The dominant meme of "one-size-fit- all" colonizes the imagination of many in the establishment, whether of geopolitics or religion. The decline of the unipolar moment giving way to a multipolar world order shows clearly that "one-size-fits-all" is a fantasy that cannot work on the ground of diversity, which is the way things are. There are diverse cultures, paradigms of knowledge and practice, and ways of being in the world that transcend the confines of western neoliberal capitalism of the North American kind — which exploitative and predatory elements have incited much global outrage and resistance.
Similarly, western religion in the form of proselytizing Christianity (of the evangelical and fundamentalist strain) has adopted and continue to adopt the same "one-size-fits-all" approach to matters of faith and spirituality. This is reflected in the stagnant and dogmatic theologies of our time replete with a gung-ho corporatist operational fiasco that charaterizes much of our contemporary church scene. As in geopolitics, such religious "one-sizeism" is way past its used-by date. In fact, I would argue that such "one-sizeism" has never been a good way of doing either geopolitics or religion. Apart from the blatant arrogance and presumptuousness of it all, such a mindset and modus operandus fail to recognize the reality of diversity and non-conformity on the ground. Human dignity and civility inspire us to resist such hegemonic "one-sizeism" for a culture of respect, mutuality, and collaboration rather than subservience to a monopolistic superpower, whether it be a state or a church.
A contemplative and prophetic vision speaks with a voice that is counter-hegemonic, multipolar, and non-colonialist, quietly but firmly admonishing humanity to walk a mile in one another's moccasins. This entails interparadigmatic dialogue and interspiritual exploration beyond the prison walls of our mental limitations. In so doing, we must be ready to be challenged and open our hearts and minds to radical transformation. To be radical is to return to the root of the matter, in a sense. We radically return to the empirical roots of Gotama the Buddha and the countercultural roots of Jesus the Nazarene. Enough of Caesar and Rome. A new way forward is not a luxury but a necessity in these dire times of enraged tribalism.
When we are unaware and fall for the ingrained habit of grasping as absolute one's mental constructs, we end up worshipping and idolising our dogmas. Our habitual fixations limit our horizon and restrict our point of view. Emotionally, we become stunted and narrow-hearted. We elevate our own "god" and denigrate other people's "gods." Defensiveness and violence whether mental, verbal, or physical often result. This has been humanity's sad plight for thousands of years, unabated even now. But if God is truly God, why would he/she/it/they allow such obfuscation and tragic conflict to arise in his/her/its/their name? Surely, a little intelligent analysis would show how fallacious our limited dogmas are.
But what if we expand our mental images of God to include, not exclude? To embrace, not restrict? To pervade, not confine? To emerge in loving plurality, not submerge in monopolistic triumphalism? We would have a "Big enough" God who desires to bring everyone in rather than trying their best to keep the Other out. A small excluding god with a questionable sense of ethic often inferior to that of human beings is really not a god worthy of our honour and worship, is it?
One possible image of a "Big enough" God is the cosmotheandric God first proposed by Catholic theologian Tielhard de Chardin and later elaborated upon by Raimon Panikkar and Ilia Delio. A cosmotheandric God is one where divinity, cosmos, and humanity are all joined in a dynamic seamless fabric of reality. From the point of view of faith, the genesis and evolution of the cosmos in its physical, chemical, biological, psychological, and spiritual senses is none other than the process of Christogenesis — the creative and sustained becoming and manifesting of Christ in, through, and as the totality of the cosmos and humanity. In this integral vision, everything and everyone belongs. As the Gospel of Thomas^ goes, "Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." This cosmotheology of Christ is very much akin to the Tantric cosmology of South Asia, with deep resonances across East Asian Daoist, Arabic Sufi, Greco-Roman Neoplatonic, Indigenous Dreamtime, and Western contemporary quantum cosmology.
A cosmotheandric God is thus an open, relational, creative, dynamic, evolving, and participatory God who is in the every mote of dust and every pulsating quasar. God as such can be omniscient in his infinitude of consciousness, omni-loving in his open responsiveness to one and all, but not omnipotent in that God remains open and evolving without absolute central control in the boundless complexity of creative dynamic processes that is God's very own being. Hence, "evil" and suffering are very much real possibilities in such a cosmotheology without logical and moral contradictions. I see this as a kind of panen-metatheism in which the totality of the cosmos subsists in the infinite body of God and is pervaded by God who is ineffably nondual from yet transcendent to the cosmos. Human beings are not God yet not other than God (echoing Catholic priest Romano Guardini). For God self-expresses and self-evolves as us. To see and value this vision, a certain degree of contemplative intelligence and mystical experience is necessary. A constantly busy and distracted mind can only wallow in the shallow turbulent waters of dogmatic fixations as a bastion against fear and insecurity. Such a flawed strategy for religious salvation will fail in the final analysis.
A meditative mind and mystical heart coupled with keen intellect and loving sensibility are essential for us to re-envision God. None can claim irrefutable self-evident truths pertaining to the mystery of God, for there has never been a time when we are dealing with naked reality devoid of human construction. This was so for our so-called scripture. It was definitely so for our religion. And it is even so now. Let us construct wisely and compassionately, and together shape a new culture of peace and awakening. A cosmotheandric God is one potential contribution to this end.
^ Bible fundamentalists may claim that the Gospel of Thomas is a relatively late "heretical" text of the Gnostics but this claim is rather weak and unconvincing. Historically, what was deemed "heresy" (or not) was not settled till the First Council of Nicaea in the fourth century CE. Early Christianity was far more fluid, contested, and diverse than commonly assumed. The earliest Greek fragment of the Gospel of Thomas dates to a little earlier than CE 200 while most of the canonical New Testament manuscripts (which are not originals but copies of copies) are much later than that. Scholar of early Christianity, Bart Ehrman, has this to say, "94% of our manuscripts are 800 years after the fact. We have only a handful of manuscripts, at best, that can plausibly be dated to the second century. These are all highly fragmentary (the oldest is just a scrap with a few verses on it)." See: https://ehrmanblog.org/how-useful-are-our-earliest-new-testament-manuscripts/