Thursday, August 25, 2005

Worldview - Draft # 1 (part 2)

The centrality of story

Human experience is inextricably tied to history, that is, we live out our lives along a continuous passage of time, readily distinguishable as past, present, and future. As such experience has a ‘narrative quality’. Although we can think in terms of prepositional beliefs, these abstractions find meaning only in relation to other beliefs. [1] This web of beliefs inevitably weaves a narrative, leading us back to where they began. We can never escape the narrative context of beliefs.

The narrative or ‘story’ element of a worldview is thus central. These stories or the story provides the answers for the questions that give explanation to the world and which give identity to the person. These answers are in turn come to historical and cultural expression in symbols, and give way to a general praxis, “a way-of-being-in-the-world”. Thus, stories themselves (as narratives), far from being mere child’s play, are “located, on the map of human knowing, at a more fundamental level than explicitly formulated beliefs, including theological beliefs,”[2] “stories are a basic constituent of human life.”[3]

These stories however must not be seen as unconnected myths, tales, or histories. Only a narrative that could take in ultimate events and realities such as the origin (or eternality) of the world and the reason for suffering and evil (although some systems deny evil or redefine it), would qualify as the narrative, the grand narrative or controlling story of a worldview. Those stories or the story that provide answers to the basic questions, in other words, stories that are told to make sense of the world and to give human life purpose, meaning, or sometimes a lack of it.

This idea of a grand narrative or controlling story (I will use the two inter-changeably) is central to what I propose in this paper. The controlling story through which Christians think and live cannot be that of any old worldview, it must be the controlling story found within the scriptures. It is the stories which I will/have argued form a set, which belong to one grand narrative, that the Christian must perceive the world and their selves according to. To some up this section, “Worldviews are thus the basic stuff of human existence, the lens through which the world is seen, the blueprint for how one should live in it, and above all the sense of identity and place which enables human beings to be what they are.”[4] Story finds the central place in this, and so it is to the bibles grand narrative (alternatively ‘biblical story’) that we must look.

[1] [events]This is true not only of events of significance but those of everyday mundane life. The event of pouring a cup of tea, for example, means something only in relation to a series of prior and subsequent actions. We understand such an action because we are familiar with the ‘stories’ of how tea is primarily for drinking and that a cup is primarily a means of assisting the act of drinking and not that of storing.

[2] People, 38

[3] People, 40

[4] ibid., 125

1 comment:

Bob Robinson said...

I appreciate your insights into a Christian worldview. Best book I've seen on this is Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View by Richard Middleton and Brain Walsh.
Walsh is very close personally and theologically with NT Wright.