#63 Living into a New Consciousness


Excerpts from “Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World Differently”

by Barbara A. Holmes, Ph.D.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know

even as also I am known.

1 Corinthians 13:12 

In “Race and the Cosmos,” Dr. Holmes boldly suggests that theoretical physics and cosmology have the power to break through our stalled and difficult discussions about race.

At the intersection of ethics, cosmology and physics, a new view of human life is emerging—a view not neatly divided along lines of race, ethnicity, class, or sexual orientation.  

Human life at cosmic and quantum levels has a unity independent of external social categories such as science and religion.  The ways that modern culture defines us can no longer provide spiritual connections.

Quantum and cosmic metaphors about self, society and God point to origins, mysteries, and ultimate things. The worlds of cosmology and quantum mechanics offer us the resonance and rhetoric of a multi-dimensional uni-verse, and give us new ways to speak about the individual and communal quest for moral fulfillment.= 2 =

The language of cosmology can replace older ways of thinking and speaking about race and ethnicity.   This new language unifies rather than divides, in a cosmic universe that is both staggering and healing in its human/divine scope.

It is nothing short of a miracle to be situated in a cosmos that keeps its secrets but reveals just enough to keep us intrigued. Each day that dawns is a celebration of the fact that we have been invited to consider how our lives are spent; how we embrace and recoil from the creative genesis of darkness, which is also light; and how we relate to others.

One thing is certain: Our conflicts seem insignificant from the perspective of an expanding universe. As we struggle for justice, the universe invites us toward expanded options.

~ We can incorporate the wonder of science in our liturgy and in our politics.

~ We can strengthen and challenge theological precepts with information about the intricacies of a cosmos that defies our inclinations toward control.

~Finally, we can regard our differences as an intrinsic manifestation of a complex order.= 3 =

The quantum world is all expectancy and potential, and it includes us whether we know it or not. In such a dynamic life space, we dare not weary of well doing.

Although we continue to harm one another with our measurements of worth and assessments of short-comings, we are peering into a glass darkly. For what we know and what we see are only shadows that cannot reflect the fullness of the cosmos or our place in it.

This is a call to broaden our collective vision and to create a more expansive matrix for considerations of our pleasurable and not so pleasurable differences. Neither isolated liberation movements nor sporadic periods of social activism can sustain justice initiatives.

Effective efforts to make mutuality and justice integral to the life space must include spiritual and cosmological realities.

For the last few decades, we have glared steadily at issues of race and ethnicity and applied our best solutions, only to watch the issues return in different guises

Our chances of success are better when our efforts are invested with the humility that comes only with an inward and upward glance, for we are carrying our possibilities within the resonance of star-born and interconnected selves.

Our desire for justice is deeply rooted in systems that are holistic and relational. We have not forced, created, or dreamed this shared destiny; it seems to be the way of the universe. Perhaps we will find paths toward mutuality when we consider how our lives are spent within a complex cosmos.

However, we will NOT wrest an egalitarian order from the chaos with swords drawn or in fitful dreams of better times, but WITH an alertness and commitment to the difficult work of knowing self, others, and the universe as integral parts of a cosmic order        that announces its Author, our liberation, and the human potential for transcendence in every star and galaxy.

Some Notes on Barbara Holmes

Barbara A. Holmes is a spiritual teacher, activist, and scholar focused on African American spirituality, mysticism, cosmol-ogy and culture. She is President Emerita of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (2012-2016), and also served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Memphis Theological Seminary (2005-2010).

Before the call to ministry, Dr. Holmes worked as an early childhood educator, and a corporate lawyer in Georgia, Florida and Texas. She was ordained in the Latter Rain Apostolic Holiness Church in Dallas, Texas. Today, she has privilege of call in the United Church of Christ and recognition of ministerial standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

In addition, Dr. Holmes has worked with homeless missions, HIV/AIDS support groups and international ministries in Kenya (the Presbyterian Church of East Africa) and Japan.

She has earned the following degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Theatre Arts from the University of Connecticut; a Master of Science in Education from Southern Connecticut University; a Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Religion (Ethics) from Vanderbilt. Also, she earned a Law degree from Walter F. George School of Law, at Mercer University, Macon, Georgia. 

Among her publications are: Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church (Fortress Press, 2017 & 2004), Liberation and the Cosmos (Fortress Press, 2008), Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World Differently (Trinity Press International, 2002), and A Private Woman in Public Spaces: Barbara Jordan’s Speeches on Ethics, Public Religion, and Law (Trinity Press Inter-national, 2000).

In addition to her books, Dr. Holmes has published numerous articles and is a nationally sought speaker and lecturer.  She says:

 My life is committed to the struggle

for justice, the healing of the human spirit, and the art of relevant

and radical creativity. 

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