The IDS Motto "Apply the Chi & DIY"

First, "Apply the Chi":

  • Chi, X, is the 22nd letter in the Greek alphabet; its structure seems to suggest a “crossing,” as it were, or even a physical cross.
  • Chiasm (or chiasmus) is a rhetorical device based on this suggestion; it reverses syntax (or various other linguistics items) for emphasis, for unity, or for other philosophical reasons having to do with the power of a perspective shift.  The pattern here is AB/BA. For example, Kennedy used a chiasm when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Jesus, following the chiastic tradition of Hebrew scripture, used the device (par excellence!). For instance, at the compelling end of Luke 7, where Jesus is anointed by the woman of “ill repute,” we surmise the following truth: love so as to be forgiven, and, as forgiven, seize the need to love.
  • Again, note the POWER of chiasm. It transcends mere artistic ornamentation. RECONCILIATION, or THE FUSION OF OPPOSITES, always seems to figure into “chiastic thinking.”  The woman who anointed Jesus may have seemed to some to be beyond hope, too “dirty.” But along comes Jesus, applying the chi: “The least will be first”... “I have come not to call the righteous”...etc.
  • The philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty goes as far as to say that the higher purpose of chiasm is to create an “entwining,” a place where irreconcilables meet and touch each other.  He goes on to claim that there is an originary form of chiastic thinking per se, and that it represents an “incarnate principle” (this from a thinker who was apparently not even considering the Son of God in this context).  The goal of such a principle is to “fix things from within” (which sounds like evangelical “meet people where they are”).  Hence, we apply the chi.
  • Back up a bit and NOTE HERE the integrative thinking at work with chiasm. First of all, it takes an integrative mind to transport the device outside of the realm of mere rhetoric and capitalize upon its broader applications (as with Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical turn). Thinking from the perspective of other disciplines helps us realize the fuller import of “crossing things.” 
  • FOR EXAMPLE, from the perspective of theology, we note how Jesus, as He used chiasm, reiterated His overarching ministry of reconciliation—His “crossing over” into the physical realm in order to make the way for our eternal reconciliation with God (which involved, of course, a physical cross).
  • As Christians, we are to apply the “chi of Jesus” to all of our interdisciplinary border crossings (those between disciplines, those between classroom and real world, and those between head and heart). This means that we are to look for reversals and perspective shifts (e.g., what it is like to be an atheist), look inside concepts and thinking patterns which seem to prohibit individuals from finding God (see below), and, finally, look for paths to reconciliation (ways of leading people to Christ).  In short, all of our thinking should come per crucem, through the cross.
  • Along the lines of the second item above (looking inside concepts), TEST YOURSELF and use chiastic thinking to reverse in an efficacious manner the following statement: “the only constant is change” (which was found in an advertisement for ice-climbing gear, but is representative of contemporary thought in general).  HINT: start with the AB/BA reversal: the only change is constant.  Any ideas here?

Second, Do it Yourself:

  • One of the most popular characterizations of interdisciplinarians comes from the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. He claims that we are bricoleurs-- jacks of all trades, to be sure, but also “do it yourself” types who, because we draw from multiple resources, are inclined toward self-motivation, self-education, and...well...just getting the job done (often while others are frozen either by a limited disciplinary perspective or by fear).  The fearlessness of a Christian interdisciplinarian comes from having made so many crosses, so to speak, and from, then, relying on THE CROSS.
  • We live in the age of an increasing emphasis on DIY and its derivatives, not just for aesthetic purposes (as with Punk or Hip-Hop music) , but in light of economic and ecosytematic mandates. Therefore we cry “now more than ever” when it comes to interdisciplinary studies and its tendency toward bricolage, multiple training, and adaptability.
  • There is a one-to-one correspondence between what we learn through our IDS program and what the world needs right now. To wit, consider the following “derivative” blurb from IKEA (found in their 2010 catalogue): “It’s still about doing more with less, challenging convention, being careful with money and not letting a simple thing go to waste...[Today] you have work harder, adapt your ideas and do things differently.”  To apply the chi to this statement, we agree (looking inside this claim) that we might have to do a few things differently today, but we do so in the name of Christ and with the chiastic conviction that some things never change!