motto lotto

Friday, May 23, 2008

on listening, audience and approach


I'm not so interested in bliss or something else that aims to satisfy my soul. I'm already overly satisfied. I need something so entirely unsatisfying that it has the power to turn me into that person who is the change I want to see in the world.

How did Gandhi do it?


I listen to the advice of long dead thinkers to learn from their mistakes. I inhabit their time so that I can better understand and engage my own.

But why should I engage with those living in the past? Because a few such men currently exist in the present? Computer emulated virtual worlds are much more real than the habitat the slaves of yesteryear occupy.

"to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17 NASB)

The awake christian recognizes the predominant behaviors in western culture as sin.

The awake humanist recognizes human behavior as the tangled mess produced by the human animal.

Without adequate recognition and awareness there is no path towards correction.

The aware humanist seeks to untangle the knotted mess through understanding again (and again (and again)) the human context. Recognizing himself as a raw metal, he throws himself on a deliberate, particular trajectory towards change -- a refining fire.

The aware christian decries "fear" and "safety" to seek correction through the dangerous imitation of Christ.

The categories "christian" and "humanist" are not mutually exclusive.

Everyone who is awake travels the narrow path.

the analytic mind

Among engineers and scientists, I often find a strongly analytic mind. The practice of understanding is a bit different for this type of person. For people who quickly identify the structures which shape the world and see conversation in terms of propositions and conclusions, understanding is a matter of building and envisioning a compelling structure for that other person in order to better understand them. This sounds like a complex process but for this type of person it's less difficult than the more obviously relational modes of understanding.


Listening goes together with understanding. Listening is what you do when you hear someone else "in order to" understand and relate to that person. Purpose reveals itself and other, more cleverly disguised, sometimes less cleverly disguised "in order to"s must be uncovered and extinguished in oneself.


Anonymous said...

So, perhaps we could make a play on Sartre's phrase and say "Christianity is a Humanism."

I entirely agree that these two are not mutually exclusive - but the overlap is not entire either. In light of God's creation being "good" and man being placed to "cultivate" the land, paints a picture of God placing value on the things God created - as humans we should mirror this allocation of value.

And such for the good of humanity and the environment and our distant relations (the animals) as ends in themselves.

Mike said...

"the overlap is not entire either"

I'm not really trying to reconcile the two more just trying to highlight the aspects and variants of the two that I find valuable. Certain forms of both Humanism and Christianity are incompatible with each other but both come in many different forms.