Nothing New Under the Sun (Ecclesiastes)

Nothing New Under the SunIn the world of Progressive Christianity and the SBNR (in its various forms), there seems to be a growing belief that we are on the cusp of a new age of spiritual enlightenment. This has engendered an enthusiasm much like in the 1960s, when the “spiritual but not religious” of that time thought they were ushering in the Age of Aquarius—a time when peace, love, and understanding would reign. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

The hippies of the 60s and early 70s quickly became the yuppies and capitalists of the 80s and 90s. All that talk about letting “the sunshine in” was well just talk. Many who grew up during that generation simply chalked it up to youthful idealism. While others grew bitter that the generation which held such promise turned slowly into a Generation of Swine. Such is the way of the world. And the way it has always been. Every generation likes to think itself as special. And in many ways every generation is special, with unique experiences to celebrate and unusual challenges to overcome. But we ought to leave it that.

Think globally, Act locally is an ecological dictum. It doesn’t translate into spiritual affairs—which demand that we act locally and think locally. In other words, the big picture will work out on its own if we simply endeavor, like Gandhi said, to become the change we want to see in the world. This “becoming” though is a lifelong process. It is not a pinnacle that we reach which then allows us to go conquer the world as missionaries or become spiritual gurus for the public at large. To nurture the idea that we are igniting some grand church revolution or world awakening is little more than self-aggrandizement—which is why such transformations never actually take place.

So the next time we find ourselves becoming enchanted with ideas of ushering in a bright new spiritual epoch, let’s turn to the wisdom of Ecclesiastes:

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Or in the words of David Byrne & The Talking Heads

Same as it ever was…same as it ever was…
same as it ever was…same as it ever was…
same as it ever was…same as it EVER was…

The Living Hour