This esoteric thread, when taken seriously, implies that America was founded not just for American citizens, but to serve as a beacon of light, hope, and justice for all humankind - a new template for human society. Francis Bacon, the English philosopher and scientist, publicly declared America to be the New Atlantis, a vision that inspired many immigrants to make the journey.
Regardless of whether we believe Atlantis existed, our collective imagination and esoteric traditions memorialize it as a culture that was both technically and spiritually advanced. Bacon's proclamation suggests that America was seen as the fulfillment of the ancient dream of a culture where growth in knowledge and spirituality could proceed hand in hand. In Europe, entrenched aristocracies and church powers simply held too much sway.
Seen through this lens, then, America is involved in a project that is simultaneously spiritual and worldly -- the creation of a society that is technologically advanced and spiritually whole, with principles that show deep respect for the individual divinity in each of us. This is commemorated on our Great Seal with the words Novus Ordo Seclorum, a "new order of the ages."
Of course, we're a long way from actualizing our ideals. In looking at current leadership and national actions, our lower natures have, on the whole, trumped our higher ones. Our political leaders are rarely enlightened exemplars. Our wealth creation is often exploitative and environmentally destructive. We are just as often bullies on the world stage as we are servant- leaders. On the whole, America has a beautiful mission but has not achieved its full embodiment.
All of which brings us to America's connection to Christianity. I believe a deeper understanding of this lineage can help us to realize the dream of simultaneously advancing scientific and spiritual development. The conventional view of Christianity, which dominates our national discourse, often pits it against intellectual, political, and spiritual freedoms.
This does not resonate with the historical picture of Jesus that is emerging. Jesus was a political radical, revolutionary in his ideas and no milquetoast advocate for the status quo. He was also deeply democratic and would not have accepted the supposed singularity of his realization. The process of becoming Christed - the divinization of individual human beings - was, in his view, accessible to all: "All this ye shall do and more."
In many ways, Jesus' life and teachings were aligned with creating a political philosophy that is committed to expanded intellectual freedom as well as democratic and evolutionary spirituality.
That's why the Christian right is not quite right in saying that we are a "Christian nation"- it's more correct to say that we are a Christing nation that is evolving a marriage between science and spirituality, technical progress and conscious growth. Jesus overturned the money-lenders' tables as an expression of the call for justice. He manifested miracles as a demonstration of the power of our intention. He did not remain in enlightened bliss on a mountaintop but got involved in transforming the affairs of the world. That's what I view as the deeper spiritual principle of Christing, a literal making divine of manifest reality.
A nation based on an orientation of Christing loves the process of evolution and eagerly draws the best wisdom, insight, and practices from every major religion. A Christing nation celebrates its scientists and trains them to wield their power with wisdom and compassion. A Christing nation loves the body and beauty, sexuality and experimentation. A Christing nation is dedicated to slowly bringing into practice great transcendental truths. Such a nation has embarked on an evolutionary adventure rather than simply following ancient guidelines.
If we can recognize the evolutionary embrace at the heart of the Christ path, there is the possibility to marry that with religious pluralism and scientific advancement. Such a stance welcomes the work of groups from pagans to alchemists, from Advaita teachers to Tibetan lamas. These threads of wisdom become essential for us to marry our scientific advancements with progress in our soul evolution. Out of this marriage, our country can grow in a more balanced way and better fulfill our founding ideals.
Sacred America Series #6
If you'd like to receive these weekly articles exploring a vision for Sacred America, you can sign up on the distribution list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stephendinan/ or visit www.stephendinan.com .