Friday, November 26, 2010

Grace in the Structures

The spiritual tradition I grew up in doesn't allow for privacy, for internal space. Without symbolism, we can have no boundaries or interiors, and thus the outside (which can't really exist, as with a Mobius strip) comes in. We implode and are violated. There is nothing real inside.

Pastors tell us that Christianity must take over our lives; thus, we lose our grasp of who we really are. Appropriate and distinctive relationships are blurred into gray by the term fellowship. We are told that the Holy Spirit within us guides our consciences so that we know what is right; guided thus by three abstract, vague, and invisible concepts, we give way to the pressure of outside definitions of goodness.

My life has been a perfect expression of gnosticism.

***

My friend lent me a fascinating book once. Those Terrible Middle Ages addressed common misunderstandings about the Middle Ages, and pointed out that with Christianity came gradual emancipation for women, children, and slaves. That concept has stuck with me. Christianity brings freedom; it allows us to be individuals, self-directed people with the power to choose and to act.

Individuality is only possible with boundaries. I need a place within myself that is only me.

***

If we do not believe in physical space and in the matter that subdivides it, we will have no internal boundaries either. Even Aristotle knew that the mind can only grasp what is similar to it.

We need a touchable world; we need to arrange and architect it. We need colors and textures to organize and scatter; we need things to taste and smell. We need objects that matter because they express the life within them - unique objects that don't just "stand for" something, but actually express it, are it.

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