The Power of Polarity

It’s past time the ongoing divide between justice and evangelism was broken down.

The Western mind, by default, seeks resolution of tension, elimination of ambiguity, and distinction in borders. This is true in the world of music, which is mostly storytelling set to song. It is true in the world of television and film, which is mostly storytelling set to action. It is true in the world of the Sunday sermon, which is storytelling set to theology.

But what if the Western mind is wrong? What if we have superimposed a set of assumptions about storytelling that are not universally true? If that were the case, then all kinds of things would be ‘off.’

What if the song didn’t have to end in what musicians call a terminal cadence? What if the movie didn’t have to end with all the points of tension resolved? What if the Sunday sermon didn’t have to end with all the questions answered so that we could live our best life now?

Christian theology, which is mostly the telling of the story of God, is not a Western construct, but because we have thought it so and made it so, we superimpose all kinds of assumptions onto it.

There is a concept in the wild world of storytelling referred to as a ‘polarity.’ Polarities are not native to Western thinking; in fact, it kind of rubs us the wrong way when we encounter them. A polarity is the durable tension that exists between two things that are, in fact, on opposite ends of a spectrum but are not intended to be resolved.

Polarities are not either/or realities, not tensions to be resolved or problems to be fixed. Polarities are durable points of tension to be embraced and lived into. Simple examples of polarities include the need for large and small forms of spiritual expression and interaction, and the personal needs of individuals and the …

Continue reading

Leave a Reply