This is part of May's SynchroBlog on the Kingdom of God. See the bottom for links to other posts.
As noted in my distantly past, last (and first) post on this topic, I believe that Jesus answers the haunting nostalgia for paradise, which follows the stories and myths of many shamanic cultures. This is not only a facet of the shamanic myths and their cultures, but also the leaning of Christianity as it hails back to the garden of Eden, and more often to the early and ancient church.
Yet shamanic culture and Christianity are not the only religious cultures to follow this primal call for paradise. Neo-Paganism began in a similar revivalist vein hoping to restore ancient, magical, and simple practices of Paganism. These primeval ties which Neo-Paganism has to supposed ancient Paganism have often proven to be as illusive as Christianity's hope of restoring the early church. Yet, this urge for a pristine and paradisaical system of religious practice remains a basic ideal for the cultus and theology of many religious systems. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, and other religious groups which began with a revivalist or reconstructionist call draw human hearts with promises of better days.
Jesus arrived upon the human scene declaring that the Kingdom of God had come. His work of healing, casting out devils, and preaching of a better way of living spoke to the human nostalgia for paradise.
His actions evidenced a benevolent power from an unseen Father. Accessed by faith this power promised to be available at some level to all the followers of Christ. It was a promise of a religious system founded in a paradisaical Kingdom, which would invade those who followed it with goodness.
Like the Shaman who ecstatically travels the unseen realm to seek healing for the sick, or blessing for the crops Jesus sought to bring paradise to earth in small packages of blessing and healing. These blessings answered the cry of paradise even if only for a moment.
The imagery of shamanic cultures includes a Cosmic Mountain, and a World Tree according to Mircea Eliade. Both these symbols imagine ascent to the heavens, and descent back to the earth with the hope of discovering blessing and power from above to help those on earth. This ascension imagery is seen in the words of Christ, "you shall see the heavens open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the the Son of Man."
Answering the utopian urge is one of the purposes of the Shaman, and was clearly a functional and foundational element of the messianic work of Christ. His declaration that the Kingdom of God had come was a challenge to a status quo of human mediocrity, and to the hordes of religious systems which had proven themselves to be hopelessly distopian. This nostalgia for paradise is among one of the many points which causes me to view Jesus of Nazareth as the Archetype Shaman.
For more reading on the Kingdom of God SynchroBlog see the links below:
• Susan Barnes (Christian currently attending a Baptist church) of
Abooklook on My kingdom goes
• Timothy Victor (Christian) of Tim Victor's Musings on The
reign of Godde
• Ronald van der Bergh (Dutch Reformed) of Ronalds Footnotes on
Notes on "the Kingdom of God" in the New Testament
• Nic Paton (fundamentalist, charismatic, liberationist, apophatic,
heterodox) of soundandsilence on The "Kingdom": of God?
• Beth Patterson (Non churched follower of Christ) of Virtual Tea
House on What it's like rather than what it is
• Jeff Goins (Non-denominational Christian) of Pilgrimage of the
Heart on The Kingdom of God: Now and Not Yet
• Brian Riley (YWAMer type o' dude and Jesus kinda guy) from Charis Shalom on Multiple Bloggers on the Kingdom of God
• Liz Dyer (follower of Jesus) of Grace Rules on
The Kingdom of God is at Hand
• Matt Stone (Christian) of Glocal Christianity on
The Only Christian Nation is the Kingdom of God
• Andrew Hendrikse of Fake expression of the Unknown on
The Kingdom of God is...
• Phil Wyman (Non-denominational Christian) of Square No More on
Jesus as the Archetype Shaman (Part 2): A Nostalgia for
• Stephen Hayes (Orthodox Christian) of Khanya on
Kingdom, power and glory