COMING OF AGE
It has been said too many times that the only certainty of our times is uncertainty.
This is not because we live in a time of chaos, although sometimes it can feel like we do. What is really happening is that human development, both in terms of the civilisations and technologies we have created, and in terms of the sort of people we have become and are becoming, has brought us into possibilities that we as yet cannot focus on or entirely make sense of.
Our technologies are undoubtedly very different from the technologies of a hundred years ago. Hardware has certainly changed. Software hardly existed in the early years of the twentieth century. Likewise, we human beings, though we might look the same (our hardware if we like), our software has certainly changed. We think differently from our forefathers. We are less prone to generalised moral norms, might at first sight appear to be less moral. But we are living through a period of heightened and heightening awareness. We might not share many of the old codes of behaviour, but so many of us now are aware of issues such as equality and gender. We are no longer instinctively nationalistic, nor do we so instinctively identify ourselves with one class or another.
This transition, which is a manifestation of these threshold times, in which we stand upon some gate or door in our world history, and ponder some new world that we can sense is there though we can only slightly make it out – Time’s mist can take time to drift away – is most readily felt and even understood when it comes to religion. In our so-called modern western world at least, the old order of religions is fracturing. Given-truths are no longer taken. Bishops no longer proclaim from on high, or at least are not obeyed. Churches are invariably close to empty, with Gothic or Romanesque pillars outnumbering the congregants. Few now stare up into the sky afeared that God’s unseen eyes are somewhere up there looking down upon us. Few pray now in expectation of real changes as a result of those prayers.
Change is afoot. Whenever surveys are conducted, we find that a majority of people still believe in some sort of God, still believe in some sort of life beyond the grave, and still believe that how we conduct ourselves on earth somehow influences that life beyond the grave. But few now believe that the traditional churches offer much in the way of answers. This is why it makes more sense these days to talk of spiritual issues rather than religious issues. We are still spiritual creatures, we are still more than concerned with how we think and feel and act in terms of spirituality, but no longer in terms of what is so often seen as outdated and irrelevant and invariably self-contradictory religious dogma.
We are most certainly no longer petitioners of God, but as we edge across the threshold of these times of ours, we will be, more and more, partners with God. To put it another way, our spiritual childhood is coming to a close. We have entered into our spiritual adolescence, with all the pains and complications that word implies. So perhaps not ‘partners’ quite yet. But we are standing on the threshold. We are on the way.
Richard Dell’s STARS IN OUR SOULS addresses this matter of our spiritually coming of age:
This coming Age is a New Age.
This New Age is a Threshold Age.
This threshold is our beginning.
This beginning is our ending.
It is the ending of who we are, who we have become.
It is the beginning of who we must ultimately be.
It will be Us made New.
Because this coming Age, this New Age,
Marks our Coming of Age.
For ages beyond number we have been Petitioners of God.
For the ages to come, we enter into Partnership with God.
That is the meaning of who we are now,
And who we must become.
That is the meaning of our Time.