Shuck and Jive

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Color is Your Christ?

I received a couple of books in the mail today for my review. The first is by Anglican priest, Ian Mobsby.

The Becoming of G-d: What the Trinitarian nature of God has to do with Church and a deep Spirituality for the Twenty First Century

This, my second book, seeks to explore the theology behind groups like Moot, Emerging & Fresh Expressions of Church. It looks at the whole issue of knowing G-d through experience, and that the concept of the Trinity, formulated through the Cappadocian Mothers & Fathers, is a best guess understanding of the nature of God, which though partially revealed in Christ, remains mystically out of reach. However, the Western church, through the differences of latin and greek texts, never fully understood the concept of the Trinity, which has distorted its theology and practice.

I explore the importance of this understanding of God in the context of our postmodern culture driven under the logic of consumption and information technology, which drives a new form of cultural mysticism. In this brave new world, the importance of church reflecting the Trinitarian nature of God as 'mystical communion or community' becomes an imperative. Finally, I explore the difficult challenge of building community in a culture which is loosing its interpersonal skills to the cult of the individual.
Maybe this will help me get a handle on this whole "postmodern" business that I can't quite figure out.

The other book that caught my eye, is from
Bruce Sanguin, who wrote a book I really enjoyed, Darwin, Divinity, and the Dance of the Cosmos: An Ecological Christianity.

latest is...

The Emerging Church: A Model for Change & a Map for Renewal.

I have just glanced through it, but what intrigues me is his use of Spiral Dynamics to help us get a handle on how we understand reality. This theory was developed by Clare Graves and you can read a thumbnail sketch of his theory here. According to this theory, human beings are on an evolutionary path going through stages of psychological and social development. Sanguin quotes Graves at the beginning of chapter five:

"What I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of old, lower-order behavior systems to new, higher-order systems as man's existential problems change."
Graves proposed eight stages (with perhaps more to come) that emerged as human beings faced different conditions. Here is the chart Sanguin uses that is available as a download. Here are the eight levels:








Group bands together
to stay alive





The sense of family-tribe
with time honored





Power-action driven,





Purposeful, absolutist,
"one right way"















Natural processes, mutual realities; live for mutuality





Harmony, holism, spirituality

You can find this all over the internet. I am not sure what to make of it. Nor do I know how mainstream this theory has become (if at all) in the academic community.

But, it is fun. Sanguin applies these stages to how Christians see Christ. Each Christ has a positive and a negative aspect.

Beginning with Purple--Christ is the Tribal Christ. "He makes the world go 'round when proper ritual is performed....He answers the prayers of those who are obedient." (p. 94)

The negative can be superstition: praying for football victories, parking spots, and miracle cures.

Red--The Warrior Christ. "Followers of the Red Christ go with him into battle on behalf of their tribe, nation, or belief system....In its most positive expression, following this Christ gives us the energy to "fight" for what we believe in--to take a stand."


"The Red Christ led the Christian armies in the crusades. He also led the U.S. army into Iraq." (p. 94)

Blue--The Traditional Christ, a Divine Scapegoat. "As part of the divine plan, God sends his only son to suffer and die on behalf of humanity, modelling sacrifice of self for a future reward....Christ's own sacrifice invites followers to led lives of self-sacrificial love, with the hope of eternal reward.


"...he can be used in a triumphalistic manner. He is the
only truth, the only way, and the only life, and if you don't believe it you're going to hell." (p. 95 emphasis author's)

Orange--The Modern Demythologized Christ and Christ as CEO. "Christ is seen as the human one, a teacher of spiritual wisdom....In its positive expression, the Orange stage helps us transcend the literalism of previous levels....modernist values give us permission to think for ourselves.

I like that! But...

...In its negative expression, the Orange level leaves no room for Spirit." (p. 95)

Here is where Sanguin puts the Jesus Seminar! I suppose I am pretty orange, too. But I want to be Green!

Green--The Egalitarian-Postmodern Christ. "The postmodern Christ embraces multiple cultures and downplays the "Truth" of any particular religious system. The Green Christ draws the circle ever wider, so that it includes the outcasts, the left-behinds, and the marginalized.

I like Green! But...

...In its negative expression, followers of the Green Christ are impatient and dismissive of all other value systems." (p. 96)

Yellow--The Integral/Ecological/Cosmic Christ. "The Yellow, integral Christ encompasses the universe and all cultures as an integrated ecology of systems....Followers of this Christ become fascinated by the world that the new sciences are discovering, and by how this world connects to the core metaphors and narratives of the Judeo-Christian tradition." (p. 96)

Ok, I kinda like that yella Jesus. But...

"...elitist thinking and impatience with those perceived to be 'below' this stage."

Turquoise-The Mystical Christ. "At this level, the world is experienced--not merely conceptualized--as one. A follower of this Christ does not merely perceive the universe an integrated whole. She knows herself to be a form of the integrated whole, the part in whom the whole is manifest. The great diversity of life is also an expression of the Holy One. All of life is sacred revelation, for those with eyes to see." (p. 97, emphasis author)

Well, maybe someday. But I am not there yet. I think I know folks who are, though. But...

"the potential disaster of this stage actually resides in those who have enjoyed mystical states of consciousness (available at every stage), but who confuse these experiences with a stage of consciousness (which are permanent structures in consciousness)." (p. 97-8, emphasis author)

So what do you think about this, Shuck and Jivers? What color is your Christ?


  1. Dr. M! I believe you have achieved the 9th level!

  2. I really liked "Darwin, Divinity, and the Dance of the Cosmos", so I was interested in also checking out "The Emerging Church". It was really, really hard to find. The book was published just this year, and they must have published only a few copies, because no new copies could be found anywhere. Amazon didn't have any new copies, for example. So I ended up ordering a used copy. I haven't had a chance to look at it much after the book arrived, so I can't really comment on it, except that it seemed at first glance to be targeted more at churches or clergy than for a general readership. Still, I will give the book a read when I get a chance.

  3. By the way, I first heard about the the book when it was mentioned in an article on Greta Vosper in an online newspaper article from Canada, if I'm not mistaken. Sanguin was suggested to be an alternative to the brand of progressive Christianity that Greta Vosper, a fellow Canadian was presenting.

  4. I would like to put myself at the higher levels but to be honest my Jesus is orange. However, I think that I have a little green and yellow too but orange is definitely the majority color.

    Which is to bad really as green is my favorite color so I guess I need to work towards being more green.


  5. I'm definitely turquoise, but I haven't made my mind up if my mystical experiences are really mystical or more having to do with me possibly having a deranged nervous system.

    My first "mystic" experience happened over a year ago when I first started researching the Web about, Corporatism, pollution, famine, wars, etc. For about three days, I had a sense of ineffable revelation. I experienced a heightened sense of reality where I felt that a hidden wisdom had suddenly become certain beyond the possibility of a doubt. I felt an overwhelming sense in the Unity of all things. I had a general sense of intense well-being, like I had an intimate personal relationship with God. I felt utterly and completely forgiven and relieved from all burden of sin. The whole of infinity seemed to open up before me and I seemed to deny the reality of time and I also believed that all evil was mere appearance.

    The experience showed me that within my own soul there are possibilities of an inner peace and happiness beyond description, as well as inconceivable depths of terror and despair. This experience provided me with the evidence I needed to prove to myself that God or Christ or the Great Spirit exists. During my experience, I was overcome with Love and Compassion for my friends, family, and neighbors, and I felt that I loved each person the same. I honestly felt the same amount of love for my neighbor as I did for my son. Also during the first two nights of the experience I could not eat or sleep at all. Luckily, the experience ended after about three days, and I could get back to normal life. But, I haven’t been the same since. Now I really care about justice and truth and helping mankind in whatever ways I can. But, I do have to admit that I still have a hard time with my personal relationships. I hope that God will forgive me again.

    Has anyone else ever had an experience like this or similar to it? And John, I’m not sure what this statement means: “the potential disaster of this stage actually resides in those who have enjoyed mystical states of consciousness (available at every stage), but who confuse these experiences with a stage of consciousness (which are permanent structures in consciousness)." (p. 97-8, emphasis author)”.

    P.S. I also wanted to let you know that during my “mystical” experience I had an overwhelming feeling of urgency, like something bad was about to happen. I stayed up all hours of the night imagining people suffering, like going to bed hungry, sick, and without a place to sleep. I also felt like something bad is about to come towards America, like more people suffering here with the already 35,000,000 in poverty and at least 1,000,000 homeless. That is when I decided to start stocking up on water and having an
    emergency plan. See to learn how to plan for an emergency of any kind.

    A few months ago I found these alarming statistics on poverty, illiteracy, and healthcare issues and the gap between the poor and the rich. These are addressed in a United Nations Speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran during the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept 26, 2007. Ahmadinejad elaborated on the most important challenges faced by the world today and offered some solutions:

    “While a major part of the natural environment in Asia, Africa and Latin America is being plundered by the political and economic domination of certain powers, the situation of poverty and deprivation is very alarming. Let me draw your attention to some data issued by the United Nations:

    - Every day close to 800 million people go to bed hungry and about 980 million suffer from absolute poverty, with less than one dollar a day in purchasing power.

    - People of 31 countries, equivalent to 9 percent of the world's population, have an average life expectancy of 46 years, which is 32 years less than the average of developed countries.

    - The gap between the rich and the poor in some parts of the world has increased by forty times.

    - In many countries, the majority of the people are deprived of access to education and schooling.

    - In developing countries, the maternal mortality rate during pregnancy is 450 per 100,000. This ratio is 7 in the richer nations and the ratio of mortality of new births is 59 for developing countries and 6 for the richer nations.

    - One-third of deaths in the world, or 50,000 persons daily, result from poverty.
    I believe this data clearly demonstrates the tragic situation dominating economic interactions in the world.”

    During my mystical experience I sincerely believed the United Nations, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund would be successful in solving our Global Crisis. I am now no longer sure. Who in this forum believes that these global government organizations will be successful? I need some reassuring, and people like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Ralph Nader aren't very positive towards our government or the world government.

    P.S.S. That Ralph Nader link goes to a video about how Bush plans to attack Iran, declare a National Emergency, institute Martial Law, and call off 2008 elections if the Democrats try to impeach Bush.