Thursday, July 28, 2016

Self-Attention and Self-Abuse Cease to Exist When Honor/Shame Hierarchies Are Removed

Our backyard

(This is an idea in progress...)

When Jesus came he did away with cultural honor-shame hierarchies. You see this in Luke chapter 1. Mary sings her song of the unbelievable new realities her son is going to bring in. With Jesus it will be an upside-down world of inverted hierarchies. Eventually it will be seen as the abolition of hierarchies in the Pauline observation that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.

With this the gate is opened whereby subhumanity might enter into true humanity, where the false self might be exchanged for the true self. This is because self-adoration, self-hate, self-pity, self-centeredness, self-will, self-hiding, and self-ignorance all depend for their existence on the honor-shame hierarchy. All such punishing aspects of the false self are rooted in the comparative evaluation of the self as essentially against other subhuman selves. (One is always, simultaneously, "above" and "below" others.)

The honor-shame hierarchy excludes and never embraces. This is where questions like "Who is the greatest?" are asked, and people say "Thank God I am not like that other person." On the honor-shame hierarchy the "other" is essentially one's opponent.

But in the incarnation the Greatest became the Least so as to bestow kingdom status on all who come to him. (This, BTW, is the core idea behind James Cone's theology of the Christ as black.)


On the "reversal motif" in the song of Mary see R. John Vijayaraj, "Human Rights Concerns In the Lukan Infancy Narratives (Luke 1:5 - 2:52)."

On honor-shame hierarchies in New Testament times see Joel Green, The Gospel of Luke.

Of the four gospels Luke is the most socially concerned.

My new book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.