Go with the Flow
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called ‘flow’. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. Flow is more than happiness, it is a deep connectivity, a oneness – dare I say a ‘communion’.
People may seek flow through religion, but they may also seek it through the creative arts, sport – or more destructively through alcohol, drugs, or the darker side of the internet. Flow cannot govern our institutions, including the institutions of the Christian Church since the age of Constantine, but without the element of flow what are we left with? And is that one of the reasons that people in this country continue to leave the traditional, institutional Christian churches in their droves? We are failing to go with the flow perhaps?
Christendom or the Kingdom of God?
All our traditional Christian denominations were born of the age of Constantine, of the Roman Empire, and the institutions which shaped that empire have shaped our collective consciousness which we can call in shorthand, ‘Christendom’. I believe a key challenge for Christian ecumenism in this country is to define what it is in a post-Christendom age. Can we turn back the clock and bring back the unity of Christendom, if indeed it ever was united, or should we be seeking something else?
Thankfully we do have a vision of the Christian Church that existed before the age of Christendom, it’s in the Bible. We also have a message that was first given to us by Jesus himself, not Christendom but the Kingdom of God. The ecumenism I would like to see is one that seeks to live the Kingdom of God in a generation that yearns to go with the flow.
Where does that leave our institutional practices in all our churches born of Christendom? I do not know but I am willing to find out from the one who says, “Follow me.” Maybe that is how I choose to go with the flow. How about you?
Rev. Derek Chandler
Chairperson – Churches Together in Berkshire