Thursday, September 29, 2011

Intro to Paradoxes Continued

A paradox is a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth. That is an interesting definition taken from Webster's. It doesn't say a paradox is true, but could possibly be true. For the purposes of this blog, I would argue they are true. Of course it may be wise to say they are seemingly true because that way I have a way out if you disagree with me.

By that definition, I would say the example I used in my last post is aptly described as a paradox. At first glance, it would appear contradictory that we both want to be insignificant and have a desire for meaning. The two desires would seem at odds with one another and yet I believe they exist in all of us. Paradoxes help us maintain a clear view of the truth because the truth is rich and deep. Paradoxes help us to see the reality of "both/and." Many times we want to reduce the truth to" either/or", in so doing we cut ourselves from the full truth. Let me explain. In Christian orthodox thought we say that Jesus is both God and man. He is not God or man. He is both. The hypostatic union (the union of Christ's humanity and divinity) seems contradictory, but is nevertheless true.

As I write this, I worry that it may sound that I am arguing that everything can be true, as if there is no difference between religions or ideas – as if you can be both a Buddhist and a Christian. I worry about the charge of being a Unitarian Universalist, which is not what I am arguing at all. As this fear enters my mind, I discover another paradox, about truth itself: truth is both broad enough to include the "both/and" as well as narrow and specific. Let me again use Jesus as an example. Jesus is both God and man which illustrates the broadness of truth that it can encompass seemingly contradictory or opposed propositions. On the other hand, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There is no other name by which we can be saved and have eternal life.

Paradoxes seem to be all around as I explore this topic. I am looking forward to going deeper and deeper into understanding this topic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Intro to Paradoxes

I am trying once again to get into the habit of blogging. My new idea to develop this habit is two fold: 1) To write a series of blogs as I do for the weekend messages and small groups at Church of the Nativity. (2) I have asked my personal growth team to hold me accountable to posting on Monday and Thursday of each week.

So today we start a series on Paradoxes. This idea has been marinating in my head since this past May. About three to four times a year I try to get away and spend a day with God to evaluate my life and simply get away from my duties at home and work. In May as I was driving away with God I thought of the following paradox of humanity: we desire to have meaning and yet need to be totally insignificant. We'll dive in later into this paradox, but let me briefly explain it.

All of us want our life to matter, for our existence to have significance. No one says, "I hope I am a total waste of a life." We desire to make a difference. I know that is deep in me. I want my kids to need me. I want my wife to need me. I hope work believes they need me so that I keep my job and pay my bills. On the other hand, as I drove away from work and family on a beautiful May day I thought how great is was to not be so important that I couldn't get away. In other words, I'm glad I'm not God and it is very freeing to know I'm not that important. We feel oppressed when we feel like we can't get away from work or home. Unfortunately, many people do live enslaved to this feeling.

And as I call this a paradox, I'm not even sure that is the right word, but it is the best word I can identify at the moment. It is the reality that truth is full bodied. There is a balance to it that we must understand in order to fully comprehend a subject.

What do you think? What other paradoxes of life have you observed?