Transcendence and Relationships
I’ve been reading Douglas Cowan’s Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television (Baylor University Press, 2010) and the first chapter really got my attention in a way that I didn’t expect. The author states “…transcendence is not a function of sensation, but of relationship, and the reciprocal boundaries between those who exist in a relationship” (p. 40) and “…relationship is the key to encountering an Other” (P 41).
These two quotes in particular started me thinking about humanity in general.
If the key to transcendence really is relationship, then I think that puts a whole different spin on the story of the Fall found in Genesis 3. There, we see that God created Adam and Eve as a special part of His creation. He did not call them into existence, but formed them Himself (Genesis 2:7). Mankind was endowed with the “image of God,” which involved much more than the notion that we looked like Him, but rather carried His character. And soon, God declared that humanity was created for fellowship, and Eve was created to be Adam’s equal companion (Genesis 2:18-24). So, initially, mankind possessed a transcendent relationship with God as well as with each other.
In Genesis 3, the serpent appears on the scene to tempt Adam and Eve to go beyond the boundaries set by God. The temptation took the form of enticing them to take the fruit so that they would “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). So, humanity was invited to break the relationship established by God in the false hope of transcending the divine boundaries and becoming divine themselves. However, they transgressed, rather than transcended, and as a result, relationships have been damaged ever since: first between humanity and God, then between human beings themselves, and finally between humans and nature (3:8-19)
Ever since then, we have still sought transcendence while at the same time trying to elevate ourselves to divine status. Instead, God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, surrendered His divinity to repair the broken relationship, and as a result, God the Father has revealed to us a Christ that transcends all (Philippians 2:5-11).
Because of the work of Christ, we can now be reconciled to God in a way never before possible (2 Corinthians 5:20). The Apostle Paul tells us that the transcendence we seek is found relationship with Christ when he wrote to the Corinthian church that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! “(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). Paul also rightly notes that only in relationship with Christ do we find what it means to be truly human (Acts 17:28). Even Jesus tells us that “I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing “ (John 15:5 NIV).
It is important to note that the author of Sacred Space doesn’t go into the issue of transcendence and relationships like I do, but the ideas are rather provocative, no?
Note: There will be most likely more posts generated from my readings of Sacred Space. If you are interested in the book, a simple click on the pic should take you Amazon.com