Here at Kiln of the Soul, we tend to operate on three levels simultaneously.
At the highest level, of course, is the Spirit Realm. We address it in parables, but it boils down to acknowledging God as God. He is active and present and very personally involved throughout Creation. We place our highest commitment and our deepest loyalty in Him.
At the lowest level, we see the Fallen Realm in concrete reality. In our reckoning, this is a world of shadows and deception. Nothing is as it seems and perception is reality. This is the realm of our flesh. We deal with it as required on a provisional basis, and trust nothing that we can sense or reason out.
Between the two is the moral realm of the heart; it’s not truly a separate realm, but the only overlap of the Spirit Realm on the flesh. This is where we live, as it is the closest we come to direct awareness of spiritual truth. At this level we grasp the full complexity of things we experience in the flesh while remaining loyal to the Spirit of God.
So we can look at a particular human concern and often see multiple layers of what’s possible, what is likely to work because of our inherent grasp of God’s divine character woven into Creation, but we also can discern the thread of things God wants from us in the midst of it all. We can pull ourselves up out of the fleshly limits; we can abstract the viewpoint such that we can face our own human demise without anxiety. Meanwhile, we can see how folks might want entirely contrasting and conflicting things without feeling forced to support one or another. We remain cynical; we don’t expect anyone to take our advice on anything because they cannot see what our hearts see.
This is how I approach the whole range of social sciences, as well. I am fully aware of the mainstream; I’ve been taught to understand it. However, I also discern the moral failure of that analysis.
From the field of cultural analysis, let me introduce the Hofstede dimensions. They were cooked up by a fellow stuck deeply within the Western intellectual traditions. You should fully expect his tool to reflect an adoration of Western values as it denigrates biblical moral values, particular in terms of the culture born within the early churches.
Hofstede’s greatest failure is refusing to recognize that the heart-mind exists, and offers a rather shallow approach to pigeon-holing cultures based on only one level of analysis. Indeed, I’ve seen some complaints by devotees of this analytical tool that some cultures seem to be ambiguous about things, which means that the tool only works with binary logic. For example, our religion here supports the ultimate necessity of individuality even as we recognize that human activity works best with a feudal structure. Thus, we are neither collectivists nor individualist, because our guiding principle is moral, not cerebral.
Perhaps the most dramatic weakness would be Hofstede’s assumptions about what constitutes masculinity and femininity. As always, there’s no place for a shepherd image in the West.
It seemed important to mention this analytical tool as I share with you some concerns about dealing with the virtual world, and threats in particular. They all rest entirely too much on flawed assumptions.