A Modern Parable: Flying Upside Down

I’m beginning to re-read Dallas Willard‘s The Divine Conspiracy. This is the single most influential book besides the Bible in my faith development to this point. It starts off brilliantly, with this parable:

Recently a pilot was practicing high-speed maneuvers in a jet fighter. She turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent—and flew straight into the ground. She was unaware that she had been flying upside down.

This is a parable of human existence in our times—not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that—but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high-speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side up. Indeed, we are haunted by a strong suspicion that there may be no difference—or at least that it is unknown or irrelevant.

There’s a lot going on in that quote, as is the norm in this book.

2 responses to “A Modern Parable: Flying Upside Down”

  1. This is Willard’s way of critiquing of Western relativism of values. Currently, it has its loudest adherents in the postmodern intellectual movement.

    It is interesting to me that many evagelicals love Willard, but quietly think he is a “silly old realist.” Dallas believes we can know things and that knowning is not of some subjective truth. Truth is never subjective. The great thing about Willard is he remains great friends of many of his intellectual enemies….he never gets angry or offended, like I do.

  2. Hey Sam

    Thanks for leaving the comment. I agree that Willard’s realism puts him out of step with a lot of contemporary thought, but there is a depth to it that I find engrossing.

    What I really appreciate about Willard is how he can be critical of relativism without becoming mean-spirited. I hope to be able to be that kind of critic.

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