Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | May 27, 2009

Guest blog post – from Mark Townsend – Part 3

Since leaving the officialdom of institutional Churchianity I’ve had plenty of time to think through some of the questions that have bothered me for years. I’ve also been able to gather and devour piles of books from all faith perspectives, traditions and philosophies. Some of them fall into the category of what I call ‘Cosmic Christianity’ or ‘Pagan Christianity’. The latter might seem a contradiction of terms. However the books I refer to have helped me to recover a missing element of the Christ story, which is also a miraculous bridge to my new magical and nature based spirituality. Here is not the place to go into these theories. However should anyone reading these words care to treat themselves to a potentially liberating read, do go and get a copy of The Jesus Mysteries by Tim Freke and Peter Gandy or The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur. But be warned – they might change the way you look at everything!

Tom Harpur kindly gave me permission to quote his beautiful Seven Principles of Cosmic Spirituality within my latest book:
1. The entire cosmos is the manifestation of Divine Mind-every molecule, every cell, every creature, every rock, tree, mountain, planet, blazing star, whirling galaxy and universe of galaxies.
2. We are all an integral, interconnected part of the whole cosmos and our own inner world is a holograph of the cosmos within us.
3. One basic datum underlies every religion under the sun, the principle of Incarnation. The Word or Logos, God’s self-expression made manifest, has given the light of its divine spark to every mind/soul coming into the world. Christians call this the Christ or “Christ in us.” Other faiths have different names or modes of expression for this same inner reality.
4. Every religion whose ethical core is summed up by the word “compassion” or “loving-kindness” to all other creatures without exception has a vision of the truth and is a valid “way” to Transcendence.
5. No one faith or religion-whatever its claims may be, alone has The Truth.
6. True cosmic spirituality is steeped in, flows from, and derives its most powerful analogies and metaphors from the natural world – from the tiniest bit of dust to the spiraling stars above.
7. The core aim of cosmic spirituality is radical transformation, both personal and societal.
Tom Harpur’s official website is www.tomharpur.com
Mark Townsend


Responses

  1. It’s funny, but all of this stuff is just confirmation of how I’ve been conceptualising the world for years. Having left Churchianity and immersed myself in Paganism 20 years or so ago, and carried my fondness for Jesus with me, seems to have brought me to a point where a Pagan Christianity makes a great deal of sense.

  2. Hi K,

    Even though I LOVE the notion, I’m actually battling with that one you know – Pagan Christianity / Christo-Paganism!

    I am still an ordained C of E priest, but find the institutional side of the Church so difficult world. I guess I see myself as (a little like Matthew Fox) a post-denominational priest now.

    I guess I’m battling with the ‘Pagan Christianity’ thing because, when I look at the major doctrines of the Church (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican or Orthodox) I find some of them so hard to understand. BUT I do see Jesus – still – as an immensely powerful, mystical, beautiful and oh-so-human, individual. If Churchianity was able to truly reflect this then I guess I may still be there. In fact the thing that triggered my eventual resignation (me feeling the need to share my messy story – warts and all – with my ‘elders’) would have been a completely different scenario, had the Church been a more wholesome, human and loving institution.

    I have met so many folk who were once Christian, are now pagan, and yet adore Jesus as a spiritual figure. Some see him as a literal human teacher (magician even), others as a metaphorical figure (like my post on the blog). None of them see themselves as ‘Christian’ or even ‘Christo-pagan’ but simply feel connected to him. I guess there are many who feel similarly connected to the Buddha yet who would not call themselves Buddhist.

    Mark

  3. Hi Mark,
    I remember seeing a programme with Robert Beckworth (is that his name?) sharing your frustration at the liberal Anglicans not being able to draw folks in, whilst there has been an extraordinary increase in numbers in the ‘born again’ evangelical movement and the Anglican church in Africa (for instance), where some pretty frightening and oppressive stuff is being preached. As a gay, black Anglican, his concerns are very real. I agree with you – I think it’s really sad.

    I’m interested to know what your perception of Christ is now that you have begun to feel yourself more and more drawn to Paganism? Do you see him as an aspect of the Divine – as one of many possible expression of God – or as a human or mythical figure?. As an ex-Christian, I no longer feel a connection to the theology but I still feel a connection to Christ; for me, he has become a god among many that I feel drawn to, an expression of the Divine that still has resonance for me. I was interested to see you mention the Tim Freke book, as I think Christ’s connection to those dying and resurrecting vegetation gods is one that works for me. As a god of transformation and the compassionate understanding of the struggles, hope and healing at the heart of that process, he still speaks to me.

    I too find it really puzzling why a figure who expresses such an inclusive and loving understanding of the trials and blessings of the human journey should inspire such intolerance. I think there is a great deal of fear beneath those beliefs; wanting to believe in a ‘right’, ‘one true way/god’ seems to hint at a hidden anxiety about the inevitable uncertainties of life and one’s own vulnerability in the face of these.

    Well done for speaking out – I can understand how distressing it is when you can see something that’s important to you being twisted and distorted out of shape, it’s true potential being lost.


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