Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dylan on a Sunday

I was on a plane today reading about incommensurability. I know. I'm so lucky. At least I was sitting in first class. But the idea of incommensurability is related to paradigms in the thought of Thomas Kuhn. And the basic idea there is that its tough sometimes to find a middle term or set of terms that allows one realm of thought to be translated into another. It's a little like arguing who was the greatest basketball player of all time. The game has evolved in so many ways that you can't find a way to say with certainty whether Wilt Chamberlain was better than Shaquille O'Neal. There simply isn't a standard criteria. The realities are incommensurate.

I was sitting with a group of elders and ministers recently, and I despaired over our ability to find a common starting place of a discussion. Some in this church have experienced something of a paradigm shift which makes all their previous questions inconsequential. They simply cannot have a mediating conversation with their past, and those who represent that past.

It's like those pictures where you either see an ugly woman or a beautiful woman, but you can't see both at once. Same details, but a different way of viewing them.

So, I'm reading about all of this with my ipod going and the Dylan tune "Things Have Changed" comes on. The refrain is "I used to care, but things have changed." I know the feeling, things big and things small. Small: I used to follow the build up to March madness with a fevered passion. I may watch the final four, but I really don't care who is in today. Things have changed. And there are bigger things as well. The line that speaks to this for me in the song is "I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can." I know that line. It reminds me of Paul Ricouer. But that's another post. Today, paradigm shifts and Dylan.

Lot of water under the bridge, Lot of other stuff too
Don't get up gentlemen, I'm only passing through

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

I've been walking forty miles of bad road
If the bible is right, the world will explode
I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
Some things are too hot to touch
The human mind can only stand so much
You can't win with a losing hand

1 comment:

JF said...

Maybe the apostle Paul felt incommensurability in his Corinthian correspondence as he pursued a starting place for ministry and with the Galatian churches regarding the essence of gospel.
Your thought led me to think about some of the convesations of Jesus with Israel's leaders. The term "mediating conversation with the past" is stirring my imagination. It has me also thinking about how we live that story and Paul's reflection on ministry in 2 Cor. 5.