Toward Teleios

So, I've been blogging for a few years now, and I have always wanted to have a custom url name, as many of my friends and other respected bloggers do. But, admits this "want", I've been intimidated about setting one up. It can be so much pressure! I'm not sure why - maybe it's my pride, or maybe I have feelings of inadequacy. Regardless, as I've recently been reading a lot of blogs about productivity, efficiency, and overall streamlining your life, I've seen that a lot of these blogs all share the same trait: intentionality. This synthesizes their blogs, and is a constant theme behind everything that they post.

That got me thinking about my own posts, my purpose, and my hopes with this site. I've written on philosophy, literature, theology, songs, comic books, paintings, and the list goes on. I've written short stories, poems, as well as posted visual art pieces I've worked on. Holding all of these random things together is a common thread, to which I was first made aware of through reading Mikhail Bakhtin. This thread: teleios.

Teleios

I've been reading Mikhail Bakhtin for almost four years now, and with each page I read - or reread - I grow more passionate about a piece of theology that he continuously preached throughout his books. This idea, as you've probably guessed, is "teleios", which is the Greek term for wholeness, completion, and perfection.

You see this term translated as "perfection" in James and Matthew. But, I have to ask, are we really taking away the full breadth of this idea's content, or are we limiting ourselves?

  • James 3:2 - For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
    • And to this, I've heard a fair share of people insinuate it as an impossible metaphor, there to make a statement. Ok... let's put a pin in that, and move to Matthew.
  • Matthew 19:21 - Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
    • Here, too, I've heard dismissing interpretations, pointing to this as another impossibility, used just to indicate the rich man's idolatry. And maybe this is just me, but isn't that a bit too nihilistic of this would-be evangelistic story then? So... what else?
  • Matthew 5:48 - You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    • Ok, this is kind of a hard one to ignore. But sadly, it's still easy to misinterpret. The most common perspective I observe of how we approach this is through some moral/ethical checklists: "Don't listen to this", "Don't say that", etc.

Ok, I'll quit proof-texting, because as I sit here with these interpretations, you can easily be sitting there disagreeing, reading with your own. So, what of the chapters that these sit within? Or, what of the Bible as a whole? What is the purpose of Christ's work? What is the Gospel? What does the narrative of God and Creation amass to? Is it not the healing of sickness, the mending of brokenness, and the restoration of what has fallen? Isn't the Gospel about making the fragmented, splintered, and schismed self whole and complete as it once was in Eden? If not, why have a verse like "And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'"? Christ has made the broken person whole, and restored to him that which he lacked.

So What of this Blog?

When I first began working through this blog I decided to dedicate everything to that one ingredient that would (hopefully) make all of my posts' random flavors stand out, while simultaneously blend them together as well. Striving toward teleios is that seasoning. It is this site's nucleus, which gives both balance and gravity to all of the peripheral things that happen on here. Here's what I mean, if we as a Church live as "theo-thinkers" for say 20 hours a week (and I feel like that's being generous), and the rest is devoted to family, friends, entertainment, relaxing, hobbies, etc. couldn't we learn how to better merge those splintered traits together - and be theo-thinkers 100% of the time, regardless of the activity?

So, I'll continue to write about all of those random things we enjoy - movies, books, ideas, art, songs, theologians/philosophers, poems, and more - with the hopes of NOT discouraging us from enjoying them... but instead, enjoying them in Christ. And why? Ultimately, so that we can blend the most impotent things of our lives together, and live as one whole person in Christ, as opposed to some office-manager distributing work orders to the compartmentalized cubicles of our souls.

The Catch

We can't do it by ourselves. We want to go off in our soul's little cubicles, scurrying from one to another, and hide from life. But that's not growth. That's not life. Here's my favorite quote of the past 2 years:

The thought does not live in the mind only. If it remains there, it degenerates and dies. - Bakhtin (Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics)

It needs to be brought out, and moved to a place where it can engage others. So, here's what I'd love... Jump into these posts with me. Comment, start a conversation with me, or better yet, with others here. I don't have all of this worked out, and attempting to live whole and complete as a Christian who loves whatever silly hobby, music, or random "thing" can sometimes just seem near impossible. I might not hit on something in a blog that needed to be addressed, but you noticed it. Chime in! Help us out. And let's work through all of the theology and philosophy we each encounter everyday.


Ultimately, not to sound too much like your old elementary Sunday School class, but the Church needs each other. Plus, monologues can just be plain boring.