Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Building Metaphor
I’ve spoken of my building metaphor before, especially in my manuscript, which I posted several months back. But I decided that I wanted to explain it once more, connect it to this whole concept of Christian Monism, and then put it in a sidebar so I can refer back to it from time to time.
I see the playing out of life, both on the Christian front and on the secular, as a building. It is a tall, 100 floor building. The floor that you live on in this building corresponds to how close you live to reality. Reality, in this sense, is real-reality. I’m talking about the very fundament, candid, emotional, psychological, sociological, spiritual and physical reality of this world as it is.
In my opinion, most of Evangelical Christianity is played out around the 20th to 40th floors. Many of the TV evangelists, like you would see on TBN or Daystar, play out their public lives up on the 70-80th floors. I think (speaking of the secular world now) that many politicians and celebrities also share those higher floors. The upper floors and penthouse are reserved for the psychotics (who are totally divorced from reality).
The reason that I even became interested in this issue has to do with my fall from Evangelicalism. Early on, I realized that my entire Christian life had been lived up on those middle floors (I believe that my days in the Navigators were lived up on the 40th+ floors always pretending to be very godly).
Once I started exploring real emotional honesty, I had a passion to take it down to ground level. I’ve never achieved that for many reasons. For one, it is very sociological hard to do. Once you venture beneath the 20th floor (and you are a Christian) there is tremendous pressure on you to keep lying (see my recent posting about Church games).
The bottom floor, down near reality, are some comedians, like the late George Carlin. I don’t mean to make him out to be a hero. He was talented and he tried to expose our society to its harsh realities. But I think he was a bitter and addicted man. No, he didn’t seem to know God. But he did know a lot of truth and did not hesitate to point it out. Freud (although wrong about many things) was one of the first to try and point to the “id” of the basement.
Many people either, A) are highly offended if I suggest that they don’t live near emotional reality, or B) believe that life only works well when we allow ourselves to live up on the twentieth floor or higher. I think my wife sees things from the “B” perspective, and I respect that. I do realize that most of society functions better where there is a lot of insulation between us and our fallen selves.
How Does This Relate to Christian Monism?
Okay, it’s complicated. But if God created both the physical (including the brain) as good (but fallen) then the brain is important. The brain, being anchored in the material, does not change easily. If you were born with a personality disorder (or acquire one through life) it doesn’t change the moment you become a Christian, but starts to take on disguises that would make it more accepted in that Christian sub-culture.
Dualist Christians believe that the spiritual is far more important than the physical, and some honestly believe that the physical is evil (“worldly” in other words). So if you disallow the role of the physical brain on thinking, behavior etc . . . you are left with a very fluid “spirit.” The spirit, theoretically, can change on a whim . . . just through simple obedience or choice.
So the typical Evangelical belief system is that we have the opportunity to grow to be very spiritual very quickly. We can leave a life of sexual exploitation, drug addition and in a matter of a few years, be pastor of a mega church, claiming to have been totally renewed.
This is why one gal in our Navigator training center could return to sex and drugs literally overnight, after having been “trained” and discipled as a “godly woman” for a decade. The old self was not that far from the new self all along.
However, when reality does not mesh with our belief system, we are forced to create an insulating façade. That’s what society does as a whole does (all of us pretending that we are much better than we really are) but Evangelicals are experts at this.
This is how the wonderful, godly, man who preaches to you each Sunday morning, can be abusive to his wife and children in the privacy of their homes. Sometimes this abuse is apparent but sometimes it takes more discreet forms (allowing the godly man to continue feeling better about himself) such as spiritual abuse. This is where you put people down or smash them like a bug with your Bible.
So, in conclusion, I thought I would describe this metaphor once more . . . stick it over to the side . . . and reference it in future discussions.
Posted by MJ at 12:10 PM