Today I'm brought back to a chapter I read a few weeks ago in NT Wright's Simply Christian, Chapter 2 - "The Hidden Spring".
Wright was referring to one of the four echoes of a voice. i.e. the quest for spirituality.
He told a story of a powerful dictator who ruled his country with an iron will, who noticed that the water-sources around the country were erratic and in some cases dangerous, and there were thousands of springs of water. He wanted to control it and so he paved over the springs with concrete so thick that no water could penetrate it. The water that people needed would be brought to them by a system of pipes. He controlled the supply deciding how much was needed. For many years the plan worked just fine. People got used to their water coming from the new system.
Wright continued, "A generation passed. All seemed to be well. Then, without warning, the springs that had gone on bubbling and sparkling beneath the solid concrete could be contained no longer. In a sudden explosion, a cross between a volcano and an earthquake, they burst through the floor that people had come to take for granted. Muddy, dirty water shot into the air and rushed through the streets and into houses, shops and factories. Roads were torn up, whole cities in chaos. Some people were delighted: at last they could get water again without depending on The System. The people who ran the official water pipes were at a loss. Suddenly everyone had more than enough water, but it wasn’t pure and couldn’t be controlled."
Wright likened that to the Western world, where spirituality was so suppressed that when it broke out, most people were clamoring for any kind of spirituality they could get their hands on. Any kind, good or bad.
That did not happen in the Eastern world where spirituality in its various forms in various religions were openly practiced throughout the centuries. I remember when I encountered the mention of the "new age movement" twenty over years ago, it did not sound anything unusual to me.
But Wright's story was enlightening for me. It helped me understand the difference in the perspectives of spirituality between the two worlds.
However, this brand of Western spirituality has reached us here. I've just sat through a session where the participants were brought through a series of contemplative meditation and visualization to discover themselves and their spirit beings. The materials came from the US but the feel is definitely Eastern. It has gone a circle and returned to its own shores.
I do not know what to make out of it yet but this I know, we all have a quest for the spiritual. You may even be an atheist and still have this yearning sometimes for something more meaningful than what you are and what you are doing.
Like Wright, I'd like to point you to Jesus. If you think you already know who he is, you don't.
He is like no one you've ever encountered before. You may not believe it and don't take my word for it. Find out yourself but read from sources that are fair.
Find out about him in the one primary source, the Christian Bible. Or read authors who will give you a fair account of who he is without the hard sell. NT Wright's Simply Jesus will be a good choice.