Magazine article Tikkun

The Coming Spiritual Revival

Magazine article Tikkun

The Coming Spiritual Revival

Article excerpt

The Coming Spiritual Revival

Tony Campolo

Tony Campolo is professor of sociology at Eastern College, an ordained minister, and the founder and president of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. He is the author of twenty-six books and has a weekly television show.

To all who study social trends, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that a spiritual revival is under way in America, but this revival has its own peculiarities. First of all, it is highly personal and somewhat anti-institutional. Secondly, this new spirituality is ready to question twentieth-century hyperpositivism and instead embrace beliefs in the miraculous. Healing is at the core of this new spirituality, especially in those cases for which science has exhausted all hopes for cures.

While there are numerous other characteristics of this emerging spirituality, ecology most certainly must be seen as one of its dominant themes. The emerging spirituality that will mark the twenty-first century most definitely will promote a personalistic rapport with nature, and this in turn will foster a reverence both for the biosphere as well as for the nonliving elements of the cosmos. A mystical environmentalism is developing, based on an awareness that even atoms are held together by spiritual forces, and it will move us beyond the utilitarian approach that characterizes so much of present-day environmental concerns.

Those of us who are witnessing the dawning of this post modern spirituality only wish that Francis of Assisi and Martin Buber were still with us. These two, more than any of us, might be able to give verbal expression to what is happening. Separated by close to a thousand years, these two religious geniuses would be able to interpret this new spiritual consciousness for those who want to understand it.

It was Buber who taught us that we are capable of addressing one another with a spiritual connectedness that he called "I-thou encounters." In such encounters, Buber claims, each finds "the other" no longer to be either an object or a thing. In "I-thou" encounters, ordinary relationships are lifted up and transformed into a kind of ecstatic communion in which each enters into the subjectivity of the other. God, who is the empowering connector between the two, enables each to enter into a oneness with the other that transcends time, space, and matter. God is what "happens" when an "I-thou" encounter "happens."

Such sacred relationships on the human level, according to Buber, prepare us for "I-thou" relationships on other levels. …

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