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The Cutting Edge: Blog of Ed Knudson
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by Ed Knudson
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Ed Knudson's Passing  11/3/2017  (128)

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Not Much Planning in Houston  8/28/2017  (283)

Members of Trump's Religious Advisory Council Have Not Resigned  8/25/2017  (311)

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Southern Baptist Pastor Calls for Holy War against North Korea  8/9/2017  (248)

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The Misuse of Martin Luther on Predestination  7/28/2017  (250)

John McCain Gives Heroic Speech Denouncing Terrible Thing That He Just Voted For  7/26/2017  (220)

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Sex in God's Family  3/8/2009  (3677)


Please let us know what you think of these blogs or if you see something inappropriate.
Seeing the Truth about God and Economy
4/2/2009

I have just placed an article on the site with the title Prophetic Disruption. It uses the metaphor of "seeing the mountain" from different perspectives. Mount Rainier, near Tacoma, Washington, where I live, looks different depending on the perspective from which you are looking. So you don't really "know" the mountain unless you go around it to see it from all directions. I have come to believe that truth is something we "see" more than something we simply "know" in our minds.

I am now reading a book called Theology the Lutheran Way by Oswald Bayer. He tells me Aristotle viewed God as pure thought, thought thinking itself as thought. It's the perfect image of God for a philosopher, I suppose. But along with this idea of God comes the further idea that this God is not connected with anything outside of itself, so that those influenced by Greek philosophy at the time (or nowadays too) have a hard time conceiving of God as understood in the Hebrew and Christian bibles, a God that created the natural world, a God who entered into actual human flesh, a God who listens and sees. This is not a disconnected God who doesn't see but only thinks.

The way the human mind works is not just through thought but through seeing. Our minds are not just oriented internally to our own thoughts, but they are oriented to what we see out there in the world, to the material world and the social worlds in which we participate. We are able to see through windows in our minds, windows that we can open up to see the reality of what is beyond us. These "windows" are our beliefs and concepts, we see that which we already believe. Learning to know the truth is a process of seeing with ever bigger picture windows what is out there.

If in our effort to be modern we may tell ourselves that we don't believe in God of any kind, what that means is that we decide to see the world through a much smaller window than may be true otherwise, we refuse to see the vast expanse of history representing by the bible, for example, and its many peoples and experiences in the ancient world, these peoples who saw themselves in relation to what they believed to be "God". Sometimes people say that religion narrows a person's perspective and that is certainly true with some religious orientations, but my sense is that it does the opposite, it opens one's mind to see the tremendous width and breadth of the glory of God in all creation and among all peoples. Seeing the truth in this way is a rather mind-blowing experience.

To the contrary, modern analytic methods of knowing the truth are the actual way that the mind is narrowed. Take economics. The field of economics claims to "know" how everything works in financial, commercial and industrial worlds. Yet that is only part of reality, seeing from only one side of the mountain, there are also social and political worlds, there is the real material world itself which is filtered out by categories of economic thinking. The environmental impacts of economic activity are called "externalities" by economists, external to their way of thought. So they do not even "see" the negative imacts of economic activity on the material world, the very world in which human beings must live (or die) together.

So also the economists like to say they are "objective" and not taking values into account or making moral assumptions. So they do not take into account the justice of economic activity. So their minds cannot even "see" when injustice is taking place. The business professionals working in our economic life are trained NOT to consider the justice effects of their decisions, simply the profits of the company. If you read the bible you will see that it has a broad, expansive vision of justice for all political and economic activity. But modern, enlightened economic experts filter out their ability to be able to even see the people who are being hurt by their activity, the poor, the folks having to work two or three jobs to make enough to feed their families, the surplus populations around the globe moving to cities which cannot sustain them because there simply are not enough jobs to go around.

The modern economic system, the people working in it and the experts who philosophize about it are not connected to the reality of the material and social life of the world or the local community. All they see is numbers calculated through very narrow concepts which can in no way envision or "see" the whole of what they are doing. They become like blind men not able to see. The little windows in their minds are only able to help them see a narrow slice of the world. The fact that they also may say they don't believe in the God of the bible is just another proof that they have closed the eyes of their minds to the whole reality of the material world as well as to the justice that God requires in human affairs. They become like Aristotle's God, thought thinking itself, numbers piled up on top of one another whose meanings are determined only within a very narrow concept of what makes for significance in human life. The fact that such thinking and such people are now in the the most important positions of power in this society is the main reason for the total collapse of the financial system, it was spinning off in mathematical calculations which could not be connected to anything real, at least really human in any full sense of the term. These financial speculators could only see themselves and their profits; their minds did not have the big picture windows by which to see the whole of the world; they disconnected themselves from any responsibility to anything or anyone other than themselves.

Big picture reality has now hit hard even though most of the experts could not "see" it coming. Belief systems, such as economics and free market business creeds, are like that. They seem to make sense as long as there are a lot of believers. But when the belief system is as narrow as that of neoliberal economics, disconnected from reality and floating by itself in mathematical abstractions, unable to see the fullness of truth but with power to work its will in the world, then bad stuff is bound to happen for us mortal creatures. Now with this economic crash there are a lot fewer believers, thank goodness.


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