Growing out of our Spiritual Adolescence | Lent 32

March 24, 2012

We live in a largely adolescent world. And it is, in great measure, a pathological adolescence. There is absolutely nothing wrong with (healthy) adolescence, but our cultural resources have been so degraded over the centuries that the majority of humans in “developed” societies now never reach true adulthood. An adolescent world, being unnatural and unbalanced, inevitably spawns a variety of cultural pathologies, resulting in contemporary societies that are materialistic, greed-based, hostilely competitive, violent, racist, sexist, ageist, and ultimately self-destructive. Bill Plotikin, Nature and the Human Soul

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We often talk about personal pathologies.  We speak about a variety of human diseases.  We think of psychopathology – mood and personality disorders, including depression, narcissism, and more.  But less often do we consider cultural pathology.  Perhaps, it’s that it is more difficult.

Lent also invites us to consider any cultural pathology that celebrates an alternative narrative to the passion narrative of Christ.  Bill Plotikin argues that we live in a largely adolescent society today, frozen at a stage of emotional and spiritual growth that diminishes what it means to be human, to be whole.  He writes, “An adolescent world inevitably spawns a variety of cultural pathologies, resulting in contemporary societies that are materialistic, greed-based, hostilely competitive, violent, racist, sexist, ageist, and ultimately self-destructive.

Lent invites us to grow up, not just individually but culturally.  It invites us to envision and to work for a world that more fully anticipates the fulness of God’s Kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth.  It invites us to imagine cities where justice trumps corruption, where children are mentored rather than trafficked, where wealth is shared rather than hoarded.  It exposes our adolescent need to possess, to win, or to prove, and calls us to a healthy adulthood manifesting in redemptive relationships and a mission and vision that expands reality beyond our own wants and needs.

During Lent, we participate in the humbling way of the Cross, asking God to (re)make us in the image of the Crucified Christ.  But are we bold enough to ask him to do the same in our churches, our country, and our world?  If so, we may experience a kind of “growth” that is far more important than economic bottom lines, successful campaigns, reputation, and victory.

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