Book Review – When the Disciple Comes of Age

I’ve been reading a book called: “When the Disciple Comes of Age, Christian Identity in the Twenty-first Century” by Diarmuid O’Murchu, MSC. (available on Kindle or online bookshop). The best description that I like of him is: a Catholic priest and enthusiastic commentator on the interplay between religion, science, and spirituality. Even though a few years back he would have been ex-communicated!

I got a lot out of the book: It’s been very useful to me because after reading Spong; I felt that my ‘lack of faith’ had somehow made me (as Spong says) an exile in my own church. However the concept and process of ‘coming of age’ in this book leaves me feeling that I am; in fact, at the forefront of a movement of Catholics that are re-imagining the message of Jesus which inevitably, and it may even lead to the Church returning to be a ‘servant community’.

 I have to say that I found some of the chapters quite a struggle as they introduced some new and different concepts; for example; one of the key themes is Jesus as the archetype and I found it difficult to fully understand, more on that below, I hope it makes sense.

In this first chapter, the writer spends a lot of time on the topic ‘quantum evolution’ and the relevance of that didn’t dawn until I finished the book. My most basic understanding of it is that it relates to evolution of the smallest amount of a physical quantity (or energy) that can exist independently, especially a discrete quantity of electromagnetic matter. I think quantum evolution theory proposes that everything is energy and every bit of that energy in the universe is continually evolving and will continue to evolve for ever whilst the energy exists.

 Equally there are many ‘pearls of wisdom that resonate with me, such as:

In relation to faith ……..

”we are not dealing with a simplistic and reckless abandonment of all that has gone before. What we are rejecting are the dogmatized edifices whereby a onetime truth claimed that it was permanent and could never be altered…….”

And ……

“When you are confronted by evidence that the faith in which you were brought up no longer provides an adequate explanation for the nature, meaning and purpose of your life, you have three choices:

  1. You can refuse to accept the evidence and continue as before. 
  2. You can abandon the faith you grew up with, because it proved inadequate. 
  3. Or, third, you can accept the new knowledge and use it to develop a more mature understanding of what lies at the core of your beliefs.

The first response is intellectually dishonest, the second is intellectual laziness, the third is a stance of critical acceptance, leading to reinterpretation of core concepts. Every advance in understanding invites us into a deeper faith.

……. our coming of age is a wake-up call to realise that we are a derived species, creatures of a cosmic planetary evolutionary process in which growth and progress of each entity – ourselves included – is only possible when we opt to integrate our becoming with that larger reality”.

I’ve attempted to precis the chapters below:

 Can Christianity survive?

Faith is not a settled belief but a living process. The claim of absolute truth is the greatest single obstruction to theological honesty”. (Catherine Keller).

Today, Christianity is a religion of 2.2 billion people, Roman Catholics comprise 1.2 billion of these. It is the legacy of Constantine (272 – 337 AD) and his irrational desire for control and conformity; i) he created a world where fidelity to a fixed set of unchangeable rules and structures meant that any divergence was deemed to be deviant or heretical, and ii) the rationalistic anthropology of Aristotle has sustained the Church’s power through to the 20th century. Clearly, this still infects the Church today.

O’Murchu shares his personal reflection here; saying that in the pre-adult stage of his life his unquestionable truth was that there was one true Church, and any other should be viewed with hostility and suspicion. Such fear was based on the need to placate a demanding God, who would call us to account at the end of our days. In his first adult years, he began to realise that the Catholic Church’s presentation of God, differed from his observed view of the humanity of Jesus; i.e. a God of judgement v a God of Love. In his mid-life, he began to drift away from the Catholic monopoly and become aware on the ‘Kingdom of God’ as the central feature of his faith and the message of Jesus; and that Catholicism was just one denomination in a much larger sense of faith.

His ‘Coming of Age’ over the last 10 years has arisen from reflections on a part of the Sermon on the Mount “Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well”- O’Murchu says that striving to honour this as his priority has now become his life’s work …

 Contemporary scholars believe the Jesus was born around 7 BCE and crucified between 30 AD and 33AD. He was born into a Jewish family replete with Jewish devotion and religious observance as a faithful loyal Jew. Some scholars consider that Jesus’s mission was the reform of a corrupt Judaism rather than founding a new religion. This is backed up by the Gospels which detail Jesus’s conflicts with his inherited religion and his passionate desire for justice and freedom which eventually marked him for crucifixion.

O’Murchu introduces the concept that Jesus is the archetype: that is; Jesus as the Human face of God, (I understand this word archetype to mean: the personification, embodiment, incarnation or essence of God – but I may not be right!).

The book then spends sometime explaining the development of the Gospels and Epistles which it says weren’t written to describe the historical events and parables attributed to Jesus in his time They were written to introduce the empowering faith in the Risen Christ to non-Jewish communities; and drove the Christian faith movement in the first few hundred years. In 70AD, Judaism was confronted by a series of catastrophic event of war and the final destruction of the Temple by the Romans, after that the Synagogues that became the focal point for the Jewish faith.

Then Constantine came along in the in the 4th Century that established Christianity as the State religion with a solid doctrinal basis which dictated what people should believe.

Things took an ominous twist following the Council of Trent (1645 – 1563 AD) which endure to the present time. Trent heralded the Church into a period of clerical domination, legalistic control and a great irrational fear of any outside threats to its power which still exists today.

Trent, put in place structures and regulations that entrenched clerics a superior people who were ‘in charge’ best described as:

  1. Male, faithful to Aristotle’s anthropology,
  2. White, which essentially meant European at the time;
  3. Celibate, viewed as asexual being a quality of holiness equal to God himself;
  4. Clerical, fundamentally equal in power to God and authorized to speak on God’s behalf.

With this structure in place no independent thought could be tolerated and certainly no ‘coming of age’ was possible.

This power structure perpetuated dependence and devotionalism that kept ‘the faithful’ feeling unworthy, obedient and subservient. Original Sin highlighted the central plight of humanity, condemning them to a state of perversion and sin that could only be rescued by penance and prayer in the hope of making up to Jesus for his cruel sufferings.

Lay people were deemed spiritually unworthy and developed a range of popular devotions to satisfy their emotional and spiritual thirst; (pilgrimages; statues novenas, fasting and compulsory frequent attendance at Church).  Often these practices had little theological or scriptural basis but the ecclesiastical powers promoted and encouraged such devotional practices.

 Part Two – Re-visioning Our Christian Story.

Literalism, rationalism and spiritualism are amongst Christianity’s greatest distractions. The Gospels undoubtedly preserved a cherished memory of Jesus and how he was remembered by some of his followers. But nothing in the Gospels or the entire scriptures can be taken literally by us today.

 For the post-Tridentine Church, there was only one ‘Truth’ and that was through the teaching authority of the Church; but much of this was reflected in a pre-occupation with law and canonical regulation that led to the Code of Canon Law in 1917.

For example: The rules relating to marriage. Prior to Trent marriage was not a sacrament; the Church merely blessed the union; after Trent we see a gradual movement to control every aspect marriage and it is estimated that about 1/3rd of the Code of Cannon Law is about marriage.

 Up to the mid 20thcentury, theologians were ordained priests and formally mouth-pieces for the hierarchy. The grip began to loosen around 1970 when 5% of theologians were estimated to be lay people; today it is 60%. With more and more people ‘Coming of Age’; theologians began to question and even disagree with the official teaching of the Church. Truth is no longer seen as an ecclesiastical reserve.

In the latter part of the last century, people began to walk away from the Church and no longer felt guilty; suddenly everything was being questioned. Public media questioned, exposed and highlighted what the Church did and what they asked people to believe and practice. A so-called new Atheism arose and many people started to describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’, others said they believed in God but not the one of their youth.

 But out of all this, Jesus survived, Jesus still fascinates and engages us in the 21st Century. But it is the attractive lure of his radical humanity rather than his divinity; his subversive and empowering story telling; rather than metaphysically couched dogmas; and his liberating and empowering vision for humankind expressed by his ‘Kingdom of God’ vision; rather than an affiliation with a Church or sect. In his death, salvation and redemption became a human responsibility and his resurrection can be celebrated in all who rise from the depths of despair; incarnating a hope of Heaven on earth.

 Where do we begin?

Jesus is very deliberately trying to short circuit that grasping, acquiring, clinging, comparing linear brain and to open up within us a whole new mode of perception, not what we see, but how we see, how the mind makes its connections. This is a classic strategy of a master of wisdom” –(Cynthia Bourgeault).

This chapter talks about the impact that the commissioning of the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible (around 383 CE) by effectively which effectively closing off all other scriptural evidence and leaving us with the 4 gospels and a bunch of epistles.

From the 4th century, Christianity became the formally approved religion of the Roman world and the notion of a fixed text and accompanying rigidity of doctrine became widely accepted and has remained so until the 20th century.

A literal interpretation of scripture was normative; reflecting a divine imperial mandate from a God that couldn’t err, and whose one true nature could only be revealed by the one true Church. In 1943 Pope Pius XII allowed a new mandate to probe other scriptural evidence and to interpret it in the light of current knowledge.

 The Writer’s Personal Reflection.

Throughout the book, O’Murchu takes time aside from the text to personally reflect on what he’s written. In this chapter; he’s reflecting on the words of an American writer in 2014 named James Carroll, dealing with the humanity and divinity of Jesus. He asks the questions: “What might an archetypal interpretation look like? Is the archetypal and the divinity one and the same or are they different and where does the difference lie?”

 O’Murchu says he was led more and more “to the human face of Jesus and gradually began to believe that the doctrinal emphasis on the divinity of Jesus was used to cow believers into submission and obedience to the patriarchal church. Instead of being the basis for a mature and empowering adult faith, it kept people locked into an unhealthy co-dependence”. “at times, all the focus on Jesus’s divinity felt like a gross distraction from that radical new way of being human revealed in the historical Jesus’s life and ministry”.

James Carroll comments that the early followers of Jesus do not seem to have been ‘torn by this contradiction, namely the distinction between the humanity and divinity of Jesus. In other words, early Christians were able to integrate these seemingly opposite characteristics, because they had access to a quality of creativity and imagination that our excessively rationalised world has subverted …’

A Scripture Scholar, John Dominic Crossan (1996) gets it absolutely right in his witty and oft-quoted passage “My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally’.

 Towards an Archetypal Jesus.

I have to spend a bit of time on the ‘archetype’ concept as it is a significant part of the book.

O’Murchu quotes Walter Wink (2002) “the interminable debate about the two natures of Jesus seem to me to be totally off the mark; they strike me as an irrelevancy carried over from a world view that for many is now defunct”.

Describing Jesus as the archetype of the Human Being, mediates the possibility of Human Being becoming more human in the image and likeness of God. The Human Being is a catalytic agent for transformation providing the form, lure and hunger to become that we are meant to be …….more importantly Jesus shows us something of what it means to be human ….

Winks empowering Christology is centred on two notions:

  1. The primary identity of God working in and through Jesus is of an archetypal nature, and that archetypal intent become manifest primarily in the humanity of Jesus.
  2. While embracing all that is genuine in the ordinariness of the human condition; there is an extraordinariness to become what we are meant to be.

O’Murchu then delves into the aura of energy fields that each physical body has; I’ll skip this part for the time being.

 He then provides a brief resume of the outstanding feature that constitute the human archetype:

  1. One who brings the creative energy of the universe to a new and empowering transparency.
  2. One who evidences in one’s life a compelling sense of transcendent meaning.
  3. One whose entire mode of being is living proof that we inhabit a universe where rationality is the prime ordeal orientation of all that exists.
  4. One who recapitulates and embodies for our contemporary world something of the rich and complex development of our species throughout 7 million years of human evolution.
  5. One who seems to be endowed with a deeper capacity for integrating light and shadow.
  6. One for who the pursuit of rationality is of secondary concern, with intuition, imagination and the create urge at the fore.
  7. One whose foundational identity transcends the culture of nationality, ethnicity and religious allegiance.

 This may require us to put aside the reference to Jesus as Messiah and the attribution to Jesus as ‘the only Son of the Father’. The title of Christ is so overloaded with historical baggage – patriarchal, imperial, religiously exclusive, excessively anthropocentric that it’s probably not a useful or responsible title anymore. We can never access the fuller and deeper meaning of Jesus, solely by focussing on his individual human personhood, which Christendom has done for most of the 2000 years. Jesus represents something much bigger; deeper and more mysterious, the Gospels describe this as the Kingdom of God.

The world that Jesus entered was seething with human longings, messianic dreams, millennial fantasies, apocalyptic desperation, mystical revelations, suicidal nationalism, religious critique and reform, reactionary rigidity and a sense that time was collapsing. In such an environment, Jesus was like a beacon that drew all the mythological motifs (of King, Lord, Messiah, Redeemer etc.) to himself.

In the world that Jesus entered – the rescue, the redemption of God’s people, could only come from God, divinity is endowed with elaborate, extraordinary powers leaving humans powerless and estranged – leaving humans with little hope other than to throw ourselves at the mercy of the redemptive divine rescuer.

How do we transcend this inherited bondage, this co-dependency in which we have been trapped for centuries?

One remarkable passage from the encyclical letter of Pope Francis “Laudato Si’, offers a life line: “Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves, or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it” (no.139).

We cannot evolve and realise a more authentic life as earthlings without a whole new immersion in the creation in which we belong.

This is our deepest archetypal identity, our God-given gift of organic life.

This is a ‘coming of age’ – our true humanity belongs to the earth and to all that constitutes the cosmic web of life; in this interconnected web, there is no metaphysical difference between human and divine.

In the Christian narrative, Jesus provides a template of what that archetypal human looks like and how we can best live it.

The Post-Kingship Horizon.

O’Murchu reflects on his early priesthood days, saying he had no recollection of the “Kingdom of God” being emphasised or explained, then about 10 years later I began to realise that the role of the Church is to bring about the “Kingdom of God” as expressed through the life and word of Jesus.

His greatest single conversion was the gradual awareness that Christians have been hoodwinked for centuries by the Church.

Jesus entered a world haunted by failure; The Kings (David, Solomon etc.) had failed to rescue Israel, the prophets had failed to change the power systems, the apocalyptic forecast of God’s judgement failed to produce a breakthrough.

Jesus rose to the occasion; not with another panacea from God, but with a transformative vision that could modify human and earthly reality in a substantial way.

Did Jesus succeed? Or perhaps the more relevant question is, did human allow him to succeed?

O’Murchu says that it has taken us 2000 years to catch up with what Jesus is all about, and we are still trying to unravel the barriers we have put up to preserve our addiction to the patriarchal, king-like power of the Church.

O’Murchu says a lot of the old language to describe the significance of the historical Jesus’s life and ministry can no longer be justified. So, he introduces the words ‘the companionship of empowerment’ to describe the mutual participation and interdependence of Jesus with us in the ‘Kingdom of God’.

There is no longer any kingship, no elitism, no exclusion, no power for the privileged few. In the words of Wendy Farley (2011) “in this empire (Kingdom of God) neither victims nor perpetrators find the door slammed in their faces …. If we accept its healing, we are asked to accept that everyone else in the entire world is a citizen of this kingdom’. In the companionship of empowerment, one of the ground rules seems to be that no one is out, and therefore everyone is included. And no longer is power and privilege reserved for a selected few.

 Archetypal Identity in the New Companionship.

John the Baptist asks questions of Jesus, and Jesus responds by saying stop looking at me, the individual hero/saviour. Look at my mission and my relationship with people. A new sense of what it means to be a person, relational, inclusive and empowering.

Modern anthropology asserts ‘I am at all times the sum of my relationships, and this is what gives me identity’. This may also be applied to our identity with the ‘World’ too.  In the 21st century, we need to have a greater understanding that in a relationship sense, we are one world.

Walter Wink says ‘incarnation is a task for us all to accomplish and not just some divine attribute of Jesus’.

This view tears down the separate individualism propounded by Aristotle and so cherished by the patriarchal male, which has supported power, domination and competition in the World.

None of us can grow into ‘the fullness of life’ (John 10) without genuine relational interconnectedness with each other and nature. We are all programmed for this connectedness. 

Conventional Christian faith emphasizes salvation in a life beyond the present.

The companionship of Empowerment shifts the focus of salvation to God’s creation, it is not a program to obtain salvation in Heaven, rather it is about bringing heaven to earth, collaborating with God; as Jesus did in an eminent way.

The primary relationship to which every human is born is with the cosmic/planetary web of life. God is the empowering process of the evolution that animates and sustains all life.

Our personal and interpersonal response or salvation depends on how we respond to the lure of evolutionary transformation. 

We are not, and were never meant to be violent imperial exploiters of the earth’s and universe’s resources. 

It may be idealistic because we currently life in a different world where evil grips the World through gross exploitation that ravages the earth and where there is indisputable violence.

Jesus did not avoid this paradox, rather he entered deeply into it, in his life, death and resurrection- thus showed Christians how to authentically engage with the paradox that we have today. 

Discipleship in this new reign of God’ as empowering companions’ is a process that is as vast as creation itself and knows no closure. There are no chosen people for we are all called and we are all loved unconditionally and that is our starting point. 

But there is one big catch! We can’t do it on our own.

The Subversive Horizon of Parable Narrative”. 

In this chapter, O’Murchu says that many of the parables have been heavily sentimentalised by the Gospel writers turning them into child-like devotional stories and very likely miss the point. Others are allegorized and used as stories to highlight salvation wrought by Jesus over the rejection he suffered at the hands of the Jews.

For example, the parable of the householder who wakes is neighbour with persistent pleas for 3 loaves of bread for him to feed his friend who had come to him unexpectantly from a long journey. The householder is so persistent that the neighbour relents and gives him the bread. Luke allegorizes the parable using it as a rationale for persistent prayer to our heavenly father will eventually be answered, whereas its foundational meaning as a parable may be about Jewish hospitality and community.

Another example is the parable of the Talents, if you go to Wikipedia it says that it is a capitalistic story of the wasteful servant who buries his talent compared to the others who invest it and increase its worth. Preachers have promoted the allegorical message reminding us that we should use our talents, indicating the price we will have to pay if we fail to do so.

Given Jesus’s agrarian audience, it’s unlikely that this was his message. For a start, the ‘talent’ was a financial measurement of grand proportions – one talent was 20 years wages and 5 talents equalled the astronomical sum of 100 years wages. This story was told in a time when simple people have no security of an annual wage or even the prospect of making a ‘profit’ or ever saving a Scheckel.

Imagine yourself in the crowd listening to Jesus; a crowd that bore the burden of Roman taxes and forced contributions to the Temple. Many of the crowd would have no education other than their agrarian knowledge, but they would know their Hebrew scriptures which forbad usury and the thought of somebody making a 100% profit would have provoked anger and outrage. Anyone who did have a spare shekel would surely bury it secretly to keep it safe.

An alternative view of this parable is that the person with the one talent chooses not to collude with the system of financial exploitation, instead he opts to be the whistle -blower, calling the brutal landlord to accountability and exposing his shameful, underhanded tactics ‘you sow where you have not reaped and gather from what you have not scattered’.

O’Murchu gives other interesting examples.

The Empowering Horizon of Miraculous Breakthrough.

This chapter is about the veracity of the miracles recorded in the gospels. O’Murchu offers a few explanations but ultimately concludes his view that the primary meanings of the miracle narratives are in the symbolic and metaphorical realms; so there is no point in trying to figure out exactly what happened or trying to verify them objectively or historically 

He goes onto say that the oldest New Testament writings by St Paul never allude to miracles, even so, Jesus could have had an abundance of healing powers as might be displayed by a prophet or healer who was imbued with the Spirit of God. 

Miracles should not be seen as proof of Jesus’s divinity but rather as a mutual empowerment of divine power in everyone. 

He goes on to re-interpret the miracles relating to disability and exorcism saying that they are the result of the treatment given by the gospel writers and do not reflect the mission of Jesus.

Contrary to this view O’Murchu says the miracle ‘parables’ provide foundational evidence of the Kingdom of God at work in Jesus’s life and ministry; in the same way that the parables provide primary insight into a whole new way of being in God’s world.

He uses the story of the Gerasene demoniac who on meeting Jesus, worships him and acknowledges him as the Son of the Most High. A conversation ensues between the demons and Jesus and culminates in the transfer to a herd of 2000 pigs. Next, the demoniac man is healed, clothed and at peace, so much so that he asks to be Jesus’s disciple.

In Mark’s gospel this is a story, but look at it as a parable we see hidden subversive meaning. There are repeated references to military undertones, the ‘legion’ the ‘charge’ and the ‘herd of pigs’ (sic. 10th Legion stationed in Syria called ‘The Boars’) – could this be a parable about the unwanted presence of the Roman occupation and oppression and may be the theme of driving out the Romans is the crucial point of this story?

The Miraculous Breakthrough.

The fact that abysmal powerlessness exists in the world today is not a divine problem but a human one that we have created, and one that we have to resolve if we are to ‘come of Age’. Jesus provides the blue print, God and the Universe are awaiting our collaboration.

Whenever Jesus finds evil in his ministry, he opposes it, the movement of his life, its driving force and direction is against evil and for health, freedom, forgiveness, wholeness and fullness of life.

The miracles epitomize a parable-type transformation in which the new reign of Godliness and empowering goodness seeks to undermine for ever the shadow of evil. But the onus of this transformation is not on divine intervention but on a new awakening of the human soul with a passion for liberating love and empowering justice.

The Subverted Horizon of Female Discipleship.

Desiring to impress his readers in the Roman Empire with trustworthiness of this new Christian movement; Luke consistently depicted men in leadership roles to conform to the Empire’s standards and kept women in the back ground, even ignoring the leadership roles that they held.

Luke’s negative treatment is highlights in the story of Martha and Mary where one is castigated as the active one and the other is exalted as the passive one. The second occurrence is the re-missioning of Pentecost whereby the primary group who bore witness to the risen Christ (Mary Magdalene and her followers) are ignored in favour of the chosen twelve men.

Women feature extensively in the Scriptures, most are not named and rarely given voice. This legacy of invisibility needs to renamed and reversed, at stake is not merely the restoration of womanhood in the Church, but the prospect of a more dignified identity for male and female alike.

The Spirit Comes Of Age.

Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science become convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a spirit vastly superior of mankind, and one in the face of which we with modest power, are humbled’ Albert Einstein.

In the 60’s and 70’s the Death of God movement captivated western thought, largely view the redemptive view of the Christian God had lost its meaning; the phrase ‘God is dead’ was then used to reflect increasing non-belief in God.

For Christians, the ‘coming of age’ phrase captivated a growing sense of disillusionment with the Church and its images of god, leaving many disillusioned and hopeless. Others came to discern a deeper meaning of incarnation bringing them to the closeness of God to the human condition rather than the fear-filled judgement of a distant patriarch.

O’Murchu say that in broad terms he detects three cultural orientations of how contemporary humans relate to God:

  1. Take God lightly, fulfil religious obligations in a good enough way and don’t take religion seriously.
  2. Control God, either intellectually by trying to figure out everything about the divine, or religiously by tailoring religion to one’s individual needs;
  3. Mystical surrender – allow God’s unconditional love to become the primary focus for a meaningful life.

Much of this book relates to the latter. Beyond the dogmas, creeds and religious debates and no matter how complex and contradictory life is – the mystery we inhabit is fundamentally benign. This marks a ‘coming of age’ that was in the past associated with mysticism, and one that has outgrown explicit religious context and is free to flourish in the cultural context. Almost ‘beyond religion’.

One wonders; says O’Murchu; if we have not come the full circle; this mystical orientation to which a growing number of older people are drawn seems remarkably similar to the faith in the Great Spirit which never suffered from the adversarial split between heaven and earth , nor the theological division between Creator and the created universe.

First and foremost the Great Spirit denoted the foundational energy out of which all life is begotten, grows and flourishes, it knows no beginning or end and it energises all creation.

The Spirit in Creation.

O’Murchu bemoans our neglect of the Holy Spirit. Even when the 1960’s the renewal movement revived the Holy Spirit, the Pentecostal movement; which was the most successful of these; focussed on conversion and spiritual well-being of its followers; and remains a person-centred movement today. In doing so, the role of the creative energising Holy Spirit at the dawn of creation continues to be overlooked.

He advocates a new theological horizon which he says is similar to the indigenous notion of the Great Spirit. He expands the current narrow limits of major religions which view God primarily (and exclusively) for the benefit of humans, and it locates the creative imperative of the Holy Spirit at the heart of creation itself – thus inviting humans to a whole new ‘coming of Age’ as creative responsible earthlings.

Mainline religion has long been seen as the foundation for a more ethical and responsible way of living; however, such morality is ‘human focussed’ and embedded between the sacred and secular. Such morality is not much use in the complex evolutionary context of the 21st century.

Engagement with the Great Spirit and reconnection with indigenous people can spur us to be more involved and engaged in this ethical revival.

O’Murchu follows this line of the Spirit or Great Spirit through to the end of the book and believes that in the past; inherited religions have decided our faith and morality based on Patriarchal control of creation.

A morality focused on the Spirit or Great Spirit would be much more expansive and inclusive of all life, planetary or cosmic.

He then moves towards an integration of our current way of life with a new way of life, by stating:

  1. God – is the fundamental mystery at home in the evolving creation without beginning or end.
  2. Creation – is an evolving process which draws its purpose from the Spirit.
  3. The Human – is defined solely by its capacity to ‘belong’ – we belong to the earth and the Spirit – we control nothing and are interdependent on every level.

To achieve greatness, our potential and uniqueness we must ‘come of age’ in relation to the world around us.

On the Wave of a Synthesis:

A flourishing humanity on a thriving planet, rich in species, is the vision that must guide us, otherwise we are on track for the death and destruction of our world and species.

The glory of God in our World does not begin with Jesus nor was he sent to rectify a fundamental flaw that brought death to the world.

Rather, the glory of God is in a creation 13.8bn years old and in our human story of evolution of some 7m years. To suggest that there was a Garden of Eden doesn’t make sense.

Jesus is not about setting right the fall of mankind from God’s favour, but rather and invitation to embrace our true nature and identity; which in Christian terms means ‘the Kingdom of God’.

The terrible drama of life and death is a deep paradox of creation-cum-destruction is not a flaw, but the underlying paradox through which everything in creation comes to life, flourishes and dies – the essence of evolution.

Living the ecological vocation of the Spirit.

We are overloaded with the view that we are the centre of creation, that we are superior creatures and that the earth is there for us to use and abuse.

The ‘Coming of Age’ includes the realization that God won’t rescue us! It’s not God’s problem, the problem is ours. Bringing about the ‘Kingdom of God’ for us is the only way out of our dilemma.