There is more to truth than the facts …

Fragments of ancient manuscripts begin to appear on obscure websites. Some are easily deciphered: they are the core texts of humanity’s great spiritual and civilizational traditions. But others are written in esoteric scripts, some never before encountered, and defy decryption ….

Mysterious strangers contact you discreetly, asking you to perform various tasks. You are asked to collect basic intelligence regarding a range of technological, economic, political, or cultural developments, to interpret texts and artifacts or public or sacred spaces and events, and to seek out emerging, established or high value leaders and to get their stories and map out their interests, capacities, and networks. Some of the strangers ask probing questions themselves about who you are and where you stand. The more complex your responses the more complex the tasks suggested to you.

Soon you find yourself being asked to stake out a position on questions of which you were previously only vaguely aware, to undertake complex missions that cross the boundaries between the political, the scientific or scholarly, and the spiritual. You might be asked to join a or secret society or sacred order of which you have never heard before. Or you may simply be informed that you have always been a member and have now been promoted and entrusted with increasing degrees of responsibility. But even if you choose not to progress this far you begin to see the world differently. You recognize in mundane transactions traces of the sacred and the political and you act accordingly, participating in the world with a heightened intensity of perception and action.

What is happening? Is this some kind of game? Possibly. You think of Ingress, of Alfa-Arkiv, of The Black Watchmen —even of Cicada 3301. Or is it an organizing and operational modality for one or more secret societies? When you ask those who are trying to engage you if it is all “real” the answer is as obscure as the events that provoked the question. This is altereality they say: reality in the process of transformation, which is the only reality that there is. The truth is deeper and more profound than mere facts. Imagined worlds, when they affect the way in which we live, become real.

Published by:

Anthony Mansueto

Humanity is the desire to be God (Sartre, Jean Paul. Being and Nothingness, 1943/1993: 556). Being finite, we are aware of the infinite and seek it without limit. Being contingent, dependent on other beings for our existence, we seek the power of Being as such and seek it absolutely. Human history is fundamentally the history of this seeking, and of the distinct ways of being human to which it has given rise. Precisely because we are finite and contingent, our seeking takes place under definite material (physical, ecological, demographic, built-environmental) conditions which shape the ways which emerge, as well as the social structures through which we pursue them. As something set apart we call this power of Being the sacred but it is, in fact, the warp and woof of the world in which we live, driving secular projects as much as those which understand themselves as religious. My work is centered around an effort to engage the sacred analytically, interpretively, normatively, creatively, and practically. My scholarship is centered around an effort to restore theoria to its original sense as an encounter with the sacred which is empirical, analytic, interpretive and normative, and specifically to understand the diverse ways (including secular ways) in which humanity seeks (to be) God in the context of the material realities out which they emerged and the structures through which they operate while engaging these ways normatively, contributing to the transhistorical deliberation around what it means to be human. As an artist I work first and foremost with narrative, telling stories which, blending elements from magic realism, science fiction, and fantasy, highlight humanity’s engagement with the sacred. But I also create paintings, photo collages, and illuminations and am experimenting with alterealities, games which actually change the world, and which engage all these elements in an interactive context. And I work in the medium of food, creating alchemical cuisine which at once encodes meaning and transforms those who consume it —especially in community. My scholarly and creative work aims at charting a new way of being human, at making the sacred present to people in their day to day lives, and at helping people situate their lives and their decisions, individual and collective, in he context of the ultimate aims of human life. My practical engagements with the sacred cross the boundaries between teaching and mentoring, leading and organizing. As a teacher, it is my aim to cultivate free, creative human beings and engaged citizens with a mature spirituality who have the ability to make rationally autonomous decisions regarding questions of meaning and value, to understand their particular calling and how to realize it, to build and exercise power in service to the common good, to learn the difficult spiritual lessons that come from both success and failure in our lives, and thus to pursue and progress along the way they have chosen. In addition to teaching in formal academic and community based settings, I mentor individuals using a process which integrates deep listening with both traditional spiritual disciplines and secular insights drawn from organizing and business strategy. I cultivate both scholars and practitioners, and challenge my students to cross the boundaries between these two domains. As an academic leader I have worked to promote liberal education for students from working class and ethnic minority communities, to make the institutions I serve into centers for deliberation around questions of meaning, value, and public policy, and to restore (nonconfessional, pluralistic, but still normative) engagement with the sacred to its rightful place in the academy. I see this academic leadership as an extension of my broader work as an institutional organizer helping organizations and institutions find their way, and working to build, conserve, and transform them in service to the Common Good. My work as an organizer has also included significant contributions to interfaith dialogue, deliberation, and organizing, from building financial and institutional support for interfaith organizing through catalyzing public deliberation around questions of meaning and value across diverse spiritual and civilizational traditions. I bring to this engagement a substantial record of publications, including nine books and numerous articles in both scholarly journals and journals of public opinion setting forth my vision and strategy, decades of experience teaching the liberal arts to students from working class and ethnic minority communities, a history active civic engagement, primarily in interfaith dialogue, deliberation, and organizing, and a range of institutional leadership roles in the academy including department chair, program director, dean, and campus leader with responsibility for all community college functions for a large rural area. As I continue my formal institutional engagements as an academic administrator over the next several years, I am also looking to build support for my creative work and a consulting practice mentoring individual leaders and organizations across the academic, religious, and civil society sectors. Supporting my work through Patreon is a way to contribute to making this possible while getting a glimpse of my creative process, free or discounted artifacts from my alterealities, and the opportunity to benefit from my mentoring and consulting practice at much reduced rates.

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