Don’t overlook it

As unfathomable as it sounds it is possible to miss seeing something even when it’s right before your eyes.  Unwittingly – and shamefully – we can allow the most extraordinary event pass before us, seemingly sight unseen. The devil in the mix is not lack of intellect or educational ignorance; the sadder and greater truth is prompted by far less pitiful credentials. By a preponderance of images which we have created for ourselves (and often for those around us) we have succeeded to eclipse much of the brightness and allure of what we should have otherwise been instantly aware. We have to a degree inadvertently blinded ourselves.

The evolution of perception is akin to the progress of any other particle of the human anatomy.  Its capital and nutrition will derive from the seeds blown about in the mass of our experiences (physical, mental, social) and from our overall acuity. It will however be understandably prejudiced (and possibly redirected) by the competing visceral attractions of appetite and desire. The quality of absorption may be overtaken by ambition and narcissistic occupations. This mounting obscurity is what lessens the ability to perceive.  Permitted sufficient time and repetition to engender solid habits, we rather quickly descend to what might generously be called a more grounded perspective. The landing base is one which is frequently characterized by an alliance between Yin and Yang or what might be more popularly retailed as the Give-‘N-Get credo.

Yin and yang is a concept that originated in Chinese philosophy, describing opposite but interconnected, self-perpetuating cycle. Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. The technology of yin and yang is the foundation of critical and deductive reasoning for effective differential diagnosis of disease and illnesses within Confucian influenced traditional Chinese medicine.

Often it is difficult to escape a more terrestrial than stratospheric view of the world especially when the current state of one’s affairs is tolerable. I mean, Why mess with a good thing?  But here’s the rub. There’s so much good stuff out there that is going unnoticed. For us to relax into the so-called comfortable pew is hardly favourable.

1965 is the year the Religious Education Department of the Anglican Church of Canada, commissioned a report on the state of the Anglican church. Apparently forty-five years ago we were already feeling insecure about the vitality of our Anglican community in this country. The report was authored by a forty-five year old well known journalist and broadcaster named Pierre Berton. Berton called his reportThe Comfortable Pew: A Critical Look at Christianity and the Religious Establishment in the New Age. It became an instant bestseller.

Berton offered a blistering critique of a church he viewed as irrelevant to mainstream society, locked in a tired vision from the past. He said the church had failed as an instrument of social justice and no longer served as a conscience for the nation holding people accountable to a high ethical standard. In Berton’s view the church had surrendered to the status quo and was refusing to shake people up challenging them to live truly Christian lives. The church as Pierre Berton saw it in 1965 was nothing more than a “comfortable pew.”

There’s so much I’d like to say about Yin and Yang and the various models touching the subject. But recapturing for a moment, if I may, the business about perception and how we look at things, I believe what I was trying to say is that the intelligent response to anything before one’s eyes is to look at it – without the camouflage of preconception – maybe allow it to speak for itself. The penalty of accommodation is a matter of minutes likely; and, if I am right that the perception can be astonishing, it will have been worth the price.