An instrument to honour God.
Supplement to the Introduction
In order to to understand the economic aspect of reality as an important but very much integrated reality in its own right, we should be aware of how it relates to the other aspects and how we can keep things in the right perspective.
What most people probably intuitively know, but have never taken the time, or felt the need, to make visible for themselves, is that our daily experience is of a very interesting and multi layered variety. Part of which we make consciously , an even larger part we create unconsciously and we may sense on occasion that we are connected with it some how, and yet another part we experience as being quite separate from us.
We also know that not all our experiences are of the same quality, or even of the same nature.
We know that when centuries old trees have to make room for a new housing development, something makes us feel a bit uncomfortable. A mega retailer moving into town and destroying the local infrastructure...
We sense that something is not right, but often fail to put a finger on it.
That has led a couple of Christian philosophers in the early 1900's to assign names to some 14 different aspects of reality of which they thought could not be reduced to one another without violating the nature of that aspect.
arithmetic or mathematical
The very first aspect they called the arithmetic or mathematical aspect .
All of reality is subject to this aspect.
It simply means that everything has a number. There is one of it or two etc.
The second they called the spatial and again everything in reality is subject to the spatial.
It simply means , it has dimensions. It takes up space; where it is, something else cannot be.
physical or kinetic
The third one is called the physical or kinetic, it is where energy begins to play a role.
There are physical processes taking place in our body, but also in a table or a chair.
Nothing escapes the physical aspect. It is part of us, we are part of it.
It is also an aspect of reality where the boundaries seem to be moving further and further away. Yesterday's certainties have become highly questionable in the face of today's research. Some researchers have now gone so far to talk about a time-space continuum.
When we are talking about the next level, called the organic, we know that life has come into play. And the first form is plant life, but also man and animal function subjectively on the organic level. We are subjected to organic processes in our body.
The next levels are psychic, analytic, historic, lingual, social, economic, aesthetic, juridic, ethic, pistic. (the word pistic comes from the Greek pistis, meaning a deep-seated religious belief). Pistic involves our spiritual direction and relatedness.
So what does this mean in real life?
To give a quick run down: Man functions on the lower levels objectively. He is subjected to it, there is not much he can do about it. There is only one of you, you have a certain size, you take up space. Wherever you are someone else cannot be. etc. There physical, chemical processes going on in your body that completely beyond your control.. They are structural laws of creation. They may seem restrictive, but in fact they are the ones that make life possible. Yet, we are not fated by it. Man can analyze, he can discover relationships, he can influence to a ceratin extent the chemical processes through different actions, etc.
A fish may not like the wetness of water, it is the water that makes life possible for him. Outside this life giving environment he will die.
That is not a punishment. It is a logical consequence.
We have the capacity to make things optimal for the fish, but we can also make things very miserable.
Our freedom to do so carries a heavy responsibility.
It is on the higher levels that we function subjectively: we can say yes or no, we can make choices for or against.
On the higher levels we function as a people who make decisions, choices.We take an active role. In the historic we are aware of past , present, and future, in the lingual we devise ways of communicating with other creatures; the social interactions are not bound by the same laws as the economic, whereas it is definitely an impoverisation of society when the economic laws come to determine the aesthetic even though when aesthetic things are entered into the market place, it is the laws of economics, supply and demand, that rule.
The same holds for the other ones. None of any of the other ones can determine our spirituality.
Of course it is true that in each of these different aspects all the other ones are present in a objective role. And we all sense that something is not quite right when one aspect tries to dominate the scene. We often sense that something is being violated without being able to put our finger on it.
A simple example of how the economic can dominate the spiritual.
If our spirituality would depend on how much financial gain we would achieve, the essence of spirituality would be distorted to such an extent that we would not be able to discover our spiritual connection with God. One cannot serve God and mammon.
In a church there are definitely aspects that should be approached from an economic angle – the business side, management practices etc- but there are other aspects of being a church where the economic should definitely not run the show.
In fact we will see in the discussions about the Ten Commandments, that any domination outside its own realm will lead to distortion and a broken society.
When the historic dominates the economic there will be stagnation, lack of progress and poverty as a result; but when the economic dominates for instance the aesthetic, we will lose valuable historic buildings that contribute esthetically to a downtown core and when it dominates the social , chances are that all necessary services such as education, childcare, social housing, old age pensions etc. will suffer and society will disintegrate. But also the economy will suffer.
We have come through a time of quite a number of years during which the economic has ruled quite a bit outside its own domain and we will be paying dearly for it for many decennia to come. Evidence is everywhere in the environment, in the destruction of native infrastructures, in the widespread poverty in the developing countries, in the war torn regions of the world,etc. the list is endless.
If we call all of reality a macro-cosmos, then each of the different aspects would be a micro-cosmos.
All aspects of the macro-cosmos are mirrored in the micro-cosmos.
economic ------- the earlier aspects are depended on and the later ones are anticipated
I think you may already have an inkling where this is going.
There are laws in creation that we cannot change without endangering our very lives or the future of the planet.
They are the structure of reality.
But there is also a structure for reality. A structure that makes it good, that makes for peaceful co-existence, that makes for bread for everyone, that makes for..... etc.
This is where the Ten Commandments enter the picture. All of life falls within its parameters.
It is the reason why Jesus always insisted that he had not come to replace the Law.
He did say that in him the Law was being fullfilled, something we can hardly say about ourselves.
Some may argue that he added a new commandment that we love the Lord and our neighbour as ourselves, but that is of course not really a new one since that was already present in the Ten Commandments.
In fact functioning well in all the aspects brings about what might be called 'joy', a fullness of life, a well-being, a fulfilment, a peace, a health and prospetity in their widest and richest sense - what the Hebrew word 'shalom' encapsulates. This 'shalom' is exciting and diverse, yet at the same time reliable and coherent, and each aspect makes its own distinctive contribution thereto.
For this to ever come about we have to realize that no aspect can ever be absolute. No single aspect can be a solid firm foundation on which others may rest.
This would constitute a form of reductionism that harms all of creation since everything is interrelated and connected. “The bottomline is all that counts”, is such a form of teleological reductionism which happens all to often in economic affairs. When a Walmart store, a Chapters/Indigo bookstore moves into an area where there really is not enough economic activity to warrant their presence, but the addition of an extra outlet enlarges the total output, increases gross revenue, we experience a reductionism and a lot of harm is being done at many levels of society.
The present discussion about Genetically Modified (GM) crops has come about because many people rightfully sense that something is out of kilter here.