Wandering the savage garden…

Eastern and Western Thought

A friend this morning told me about a friend of his who recently lost faith, because of the contradictions in the Bible, and the various perceived cruelties of God.

I totally sympathize, but honestly, the “there are contradictions” meme is tired and inaccurate. Understandable, but inaccurate.

The problem is mindset. I live in America, where a western mindset is very much the norm.

In fact, I’d dare say that in most of the world, the western mindset is the norm.

It’s a Greek mindset. It wants to see the world as geometry, mechanics. The world looks like this and acts like that. Est ipsum – a thing is itself.

In this world, if Napoleon died while on his horse, then he died while on his horse and there’s no debate; no discussion is required, because the story is complete and fixed.

The Eastern mindset – a Hebrew mindset, although I don’t think it’s limited to Hebrews – is different. It wants to see the world as a story, or a flower, a growing thing.

In this mindset, a cloud is a rabbit, or a unicorn, or a bicycle – or a cloud.

In the Hebrew mindset, there’s no contradiction, because it all serves the larger story, or the larger picture – this is the top of a leaf, that is the bottom of the leaf, and they’re different, yet they’re the same leaf.

The story is the thing, to paraphrase Stephen King. What serves the story – meaning the larger narrative, not a fable – is what is truth for that story. It may not be literal truth from the Greek mindset, but it is truth – and to the Hebrew there’s little that’s “literal” in the purest sense.

This means the contradictions are localized – and irrelevant to the larger narrative. This also frees us from the absolute edicts handed out at random (“Judge not!” “Judge!”) because those edicts are part of their narrative, and part of the underlying narrative, but they are not the narrative themselves.

Shalom.

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