Having just rebooted my blog I have to pose the question, “Why do I have this blog?” Over the seasons my blogs mixed my personal and professional thinking with what’s interested and concerned me together with my hobbies and interests. In particular, this blog was reflective but created trajectories rather than went somewhere. This left the blog without coherence, which may have been ok except that it’s never sat right with me.
The choice to blog with specificity between these two blogs is editorial and more conducive toward focused and productive discussions. On timvictor.wordpress.com I’ll be posting on education, specifically on my journey as a parent discovering technologies and schooling systems that integrate technology and education. I believe that shifting from analogue to digital in education is important and means embracing Augmented a Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Electronics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3-D Printing and E-Sports. If that’s the kind of thing that interests you, please join me there.
I’ll blog here about my research and the practice of the Presence of God. The point of departure is the exploration and recognition of the transition in our society from one way of living in relation to and experience of the world, that of modernity and secularization, to a new way of doing so, that of post-modernity and post-secularization. Here we need a new approach to practicing spirituality incorporating in individual choice, urban in an setting, where God is experienced as present to speak and act.
In recent history we’ve moved from premodern worlds or societies which take care of the question of God for us to a modern society where the default faith position is that God is not. Now we’re moving to a postmodernizing world where people are turning to God after God. In the postmodernizing world the question of God means something different for those who are spiritual but not religious and for those who have been practicing one form of Christianity or another.
- Those who are spiritual but not religious are often shifting from the faith position that God is not toward an openness to spiritual experience and therewith to the God who is. Most people who view themselves as spiritual but not religious are open to engaging and experiencing God, provided the experience and connection is real. In fact many are reflecting on their glimpses of God at work around the periphery of their lives. Modern religions fail to meet that need for exploration and discovery, largely because all religions modernize and are reshaped in and in relation to modernity. The primary practice of modern religions is gathering communities for teaching. They’re still trying to take care of the question of God for people without enabling and assisting in the search for the God who is and, of significant concern, don’t meet with the God they meet in the name of. Modernized religions are poor options for discovering and relating to God.
- Those who are Christian primarily practice their faith as meetings about God. Many are doing church as their primary practice of faith and are coming to recognize that this means meeting about God rather than with God. Modern Christianity has been repeatedly renewed and reshaped by God turning to people again and again during Awakenings and Revivals, including the movement I’m part of, but over 500 years we’ve not changed the way we do church or practice spirituality. The result is that we speak about Christianity as a relationship rather than a religion while practicing a religion shaped by Modernity that’s paradigmatically defined by Reason. Many Christians live with the default that God is not and discover God at the periphery of their lives and their faith. But their faith as institutionalized and commodified is more committed to ensuring orthodoxy than relational pursuit, discovery and engagement. Modern Christianity is also a poor option for discovering and relating to God.
Throughout my adult life I’ve worked with both groups and am looking to bring both together to pursue and discover God as one present to speak and act. They’re both share a common the need to fulfill a relational pursuit of God. Both those who are spiritual but not religious and those who are committed Christians, of one variety or another, catch glimpses of God at the periphery of their experience. Their fundamental experience isn’t different, though one group is committed by faith to God as unknown and unknowable and the other to a theoretical or theological position that the God who is is the God of the OT and NT.
My goal is to develop a new approach to practicing faith as individuals and as communities. This practice needs to be sustainable in an urban setting, hence the blog’s title Urban Mystic. But this practice must also be distinguished from religion as spirituality, charity as spirituality and character formation as spirituality. Both are an important outflow of spirituality but we’re often making these the goal and end of spirituality and having to break from our daily living and loving to do so. We need a healthy alternative to this. Spirituality is, in my opinion, better characterized as relationship with God. We can speak of the practice of the Presence of God as urban mysticism, as entering deeper into living and loving in relationship with God as companion, friend and lover. Recognizing that the modern practice of faith is a meeting about God our goal instead to seek to meet with God as individuals and communities, which we speak of as urban mysticism and the practice of the Presence of God.