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Aug 20 Gathering: Hypocrite

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Sin, Holiness, and the Anthropocene: Week 4

A note from Joe: Lately I’ve been reading John Green’s bestseller The Anthropocene Reviewed, a series of essays on aspects of modern life and the way they are influenced by contemporary humanity. This series is inspired by that book and recent conversations in various contexts about the concepts of sin and holiness. For a full description of the series, please see this post.

“I would say the form of Christianity we’ve been given is structurally set up to create hypocrites.” 

— Richard Rohr

You may have noticed that Christianity is in a bit of an identity crisis.

Many of its adherents—especially in the Global West—have been indoctrinated into an exclusivist vision that says people who believe one way get an eternal ticket to heaven, while anyone who disagrees will suffer eternal conscious torment.

And yet the message of Jesus seems to have far more to do with liberation of the exploited and marginalized during this life than with any notion of following some kind of legalistic moral code in order to gain a postmortem reward.

So where does the conflict come from? Why do so many Christians adhere to an exclusivist, individualistic doctrine rather than one that is open to the unity of all people and all things?

How can people pray on Sunday, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven,” and still uphold systems and structures that oppress and exclude? How can they claim to believe in the Way of Jesus, and yet act in ways that are totally antithetical to Jesus’ message?

One way of trying to understand all of this in the context of the Anthropocene is through the human psychological development theory known as Spiral Dynamics: a way of modeling human development based on eight “waves” of evolving consciousness popularized by American philosopher Ken Wilber.

According to contemplative teacher and author Richard Rohr, the problem with Christian hypocrisy is that it is developmentally stuck in lower levels of consciousness that emphasize individualism and tribalism over the more elevated and enlightened ways of thinking and being that Jesus exemplifies.

So how do we get unstuck?

This week at New Wineskins we’ll continue our summer series, “Sin, Holiness, and the Anthropocene” with a conversation about Fr. Richard’s video, “Hypocrite,” from theworkofthepeople.com. We’ll discuss the disconnect between the ways many modern Christians have been taught what to do and believe, without ever being helped to understand how a transformation of consciousness can lead us closer to the kind of world Jesus seems to imagine.

Join us this Sunday, Aug. 20, in the New Wineskins Virtual Theology Pub powered by Zoom for Week 4 of “Sin, Holiness, and the Anthropocene” for a dialogue about Christian hypocrisy and how prophetic communities can be at the forefront of unlocking our collective potential for higher consciousness.

Click here to view this week’s discussion video (email address required)

6:00pm ET: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm ET: Presentation & conversation begin

Bonus content

Click here to read more about the theory of Spiral Dynamics, or view this video of Richard Rohr summarizing its main ideas.

Sin & Holiness in the Anthropocene Series

(Tentative: subject to change)

  • July 30: Breaking Wholeness: Lisa Sharon Harper on sin as the breaking of relationship
  • Aug. 6: Womanist Theology: Dr. Barbara Holmes on the perspective of Black women in the search for wholeness
  • Aug. 13: Pure and Undivided: Cynthia Bourgeault on the oxymoron of personal salvation
  • Aug. 20: Hypocrite: Fr. Richard Rohr on our tendency to “act out” Christianity rather than be transformed
  • Aug. 27: Amnesia Therapy: Marlon Hall on the ways art informs wholeness

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