Dedicated to finding a wonderful faith beyond the wall of orthodoxy

Author: Nat Huston

Climate integrity

Climate integrity…
… is behaving with net-zero ASAP as your highest value
… is something that no one can fully succeed at, so therefore we must be reticent about criticizing others or ourselves for our failures
… involves changes to behavior – lifestyle, attitudes, consumption choices, diet, mobility, social and political attitudes – … but…
… is foremost the dedicated adoption of a set of values: the values of a believer (determined, fervent, committed)

It is strong and clear values that provide personal meaning, that generates effective action.
Resignation and fear are our enemies, for they render our values impotent.
A religious believer feels in their heart that what they believe is not only true, but the deepest, most important truth.
No religion of old, nor contemporary worldview today, embodies an adequate response to human-induced climate change, which would span personal, community, national, and global perspectives in a way that neither our evolution as a species nor religious understanding can fully accommodate.
As when a war demands that one put one’s national identity and loyalty first, or the values springing from a religious conviction cannot bear to be violated, or at times one can only put self-interest first, so climate integrity in our time…

[Climate integrity]

… demands to be put in the foreground of our life-guiding values, even modifying the strength of our prior cherished ideas.

You can’t just adopt a new set of values through sheer intention or will. For values to take hold, you need new experiences and insight that changes your perspective.
To adopt the values of climate integrity as best we can, so as to let them work to change our behavior, we need a substitute for the relevant experience and insight we admit we don’t have.
Values are mostly derived from beliefs, which are instilled by authorities (parents, religious and cultural traditions) and personal experience.
To access the values of climate integrity, we proceed as if we believe certain things. It is most akin to having a set of religious beliefs. We don’t have to actually believe these particular things – few would, we may presume, and others may find any attempt to “believe” them to generate cognitive dissonance, as they conflict with their own dear convictions, whether these be religious, scientific, or secular-humanist.

[Climate integrity]

…is acting as if (we believe)

… the Earth is our God or sovereign, whom we seek to serve for our own salvation or safety

… our God/sovereign is not omnipotent in this sense: He/She/They long ago released control of what happens here… We have that control
… serving our Earth means doing everything we can to keep our sovereign’s fever down, by reducing greenhouse gas use by ourselves, by our communities and nation, and by all of our collective humanity, now, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives.
… it is important to welcome and initiate conversations about what is happening and what to do, without shutting down, or blaming, or either inducing or accepting debilitating guilt in ourselves
… we need to take tangible carbon emissions-reducing actions in our lives, large and small, and ongoing, some of which entail significant sacrifices to our comfort, convenience, and satisfaction
… we do not believe technological fixes alone will solve this
… we need to actively join with others to push hard for immediate and ongoing systemic change for climate stabilization (at the levels of government, investment, energy use, military, transport, employment, economy, climate mitigation, etc.)

We realize that just saying these last phrases produces a deadening, hope-destroying effect by invoking forces that are way out of our control and seem to be governed by narrow short-term self-interest, greed, willful blindness, carelessness, rivalry, envy, illusions, stupidity, laziness, and even malevolence.

[Climate integrity]

… is focused on conversations

… because they happen at a level we can have some control over, holding ourselves accountable not to succumb to hopelessness, resignation, fear, or impotent blame; nor to disengage into our own private thoughts

… and because more people engaged in more such interactions can lead to change, the basis for whatever hope we can muster to sustain our fervent values and “beliefs”

… leads us to wonder, How can these conversations go?

… if we acknowledge (at least to ourselves) that we are committed to act with the Earth as our soul and pre-eminent sovereign, above God, nation, tribe, and family (that is, to choose to act as if we believe that, even if in our hearts we don’t)
… and if, in service to our sovereign, we will allow neither resignation nor blame to rule.


We believe in God. But we do not see God as a being actively intervening in our world. We believe that God is, among other things, the Creator force that set the world in motion, and that God calls us, the Creation, towards love. In looking for God in our lives, we believe that the best place to find God is in ourselves and in each other. This can be difficult, because we acknowledge that we are also Fallen in a way – at least into separation from and ignorance of God. But we know that our enemy comes primarily in the form of fear and shame, and that our world today gives us too many ways to hide from ourselves and others, sunk in that alienation. We know that we need healing ways to sustain a mutual recognition that allows us to be freely ourselves, without fear or shame, in the presence of others. And we know how difficult that is.

So we ask, what is the purpose of a religious institution? We have seen evangelical congregations that allow for the emotive expression of our brokenness; mainline churches that do not attend to these emotional needs; myriad forms of self-help that send us off on solo missions of actualization. We want something more. The religious institution should help us learn and practice new ways of knowing – imaginal, unguarded – in a safe space. It should help us heal each other, and selected others, and ourselves. It should be a supportive community, and give us a way to worship God together. It should give us a context to examine Christian and its source religions’ traditions as believers without constraints of orthodoxy. Ultimately, in all this work for ourselves, it should aid in a global transformation to ecological civilization, for we believe our great mission is to sustain a long, rich, and flourishing state of life on this Earth, God’s Creation, entrusted in our hands.

The Timeless Harmony of Nature (Quotation from Clement)

It is dispiriting to hear of fires raging in California, the Great Barrier Reef dying, hurricanes growing in scale and ferocity, coastal flooding, whales moving north, aquifers drying, seasons shifting. In our age of climate change, species loss and competition for scarce resources, we have to up our game and take on the fact that fixing this mess is entirely on us. God is not going to do it. Building an armed cave won’t help. It is we who should thirst to help bring forth the ecological civilization – for a world a bit more paradisiacal, that is in our hands to construct!

We do not have the luxury of the poignant innocence of the first-century Christian, Clement, who wrote with eloquent watchfulness and awe:

The heavens move at his direction and obey him in peace. Day and night complete the course assigned by him, neither hindering the other. The sun and the moon and the choir of starts circle in harmony within the courses assigned to them, according to his direction, without any deviation at all. The earth, bearing fruit in the proper seasons in fulfillment of his will, brings forth food in full abundance for both humans and beasts and all living things that dwell upon it without dissension and without altering anything he has decreed. Moreover, the incomprehensible depths of the abysses and the indescribable judgments of the underworld are constrained by the same ordinances. The basin of the boundless sea, gathered together by his creative action into its reservoirs, does not flow beyond the barriers surrounding it; instead it behaves just as he ordered it. For he said, “This far shall you come, and your waves shall break within you.” The ocean – impassible by humans – and the worlds beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. The seasons, spring and summer and autumn and winter, give way in succession, one to the other, in peace. The winds from different quarters fulfill their ministry in the proper season without disturbance; the ever-flowing springs, created for enjoyment and health, give without fail their life-sustaining breasts to humankind. Even the smallest living things come together in harmony and peace. All these things the great Creator and Master of the universe ordered to exist in peace and harmony….  (The Apostolic Fathers in English, edited by Michael W. Holmes)

Would that it were so simple for us. But what if we instead say, “The Master put it in our hands to bring out the best that life in a loving universe can bring forth to thrive, to flourish, rooted and fruitful. We are the crown of Creation, there is no one else to do it, and we are not so fallen that we cannot rise to this charge.”

Made in the image of God

What is God’s will for me? How do I take the reins of self-direction on my path?

An image appears to me of the unique imprint on me “in the image of God.” Picture a globe, glowing white, with a surface of immense patterned complexity, like a circuit board, or the surface of a brain, or – the image that came to me – the surface of the Death Star, except inverted from black to white, and with a bright inner glow. This surface, this imprint is me as God’s will. It should be findable by me, if I sit in prayer and sincerely get to know the presence of God aside my being.

Here God is not be a supreme being, a divine person; my meaningful conception of God will be entirely personal to me (of course, the same access is available to everyone, equally uniquely to each); it is found only in that “image of God” that is me – that imprint, that template, which is all of what I was born with, the genetic heritage, the position of the planets and stars, the environment and family and culture and time, the formative experiences, the mind, the aptitudes and moods – all of that imprinted in a form that is love.

This “image of God” is the form, the imprint; it is the interface. It is a lot like my uniquely shaped brain, and more like my consciousness, if you just image these formations not as free-standing things, but as interfaces in contact with an en-forming shape without. And if you know that that shape is imbued as love. You must know it changes shape over time, even as it retains great continuity. This is the Presence. This is how I may know God.

I must spend time in my practice – let’s say, for now, Centering Prayer – if I am to know it. Not doing so has been my life before now. Mostly – not entirely – it has been a life of not knowing, too ignorant to try to know God, and myself. May this be my discipline, my healing, my way.

You’ve heard of the cosmic background radiation? The noise from behind the back row of the universe that comes from deepest reach of time? Very close to the Big Bang, found in equal strength from all directions, confirming for us our universe-origin story? Suppose that radiation is love. Divinity, God – not a personhood – can be seen as analogous to that.

New direction

Though mainline Christianity is the founding religious philosophy of the United States of America, it is withering on the vine. Americans have been casting about, with Evangelical faith being the dominant direction. But the 21st century will not be kind to orthodox faith of any kind. We need new voices who can create a human institution that, for once/finally, protects and enlarges the role of spirit in the world. We continue to look to the sources of Christian faith as we move forward into the 21st century.

Traditional Liberal doubt Over it Chrysterie (21st century-viable investigation of ancient sources)
The Bible is the inerrant, literal Word of God. [evangelical] The Bible is a human creation inspired by God. [mainline] The Bible is a human creation, not the Word of God. Documents of the Christian tradition (broadly, not just canonical) are the primary source for our examining our faith.
God acts in the world, for example in response to our prayers. God might act in the world, though we can’t find a consistent principle governing what prayers are answered. The “laws” or tendencies of nature dictate action in the world. Nothing more. God does not act directly in the world, but probably/possibly exerts a pull in the form of Love as an active principle of Creation. Further, we can’t be sure what influence our prayers have in the spiritual realm.
To be saved, you must accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior. I have faith in Jesus Christ, but there’s room for other faiths in this world. I do not subscribe to the Christian faith. Our personal salvation is not a meaningful goal in our Christian faith. But to the extent that we can and should save ourselves and others from suffering the consequences of our sins, that is our work to do.
God is a Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is best understood by humans as the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God does not exist. God is not definable as Persons, single or multiple; the Trinity is a human formulation to make sense of the divine as described in scripture.

Chrysterie is Christ – mystery – reverie ….

We needed a name that centered on the Jesus path. And we needed a name that acknowledges that mainstream Christians would challenge whether we are Christian at all, and at the same time that simply calling ourselves Christian leads non-Christians to ascribe to us a bundle of beliefs to which we do not subscribe.

The earliest followers of Jesus were deeply versed in the ways of mystery religion. For us, we recognize that no deep belief – no belief brought out of real wisdom – can be explained exhaustively in words. There is at the center of the most meaningful religious beliefs an element that is not knowable with certainty, not definable, and in fact paradoxical. We understand that what we would convey to the world cannot be boiled down into simple formulations.

When words are done, what have we left but art – beauty – poetry – gesture – music – contemplation – experience – ritual – communion – relation – belonging, to show what we mean? What seems solid in this life is mostly a human construction, floating on our assent. All this is, indeed, a reverie.

If we say that many of the great pillars of standard, orthodox Christianity are simply not believable, that is not to say that there is nothing believable or worthy in the tradition! Quite the opposite is the case. This is the vast, relatively ignored and unknown terrain we traverse and chart.

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