Great upheavals in the economy and the environment, mixed with a new year, bring out the prognostications from all sorts of people.
The general theme among the new-thought crowd -- formally the new age -- for 2009 appears to be that great change is upon us ,and it's sink or swim time.
The buzz is that, supposedly, many of us will decide that we are not willing to make different choices, and this resistant group will decide to leave the planet, which means death in various forms.
For example, it's been said more than once lately that the seers are seeing New York City under water, so for those who live in the city, like myself, it must literally be time to swim or go under. That last one was first predicted for October 2008, but there's been no word on whether the date has been moved.
A large caveat to the big shift is that willingness is apparently not enough. It's also necessary to be fearless, or God will ignore your pleadings. It's an interesting side note that spiritual groups, to the extreme right and the left, stress that anything short of absolute conformity to their way of looking at things leads to judgment and a harsh dismissal.
Apparently, God is no longer taking mere mortals, we are now being required to rise to the occasion of perfection, or be cast aside. This would be another fine example of the Small God Theory. There are a lot of great 12-Step Programs saving a seat for this bunch when they come to a few realizations about progress, instead of perfection.
Instead of being full of unconditional love, God is reduced to pettiness and judgment and has quite a few conditions. What's truly remarkable is how many people sign up for this line of reasoning. It's an enormous competition that marks everything they say, think and do as barely enough, or lacking, with the end result being an early death or the prize of enlightenment.
Rule number one is, don't use negative words because that's all God can hear. Rule number two is, don't buy something that's ostentatious because that's a sign you've slipped off the path. It's very old school Presbyterian of them from when it was believed people were marked for heaven and hell before they were born. There are loads more rules, but enough already.
Humanity, mixed with a zealous requirement for perfection, adds up to a need to be right or else. A rigid stubbornness, all dressed up as healing, sets in and before long, followers are describing themselves in terms of what needs to be fixed. It's a clever form of victimhood that ensures psychics and spiritual teachers will stay employed during the recession.
However, if God was let out of the little box, and we operated off of the theory that He really is all that, then people could bring all of their fear, resentment, anger, joy, hope and beliefs to the table as long as they also packed a little willingness. God would love and accept us just as we are today and work with us. We would be enough for the challenges ahead because something bigger would be right there next to us.
Another bonus is that we would no longer have to ask others what we ought to be doing because we could trust ourselves, realizing that course corrections will be needed along the way.
Old stories would no longer be whipped out yet again, because the competition to prove worthiness would no longer be necessary. No more hopping into the future, because everyone would be too busy living in the moment, which until now, was being ignored.
We'll do the best we can for today, brush our teeth and go to bed. Again, it's because God loves us as is, and is not looking to swat us off the planet at the first sign of deep imperfection. Some would call this surrender, others may call it turning it over, but an even better word is "mercy."
Inside of mercy, competition ends and compassion finally has space to grow for everyone, instead of the chosen few. Yes, this does mean that your pompous, gun-toting neighbor, who's still driving a Humvee, gets to stay, too. More adventures to follow.
Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.