I’ve been an independent spiritual explorer for more than 50 years. I was raised traditionally for someone from the Pacific Northwest USA–which is to say with no formal religion, but with a deep sense of connection to the natural world. Most of my life I was a blue collar worker, including working in the engine rooms of ships. So rather practical, which kept the intense mystical experiences well grounded. As did the constant reading and research.
Eventually I returned to college, earning degrees in history and botany (forestry minor,) then to the Graduate Theological Union, specifically the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. Mostly in an effort to understand the encounters I’ve had with non-consensus realities. I had assumed that some expert somewhere would know where to find the answers I sought. Mostly what I found were other assumptions.
I’ve been fascinated by science since early childhood. The scientific method has given humanity a deep understanding of the physical world. But cannot deal with questions about the meaning of life. I did not go to grad school in the sciences because I saw no sound reasons for accepting the assumptions that evolution is both random and purposeless. Nor is it necessary to assume that materialist reductionism (or for that matter, atheism) is a synonym for scientific thought.
Which left theology. I learned sound philosophy and gained respect for the functions of tradition and ritual in community. Plus the role of social justice. But I could not fully subscribe to the assumptions that either church or text had infallible claim to all definitive information for everyone for all time. Taking evolution seriously means that, to use theological language, creation is continuing. Any limited interpretation of a past revelatory event cannot cover all possibilities. Especially if considered on a cosmic scale.
In postmodern theology, there has been what is called “the turn to experience.” But of what and what does this mean? How do we frame experiences of mystical or gnostic or non-consensus reality in order to understand them? Are there ways to access such territories? That is what I intend to explore here.