Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Unique Self" Dialogue with Mike Morrell and Dr. Marc Gafni

I'm not going to be able to thoroughly comment on this entire dialogue. There's a significant amount of information to digest and absorb, so I'll restrict myself to certain points that stood out to me and caught my attention.
But first allow me to comment on how this brief (one hour) conversation affected me personally.
"Emergent Theory necessitates including that within itself which it evolved beyond"
It has been a long time since I have stated (5-1/2 years) that I have moved beyond Christianity, having experienced its - possibly forced - limitations. However, having listened to Mike Morrell an Marc Gafni's conversation has caused me to, at least entertain, rethinking this position. Maybe, as the definition of Emergent Theory states, by moving beyond, by spiritually evolving beyond Christianity, I have not abandoned it, but absorbed it. Maybe it is still within me, but I have forgotten. Maybe it is something I would be wise to reflect upon and remember.


I can remember reading John Hick's God Has Many Names and The Metaphor of God Incarnate, he had identified the challenges faced with find some sort of bridge between many of the non-theistic Eastern Traditions and the Abrahamic Faiths.

The comments about Being (from Easter Traditions) and Becoming (from Western Traditions) are clearly symbiotic. Being and Becoming are one another's strength, and this could very well be that elusive 'bridge' between the non-theistic and theistic traditions.


When Mike Morrell has asked, how do we engage in 'my unique self', the first point Marc Gafni suggests is that we need to read - that the art of reading was lost.

I don't believe Marc could be more correct.

Many years ago, when I was still affiliated with a church, I had did a survey regarding how much people in general read. The question was simple. Not including memos, emails, traffic signs, short texts, anything required for work, newspapers or magazine articles, how many books do you read in a year?
I asked 100 various people I knew in my community (admittedly, not the best size group for a survey, but I was only one person). I suspected the numbers would be low, but I didn't expect what I encountered.

86% said they read between 0 to 1 book a year, and 12% read between 2 to 3 books a year. That's 98% of people read less than 4 books a year.
Clearly, reading is a dying art.

Shortly after, I figured I would do the same survey but this time with church-going Christians only. I figured - due to bible reading - these numbers would be higher, and potentially the art of reading would be alive and well within the church-going Christian community. At least that was my expectations. And once again, reality surprised me.

Slightly over 60% didn't respond at all. To this day I'm still not sure what to think of this. Indifference? Who can say.
The sad truth of the matter is that, like Marc Gafni said, reading is a lost art. One we need to reclaim.
Many people are surprised to hear this. Many people I share this story with initially confuse the ability to read vs. the actual act of reading, believing - I suppose - that being literate is synonymous with reading. They're not the same.


The second point Marc Gafni said was to ask oneself 5 questions (And I'll add my initial thoughts about myself as we carry on forward):

  1. What is my unique pleasure? (Bringing abstract and creative ideas and thoughts to fruition).
  2. What are people most naturally dependent upon me for? (To be the voice of reason in a sea of emotional chaos - maybe that's more of a statement about the people around me than of myself?)
  3. What is the unique need that I can address for people within my circle? (Analysis and order)
  4. What is my unique talent?
  5. What is my unique Shadow?

I believe my 'unique talent' and my 'unique Shadow' are one in the same thing.
(And let's make a note of distinction here; man's innate ability of Imagination is not the same as Make-Believe or pretending. Our innately human faculty of imagination - though can be used to make believe and pretend - is also our tool in dealing with abstracts).

It is both my blessing and my curse. My Imagination opens up wonder vistas  and allows to me see the patterns and order of things within the parent chaos. But on the same note, my Imagination gives birth to and feeds energy to my Fear and Worry. My Fear is great.


Dr. Marc Gafni said, "We need Christianity"
Christianity needs to evolve itself from within its own tradition. These are extremely powerful words. These are words of hope!

He says that Progressive Christians (Emergent?) must reclaim their moral authority. Not give up, not abandon Christianity, but passionately embrace it.
...I couldn't agree more...
...but how? The current Christian 'moral authority' exists within the Institutional Church.
I have always seen these 'Progressive Christians', like Mike Morrell, or Emergent Christianity as a sort of misfit fringe-dweller. But the very structure, business-like model of the modern day Institutionalize Church carries the entire moral authority. It is built (man-made?) that way. It's not just that these fringe-dwellers  are not yet a majority - or at least at that magical 'tipping-point' number - but by their very definition are not centralized; cannot be centralized; I doubt can every become centralized within becoming yet another denomination or splinter group.


This dialogue was extremely engaging and has piqued my attention unlike it has been piqued in quite some time.
I anxiously look forward to getting a copy and reviewing Dr. Marc Gafni's Your Unique Self from Mike Morrell's Speakeasy.

Coming soon,
"Your Unique Self" by Dr. Marc Gafni, Commentary and Review

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