Miracles, Miracles, Miracles – Active Hope by Macy and Johnstone
Macy and Johnstone in Active Hope remind us that “our views about what’s normal are shaped by what we see.” When reading about other paths to joy and other ways to fulfillment, this phrase rings so true. From a non-Christian premise, Active Hope proposes three versions of reality: 1) Business as usual, 2) The Great Unraveling, and 3) The Great Turning. If spoken in a worship service of a Christian church, these points “would preach!”
Our views however are shaped by what’s normal to us – so we should discard helpful writings from Buddhists and others…shouldn’t we?
My lead pastor preached one Sunday on the power of God, the God who performs miracles, and because of that power a person should leave their life of unbelief and follow the God of Christianity. That sounded great, sounded normal. But before hearing this message, I had experienced things that weren’t normal – by what we know.
Over the preceding year I had seen a Muslim miracle healer in Bosnia, who, the American missionaries claimed, was selling vials of miracle water – and that it was actually causing miraculous things to happen. I had visited the school in India my church sponsors and on the trip, noticed a large outdoor gathering with thousands of people. Upon asking my Christian Indian friends what it was, they replied that it was a miracle working Hindu guru. Leaving India, I passed through Bangkok to visit one of our missionaries in that Asian city. He took me sight-seeing to the large and beautiful pagodas and Buddhist temples, telling me of miraculous happenings – that had been documented – when parishioners visited the holy sites.
What is it that makes Christianity different?
In Active Hope, the Great Turning is illustrated by actions and phrases that help us push through difficulties. As I read these, I was able to envision their counterparts in Christianity:
- Negative Feedback Loop = Confessions and Rededication
- Acknowledge disturbing realities with others = How’s your spiritual life going?
- Volunteering for the good of the cosmos brings happiness = Service and missions brings joy and purpse
- We need to voice our concerns in group = Small group prayer time
- The earth cries through us = the Holy Spirit cries through us
- Vow of support = Small group accountability
- Breakthrough workshops = Transforming worship services
- Establish a “prime directive” = know “God’s will” for your life
- Then there are similar levels of community, relationships building, power of connectedness etc.
Of course there were areas that wouldn’t line up with Christian thought and practice, including “ladhakhi”, becoming one with another life form, and Gaia theory. However, the similarities could be disturbing or encouraging, depending on one’s point of view – depending on our “normal.”
Active Hope is an encouraging book that could parallel many of our Christian readings offered at evangelical churches. The focus however and end source of power and connectedness differs. While Christianity focuses on the living Christ, and the strength and purpose that arise from our relationship with Him, for those following the teaching of this book, those similar desires are directed towards our interconnectivity with “Gaia” and the inspiration and strength drawn from others acting through us.
There are many similarities between world religions and even those without religion: community, relationships, hope for a better tomorrow, power from other sources and even miracles. But if the focus isn’t on Jesus, a reexamination needs to take place.
The Mohawk Thanksgiving Prayer is a good ending, finding similarities with the Beatitudes. “We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things.”
Amen….or should I say, Bodhichitta….or Shalom…or Namaste….