This summer’s Pentecost 2006 conference, titled “Building a Covenant for a New America,” is another example of how a move towards interspirituality (the coming together of all religions) is quickly taking place. Speakers included mysticism-promoting Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo as well as Hilary Clinton and other political and religious figures.
According to a Wall Street Journal editorial article on the event, Pentecost speaker Howard Dean said, “We’re about to enter into the ’60s again … Into the age of enlightenment, led by religious figures who want to greet Americans with a moral, uplifting vision.”
While the emphasis of the Pentecost 2006 event was said to be helping the poor, one cannot help wonder about the implications and the results of such a coming together of religious and political ideas, especially when we stop and realize that here too, mysticism plays a significant role.
Pentecost 2006 speaker Tony Campolo states his views on the role of mysticism and uniting all together in his book, Speaking My Mind:
Beyond these models of reconciliation, a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God … I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism? p. 149-150
Well, according to New Agers, there is indeed a common ground between Christianity and Islam, in fact between all religions. Mysticism is the glue that binds them all together. In Ron Miller’s book, As Above, So Below, he states (quoting Aldous Huxley):
“a highest common factor” links the world’s religious traditions. He [Huxley] calls this unifying factor the Perennial Philosophy, “the metaphysical [mystical] that recognizes a divine reality … each religion [provides] meditative disciplines that help us … experience our rootedness in the divine … the spiritual dimension of culture is … a spectrum of contemplative practices, equivalent in essence, which lead toward experience rather than towards doctrinal assertion.” (pp. 2-3)
Will this expected “age of enlightenmen” that Howard Dean spoke of at Pentecost 2006 intersect at some point with the evangelical’s (e.g., Rick Warren) hoped for “great awakening” or “second reformation”? The gap between the two is narrowing, and mysticism is the bridge that will bring about the ultimate unity.