Monday, February 17, 2014

Ideological fundamentalism vs liminality

On the weekend I heard a sermon that had me thinking about all sorts of things. The idea of liminality is that we can be stuck in a time of ambiguity, an inbetweenness where we are not sure where we are. The Wikipedia piece referred specifically to ritual, but one could apply this to the confusion over western industrial society and the looming threat of climate change, the loss of a job, spouse, etc. It's the nature of life out of routine, familairity and comfort.

It seems to me that the certainty seeking of fundamentalisms of all stripes ignores the liminal nature of much of life, leading to the premature closure of dialogue. This is not to say all things are open ended or that nothing is given. For example, the liminality of climate change is such that while the fact that we are changing climate is consensus science, how we shift gears is unclear, what life will look like if we do or don't etc.

Likewise, in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus says "you have heard it said ... but I say to you" is not as closed as you might think. While Mark records Jesus' hearers saying that he didn't teach like the Rabbis but as one who taught with authority, his sayings were still pithy and aphoristic. It is as if the final authority is here, but like the Rabbis, we are to continue to ask, question, dialogue, etc. What does it mean to pluck out one's eye, to love God and love neighbour as self in a rapidly changing world where things both personally and societal can fall apart?

Fundamentalisms might close off the conversations, liberalisms reject any answer but "we all have our own answers", and somewhere in the middle we are guided by what we know and by somesort of faith (religious or otherwise) that takes us into the unknown that is the future.

No comments: