Sparkling Lights and the Empty Church

The Casino’s flashing and sparkling lights

The flashing lights and thunderous sound of rock concerts

But my church is candle-lit and placid

No one comes to my church

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An Environment Evacuated of God

I think we live in a world evacuated of God.  Back in the late 19th century Nietzsche prophesied the death of God, “Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the horizon?”  We are now in the 21st century, and in most public spheres God is dead.

What this means is that 21st century western society has lost the sense of the sacred.  We hold little sacred, do not hold each other sacred, do not hold the universe sacred.

This means that Nature is not sacred Creation.  It is a collection of unfeeling elements, molecules, atoms, quarks, and quantum fields.  That’s what makes a tree grow, a flower bloom, a river flow, the sunrise.

Since Nature is not sacred, it is easy for us to do what we want with Nature.  We can burn its forests, throw our garbage into its ocean, pipe our defecation and industrial waste into its rivers, kill its wales, tigers, bald eagles, fill the heavens with sulphurous fumes, carbon dioxide, soot, and fluorocarbons.

If we treated our fellow humans like this, we would be arrested, convicted, and incarcerated.  But doing all these things to Nature ends up doing them to each other.  Oxygen comes from forests, we fish the oceans, drink rivers, breathe the air, and animals are our fellows.  We think so little of each other, that we don’t recoil from indirectly hurting each other by violating Sacred Gaea.

I’m not sure science and legislation can fix our eco-system without humanity recovering a sense of the sacred.  And I’m not sure we can return to our holy roots and find our way back to the sacred.

Trends, Styles, and the Self

It seems that every time period is plagued by trends and styles.  I am old enough to have seen many come and go.  In my teens, it was “Do your own thing; be an individual; peace, love.”  I watched some of the music, now rock classics, yield to the sensitive, bland, forgotten music of the late ’70’s.  I remember fading out of pop culture in the late ’70’s and listening to classical music (symphony, not rock).  Then came the ’80’s with money, power, cocaine, preps and Yuppies.  I rebelled against these values angrily, though I was, myself, a prep at Harvard.  I can’t find a trend that dominated the ’90’s.  But today, it seems that LGBT is the centre of gravity, along with eco-justice, women’s issues, and pop culture.

I’d like to think that in universities there is free intellectual inquiry.  But this is not the case.  There are styles and trends there too.  Back in the late ’50’s, symbolic logic was the rage.  Philosophers and even anthropologists wrote their ideas in those strange (laughable) symbols trying to look all mathematical and scientific.  That eventually got debunked.  Then I remember existentialism coming around.  When I was in grad school and when I graduated from grad school, it was all gender issues, power dynamics, wealth and poverty issues, and Nietzsche was the prevailing world-view, along with Richard Rorty.  I watched Derrida and deconstruction come and go in about a decade.

The thing about trends is that there is power behind them.  If a person wants to talk to others in society, he or she needs to buy into the current trends.  The alternative appears to be isolation.  And if a person wants to publish, one needs to write and think in the terms that are current.  But I believe that everyone has an intuitive sense of the true.  I believe that Emerson called it the Oversoul.  We know when a given trend is ridiculous, or doesn’t fit with human experience we know.  We sense the vacuity of certain ideologies.  I believe that’s why I turned to classical music in the late ’70’s, for instance.

Some people dedicate their lives to following trends.  It is their quest to recognize the prevailing trends immediately so that they can be in the vanguard.  In the ’90’s it was goatees, in the mid-2000’s it was mountain-man beards.  Maybe in Hollywood or fashion this is a necessity to survive or to make a fortune.  But I suppose there is enough of the old hippie in me not to worry too much about trends and to follow my Oversoul.