Input and Feedback from Marybeth Gardam

Marybeth Gardam, Des Moines, Iowa; entrepreneur and community activist. (July 12, 2012)

I LOVE the theme of the Three Cosmologies. And I can see how it would have strong impact among people who think deeply about these issues. I can see so many of the people I know who are stuck in one or another of these 'stories'. For me, I think I have always been in the realm of the integral spirit... even as a young and impressionable Catholic. I felt that God was too big to fit into the church's narrow frame. I tried to fit in myself, but eventually (most recently) they've made it clear that no differences of thought were allowed. At the moment, I am churchless and not nearly as upset about that as I might have imagined I would be. Mostly I miss the community...

I love the points Berry makes in The Universe Story. For me, though they are all important, the first one is of PRIMAL and chakra-like foundational import.

"The earth is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects" . Has the ring of truth about it, doesn't it!

Imagine if the last two centuries had stressed this message instead of the ones we all grew up with! I have a hard time imagining a more powerful sentence in all of history.

As a Catholic I had never read the Bible... we were never encouraged to that. Our priests always assumed the lay public was too simple to really understand these things. Reading the Bible all the way through was eye-opening on many levels and put me in a good position later on to be able to argue cogently with fundamentalists.

My challenge is to go from the BIG picture to a functional language... a vernacular, which allows people of all backgrounds to step into the reality we are expressing from wherever they are in the river of consciousness. For that, the process of Theological Reflection is transformational in a way that seems almost magical... because of the way it links personal experience (your own stories) with personal metaphor and the bigger world of metaphor, and the powerful images of spirit.

I think [your essay] would speak powerfully to ANYONE who has been thinking about these things already. And more and more people have been thinking about these things. [The challenge] is pulling in the people who are NOT thinking too deeply about any of this... or the folks who are TRYING NOT to think about it at all. The folks whose lives are about as complicated as they can handle already and are too scared or not able to think about anything more complicated than getting to the next episode of "Breaking Bad" or the next visit to the Laundromat.

I don't know HOW to get to them. I don't think anyone does. But we need them.

We need ALL of us standing together... on the same page, with the same understanding of the urgency and sacredness of our situation. It's like we are all stuck in the metaphor of the Tower of Babel. How do we break through? In my gut I think it IS with ideas, but perhaps not with words... and that is quite a challenge!

Truly our messages are limited by our ability to frame them in ways that get people to pay attention and HEAR us. I suspect this is just as much of an obstacle as is corporate money.

How do we break through this labyrinth of communication challenges? I am reading Catholic theologian Bernard Lonergan’s book Insight and thinking about his way of linking personal stories with personal metaphor with big picture metaphor and with the spirit. And going back to my own experience of the Theological Reflection process, I think it may hold a clue to how to break through the barriers of language and education and experience and prejudice and discrimination and class. Imagine if we could do that... imagine the power we could unleash in dismantling that Tower of Babel!


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