Friday, May 1, 2009

The Gospel of Big Integrity

by Michael Dowd

The gospel according to science—the saving good news from an evolutionary perspective—is this:

A deep-time worldview makes coming into integrity, or "getting right with God", individually and collectively, a no-brainer.

This is really good news because integrity is everything; it's the only thing that truly matters.
At this time in history, focusing on anything other than right relationship at and with all nested levels, from the personal to the planetary, is a distraction.

Religion has always recognized the centrality of integrity. In the language of my own tradition, what is 'conversion' other than coming home to Integrity? What is 'abiding in Christ' other than living in Integrity? What is 'the fruit of the Spirit' other than evidence of Integrity?

The two types of religious leaders that Jesus was most critical of were the Sadducees and the Pharisees—those who thought being right with God meant being in the right tradition, having the right beliefs, or performing the right rituals. To both of these kinds of believers Jesus emphatically said, "No, that's not it! Follow me. Walk the path I'm walking. Abide in integrity. It's by your fruit that you'll be known." When we forget this, we betray God (and belittle the gospel).

While we naturally feel whether we are in or out of integrity with respect to our values and our closest circles of relationship, without an evolutionary worldview we can't know whether we are in integrity at larger scales. And without a deep-time view of grace and creative emergence, we certainly cannot see our way forward.

Here's an initial sketch of what I suggest integrity looks like at multiple levels:

EDUCATION that includes how each subject fits within the big picture has integrity.
EDUCATION that ignores the larger ecological and cosmological context lacks integrity.

RELIGION that celebrates the divine at all scales of reality has integrity.
RELIGION that values the unnatural over the natural lacks integrity.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION that helps children interpret science in inspiring, faith-enhancing ways has integrity.
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION that fails to help children interpret science in sacred, meaningful ways lacks integrity.

SPIRITUALITY that helps each of us work through resentments, secrets, and unfinished business has integrity.
SPIRITUALITY that fails to transform peoples lives and relationships lacks integrity.

GOVERNANCE concerned with aligning individual and group self-interest with planetary self-interest has integrity.
GOVERNANCE that fails to reflect back to the parts their impact on the whole lacks integrity.

DEMOCRACIES that effectively harness collective intelligence have integrity.
DEMOCRACIES controlled by moneyed interests lack integrity.

ECONOMICS with accountability and an understanding of our evolved instincts has integrity.
ECONOMICS that fails to take into account a scientific view of human nature lacks integrity.

HUMANITY committed to a thriving future for the entire body of life has integrity.
HUMANITY unaware or dismissive of our impact on other species and the planet lacks integrity. 

From Edward E. Morler's The Leadership Integrity Challenge

“Integrity is spontaneous responsibility.  It is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.  Without integrity our self-image and self-esteem become dependent on what other people think.  Every time we compromise our integrity we sacrifice a bit of ourselves—we shave off a piece of the wholeness of who we are.

“People with integrity have positive control over their lives and over the events in their lives.  They have a clarity and certainty about what they want and will allow.  They do not see life as happening to them, but rather they make life happen.  Without the cement of integrity, we are left distracted, unclear about what to do, ineffective in action, and weighed down by negativity.

“Integrity is the bedrock and the cement of our purpose, principles, and character.  It is the foundation that provides the willingness, ability, poise, presence, and certainty to deal with the entirety of what is.  Out of that develops our sense of purpose and vision of what can be.  In living our values and moving toward this ideal vision, we become more of who we truly are.” 

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