Syncretism, through strict definition, does not necessarily imply a negative. However, the root of the meaning we derive from the word is unquestionably negative. In a nut-shell, a syncretism is an effort to reconcile, merge, or balance disparate thoughts, philosophies, opinions, beliefs, and/or actions. Thus, the concept takes on significant gravity in philosophical, theological, and socio-political discourse.
In psychological terms, one might define Syncretism as “cognitive dissonance.” Rather, how one’s actions or thoughts are not in alignment with one’s beliefs, principles, or professions.
The term has often been used when describing various unifications of formerly conflicting factions or warring clans; however, I am not fond of this usage since a political or otherwise expedient negotiation of peace to fight a common foe or accomplish a common objective misses the point--in my opinion.
Bringing this nearly forgotten word quickly into modern times, we might suppose the following examples:
- One who believes that it is definitely wrong to steal; but that taking office supplies home for personal use is not really stealing.
- One who might vociferously profess that individual freedom is a higher calling; but may then actively support Socialization and the regulation of certain property rights.
- Another who might profess that telling lies and cheating are reprehensible; but fudging deductions on your tax return is acceptable.
- Consider the person who might believe that the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes is cruel and unusual punishment because human life is sacred; yet, actively supports abortion rights.
- And lest the reader think that I gore my neighbor’s oxen with an uneven hand—Let us also consider the faithful who cherish the freedom of religion guaranteed by our American Constitution; yet want only one theological position be taught in public schools. Hmmmmm….
There is much to consider in this....
[New Text Added October 11, 2007]
I am struck by the notion that much of our personal and societal anxiety is rooted in our in ability to reconcile our syncretisms.
- Marriages dissolve when love is tainted with by selfishness, narcissism, and solipsism.
- Obvious self-interest is trumped by rebellion.
- Future is disregarded at the alter of Now. One could argue that even the most preciousness of this Moment is forgotten by the sense of something even more immediately in mind and in another place.
As we are pulled and cajoled by other place, self, and now we end up floating in waters more uneven than mere relative-ness and subjectivity. That let's us off far too easy. Instead we drift through a life without firmament at all. Denying that laws and principles exist lest they be at any time or place inconvenient in the "then."Blessed is the one who speaks, acts, and lives at one with himself and with God.
And still there is much more to consider in this....