At a certain stage in both human development and human development, magical thinking is the basis of our understanding not only our world but also our spirituality. That’s both good and normal. As time moved on, the human species developed a better understanding of our world, and gradually more and more of our magical thinking fell away and was seen not just as unnecessary but also as pretty silly.
Our spirituality, however, lagged behind. For centuries a man who was missing a finger, and at this time only men were priests – as is still true in some corners of the Church today, largely because of a magical belief that a penis somehow makes a human being special when just as often it only makes that human being a huge dick, could not become a priest because he could not touch his index finger to his thumb while extending his last three fingers. It was believed that making this gesture was part of the magic combination of gestures and words that left God no alternative but to send the real presence of Jesus into the Eucharistic elements and so create a valid Communion. It’s as if we are saying that if it’s Holy then it must be that we can’t understand it, and if we can understand it then it cannot be Holy.
Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth! There is much of daily living – in fact I would go so far as to say all of it – that is holy, if only we will slow down long enough to notice it!The whole problem is that we are moving too fast and way too self-preoccupied to notice! That’s the beauty of meditation, it forces us to slow down. I certainly don’t mean to imply that meditation will allow up to understand everything. What it will do is keep us from this confusion (really it’s a kind of arrogance, isn’t it?) that insists that whatever I can’t understand is holy or magic or both. Here’s a key point: if you can’t understand it, it isn’t worth much in your spiritual life. Do you doubt that? If you’re a Christian and you doubt that all you need to do is consider how often the doctrine of the Trinity has been helpful in your spiritual journey.
The spirituality of the future will of necessity be much more grounded in reality. There will still be things we don’t understand, but we won’t feel the need to turn them into sacred cows and protect them with our armies and fight wars to keep them propped up. In fact, we might find a better use for them all together. I’ll take mine medium, please!