Sunday, March 14, 2010

Existential Angst and Authoritarianism

I had the opportunity to have the grandkids here with me this week. I am always amused and "enlightentened" whenever my grandaughter says something with such conviction and authority, without having the slightest insight into how simple her understanding is.

The learning process has been studied by educators, so that physicians and developmental 'specialists of all kinds' can diagnose whether a particular child is "on course" or developing appropriately. The judgment is not to learn about another individual child, so much as to encourage the parent or give resources or tests to the children who seem to be developing at a different rate than "the average".

But, every stage of learning is a stage of growth, but also "existential angst", because whatever has been believed before is enlarged, or undermined and re-vamped altogether, then there is a cognitive dissonance that needs to be "solved". And the solution is coming to terms with a "new world order".

Children believe in "make-believe", such as fairy tales that paint a world filled with "happily ever afters", or "God" who is personally interested in the particularity of the child's every whim. "God" is representative to the child of security, stability, and hopeful promise of a "future". But, as the child matures, these images and hopes are challenged by encountering the 'real world' and an enlarged view of understanding, which counters their simple and trusting "ideals". The "real world" becomes an enemy to 'peace'.

"Existensial Angst" is what should be expected in Christian colleges, because there is no "special revelation" or special truth in an abstract form, but only in personal form. The student themself is a "revelation" of indivdiuality. And their hopeful future is not protected by "God", but by their ability to function within their specialty of discipline.

Authoritarianism does not allow or understand the need for individuality in personal values or of personal commitment. Authoritarianism hinders growth because of the 'fear of difference". Difference is a challenge to those who hold to authoritarianism, whether ecclesiastical, bibilical, governmental, or organizational.

The individual in his own "right" has a right to exist apart from the collective "whole", and for his own personal values, not society, itself, which de-mean and de-moralize the indivdidual in his/her development and "promise".

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