It is interesting how some things converge to open up our minds and spirits to God’s continuing revelation.
Recently, I was preparing a sermon on Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. According to the New Testament baptismal account, all four Gospels tell of the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus as a sign of God’s affirmation of Jesus. Because this baptismal account is so familiar and amply preached, I took it as a challenge to bring the role of the Spirit of God into stark relief.
Fortuitously and serendipitously, a colleague recommended the book, “The Coming Interspiritual Age” by Kurt Johnson and David Richard Ord, which not only helped to meet this homiletic challenge, but also to open the door to a revelatory concept and movement referred to as “Interspirituality.”
The book’s thesis is that, collectively, all the accrued wisdom of the major religious traditions interconnects to the spiritual “Source of Everything.” The authors drive home the notion that the Spirit of God is perceived, received and experienced, albeit in different ways, by the great religious traditions of the world. This means that there is an interconnectivity to the ultimate truths about this illuminating, mystical reality, which the Abrahamic traditions call God.
This collective wisdom and, most importantly, the sharing of the religious traditions’ experiences with God, is what the authors describe as Interspirituality. In effect, Interspirituality is an intentional movement urging the great religious Traditions to collectively enter into a collective dialogue about what can be described as the “Spirituality of God.”
I instantly gravitated to this notion of the Spirituality of God because, conceptually and theologically, it is more expansive than the term, Spirit of God, which tends to be more doctrinal and theologically specific in nature.
Spirituality of God, on the other hand, makes room for plumbing the depths of God in a more expansive and pluralistic way. It allows for God to be interpreted through the pluralistic prism that refracts all the attributes and theological notions we ascribe to God — Goodness, Love, Beauty, Compassion, Justice, illuminating Light, Higher Power, and so on. It also advocates for, and augments, the notion that God’s spiritual realm is inclusive of all religions that uphold the ultimate truths and combined wisdom about God.
Interspirituality, however, goes beyond theology. It points to a spiritual awakening that is organically happening amid the crisis of global social upheaval, environmental disasters and polarization of societies into their entrenched silos. It is a radical answer to blunt and confront the politics of hate and tribal and religious superiority.
What is needed, according to the authors, is a spiritual re-alignment that transcends the tribalism and polarization that we are experiencing today in our country and in other countries where authoritarianism and a caustic populism have taken hold, even among some who profess to be Christian.
One of the book reviewers’ states that through developing an Interspirituality consciousness, we enter into the miracle of the “We,” as opposed to the us-and-them polarity that tends to divide people of good faith. To paraphrase from the book: through the movement of Interspirituality, we enter into the challenges of reaching a higher form of shared, nonviolent culture through a global dialogue. It invites us to a pluralistic, but yet ancient and universal ways of living our sacred lives together.
We might all collectively say, Amen.
The Rev. Al Rodriguez has served as rector of an Anglo/Latino congregation in Austin and interim director of the Latino studies at the Seminary of the South. He is currently an assisting priest at St. James Episcopal Church, an historic African American church now worshiping as a multicultural congregation. Doing Good Together is compiled by Interfaith Action of Central Texas, interfaithtexas.org.