Friday, August 8, 2008

Theological diversity

I started another blog a little while ago, to talk about Quaker issues, but I'm finding this discussion and that one are coming together and interweaving in my thinking and my life to a distracting degree. So I'm giving it up and just bringing that discussion over here. There's only a handful of posts over there if you're interested. And if this stuff is utterly uninteresting to you, well, sorry but there it is.

I was reading Joe's excellent comment tonight while gearing up for a session on "theological diversity" at Meeting tomorrow. In our meeting (and among FGC Friends in general) there's been a resurgence over the last decade or so in Jesus-centered worship and ministry. For those of us for whom Jesus is not the central exemplar and teacher, and who may have signed on with the Quakers to get away from dogmatic Christians, it's been a little weird. But that resurgence has in my experience been gentle, not prosletyzing, not hegemonistic. It has all been about individuals being open about the center of their universe.

To me it feels like the shoe is now on our foot (those of us who have held a more universalist point of view), to come clean about our centers, instead of using old hegemonizing, power-grabby, churchy attitudes as straw-men. The Bible doesn't especially speak to you as scripture? OK, then what does speak to you as scripture? Outward religious ritual isn't your thing? What formal, regular recognition of the universe and where we fit in it does, then?

Where this fits into the discussion of maps and architecture, is that I think it presents a model for how to carry that balancing act forward. The argument shouldn't be between objectivists and subjectivists. It shouldn't even really be an argument at all. The work as I'm coming to see it, is to theoretically explore how those two ways of dealing with the universe interact, and build practices that respect each. And that involves (as a cartographer) simultaneously respecting the traditions and knowledge we've built up over the centuries, and recognizing that cartography is (and when used properly only can be) a structure, upon which centers can be constructed. Instead of isolating ourselves from that center-building, we need to really look at how we can be part of the subjective, center-building, all-too-human process of Making the World.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have raised some very interesting points. I have felt in my dealings with all institutions that there is a push back on anything seemingly "different" than the mainstream way of thinking and/or doing. This has proven true both my spiritual and my cartographic life. I would like to thank you for bringing the similarity of the two to my attention. I look forward to the day when people can see something "new" or "different" as another way of expressing "the Center" or another way of representing our simultaneously objective/subjective experience of the world. I am passionately involved with maps because I feel that they have an opportunity to give us a multitude of ways to explore our world..and within that, ourselves.