Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Personal Story (with Rich) - Part 3

Rich Erasmus and I have had a series of guest conversations (Part 1; Part 2) of a more personal nature than I normally deal with. This can probably be seen by the tentative nature of us teasing our way to the nitty gritty. In this third part, my childhood youth pastor finally tells me to stop beating around the bush and explain my world view...

Rich: from Last part of Part 2 
Many of my convictions (the ones we used to celebrate) are not yours anymore (I suspect) ... we still connect, love and enjoy each other's company, that hasn't changed ... but some cherished moments cannot be shared anymore. 

---

Trev: 
I think they can be shared. The important bits. I did go through a stage where I was convinced by the idea that it was important to explicitly acknowledge the fact that 'I was an Atheist'. More recently, I have been trying to reconcile and re-engage. If the differences lie in the realm of faith, we have no problem. We can sit still together while you pray, and I just sit. We can sing songs we used to sing. We can celebrate relationships and community. The convictions both of us would work to set aside would be the ones that are unkind. The ones that make the world a worse place. I certainly let go of parts of my early faith with a lot of pain. As we continue this discussion, I will share some of that with you. Hopefully your agitation will still. 

Rich: 
Fundamentally, I guess we are asking can we still "hang together" ... like in the good ol days? This isn't a small issue. (Community, fellowship, dialogue, learning are all keys to living a whole and healthy life). I would say certainly, I will always love a connection with you. Will it be like the old days ... not a chance. The years have changed us, you and I have grown ... facial hair, stomach line and most importantly, in terms of our perspectives on life. I guess the obvious truth is that faith issues do divide ... we can sing together, but I don't think we can worship together. I would love to agree that on the "important bits" we can share together ... but I would suggest, only to a certain point ... beyond that we become strangers to e. o. This mustn't compromise love in anyway ... but the divide exists, doesn't it? 


Trev: 
There is a struggle between 'melting-pot' worlds, 'patchwork-quilt' worlds and 'single malt' worlds. I can see the advantages of being in a community where everyone has very similar ideas on the core issues. Where the rules are clear. Where the rules are respected. I do believe there are core principals that will translate across those different worlds. Some people (like me) will look to slowly nibble away at my identity by 'absorbing what is useful, discarding what is not, adding what is uniquely my own' (Bruce Lee). Some people will want to keep their identity but live close to others. Some people want the consistency of a conservative life. The challenge is to build a world where there is some movement between those groups. Where we recognise the good in choices different to our own. 


Rich: 
I guess I fit into the "keep their identity and live close to others category". I am happy with changing my identity ... but not simply out of a respect for the truth that "change is healthy". I guess my basic stance is that I don't think truth is necessarily "over the next hill". Although I cannot claim to have the truth in it's entirety, I don't think a constant fluidity in these things is healthy either. So I guess it boils down to the specifics ... what would you suggest are the core issues on which we can agree? I believe there would be some core issues on which we disagree ... but possibly, that is a later discussion. 

Trev: 
The question of 'the' truth v. 'a' truth that works is important. Megan wrote a wonderful guest post on the art of not choosing. There are definitely benefits to living in a world where an established community is humming along and feels it doesn't want to bump anything. Cumulative wisdom means we might not know why things work, they just do. I don't think people 'have to' look over the hill. I do know that over the hill from the bubble I lived in growing up were townships where people were living in poverty. I don't think that was okay. If Jesus were deciding on the core issues, I think that he would choose love and helping people in poverty. I think he would be far less interested in divisive issues that fall into the 'my truth'/' your truth' category. 

Rich: 
Yeah ... fully (though always room for improvement) engaged with the "over the hill people" nowadays (I'm sure you'll be happy to know). Possibly a link to Megan's post would help ... would hate to be grappling with something she didn't say ... though I have to say, the idea of not choosing leaves me baffled. It's the old circular issue of saying something like that ... and then finding out that that is a choice in and of itself. But ... allow me to read her post first. Choices, imo, are a part of the journey ... in many instances, they add to the beauty of life. You're an artist, when last did you take one of your paintings and slide the frame a little so that it tilted with a decided left (or right) inclination? Nah ... chances are, they have stayed (mercifully) in the same position for a long while now ... that is how it was designed. Fully agree with your picture of Jesus ... loving and helping people in poverty / abused etc ... rather than the bitty issues that tend to divide. It's tricky (though) isn't it? Who gets to decide what "the core" issues are (i.e. those core issues that you just labelled)? 

Meg wrote a guest post in response to Iyengar's book called  - The Art of Non-Choosing 


Trev:
Everything has a framework as I am regularly reminded by Gem (my partner) who is an Anthropologist. She constantly asks difficult questions intended to make you go right back to the basis of why you think what you think. To unravel. To move forward, to ravel, there are always choices that will make it difficult to understand other people as we move further along. I think the bar for the base assumptions we have to agree on should be quite high. John Cleese did an interesting clip on offence. Trying to control other people's behaviour is often an indication of our own inability to understand or control our own emotional responses. I think what we should be working on is the communication channels. How do we attempt as best we can to understand people who think very differently from ourselves? How do we protect minority views? How do we live together harmoniously. I believe this is analogous to what you would call 'God's plan'. What Muslim's would believe is a world Muhammad was trying to build. I don't think divisions need to occur every time there is a new choice. Jew. Christian. Muslim. Protestant. Catholic. Shia. Sunni. We should be able to build communities that care about more than people that agree with them. 




Rich: 
I fully agree that base assumptions need to be few and far between. I suspect (however) that if the right choices are made in that regard; that your list of issues that you mention (living harmoniously, protection of minority views etc) would necessarily find their rightful place. Thing is ... all of us end up choosing our first principles ... whether we like the idea of choice / exclusion or not. All of us have chosen a framework ... the worth of which will be determined by the fruit that follows. When the fruit / results of that choice aligns with someone else ... bliss, harmony etc. When it doesn't ... are we not then called to re-access our first principles? I'm not rushing out to disagree with Muslims (fill in whatever worldview you want) Trev. But on some pretty fundamental "first principles" we differ. More often than not, our actions will align ... but when they don't you and I need to make a choice about the first principles / world view / religion. Bottom line ... we do make choices in that regard ... they are not untouchable ... but they are necessarily in the background of every movement in our daily living. My first principle is found in the person of Jesus. I will revisit the length and breadth of that principle often ... but not much has ever come to me (in my limited life experience) that could add significantly to a life that is based on His view and ministry. "Here i stand ... I can do no other". 

Trev: 
That is awesome. You have always struck me as a guy who listens, but finds deep comfort in the philosophy and belief you use as a support for whatever struggles life throws. I don't find many fundamental differences from Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus in the areas I think are the true core beliefs. They (and you?) may argue with that. I think we are doing the hard discussion/compromise required to hammer out those limited agreed behaviours that help us function as a society. I think that is part of why they world is increasingly more peaceful (see 'the better angels of our nature'). For me, I struggled to reconcile the world I saw with the framework I inherited. By reading wider, meeting people and lots of internal struggles, I now find deep comfort in the philosophy and belief I use as a support for whatever life throws at me

Rich: 
Trev ... we started this conversation a while back. Maybe it's because we hadn't seen each other for a while (so we've been kindly dancing around each other a little) but I believe we need to get to a few more "nitty gritty" differences between our respective world views. My world view is not alien to you ... you used to share it with me. In many senses that has changed (though ... as we have said a number of times already ... much has not ... mutual affection, respect etc). Your atheistic perspective and my theistic perspective are in many ways miles apart ... this implies quite a journey (for both of us ... though you in particular). Let's spend a few words exploring the differences ... how about it?

--- this is an ongoing discussion to be continued ---
Post a Comment