Peter Rollins – We are a fiction

I noted that Peter Rollins was sharing about two ways of creating a community. He said that in a certain sense, we are a fiction, in that there are moments when we realise the stories we tell ourselves are a form of fiction because our beliefs are designed to prevent us from knowing who we are and experiencing the reality of who we are.

The first way of creating a community, according to him, is when we think we have the answers about what will make us happy, and others don’t, and we are always thinking that when we get rid of them, then everything will be fine. However, this prevents us from experiencing the trauma and brokenness and conflict within the community. By getting rid of the perceived opposition or obstacle, we will discover there is an intrinsic antagonism and problem that we need to deal with ourselves, so we actually require this scapegoat in order to continue to survive in this community. We see this phenomenon in churches, whereby it is a way to maintain a sense of identity, and we need an external opposition or obstacle to prevent ourselves from encountering our own brokenness, unknowing, problems and difficulties. The scapegoat mechanism, in which we think the problem is always the other side, has created certain communities such as armies too.

Pete continued to share that another way of creating a community is like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), whereby we acknowledge we are the broken ones, and we find unity in our community. When we embrace our brokenness, we are transformed. He concluded that the good news of christianity is not that we can be happy or we have all the answers, but rather life is shit and we don’t know the answers. We discover that behind the torn curtain/veil in the temple, there is nothing that can make us happy. Then we find in the depths of life itself, not in something over there just beyond our reach, the desire for a better world and to be transformed, not to live after that, but to learn the possibility of living before death.

As mentioned before, I think this perspective is similar to buddhism, in which we learn that there is nothing in this world of impermanence that will make us happy or satisfy us, and to accept that life is suffering and live in a state of non attachment so as to remain in a state of blissful awareness that is not contingent on outward circumstances but rather is based on an inner transformation.

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