfillment in the person of Jesus. Christians proclaimed that those who emulate his life and trust in his ongoing mystical presence will become the source of global peace and justice.
Unfortunately this also failed as the spiritual movement evolved into the institution we know as the church and became fully adaptive to the power of the Holy Roman Empire, which evolved into the fractured European states, and America, its bastard child. The crisis of our time is the loss of our sacred redemptive stories of identity and purpose. These sacred stories have not produced global peace and justice.
Israel, having reconstituted itself as a nation in history, has become simply another nation obsessed with its own survival. Christianity, having abandoned its teachings for the inclusion of the outcast and the poor, has been reduced to the militarism of Western imperial conquest.
The crisis is that we no longer have an identity or purpose. Having evolved out of sacred stories that teach us to be redemptive agents in history, we now find ourselves stuck in the old flatliner story of power and domination. Rather than redeeming the nations, we have become agents of oppression representing the very empire from which our sacred stories promised liberation. We have become the enemy from which we were once freed.
This is what the prophets of Hebrew scripture referred to as the loss of the word of God in history. In such a time everyone does what is right in their own eyes but the result is the bloody increase of violence and chaos.
The cure for such a condition can only come about when a people are ready to repent. Repentance, in our context, would mean to renounce the market militarism that is so disruptive of global peace and justice. But neither Zionism nor Christianity speaks such a word today. Both have submitted and adapted to the imperial story of global violence and chaos. In this context God’s redemptive word in history is being spoken, not within synagogue or church, but outside, in the Occupy Movement. Here, it is controlled by no one. Here, hope is being born.
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