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Polk

Jack's 12 Theses

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It goes without saying that Jack's radical critique of Christian doctrine will be resisted by the great majority of American Christians. Human beings are reluctant to admit that the theories and explanations upon which they have relied most of their lives are wrong. This tendency is as influential for mundane matters like why Aunt Betty is such a nuisance as to the nature of God and the meaning of life. It might help those of us who find it easier to accept change to consider the implications of the relatively new psychology of "cognitive dissonance" which offers an explanation of humanity's difficulty accepting new explanations for old experiences. CD posits that all human begins, regardless of culture, will resist new ideas that are dissonant to those upon which they have traditionally relied. New ideas threaten the stability of long-held belief systems and throw a person into a state of anxiety and stress which he/she tries to avoid by doubling down on tradition. Those of us who challenge tradition should not, therefore, be surprised at the vehemence with which our "radical" theories are rejected. How, then, might the implications of CD help us present our ideas in ways that are not as likely to be rejected by so many of our fellow human beings and Christians?

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Polk, I have also experienced the backlash and I feel it was my fault for not being and communicating with the person I was talking to, where they were coming from, which is a starting point. In the infinite ocean or Quantum Consciousness we can bump into each other and say sorry and go on or we can feel the other being's joy and pain and communicate by just sharing energy. My spiritual practice as a Christian is when I am speaking with a Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Atheist or Agnostic is just to communicate, learn and help make them better at what they are practicing. All theories are radical, new and old and as we go deeper in them we find them all converging at the same point. Have fun and enjoy others.

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Cognitive Dissonance, or perhaps more accurately the construct of "Dissonance Reduction," is a very useful approach to an understanding of how the mythology the gospel writers created around Jesus transformed within a few years from midrash into factual explanation. When confronted by questions from Aunt Betty, rather than going directly to the DR answer (my temptation, sorry to say), if we start instead by asking about her own life experiences and how she has explained the mysteries we always encounter, we can usually find an analogy between her explanations and those of, say, the writer of the Gospel of Mark. An important step may need to be taken before Aunt Betty can move forward however. She needs to be able to see "Mark" as just as much a human as she is herself, which for at least one Aunt Betty of my acquaintance may be a step too far. Once she can accept the humanity behind the persona of "Mark," once she can be guided to compassion for that writer's pain and abject sense of loss following the violent end of Jesus' living presence among us, perhaps she can be led into the joy that "Mark" and the other God-fearers of those early communities must have felt as their Dissonance was Reduced with the midrash offered by these new gospels.

 

Bottom line, Polk, while I agree that CD does indeed lie behind our reluctance to shift paradigms, I nevertheless suggest that its corollary DR may be a useful path forward to a better understanding of what the bible gave us, and why.

 

Jack does his usual stupendous job tracing the sources of the midrash, especially in his discussions of "Matthew's" for The Sermon on the Mount in Biblical Literalism. I was impressed. I grinned. I dragged out a Scofield Study Bible and saw not one single reference to Ps 119 in all the chains off The Beatitudes. Wow. But Matthew, dude, you rock! That's some great midrash! Woot! Woot!

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