human things

3 March 2009 § 1 Comment

A long time ago i started making a list of things that are common to all humans (and not animals)–trans-culture, -gender, -time, -geography–because i wanted to embrace the things that are integral to my being human, and de-priortitize things that are not. With the design to include every possible item, i started with the obvious:

  • family/friends
  • language
  • relationships in general
  • food preparation
  • education
  • rites of passage
  • dwellings
  • going to work and coming back
  • caring for children
  • exploring one’s environs
  • technology and the improvement thereof

Then i sort of stopped because i thought it was a little too obvious.
But i want to think about it more. Things that i truly love, and feel that i was created to do, or that i feel are innate (sometimes wrong things), bring me back to this list–i see that they come from my being a person.

  • desire to know the weather
  • reluctance to submit to authority
  • desire to know the source of right and wrong (and many other things)
  • dancing and singing
  • love and suffering
  • paradox: longing for freedom but continuing in (sometimes subconscious) self-repression; and many others
  • philosophizing about life, no matter one’s education or “right” to do so

Some days it’s harder to be a person than others.

Oo, here’s a thought: what if the only reason that humans have language and other creatures don’t is because we were created for deep relationship? Animals have purely physical, selfish relationships because they have no way of communicating their deeper thoughts (if they have any, which i doubt). Complex language for them would be pointless because all they would say (as they do now, in their own utterances) would be stuff like “FOOD!” and “Oh no!” and “Get away from my ____”. But we, agonizingly and ecstatically, have so much complexity and depth that language, as wonderful and useful as it is, doesn’t come close to portraying all that we are. I think that is because there is a spiritual part of us that is inexpressible with words–and animals don’t have that.

In light of that, i wonder which of the things on the list are there because they are also characteristics of God, the Spirit, the Creator? Or at least because they are spiritual things. I don’t think God struggles with stuff like selfishness. Maybe that is a direct result of our having spirits AND bodies–the spirit gets corrupted. Hmm, that sounds like something Paul would say.

Um, so, go do a BibleGateway search for “flesh and spirit” and start thinking. It will blow you away. I don’t have time for expository on all of that right now. Here are a few relevant ones to what i’ve been discussing here:

  1. John 3:6
    Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
  2. John 6:63
    The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
  3. Mark 14:38
    Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
  4. Romans 8:10
    But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
  5. Romans 8:13
    For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
  6. 1 Corinthians 6:19
    Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

Yay! Who knew that a simple philosophizing bog post would turn into a Bible study? “Not i,” said the fly. Nor i, to be sure. That was a lot more fun than starting on my 10-page paper that is due in 3 days.

So help me add to the list!

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§ One Response to human things

  • Sus says:

    I enjoyed this mucho, Mel. Especially this:
    “Some days it’s harder to be a person than others.”
    Indeed.

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