Yes, Yes, Nod, Nod, Wink, Wink

Hurricane Katarina

Photo Credit: NASA

Posted by David-

Anyone who has spent much time with me knows that I love the weather and that I have special theories that cover just about everything. I suppose, “theory” isn’t the best word for my thoughts. It’s more like I hang on to a map that is based loosely on observation and highly on metaphor. I ask myself, “If [A] works in this pattern, then mustn’t [B] work in a similar way?” Yes, there’s trouble written all over that logic. Or is there?

I’ll share with you one of my special maps that helps me grasp processes in the cosmos. It’s quite simple: all processes of the heavens, including the ‘space’ below our feet, work like weather. I always envision the hurricane as an example because it’s so elegant and its basic processes are fairly well understood. We might not know why it centers on Kingston rather than Havana, but we do know the heat engine that drives it, the steering currents that push and pull it, and the general pattern of wind development. In my personal opinion it is the perfect model for everything from trees to planets and from atoms to galaxies. In my map, the hurricane is the rosetta stone for understanding how all natural phenomena works.

As bold and off-base as this might sound, it actually is my fundamental subconscious map that I use to understand nature. When I think geology, in the back of my head I see the earth as a hurricane. When I think of gravity, I think of the isobar gradients that weathermen plot. If I read about a scientist’s new theory about the cosmos, I always plug the new theory into my ‘map’. Does it fit into my map?

As a result, I have developed a fairly farfetched vison of how nature works. But I enjoy it and if I’m wrong, that’s okay. I’ve been wrong before. My scientist friends think that I hold on to these ideas, because that is what I ‘want’ to believe. They may be right. It maybe that my pride and prejudices need this to be the case so I don’t tumble into existential despair. But I don’t think so. These days, Jesus keeps me humble. It may very well be that I am projecting my ‘maps’ on to the universe, which takes me to one of the other special ‘maps’ that guide my understanding: human projection is a real and powerful force.

I had an interesting experience just the other day that may help me to explain. I’m using this incident as an example and by no means am justifying myself here. I’ve done the same thing many times.

I was at a dinner gathering of 20 or so men, women and children. The friends that I usually chat with were either occupied or absent, so I just sat around and watched the children play. One particular person started telling a story describing something of a political nature. As an observer to the story I listened and the storyteller knew it. Every few moments, my eyes were linked to the storyteller. I listened. As the person spoke, the story was told in a manner that had the general expectation that the audience agreed or should agree with the political position. The storyteller’s eyes were seeking facial cues of “yes, yes, I agree with you.” But I didn’t agree. I rarely agree with any political stance, right or left. But what was interesting was that the storyteller seemed to hunger for acceptance of this particular view.

At first, I felt compelled, almost as if by a power, to agree with my eyes. But my eyes wouldn’t, they tried to stay neutral, which I found to be no different than a lie. It was so difficult. Finally, I burst out and said that “no” what was being described sounded like Hell to me, because that was the truth. Politics are Hell. Politics are simply the societal gossip that lead humans down the road to civil war.

So, how do I explain this common human phenomena, this powerful force that causes us to seek justification of our points of view from those around us? It’s easy. I just look inside myself to see why others do it. I’ve done this before with my ‘theories’. My ‘fallen’ nature desires to be God. I project–as a force–my notions, my thoughts, and my lies upon reality for purposes of dominion and self-justification. At least I’ve done this in the past and I certainly do it at times presently.

I never really understood until recently how sin can have affected all of the cosmos, as is taught in Christian theology. But I now understand it to be because of the power and scope of human projection. Because of our fallen state, when we look beyond our own noses we tend to project the ego outward. However rational and unbiased and scientific we may try to be, we can’t help but apply the root of our pride and prejudices to the universe and to our next door neighbor. This is a true force and can be likened to gravity and to barometric isobars. And it can become malicious and manipulative as we seek justification.

For quite sometime, maybe our whole lives long, we can go about thinking that we’re right and that the other guy is wrong. In fact, because we’re so good at projecting with a force, the universe may even start talking back to us, and nod, and say, “yes, yes, nod, nod, wink, wink, I agree with you. I want to belong to your way of thinking.” But eventually we will discover, that it wasn’t universe talking back after all, it was only our reflection and, oh, how lonely we will be then.

Creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.

Romans 8:19-21

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8 Comments

Filed under Christianity, language, Politics, science

8 responses to “Yes, Yes, Nod, Nod, Wink, Wink

  1. Michele

    “Politics is Hell. Politics is simply the societal gossip that leads humans down the road to civil war.” I’ve changed the grammar, but not the meaning. Politics certainly can and has led to civil war, likely many times, in the past. But I don’t see how any group of people can function without politics. Every society has individuals and groups that have special interests. You find that in every setting where you have groups of people working together. Politics subsumes the processes by which individuals and groups work to influence the larger society to accept particular positions on issues. And includes the processes of negotiation and compromise that optimally can result in decisions that are positive nonzero sum, that is, that result in good for all parties. Politics is vital to the orderly functioning of a democratic society.

    I will address the misguided notions of “sin” affecting all of the cosmos and “our fallen state” at a later date.

  2. Clark Kent

    Now for this business of “how sin can have affected all of the cosmos, as is taught in Christian theology.” First of all, I’m not at all sure that Christian theology addresses this question at all. And whose theology are you considering? There seems to be a lot of Christian theologies to pick from. When one talks about such things, what one is expressing is an opinion, obviously not a fact. And it’s an opinion derived from a world view that can be elaborated to include just about everything. A rational argument is incapable adequately countering such an opinion derived from such inviolable premises. I will say, however, that based upon what I know of the world, limited though it may be, the statement (that sin has affected all of the cosmos) does not make sense – and if believed – has the potential to distort a reality-based perspective of events and history. We have only about 2,500 years of learning about the world, how the world functions, and reality. Our coming to grips with superstition and false notions of reality has been a slow and arduous process, and we continue to work daily in teasing out what is real from notions that do not hold up to investigation.

    Regarding “our fallen state” – again you are presenting a religious premise as if it is true. A parsimonious understanding of human motivation does not need the addition of a construction that sees human behavior in such a negative light. I prefer to think of human behavior as helpful and/or harmful to society at large, that we are all selfish creatures – designed that way by natural selection for our own and the species survival – and that it is through the processes of socialization that we learn – certainly by fits and starts – both as individuals and in our groups – that accommodation to the greater good is ultimately preferable for all, than is our individual short-term self interest. Such ideas as these reflect clearer the realities of human behavior than do archaic notions of “sin” and “our fallen state.” In addition, they present a more compassionate view of humanity that might actually be in greater accord with “Christian theology” than the notions we have been considering.

  3. Good to have other thinkers out there.

    First, Hello, Michelle. You’re right society cannot continue to function without politics, yet with politics it will also one day cease to function. That’s the paradox.

    I always begin under the belief that all of humanity and civilization, and the individual for that matter, is at war with itself. This is a belief based on the facts that I know about myself. Politics is a societal expression of that inner (self) and outer battle. It’s the state of humanity and is particular to humanity. Yes, civilization would cease to function without politics. Marriage would cease to function without the ‘politics of marriage’. The individual would die without the inner battle that goes on within the psyche. And this will all one day come to pass. I wish not to live in this battle. Every day, I see it within and without and there is no peace in the options found within our knowledge, tools, methods, science, potions, etc. None. This is why I am a Christian. This is why I follow Jesus to the grave. Man and his fallen nature, her politics, her wars, his ego-nature cannot stand. “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” This is human nature. Humanity in and of itself will not escape. Because of this ‘schizophrenic’ fact, Jesus came to drag his children into, back into the kingdom of heaven.

  4. Hello, Clark. Follow the link above (human projection is a real and a powerful force) to understand better what I’m saying about the cosmos. It’s akin to having rose colored glasses, but in this case the glasses actually change the sky to be a rose color. The power of the human will/consciousness over reality is huge. You can easily see it in the landscape: cities, roads, satellites. But it’s more than that. How we perceive the world/nature/cosmos, directly affects those things. Perception is a force. It’s effectual. What we think, in many ways, comes to pass. That’s the trick of the soothsayer. Our visualizations infest reality. Our dreams conjure the future…to a point. There are thresholds and we will hit them. There are other ways to explain: consciousness is an archetype within the universe and it evolved/emerged/was revealed within man. Man took that gift and set out to own it/master it. It turned and mastered him.

    Yes, I’m not really talking in concrete terms, but poetry is the only way to grasp certain things.

    We are unable to accurately assess the cosmos using rational methods. Reason has a limit. Reason is very practical, but it can’t tell the deeper stories. Reason as a storyteller is very bland, very grey, very cold, and very dark. Faith as a storyteller is very bright, very colorful, very wild, and very loving.

    Lastly, truth is self-justifying. This is certain and wonderful and puts me in a world of peace.

  5. Michele

    Okay – There are lots of things here that need correcting – oh! I mean clarifying! First of all, I’m very glad to see that you concede that society needs politics. This business of ceasing to function with it, however, doesn’t make sense as you’ve expressed it. I suggest that you reread my previous comments on this issue. Next is the issue of humanity and the individual being at war with itself/himself. I think Clark did a good exposition of this issue, how it comes about, and how, optimally, resolution might occur. I don’t understand, however, what you mean when you say that “The individual would die without the inner battle that goes one within the psyche.” It’s true that we will always have the contrasting pulls of our own motivations/desires/impulses versus the demands of society and society’s norms, but to say that there can be no “peace” – meaning, I assume – resolution of divergent expectations/demands/goals using approaches that we humans have and are developing for conflict resolution (for example) – doesn’t make sense to me. We humans need to try to work these problems out using whatever procedures we have developed that help in the process. Of course, as Clark suggested, a big dollop of compassion, Roger’s “accurate empathy,” and seeing ourselves in the other fellow’s shoes could certainly help. Jesus might have some insights that could be of help here. So, by the way, would Buddha. Regards, Michele

  6. Clark

    Interesting comments regarding perception. You suggest that, “How we perceive the world/nature/cosmos, directly affects those things. Perception is a force.” I beg to differ. Perception, itself, is not the force that affects outcomes, it’s the action that occurs consequent to perception and thinking that causes the outcome. Our perceptions, mental processing, frames of reference certainly affect outcomes. I can see how you might consider perception itself as a force, because it can be so powerful a motivator and organizer. Human will is also strong motivator affecting outcomes. You mention consciousness and identify it as an “archetype” that “evolved/emerged/was revealed within man.” The issue of consciousness is really beyond my expertise and seems to be a conundrum that no one has been able to explain adequately. I was recently reading, as you know, Nonzero, by Robert Wright. On page 307 ,Wright leads us to believe that he is going to tackle consciousness and refers to several books on the topic (Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett and The Conscious Mind by David Chalmers). Alas, Wright gets side-tracked and starts equating consciousness with sensation (as in being able to feel pain) and never really addresses consciousness as I understand it. My understanding is that consciousness is awareness: The process of being aware and being able to reflect upon our awareness, and for us humans, being able to talk about it to each other. I just have one comment to make about consciousness here and that is that I think we make the error of approaching it in a human-centered manner. Due I’m sure to a multitude of historical reasons, we humans like to think that we are somehow completely separate in our formation from our fellow sentient creatures. In reality we are more like them than we think. If we took the approach that consciousness may be a universal feature, at least among mammals, we might move in directions in our thought that might surprise us!
    I’m running out of steam today. Thanks for listening/reading.
    Regards,
    Clark

  7. Michele,

    I don’t understand, however, what you mean when you say that “The individual would die without the inner battle that goes one within the psyche.”

    What makes the human individual an “individual” is his or her ego. I’m not sure if you will find this type of individual in all of nature, because every last part is connected to the whole in fantastic ways. A wolf is not a mere wolf. A wolf is a part of a pack or part of a elk-wolf system.

    Man without his ego would no longer be an individual, but far more than that. He would be connected to the whole, which I believe to be Christ Jesus. We would still have the self, but it would be a wholeself, rather than a self pitted against itself, which is currently the case for all humans.

    Likewise, the inner battle within man is what keeps his ego alive. Without that battle, the ego would die. The ego wages war within, just like man wages war within and among society. There’s a powerplay upon which the ego feeds. The ego wants to become God just as much as Man does outwardly as seen in his ambitions.

    For this battle to end, the ego must die. Maybe, for some, the ego never dies and those that do not are bound to the ever-failing ambitions of the ego.

  8. Clark,

    I also think the experience of the animals, call it awareness, is far more amazing that we humans realize. In many ways it may be more ‘real’ than what we experience all cooped up in our heads, in our pasts and in our so-thought futures. I even expect ‘awareness’ can be applied to those things not regularly considered life, i.e. other systems in nature. You name it, it probably has some form of wonderful awareness of it’s environment. Just the fact that all objects organic and inorganic have some sort of relationship/force to it’s neighbor, I think proves that those items have some sort of awareness however primitive or complex it may be. Because force is an artifact of ‘awareness’, just like your actions are an artifact of your will/consciousness.

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