I often rave in my classroom about the curse of dualism: either/or, black/white thinking. Dualism is the fallout of the Greco-Roman system of thought and categorization. It produces a culture of we/they, as in, we are good, they are bad. We are right, they are wrong. Get the picture. It is not very knowledge based, hardly wisdom based, and it does wonders for one’s relational IQ.
But dualism has been all the rage in the west for a couple of thousand years. That is until now, its power to possess is waning. Maybe it is a function of the “smalling” of the world. Information and technology can change a lot about what we know and who else can know it quickly. Post modernism embodies this paradigm shift, this new, more respectful way of seeing the universe and those who dwell in it. And everyone is getting the memo – except those who should have identified, addressed, and corrected this error first, the “truth seekers,” the Church.
Unfortunately, we seem to cling most passionately to something old and worn and honestly never really helpful: dualism. In the third century there was a huge brouhaha about gnosticism in the church, the same basic dualism argument. It contended that “Matter is evil and spirit is good.” It was derived from the traditional Greco- Roman nomenclature: essence is reality and matter is decaying. From such were derived many non-incarnational mentalities, which in turn led us to value less the earth, humanity, and the interactions between the two. Never mind that Jesus didn’t just teach about incarnation, He was the embodiment of it.
Anyway, the mentalities of Plato’s perfection and Aristotle’s ascending achievement totally eclipsed our view of Christ. We, at least in the west, see Him via these lenses. But what if He was something altogether different and/or more? What if through our understandings of the way the world worked – ( and how much did we have right back then? or do we really have now?) we totally missed the story of God. The story God told us about Himself, most clearly punctuated by the Person of Christ. What if we missed it all? What if in our retelling, the beautiful story got botched? Maybe a few characters were remembered and salvaged, but the plot and the back stories all got confused and glossed over in our desire to make the story line fit our way of seeing the world.
What if all along, the beautiful story (of God) was right there in front of us? What if so much that we do not see about God, about us, was right there, but we saw it through lenses that all but blinded us to it.
Anybody willing to have your prescription checked?