Introduction: An Old Preacher’s Manifesto

This is a blog post of my revised Kindle book available at Amazon.com for $2.99–and you can read it here for free. I used WordPress to revise the book, and am posting it here for people who don’t have a Kindle and don’t want to bother with a Kindle App for their PC or Mac or Tablet, or who just like things that come with no strings attached.

Manifesto is a companion volume to A Handbook for the Spiritual Journey, which is listed in the menu line above. All of the items there have a drop-down list of chapters, or sections, available by clicking on the respective titles. You can also keep up with additions as I post them by clicking on the “follow” button below.

Having done it for 40.5 years (In the Presbyterian Church USA), I developed an idea of how it ought to be done–the church as we need it to be. That idea includes what needs to go and what needs to come, and how we need to approach the idea of a community gathered–to do what?

Worship? Not!

Worship is not something a person can do when prompted–any more than you can prompt hiccups, or dreams.

And worship is not something a community can do without being high on some hallucinatory substance–and even then their worship experience would be individual and not corporate. Corporate worship is in name only.

Corporate worship has become the foundation of “church” because “church” has no foundation, and has lost its way, and tries to justify its existence any way it can.

The church exists quite apart from the experience of the Numinous Reality–the Ineffable heart of spirituality that is the ground of worshipful experience–and comes together to talk about the Numen that others experienced from 4,000 to 2,000 years ago, but no experience of the Numen more recent than 2,000 years (2,020 years now, and counting) is allowed.

We talk about “worship,” but we discourage, even prohibit, experiences with Numinous Reality. It is absurd, but that doesn’t stop us from doing what we do.

What do we need a church to help us do? What do we need ordained clergy to help us do? What can we do with church and clergy that we cannot do on our own?

The justification of church and clergy is to say that they “mediate the grace and presence of Almighty God,” and without them, we would be hard pressed to find our way into that grace and presence.

Well.

Historically and traditionally, “the grace and presence of Almighty God,” or, of Numinous Reality, has always been mediated by the experience of mystery, wonder and beauty in Art (including poetry and literature), Music, and Nature–with no hierarchy, or ecclesiastical structure, or organization to assist or direct. And without it being ordered and arraigned to happen at 11 O’clock each Sunday of the calendar year!

Left to our own devices, we are quite capable of being open to an encounter with the divine–every night, for example, in our dreams.

But the church would never support, much less encourage, such talk–and would see it, correctly, as a threat to its position of “mediator of the grace and presence of Almighty God,” apart from which, the church would have a problem justifying its continued existence at all.

Which is not the problem the church thinks it is.

The church is solidly positioned to exist into the far distant future as the mediator of, and guide to, a foundational experience with the ineffable, numinous, reality that is the spiritual ground of our heart and soul, mind, body and being.

The church just has to learn a new way of talking about what it does, and a new way of doing it. What is needed is a new way of thinking about the symbols that have always served as its core.

Theology is a matter of perspective. It is a way of looking at how things are, and saying what it sees. We are never more than a slight perspective shift away from seeing things as they actually are, as opposed to seeing things as we say they are. That perspective shift is the difference between seeing and not seeing. As the church moves away from its theology into the field of ever-expanding perception, it opens the way for all of us to see what we look at with new eyes and open hearts, and numinous reality takes it from there.

Which is, of course, the program I am setting forth here, including what to throw away, what to rethink,  what to keep, and what to receive and welcome in helping people live their life as spiritual beings in physical form.

I see this as an ever-evolving manual for new church development in the fullest possible sense of the word “new.” I present it here because it would have no hope of surviving Official Channels, and needs to be said, because it cannot be said.

This Manifesto is taking form and shape as I put it together, and it will not look at the end as it does at the beginning. Give it a chance, and do not break a tender reed or extinguish a dimly burning wick, and wait to see what comes of it–and offer your own take on things in the Comment Section of this site.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters, three sons-in-law, and five granddaughters, and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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