Re: MD God relieves from suffering?

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Sun Apr 27 2003 - 22:19:14 BST

  • Next message: johnny moral: "Re: MD Undeniable Facts"

    Dear Sam,

    You wrote 15 Apr 2003 18:16:06 +0100:
    'I liked your Kuitert extract very much; I also agree with your point about
    his postmodernism (the Word turned in on itself). ... I'm not sure what was
    behind your naming of the thread though'

    'God relieves from suffering?' referred to
    1) your agreement of 17 Mar 2003 12:13:46 -0000 with Platt's statement:
    'Looking to God for relief from suffering is not foreign to the Christian
    church' and
    2) Kuitert's criticism of 'consumer religion', i.e. the following passage
    from his article:
    'My point is, that the word god, and the image it evokes, until today,
    unmistakably drags along its origin: it stems from religious mythology. Gods
    are blown up humans there, they belong to the people that worships them
    (national deity) and are indispensable: without god no luck, and conversely:
    who has luck apparently has a god. That too until today: if someone is
    lucky, you hear him say: "there must be a god!". Like people used to say.
    So the word god is inextricably bound up with mythological imagery, which
    regulates the way it is used. God is always a personlike someone, he (that
    too!) is there to assist in trouble and to be thanked when saved (that is if
    you are saved yourself, we forget our neighbor). If he doesn't save us
    trouble, we don't need him anymore. Until today. In my book I call that
    consumer religion.'

    According to Kuitert (and I agree with him) we should not use 'God' as
    reference to 'a personlike someone' who can relieve from suffering. If doing
    so is characteristic for the Christian church (as Platt implied), then the
    Christian church is mistaken. According to Kuitert attempts to rectify this
    mistake date back to the Church Fathers, however. Apparently there is a
    discontinuity between your 'theological circles' and the 'wider audience' in
    this Christian church. Platt's statement must have referred to the last.
    Christians do but should (according to their leaders) not 'look to God for
    relief from suffering'.

    You read Kuitert's 'creating images never leads one to real transcendence'
    as a potential (and according to you unjustified) criticism of Eastern
    Orthodoxy's use of icons.
    I think the 'truth' in Eastern Orthodoxy is, that 'real transcendence' can
    lead one to create images that can 'latch' some of that transcendence and
    that those who know that transcendence can recognize it in those images. I
    agree with Kuitert, that it is not the creation of the images that leads one
    to the transcendence. It is certainly not by just looking at icons that are
    created by others that 'real transcendence' can be experienced for a first
    time. That would be another (and according to me more problematic) example
    of 'consumer religion': those who experience transcendence 'produce'
    something to latch it and the 'wider audience' of their church just needs to
    'consume' it to experience that same transcendence... As a Quaker I am
    extremely distrustful of such a suggestion. I don't think 'Protestant
    iconoclasm' has solved that problem, either. Protestant theologians
    'producing' theology to be 'consumed' by their 'wider audience' is
    essentially the same kind of 'consumer religion' that Quakerism sought to
    escape by stressing direct divine guidance of everyone, 'priesthood of all
    believers', 'that of God in everyone' etc.

    The main point, linking in with our discussion of the MoQ, is however that
    you disagree with Kuitert's use of the word 'myth' implying 'not to be taken
    seriously' when he writes: 'According to [the Church Fathers] the biblical
    depiction of god is that of religious myth and not to be taken seriously;
    the biblical images of god are appearances'.
    You give two reasons:
    1) 'the mythos shapes our logos, so, in a historical/genealogical sense we
    need to understand myth in order to be able to think at all. Science has its
    own mythos (and mystique, and priests and rituals) just as much as, in this
    intellectual sense, a religion'
    2) 'our cognitive faculties are irreducibly narrative in structure ... This
    has the interesting corollary ... that mythologies resist exhaustive
    abstraction - that you can't do without the symbol or the story, however
    much you quarry it for abstract intellectual insights.'
    I read what you wrote 23 Apr 2003 15:12:39 +0100 as an explanation:
    'I would say that mythology is level 3 thinking; level 4 thinking operates
    on the basis of the relevant level 3 foundations.'
    You end with the question what are the myths that I 'live by' (which I take
    to mean: 'that found my level 4 thinking').

    The problem for me is, that 'level 3 thinking' doesn't exist in my version
    of the MoQ. Thinking (manipulation of symbols created in the brain that
    stand for experience) only occurs at level 4. Level 3 only contains
    unthinking behavior. If I locate mythology at (the lower end of) level 4, I
    see no need at all (except to understand its history/genealogy) for higher
    quality thinking to stay founded in myths. High quality thinking (conscious
    creation and manipulation of symbols, images, stories and even metaphors and
    paradoxes in order to better 'latch' DQ experience) cannot depend solely on
    scientific data gathering and reason. It also requires intuition and
    empathy. A 'whole' human being can tune in to nascent patterns of value
    beyond level 4, to 'Meaning', and found thinking there.
    Only if the existence of 'Meaning' beyond 'reason' is a 'myth' to you, can I
    admit to 'live by' a myth... (but I don't suppose it is).

    With friendly greetings,


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