Hello Good People!
As a spiritual leader, I constantly check my theories and practices for relevance. Learning from established and visionary groups and organizations has been a seminal part of my ongoing education.
The Religious Education Association (REA) is an organization with a strong and rich history and is defined as 'an Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education." It is truly an interfaith collaborative. Years ago I had the opportunity to attend their annual conference when it was in Boston. I am still referring to research and wisdom presented by colleagues in faith.
I receive their newsletter and I am sitting still as I process REA president, Harold Horell's, who shared the Steering Committee of the REA's public assertion, "A Statement on the Paralyzing Effects of Disimagination." It is dated 24 December 2015, a fact which is as compelling as the plain, deep and intelligent perspective. There is great denseness to the rhetorical and real question posed in the statement,
"How can we help create teaching/learning opportunities where people become aware of and reflect upon the nature, extent, and causes of contemporary social violence, and then discern how, personally and communally, we are called by God to respond? How can we build bridges across ethic, religious, and racial divides, and foster greater understanding of our shared humanity and the common good? How can education in faith provide the members of our specific faith communities with a secure grounding in our religious traditions while, at the same time, enabling us to remain open to what is true and holy in other religious traditions?"
How do we remain open to what is true and holy in other religious traditions? Even more critical to wonder is how do we remain open to what is true and holy in our own tradition? Are we just following a script or following a crowd? Are our children's spiritual explorations based on facts and tenants. Are we providing all the questions that our children are to wonder about or do we create story children's where children can ask their own questions? How do we connect the moral imagination of children with the seriousness of the world's ailments?
I don't think it's helpful for anyone to answer this question out loud. It's clear that for any of us who follow the call to spiritual leadership, the most troubling part is the sense of scarcity in time, creativity, and mutual encouragement that we always hope to come our way. Oftentimes the structures that we work within choke everyone's imagination. All too often there is a disconnect between the stated mission and the hierarchical structures that are created as a matter of efficiency.
Imagination is not to be stream-lined. Moral and ethical development cannot be installed and easily updated. We don't live into our mission by finding convenient ways to be a people of faith, hope, and solidarity.
The practices of Divign Thinking are all invoked by this latest work of the REA. Are we learning to be spontaneously empathetic or do we err on the side of subjective boundaries? Do we create time and space so we can wonder together, putting forth questions of not knowing? How can we incorporate powerful expressions and acts of creativity (and embrace intentional experimentation which values the precious learning in failure)? When do we enhance the capacities of each other by intentionally engaging in collaboration as a discipline? What meaning do we ascribe to all this -- that in the face of innovative beyond our previous belief, most of us still don't schedule time with ourselves in a co-creative act?
Your thoughts are not only welcome but much needed to make this important conversation whole.
In divign thoughts,