Saturday, August 27, 2016

Who Is the Gameboard?

As I've watched people around me struggle with a variety of issues, I've also been observing whether or not they feel they have any power in situations.  I recently came across a great way of refocusing this idea.

In this post, MaryAnn McKibben Dana references the work of Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander's The Art of Possibility when she advises:  "Be the gameboard." 

So many of us see ourselves as helpless game pieces, moved by unseen hands, participating in strategies we do not fully understand.  Maybe those hands are those of our boss or upper management or the distant corporations that seem to have acquired all of our American institutions.

What happens if we see those unseen hands as God's hands?  I have real theological trouble with that view of God, that view that everything happens for a reason, a reason known only to God.  I don't believe in God as puppetmaster.  God as gamesplayer, controlling all the pieces--where is the room for free will in that.

So what happens when we view ourselves as the gameboard, not the person playing the game? MaryAnn McKibben Dana  includes this quote from Zander and Zander:  "When you identify yourself as a single chess piece—and by analogy, as an individual in a particular role—you can only react to, complain about, or resist the moves that interrupted your plans. But if you name yourself as the board itself, you can turn all your attention to what you want to see happen, with none paid to what you need to win or fight or fix. …One by one, you bring everything you have been resisting into the fold. You, as the board, make room for all the moves, for the capture of the knight *and* the sacrifice of your bishop… for your miserable childhood *and* the circumstances of your parents’ lives… Why? Because that is what is there. It is the way things are." (emphasis in the original)

I have also started to wonder how our view of God changes if we see God as the gameboard?  We get away from the idea of a God who can control all.  In some ways, we might move to a more widely expansive view of God, a God who is everywhere, not in some distant space like Heaven.  We might also move to a more sacramental view of God.

And maybe we'd move away from some of the dangerous aspects of seeing life as a giant game.

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