So: two more educational and inspirational pieces of work – this time not books, but presentations.
A couple of weeks ago at our Deanery Synod we listened to a talk by Rev’d Dr Mika Pajunen, who is Theological Advisor to the Lutheran Archbishop of Finland. Mika talked us through a fairly classical model of developments in church history – of paradigm shifts in the way that the Church understands God, faith and itself, in the philosophical and metaphysical underpinning of the Church’s theology and worldview. The aim was to apply these understandings to our current obsession with matters of sexuality – but of course they have a much wider application. For what it’s worth, Mika’s opinion is that the church is in many ways stuck in Enlightenment mode, which requires that there is a right and wrong answer to problems to questions, which permit of no shading and not enough latitude to allow us to find solutions which are fuzzier.
Then last week at an International Conference here in Rīga organized by the Latvian Lutheran Women Theologians Association, Rev’d Dr Linards Rozentāls from Luther Church presented a different way of analyzing these shifts in humankind’s understanding of God, and the presence of the Divine in Creation. His innovative classification led us from God 1.0 to God 6.0, with the possibility of development onwards. It was fascinating to hear, and will, I hope, be published somewhere soon.
But it got me thinking (or, as Poirot says, it made me furiously to think). What is it that moves our civilizations and faiths from one paradigm to another? What kicks us from God 4.0 to God 5.0? Could it be that the present world crises I wrote about previously – the inherent instability of the global monetary system, climate change, poverty, inequality, wars – which are leading to this acute flow of refugees are actually a first sign of a real paradigm shift? And if so, which direction are we heading in – towards a deeper understanding, greater freedom and openness (marks of God 6.0) or backwards to greater prejudice, a more childish view of how the world works, a greater desire to see God as judge and strong ruler?