Monday, September 06, 2010

25 levels of meaning

Mere literalism is always a decrease of meaning, not an increase. The very thing that fundamentalists protect is the lowest, most narrow level of meaning that is possible. When we read the Scriptures or receive a Sacrament with a contemplative mind, we will find 25 levels of meaning, and not feel the need to prove our “one and only” level of meaning. Mature spirituality does not throw out a very possible literal meaning; rather it includes all possible levels. We can agree to some good meaning on that level first level, but we must strive to see things on other levels of the heart and mind. This was assumed for the first 1400 years of Christianity, taken for granted by the Church Fathers, mystics, and saints. In many ways we have gone backwards and limited the ways that God could speak to us.

If Emerging Christianity is going to healthily emerge, we need to rise above and beyond the dualistic “desert” of literal thinking. All religious language is by necessity metaphor and simile, which leaves both the mind and the heart free to hear all that God might be telling us through a text.

Richard Rohr

I love this. 25 levels of meaning. Truth cannot be contained in one dimension.

That's what I love about reading CS Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle. Others that I can't even think of right now, too.

What are some of your favorite 25 levels of meaning books?


contemporary themes said...

AMEN! I love Richard Rohr! And I'm a huge fan of CS Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle too!


Deb Shucka said...

This Richard Rohr message is one of my favorites (but I say that almost every time I read his words). I think Sue Monk Kidd is able to write in many levels of meaning. And Anthony Doerr. And Sherry Tepper.

Kathryn Grace said...

Not sure why, but the one that springs to mind is Work as Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond.

As for the the quote, I am reminded of the sad news this morning that a church in Florida, Dove something or other, plans to host a public burning of the Quran. Do they not read their own Bible? Do they not understand the teachings of the Christ whose name they take? Dear Christian God, please somehow get through to these, your so-called disciples, and show them the love in your heart for all human beings and that your teachings come in many forms, many books, many languages, that Truth is what counts, not some weak, narrow interpretation of words on paper. Help them to 25 peace-making levels of understanding.