The spirituality and practicality of Progressive Christianity

Episode #28 of SpiritualityandChristianity.com is a conversation that took place at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, December 2009. Nick Brenton, a follower of a network of Spiritual Progressives, lives in Melbourne just a few blocks from the new convention hall. A conversation between a spiritual progressive and a Christian Scientist would naturally […]

Episode #28 of SpiritualityandChristianity.com is a conversation that took place at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, December 2009.

Nick Brenton, a follower of a network of Spiritual Progressives, lives in Melbourne just a few blocks from the new convention hall. A conversation between a spiritual progressive and a Christian Scientist would naturally lead to an exploration of the meaning of spirituality. We agreed that the disconnect from human will is what allows God into the center of our lives. “Awareness” is the way Nick describes the consciousness into one’s inner being. Awareness is a joy, bringing awe and wonder. shirleyandnick

While we share a desire to find God at the center – whether it’s the “kingdom of God” or the consciousness within one’s being – we also agree that spirituality needs to be made practical. Nick thinks that one must take a position in the public sphere and be willing to engage politically. He said that progressives may tend to lean left, but their greater priority is to challenge the polarity of left and right. I also resist polarity, because I find Christ as type of “option 3” – that is, when left and right oppose each other, I think they miss the relevance of spiritual ideas. Prayer, we agreed, in its basic form awakens us to forces beyond the mundane life. This is where we find practical, real solutions for the human experience.

Let me introduce the magazine Nick shared with me: Tikkun — whose mission is to “create a new bottom line, a world that values compassion, creativity, ecological sanity, awe and wonder; and not just money and power.”

S+C | Politics and Religion

Episode #26 is a conversation with Will Buchanan on the relationship between politics and spiritual ideas. Sometimes the effort to discuss politics and religious convictions in the same conversation can be hazardous. All the more reason to find a basis for successful conversations. Will is a student at Principia College, where he’s studying political science. […]

Episode #26 is a conversation with Will Buchanan on the relationship between politics and spiritual ideas.

Sometimes the effort to discuss politics and religious convictions in the same conversation can be hazardous. All the more reason to find a basis for successful conversations.

Will is a student at Principia College, where he’s studying political science. He’s also deeply committed to  his spiritual growth. Our discussion raises questions and uncovers possibilities for those who deeply care about the relevance of spiritual living in a political context.willandshirley

Whether you lean left or right, it’s encouraging to find common ground in the belief that God’s goodness is available to everyone at all times. It gives hope for peace, and it encourages grace in the midst of our differences.

It might be helpful to clarify one point in the podcast conversation. Near the end of the podcast, Will is discussing “three degrees” of human experience, which come from his study of Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (115). He is distinguishing between the second and third degrees, in which the second is a transitional state of thought to the third level, which includes spiritual understanding and power. Will describes the meaning of that third state of human thought without clearly identifying it; but his point is that it’s helpful for us as humans to be clear about the type of thinking we bring to our experiences. We are able to achieve wisdom, spiritual understanding, and spiritual power (the “third degree”) as we grow spiritually; and on that basis we are not victims of politics, but contributors to society’s well-being.

Please do join us in this conversation. We’re interested in they way you make connections between your spiritual searching and your political pragmatism. Share your comments at the end of the show notes on the website, SpiritualityandChristianity.com.

Some relevant links:

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Religion and Ethics Newsweekly See spirituality.com for podcast reference to Science and Health