A Mystic Leader’s Crash Course: Part 1: Darkness
The church in the west acts as it does because it does not see the world as it is. How can 21st century leaders move people to enlist in the quest to save the universe? Let’s begin by lining up four images to help us describe the world.
What is required for the church to change?
The first of four images needed by 21st century leaders to describe the world we live in is Darkness. At a Harvard Business School address in 2002, Lou Gerstner of IBM stated:
” The transformation of an enterprise begins with a sense of crisis or urgency. No institution will go through fundamental changes unless it believes it is in deep trouble and needs to do something different to survive.” (source: Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat).
The church in the west acts as it does because it does not see clearly the darkness. Darkness is not about describing the present or any other moment in human history. Darkness is about pointing out human kind’s perpetual companion. Darkness is about the fact that human kind tends towards a darkness of ancient proportions. Even with the restraint of law or the release of grace, human kinds show a propensity towards great evil.
The church feels no urgency, no compulsion to change because it doesn’t care that the world is in deep trouble and needs to do something different to survive.
Ways in which culture helps us describe the darkness
During the second half of last century it was fashionable to talk about the secular future of the world. Many suspected that enlightened rationality would squeeze out the last vestiges of religion and superstition in the west, and eventually religion and faith would vanish from the face of the earth.
In the 20th century it was common to hear someone say, “more evil has been done in the name of religion than anything else.” Besides being false at face value, this way of seeing the world missed an obvious fact: the evil will impose their will in the name of anything and everything even religion if need be. Religion isn’t really the issue here. Evil is.
In describing the world, Christ following leaders must clearly described this fact: if religion were to disappear from the face of the earth, evil would remain because both the world and the human heart are dark places.
Without religion as the “fall guy” who and what would the secularist blame for the evil in the world? Republicans and the culture wars? Hollywood and the left wing?
Interstingly enough TV and film provide some help here. A few shows have tended to take a morally serious look at evil and the ethical dilemnas evil creates whether in a real historical sense (The Passion, The End of the Spear) or in a mythological sense (The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia) or in a dramatic action series (24).
Yes, we must call out the image of God that is part of man’s creation design. But we musn’t trivialize or reduce the malignant spirit of darkness embedded within the human heart and spread throughout human culture that eats away at the created order. The church will never rise to be that which she is called to be without clearly seeing how darkness has fallen upon the earth and devours her children.
Again, film helps here. Few things shake me to the core as the sight of children suffering. “Born Into Brothels” (2005) a documentary telling the story of the children of prostitutes in Calcutta and “Cidade de Deus” (aka City of God 2002) a Brazilian film based on the experiences of children growing up in an infamously violent housing project in Rio de Janeiro are two stories told on film that show us how too many children live.
How darkness may provide a clue to the meaning of everything
Ironically, Darkness may provide both those outside faith and those within faith the clearest view on absolute truth. Allow me to whisper to you something I have come to know and know deeply. I, and no one other than I, am responsible for my own evil. That is one thing I have come to Know. Let me whisper to you something else of which I have become convinced: If you will listen in on your own life, you’ll become convinced of the same thing about yourself.
The church will not rise with an appropriate primal scream unless she see’s the earth’s children all trapped in the dragon’s lair of evil, unable to breath until the gospel comes, and unless she experiences a gut wrenching deliverance from this power herself.
Personal note. From one mystic warrior to another: it’s a dangerous world but I know you are of the tribe that must enlist in the quest to save the universe. You are the ones who learn to feel your way forward in heroic attempts to reach those trapped in the dragon’s lair. Be careful. It’s dark out here.
What do you think?
into the mystic…