The Story of the World

At the first God made the heaven and the earth.

Gen 1:1

Jewish tradition sees the creation of the earth as 10 + 1 stories told. Those 11 stories take the creation through 4 worlds, or better, from the first world into the fourth crossing two.

What are those four worlds?

Four Worlds

Imagine yourself building a chair.

First, you are taken by the idea of making a chair. An enlightening impulse without form – the first world, the world of archetypes.

Second, you draw a plan, a fairly accurate plan. This is more tangible than the idea, but certainly one cannot sit on the chair yet. The second world, the world of creating.

Third, you gather all the material necessary to build the chair and build it. Slowly, the chair starts to take form, to take shape. The third world, the world of shaping.

Forth, you have finished your work and sit down on the chair. The fourth world, the world of matter.

Eleven Stories

The first world contains but one story. It is the story of the crown. It is the most hidden of things, the authority, and also the absolute compassion. When I think of this, I think of the incomprehensible God.

The second world contains three stories. Wisdom is the heavenly love. Discernment is the shaping thought. The third story is all-encompassing knowledge. Many see knowledge not as a story in and of its own, but as the combination and culmination of all stories. Knowledge is not mere information gathering, is intimate knowing, it is relationship and oneness.

The third world contains six stories. The first story here is goodness, love, more concrete. The next one is power, severity. The third harmony and beauty. The forth is victory. The fifth is form giving. And the sixth the foundation.

The fourth world tells but one story again, the story of the kingdom. The kingdom encompasses both the king as well as its dominion, the crown as much as creation.

We see that the eleven stories tell the narrative of the crown becoming a kingdom. Let us make man in our image.

Our Journey back

When man decided to be like God, duality took form. The kingdom was divided from the king, creation lost its crown. Oneness was lost, but for a cause: to start the journey “back”.

This “journey back” can be shown as going back through the stories from the last one to the first to re-unite the kingdom with the crown.

Now, the word “back” is meant very abstractly here. Nobody starts on a higher level and falls. In the beginning, there was no fall. There was a thought, a concept, a word, a logos that became flesh, became conscious, and started to grow.

Each of the stories told has a certain complexity and needs the listener to be able to grasp its content on another level. Each of those stories presume a certain horizon of insight.

As you can see in the example of the chair, the different worlds have different levels of abstraction. To go from chair to the concept of chariness or the original idea of a chair, one has to abstract more and more.

In the fall, man lost the ability of abstract thinking, as both history and the bible tell us. In the bible wee see this in the kind of stories that are told. We can also see this in the life of a single person: we grow from lack of discernment of our surroundings to the ability to understand complex concepts.

This truly reminds me of Spiral Dynamics, the concept I have been working with lately. Suddenly, Spiral Dynamics seems to tell the stories we have been able to rediscover on our journey back. The stories are called v-memes, which stands for value memes, and represented with colours.

The Stories travelled – the first Tier

We beginn in the kingdom as it was and is. The kingdom in its first stage represents paradise, the material surroundings that we more and more start to understand. In the first tier of Spiral Dynamics, we have growing abstraction capabilities, yet only to a degree. Everything still is very close to the actual material world.

Remember the third world above? We in the first tier deconstruct the fourth material world into its components and find out how it works.

Beige – We start with the foundation. Our needs and our understanding are purely material. I am in survival mode, and the world has to serve this to me. Like a baby, we cannot distinguish forms and are totally dependent.

Purple – We then give form to things and recognise that we are separate from others, later we learn to cooperate. We find comfort and security in the family and are thankful for this.

Red – We want to subdue the unknown, we want victory. Lacking deeper insight, we use raw power. But we also discover new land.

Blue – We crave harmony and beauty. Law and order, symmetry and hierarchy widen our view on our journey back to God. Belonging becomes key.

Orange – We discover our brain power, our individuality. Without an understanding of God, this culminates in self-adoration, in humanism. With God, we discover value and identity as children of God.

Green – We learn to truly understand the concept of goodness and love. While in purple, our love encompassed those of the same family or tribe, and in blue those within the same group of harmony, we now grasp the concept of all men being equal. Without God, this culminates in human rights, tolerance, political correctness, and multicultural societies. With God, this tears down boundaries between us and them without loosing ones individuality and therefore outgrows blue.

Humanity in the west is telling three stories at the same time at the moment: the blue traditional story of Christian values and belonging, the orange modern story of economical growth, and the green postmodern story of subjective truths and tolerance.

The emerging Stories – the second Tier

As with the worlds in the Jewish narrative of creation, now comes a dialectic shift, a fundamental change. We come into the second world, the world of planing and creating. A new level of abstraction needs to be reached for the next three stories, of which two are emerging in the world at the moment, while one still is out of reach and undiscovered territory for humanity.

Yellow – We gain knowledge. In a way, this level tells the story of all levels as we for the first time grasp the concept of the beauty and necessity of all levels. We value the prior levels, and long for the coming ones. We integrate the stories told in the first tier and recognise that all of them are necessary to build a chair or rebuild the kingdom. How necessary are those that are capable of taking raw material and shape it into something useful.

We also see that what we called abstraction is but the beginning:

  • Organising hunting for food as a tribe by creating hunting strategies in purple
  • War strategies and power structures in red
  • Hierarchies and institutions, democracy and separation of power in blue
  • Companies and endeavours, scientific research in orange
  • NGO´s, rights movements, and postmoderne philosophy in green

There is an abstraction on top of these abstractions: systemic thinking, cybernetics organises the working together of all those. It provides the blue print for the building of the chair.

Turquoise – We understand the why. We finally have insight into the bigger picture. We see the plan of the chair as part of the whole home with its furniture.

The next level is out of reach for the moment. But the knowledge of the yellow level, the third story in this second world, implanted the desire to go further up. It is God´s plan to lead us there. I can hardly wait.

The Consequence

The church has travelled a long distance since the creation of man, but sadly enough, it has not since the giving of the law on the mount Sinai. Granted, it has integrated some of the story lines of the upcoming stories, but has not grown out of the story told by Moses, the pharisees, the Roman empire, and the Catholic church.

It is caught in the story of harmony through laws and hierarchy, rules and roles. Of course it talks about forgiveness, goodness, love, but on a very low abstraction level of us versus them.

The world has progressed through the stories further, but without the light of the kingdom, the church as thought leader, it has told the stories wrong and confused.

Let us travel the road less travelled and become what we are called to be: the story tellers to the world to reunite the kingdom with the crown.