More thoughts on the space of slow

I have a few more thoughts on the space of slow. Here’s the deal. To function in the world we have to assume a lot. To act, we don’t have the time to test every assumption. This is true of everything from driving to worshipping to conducting a scientific experiment. And the faster we go, which is the pace our society encourages, the more we have to assume.

Another way to talk about this is that we live in a constructed world that we share with others. Charles Taylor calls this shared world, a social imaginary. Martin Heidegger called it the life world. Whatever you call it, its a functional version of how things are, not necessarily the way things actually are. And the faster you go, the more impervious the social imaginary is to change. Heidgger calls this entanglement, which keeps us from seeing “the thing itself.” In other words, our assumed way of seeing things obscures our ability to encounter the real thing.

I think there’s an analogy here with Paul’s thought. Paul talks about seeing things from a “human point of view,” or from the perspective of the “flesh,” which is the world given to us by the principalities and powers. To see what God is actually up to requires a different way of seeing. For Paul, the ability to recognize God’s presence in the world depends upon what you see when you view the cross. To some, the cross is foolishness and weakness, but to others it is God’s power, God’s way of being in the world that has the potency to renew all things.

The point with Paul is that it’s not immediately obvious to us how God is involved in the details of life. And the more we assume the world given to us, the less likely we are to recognize it.

One more insight from Heidegger. He was critiquing the Western philosophical tradition, from the ancient Greeks (Plato and Aristotle) all the way to the Enlightenment (what Matthew Crawford is talking about when he critiques the modern myth of the autonomous individual). One way to describe Heidegger’s critique is that the Western philosophical tradition is subject centered. That is, the world corresponds to the way I (the subject) perceive it.  What’s going on inside of me (the subject) trumps anything external to me, which subsequently turns the world into a series of objects. There is no “social imaginary,” a constructed world, because the subject is sufficient to see the world as it actually is, especially if freed from the prejudices of tradition.

Heidegger, and other philosophers (Gadamer, Ricoeur, Marion, Taylor to name a few) challenge these assumptions and actually reverse the direction of subject–>world. The world is no longer simply made up of subjects and objects, but there is a complex reality that comes before a “subject’s” awareness of it. We understand the world because we participate in it, because it is a reality apart from our ideas about it. So, reality is not something centered in a knowing subject, but is external to us and happens around us and between us. Heidegger made up a word for this reality (because the development of Western languages was deeply influenced by this subject-object way of viewing the world): Dasein. Dasein is his way to name the being that precedes us, which he says we are “thrown into,” and in which we can become entangled.

Here’s the big point related to all of this. Our notions of space (and time, but that’s another blog) are challenged. The world around us is no longer simply a world of objects to be mastered by an aquiring subject. The world inside of us is not prior to the world around us. Rather, to truly understand ourselves, we have to get beyond the world inside our heads and into larger spaces for discernment. We no longer simply have a self, we have a world.

So, in this larger space, how do we truly see, or to use Jean Luc Marion’s phrase, how do we let things show themselves as themselves? Slow. If we run as fast as our current social imaginary encourages us to, then the world around us can only be what we imagine it to be. And this is a world of objects. But if we slow down long enough to put what we encounter in parentheses so that we can look at them again, then what we see has an integrity of its own beyond what we assume when we encounter it.

Now, you can’t do this with everything at once. To get through a day, you simply have to assume things, trust things. But the posture of slow will allow us to see some things anew.

I am convinced that there is not a single spiritual discipline that tries to get us to go faster. Nowhere does it say that the fruit of the Spirit is urgency. Rather, the fruit of the Spirit foster slow: patience, humility, kindness, joy, etc.

About Mark Love

I am the Director of the Resource Center for Missional Leadership at Rochester College. Part of my job includes directing a master's degree in missional leadership, a situated learning degree. I am married to Donna and have a son, Josh Love, who lives in Portland, OR. With Donna, I have also inherited three great daughters and three amazing granddaughters.
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5 Responses to More thoughts on the space of slow

  1. Brian England says:

    This is why I miss spending time with you. You’re on a roll.

  2. Deena says:

    Just wow!

  3. rich constant says:

    Well you know Dr Bell.
    I live a pretty sheltered life.
    Pretty slow life. I’ve only been on a jet airplane maybe 5 times in my life but then I live in Newport Beach and everybody comes here.
    What I’m getting at is to find out what these thinkers are thinking about, and why they’re thinking about, what they’re thinking about I would kind of like to know what year they were thinking.
    It’s one thing to be a Greek it’s another thing to be in the dark ages it’s another thing to be a flatworldER ( you know Columbus
    was going To SAIL OVER the edge. it’s another thing completely as far as I’m concerned to be a thinker that is wrapped up in Newtonian physics quantum physics brought in the whole world that no one has discovered prior to the electron microscope, prior to hUbble, theoretical physicist have brought out a brand new world that none of them understood and could not take into consideration when thinking about the thinking things that they thought about.
    and if we are to understand God through the things that are made… then this brings on a new element and a new dynamic that must be taken into consideration before we start, talking about the interaction between God and man or we’re just going back and making another Bad Religion. or quite honestly turn out the lights I don’t want to see. so in any case it would be nice to know the year that these guys for bringing up all of their interesting intellectual ideas and integrating them if they are post 1980 into our world. how we have discovered how wonderfully intricate creation truly is. Thanks

    • rich constant says:

      And as a p.s.
      Richard Hayes, in his book or thesis paper around 1970 75 something like that, b the faith of Jesus Christ”, talks about myth and how myth becomes authenticated. Through historical and archaeological findings.
      This brings to light certain functions of the Prophets and puts their words outside fantasy (what we now like to think is mythology, in the same light as the gods of Greece as the gods of Rome).
      now this New world that we walk into through becoming aware of what’s around us( being told information that is credible to who and what we actually are, then we truly must pause and reevaluate our position in this world of objects. and because of self imposed ignorance, I like to call it a conspiracy of ignorance. or when in light of new information we will end up as Abraham Maslow SAYS “with a cowboy ethic”. or situation ethics depending on our agenda intended agendas. which is extremely convenient as far as morality is concerned.
      Try and get somebody to Define what morality is. we write our own rules in a free society it’s of little consequence to be sure if someone is interacting with you on a level, that you have no need of hearing about because you just don’t have the time why think about it people have been thinking about it since recorded time began and none of them
      Could figure it out hence the sophist and Socrates… we become just rats on a freeway, or a better way to put that rats on a maze called the freeway going to ChEese city. and God help you if you’re late because you might be threatening your boss “Peter’s principle”. and you’ll be looking for the answer to (“who moved your cheese again).
      we become so busy thinking about things that don’t concern us. that we can’t think of anything else that’s called a habit a bad habit no boundaries and will take anything but anything to escape from this reality of frustration an uncontrolled life dependent upon immoral and unethical rules of behavior. everyone knows it everyone’s part of it no one has clean hands. except God and he doesn’t exist and if he does he doesn’t interact a lot with me and that’s just from an EpicureanIstic point of view which leaves our leisure time a time for our stoic Ideology to come out and our cynicism” leave me alone there’s nothing important that I don’t know I want to escape now thank you very much.” preach the gospel you say I quite honestly would ask you what does the gospel mean.
      Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.
      Please it’s time to be relevant.
      And just because when we say something like that we may God less than relevant to the people that he’s talking to means there sure must be something that were missing.
      you know that’s a real scary thing to a lot of people that are so codependent, that number one they listen to flatworlders Theology.
      I Will read this again a couple of times and see if I can come up with something relevant for you bud.
      It’s always nice to spend a Saturday night trying to get across a couple of ideas.

  4. richconstant says:

    one injesus
    The Salvation of the Jews: Introduction
    Posted on July 26, 2015 by Jay Guin
    …So we’ve covered Exile and Repentance in the last series, discussing how the Old Testament (or First Testament) led up to the events of Pentecost and the coming of the Kingdom. Hopefully, we gained a better sense of how the Jews of NT times reacted to the gospel and the coming of the Messiah.

    Before that, in the How to Study the Bible series, we covered the covenants and how they connect with each other. From…

    curse’s / blessings fore gods chosen people into the second cleansed temple by the blood of Jesus from the book of Deut.
    you brought up the CROSS ….SLOW DOWN NOW AND FIND THE relevant ZONE 😉
    Galatians 3:10-14
    rich constant on July 26, 2015 at 10:37 am
    We are to treat the Old Testament with the words used in some of the Bibles like Abolished instead of nullified and you being a lawyer should understand the meaning that is conveyed by those words.
    Ephesians 2:15 Rom5:31
    then there’s also Hebrews 5 11 through chapter 6 verse 4.
    check out the thorns along with the curse in verse 6:8 J.
    Exercising your mind in the word of righteousness to learn to discern both good from evil.
    What about that tree in the garden J.
    Pretty much all ties together for me.
    What we’re looking at in this first covenant or throughout the whole Bible are gods judgments and WHY his judgments are the way they are, but they’re all righteous, they’re all “GOOD” judgments according to what, our righteous “good” God and those are the judgments that we can make accordingly if we rightly dividing the word of truth.
    and we know the end of the story and we kinda get a little bit more about why those judgments are the way that they are we should know What God’s agenda was because it was fulfilled. and when you understand a little bit more about what his agenda is then you go Ahhh
    and the sad thing is you really hear the nails going into the flesh of Jesus on the cross.
    Our Messiah

    Looks to me like we kind of get a do over.
    Is God’s creation worth as much to me as it was to him? and then you have to ask why not nobody likes to answer that one.
    And it’s just not an individual thing its a kingdom thing.
    And you know what I mean.

    What did that word repent mean might have to reread all of that stuff.

    psalms 51;16
    The sacrifices of God are a humble spirit and a repentant heart you will not reject.
    I prefer broken spirit. instead of humble spirit.
    It brings me to the cross.
    My God my God why have you forsaken me.
    I think Jesus is asking for it to be over.
    “and why isn’t it”?.
    And then what did they do to him and what did he say right after it.fulfilment
    It is finished

    That my friends right there at that moment is when God became fully man at least to me that’s atonement. or what John Mark shows the definition of atonement is at One ment with the created.
    and becomes the merciful and High Priest knowing how we feel communicating that to the Father

    And of course right after that right after his spirit left the body what happened to the Inner Temple’s Curtain well we all know that now we know why.
    I don’t mean to be presumptuous that’s just what I think.

    The first few times that I thought about the dynamic that the curse involves.
    we look at it the Trinity separated itself from itself because the Trinity loved the creation. the Trinity also lives outside of time. you know they were eternally together One.

    At that moment outside of time just how long is that moment.
    And when we sin and we crucify this SOn again what does this bring up to the Father.
    it just brought me to tears a few times.
    And that would be tears of thankfulness tears of joy and quite honestly how meaningful the blessings are knowing the fear of the Lord.
    In the garden he didn’t even want to go there three times he asked.
    Fear not what man can do.
    Him who has the power to.
    yes that Curse takes on a deeper meaning at least to me.
    you might even say that makes the Trinity relevant. and if you take this view you betya he’s involved.
    And proactive through Jesus by the Spirit who lives in us by grace through faith how we should walk in good works that God beforehand…

    You know sometimes I just get in the zone.
    I just have these little conversations with myself.
    Now I’ve got voice activation it makes it easier for me to say things that I say to myself.
    When we look back at the book of Romans.

    The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all those that believe to the Jew first and also to the Greek. for the righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written the righteous by faith will live.

    quite honestly to me this looks simply Romans 3 :1,2,3,4 God gives his oracles to Faithful men Faithful men write them down For faithful men.

    go figure Mr fudge…;-)… who has a heart that’s faithful to God since the beginning of creation.
    that’s a pretty broad brush that you’ve got in your hand.

    by the way J there’s that word nullify again

    you might ask yourself the question have we been preaching the gospel.
    In a relevant way of course not only to the people that it was spoken, to but also to the people that we speak to.

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