Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The (ideal) Family is uniquely able to synthesise the individual and the group, on a permanent basis

When I try to imagine the most perfect form of society, I come up with the family: a conscious and creative return to family.

We begin as unconscious family members, taking it for granted and having no alternative. In adolescence our consciousness becomes detached from the family - and we become aware that it is not the only option, that as individuals we are distinct from the family.

Ideally, at the moment of complete conscious separation, we will choose to return to the family in love - and that is adulthood.

The 'utopian' family (which has been, in fact, realised in real-life practice many times - albeit briefly and insecurely) is a 'structure' which forms around individuals who are held-together by love.

In other words, the family is not a structure but a process; it 'dynamically' coheres because of the love between members (the family being defined by this love; and different families linked-by this love - as with marriage or true-friendship). It remains coherent because each family member individually is 'pointing in the same direction', has the same ultimate goal.

Individuals in a family are infinitely-various means to the same end.

In an ideal family we do not pick-from and fit-into a finite set of predetermined roles; but instead (held together by love, aligned by sharing God's purpose) the family adjusts around the actual nature of each individual, the individual doing the same for other family members. This adjustment is always on-going, never fixed; and so long as love prevails, it can accommodate all true developments - that is all developments that come from the real, divine, inner-nature of the members.

If a family member develops in some unique and unforeseen way (and, in a sense, everybody does this, all the time) - if he develops needs and drives - then that individual and the family will make mutual adjustments to accommodate and make the most of this situation.

The family group, together, gets things done; the individuals are each unique and can develop in unplanned, unpredictable ways due to their unfolding inner natures. 

In mortal life, we cannot always attain or maintain this perfection of mutual love. Mortal life is intrinsically changeable, as befits a time of learning. But, having learned this from living; I do not find it difficult to imagine how this is exactly what happens in Heaven - but there, always and permanently.

When family members are permanently aligned in aim and bound by love - that is, when each member has been resurrected to life everlasting, has made the eternal choice of Heaven, and has become permanently aligned with God's creative will through love... then they all can work together creatively; participate with existing creation; work together in extending the divine work.

(That is the 'job' of Heaven.)

I cannot imagine anything I could want more that this open-ended life of eternal and loving creation - each person contributing what he is uniquely able and wanting to contribute, from his developing nature - which is why I am a Christian, since this is exactly what Jesus offered, and was able to give-us.

On the other hand, I can perceive - with sadness - that such a vision of Life Eternal does not seem to appeal to everyone; and not even to all of the people that I have loved and do love.

So I try to inspire people with a vision of this possibility.

However, love just-is and must-be voluntary, and participation in creation likewise - and that constraint is its strength.


Francis Berger said...

No comment, just a compliment.

This is the one of the finest blog posts I have read thus far this year - not just here, but anywhere. Inspiring. It should be printed out, framed, and placed on a wall in every home.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Francis - I'm very pleased you like it. Perhaps it is the synchronicity fairies at work, as so often?

Anonymous said...

I hesitate to write this, but perhaps for the benefit of other readers:

As for the family business - perhaps there are families in Heaven, what do I know?

However, what I DO know, is that if you are unwilling to abandon something - including a family - for the sake of God, you are hampering your spiritual progress.

If you choose God only if he lets you keep your family, you do not really choose God.


Bruce Charlton said...

@LC - It is a false dichotomy.