by Christopher Harbin

Exchanging Paradigms
Christopher B. Harbin
Mark 10:35-45

Shifting paradigms is difficult for us. We have learned ways of negotiating the world around us, and our cultural, social, and educational inertia keeps us following the same paradigms we have already learned. We do that even when presented with new evidence that there is a better way of understanding the world or completing a task at hand. We keep to what we consider tried and true, even if when presented with a more promising strategy for fulfilling our objectives. Life is easier that way. It takes less emotional energy to keep things as we have learned them to be. It takes too much energy to adapt to a new paradigm. We may not even recognize when we fail to shift our actions and attitudes according to new understandings that we have officially accepted.

I had an education professor who travelled to an indigenous group in Brazil to teach them about sanitation and water purification. The process of using filters, why, and how they worked was explained and left with them. After a few months, there was a return to check on them. When asked about the filters, they were excited. Yes, they were working really well now. The water just poured out of them without the earlier wait time. Upon examination, the filters were cracked. They were happily using them, but had not grasped what was needed for shifting their paradigms on illness from contaminated water.

James and John had issues with Jesus' teaching, even if they did not recognize them for what they were. They had heard Jesus' words along with the rest of the twelve, but those words had not yet transformed their paradigms for living. Jesus had talked about becoming servants of all. Jesus had talked about and evidenced a new way of accepting people from all walks of life and social categories. Jesus had welcomed people the larger religious society shunned as a matter of course. Jesus had left some of those religious society deemed obviously acceptable ...

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