Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From my learning journal for Ethics

Reflection and learnings on "The Passing of the Picture People."

This article is about the idea that there sre two ways of seeing the world. 1. The world is a picture. Something static that is to be interpreted and mastered. I think Alan Watts would call this picture, the artifact view of the world. 2. The second view is the drama view. This view sees the world as an unfolding drama, whereby the viewer actually identifies with the drama and participates, as opposed to the picture, where the view is a bystander. "A picture...represents persons and events witha finished image a story, a drama, everything is developmental." (Nogan, 16). The picture view seems to be a contribution of the Enlightenment, the rational understanding of things, the (absurd) idea of cold objectivity. The drama view is...a human one. "Stories," said Anthony DeMello, "are the shortest route to the truth."
I take issue that these views are people, like the title suggests. Are people their views? Maybe. I think, rather, that we ossilate between the two views incessantly. That said, I want to be a drama person, and I think I am but I notice that I always fall back to the picture mindset. I especially fall back to the picture in times of stress or worse yet in response to statements from a picture person. This happened to me very recently when a scientist friend of mine was grilling me on the historicity of Jesus, I couldn't help but adopt his mindset that framed the question (picture reference), and ended up sounding like a fundamentalist apologist! I am not a fundamentalist apologist! Even while i was answering him I realised that I was chaffing against my own answer, it didn't get to the nuance, the drama that I wanted.
My real question is: how can we more readily default to the drama view? I've noticed in the faculty at Sewanee, they tend to quickly broaden the question asked from the picture to the drama.
I listened to an interview recently with John Haught, a evolutionary science scholar. Being the 200 year anniversary of Darwin, this is fitting: he talked about the difference in picture and drama people in terms of the evolution debate. The creationists tend to see things as a picture, especially nature and scripture. In fact by definition these literalists are picture people. The evolutionists tend to be drama people, the world unfolding as a drama. And what does a drama need: conflict (adaptation), accident (natural selection), and time (lots and lots). Evolution is a drama, and I think that God is a drama too, maybe a dramatist, but certainly a drama.

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