Our Insecurity And The Human Predicament

1756 words - 8 pages

Before this class my initial stance on the human predicament was the abuse of power by exploiting others to gain more power, but based on our course readings, and my own reflection, I have learned that this is not entirely the case. Now I believe that the basic human predicament is that we are insecure with our being as individuals because of social standards that have taught us it is right to exploit others for our own benefit. To resolve this issue, we need to take time to reflect, ask questions, and trust in God. When we take these steps, God will empower us to gradually learn to exhibit a “self-forgetting love” as Karl Rahner contends, and taking us closer to social justice and ...view middle of the document...

Compared to the child of pride this child is an example of the sensuality, or an “escape” to a “devotion to limited values” (140) as Niebuhr explains it. As basic as these examples of insecurity are, it is exactly what Niebuhr is presenting in relation to our insecurity, which I believe is the human predicament.
To address our predicament, I think Paul Tillich offers the best first step to gaining a sense of security. In “The Lost Dimension in Religion,” Tillich says we have lost our sense of “depth” and we no longer take the time to ask “why?” Tillich best complements Niebuhr’s argument because whether we overachieve or underachieve, reflection is key to discovering or understanding our purpose. Tillich writes, “I suggest that we call the dimension of depth the religious dimension in man’s nature. Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers that hurt” (42). This suggestion presents a portion of our predicament in its clearest form. Just like the sailor example in Niebuhr’s text, humankind’s anxiety to reach his or her’s full potential represents the sin of sensuality due to a fear of the unknown.
In terms of the effects of pride we often strive meaninglessly as expressed in Tillich’s article, “better and better,’ ‘bigger and bigger,’ ‘more and more” (43). What I propose, as Tillich suggests, is to resolve this predicament by setting time aside in our busy schedules to reflect. We need to take the time to ask ourselves “the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers that hurt” (42). As reflection becomes habitual we will begin to ask questions and understand our purpose according to God’s individual plan for us. This is what Rahner calls “reaching-out”, as analyzed by Theologian Ronald Modras in his book “Ignatian Humanism”.
To explain the significance of “reaching-out” Modras writes, “We reach out for truth, above all for truth about the meaning of human existence, and in doing so find ourselves, like it or not, asking questions about God” (219). The point of this passage is to acknowledge certain aspects of reflection that may will lead us to encounter adversarial ideas, or conclusions that will ultimately lead to greater understandings.
Based on my own experience in our class, among all the theologians we’ve studied, Tillich pushed me to ask questions that I found frightening. Tillich’s theology shared with me another concept of God I could never imagine based on the teachings I was raised to believe in. When I began to ask these questions about God it made me think my understanding of the Lord and our world were completely incorrect, ultimately leading me to question my own being. As shared, while raising questions about our existence, and our relation to God may cause deep personal adversities, this only proves we are in “the state of being concerned about one’s being and being universally” (Tillich 42). This is better than restraining...

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