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Chris Saade on 'Second Wave Spirituality'

Second Wave Spirituality: Passion for Peace, Passion for Justice
North Atlantic

Brought to you by North Atlantic books.

1. What was your inspiration and motivation behind creating your new book, "Second Wave Spirituality Passion for Peace, Passion for Justice"?

The years of my young adulthood laid the foundation for a lifetime of caring profoundly for peace and justice. In my teens and twenties I was involved in a peace-building Christian group in Lebanon. There I experienced seven of the sixteen years of a devastating civil war. I saw the mad violence and unimaginable suffering generated by the lust for domination and the compulsion for unlimited profit. I also witnessed the unbelievable courage of people of heart who offered solace, help, and protection. I learned the importance of being proactive about peace and passionate about justice, otherwise destruction will continue to be rampant and at some point will overtake us.

During the past twenty-five years, I have been so inspired by the millions of individuals, especially young people who are putting their hand on the plough and filling the ranks of humanitarian, ecological, and social-justice oriented nonprofit organizations. I have followed and studied the amazing emergence of a global movement that is redefining faith as love-in-action and significantly evolving our sense of spirituality. There is a growing outcry in spiritual circles for peace, democracy, and ecological responsibility. Spiritual teachers and thinkers are seriously revising their old teachings of withdrawal from the struggles of the world and instead starting to call us to become involved as activists of love. The idea of faith as love-in-action is radically reforming our theology. This universal and socially engaged awakening is breathtaking and can be history changing. I deeply felt that I had to come to understand this powerful worldwide phenomena and grasp its vital premises. I had to write about it and share with others how we are all connected to it. Through this emergence of a socially engaged spirituality, we are participating in a global event that could ultimately change the direction of our civilization! This second wave of spirituality is opening doors in our consciousness that have been locked for too long. It is awakening the dormant social forces of spirituality. It our best hope in these times of grave and imminent global dangers.

2. What is the Second Wave of spirituality and how do we embrace it?

During the last decade, we have experienced an astounding global emergence of spiritual people who are justice, ecology, and democracy driven. This shift in our spiritual consciousness is a historical first in its magnitude and inclusivity. People from all over the world, from every race and religion are beginning to practice engaged spirituality i.e. love-in-action. There is a significant shift from the ethereal, “me” oriented, disembodied, and disengaged spirituality. The shift is toward love-in-action for the earth and for the world. Our longing for personal freedom and our yearning for historical participation are interweaving. Our souls are being stirred. Passions of the spirit are arising in our hearts: passion for the freedom of authenticity, passion for the earth, and a passion for justice. The coming together of these passions — authenticity, earth, and justice — is defining Second Wave spirituality. We are feeling the tremors of a most significant reformation in our faith and beliefs.

This unprecedented historical phenomenon is a spiritual auto-immune response to the dire and dangerous crisis our world is facing. Second Wave spirituality is not a new religion or an organized movement. It is a grassroots meeting of hearts and minds. It is an evolutionary leap taking us to the next frontier in our human journey. We see its effects in the large swelling of the number of humanitarian and socially oriented nonprofits and in the clamor for true democracy. We also see its impact in a major shift in our collective mental map. I cover in my book six main new spiritual ideas that are coalescing together and profoundly evolving our consciousness. These six seminal principles are about the crucial importance of:
freedom of the heart,
unification of paradoxes,
oneness as global solidarity,
love as the pursuit of justice.

It is important to grasp the profound significance of the fact that spiritual activists from all over the world and from different religions are beginning to offer social and economic visions that transcend the paralysis and destruction engendered by the domination-oriented ideologies of our times. We are beginning to envision means of organizing our societies that further individual freedom and the creativity of bold entrepreneurship as well as democratic solidarity and justice. The human mind is breaking into a new frontier of thought that is very promising. Our spirit is beginning to understand, even more clearly now, the promises and implications of the imperative of love. Our spirits are growing by leaps and bounds, collectively and individually. Our hearts are beginning to expand to the scope of love's intrepid dream.

Every one of us is called to become active and contribute to the arising of Second Wave spirituality—and to do so through one's unique calling and special talents. Every one of us is needed. We are all summoned to love-in-action. Every one of us is called to get engaged and do our part. There are many avenues to get engaged in the service of love-in-action. However, it is important to remember that as spiritual activists, we are asked to engage the world passionately from our unique authenticity and from our heart. Everyone is to listen to where their heart is guiding them in the service of justice, ecological, and social transformation.

3. What was the first wave of spirituality? Because obviously if there is a second there had to be a first right?

The whole second chapter of the book is devoted to this, but essentially, I am defining the “first wave” of spirituality as the spiritual opening that happened in our faith in the 1970s and had its high moments in the mid 80s and early 90s.

The first wave of spirituality carried us a long way. It opened doors of spiritual freedom that had been shut tight. It liberated us from the rigid religious dogmatism of the past. It significantly enlarged the horizons of our spiritual imagination. First wave spirituality spoke to us of the Divine living in us and through us. It embraced inclusion and affirmed the value of the many different paths to God. It attempted (partially) to break out of the endemic shaming of our humanity and underlined a more positive and joyful approach to life. This impressive phenomenon was referred to as “new thought,” “new spiritualities,” or sometimes “new age,” but we also saw it, though in a milder version, as a softening influence in most religions.

Unfortunately, first wave spirituality kept us captive to the old dualism separating the Divine from the earth and from the day-to-day struggles of its inhabitants for justice and peace. It considered grief and outrage as negative feelings, disconnecting us from the grief we needed to feel for the state of the earth and for all those deprived of their rights and oppressed. Sadly, in many instances, first wave spirituality got packaged as an oversimplified fast food spirituality and highly commercialized. The emphasis was merely on individual enlightenment, dismissing the cries of the oppressed and the lethal violation of our environment.

Thus, it is important to embrace the gifts of this first wave of spirituality and, at the same time, to transcend its tragic limitations. What is happening now is that we are evolving into a more complete vision that unites the spiritual life with the struggles of the earth and all sentient beings. In addition, (and this is crucial) we are coming to understand the primacy of the quest for individual authenticity reclaiming the trust that ancient cultures and indigenous people had in their nature and spirit. What is astounding today is that the quest for authenticity is being welded with the quest to serve the causes of democratic freedoms, human and animal rights, social justice, and ecological stewardship.

4. The world at times to me and many others I know seems like a horror movie and can often feel hopeless. Many are going through terrible ordeals with losing loved ones and medical scenarios, etc. And don't get me started on the corruption with the pigs that are supposedly in charge of it all. How do we move past this and bring healing and justice to our world?

It is very true that the world is in a dire and dangerous crisis. The future of the human race on planet earth is at stake. This sad state of affairs is affecting us globally but is also felt on a very personal level: jobs lost, unavailable or unaffordable medical care, population displacement due to global warming, weather extremes, a lowering of income for the majority of people, a shameful minimum wage, a level of stress beyond what the body and psyche are meant to hold... The earth is greatly suffering and so are individuals. The amplitude of the global crisis is a historical first. Never, since the ice age, has the future of the whole human species been put into question! However we can be inspired and sustained by the fact that the global rise of a socially conscious and engaged spirituality is also a historical first! There is a longing growing in the hearts of people like we have never seen before: a longing to serve the earth and build systems that serve humanity, earth, and animals rather than exploit them to death. The Spirit is responding to the crisis. Second Wave spirituality is at its beginning, but it is gathering force. Multitudes are deciding to choose love-in-action. If this second wave of spirituality keeps on developing, we will usher the greatest reformation ever in our belief systems and we will see millions (if not billions) of people of heart and spirit get involved for peace, justice, and the earth. We would behold an unstoppable and nonviolent global awakening of unprecedented magnitude. Our grief is real and is sacred. We can also experience a joyful passion in participating with hundreds of millions in serving the loftiest and noblest dream!
This is a tipping point for humanity. It is scary, but it is also most pregnant with evolutionary opportunities. This tipping point is releasing a power of soul of great magnitude, a power available for individuals who dare to take on the challenge, widen their hearts and evolve accordingly.

If we open our hearts, if we reach into the depth of our spirit, we will discover that a tremendous amount of divine strength and energy is available for us. In the midst of this heart-breaking global crisis, there is an exponential evolutionary leap happening in our consciousness. Today, the power of love that is available for the individual is staggering. We could go the way of despair, but we could also choose passion, strength, and the joy of serving God's dream for creation.

And let us remember that our spirits are truly magnificent, most beautiful and powerful, and prepared for the task at hand. We must not succumb to the shame instilled in us by the religious philosophies that have aligned themselves with the systems of domination. We have to keep on remembering the dignity of our spirits and their unbounded power of love.

5. You have some quotes from some great people in your book and a great blurb by Marianne Williamson who I'm familiar with. Can share you some quotes and talk about Marianne’s blurb with us?

It is very difficult to select from among the hundreds of powerful quotations in the book – that is why we included so much- about 500!! What each person is moved by will be unique. I will share some that resonate intimately with my spirit.

“Second Wave Spirituality suggests we’re embarking on a new stage in our evolutionary journey, and I agree. ‘Love-in-action’ is exactly what’s happening, and exactly what we need.” —Marianne Williamson (blurb from back of book)

Marianne Williamson has been speaking about the importance for spiritual people to get engaged in issues of justice, ecological healing, and the protection of all children. In her note about my book Marianne Williamson underlines how love-in-action, the core tenet of Second Wave spirituality, is the needed catalyst for a crucial leap in our evolutionary journey. I believe, as she does, that the global situation on planet earth is demanding from us a crucial liberation from the old belief systems of domination and exploitation. We are at the edge of a new evolutionary frontier. Understanding the unbounded nature of love-in-action (love as the pursuit of justice for all, love as solidarity with all those suffering...) is the key.

What fills me with hope is that millions of human beings are now, in the fire of our current crises, waking up to the need for inner and outer transformation, making possible the quantum evolutionary leap I have been describing. The time for the Birth of Sacred Activism on a global scale has arrived. Everything is now at stake and everything is possible.
—Andrew Harvey

An incarnate religion demands an incarnate spirituality; one could call it “spirituality of the body.” Hence, issues of global warming become religious issues: clean air and water, food and shelter, become “works of the spirit.”
—Sallie McFague

Devote the self to the
passionate flame
Which calls upon you.
Then shall you be prepared,
step by step,
For the greater unfoldment of
Divine Mystery . . .
—Beverly Lanzetta

Spirituality is living life at a depth of newness and gratitude, courage and creativity, trust and letting go, compassion and justice.
—Matthew Fox

Justice, or right relations, will have to be considered from a new and very broad, inclusive standpoint. It seems that in this new vision, we may be seeing evidence of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit, whose role is to draw the whole creation into a new and sacred unity.
—Elaine Prevallet

I would like to underline that from the hundred pages of quotes that constitute the last part of my book, I have included quotations from many of the women who have richly gifted the world and nurtured my soul. Of course the list is very incomplete, but they include: Maria Clara Bingemer, Rachel Cartier, Dorothy Day, Sabrineh Fideler, Constance FitzGerald, Ivone Gebara, Hildegard of Bingen, Beverly Lanzetta, Jane McAvoy, Sallie McFague, Mother Teresa, Louise Palmer, Jan Phillips, Elaine Prevallet, Susan Rakoczy, Joyce Rupp, Dorothee Soelle, and Dorothy Walters. How grateful we are to the feminine consciousness that has allowed us to open our hearts to the pain of God and the tears of God whenever children are mistreated and forgotten, and whenever policies are adopted that despoil vulnerable populations, extinguish animal species, and mar the earth.

6. Would you talk about the 6 crucial ideas that converged and generated the global awakening of second wave of spirituality with us? Perhaps share some with us as well?

I spend a whole chapter examining the 6 crucial ideas that are changing the spiritual lay of the land for us. These are: authenticity, freedom of the heart, unification of paradoxes, inclusion, spiritual oneness understood as global solidarity, and, finally, love as the pursuit of justice. Although these ideas have been known throughout the ages, they have mainly been explored separately from one another. While a single tradition espoused one or two of these seminal ideas, different traditions emphasized others. The fusing together of these six spiritual concepts is unprecedented. Also today we have come to develop these seminal ideas like we have never done before. These ideas are transforming our vision and unifying our thinking. Our collective consciousness is experiencing a quantum rejuvenation.

The six ideas arose at the cutting edge of our evolutionary development. The first two that I cite are authenticity and the freedom of the heart. Let us briefly look at the promising news these two usher. But before we define these two emerging ideas, let us explore the global context in which they are arising—a context teeming with the longing for freedom—individual inner freedom and democratic freedoms. A growing and vigorous resistance to systems of oppression, domination, and control defined the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. The emerging Second Wave spirituality has incorporated a great deal from the movements that espoused the rights of women, the poor, minorities, gays, those who are physically challenged, and others whose freedoms were curtailed. Gandhi’s seminal Satyagraha and the heroic activism of the African American church for civil rights under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. have deeply imprinted the thinking of teachers and activists belonging to this new emerging wave of spirituality. They came to understand that the idea of freedom implies a respect for the sacredness of differences and the right of everyone to find and follow their path. The commitment to freedom has become, in varying degrees, the foundation of spiritual groups and organizations working on social, ecological, and global issues. We can say that we have crossed the river Rubicon regarding the idea of freedom. We cannot go back to the acceptance of the structures of domination any longer, be they in the religious or even in the spiritual fields. Yet there is much more work to be done. Our freedoms are still endangered. They are consistently under attack. However, the idea of freedom has taken solid root in the human psyche.

Authenticity, or the freedom to be as one has been created to be.

There is an increasing recognition of the importance of living authentically i.e. true to one's natural being, make up and dispositions. This is a radical liberation of the body and spirit from all the shame and self loathing that have been imposed on them for millennia. It is indeed an evolutionary leap for our age and time. This quest for authenticity has deconstructed the unbending dogmatism of old belief systems. So many heavy- handed religious and (even) spiritual philosophies have burdened people with their rigid injunctions and fit for all points of view. The impositions they laid on people, even when well intentioned, paralyzed and compromised their spirits' unique journey of self-discovery and self-realization.

Living authentically, that is in harmony with one's natural inclinations and aspirations, is a return home to one's true self. It is about finding one's own gait and one's own presence in the world. It is the choice to impassion and develop what is already there, as a given for each individual. As we are coming to respect the need for everyone to find their own authentic and sacred nature and live from it, we are gradually breaking out of the oppression we internalized for so long. We are shattering the fetters that weighed us down and made us fight against our own selves. As we discover the deeper layers of our own authenticity, we release the power of the Divine in us and through us. We carve the possibility for a whole new way of relating to ourselves and to others. We come to end the inner civil war splitting us apart. We embrace who we are and we come to know the power of our authenticity. The ancient Egyptians used to say: "know yourself and you will know the gods."

The idea of the freedom of the heart, or the freedom to feel one's feelings and to be led by one's heart.

Freedom is a concept that is deeply ingrained in Second Wave spirituality at the most intimate level. Not only have we been indoctrinated to believe that our authentic individual nature is flawed, we have also been taught also by many religious and spiritual teachers that the feelings of our heart could not be trusted—even our best intentions could be shadowy! So most of us ended up distrusting our individual nature and our hearts. As we disregarded the demands of our authentic nature, we also fell into the trap of second guessing our heart's feelings and guidance. We fought against our own deepest longings and desires. This unending inner war depletes our energies, depresses us and makes us unavailable for the struggle for greater justice. We are inwardly exhausted, attempting to control our heart's leanings and longings—often too exhausted to even conceive of participating in social change.
The heart needs to be free to feel its feelings (all of them, joy and grief, excitement and anguish... ) and to follow its genuine desires and callings. We are coming to understand that the freedom of the heart , in its manifold expressions, is one of the necessary requirements for a fulfilled and impassioned life. Freedom of the heart is the holy ground of creativity. It is also the holy ground of compassionate service. The heart is outraged by the systemic exploitation of the earth and its most vulnerable inhabitants! Those who have come to trust the deep feelings of their heart, and faithfully track its genuine desires, have found great inner power. Impassioned by their heart, they are standing against oppression and speaking for our beleaguered earth.

7. This is a wildcard question. What would you like to share with us from your book that our readers might find beneficial?

My book on Second Wave spirituality hopes to catalyze its readers by reminding them that they are not isolated, rather they are part of a growing and most important global movement—one of a socially engaged spirituality. It is a movement that is gaining steam, a movement that is catapulting our consciousness forward. Readers will be encouraged to claim their belonging and expand their participation in such a world-transforming historical movement . Even more, readers will be inspired to affirm the freedom of their own authenticity and of their heart, and to invest that freedom in serving the causes of justice and global peace.

How can individuals claim their power if their authenticity is denied and they are put at war with themselves? How can they take the needed heroic stands for our earth if they are made to consistently question their own nature and heart? Second Wave spirituality is an unfurling of freedom for the individual, for society and for the earth. The good news is that we are beginning to look at things differently. We are understanding that freedom is our birthright as well as our ethical responsibility. You are asked to be free, free to be your true self, and in that freedom discover the calling of your hearts to get socially engaged. Authenticity and social justice have become the twin siblings of the great arising of hearts!

I have also included in my book a list of practical suggestions for greater social engagement. The list was constituted by the actions thousands of spiritual activists have shared with me or written about. Here are some suggestions drawn from the more expansive lists you will find in the book:

Increase your involvement in humanitarian, peace-building, justice-making, ecological, and animal-protection endeavors. Volunteer as much as you can in nonprofit organizations that are making a difference and attempting to further systemic changes. Invest yourself in a cause that calls on your heart. Dedicate yourself passionately to it and make a difference for our struggling world, especially in relation to the dire needs of ecological sustainability and the suffering of children. Organizations that work for the welfare and the education of children need to have our full support, as the mentoring children will lead to significant and lasting changes in the world.

In your own way, become a voice for Second Wave spirituality. Through informal and formal means—conversations, book clubs, the local media, social media, the internet, writing, or teaching—find ways to become an active and passionate participant in spreading this emerging message of engaged spirituality and global solidarity. Words of spiritual compassion, inclusion, hunger for justice, reconciliation, and ecological stewardship need to be heard in every city and every country—heard again and again until people are deeply moved and a tremendous transformational heart-force is released.

Become a guide to other spiritual activists. Many are those who want to become involved and make their life significantly matter but do not know how and where. For example, those who desire to wean themselves from consuming the products of mega agribusinesses, and instead support their local organic farming, might not know how to proceed. An individual guide will inform them and provide them with the necessary contacts. Guides will help people in their community to become knowledgeable about humanitarian volunteering opportunities, political advocacy, spiritual activism conferences, and so forth. Guides are necessary and very important. Too many people of heart and spirit simply do not know the ins and outs of the available avenues for social change. Guides will remedy that lack through social media, through targeted newsletters, or by consulting individually with others.

Unleash your artistic creativity in the service of a world of justice and solidarity. Create art that speaks the message of engaged spirituality. Let your artistic gifts awaken others through aesthetic expression. Create a painting, a song, or a dance; write a poem or an article; develop software; make a film or a DVD; use your creativity to express the highest values of justice, peace, inclusion, and solidarity.

Ask your religious leaders and spiritual teachers to address issues of justice and global peace. We need the message of an engaged spirituality to be spoken from our pulpits, in our religious study meetings, and during our spiritual retreats. Leaders and teachers need to hear from their community that the time for a justice-oriented spirituality has dawned. They have to be encouraged (by us) to pioneer, explore, and teach this crucial and timely issue. Help transform your religious place of worship into one that upholds the message of social love-in-action.

8. What is your next book project and would you like to share your website address with us or any other information?

Prayers from the Heart: Love, Sacred Activism, and Praise is due out very shortly in eBook and in audio format. In the audio version, Andrew Harvey has been gracious enough to read my prayers with the fire and passion of his spirit.

I would love to invite people to join me on my new Facebook page at:

And keep abreast of all of our work at The Olive Branch Center via our website or Facebook page at:

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