Friday, May 6, 2011

Born Again

Born Again
by Scott Bradley


When Trey first began posting my stuff he asked me for a bit of a bio. I thought, what the hell, it's time to come out of the closet and say it: I am a recovering born-again Christian. My departure from Christianity was so long ago that it seems silly to speak about 'recovering', but the experience of being a true-believer and the trauma of turning my back on it all remains with me to this day.

"Out-of-the-closet"? Perhaps you have to have been there to get a sense of the prejudice. When people mention born-again Christians, they roll their eyes and smirk. If I mention that I was one, you can see the eyes glaze over. Why is this? Because these Christians are seen as the stupidest, most narrow-minded bunch of rubes imaginable. I am not interested in disputing this one way or the other. I'm not all that different from these judgers in any case -- tell me you'll read my aura or that you were once an Indian princess and my eyes will glaze over, too.

One thing I would like to say, however, is that when a pan/poly/a-theist, resplendent in his open-mindedness, dismisses monotheism, his dismissiveness is no different from that of the One Way crowd. Denial of one way is no different than the denial of every other way. Likewise, to magnanimously include One Way in one's all-inclusive way, is still to dismiss One Way. The inclusion is death, as when an amoeba surrounds and digests a flagellate. Maybe that's necessary, like killing to eat, but we need to remember that we are doing it, and perhaps learn a bit of humility thereby.

All of this reminds me of Zhuangzi's teaching (of course!) about the relativity of every right and wrong. The Cs have their right and wrong and the Ms have their right and wrong. And the C's right denies the M's right, and the M's right denies the C's right. "Hence we have the rights and wrongs of the Confucians and the Mohists," writes Zhuangzi, "each affirming what the other negates and negating what the other affirms. But if you want to affirm what they negate [that there is no absolute right and wrong] and negate what they affirm [that they are right and the other wrong], nothing compares to the Illumination of the Obvious."

And this is: "When 'this' and 'that' -- right and wrong -- are no longer coupled as opposites -- that is called the Course [Tao] as Axis, the axis of all courses [taos]." (B. Ziporyn)

This is heady stuff and I regret space does not allow me to add the commentaries of others to help make it more clear. I'll just give one interpretation: "The rights are not rights and the wrongs are not wrong, so there is no right and wrong." (Guo Xiang)

Needless to say, this point of view has its own amoebic character -- only Zhuangzi is always careful to negate his own right and wrong and concludes: "The sage...lets them all bask in the broad daylight of Heaven. And this too is only a case of going by the rightness of the present 'this'."

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

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