Christ’s love is a gracious check on any dualistic projection of sacred and profane. Jesus faithfully overturns categories that overreaching-power uses to privilege, or persecute.
In April, I wrote (Know Thyself) regarding concerns of spiritual narcissism confusing the nature of the developmental spiral that Spiral Dynamics [SD] describes. Not only the SDi project (SD ‘integral’), but much of Evangelical Christianity [EC] has been corrupted by spiritual narcissism—in the conservative EC community, spirituality is essentially a ‘sacred parachute for me!’ Ironic, to be sure, as Christ’s Incarnation is a sublime correction to the mistaken Platonic bifurcation of matter and spirit.
Universally, people pull what they consider to be reality over their own eyes. This brings to mind a film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Recall the scene when the 700 year old knight guarding the chalice room containing the Holy Grail tells the Nazi archaeologist to, “Choose wisely.” It also makes me think of Orwell’s 1984, and the dangers of authoritarian overreach by a strongman, or a corrupt collective, in gaslighting the public to create reality for the individuals of a given society. We’ve previously taken into account the presence of confirmation bias and its place in bending reality as we perceive it.
Development is the key that allows the ambiguity of human perspectives to fit together into a coherent picture. Life, death, and resurrection is the developmental pattern that’s woven into the fabric of reality. Hegel described this triune relationship as: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In a recent meditation, Friar Richard Rohr wrote:
“Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite Scripture scholars, brilliantly connects the development of the Hebrew Scriptures with the development of human consciousness.” (here)
Rohr points to how Brueggemann describes three movements in scripture, and of development:
- Torah – a (guided) natural narcissism stage we talked about in part 1 (here), e.g., the healthy building of an individual in community (healthy Red [CP] ego-driven worldview formed/shaped, in this case, by Jewish Blue [DQ] community), through Torah—the Law as defined in the Pentateuch or first five books of the Bible.
- Prophets – necessary suffering, stumbling stones, and other features of our life experience that lead us to the journey of the second half of life (not a chronological time thing, more like not being ready to encounter Kabbalah till around age 40). Now that our exclusive identification with our ego container is dislodged sufficiently—often through some kind of serious loss of control—, we gain the capacity to see into our own shadow: our wounds, darkness, hidden drivers, and limitations. Friar Rohr writes, “It begins to break down either/or, dualistic thinking as you realize all things are both good and bad.”
- Wisdom – through accepting our true belovedness to G-d, and through the gift of self-awareness (we see G-d’s Love for us as an individual, warts and all), we gain an openness to, and appreciation of, mystery, paradox, and being able to hold opposing perspectives in tension. This step allows us to experience the seamless nature of reality, the non-duality of spirit and matter. Hebrew Bible texts expressing wisdom include: Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Proverbs, and Psalms.
Friar Rohr’s book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life is an excellent resource for how our human development unfolds, practically and spiritually, in two grand movements.
Jesus and John Wesley
Many see Jesus as model reconciler/redeemer of the agency and communion relationship—justice for the one and the many—and regard him as the embodiment of wisdom. John Wesley also dealt with the problem of duality in our spirituality, and offered the antidote to narcissism—both material and spiritual—in very practical terms. Wesley instructed/encouraged those he led to work the dynamics of their spirituality out in a praxis community. Friar Rohr’s “Center for Action and Contemplation” [CAC] is a model of a spiritual praxis community focused in the area of spiritual teaching.
A very practical balance
Missing the mark spiritually results whenever we focus only on sin (individual narcissism) to the neglect of original sin (social, structural residue of earlier sin). John Wesley struck a fine balance on a both/and, holistic level. Wesley taught and encouraged a practice that included both personal and social holiness (wholeness, not-two). In other words, Wesley taught (personal) spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer; fasting; reading/reflecting upon Scripture and G-d’s Word [Jesus]; and worship) to prepare the ground for the interior work of healing and forming healthy Red [CP], as well as the (social) spiritual disciplines (e.g., service to others; participation in a praxis group; and growing in compassion and generosity) to effect the exterior work of healing our society and G-d’s world.
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?