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Jan 16, 2008

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J. K. Gayle

Once people no longer draw the meaning of their lives from religion, society's highest value is now related to bodily existence.

What if this dichotomy of yours is totally unnecessary? Yes, I know you're summarizing Richard and North's conclusion.

But what if the high values of religion must include body and existence and bodily existence. It's why some of us follow Jesus and are feminists. "If it weren't for Jesus, it would be difficult for me to follow God," writes young Donald Miller. And he goes on: "The very scary thing about religion, to me, is that people actually believe God is who they think He is. By that I mean they have Him all figured out, mapped out, and as my pastor, Rick, says 'dissected and put into jars on a shelf.' You've got a bunch of Catholics in Rome who think one way about God, and a bunch of Baptists in Texas who think another, and that isn't even the beginning" (Searching for God Knows What, page 20). But Philip Yancey (in The Jesus I Never Knew) says Martin Luther says this also: "Flee the hidden God and embrace the incarnate Christ." The interesting thing about the post-Roman Luther is that he is very very post-Aristotle (and he knows both Roman and Aristotle all too well). There is a place for fear, and for the body, if there's to be any place for religion at all. Jesus, I suspect, had moments of fear in a garden once upon a time and if he hadn't of had any experience in the body (and if he hadn't dealt with bodies sexed both male and female), then, well. . . (At Exclesia's blog, she gives more subjective--very religious in my view--thoughts.)

Michael W. Kruse

Hi J. K. Actually this entire post is excerpts from the article. The words aren’t mine.

I fully agree with you about false dichotomies and also about our inability to get God in a box.

Every society develops narratives about matters of ultimate meaning and existence, along with rituals to reinforce the narrative. Throughout recorded human history cultures across the globe have been oriented toward “chaos combat.” The world was formed from chaotic and violent forces. Society is locked in a life and death struggle against those forces that would destroy them. Other cultures are paramount threats. Dissenters within our own culture are vile traitors.

I’ve written before that the Judeo-Christian narrative is freeing in two ways. It frees us from the world because we are part of a larger narrative that includes resurrection and New Creation. We need not be anxious. This world can no ultimately define us.

But the narrative also frees us to the world. Precisely because we can’t be defined by the present age, we are free to be joyfully at work in the world that the Creator loves so much and holds so dear.

Without the Judeo-Christian narrative, we are no longer free from or to the world. Our material existence becomes the focus of everything, either in terms of trying to escape it (Eastern) or idolize it (Western).

There are always things to be fearful of. The issue is the narrative we frame them in. That is what I think the authors in the article are getting at.

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