Discover more from Brendan Graham Dempsey
My Course Starts on 1/15: Emerging Mythos
Starting January 15, I’ll be leading a 4-week course on metamodern spirituality entitled Emerging Mythos. If you’ve been enjoying my posts on Emergentism here on this Substack, you’ll find much to your interest in this colloquium!
This new online offering from PARALLAX ACADEMY’s “Rebuilding Spirituality” curriculum summons participants to a deep-dive into meaning-making, inviting reflection on the historical evolution of spirituality and personal contribution to our time’s great task of re-imagining the sacred.
I’ll be recording four (4) extended lecture presentations that will help frame this neo-alchemical adventure within its greater cosmic evolutionary context. How did we come to need to “rebuild spirituality” in the first place, and what are the theological assumptions behind such a project? What did the grand narratives of yesteryear do to our sense of meaning, and what stories do we (need to) tell now?
While probing to the root of these questions through engagement with various readings, lectures, and discussions, any willing hermeticists are also invited to craft their own symbolic responses, which will be shared in discussion circles and workshopped during weekly ‘Sabbath Scriptorium Hour.’
This playfully serious, ironically sincere exploration of emerging mythos will offer both deep conceptual grounding in issues related to the metanarrative of metamodern spirituality as well as opportunities to participate in heart-felt, embodied, and communal form. In the process, we will not only imagine what cosmic history entails for the future of myth and meaning; we will actively, consciously help bring it into being.
Choose your level of participation: just the lectures, lectures + discussion group, lectures + discussion group + group alchemy sessions.
You can sign up here: https://parallax-media.eu/courses/emergingmythos
Below is the material we will be covering across the four modules:
JANUARY 15 • MODULE I – AT THE CROSSROADS OF THE MEANING CRISIS
Why do we need to “rebuild” spirituality in the first place? Our course starts by situating this project in our contemporary crisis-ridden moment. Could it be that so many of the problems we face today—from environmental degradation to social inequality to the mental health epidemic and beyond—actually have their roots in a deeper cause: our broken relationship to meaning? If so, how did this come about? In this module, we’ll explore the origins of the “meaning crisis,” examining the existential transformations occasioned by the rise of modernity and postmodernity, and the condition in which all this leaves spirituality today.
Material covered: the meta-crisis, the meaning crisis, John Vervaeke, Jordan Peterson, Jamie Wheal, axial age religions, two worlds mythologies, magical causality, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, reductionism, materialism, mechanism/industrialization, determinism, Hobbes, Laplace, Dawkins, Hawking, the new atheists, totalitarianism, postmodern skepticism, Foucault, Lyotard, Harvey, Jameson, neoliberalism, postmodern cynicism, The God Emerging
JANUARY 22 • MODULE II – FROM DECONSTRUCTION TO RECONSTRUCTION
Having discussed our cultural evolution out of the “legacy religions” of the Axial Age to the secular reductionistic rationalism of modernity and the relativistic deconstructionism of postmodernity, we turn our attention to the present moment and the emerging cultural code of metamodernity. We dive deeply into the promising new framework it offers to contextualize this cultural evolution within a distinctly teleological narrative of meaning. To unpack this, and explain what such a naturalistic teleology looks like, we will consider the structuring paradigms of complexity, emergence, genetic epistemology, and transpersonal sociology to answer the question of what “rebuilding spirituality” means in the context of metamodern religion today.
Material covered: metamodernism, Vermeulen/van den Akker, Lene Rachel Andersen, Hanzi Freinacht, integral theory, big history, complexification, cosmic evolution, Eric Chaisson, dissipative adaption, Ilya Prigogine, systems theory, the unifying theories of knowledge and reality, Carl Sagan, genetic epistemology, Piaget, Habermas, normativity, evolution of God-concepts, the self/society dialectic, our “great endeavor”
JANUARY 29 • MODULE III – DEVELOPING THE DIVINE
Building on all we’ve considered so far, we probe the implications of an evolutionary cosmos in which knowledge of the Ultimate unfolds—particularly through human culture. If religion is “in the making,” ‘God’ is continually evolving and developing through human cognition and culture. This module begins by tracing this process through cultural history with a brief survey of the world’s religious evolution, examining the shapes the sacred takes in the complexification from egalitarian, to imperial, to axial, to modern, to postmodern societies. The co-evolution of God and consciousness is then considered through a psychological lens, marrying the insights of developmental and analytical psychology. This brings us to the social functions of myth and the novel demands of metamodern mythopoeia.
Material covered: the evolution of consciousness, the evolution of religion, Robert Bellah, Karl Jaspers, Karen Armstrong, God-concepts, Jung, Neumann, Edinger, the hero’s journey, Peterson, personal mythology, Building the Cathedral, metamodern alchemy, the opus, ironic prophecy, the Headless God, idols vs. icons, Jean-Luc Marion, rite
FEBRUARY 5 • MODULE IV – MOVING TOWARDS OMEGA
Finally, we consider the societal ramifications of this vision, taking us from personal metamodern spirituality to collective metamodern religion. If God is being worked out creatively by individuals, how do we avoid a hyper-individualized practice unmoored from religious community and commitment? In this module, we explore the possibilities of a “church that isn’t a church” by examining the specific structures and sensibilities that can optimally network individual practice into a cooperative community. We will look at some effectively realized precursors for inspiration, while also contemplating the novel possibilities provided by the new global digital infrastructure. We consider the potential promise and pitfalls of metamodern religious institutions, as well as the challenges of “scaling.” Ultimately, we return to our original framing of our project within the context of the meta- and meaning-crises and present metamodern religion as a cultural effort and an ethical imperative.
Material covered: critiques of hyper-individuated spirituality, the failures of New Age, the possibility of mythopoeic community, CoSM, Damanhur, institutionalization, scandal, leadership and “teacherly authority”, checks and balances, metamodern monasteries, top-down design vs. Bayesian exploration, online community, wiki, AI, scaling for a broad audience, developmentally informed communication, legacy religions vs. metamodern religion, pragmatism, existential risk, a time for action
Hope to see you there!