Sunday, July 28, 2013

You Really Got A Holon Me

You Really Got A Holon Me!

"For freedom Christ set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; but do not use this freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves for one another." Galatians 5: 1, 13

Paul gets a bad rap. I am not entirely sure why that is, and frankly have given up trying. The fact is he is the first witness in the New Testament - his letters are the earliest witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The gospels had not been written and quite possibly had not even been conceived when Paul tried to put into words that which seemed impossible to describe, explain, make sense of.

Yet, these two verses are brilliant! Written as they were to a community struggling to know what to do next - a community being told by certain posers that before you can be baptized you must first be circumcised. Paul recognizes at once that a) this is not great motivation for bringing people on board, b) it just is not very good news, and c) he recalls that there were no pre-conditions set out by Jesus when he encountered him on the road to Damascus. So Paul writes a letter to the church in Galatia urging them not to be fooled by all this talk of pre-conditions before you can be connected to the community of Christ - which, as it turns out is the community of creation.

Note the brilliance of his argument - don't be slaves to the latest fashions, don't be slaves to self-indulgence. Be free. Freedom is what Jesus calls us back to. Yet, it is a freedom that makes us slaves to one another - with "one another" as a place holder for "everything," every thing in the entire universe, which of course was a lot smaller then and still expanding as it does to this very day.

Our understanding of freedom tends to be rather superficial. We want it to be a license for a kind of wanton narcissism - "I'm going to do my own thing," we say, as if any thing is ours and ours alone. We seek "financial freedom" which tends to make us slaves to materialism, commercialism, and consumerism. We become enslaved to the very thing or things we believe will make us free. Illusions about freedom convince us we must fight for it, arm ourselves to protect it, only to enslave ourselves to what Dwight David Eisenhower termed the military industrial complex. Then we wonder why we live in a world seemingly dominated by violence on every corner, on every street, on every  eleven o'clock news hour. To quote Barbara Streisand, "De-dum, that's a fine kind of freedom...." So she's a liberal. Get over it.

Holons. Holons, the work of philosopher Ken Wilber, just may be one way to rescue Paul's vision of freedom he believed was what Christ was all about - our freedom. Wilber suggests that the entire universe is made up of holons, or whole/parts (whole-parts). He writes, "A holon is a whole that is a part of other wholes. For example, a whole atom is part of a whole molecule; a whole molecule is part of a whole cell; a whole cell is part of a whole organism. Or, again, a whole letter is part of a whole word, which is part of a whole sentence, which is part of a whole paragraph, and so on. Reality is composed neither of wholes or parts, but rather whole/parts, or holons. Reality in all realms is composed of whole parts."  - A Theory of Everything (Shambala Press, Boston:2000) p. 40

Reality consists of everything, seen and unseen. Holons emerge into ever more complex forms, observes Judy Cannato in her book, Radical Amazement. Molecules are more complex than atoms, and cells are more complex than molecules, and yet the cell depends upon the atoms and molecules for existence. Each holon that emerges depends upon all the other holons below for its very existence. Think about it for just a moment. The utter interconnectedness of everything, literally every thing. It's not just about us. It is about every thing.

Wilbur also asserts that to destroy a holon destroys everything above it. Destroy the atom and you destroy the molecules and cells above it. We have witnessed that kind of destruction. August 6th, The Feast of the Transfiguration is also the day the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima - destroying atoms destroyed life.

The theory of holons holds true for organizations as well. Groups of individuals make up families, families make up communities, communities make up institutions, nations - and groups form even more complex organizations such as NATO, the UN, and so on.

The theory of holons points us to the interconnectedness of everyone and everything on the most fundamental dimensions. Connectedness is fundamental. How we treat water and air has consequences for life - all life. How we treat one another has consequences for everyone and everything else. Paul could see this. Paul understood the interconnectedness of everyone and everything.

Hildegarde of Bingen put it this way, "God has arranged everything in the universe in consideration of everything else." If it bothers you, you do not even need "God" to see how this radically amazing universe is put together. The important thing to consider is that to live in freedom is to live with attentiveness to the intricate connectedness of all that is - seen and unseen. This, asserts Judy Cannato is truly radically amazing! p.102

What parts make you a whole? Consider making a list of all the holons below and above you which make you you. Sit still and ponder the interconnectedness of it all. Reflect on how this interconnectedness calls you to be free. To be truly free is to be truly attentive to all that is and to act accordingly. Through love we are meant to become slaves for one another and for every thing - seen and unseen - throughout this radically amazing universe!  Amen.

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