=== This is another part of my paper for a doctoral course. As I mentioned in the first post, part of being created in the image of God is that we are drawn to community. But, what has sin done to that community? ===
If expulsion from Paradise is individual punishment, expulsion from Babel is the application of the punishment of Eden to the communal side of human beings. The next couple of paragraphs are revised from the earlier paper on contextual systems diagrams but are quite applicable here.
The Bible tells us that there was a time when, “… the whole earth was one language and one speech,” (Gen 11:1, OSB). God responded to that rather strongly.
Then the Lord said, “Indeed, the people are one race and one language, and they have begun to do what they said. Now they will not fail to accomplish what they have undertaken. Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad …, (Gen 11:6-8a, OSB)
Were it not for the fact that God has placed a limiter on us, an inability to fully come together, we might be able to accomplish what we undertake. Given our innate sinfulness, inevitably this would lead to twisted and evil results.
One only need look at the great horrors of history, when people did manage to come together as one, to know the possibilities for evil. Whether uncontrolled fascism or uncontrolled communism, whether religious excess or anti-religious excess, the power of systems is not only raw power, but also the power to convince, coerce, and command. While it is true that the Axis powers were overcome by the Allies, nevertheless, it was a close thing. Yet, even in victory, evil managed to take its toll on Eastern Europe for forty-some years.
This is why the study of systems is so crucial to all people of good will. There is a worthwhile comment by Dr. Gilbert at the beginning of a book on Bowen theory, “… for the human, togetherness is more of a problem than a solution,” (Gilbert 2006, 20). This is true.
One finds togetherness being a positive challenge or a negative problem to be particularly true in organizations that are under some type of outward pressure. This has been recognized since before the days of William Shakespeare.
But we in it shall be remembered – we few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. (Shakespeare, Mowat, and Werstine 1995, Act IV, Scene III)
An organization under pressure tends to form even tighter bonds than a regular organization. As King Henry V makes his speech, Shakespeare has him express that a closeness has developed that is unusual, particularly in the early 1400s, when the division between noble and commoner was still so deep. In this case, pressure has ennobled the relationships and taken them to a level of unity in which the outward differences have begun to fade and a unity of purpose has arisen that will allow them to overcome the greater enemy numbers. Shakespeare even has his King Henry V character refer to this by familial terms. They have become brothers. They have begun to image the familial ties of the Holy Trinity. In this case, the synergy mentioned earlier functioned to give the victory, (Upton, Janeka, and Ferraro 2014). This is an example of a positive outcome for a community under severe stress.
Nevertheless, an organizational structure can also develop a pathological group ideology that can severely affect its functioning.
Complex social matters are compressed with the help of group ideology into what first appear to be plausible and correct forms of interpretation and explanation. … Group ideology is the moral mainstay and absolute norm for terrorists, which not only permits the violations of norms and laws within the society being opposed but makes is a moral duty. … Group ideology is a decisive factor in group cohesion. It welds the individuals into a tightly knit community. … [I]t gains as it were a quasi-religious character, with a sacrosanct quality. (Merkl 1986, 219-220)
Notice Merkl’s conclusion, “… it gains as it were a quasi-religious character, with a sacrosanct quality.” Again, shades of the Holy Trinity, but in this case a dark malevolent copy of true familial/community relationships. This is more of an image of the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the Beast. Though this paper was written about the German terrorist groups prior to 1986, such as the Baader-Meinhof Group, the conclusion is an inadvertently theological one that recapitulates the ontology of human beings as pushing them toward groups, and the members of those groups having not simply an emotional experience, but an almost religious experience, a quasi-religious experience.
This experience of group ideology points back to the Tower of Babel. Once a pathological group ideology has formed, reality is altered, and the group acquires a quasi-religious character. The article cited above points out that there was a severe alteration of reality within the German terrorist groups of that time. West Germany did not have the characteristics of a repressive state which was undermining the poor and the proletariat. Yet, in order to maintain purpose and group cohesion, the perception of reality that the group developed had little in common with the perception of the rest of their fellow citizens or of Europe. More than that, the reality perceived was held with an unshakeable faith in its rightness mediated through its rightful leader.
The problems of the Tower of Babel, that is, the problems created by a damaged human ontology, continue to show up in history. Unless the Chaplain has a solid grasp of the effects of the Fall viz a viz the human desire for unity in a community, the Chaplain will not be able to bring to bear all the spiritual weapons at his or her disposal.