Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A new perspective

According to the perennial philosophy, spirit/God is good, and exists above, while flesh/man is bad, and exists below. Life, seen from this traditional perspective, becomes a constant upward striving against the anchoring bonds of matter, an attempt to escape the temptations of Hell and ascend to the heights of Heaven.  But, Cynthia Bourgeault asserts in her new book on the Trinity, the coming of Christ introduces a ternary thrust into the world, an understanding that spirit and flesh are not opposites but rather two opposing forces which when brought together in Christ bring forth new emergence.

Which would explain, despite the darker aspects of Western culture, how it is that, as Bruno Barnhart says in his book Second Simplicity, "The West occupies the unique position of being the one great civilization that has been united and formed by the Christ-event and that has mediated the unification of humanity.  It is largely through the peoples and civilization of the West that the gifts of the incarnation have been distributed to the world."

These gifts include, he goes on to say, "not only Christian faith but -- touching many more people -- the human and social values, the rationality and freedom, the science and technology that gradually humanize the world and bring it together as one world."  Wow.  Science and technology as a result of Christ: I just find that fascinating, and sort of (forgive the 70's language) mind-blowing.  It's a bit like looking at this painting and seeing, not blood and gore, but passion, the sort of creative thrust that can bring whole new worlds into being.  How amazing, to be able to step outside our usual way of seeing and gain a new perspective on the world...

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