Friday, March 26, 2010

Domesticated Theology

I'm finding Jeremy Kidwell's Domesticated Theology discussion of Christian carpentry and Paul's tent making to be very interesting. I think that certain core human values become lacking when we fail to be engaged in creative manual labor. To make something is an essentially moral act. It is done with care and attention to beauty and utility, or it is not. It is done with care for its ultimate user or it is not. There was a long history of Christian monks offering up their work to God... another fruitful area for theological review in that from a more selfless perspective, many believed that all being God deserved nothing less than one's best work, most prudent and honorable use of the materials at hand and that work and worship were a single expression of enlightened humanity.

Finnish brain researcher, Matti Bergström, working from a non-theological perspective describes a condition he calls finger blindness. In essence, while the physically blind cannot see the outlines of the object, the finger blind, those who have not learned in childhood to create with their own hands, cannot perceive the object's intrinsic values. He says they are "values damaged". Instead of perceiving the broad range of values that a reasonable and soulful society projects, their range of perceived values becomes severely retarded. Instead of seeing an object of art and marveling at the miracle expressed by its maker, they see it only in terms of market value and price

Matti's concept goes a long way in describing the true sources of our current economic crisis. But a review of early Christian practices, and giving credence to our children's capacities and inherent needs to create, would go a long ways to restoring greater meaning to many lives.

1 comment:

Pangolin said...

I find it incredible that nobody is commenting on this. You're pointing out the massively important connection between lifelong cognitive function and early childhood experience with physical creativity and the response is crickets?

I would extend your hypothesis to include the value of human life itself. Unfamiliar with the necessary steps to create anything everything becomes subject to the discard pile; including people. Likewise the ability to discern the quality of an object is impaired. If nothing is ever repaired by the majority then the ability to perceive and predict failure points is inhibited.

'If it's shiny it's good and if it fails toss it' is a losing proposition for a culture. Everything becomes a creation of hidden magical forces and emotional negotiation, i.e. whining for a new toy, becomes as valid as logic and effort.

I think you're really on to something here. Please keep writing.