Where do earthly concerns like climate change, environmental destruction, inhumane treatment, war and peace, human sexuality, economic justice, and feeding and housing the destitute intersect with faithfulness to our understanding of the Holy Spirit? It seems to me the answer to this question is, "Everywhere!" If humankind is "The image and likeness of God," then how we treat people and the Earth we are given to live upon is the true measure of how we relate to God. What matters is not what we profess to believe, but what we do unto others.
How well are we living up to the Golden Rule put forth in one form or another by all religions? Where are we today? Blind obedient servants of the corporate owned government! How many wars have we been in just during our lifetime? I've lost count. How many children have starved to death? How many species have gone extinct? How many life-sustaining resources are threatened? When are we getting some testosterone/estrogen to change this insanity? On the surface, it sure doesn't appear to be any time soon!
Well there have been some movements, such as the 99%. Seems they have gone underground. You don't hear about them much anymore. There are also voices within all the religions speaking up for honoring human nature and needs. They (we) may often feel like "voices crying in the wilderness" but perhaps we are "preparing the way."
The work of the Berrigan brothers helped me at a very early age to see that Christians were NOT necessarily entranced in a God and Country mentality. I lived close to Catonsville and cheered on their "subversive" and revolutionary work. Through the example of these protesting Priests, I began to see another slant on Christianity specifically and religion over all. Not all of them were 'evil!' Indeed, they emulated the love of Christ!
For God's sake, they followed the teachings of the Man they so adored! Love thy enemy as thyself. The evil we see in others is what we are most reluctant to see within ourselves. In Freudian terms, this is called projection. It was well known several thousand years ago. The command is reflected in our hands. Thus, if you point the finger at someone in blame, you have 3 pointed back at yourself. Yes, George Bush's calling the Iraqis evildoer is a projection about his/our own mindset.
Berrigan's work is reflected in the deep spiritual work of Francis and Elaine McGillicuddy. I met them through a permaculture group that my wife and I belonged to in Portland, Maine. Truly humane, truly religious people do walk among us here on earth. Francis and Elaine are living proof that Love, as we experience it here on earth, is a guide to God that leads more faithfully than institutionalized religion.
Both Francis and Elaine were of the same mentality as I was. In what I saw as a top-down system, the Catholic Church, they stood forth as a couple that spoke to peace from the bottom-up. Their acceptance of human love between a man and a woman as a sacrament of divine love rather than a violation, led them to marry even though it meant Francis' having to leave the Clerical Priesthood and Elaine's having to leave the Convent. In their peace activist work, alongside the Berrigans and others they shone a bright light on what true devotion to peace and justice means. Their labors were about fostering empowerment in the people they served and ministered to. In their work with permaculture, they truly GOT the relational view of the cosmos, of Nature. That ministry, as evidenced by the permaculture group, was also about love for Mother Earth.
Permaculture is about growing self-sustaining plants operating in relationship. Could this be a way back to the garden? Can we also become self-sustaining people operating in harmonious relationship with each other and all life on earth? Isn't this God's intention for us? Isn't it our own best intention for ourselves?
Religion in its epistemological ground is "to bind together". Religion in accord to this meaning could mean a binding of people who have similar views. In my opinion, it is more than that. It also means playing with your child, making love, or sitting under a tree in a forest to meditate.
In their work, Elaine and Francis were on target.
Religion is about the interrelationship of everything to everything else. This is true holiness or wholeness. Their work in permaculture gardening is the practice of religion. Their love is a manifestation of their religion.
Life with religious intent is seeing the sacredness of the All in every Participant. Indeed, as Christ is said to have come for the sake of all, then so has the fly. Why? Because that fly is a participant in the ecology and weather of the entire cosmos, as we all are. Thus, it is said in Chaos Theory, "A butterfly flapping her wings in China affects the weather in New York." Humans are divine and so is humus.
Elaine and Francis' work in permaculture realized that relationship. What they did in their gardening, and in their political and spiritual work, was to foster the essence of love through recognizing the interrelationship of everything to everything else.
Thus the mystic Meister Eckhart states: All creatures shout God! This work signifies that YOU affect everything else. This is the deep mystery of Elaine and Francis' spiritual example.
In some Gnostic Judea-Christian practices, this is reflected in the calling of God as the All. That includes the chirping cricket outside my window. That includes Elaine and Francis. And, it means you, the reader. It doesn't mean that as an atheist you don't shout "God!" It means that you do. In your essence you shout God, the Self (I AM) or Nature (Essence).
So, perhaps God is not preaching up on a pedestal, but is more bottom-up? As William Blake put it: