A point of balance is a place of rest. Between an extensive past and an infinite future lies a narrow moment called the present that is a point of balance which I discussed in Living in the Moment. If I ground, center, and remain focused on my physical point of balance when practicing Tai Chi, I do not struggle with the more difficult poses. Finding a point of balance within life’s challenges, trials and tribulations enables us to achieve serenity amidst chaos.
A point of balance can be found through the principles of the lever. These principles are commonly used to find easy ways to move large masses in the physical world, or greater forces in the social world; it is commonly called gaining leverage. “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with a lever,” said Archimedes. This is a fundamental principle in construction and the basic strategy of the military, politicians, business people, and even religious fundamentalists today. This is a principle of power.
A Real World Example
The Easter 2012 edition of Newsweek features an article by Andrew Sullivan entitled “Christianity in Crisis.” Sullivan’s opening statement is, “Christianity has been destroyed by politics, priests, and get-rich evangelists.” As a former Christian, I know the element of truth runs strong in this article.
I have no concrete idea how Christianity will wrestle free of its current crisis, of its distractions and temptations, and above all its enmeshment with the things of this world. But I do know it won’t happen by even more furious denunciations of others, by focusing on politics rather than prayer, by concerning ourselves with the sex lives and heretical thoughts of others rather than with the constant struggle to liberate ourselves from what keeps us from God. What Jefferson saw in Jesus of Nazareth was utterly compatible with reason and with the future; what Saint Francis trusted in was the simple, terrifying love of God for Creation itself. That never ends. (Christianity in Crisis, Andrew Sullivan)
The 5 April 2012 article on The Wild Hunt by Jason Pitzl-Waters entitled “Caught in Another Faith’s Crisis” originally brought my attention to Sullivan’s Newsweek article. Pitzl-Waters writes in his closing paragraph, “My greatest concern within this crisis is how we tiny communities and groups, we of the 22%, weather the contractions of a post-Christian world being born.” The 22% that Pitzl-Waters’ speaks of are the non-Christian minority religions and Atheism within the U.S. (some of those minority religions being quite predominant outside of this country.) As a practicing Pagan, I am aware of the potential repercussions from a religious demographic in crisis that comprises over three-quarters of this nations population. However, I became a former Christian over three decades ago because I did NOT want to participate in this crisis.
Finding a Point of Balance
It is important to recognize that American Christianity being in crisis is not a particularly new thing, nor a revelation. In recent history, American Christianity suffers a crisis on an average of every four years when this nation gears up for a presidential election. The refreshing difference in Sullivan’s crisis is that he places the blame for Christianity’s predicament squarely on the shoulders of Christians.
What we normally hear during these chronic crises is exemplified by the words of Newt Gingrich during the current campaign, “The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors, but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization.” In other words, the current problems (crises) are usually the fault of someone else, in this case Pagans. This is why Pitzl-Waters expects the American minority religions and Atheists (hereafter referred to as the Others) to suffer repercussions from an American Christianity in crisis. Discriminating and divisive rhetoric tends to make any minority wonder how they will receive equal protection under the law should candidates of such dubious character enter into a government office, particularly the highest office in the land. This is pandering politicians trying to gain political leverage by exploiting the fears of the largest religious demographic. However, things may not be as simple as either Sullivan or Pitzl-Waters perceive them.
The Wild Hunt has kept this reader abreast of developments like Dominionism and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), which when placed in any search engine will provide plenty of evidence for Sullivan’s indictment concerning the politicizing of faith. Should a true Christian listen to the audio message at The 7 Mountain Strategy, they will probably be appalled by how this presentation twists scriptures. There is overwhelming evidence available on the Internet to substantiate Sullivan and Pitzl-Waters, but let’s not stop here.
Texas governor Rick Perry was a Republican presidential hopeful that emerged early with support from the NAR. He also fell out of the race early, as did Michele Bachmann. Newt Gingrich then attempted to wave the religious banner, but look where that has gotten him. Rick Santorum now waves the religious banner, but not quite as gingerly as the others it seems. On the other hand, while I have nothing against Mormons, I am surprised at how well Mitt Romney has performed. This may appear to also substantiate Sullivan, but it may also be an illusion.
People usually view a lever from one end. They are usually trying to gain leverage on something at the opposite end; they are usually trying to calculate how far they need to be from the fulcrum in order to move that something on the other end. Using Pitzl-Waters’ numbers, the Others need to be three to four times farther from the fulcrum than Christian Americans just to find balance, or so it appears in simplicity. Fortunately, the Others live in a land where laws inhibit the majority from diminishing the rights of the individual, so the weight of the law on their end means they do not need to be so far from the fulcrum. This can be confirmed if we look at the matter from the other end of the lever.
Christian Americans are having difficulty determining how far they need to be from the fulcrum because they are having difficulty assigning a value to the weight of the law, and having equal difficulty in altering that weight. Some Christian rhetoric indicates that they are trying to find the leverage to force conversion, which is oppression. I have gotten the impression that some would like to gain enough leverage to launch the Others into orbit, and be rid of them. I know that Pitzl-Waters could easily substantiate this view, and that this is why the Others are also uncertain about the weight of the law.
If we stop trying to gain leverage on others to manipulate or dominate them, we can then move from the ends of the lever to the fulcrum or point of balance. Everything appears much different here. No matter how much the ends fluctuate up and down, the level at the point of balance remains the same. You can rest because you are no longer busy trying to manipulate or dominate others. Peace, freedom and equality suddenly acquire substantial meaning. However, you can also look at both ends of the lever with a much different perspective.
The results of the Republican presidential primary race only substantiates that the organized religion known as American Christianity is in crisis as it seems to be losing influence over its flock. Sullivan lauds Jeffersonian individualism and spirituality, but at times he seems to lament individuals distancing themselves from organized religion. The results of this race thus far may actually be a sign that true Christianity is not in crisis, but rather in resurrection. I have known some excellent Christians, but they often seemed to be a tiny minority. Perhaps through them, the teachings and spirit of Christ is finding new life.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 KJV)
The modern usage of meek generally implies timid and submissive, but these are not the only meanings for meek. The New American Standard version of the above scripture replaces meek with gentle. Jesus describes Himself as meek in Matthew 11:29 (KJV), “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” He certainly wasn’t timid or submissive when He overturned moneychangers’ tables in the Temple, was He? “Lowly in heart” also brings humility to mind. Be assured that those of a humble and gentle nature abhor extremism and won’t be found out on the ends of a social lever.
I provide no answers here, only possibilities that seem overlooked. The results of the Republican presidential primary race thus far seems better explained by the hearts of Christians turning away from the political activism of organized religion, and [re]turning to the teachings of the one whose name they carry. I cannot prove this with any certainty, though. The results of that political race could also be explained by Christians simply tired of being played for fools by politicians, but that really isn’t an explanation that is much different.
Sullivan’s article does hold a strong element of truth, but there is a point where his words seems a bit askew. Pitzl-Waters has just cause to wonder about repercussions, but his vision of a post-Christian world seems a bit premature. In Boundary Walker, Eric Jeffords offers reasons why (at least some forms of) Paganism may never be more than a minority religion. I rather like Jeffords’ perspective because I can remain at the fulcrum or point of balance. Join me here! You might like it.