Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Contextualized Universalism; Faith Within Context

I have been raised in a country, which has traditionally been understood as Christian. Christian faith has been defined in many ways in our culture of diversity, as the United States was founded on the principle of the "freedom of religion". Not only has my own culture affirmed many types of faith within its borders, but postmodernity has also dissolved the understanding of a universal faith. Of course, fundamentalists/conservatives in many religous traiditons have understood their universalization in two ways; contextualizing the text by translation and/or converting others by proselytzing. I don't believe either of these ways affirms what should or ought to be true according to the "law of Christ", which is love.

The human being is made in God's image and has be gifted with reason and talents, which are innate. These gifts have to be trained and encouraged to develop, but always develop within a "context". Because man is bound within his religious/political/social context, man assumes that his reality of experience is "true". As men are educated about the larger or greater world, they learn that their way of understanding is only one among many.

Yesterday's post was about my grand-daughter's desire to become a princess. Her desire is an innate desire to become, which is a desire to develop and represents her desire to express transcendence! In Christian terms, the "incarnation" was the Christ child, God within flesh. The "sons of God' are those who develp and express their giftings. The human heart should be affirmed in its desires, and not oppressed or suppressed, as the fundamentalists do.

Fundameantlism absolutizes reason, text, tradition, and "self"! Their understanding is the absolute truth and is mainifested in their zeal to convert (at the point of sword/death). Their understanding is a culture of death to other "selves", the physical life of others, and the culture of others. Culture is neutral and should be a place of affirming worship of a transcendent BEING. There is no ONE culture that epitomizes "truth", but is only one form.

Cultural diversity should be affirmed, as long as it allows freedom of expression, without limiting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Culture expresses itself not only in the religious realm of worship, but also the political realm of interantional relations. Globalization has opened our experiential "eyes" to recognize the 'other's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These diverse ways of being in the world are all limited understandings of the 'Universal", but are a necessary part, just the same.

Diversity humbles all of us in understanding our limited "worlds" of reference and helps us to become more understanding of difference. This affirms the "way of love". Love is not defined except in affirming of the other. Of course, that does not mean that we will not question other about certain beliefs or ways of understanding, and hopefully, it will help to educate ourselves and others about the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The universal is worshipped in many forms, recognizing the human limitations to "truth" claims, which makes for humility and self-examination, which breeds a good cultural climate for dialogue and change. And this is the "way of love" and unity in diversity.

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