Transforming Moment, Intro 1

william_blake_the_conversion_of_saul_printAs 2014 ended Dwayne and I announced our intention to get into James Loder’s work in 2015, beginning with his The Transforming Moment (TM). We never got around to Loder, temporarily discontinuing our posts instead. But as we get back into blogging, we’d like to make good on those earlier plans. I think the way to go about getting into TM would be to post a couple of passages from his own introduction and then summarize and comment on subsequent chapters. Loder has profound insights into the nature of human development as a spiritual enterprise in general and of spiritual formation in Christ in particular.

So, from the Introduction under the subtitle Logic of Transformation

[T]he generative sources of human intelligence abhor a vacuum. Beneath our educated and scholarly ways of knowing, another dynamic moves to explore “the deep things of the person,” and to generate from hidden resources new, and sometimes powerful, insights that transform the horizons of intelligibility…Kierkegaard called this generative I the human spirit.

Much more must be said about this dynamic, but here let me introduce the human spirit, the uninvited guest in every meaningful knowing event and the dynamic that unobtrusively directs and shapes them all. This dynamic can be characterized as a coherent pattern of knowing which draws into a different whole the many splintered ways we are taught to think. Although this pattern does not emphasize cognitive behavior, its power to shape cognition is familiar to us in acts of creativity and scientific discovery. It is not predominantly a passionate, Dionysian way of knowing, but it is profoundly evident in the intuition and affective ways we know each other in acts of love and compassion. It does not stress either the transcendent self or the immanent self at the expense of the other, but tends to accentuate the dual unity of the self by holding transcendence and immanence together and apart at the same time (as discussed in Chapter 3).

Essential to the spirit’s nature is its wind-like quality; it often takes us by surprise and leads us where we would not otherwise go. Its deeper characteristic, however, is its integrity in driving toward meaning and wholeness in every complex and variegated context. Thus, in an understanding of the spirit, continuity and discontinuity must be combined in a patterned process that does justice to both in the context of a single act of event. This study proposes to show how they are combined in what will be called the logic of transformation.

The steps of this logic are as follows:

oie_deep_breath(1) Confict-in-context. In a given context, the deep movement of the human spirit begins in restless incoherence, dichotomy, or fragmented situations…which defy our elemental longings for coherence. The spirit’s movement is “deep” because often the basic incoherence is more unconscious than conscious. Furthermore, the generative powers of the spirit are not sufficiently engaged until unconscious resources become involved in resolving the incoherence.

(2) Interlude for scanning. Whether conscious or unconscious, the spirit in the psyche cannot rest with incoherence. Although much of human activity, intellectual as well as experiential, is random and inconsistent, the inner drive toward consistency and the resolution of dissonance is a persistent force in psychic life. Thus once a conflict is engaged, the spirit begins the search for resolution. It scans inward and outward for relevant possibilities and prototypes beyond the frame of the problem…that can overcome the discrepancies which are not consistent with the integrity of our research or of our souls.

(3) Insight felt with intuitive force. Sooner or later the ingenuity of the spirit will surprise and often delight us with a constructive resolution that reconstellates the elements of the incoherence and creates a new, more comprehensive context of meaning. This new context transforms the previously conflicted elements or frames of reference, yet without distorting their integrity.

(4) Release and repattering. It is a basic principle of the spirit that energy is invested in and bound by the incoherence, holding on to the conflicted elements so as to effect, if possible, a transformation. Consequently, when the constructive resolution appears, there is a release of energy bound up with the conflict. This “aha,” “Eureka,” or “Hosana” effect is not an incidental byproduct of an otherwise clear-cut logical sequence; it is the usually necessary but not sufficient evidence that the resolution fits. Energy is now available for testing and repattering the original situation in light of the new resolution.

(5) Interpretation and verification. In keeping with this drive toward completion and continuity, the spirit eventually seeks confirmation and verification by interpreting the insight back into the incoherence to see whether its conditions have been met. Finally, the resolution must be submitted to a public test.

These five steps, in their systemic interconnectedness, constitute the logic of transformation inherent in the human spirit. Here it is important to understand that transformation is not merely a synonym for positive change. Rather it occurs whenever, within a given frame of reference or experience, hidden order of coherence and meaning emerge to alter the axioms of the given frame and reorder its elements accordingly.

The pattern described above is easily recognized in common acts of constructive experience…in acts of scientific discovery, and in creative work in the arts or literature. However, in such examples the human spirit is operating largely under the agency of the human ago, which does not itself undergo transformation. Let us suppose that the conflicted situation, vacuum, or void was endemic to the ego itself. Then, would this pattered process still pertain? The basic answer of this study will be “yes,” but in such cases the logic of transformation is transposed to the level of divine action. In this the Holy Spirit as Spiritus Creator, whose mission beings and ends in the inner life of God, transforms the human ego—and by implication, then, all human transformations which issue from the ego are themselves transformed.

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