Thursday, November 4, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Someone mentioned to me the other day that our options in life are to be self-obsessed or God obsessed. What do you think about this?

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8 comments:

Sisyphos said...

It seems to me that God-obsession can be an attempt to escape self-obsession but actually be a form of self-obsession.

Greg said...

Sisyphos,
Thanks. Yes, that's true. Might be the case. Another thought. Maybe both are reductionistic and therefore neither are valid options?

Sisyphos said...

It is hard to escape self-obsession, nay, actually it is hard to become aware of it.
I remember an essey a friend wrote in which he described how desiring the other might be a form of excessive self-loathing which in fact is a form of self-obsession.
It seems to me as if my self is constantly conerned with my self (My future, my past, my image, my achievements) but giving up those concerns would likely lead to a lack of striving for sth worthwhile.
Discerning the fine line between either extreme is difficult but anyway - That is life.
Your question reminds me of last week in which you brought into play the "I am noone" self in contrast to God which is a form of obsession.

reneamac.com said...

"Maybe both are reductionistic and therefore neither are valid options?" That's what I think. But I also think people can reduce themselves into these options, in which case God-centered isn't really but is a shadow. It seems to me real God-centeredness would include a heathy other-centeredness and a healthy self-centeredness.

This false option also makes no room for Common Grace. One doesn't have to be a Christian to not be self-centered.

Greg said...

Sisyphos,
Sounds as if your friends essay makes a valid point.

I believe we can emerge from that constant self-interest that you mention, in order to be and become a new self, in community with, but not obsessed by God, which in turn changes our outlook with respect to the other and the whole of life.

Greg said...

Renea,
Thanks. You really put this well. People do reduce themselves to one of these options, and of course Christians want to choose the God option as the path towards spirituality. Yet, as you point out, this ends up being a false formulation and therefore will lead to a shadow, rather than to a God centered reality.

No room for common grace is also a telling blow against such forms of reductionism.

Nita said...

Great posts! I think Sisyphos got indeed an instigating point, which also relates to the tricky idea of autonomy. In Kantian terms, even the God-idea and representations thereof (which includes sincere feelings, devotion and obsession about G-d) could easily be reduced to just another form of heteronomy and falls back into some reductionism. I think Renea is right: "real God-centeredness would include a healthy other-centeredness and a healthy self-centeredness." But again who after all is G-d? How do we interpret and relate to our interpretation of the G-d revealed in Scriptures? I tend to think that the Word of G-d cannot be confined to some creed or given confession, even though we are inevitably inserted and conditioned by culture. I think that the very dynamics of "living spirituality" points to these correlated ideas of learning processes and self-understanding, as we remain committed to G-d and avoids reducing G-d to our own ideas, interpretations, and experiences of G-d...
Shabbat shalom!
PS: Greg, I'd love to see you sometime soon, I'll get back to you

Greg said...

Nita,
Thanks. The plague of reductionism seems to be inevitably linked to the problematic of self-deception and the need for a hermeneutically realistic dialogue between trust and suspicion.

God being named in the Scriptures, which also include something of his communicative action, may give us a sufficient portrayal of who he is. God is one who makes himself known through communicative acts in the text and the world. Though God will always be more than our ideas and interpretations of these divine actions, they nonetheless offer possibilities that invite engagement and give rise to thought concerning his self-revelation, ultimately in the creation and the person of the crucified and risen one.

Living spirituality is an open and transformative process of being in community with God, others, self, and world, and becoming more fully in community with the aforementioned dynamics of life.