I've been wondering about the Dionysian elements of our religious phenomenological experience. I say Dionysian because ecstatic manifestations of prayer, worship and miracles were elements of this religion. Some biblical scholars and historians claim, in fact, that much of early Christianity was a response or reaction to or a borrowing from the religion of Dionysius. Emotional or ecstatic expressions of prayer, worship, spirituality and intercession are demonstrated across the religious spectrum. We see it not only in some Christian sects, but also in Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Jewish, Voodoo, Shaman and Wican sects, to name a few. Mysticism is not Christian, but religious, and sweeps across all religious lines. Miracles are not the sole claim of Christianity, but of a segment of every religion and anti-religion in the world. Have you not heard about, not just the evangelists, but the shamans, gurus, sufis, rabbis, psychics, witch-doctors and new-age practitioners with healing and miraculous powers? As Barth would solemnly remind us, with the revelation of God came religion. The human involvement in religion and its expression is total, deep, wide, mysterious, archetypal, ancient and complex. As Jacques Ellul would suggest:
If one would conform to a true prayer before God, one would need firmly to reject (the) seductive temptations which carry a sort of label of authenticity. Unfortunately it is the label of a false authenticity, one which man authenticates for himself when he confuses his own psychic phenomena with the hidden but solemn presence of the Lord of his life (Prayer and Modern Man, p. 24).Are we even slightly aware of our own "psychic phenomena"? Are we even slightly aware of our unconscious powers? Are we at all cognizant of the enormous spiritual powers that are immediately accessible to us? Are we informed about the Dionysian spirit that courses its way through every faith community that gathers? Sometimes I wonder. The fine art photo is the creation of my friend Howard Nowlan.