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December 27, 2009

Gardeners also idolize pioneers, innovators and midwives of the future. Gardeners believe the overall story of the Bible is one of birthing, of moving from womb to wilderness to wow! In the Bible, the pattern is of someone or a group leaving the familiar (a womb), going out across an unknown desert or wilderness and creating something new for God on the other side—or God creating something new for them (the wow!). One translation states that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, but the original Hebrew verb is also the one used for being born. In the original, Adam and Eve are born—expelled—from the womb of the Garden. (Genesis 3:23-24, RSV).

For Gardeners, the biblical pattern is of God’s people leaving the womb, crossing a wilderness, and creating a “wow”—an awe-inspiring future with God. Adam and Eve left the Garden and created humanity. Cain went east of Eden and created the first civilization. Noah went out across unknown waters and created a new beginning. Moses took his people out of Egypt across a desert to the Promised Land. Jesus left his home, went out into the wilderness and came back with the vision of the Kingdom of God. Paul went into the wilderness of his own blindness and came back with the vision of the Christian church. For Gardeners, refusal to leave the womb, to cross the wilderness and birth a “wow” results in spiritual death or frozenness—just like Lot’s wife, who became a pillar of salt when she would not leave her past behind.

Gardeners use these stories to interpret the rest of the Bible as the epic story of God’s Ongoing Creation in which all creatures participate. Seen in this light, Jesus is the Great Redeemer, Great Healer, and Great Visionary who came to save souls so they can rejoin God’s creating process, both in this life and the next. For Gardeners, Jesus’ miracles were not evidence of power, but of God’s intention to restore people to their ability to participate in his Creation. Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection show God’s supreme desire to remove all the obstacles to Creation and show that life never ends. And that God’s infinite vitality would not allow Jesus to stay dead.

Many Gardeners believe the future is not fixed. For them, God has broad intentions for the future—that it be filled with kindness, that all of Creation should grow and overflow with life—but has no fixed plan for how that will be realized. We have free will to choose whether or not to cultivate the garden.

Gardeners’ primarily ask What womb am I called to leave? What wilderness am I called to cross? What “wow” am I called to give birth to?

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December 27, 2009

There are two different tales of the quest for the Holy Grail—the Galahad version, which was written by a Knight, and the Parzival (Percival) version, which was written by a Gardener. Both hero-stories influence us today though few Knights or Gardeners are aware of the original tales.

Both accounts of the Grail quest were written to diagnose and solve the greatest spiritual problems of 12th and 13th century Europe—the corruption of the Church, and the Church’s requirement that people order their lives along the dictates of the orthodoxy rather than the divinely-inspired callings of their own hearts. As both Grail stories begin, the world has fallen into literal ruin—a wasteland—as a reflection of its spiritual ruin.

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December 27, 2009

Knights seek to emulate Galahad—the honorable, steadfast, incorruptible knight whose heart was pure enough to retrieve the Holy Grail. The Galahad tale was written by Catholic monks of the Order of Cistercian. As a result, Galahad lives as purely and chastely as a monk, and resists the sins and temptations of the world. The most popular representations of Galahad’s quest for the Grail show him in full armor, resisting the beckoning of beautiful forest nymphs. For Galahad’s priestly creators, the corruption of the Church can be corrected—and the world repaired—by a return to strict adherence to principle.

For Knights, the best, truest hero acts like a knight in shining armor, the one who saves the world by doing the purest, most correct thing despite impossible odds.

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December 27, 2009

Gardeners seek to emulate Parzival—the knight who followed the guidance of his divinely-inspired heart to the hiding place of the Grail.

In the epic poem Parzival, written by medieval poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, the world has fallen into ruin because of an ongoing war between the forces of good and evil. As the war rages in heaven between God and Satan, a band of neutral angels bring the Grail down from heaven and hide it on Earth to prevent it from being destroyed in the crossfire. (In this tale, the Grail is not the cup of Christ from the Last Supper, but a rock that embodies the divine quality of unconditional love and compassion.)

These neutral angels charged an earthly knight with protecting the Grail, but the newly-minted Grail King quickly fails to represent that spirit of unconditional love and compassion when he draws his sword against another knight in the name of a virtue. During the ensuing duel, both opponents are maimed. As a result—just as conflict has wreaked havoc in heaven—combat between the guardian of the Grail on Earth and his opponent renders the world into a total wasteland.

A replacement Grail King is needed who can reconcile this world split by strife, and pioneer the establishment of a new order. Into this world Wolfram introduces the hero Parzival, whose name in French perce a val means “pierce through the middle” or “one who finds the way between opposites.” Parzival’s spiritual missions in this tale are to achieve at-one-ment between warring parties, and to pioneer a new spiritual order based on the heart rather than the rules of the day about virtue and evil. These missions are those of a Gardener even though Parzival—and Wolfram, his author-creator—were both actual medieval knights.

Immediately after Parzival begins his quest for the Grail, he meets the maimed Grail King in agony on his throne in the Grail Castle. Rather than compassionately asking the Grail King why he suffers, Parzival—attempting to behave as a “proper,” quiet, obedient, respectful knight should—merely stands at attention, awaiting an order. As a result, the next morning the Grail King’s castle magically expels him, and disappears. Parzival wanders for years before realizing that he had failed spiritually with the Grail King—that holy, virtuous service means responding compassionately and without regard for one’s station in life, or the station of those who need you, rather than engaging in crusades in the name of virtue.

During his time in the wilderness, Parzival learns to follow his heart rather than the rules of his day. All other knights questing for the Grail fail because they (1) roar off the path to vanquish evil, or (2) follow orders from political and spiritual authorities to deviate. Parzival, however, follows the compass of his own divinely-inspired heart.

Along the way he falls madly in love with and marries the beautiful young queen Condwiramurs rather than agreeing to an arranged marriage. He has many other adventures until finally he faces a “heathen soldier”—a Muslim knight from the court of the Caliph of Baghdad. Parzival is duty-bound to fight, but refuses, later learning that the Muslim knight is his own half-brother.

Only after passing these three spiritual tests—that he should pursue the ways of compassion (as with the Grail King), the ways of true love (as with his wife), and the ways of at-one-ment (that he and his enemy are one) does he rediscover the location of the Grail Castle. Inside, he approaches the maimed Grail King again and asks “Why are you hurt? How can I help you?” And this signal of compassion is all that is necessary to heal the Grail King, reveal the Grail in its radiant glory, and restore the entire world to vitality.

In Galahad’s story, the world falls into ruin because it abandoned principle. In Parzival’s story, it falls because it refused to be guided by the heart.

For Gardeners, the best, truest hero is the one who pursues with single-minded devotion one’s calling from God despite impossible odds.

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December 27, 2009

While many Knights today do not know the story of Galahad, they idolize his example in modern TV and movies. Modern-day Knights still aspire to do battle with the forces of evil, live by a code of honor or principle, and do what’s right even if it means becoming the last good, brave man in the world.

Modern-day Knights dreams of being…

  • The steely-eyed lawman, the only law in a lawless land, squinting in the prairie sun, squaring off against outlaws at the OK Corral (Tombstone, The Lone Ranger, High Noon, Deadwood)
  • The Allied soldier in World War II fighting the Nazis to save the world (Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, the Indiana Jones series)
  • The hero facing off against hopeless odds to protect the innocent (The Magnificent Seven, The Lord of the Rings movies, Die Hard, Mad Max)
  • The underdog winning the game against all odds (Rocky, The Natural, Bang the Drum Slowly)
  • The sentinel living according to principle even at the risk of total ruin (The Untouchables, Chariots of Fire)
  • The vigilante ignoring the rules to make sure justice is done (Dirty Harry, Fistful of Dollars, Batman Begins)
  • The hard-boiled detective following the trail of a mystery no matter where it leads (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, The X-Files)
  • The antihero given an opportunity to redeem a selfish life (The Dirty Dozen, Michael Clayton)
  • The superhero swooping in to save the day (Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man)
  • The cool-under-fire, quick-witted rebel against oppression (the Star Wars movies, The Matrix trilogy, The Great Escape, Braveheart, The Patriot, the James Bond series)
  • The Jedi Knight igniting his lightsaber and turning to duel a menacing Dark Lord of the Sith (the Star Wars movies)

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December 27, 2009

While many Gardeners today do not know the story of Parzival, they idolize his example in modern TV and movies. Modern-day Gardeners still aspire to change the world, break new ground, and bring warring parties together.

Modern-day Gardeners dream of…

  • Overcoming barriers between people (Cry Freedom, In the Heat of the Night, Mississippi Burning)
  • Exploring new frontiers (The Right Stuff, Dances with Wolves, the Star Trek series)
  • Pursuing a crazy dream (Field of Dreams, Stand and Deliver, Ray, Walk the Line)
  • Pursuing a hidden truth that will transform a world (A Beautiful Mind, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, The X-Files)
  • Delivering something precious out of a land of darkness that transforms a world (Schindler’s List, Hotel Rwanda, Children of Men)

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December 27, 2009

For Knights, standing against evil makes one virtuous.

For Gardeners, bringing worlds together or working to fulfill a dream makes one virtuous.