I have thought many times, over the years, about points of view, or perspective even. One of my favorite thinkers, Friedrich Nietzsche, has been called by many a ‘perspectivist,’ and I think that this is a fair description of his style. Essentially, Nietzsche seems to be interested in shoving around our perspectives on issues so that we can see other points of view, usually with the goal to start to see the issue as from above, or a transcendent point of view. He did like the metaphor of living upon a mountain, descending to try and show us what he has learned while living up above.
An arrogant metaphor, perhaps, but perhaps true nonetheless.
And perspective is a complex issue, especially when it comes to looking at issues from different frames. In recent discussions with some rather conservative-minded people, it is clear that we simply see different things in different ways. The ways to come to some understanding are difficult, and perhaps worthy (if possible). There have been attempts to analyze such differences (here’s one by George Lakoff), and certainly the “culture wars” discussed over the last 10 years and more have left many niches for many other explanations for how differently we see the world.
But today I want to address something a bit simpler than that; I want to address a video that I watched a couple of days ago that struck me as odd.
It is this video:
Is this inspirational or cautionary?
Could this video be played, unedited, in front of a Christian congregation and then an atheist audience and be seen in very different ways?
I think so.
The creator of this video, The Thinking Atheist, may be aware of this duality, and may have created the video with that duality in mind. It is an example of many things that many Christians and many atheists will look at and see very differently. It is not unlike my reaction to hearing sermons, when I visit churches. I’m generally appalled by what others find powerfully inspirational. I find the basic theology of Christianity disgusting, inhuman, and am thus unable to see how others find it beautiful, let alone true.
(This is not to say that truth is never ugly).
That is, it is not only factually incorrect, from my point of view, it’s perverse! Even if it were true; if the God of the Bible were real, I could not worship Him. I could not praise a story that was so absurd, poisonous, and wretched. I see it very differently, apparently, than Christians do. But now not only do I not see the crucifixion as a sacrifice, but I see it as shockingly absurd. It is clear that my perspective has shifted on this issue, and it has happened over the last few years.
Let me step back for a moment here, and catch my breath. See, Christianity was not always perverse to me. In fact, I used to find it sort of interesting, fascinating even. The narrative of the sacrificial son and the redemption was never actually inspiring, but I saw it as at least artful. What changed?
I’m not sure. This will have to remain a point for further thought, I think.
I would love to hear comments about how things such as this video could bee seen very differently by different people.