Thursday, April 7, 2011

She Taught My Class about Nietzsche and I Agreed.

The wisp of a young lady with mild voice to match was in odd juxtaposition to a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche on the screen behind her. Mild and tender she stood, representing democracy, affluence, and higher education while utilizing the voice of one whose philosophy and impact stood against all she represented. I doubt my eighth graders could even have adequately had explained to them the dark absurdity of the moment that I felt. From an educational standpoint, this moment was more important for the intern than my students. She was visiting from a local university and meeting the expectations of her curriculum by being a guest teacher in my class. My students would need a bit more education for the proper digesting of the many connections I was making in this moment.

As I read the quote on the screen with my students, (No I had not pre-screened what she would do with my class, but that is another story.) I immediately recognized the "truth" of his words. A "truth" through which the sin of man across time and with expanding consequence today I observe inflicts much, much pain upon humans.

From the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
"Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher of the late 19th century who challenged the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality. He was interested in the enhancement of individual and cultural health, and believed in life, creativity, power, and the realities of the world we live in, rather than those situated in a world beyond. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation,” which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be. Often referred to as one of the first existentialist philosophers along with Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855), Nietzsche's revitalizing philosophy has inspired leading figures in all walks of cultural life, including dancers, poets, novelists, painters, psychologists, philosophers, sociologists and social revolutionaries."

However, the significant connection made does not lead to a rant against Nietzsche over his "immoral" view. I found myself understanding how he agrees with our Father! In the beginning, humanity was told not to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil. Nietzsche's existentialism is the seminal idea and function of the Great Lie of Satan, "you will be like God". This lie is the root of our Father's admonition to leave moralizing alone, don't eat that fruit! There can be no human way which is right--even those ways labeled "Christian," resulting in at least 30,000 denominations worldwide or Christianity, Burger King style, have it your way.

Of course, Nietzsche thinks and expounds from within his box of existentialism. His quote itself says it, "I have my way." He views the world and speaks of truth by defining from within his limits. Though he accurately defines, perhaps, a human position that explains "reality," it is simply as far as he can see--and he doesn't look far enough.

Mr. Nietzsche, you are correct, there is no "correct way" of anything. There is, however, a humanity that exists on a different plane. It is a plane determined by the Father, the Creator God, of what we see around us materially, but such plane as leveled within completely different parameters than the material world, for which our best word is spiritual. This spiritual plane is the absolute Truth about humanity...and more beyond. The cross from a limited view within the material plane to a timeless, spiritual plane is the Cross of Jesus. While we remain here in the material, any human has the opportunity to experience the reality of this spiritual plane, but it isn't done by acts for right or against wrong. Such is the fodder of the moralist to be sure and of the existentialist such as yourself, as well.

The attempt to make life right or wrong within a Christian viewpoint has resulted in a fragmented experience that seems to verify what you postulate, Mr. Nietzsche, but that simply underscores what is truly needed. I will allow you this, Sir, Christianity reduces itself to existentialism when it adopts a knowledge base formed from the need to define good and evil-- eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, eh?

The substance of Christianity isn't moral-ism, but to simply know Jesus is the way. This way of being is neither right nor wrong. It transcends such materialism and is the spiritual plane of holiness, the very Presence of God, Himself.


Carey Rowland said...

Your engagement with the intern represents an interface between worldviews. This reminds me of my experience about five years ago when I began taking college courses again (at that same "local" university you mention)after completing being apart from academia since 1973, and
after spending twenty years in an isolated holy bubble (let the reader understand.)
I must say that understanding of Nietsche has changed little during that time at it is this: If a man (the existentialist man himself) does not subscribe to God's revelation, then he reverts to "the will to power," which is: whatever we can make happen, we will make happen, also aka (oversimplifying for brevity) social darwinism, but identified by the prophet Daniel thousands of years ago as:
the god of forces,
what a man reveres when he passes by the God of love.

Josiah said...

I remember sitting in a Senior Seminar Nietzsche Foucault Philosophy class at our local university and having the distinct impression that Nietzsche was like a man on a trampoline arguing with gravity.

We are intended to fly but the will to power does not provide, in the words of Geoffrey Canada, escape velocity.