Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don’t Panic: I’ve got five pages of further explanation!

My wife does a very good job of presenting the way the average person perceives me and my words. I think I understand her to be saying that my last two posts communicate to most people two things. First, that words are completely meaningless to me, so I’m free to make up whatever the hell I want. And secondly that I’m better or smarter than everyone else because see beyond their petty common concerns.

I can see how people would see it this way. What I’ve found over the past several years in my own life is that there are messages and ideas that completely repelled me in the past, but after some time I’ve seen that there is validity in them. I think this is an issue of mental stretching. Most ideas have several foundational concepts, that if you disagree with, the idea will seem foreign, scary, evil, stupid, etc. So if I haven’t had time to digest any of those foundational concepts, I’ll reject the idea out of hand. It would be like taking calculus before learning addition and subtraction. I don’t particularly like that analogy because it makes it sound like I’m saying I’ve ‘advanced’ from the common man’s perspective to the exalted plane I’m on now. But I don’t feel that way. I’ve stretched, and progressed. But progress is a neutral word. Progress is good if it’s a creation of beauty and worth, and bad if it’s cancer. And I can’t say that my ideas are closer to sweetness and light or to cancer.

What I know is that I did a lot of reading, thinking, praying, living, and conversing and ended up coming to these uncomfortable conclusions about language. And these conclusions have big ramifications for all spheres of life, especially in morality and religion. So when I skip all the interim reading, thinking, praying, living and conversing, and just drop the ramifications of my conclusion on the subject of religion like a nuclear bomb, it can only come across as if I’m attacking religion. But the fact is that I don’t have anything against my faith. I don’t have any incentive to critique it to death. My sole motivation is to try to figure life out. To find an internally consistent framework for interpreting and evaluating the various theories about life. Even when the answers I find are uncomfortable, confusing, and difficult to integrate into the way I wish to live my life.

One thing that struck me in my search was that it doesn’t make much sense to conduct my inquiries in a medium that I’ve not even thought much about. That medium is language. And I know from experience that medium affects message. Everything I read and hear is being affected by the medium of language, so it behooves me to analyze the nature of this medium and what kinds of messages it facilitates well, and what it has trouble with. And the first thing I found it has trouble with is specificity.

But that doesn’t mean that language is completely arbitrary. Meaning is predicated on consensus. In other words, the larger the group of people you get that agree that a word means something, the more precise that definition is. So there is a continuum of consensus that all words can be charted on. Toward one end you have proper nouns like Josh and Seattle. Because virtually everyone can agree on what those words mean specifically, there’s not a lot of wiggle room. If you say Josh is in Seattle there’s a good 90% chance that the person Josh is in the city of Seattle. But as you move further up the continuum it becomes harder to nail down specificities. Words like verbs: jump, run, fall, and such get stretched pretty regularly, used poetically or hyperbolically. “ I ‘ran’ over here as soon as I heard!” Often really means “I changed shirts, walked to my car, and drove over here as soon as I heard.” But since this is rarely explained, it’s very possible that two people hearing this sentence could come away with two different narratives concerning the events described. And can someone ‘jump’ out of their chair? Well, that’s debatable, you’d have to get really darn specific about the definition of ‘jump’, right? And if you ask 10 people to define jump with precision, you’ll end up with a lot of variety in the answers. So the consensus will not be as high as the consensus of what a proper noun like Seattle means. So does this mean that ‘jump’ and ‘ran’ are completely arbitrary? Not at all! It means that these kinds of words are simply MORE prone to being ambiguous and causing confusion without further inquiry.

Now consider adjectives like delicious, dark, great, lame, etc. Speakers and listeners will bring a lot more of their personal biases and preconceptions into a statement using an adjective. “I was being chased by a ‘huge’ dog!” could mean an average sized dog that seemed much larger to the speaker because they were in panic mode. But again, one can make further inquiries and dig deeper and find out it was actually a terrier. Though this is only possible if the source is interactive, such as a person talking to you. But in a historical document you don’t have that kind of access to the writer. That’s why multiple attestation is SO valuable to historians. If they can learn about a person or event from multiple perspectives they will find different versions, and will have to examine which perspective is more likely to be accurate.

So to reiterate: Proper nouns are very precise, verbs are less so, adjectives even less. Basically, the further you get from a physical example that can be pointed at as reference, the more ambiguous the word becomes. This is because people are bringing their experiences into the equation as they interpret the words. And because of that the consensus regarding the meaning becomes smaller and smaller.

In institutions such as political parties and religion this fact is hidden by consolidating people of like-mind. So when a bunch of Christians who are close to each other in culture and doctrine get together and talk about God they get the feeling that everyone knows what is meant by God and Savior, and acceptance, etc. I think this fosters an inaccurate impression that these words are more like proper nouns than they really are. But the problem to me personally, is that I can’t apply a universally consistent approach to critiquing the claims within this system. That is: I can’t very well say: “MY faith tradition is 100% True as an a priori.” And then turn around and say, “But a Muslim or Buddhist needs to question THEIR a priories.” So in order to have an approach that is universal to all people I actually have to include EVERYONE’S opinions when I try to define words like God, Savior and accept. And when I do that, the words almost evaporate into complete ambiguity.

And I have to confess, I haven’t actually stretched myself that far yet! There is an emotional as well as a practical and philosophical reason for this. The practical one is that no one can hold all the data of what every human ever thinks about these words. The philosophical issue is that even if I COULD consider everyone’s opinion on the words there is no reason to assume that Truth is arrived at via democratic aggregate. However, DEFINITION is determined this way. Although no one took a vote and decided that the world ‘cool’ should grow from a temperature designation to also mean positive, neat, fun, trendy, fashionable and such, the general consensus in western English speaking cultures can caused it to be so.

And the emotional reason that I haven’t stretched myself to the point where I can say that the word God is practically meaningless (This does not mean that GOD is meaningless, just the word) is that I WANT to be able to talk about God. I love God. I speak with Him every day. I live my life according to stories about a man who was purportedly God in the flesh. I don’t want to lose that. And I think it would be catastrophic for me and my family to do so.

However, I can’t simply ignore my ‘discovery’ that theological statements are constructs built on words of sand. Though I’m also constrained by the humility to admit that my ‘discovery’ could be completely bass ackwards. There may be some vital and obvious argument that contradicts these ideas that I either can’t understand or haven’t come across yet.

But until I find an argument that defeats this problem with the medium of language, I’m stuck with a system of understanding theological propositions as extremely arbitrary. Not because I WANT theological propositions to be so. Because I can’t see a way to claim that they are not. And believe me, I’ve TRIED!

C.S. Lewis warns about the post modern tendency to try to ‘see through’ everything. By over-analyzing one can dissect a concept to the point where it dies. Lewis says some amount of this is good, like the ability to see through a glass window into a beautiful garden is good. But if you then seek to see through the garden, and everything beyond it you have nothing left to see. The world becomes meaningless and intangible. But I think there is a natural barrier to this. At least there is for me. And that is the fact that I’m a flesh and blood creature in a physical environment, in relation with others like me. This means I’m forced to make a multitude of decisions every day about how to live my life, how to interact with others, what kind of attitude I want to bring to every situation, and I constantly receive feedback in my emotions about the results of those decisions. To me, this keeps me grounded. I can’t make a decision based on an extremely arbitrary concept. I am forced to order my values and act accordingly. But the interesting thing is that when I do that decision-making, language rarely comes into it.

Sometimes I’ll talk myself through a decision. Or bounce my ideas off others using language. It can be a very useful tool. But as I’ve shown (and have yet to find a refutation) the words used to articulate the reasoning behind my decisions are still often nebulous. It’s quite vague to say that I spend time every evening memorizing Bible verses with my kids because It’s something my dad did with me and I feel like a more grounded, mature person as a result. That statement is enough for me to decide to continue the activity. But dig a little deeper, ask me for specifics and I really can’t give you much. HOW am I more grounded and mature? HOW do I know it was the result of my Bible memorization? I don’t. I just FEEL like it is.

And this is crucial to what I’m trying to communicate in this clumsy medium we call language. Our decisions are not made within language even though it influences us. They are made in a part of our mind that can be called feelings, or spiritual, or emotional, or primal. The fact that I used so many ‘or’s there is another illustration showing the futility of articulating meaning in a medium ill-equipped to communicate it. If we were all telepathic we could communicate on this spiritual/emotional level without words. And you wouldn’t have just wasted your time reading four pages of text trying to figure out what the hell I’m trying to say!

So from my perspective, this view of language is not as radical as it may appear. It is not the tipping point into an infinite abyss of relativity. It is not a rejection of words as a means to understanding, wisdom, Love, God, etc. It is simply a recognition that language IS a medium, and as such it has its strengths and weaknesses. And if we ignore the weakness of the medium we will abuse it and use it poorly. But if we understand the limitations, we can wisely discern when words are inadequate to communicate certain concepts. When Spirit is necessary to breathe life into our minds rather than words alone.

And this brings me back to my thoughts on faith statements and doctrine. Because these linguistic forms cannot use nouns, but instead rely on metaphor, simile and analogies, this leaves so much room for interpretation that consensus evaporates. And the only way to hold consensus together is to form collectives of similar thinking people who tend to interpret the words in similar ways. Thus giving the illusion that the words are concrete and obvious. But in my view, where I attempt to consider a broad range of opinions on the definitions for the words used, I see a vast sea of options. This lack of specificity could lead to helpless relativity. OR (and this is the case with me) lead one to conclude that another medium is at work beneath the surface. The medium of Spirit. Only a unified and transcendent God can take all these divergent definitions and encompass them in any meaningful way.

In a world where there is no “Christianity” but Christianities, no “orthodox” but “orthodoxies”, no Bible but Bibles, (Ever wonder why, if God chose the original cannon of Christian scripture He let the reformers ax 7 books, and if He let that happen, why can’t a future reformation ax more?) in this world of tens of thousands of Christian denominations all insisting that THEY are the ones who are reading and interpreting the Bible correctly… how can any unity exist? Unity can only exist in the medium of Spirit, and only because the medium of language is inadequate to specify absolute definitions of the transcendent. See that? The very LIMITS of language are exactly what are NECESSARY for Spirit to operate. If language could be precise about theological words than unity could never exist. It would be like different groups pointing to a tree, and one insists it’s fish, and another that it’s a unicorn, and another that it’s the color blue. The fact that language is best suited to the natural world, and least suited to the spiritual world creates enough wiggle room to fit odd shaped people together.

No two people can precisely articulate or agree on a definition of God. There will always be a difference no matter how slight it might be. So when I worship God next to you we are worshiping two different CONCEPTS of God, though His transcendence allows us to be worshipping the same Ultimate God. Likewise with doctrinal and faith statements. You can interpret something very different than I do when you repeat a doctrinal statement. And we are both probably off by a wide margin because we are both seeing the words through our dark, distorted lenses. Interpreting the metaphors differently. But if below the medium of Language there is the medium of Spirit, operating in our hearts, our distortions can be accommodated by Grace. The same kind of grace that we intuitively give to young children when they fail to perfectly recite their lessons or otherwise display their ignorance and limitations. Surly if there is a God of Love, He knows that language is constantly confusing and confounding our search for Him.

So where does this leave me on a practical level? How can I gain anything from my religious tradition and scripture if I can’t pin down the words with exactitude? Well, just because I don’t know what a verse means doesn’t mean that I can’t like what I THINK it means and apply that to my life. Sound like a pick-and-choose religion? Well, as I’ve studied the practical application of scripture in authors and speakers too many to count I can see that they are doing EXACTLY the same thing. They just don’t admit it. They pretend that their interpretation must be the right one. And yet somehow this idea that I’m dissecting and killing words out of arrogance is what I’m communicating. My opinion is that it is arrogant to assume you KNOW concrete definitions for every word in your Bible and doctrinal statements. But not the kind of arrogance that says you are better than others. Just the kind that causes us all to coast through life with so many unexamined prejudices and assumptions because at the base of all our epistemology is the idea that we really ARE the arbiter of Truth. That we really CAN understand this world and interpret life better than anyone else. Otherwise, how could we hold any opinions?

So my ‘progress’ if that is what it is, has been to find these unexamined assumptions and examine them. Perhaps I’ve dug too deep and released a Balrog of philosophical destruction that will end up damning me. If this is the case I honestly don’t know where I went wrong. Can you say it is a sin to be curious? To question oneself and one’s own mind? Is God displeased when we seek Truth with our fallible minds? Is He mad if that search takes us out of the Christian box? For how else can one examine the framework one is in without stepping out of it for a better look? Without seeking criticism from outside sources? And if some of those criticisms seem completely valid, what then? How can one decide to return to a doctrine of which one is no longer convinced? If this search is Pandora’s Box, at what point was I warned to never open it? I’m pretty sure I never was. I feel like C.S. Lewis, MacDonald, Francis Schaeffer and Tolkien were behind me the whole time, cheering me on.

What I can say with certainty is that, like every other God-lover out there, I worship the God that I HOPE exists. I live my life by standards that are rooted not in language, but in Spirit. I can’t articulate my doctrine, or tell you exactly what any Bible verse means. I have opinions just like everybody, but I strive to keep them contingent upon further education, maturity or revelation. I recognize the fragility of my own reasoning, and can only hide in the shadow of Grace.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Trouble with Faith Statements

I want to unpack a concept that I left a bit hazy in my last blog where I said: “So if you ask me if I "accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior", I simply can’t give a yes/no answer. Not because I’m being evasive, but because I respect definitions too much to pretend that my definitions for those words perfectly match yours…”

Most Christians I know would say that this is ridiculous. They think that the idea of “accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior” has a very simple and obvious meaning, so not being able to answer it must mean that I’m being purposefully obtuse or deceitful or have simply “fallen away from the faith”. The main point of that blog was to point out that theological words and concepts are necessarily metaphorical, and thus cannot contain Truth in and of themselves. You cannot say that the statement “Jesus is God” is True, because the word “God” has so many conceptual supporting words (such as Perfect, Omniscient, Loving, Just, etc) all of which have their OWN definitions that need to be established, and all of which are abstract metaphor. Consider this: Can you define “perfect” as it relates to God? I’m sure you can throw some ideas out there. But can you define it in totality? I submit that no one can do such a thing. Therefore when you say that God is perfect you are speaking metaphorically. (I’m using the word “metaphor” very loosely here, as a catch-all word for analogy, abstract concept, simile, and probably a couple other technical thingies.)

In other words when you say God is perfect, you are being somewhat abstract. And that’s ok; it can’t be helped. If we are conceptualizing a Being of this nature it is part of the definition that It can’t be comprehensively described. I think most Christians would agree with this. Very few would say “I completely understand everything there is to know about God.” So when we talk about God, we are talking about a concept, and we are using abstract concepts to build that concept. Omniscient, Loving, and Just can never be adequately nailed down and agreed upon by everyone involved, so there is no solid ‘thing’ we can point to and say THAT is God, in the same way we could point to a piano and say THAT is a piano.

So while it may be True that Jesus is God, the statement ITSELF cannot be True, because it is composed of words that do not have definite meanings. Because meaning for words is predicated on the consensus of a community. If there are only three people in the world, and Bill and Ted say a piano is a musical instrument with keys that strike wires, but Jane says a piano has no keys, only strings that are plucked, then whenever the three talk about pianos the conversation is destined to be imprecise. Just like this illustration, no community of more than one will define words like Love and Justice in exactly the same way. So most theological statements necessarily have different meanings to every person who hears them. The closest we can get to a True statement about the divinity of Jesus would be to say that “Y is X, and Y refers to a constellation of ideas about Who Jesus is/was, and X refers to a constellation of ideas about what God is.” And that’s just not a very satisfying faith statement, is it?

Let’s look at a statement that can be True. “My name is Joshua.” I can point to me, being the object of this statement. I can point to my birth certificate with my name on it and call my parents and witnesses to the veracity of this statement. These words all have very tight definitions because my society has very strong consensus regarding their meanings. There ARE philosophical problems concerning my consciousness belonging to what I perceive to be my body, that that would be a rabbit trail here. Let’s just say on a continuum of strong definitional consensus, “My name is Joshua” is far closer to the Obvious end, and “I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior” is way over on the non-obvious end. Here’s why.

What does “accept” mean in this context? Does it mean that I mentally sign on a dotted line? Does it mean that I HOPE this is True? Does it mean I believe with no doubts whatsoever? Does it mean that I do certain activities to demonstrate acceptance. All of these are held by some Christians and not others.

Who is Jesus? Is He exactly as described in the canonized books of the Protestant Bible? Is He a historical human who lived a life, 99.999% of which is NOT talked about in the canonized books of the Protestant Bible? How can we say we know Jesus when so much of His life is unknown? Are we basing it on our experience of feelings and intuitions we get about Him? If so, doesn’t that mean He’s going to be quite different to every person?

What is a Lord in this context? Is a Lord someone who gives you rules about living your life? Is it someone you obey because you they will punish you if you disobey? Is it someone you obey because they will reward you for doing so? Is it a role-model that you strive to emulate? Is it someone who vanquishes your enemies? Again, these are all ideas held by many Christians, and some reject some of them while embracing others.

What is a savior in this context? What are we being saved from? From our sins? What are sins? Bad things we do? Bad things we think? Anything that displeases God? Anything that gets between us and God? The result of a literal woman who was tricked by a literal talking snake, so now I am personally cursed and deserve to be tortured forever because of that literal woman a couple thousand years ago and her literal husband who ate literal fruit that was off limits? Saved from my own ego? Saved from fear? Saved from religion? Saved from selfishness? Saved from demons? On and on, you can mix and match all day, and everyone will come up with a different combination that composes their belief about what it means for Jesus to save them.

So if by “Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior” you mean Accept (believe without any doubt) Jesus (The exact literal guy talked about in the canonized Protestant Bible) as your Lord (A guy you serve so that He won’t torture you but will give you goodies) and Savior (His death made Angry-God forget about the talking snake fooling the woman and man who passed on a curse so you deserve to be tortured forever) … then NO! I do NOT accept Jesus and my Lord and Savior. And I dare say a great many Christians would also denounce this version of the statement for a variety of reasons. But does that mean that I do not “accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior”? No. It means if you attach specific theological concepts that I reject to those words than the MEANING changes.

You may think that you can solve this with some kind of systematic theology, where every concept is broken down into its constituent parts, analyzed, synthesized with every verse in the Bible, re-analyzed, debated, codified and published in a neat package. I used to think this way. I used to really be into systematic theology. It has such a gloss of intelligence and unity, as if an unbroken river of accumulating wisdom has been flowing through the ages. But then I got TOO far into it. Peeked under the surface and found out there’s a huge mass of rusty pipes squirting brownish liquid everywhere. I found out that the unbroken line of reasoning was a bunch of cherry-picked quotes from arcane sources, and if you actually look into what those folks believed there is practically no consensus on ANY issue! It’s a huge mess. And now I think I know why: Because it could not be any other way. Words are simply inadequate for expressing spiritual Truth for the reasons I explained above. And when you have a cacophony of voices throughout the ages, working in the medium of words, all coming with unique perspectives and experiences, the definitions become a jumble. It’s unavoidable.

Yet I have never seen this addressed by any Christian. Every apologist I’ve read takes it as a priori that words can and do adequately convey spiritual meaning like “Jesus is God” just as well as they convey physical meaning like “this is a piano”. I see this as a fundamental flaw in theology and faith statements. If I’m right, (don’t place your bets on THAT!) then that means mankind is in a world of hurt if there is a God that demands precision beliefs in order to save us from eternal torture.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

'Love Wins' is Great Rhetoric

I bought Rob Bell’s scandalous new book titled Love Wins because my wife was interested in reading it. It’s causing a ruckus because it directly questions eternal hell doctrine, though Bell insists that he’s not a Universalist. Well, since I passed that point a long time ago this book really doesn’t hold much interest to me. From what I’ve read, and heard from others, this book is not aimed at my demographic. I own 5 or 6 books on Universalism that do what Love Wins apparently does not. Which is to lay out an argument for a particular theology, present the verses that support it, present the ones used to dispute it, explain why those ones don’t actually mean what opponents say they mean, talk about the history of the idea and explore its ramifications. Since I’m past the timid questioning of inherited-doctrine stage I don’t have time to retread it in Bell’s book. I just wanted to note that the title is brilliant. Besides being short, memorable, and explanatory enough to evoke interest, it sets a framework for the debate. It’s like the political right does with terms like “pro life” and “war on terror”, or those from the left like “undocumented workers” and “climate change”. What all these rhetorical frames have in common is that they present a position that forces opponents to first explain why they are not ridiculous. No one wants to get on stage and say they are “anti-life”, hence the term “pro-choice”. No one wants to say they support terror. No one wants to say they want to oppress undocumented workers, and no one can deny that the climate changes. And no Christian wants to say that Love will lose or fail.

So to refute Bell’s book they have to start by re-framing the conversation. Of course most Christians will say that Love DOES win. They simply have different stipulations for a winning condition. When it comes to proposing a system that has a win/lose proposition, unless there are agreed upon rules and goals, then “winning” is quite arbitrary and ambiguous. Take the act of living for example. Some think you are loser if you don’t make enough money, or don’t have a hot significant other or if you live with your mom. Some say you are winning if you have inner peace, no matter your material possessions. Hell, Charlie Sheen actually thinks that HE is “winning” at life.

So “Wins” in Rob Bell's book title is fantastic because it’s evocative, emotional, arbitrary, and just like Obama’s political slogans like “Hope we can believe in”: ultimately meaningless because it means something different to everyone.

And this is actually the key to understanding where I am at spiritually right now. I’ve discovered that almost all theological words are more or less just like “wins”. They all carry with them a definition that is unique to every person who hears them. The world of theology involves lots of people hashing out what they think all these words mean, generally within a pre-established system that imposes its own limits on how much wiggle-room one has to really dig into those personal meanings. Without those limits, the system falls apart and the institutional church would disintegrate. So I certainly don’t blame institutional Christianity for carefully patrolling their borders. I simply can’t agree that staying behind the fence is the best way to search for God and Truth. In order to truly search, you need to be able to roam, to ask the questions that don’t get answered satisfactorily by your tradition.

That’s the point I’ve got to in my search. It’s not a matter of rejecting my inherited tradition as false. It’s a matter of recognizing that their definitions may be off. In fact, that those definitions MUST be off, because human language depends on metaphor to conceptualize spiritual ideas, and metaphor by definition cannot be precise. So recognizing that our definitions are loosey-goosey, I can’t very well say: “Christianity (or my particular strain of it) is True.” I can only say I think it’s the closest religious tradition to Truth. But then I have to wonder HOW close it can even be. It could be the case that Christianity is like a stack of 4 pennies, and Hinduism is a stack of 3 pennies, and Truth is a Trillion dollars. In this case the difference is just not that big a deal. Since all our revelation is metaphor we cannot even GUESS at how close our ideas and definitions are to Truth. We can look at how our religious metaphors affect the way we live and act. Though even that is a dubious proposition since there is no way to separate the effects that faith has on a life from culture, upbringing, economics, health, intelligence, etc. My Christian apologetic tradition tries to make the case that we can examine history and see that in the aggregate those under the purview of Christianity have a variety of societal and moral advantages. I’ve come to the conclusion that life and civilization is too complex to attribute this to one factor.

And I guess that is what I’ve come to believe the older I get: life is just too complex to make simple diagnoses and definitions. So if you ask me if I "accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior", I simply can’t give a yes/no answer. Not because I’m being evasive, but because I respect definitions too much to pretend that my definitions for those words perfectly match yours, or anyone else’s. (Just like Sheen's definition of "winning" is different than Rob Bell's and different than Ghandi's.) I simply admit that my metaphors cannot be precise enough to create a tidy system of belief matrices. So I’ve stopped pretending that I can. I don’t consider this a rejection of my faith or a refutation to anyone else’s beliefs. It’s simply a position that says that words are an inadequate medium for expressing Truth. They can point us in the direction of Truth… I hope. But I’m convinced that words cannot get us all the way there. Even though many Christian theologies are predicated on the idea that they can. So I guess I just contradicted myself. This position IS a refutation of a specific belief. The belief that we must Know Truth to attain salvation. Whether that refutation is damning or not I cannot say. Only that I don't know how I could possibly erase the epiphanies that brought me to this conclusion.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Spiral Dynamics and Christianity

Woah! So cool. I like this theory a lot. I guess because it mirrors the way my thinking has been evolving to a great extent. In my previous faith paradigm I thought that the only way you could move from one belief system to another is to totally reject or denounce the first and embrace the second as a new Truth with a capitol T. In other words, I thought you had to rebel against the old before you could consider the new. But now that I view language as an ethereal medium, like a gas that changes shape to fit many ideas, I view new thought paradigms simply as fun exercises in imaginative power. As attempts to find the best tools for living and understanding this crazy thing we call reality.