The Parables: Yesteryear and Today   Leave a comment

Introduction

Today I want to talk about The Parables of Jesus Christ. In particular I want to address His Language, for most of us today there is both a seemingly large disconnection between His time on earth and Our Present society. It came to mind that while I was contemplating over the issue of why more people are fleeing from religion in general and Christianity in particular, the notion of the whole Bible came to my mind. The Bible written by men far away in both time and location are trying to convey all these seemingly mysterious teachings in their allegories, visions, metaphors, and parables, surely this can account for why people are living the Faith. In this post I want to examine this issue more closely.

What Is a Parable?

So to start let us ask ourselves a general question, “What is a Parable?” and then move on to the more deeper question, “Why did Christ speak to us in Parables?” To start, a parable is, according to the NewAdvent.org definition:

“A parallel, by which one thing is used to illustrate another. It is a likeness taken from the sphere of real, or sensible, or earthly incidents, in order to convey an ideal, or spiritual, or heavenly meaning.”

Okay, so if we accept the premise that Christ is a Spiritual Teacher, more precisely The Son of God, then we accept the premise that Christ, who is Fully Human and Fully Divine, was able to make out many parallels between this life on earth and the spiritual life in Heaven. So why did Christ speak in Parables to the people? It is believed that Christ used Parables as a teaching method for everyone to explain what a regular rational explanation could not explain, through the medium of the parable, that which is unexplainable can begin to be understood. I put emphasis on the word “Begin” however, for these are spiritual principles which could be contemplated over ones entire lifetime. The point of the parable would be to lead the minds of peoples of Spiritual Concepts through the Day-To-Day Sights and Sounds that people experience on earth and this is powerful.

The Problem with Society Today

In this age of isolation, in this age of alienation, our Post-Modern World seems cut off from many things. In particular for those of us living in Urban and Suburban environments having no interest whatsoever in the lives or lifestyles of the Rural people, we become detached from the natural and believe that artificial worlds of city and the concrete jungle are real and natural. In a word, we become detached from Nature itself. The Post-Modern Man living in his especially post-industrial cityscape, is detached from nature, some people seriously do not know where the food from their supermarkets comes from, let alone how it is made and prepared. One can only wonder how it will be in a few generations, we already are beginning to lose some of our agricultural knowledge base because of the political and economic system that is imposed on the world today.

If it seems that I am being extravagant with this, and maybe I am, I do apologize, but with most people living in suburban or urban environments and becoming further detached from their American Roots of Frugality and the Self-Sufficient lifestyle founded in Rural Living, it does become a concern that we should have. One thing that cant be denied is people who live in the city, desire sterility, they desire everything be clean and hygienic, this comes to no surprise after all a dirty city leads to health consequences that can in themselves lead to death. However, the phobias of germs, bugs, and other natural things that rural people put up with on a regular basis is telling of how domesticated we have become.

How can Christ’s words affect people living in such an environment? Whereas at the time of Christ, the average person lived a life of frugality, savings, and production in a closer harmony with nature, the Post-Modern American Society, lives a life of spending and consumption, insofar as ones paycheck and inflation will allow. Whereas the average person in Christ’s location and time was most likely either a simple Shepard, farmer, or a craftsmen. The person of today, aspire to become an actor, lawyer, politician, doctor, and so on. I will admit that I too am guilty of this as I seek to become a counselor, which is a form of doctor. How can these more specialized careers, these more lofty careers, ever understand and appreciate those more lowly and humble trades? They can’t, unless they experience it for themselves, unless they have an interest in learning a craft/trade simultaneously while living out their lofty career, and living their lives in the meantime.

This post cannot and certainly will not answer and solve the problem of being disconnected from Nature as well as God,single handedly. This post is really examining the Rural and Urban Lifestyles with regard to which lifestyle will better understand The Word of God. I am interested however in examining further, how the Christians in the Cosmopolitan setting were able to carry out living faithfully to God as well as manage to live in the Cosmopolitan setting in the first place, but this will be for a latter post.

If we take Jesus’ Parable of the Mustard Seed or Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, do we really grasp the concept? We might say, “Of course I do, plant a seed in the ground and throw some water on it and watch it grow!” Great, you got a basic concept that even a child can grasp, but a mature adult who has grown up on a farm all his life can tell you so much more in order to make sure that the ground stays fertile, the plants stay healthy, and the plant bears much fruit. I feel like as if the person in the suburban and urban environments has a very nonchalant attitude, a passing “whatever,” a subtle apathy, just blows-it-off as that person takes it all for granted. Is my image of the Post-Modern Man living in the heart of the Suburban/Urban environment really that far-fetched? You tell me. I live in suburbia, I am just as guilty as anyone else around me for taking advantage of a Wal-Mart, 3 Supermarkets, and 3 convenience stores/delis which are all in walking distance of 20 minutes or less. However, I have an a relatively slight edge compared to most people in suburbia, I have grown food, I have taken care of plants with my father when I was younger and we had a small but good sized garden, however, this was optional not forced on me, hence why I say a slight advantage.

I have a video here of Father Barron once again, covering information that I find to be relevant to what I am talking about. The great Cosmopolitan World is not enough for us, we need more, we need to reach out in a way that the Cosmopolitan World maybe transformed:

Psychology and One’s Environment

According to IntegralScience.Org article called, “Quantum Physics, Depth Psychology, and Beyond” by Thomas J. McFarlane, Carl Jung a psychiatrist of renown back in the first half of the 20th Century came to believe that the Psyche and Matter are intimately intertwined. According to Jung,

“Psyche and matter exist in one and the same world, and each partakes of the other, otherwise any reciprocal action would be impossible. If research could only advance far enough, therefore, we would arrive at an ultimate agreement between physical and psychological concepts.”

This comes of course in light of Part 3 of the Initial Reconciliation #1 on Inorganic Science and Christianity article that I had written concerning the interconnectedness of all of creation. So whats the point to me citing this quote? The point is, our physical environment affects our psychology. It influences our cognitions, our behaviors, our personality in many ways. If our physical environment becomes unnatural or better yet artificial, then we become increasingly more at risk of artificiality and unnatural living in our own right as well. The disconnected feelings, leads to an unnaturalness and it is I believe the source of contemporary society’s more pronounced existential feelings of isolation and alienation.

If I grow up in a social environment all my life that affirmed convenience, spending, consumption, and self-image, then I become conditioned as I grow to think in terms of those values. When something comes along finally that is the antithesis to these values, I may feel threatened or confused as to what I have been confronted with or just outright act on it with all hostility. However, as babies we are not born with these values per se, they become learned as children into adulthood, so the values of being productive, frugal, knowing oneself, and long-suffering are learned to be repressed, rejected and in effect neglected, it becomes incorporated in what Jung called, Our Shadow Archetype [both personally and collectively] and we become frightened, disoriented, scared, confused whenever it rears its face on us. So now that the potential problems have been identified what solutions could I possibly propose?

The Solutions

Well having now identified the possible problems, allow me to purpose the following solutions that I believe may have impact on our Post-Modern and Post-Industrial World:

(1) Translate the Parables Into Our Era – Theologians I propose should try to take the essence of Christ Parables and translate these earthly experiences founded during the Agricultural Era of Mankind and put them into the earthly experiences of a Post-Industrial Society. I am not proposing re-writing the Bible to do that, but rather I think it would be a novel idea to show where in our earthly society we can see heavenly principles at work. Of course, this is no easy task, again at the root of Christ Parables comes armed with the mentality of its day: A Frugal and Productive Society where the average individual participating in it had a simply humble trade or craft, today humility is not a virtue to our society and consumption and spending is at the heart of our Post-Modern Society. So this work will not be easy per se, as the Parables will need to be written in a Cosmopolitan point of view in life, and it ought to assume that people are detached from a Rural Lifestyle.

(2) Change Ourselves – This is another option, rather then trying to translate the Parables into a medium of understanding for people living in the heart of an artificial world, we should try to grow in public sphere of discourse as debaters and apologists for rediscovering and in effect re-learning the ways of the Rural Lifestyle. Now this does not mean that one needs to give up their suburban home or loft in a high rise building per se, unless they are really motivated to do so. But in a context acceptable to our location, try to re-enter the world of having a craft/trade that you can live for, that allows you to appreciate the lives of those in a Rural Community and better understand the Teachings of Christ. For example, start a garden, do woodwork, learn the ways of medicine as nature provides, do something, break those notions of sterility and get your hands dirty.

I feel that these two solutions both, could compliment one another, in one hand translating the Parables has a positive outward force, that it can show to our isolated and alienated society that the mystery of life, that God, that something transcendent is in the midst of us. In a sense that it was always there, it is us that fell out of Communion and Awareness with it, but through these Translations of the Parables we can rediscover for ourselves these teachings in our own times. Yet the Changing of Ourselves, on the other hand has a very positive inward force, that I wish to reconnect (to the extent that it both enables me to appreciate and understand Christs teachings and yet allows me to live in Era that I am in) with the practical, with what it means to be Frugal, Productive, and Humble.

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Posted August 27, 2011 by jimbo9889 in Current Events

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