SEARCHING FOR SPIRITUAL FIRE by Anthony Massimini, PhD
In 1983, a study found our educational system so dysfunctional that it declared us, “a nation at risk.” Today, when we look at our self-inflicted political, economic and cultural dysfunction, we can once again make that same judgment about our country.
Our political, economic and social dysfunction is a mark of our nation’s spiritual dysfunction. Our spirituality is not some ideal abstraction; rather, it animates the everyday, concrete situations of our everyday lives. Jesus told us specifically, e.g., to love all our neighbors and even our enemies (including our political “enemies,”) and to show active, effective compassion to those who are poor, hungry, injured, ill or outcast.
Nature tells us the same thing. The universe is an interconnected web of unity. Here on earth, energy particles seek one another and join together to bring ever new seasons and ever new life into being. Cosmologist-mystic Brian Swimme calls the built-in, mutual attraction of energy particles, “cosmic allurement,” that, e.g., forms atoms, molecules, cells and elements, and expresses itself all the way from gravity to human love.
Swimme calls the natural, active harmony, “synergy,” i.e., the attracting energy that creates mutually enhancing relationships. For example, soil, air and water work together to keep the earth ecologically alive and healthy. Animals congregate in pairs, groups and herds. People form families, friendships, communities and nations to nurture, protect and advance culture and civilization. The Spiritual Disciplines can be said to describe synergy e.g., as order, peace, service to others, hope, joy of life, and love.
In sum, both creation and Jesus unite science and spirituality into one beautiful, living whole. So it should be difficult for discerning people to miss so basic and important a point. Yet today, both our natural ecology and our human relationships are threatened by the dysfunction of human activity. We are not only a nation at risk but a world at risk.
For the spiritually mature, synergy in the form of love becomes the pattern and goal of our political, economic and cultural relationships. As Teilhard de Chardin said, “Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world… Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.” Together with our political, economic and educational leaders, we are called and responsible to “build the earth.” Again, as de Chardin said, “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” That fire is the fire of the spirituality to which we are called and empowered.