Sunday, August 21, 2011

DREAM: BASIC VALUES ...march 6, 2010(edited Aug 21, 2011)

All of these dream images are in the Clear Lake Church Of Christ  where I was a minister from 1976-1984. This was a time my mind and heart were fully absorbing the Biblical themes as I preached and taught from 'cover to cover'. In 1980-84 I placed myself into the scrutiny of an inner character and value search that CPE(Clinical Pastoral Education) offered me along with taking courses in Human Development Counseling at the University. This was a time when my mind was scrutinizing my religious heritage beliefs and opening up to new and different view points. At first I had no intention to make any drastic changes in beliefs and Bible interpretations. But as I continued to learn I began to know that I was in the midst of a rather deep and general repentance. I was having the beginning stages of a quite thorough personal Spiritual transformation. So these dreams centering on that church reflect some of the spiritual shifts in values I began to have. These are values I have continued to integrate and maintain now for nearly 30 years. This is a picture of what the dream source is saying were key value shifts which , except the one on Child-centered worship, I had rather fully formed by the end of 1984. These dreams confirm that my work and life with these churches have been key, central and essential in my spiritual development. I am indebted to each for the experiences they provided and good times shared.

Clear Lake Church of Christ, Springfield, IL

1. The pulpit or alter area of the church had been converted to a drama station where children presented by acting out and liturgyzing the key themes of the worship experience each week. It was truly a work area with the sights and smells of a performing theater. The emphasis here was on creatively performing the Biblical story as worship rather than on maintaining an esthetically appealing sanctuary. It was not Holy looking in the traditional sense but it seemed to me, after the initial shock, to now be far more holy and serious about internalizing the spiritually empowering Bible themes than ever before.

2. A former elder in the church and I were in an office space that was not the same as when I was there. We were both aware that we had been through extensive and deep learning experiences together. His face was far more relaxed and calm than he often was in actual life. We talked about the unconsciousness with which we as church leaders often go about our work of supposedly guiding the people, and how we had both discovered some of the ways we had unintentionally misused our power for personal control and manipulation. We seemed to both understand the difference in being responsible to the people instead of having control over them and the processes God was leading them through. We were amazed at how ' unconscious and unenlightened' we had sometimes been. It ended as I put my hands on his shoulders. He looked me in the eye and said, " Jim, I am so glad we have worked together."

3. I stood with a woman in the parking lot of the church. She was actually a woman from my more recently served Church. She in fact was the first woman elder that church ever had about 35 years ago. She had just been selected to be an elder at Clear Lake COC. She said, " Jim I know nothing about how elders function here so this is going to be a real learning experience for me.". Inwardly I too was concerned at how little she knew of COC ways and wondered what difficulties may await her. But then I  realized that it was such freshness and 'out of the rut'  people that the church often needs in its leadership. I tingled all over that the Spirit must really be alive in this place that this sincere humble woman has been asked to serve as the first woman elder.

4. A healthy black cow was lying down in an out of the way part of the church foyer.
'Sacred Cow' On Ganges River, India
It looked very content. I was at first astonished but I 'awoke' and thought, "what a marvelous way to help us all realize that all of creation is Sacred. We have here a 'sacred cow' to help us begin to see that the spiritual realm includes and values all of creation including the animals that richly bless us."

REFLECTION: On reflection, these four scenes depict four important values that I had been led to claim more fully from the study, thought and teaching I had during my time at the Clear Lake COC.

1.Children should be fully included participants and leaders in the worship assembly of the church. I did not fully claim this value until about eight years ago and that not in the Church of Christ. One of the reasons I resigned my twenty year UCC/Presbyterian ministry is that the church leadership rejected my hard-won, heart-felt suggestion that we begin to make our Sunday service fully child friendly. That would have called for a change of use in the alter much as is pictured in this dream. My belief was that disciplining ourselves to making worship meaningful to children would actually make it far more real and meaningful to adults also.
I felt it would also create a distinctiveness in such rural churches that stood a chance of it being a place that parents of children would be drawn to for the experience it would give their children. I was very excited about this possibility. The time was not right but I had fully invested myself in this direction and saw it not best to continue my ministry there.

2.The dream is about valuing the role of one's perceived  opponents. Those who oppose our deepest values are often a very necessary part of the dynamics we need to become more conscious and spiritually mature. They will likely also grow in the process of  mutual conflict. This elder was a key factor that led to my being fired at Clear Lake. He had been away for three months(and several previous winters) during which much change had happened in  the social and leadership dynamics of the church. My ministry had been a  factor in facilitating those changes. He was disturbed and felt he and the male eldership was threatened by the changes.
A Church of Christ Eldership
It was impossible for him to take a positive view so he put forth his full effort to stop the changes by having me removed. I was quickly able , with the help of CPE counseling, to  understand his  action and needs. Soon after leaving Clear Lake I believe I  could have had this conversation in the dream with him. I will trust he reached a  level of consciousness that this could have been his dream also.  We had very congenial greetings some years after I left Clear Lake. He is deceased.

3.This dream is about the value of the feminine needing to be elevated in the church and culture. The COC , with maybe a few present exceptions, is firmly rooted in the belief that church leadership roles are the domain of men only. They surely have much literal Biblical material to base it on. I recall the first board meeting, in my Presbyterian Church, where I sat down with with a mixed group. I realized how good it felt to have women present with equal status and authority as men. I saw how  patriarchal and sexist  it is to view women as anything other than mutual partners with men in all church ministry and life activities. To not do so is in opposition to the freedom and mutuality of the sexes that surely must have been a part of the mind of Jesus of Nazareth.

Assumption Of Mary, ancient painting
Our culture has made strong moves toward equality of the sexes in recent decades but the churches have been much slower to claim this essential value, one that the church would hopefully have ushered in first. So the dream is emphasizing the value of the total mutuality of the sexes regarding authority, potential wisdom, leadership and spiritual maturity. It is not only in conservative Christian churches where this value is not yet realized for the Catholic Church, in its orthodoxy, has found it all but impossible to endorse equality of the sexes. Yet the Catholic Church symbolically, and perhaps unconsciously,  has offered a strongest world-wide  symbol of the 'Femaleness in the Godhead' in its 1957 pronouncement of the 'Assumption of Mary' into Heaven. This in essence makes the Feminine a part of the Godhead and can even be seen as depicting the Godhead as a Quaternity rather than a Trinity.' Four' in Jungian thought is a far more whole and complete depiction of the Sacred than 'Three.'

4. The 'sacred cow' is a startling unexpected image that we need to have a much expanded view of what is a Sacred and religious value. This is an example of bringing some 'opposites' more closely together. It should no longer be a world of 'human vs animal' or 'human vs creation'  in our thinking but every creature should be seriously viewed as part of God's wonder and intricate balance of life. The habitats of all creatures should be strongly considered in any changes made to the planet. In the long run a planet that is good for all creatures is a planet that is best also for humans. This image is a strong statement for preserving the natural environment, truly building a 'green world.' This is a Sacred and spiritual/natural responsibility of humans. Jim

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