Thursday, June 24, 2010

dogma

















recently on another blog, my friend hineini left a question in the comment box that got me going:

what would our theologies gain/lose
if we were to jettison the idea of original sin?
***

now, i LOVE the idea of jettisoning original sin. really i do. the problem is that i and all the 'good' people i know have this capacity to do 'bad' things.

bad: self destructive. disunitive. exploitive, self-absorbed and self-serving at the expense of others, ... all that.

somehow we have to deal with this because we are called to something existentially higher than the 'survival of the fittest/ fight or flight' defaults of the animal kingdom. seems that the stakes are higher for us.

what i mean is that, in being exalted above an instinct-driven state of being, we are afforded both the luxury and the responsibility of not only contemplating morality, faith, and a spiritual realm, but engaging in the expression or at least the exploration of these things. in being raised up to this higher level of awareness, we are pressed to do something useful with it.

but all that botching up... all that hurting and being hurt. all that violence. without the doctrine of original sin, these things become even more confounding than they already are with it.

the question is a pretty intriguing one though:
what would our THEOLOGIES gain/lose if we were to jettison the idea of original sin?

if theology is the
science/knowledge of God and so much of our picture of things turns around our picture of the creator of these things, then the change we're talking about here is something fairly all-encompassing: our picture of God would change drastically if we were to do away with this idea, even just in speculation. i mean, all that business of grace and hope and redemption would be moot. i think we'd lose a great deal in our picture of God if we decided that somehow we should be able to just raise ourselves above the current state of 'fallenness' simply because there would be aspects of God that are inherently positive and comely which would disappear from our perspective. we would have no reason or context through which to encounter them... could it be that, with the fall of man came an exaltation of God, as certain things about God's nature became apparent for the first time?

(NOTE- tangent: ...much like the way radio waves are invisible to our eyes. radio waves are 'real' within our physical realm, yet are imperceptible to us because we have no natural way to engage with them. the best we can do is develop a theory, then develop a technology to try to meaningfully bridge the gap between our theory and our experience. turns out we know radio waves are real because in small measure they can be used to communicate information relatively cleanly and efficiently- provided we have a network of transmitters and receivers in place. we know that they are real because, in large measure they can be used to either fuel our greatest exploits or kill one another... yet whether we're dealing with a little or a lot, to our senses radio waves remain undetectable. in a quirky, but mildly interesting curio called Radio KAOS, roger waters, conceptual mastermind of the band pink floyd, explores some of these ideas... found a vid on youtube circa 1987: mullets and mall hair abound!)


so anyway, our knowledge of God is very heavily affected by the ways that we are permitted to encounter, explore and interact with him- the ways God chooses to reveal himself to those created in his image. all this kinda makes me wonder what other aspects of God are also true but have not found expression within our reality.

what aspects of the image of God are yet unrealized amongst those who bear it?

and what aspects of God are interfered with or otherwise distorted because of the doctrines we've constructed in our attempts to arrive at some kind of reasonable agreement with one another about some of the most troublesome aspects of our own existence? somehow our knowledge of God seems to be contingent upon our knowledge of self in community with others, and vice versa.

perhaps, without all this business of fallenness and original sin we'd also be able to embrace at face value the invitation of God to participate in the ongoing celebration of life and love within the cosmos. perhaps our relationship with God would also be freed of all that self-interested, soul-saving stuff and, in being freed of it, be released to one of loving God for God's sake, rather than our own?

like LSD in the 60's which promised to unlock the real potential of human consciousness but instead just left, in its wake, a generation of seekers whose minds had been so opened that they struggled to discern the difference between the real and the surreal, is our doctrine of original sin a version of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that we have become addicted to because no one has passed a law against it yet?

hmm...

but what to do with all that other negative stuff that we carry within and express so easily? pretend it's not there?

hmm... hmm...
and again i say hmm...

29 Comments:

Blogger hineini said...

Now just a second here. The discussion isn't about whether people do bad things. I'm not anywhere close to a cheerleader for humanity. I struggle on more occasions then I like to admit with a strong tendency to misanthropy so its not a question of living in denial of humanity's failings. When you write at the beginning that "the problem is that i and all the 'good' people i know have this capacity to do 'bad' things." (jb) this isn't at all the problem I was trying to unveil. What I was hoping to speak to is the founding role the idea of 'original sin' plays in making our identities. Of course we do bad things but there is no need to see ourselves as fundamentally flawed. This thinking gives birth to crippling ideas like "but what to do with all that other negative stuff that we carry within" (jb)
The fact that people do bad things in no way leads to the conclusion that we carry some evil seed within us that is continually poisoning us and confounding any hope we have of doing good. (Nor does it mean that evil is a thing or has any positive content. See St Augustine's idea of evil as the privation, or lack, of goodness)
You bring up a good point though. Doing away with the idea of original sin would have an effect on our understandings of salvation. You wrote, ". i mean, all that business of grace and hope and redemption would be moot." (jb) I think your getting ahead of yourself on this one. Surely our understanding of grace, hope and redemption would change but you make it sound like they would be emptied of content. I am again not dismissing wrongness in the universe but instead find issue with this idea that we are somehow, as a necessary piece of our existence, flawed or corrupt since before our existence even began. Even if this isn't the case there is still a role in our lives for grace, hope, redemption and even forgiveness and salvation but of course they would look different. I see an understanding of salvation that is more robust then one of the traditional notions of salvation as the simple balancing of the scales from some archaic debt that was owed to God by humanity. Without the original sin debt, salvation can be much more of a journey of "withness" rather then an event and, in my mind, beckons a much closer and more inter-dependent relationship between humanity and the divine.

6/26/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"Without the original sin debt, salvation can be much more of a journey of "withness" rather then an event and, in my mind, beckons a much closer and more inter-dependent relationship between humanity and the divine." (hineini)

nicely put.

i do not feel that we are inherently evil either. that would hardly be, in my view, bearing the image of God. i think of it more in terms of being inherently good, but prone to compromise. i remember someone saying that 'sin is seeing legitimate need met illegitimately.' i don't know, that's one way to put it, i guess.

ha ha- as for carrying some demon seed within, i fear i have been taken a bit too literally regarding my remarks about negative stuff. personally, i am more comfortable with the dynamic that results when i own up to the fact that i am responsible for the choices i make, rather than pulling a late sixties geraldine jones and blaming someone or something external ("the devil made me do it") for my own moral failings. the word 'within' is really just owning up to the fact that these things in my own journey are my responsibility.

i have learned this, though (speaking of blaming people and situations outside of myself): having grown up and spent most of my adult life in a fairly relgious right evangelical worldview, much of my default language still betrays foundational beliefs that i no longer hold to be true in the way that they were originally taught. this is a nuisance whenever i try to articulate an idea that is foreign to this traditional framing. most of the time i know what i mean, but am still a little unclear about how to say it...

6/26/2010  
Blogger David Kelling said...

"i do not feel that we are inherently evil either. that would hardly be, in my view, bearing the image of God." (jb)

Ahhhh... Thank you for that :-) I don't know how to say it better... It somehow restores some balance in the beautiful, inconceivable mystery of living under grace... How to live with the knowledge of how (original or not!) sin permeates every facet of my being and yet walk in forgiveness and the empowerment it brings...

6/27/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

read two things that seemed to be part of this discussion...

last night i read:
"Not being reconciled to the fact of sin- not recognizing it and refusing to deal with it- produces all the disasters of life. You may talk about the lofty virtues of human nature, but there is something in human nature that will mockingly laugh in the face of every principle you have... " (Oswald Chambers)

and then this morning i read:
"History has brought us to the point where the Christian message is thought to be concerned only with how to deal with sin: with wrongdoing or wrong-being and its effects. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is not presented as the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally." (Dallas Willard)

awesome, especially since i wasn't even looking for related thoughts- they just found me.

so now, what to do with them all

6/27/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

"...much of my default language still betrays foundational beliefs that i no longer hold to be true in the way that they were originally taught." (jb)

thats the thing that started this post. The default, the way we were taught, is this theological assumption of original sin; but why? Do we need it? It sounds like we need it of course because we grew up hearing we need it but I'm just not so sure. Unfortunately, Oswald Chambers is sure, and I don't blame him. The issue for me is just thinking these things out and trying to live "otherwise" in a sort of, "you have heard it said 'original sin', but I say to you 'No! You bear the image of God and are partners in the world's redemption.'" kinda way

7/02/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"you have heard it said 'original sin', but I say to you 'No! You bear the image of God and are partners in the world's redemption." (hineini)

sheer bloody poetry, my friend

7/04/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

well, thanks. I have always liked how poetry can rip open worlds

7/04/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

take this gem by Rilke;


I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

7/04/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

indeed a gem

or a prayer

or both

7/07/2010  
OpenID societyvs said...

I actually agree with Hineini on this one, the jettisoning of the concept of 'original sin'.

I am not sure of the 'need' for original sin as a doctrine of the church. I think Hineini has pointed out that without the need is still there for working through one's life and problems regardless (or the need for repentance/change/salvation).

Original sin condemns right off the bat and I am not sure this is fair. I recently wrote a post on this asking a few simple questions:

Are we all born in countries with laws?

Are we born innocent or guilty before that law?

Conceptually, when framed in a context that is similar, we start to see a problem of 'guilt' and 'justice/righteousness'. How can anyone claim being born is tantamount to be being guilty before God? Since when has birth been a sentence for punishment? It also makes God seem 'unjust'.

The original sin concept only makes sense in the atonement theory of penal subatitution (or something similar); where someone pays the price on our behalf to redeem our sentences and free us of our guiltiness before the law. Scrap the atonement theory and original sin makes no sense (almost wonder which came first to make the theory in the first place).

Fact is we do have a whole system that uses the same scriptures and does not use original sin as a doctrine, Judaism. They also don't see a need since they don't use Jesus either (ie: the person that is used in the atonement theories).

All I am saying is there is a biblical stance that can be taken that doesn't vouch for original sin, in fact the gospels say nothing on the concept.

7/08/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"All I am saying is there is a biblical stance that can be taken that doesn't vouch for original sin, in fact the gospels say nothing on the concept." (SVS)

alright... trying to understand the bit after the 'all I am saying is...' statement:

"there is a biblical stance that can be taken that doesn't vouch for original sin..."

i get that. the bible is full of thoughts on this doctrine. i don't believe that it is strictly pauline. it seems as though paul articulates it, synthesizing the law and the prophets with the history and the gospel tales and teachings of Christ. we have to be careful trying to isolate any part of the bible from the other parts, i think, as they all seem to be theologically cross-pollinating. the gospels were probably written after paul's letters and are therefore touched or shaped by them anyway.

whatever the case, if i am to take the next part of SVS' final word as the point: 'in fact the gospels say nothing on the concept' then i guess there are some things worth talking about... recognizing that, in roger waters' words, i will probably "slip out of (my) depth and out of (my) mind..." as i claw the theological thin ice.

the gospels each speak of sin in a couple or three ways: cause of sin, confession of sin and forgiveness of sin. Jesus speaks in fairly down to earth terms of causes of sin (body parts, people who negatively influence others etc) and challenges people to the confession of it, readily taking the scandalous position that he can actually offer forgiveness of it.

but how do we deal with the fact that people have 'sins' in the first place; sins that need to be confessed and forgiven in order for a person to be free of their influence? i mean, where does sin come from? is it something that is somehow a culturalized condition- a construct that we've put together as part of our social evolution, identifying certain inclinations and actions as self-serving and transgressive enough to actually be in the way of our continued collective ascension and therefore requiring a conditioning-out through a process that is a curious hyrbrid of spiritual and social behaviours and teachings- ultimately just a different kind of self-serving action (the self-saving kind)? i mean, let's face it: having my sins forgiven is about me, not my neighbour. living out that forgiveness by no longer sinning would probably take me upward in my own personal evolution if i could somehow accomplish it. however, if everyone (or even the majority of people) were able to agree on what this living out looked like, and then began to pursue it, we'd probably just have a more universal religion... a more universally agreed-upon means by which we dealt with the basic propensity to do naughty things in order to satisfy desire.

the whole sin thing seems to be something that is as natural to us as many of our most basic propensities. if we are to simply view the whole garden story of genesis 3 as a fable to explain our evolutionary rise to awareness of both self and natural law/morality, then somehow we need to figure out why we keep breaking this code of which we've become aware, especially since this habitual breaking has us regularly de-evolving and descending one rung on the evolutionary ladder in complete disregard to all that we know to be 'right.'

i guess i'm just insisting that, by seeking to address this whole sin business by providing a way for the relationship between the holy and the common to be repaired, Jesus attends to the doctrine of original sin and this is recorded in the gospels.

bla bla bla- i feel like i'm just repeating myself now, so i'll stop talking.

someone else say something :)

7/12/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

", i will probably "slip out of (my) depth and out of (my) mind..." as i claw the theological thin ice." (jb)

this is a really interesting idea for me. I read this statement as a plea for grace of course, a humble statement that works to counter-act any top down imposition of doctrine and an attempt to level the playing field as it were and so I'd like to say thank-you. But that's not what I find interesting about the statement.
Just a bit of pre-amble... A materialistic reality in which what we see or feel is all there is and all possible knowledge is scientific and achievable has been a nightmare of mine for several years now. I'm firmly committed to revelation, revelation by which I mean that something, something able to alter reality, be it knowledge, love etc., comes from beyond me, I receive something that doesn't have its origin in me. So, the idea of being out of one's theological depth has always made sense to me only if you are in someone else's theological pool.

The second thing I would like to make a few comments about is this paragraph;

"the whole sin thing seems to be something that is as natural to us as many of our most basic propensities. if we are to simply view the whole garden story of genesis 3 as a fable to explain our evolutionary rise to awareness of both self and natural law/morality, then somehow we need to figure out why we keep breaking this code of which we've become aware, especially since this habitual breaking has us regularly de-evolving and descending one rung on the evolutionary ladder in complete disregard to all that we know to be 'right.'" (jb)

To me, this is a huge downer, that frankly, no one in our day and age (or any day and age) really needs and it isn't really all that surprising cause I generally see the idea of original sin as a huge downer and so it seems to follow that the conclusions from this basic assumption would have the same shade. I think that it is also part of the reason why the Church in general, or maybe "Christians" would be more accurate, is best known for their judgment of others both inside and outside the faith rather then anything else. If people didn't start out life as failures think how much easier it would be to see people in a more positive light, not to mention how much less baggage people would have to haul around. To sin is to miss the mark. We can read this as a simple missed opportunity, in this one moment, to fully realize the kingdom of God or we can read sin as a moral collapse into depravity. The second perspective seems a much more comfortable fit for those who remain committed to original sin and works really well at drowning out hope and the blessings of life in exchange for re-enforcing the low self-esteem and apathy that so many of us suffer.

7/16/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

ha ha- sadly, i was just paraphrasing a pink floyd song from 'the wall' called 'the thin ice'

often someone else says something that i want to say the way i want to say it. probably should have cited... i DID put quotation marks :P

as for the 'huge downer' element, for me that is exactly what it is. however, i continue to try to be known not for 'judgment of others both inside and outside the faith' but for grace and purposeful understanding. i say 'try' because i'm never really sure what i'm known for, but this is my desire. i think the judgemental response to other people's indiscretions and behaviours comes from a place of expectation: this expectation that if you just pray hard enough, believe right enough, and live disciplined enough your basic propensity to act in ways that even make yourself blush can be completely eradicated. with this thinking, i’m not sure i understand the whole point of Christ’s death. if redemption is possible through human effort then why exactly do we need this messianic deus ex machina coming down from on high just to be murdered like all the rest of us? save God and everyone else all the intercessory trouble and just quit sinning- quit placing that satisfaction of your own desires before all else and just behave, for God’s sake! well, of course the problem is that no one can actually pull this off and all the emotional self-abuse follows as the person speaking out of such condescension is reminded again and again that he/she just doesn't measure up to all the sanctimony baloney... like all the talk of 'rapture' and then that terrifying moment when one who subscribes to it wakes up in a house that is too quiet, instantly fearing that Jesus has taken all of the real christians away and has 'left (him/her) behind.'

(to be continued)

7/28/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

much of this comes from a basic doctrinal misunderstanding of things like 'christian perfection' and 'entire sanctification.' both of these thoughts are journey thoughts, not destination thoughts. that one would be 'perfect' according to the greek word that is translated as such, not the latin one is a hopeful pursuit. that one would recognize 'entire sanctification' the way john wesley did:

(speaking of paraphrasing and poor interpretations of poorly paraphrased statements, here comes one...)

"through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross, it is possible for one to be entirely sanctified, although i've never met anyone who is..."

(to be continued)

7/28/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

okay, here's what john wesley really said:

"Does God work this great work in the soul gradually or instantaneously? Perhaps it may be gradually wrought in some- I mean in this sense, that they do not advert to the particular moment wherein sin ceases to be. But it is infinitely desirable, were it the will of God, that it should be done instantaneously, that the Lord should destroy sin 'by the breath of his mouth' (Job 15.30), in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. And so he generally does, a plain fact of which there is evidence enough to satisfy any unprejudiced person. THOU, therefore, look for it every moment! Look for it in the way above described, in all those 'good works' whereunto thou are 'created anew in Christ Jesus' (Ephesians 2.10). There is then no danger; you can be no worse, if you are no better, for that expectation. For were you to be disappointed of your hope, still you lose nothing. But you shall not be disappointed of your hope. It will come and will not tarry. Look for it then every day, every hour, every moment! Why not this hour, this moment. Certainly you may look for it NOW if you believe it is by faith. And by they token you may surely know whether you seek it by faith or by works. If by works, you want something to be done first, before you are sanctified. You think 'I must first BE or DO thus or thus.' Then you are seeking it by works unto this day. If you seek it by faith, you may expect it as you are, and if as you are, then expect it NOW. It is of importance to observe that there is an inseparable connexion between these three points- expect it by faith; expect it as you are; and expect it now. To deny one of them is to deny them all. To allow one is to allow them all. Do you believe we are sanctified by faith? Be true then to your principle and look for this blessing just as you are, neither better nor worse; as a poor sinner that has still nothing to pay, nothing to plead but 'Christ died.' (Wesley)

(to be continued)

7/28/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"Wesley often complained against both the Romanists and Calvinists that they 'set Christian perfection too high,' i.e. 'in the state of glory only.' From their side, the Calvinists retorted that he set it 'too low'." (albert outler)

i think the huge downer has to do with the fact that we think we need to somehow be able to sustain this experience of entire sanctification for more than a moment. if life is a succession of moments, all holy but with some more 'sanctified' than others, then perhaps what i need to do is focus, as our friends in 12-step programs do all over the world, upon this moment and the decisions within it.

come to think of it, perhaps a good analog for the state of fallenness that is the natural outcome of 'original sin' (it wouldn't need to be called 'original' if there weren't more to follow) is addiction. perhaps also, a good analog for the redemption journey is recovery.

in this moment i can enjoy the sanctification of God's grace. the moments that precede this cannot touch or taint it and the moments that follow carry with them their own responsibilities. it is impossible to prolong 'now' without changing it from a point in space and time to an era, epoch or phase- all of which have, by definition, a beginning and an ending, right?

but now...
now is something different.
now is the stuff eternity is made of.

7/29/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

I think we are talking past each other here. I am not trying some sort of dismissal of people's failings or sinfulness. My issue is with our starting point. Can we not still be the sinful, less then perfect people, in need of all the redemptive dramas you described without positing at our origin an evil that we must own and will color the rest of our lives? Let people have, and own, their own successes or their own failures.
Our first glance at someone needn't carry "you are guilty before the divine due to my literal, relatively recent, reading of a very old text". What good does this do other then to preserve for Christianity some power? Its like diagnosing humanity with a disease and claiming a monopoly of the only cure. Do our actions make us guilty or does our birth make us guilty? One is hopeful, the other is crippling and dangerous.

8/11/2010  
OpenID societyvs said...

"Let people have, and own, their own successes or their own failures." (Hineini)

I agree, isn't this the most practical way to real responsibility within the faith realm of Christianity?

8/19/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

i am not sure that we are talking past each other. it just feels like we both feel that our positions are essentially different, and that these positions are not fully understood by the other.

fair enough. i think that perhaps this lands in a land adjacent to the 'agree to disagree' neighbourhood called 'understand that you misunderstand.'

there are, however, two thoughts that i'm not comfortable with that i feel compelled to comment upon:

1) "Can we not still be the sinful, less then perfect people, in need of all the redemptive dramas you described without positing at our origin an evil that we must own and will color the rest of our lives?" (hineini)

i know that i am sinful, and that everyone i meet is as well. however, my problem with the soundbyte is the phrase 'at our origin.' somehow we carry this propensity to sin and seem powerless to resist it for very long, yet we are, at our origin, created as bearers of the face of God. although i hold that all people are inherently good, as bearers of this face, i still grow frustrated with the sin bit. i grow frustrated with the fact that promises in scripture that state that freedom from sin is offered, but that even those who have accepted this promise seem to intermittently slip back into the patterns and shortcomings from which they have accepted the promised freedom. the best i can come up with is that we need to embrace the power offered us in each moment and disregard whether we failed it a moment ago or not when deciding to embrace it in this one.

i think we just forget that we have the freedom promised and in that lapse of memory, we act against our inherent goodness rather than in accordance with it. why is this- especially if we are inherently good? why do we act against our true nature whenever the cameras are off? it drives me crazy. i just can't look away from this, even though apparently God can.

2) 'Our first glance at someone needn't carry "you are guilty before the divine due to my literal, relatively recent, reading of a very old text".' (hineini)

i'm not sure that my first glance at anyone is loaded with such cosmic placement. i don't treat people as projects who only receive any of my love or energy or time because i see them that way.

as for literal interpretations, i'm not sure that one needs to see the whole garden drama as literal in order to hold opinions in agreement with the idea of original sin.

9/06/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

"somehow we carry this propensity to sin and seem powerless to resist it for very long, yet we are, at our origin, created as bearers of the face of God. although i hold that all people are inherently good, as bearers of this face" (jollybeggar)

its actually kinda funny, not at first, at first its frustrating but now its just funny. I hear you saying what I'm saying but then things that don't make any sense if we are actually saying the same things. I love the above quote for that reason. We carry this propensity to sin yet we are inherently good. Now sure, I get it, you can be inherently good but still have the propensity to sin. I guess, and it could be that this is unfair, I am hearing that it is actually the propensity to sin that is the inherent characteristic and the weaker, or later, propensity is the sometimes we are able to do good.

This inversion, to see sin as our inherent characteristic is, in my thinking, the consequence of an "original sin" theology and what I am trying to move away from. When I mentioned the literal reading of the ancient text I might have been too glib, but then maybe not. Yes the narrative doesn't start with the tasting of forbidden fruit so yes, "originally" we are bearers of the image but then it seems that the literal reading I was meaning is that we hyperbolize the enormity of the "fall", reading into that drama the stripping from humanity the divine image and leaving us eternally corrupted and partaking in an unbearable, unendurable debt rather then an eternal blessing and glow of God. Thats why, bringing this discussion back to a parallel discussion, we circle the guilty with stones in hand, its because it is much easier to identify and focus on the sin rather then the radically transformative freedom to ignore the sin! Yes ignore it! Grace! I get shivers at that stuff.

9/06/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"I hear you saying what I'm saying but then things that don't make any sense if we are actually saying the same things."

two thoughts:
1) the words we use are only the best representations that we have available of the thoughts we seek to articulate. that's bound to cause some problems.

2) make sense? i wish i could make the sense that i set out to make. that there could be such a capacity for the tolerance of contradiction within one's own thoughts and such intolerance in those expressed by others is a bit tiresome, i imagine. i've known for awhile that i put the 'moron' in oxymoron. sorry...
***

"freedom to ignore the sin!"
this really does feel like we've come full circle... in my original post i signed off with:

"but what to do with all that other negative stuff that we carry within and express so easily? pretend it's not there?"

so, after a couple laps, what have we learned? this kinda thing could be why i stopped blogging for such a long while :P

9/08/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

"so, after a couple laps, what have we learned? this kinda thing could be why i stopped blogging for such a long while :P" (jollybeggar)

I'm not sure about you but every time I have the same conversation it's a different conversation. I learn things thinking about these things all the time, I even learn about what I think when I think about what I'm thinking.

So. If we have ended here (and by here I mean the section I quoted above) then isn't the next step to ask "why can't we ignore sin?" In my post I was making this a positive suggestion but I'm kinda hearing you say your not comfortable with that. why not?

9/08/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

well, first of all, i need to say how encouraging it is to hear that repetition is uplifting to someone else. i agree that the same old conversations/topics are never the same. it's like telling a story or relating a dream- it changes with each new telling.

i just get edgy when i start to suspect that my own love for repetition is boring others. people-pleasing tendencies and all that...

as for ignoring sin, i guess i am wondering if, when we speak of ignoring sin, we are speaking of turning our backs towards the temptation to take part in sinning. that's awesome. love that. wish i could do it more.

however, if we speak of ignoring sin in terms of simply denying its existence and its appeal- dismissing it as an intellectual construct of sorts- then i think that i'm back on my treadmill

9/09/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

When I posed the question of ignoring sin I was more meaning ignoring the need to punish it or really even the belief that sin carries negative consequences.
In writing this, I'm not sure that I even know what I would classify as sin, its a tough call for me. Theologically I tend to conceptualize sin/evil as just the privation of good without any necessity to anthropomorphise evil into autonomous, substantive, scheming beings. So, when discussing sin and its consequences its possible to say "well, I can choose a better choice next time" rather then having to deal with some sort of enemy with positive content.

9/09/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

yes, i agree that the whole anthropomorphization (i can read that and i can spell it, but do you think i can actually say it?) of evil can become really distracting... eventually, that thinking can either deflect responsibility away from the person who chooses the 'privation of good', or spin backwards and cut into the identity of the one doing wrong the way a chainsaw kicks back. the gnostics made a pretty big deal of evil and flesh, synthesizing the two to both the exaltation of evil and the erasure of the image of God from the intended image bearer.

however, it's hard for me to look away from the negative consequences of sin. what makes it wrong other than that it results in something beneficial and healthy being brought down rather than lifted up?

9/10/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

"...something beneficial and healthy being brought down rather than lifted up" (jollybeggar)

I would be hard pressed to give punishment a better description or definition then this.

I want to talk about love (always) and here is where I can map onto our conversations St Paul's declaration that love keeps no record of wrongs. So, how do we punish, how do we make people responsible for their failing if we aren't keeping track of those failings. Of course there are negative effects of people's decisions, to think otherwise would further victimize the victims and delegitimate their voice and suffering. But that is also not what I have been proposing. I have never been in favour of ignoring evil, which I believe is a type of evil in itself, but instead I am proposing a radical grace between people, a grace that is beyond each instance and dwells on us, making it impossible to find a sinner amongst us, even in a world filled with sin.

9/16/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

it's interesting how these two discussions (the one on northVUs and this one) have become parts of each other.

however, i don't want my thoughts above on consequences to be misunderstood. in saying...

"it's hard for me to look away from the negative consequences of sin. what makes it wrong other than that it results in something beneficial and healthy being brought down rather than lifted up?"

... i am not saying that i have a need to see pain exchanged for pain which must be somehow satisfied or i have no peace. i'm saying that, although i wonder from time to time just how useful it is to give evil a face and a name and a hallowe'en costume, i cannot look away from the fact that sin is real and has consequences. in fact, i think that the consequences- the impact of actions upon others- are probably what makes me call something 'sin.'

hope this is clearer.
but doubt it ;)

for this record, i would like to say that i like the = that hineini puts between my little soundbyte on 'beneficial things being brought down or lifted up' and punishment. could it be, then, that i feel punishment IS sin?

some days

9/17/2010  
Blogger hineini said...

Most of my hesitation around the idea of consequences is how quickly we can latch on to the phrase that someone must "suffer the consequences" for something they did. If we are talking about the effects of decisions then yes, of course we can call these consequences but a lot get bundled up in this idea, including the whole "eye for an eye" or a "balancing the scales" idea where punishment is demanded to somehow right a wrong.

9/17/2010  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

yeah, i was speaking of the whole 'effects of decisions' thing

9/27/2010  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home