Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Lie of Ontological Uniqueness (and the Real Meaning of Christmas)

Two snowflakes make the shape of a heart,
on MCCC's campus
Several years ago I met occasionally with a young man who said he was a Jesus-follower. I think he was, and anyway I'm not the ultimate judge of such things.

He struggled deeply. He would talk with me, smiling, and say "The reason people can't deal with me is because they've never met anyone like me before." 

I told him I've met many people like him. This upset him. He insisted on his ontological uniqueness. This was the heart of his problem; viz., believing he was different, in essence, from anyone else on the planet.

His false sense of ontological uniqueness isolated him. If there's no one else on earth that is like you, then you are alone. You are an alien, one of the X-men, and everyone else is a stranger. This is the lie, or myth, of ontological uniqueness. It was this young man's prison.

Ontological uniqueness is not the same as saying "No two snowflakes are alike." But of course. And of course they are alike in that they are both snowflakes. My young friend saw all of humanity as snowflakes, except for his own self. If that were true, then community (koinonia) would be impossible. No wonder he felt isolated. No wonder others could not get near to him.

The truth is, the deeper we go inside persons the more we are all the same. I refer to the elements of our ultimate same-ness as "ontological dualities." Everyone, e.g., as they have the chance, struggles with things like Life vs. Death and Trust vs. Control, 

One of Satan's strategies is to persuade us that our sin, our failure, is so horrible that no one could ever relate to it, thus no one could understand or have compassion towards us. Or, oppositionally, the enemy could persuade us of having an other-worldly giftedness so that we would think we are above all the rest of failing humanity.

The truth is that, in a deep, ontological way, we are "Everyman." Christ died for us all. God became one of us.

That is the cure for our isolation. And, BTW, it points to the real meaning of Christmas.