Paradox: An Insight into the Nature of Truth

I recently finished reading Healing the Divide by Amos Smith.  See http://amossmith.org.

Since we have a shared interest, we exchanged books last fall, and I finally got around to reading it. Am I glad I did!

We have scheduled a discussion at his church, Church of the Painted Hills, UCC, in Tucson Arizona to share our perspective insights. The date will be May 4th, 2014.

HealingDivide

What resonated for me about Healing the Divide was his extensive discussion of the role of paradox in understanding  the nature of the Divine. (I was 2/3 of the way through the book thinking the title was “Healing the Divine.”)

Amos specifically focusses on the paradox within Christian theology of Jesus being both human and divine, labeling it “The Jesus Paradox.”

Amos Smith provided a much-appreciated context of this paradox by describing the linguistic roots of early Christian thought found in the Greek concept of  Miaphysite: “one dynamic united nature.”

Amos’ use of paradox connects with me because when writing “Exploring the Gap between Science and Religion” I found myself exploring paradox to be a useful in understanding the universe around us.

I define the Paradox Principle on page 136 as follows:

Things are both what the are defined to be and their exact opposite.

I go on to say: “The paradox principle is the vortex where definition meets the indivisible universe.”

On page 17 of Healing the Divide, Amos provides a quote from author Thomas Keating that reflects this same insight regarding paradox:

 The great truths can only be expressed in paradox.
— Thomas Keating.
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Listening to the Still Small Voice of Jesus

In our human efforts to understand the universe around us, we develop models to explain the observations we make. These models constitute representations of what we often label the “real thing.”

Models include people, both current and historic, like for example, Jesus. A key element in this human model-making process is an inconsistency between what we observe and the model we currently hold.

These inconsistencies-which I label as anomalies–are common when it comes to the religion. The following poem highlights anomalies between the way a Christian society conducts itself, and the teachings of the person of Jesus.

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Nature’s silent beauty, a megaphone for the Still Small Voice

Listening to the Still Small Voice of Jesus

Deep in the depths of prayer, in a meditative state
between awake and Enlightenment,
The Still Small Voice of Jesus whispers:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves 
and take up their cross and follow me. (1)
 
But I could not quite hear over the clatter of my self-centered Ego.
So I asked Me to step aside…
…. Maybe then I could hear the Still Small Voice of Jesus.
                                  * * *
I listened for the still small voice of Jesus,
And he advised me to be clean, both inside and outwardly:

But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor,
and everything will be clean for you. (2)

But I did could not hear over the clamor for tax cuts for the wealthy,
and the screams to balance budget by cutting food stamps…
So I asked Religious Right to step aside…
…Maybe then I could hear the Still Small Voice of Jesus.
                                  * * *
I listened once again for the still small voice of Jesus.
He replied with a roadmap for a place beyond these earlthy riches:
Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.  (3)
But the message was garbled by my Christian education.
So I asked John Calvin to step aside…
… Maybe then I could hear the Still Small Voice of Jesus.
                                  * * *
I continued listening, now with anxious anticipation.
Maybe this time I would hear the Still Small Voice of Jesus.
In response, Jesus spoke these words:
Blessed are the peacemakers,    
for they will be called children of God.  (4)
But I did could not hear over the ear-splitting thunderclap
of Christian-funded bombs raining death down on innocents,
American-built ordnance slaughtering a nation for weapons it did not possess.
Nor could I hear over the wailing of weeping widows, morning the untimely deaths
of husbands and children.
                                  * * *
Upset about the blood flowing in Afghan and Iraq streets,
I asked my church if it had heard Jesus’ voice over the

Splatter of bloody body parts against pock-marked walls
of children blown apart by drone-dropped ordinance,
then over the justifying shouts of “collateral damage.”

…Maybe with church’s amplfied voice I could hear the Still Small Voice of Jesus.
                                  * * *
Now with growing apprehension,I listened to hear for the Still Small Voice of Jesus
over the years in the Sunday morning Sermon…
But there was only silence from the pulpit. (5)

So I asked Martin Luther and Emperor Constantine (6)
 to step aside…
…. Maybe then I could hear the Still Small Voice of Jesus.
                                  * * *
Wondering whether I would ever hear Jesus, I made one last effort
to hear the Still Small Voice of Jesus.
And Jesus responded to my quest by saying:
Put your gun back in its place, 
for those who draw the gun will die by the gun. (7)
But I could hear nothing over the crack of automatic gunfire echoing in schools and movie theaters, and over the screams of terrified children —and the squawking about Second Amendment Rights, with pseudo-moral claims of:

Kill the bad guy before the bad guy kills you.  (8)

 
So I asked James Madison (9), and Alan Gottlieb, (10) to step aside…
…. Maybe finally I will hear the Still Small Voice of Jesus.
                                  * * *

In a flash of light-filled clarity, Jesus’ Still Small Voice became a glorious chorus of spirit-filled souls, now unfilteredby the dual millennia of human distortion.

And standing before me stood a Divine chorus
of God’s spokespersons, basking in the profound
moral insights of God’s Wisdom.

Standing next to Jesus, Sophia’s sweet soprano voice
added a blended balance (11) to the
radical Truths carried by the choir’s song.

My Wholly-healed ears cringed at the challenging voice
of Isaiah, sung out a drum-beat melody:
    Woe to those who make unjust laws,
    to those who issue oppressive decrees,
    to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold 
    justice from the oppressed of my people (12).

My heart pounded with the rapid rhythm
of Solomon-penned record of Sophia’s Wisdom (13):

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (14)

The Divinely-inspired once more struck up melody to Isaiah’s lyrics,
and from the clarion voice of Mohammed I heard: (15)

Scoundrels use wicked methods,
they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies,
even when the plea of the needy is just.
 (16)

My heart contined to beat to the pounding rhythm
as the choir’s angelic voices rang out the invitation-filled finale:

    
Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you. 
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. 
(17)

Then Sophia solo concluded the verse

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. (18)

And Jesus’ voice became not-so-still and not-so-silent.
                                  * * *
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