Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Suicide of the West Part 1: the gods have fled our gold-infested amnesia

 "For love expires as soon as gods have flown" 

The Death of Empedocles, Holderlin

The perfect storm - suicide rates are skyrocketing, not only are people not having babies, they're not even having sex- and this is true all across the Western world.

The gods have fled, taking our very life with them.
Unless a man prepare an abode for the gods, the gods will not return.

But perhaps they have not fled, perhaps we have stopped remembering them.

The physicist
Rupert Sheldrake claims the brain is not like a computer. It's more like a television receiver that tunes into the cosmic consciousness that is everywhere, and that when we remember something from long ago, we actually "morphically resonate" with ourselves in the past through morphic fields that exist through time and space.

Remembering is an active practice, by doing so we morphically resonate, and incarnate, God’s presence in the world.

“our knowing is connected to what we do with our bodies. We don’t know as disembodied minds; without bodies and the tools by which we extend our bodies, we couldn’t know at all. Further, we don’t come to know in isolation but in community—specifically, in communal rites.we practice rites to know”

Now most of our secular rites orient us toward a particular, materialistic view of reality, which is supported and constantly reinforced by todays dominant ideologies and hammered home by the presumptions of todays discourse. We can see this in secular religious constructs, in concepts like ‘ego’ and ‘unconscious’ which are immaterial abstract entities that somehow hold values or morals, which themselves are reified from direct experience and  abstracted into theories of nuerochemical reactions of evolutionary forces.

 In the past daily rituals pointed us toward the Divine, mediated by whatever cultural form happened to be then dominant. In this highly aberrant historical period instead of projecting angels we project other “scientific” symbols in which to interpret reality, equally mysterious, baffling, invisible, often imbuing them with the same casual powers as spirits.

Weber observed while “many old gods ascend from their graves,” they are quickly “disenchanted,” taking “the form of impersonal forces.”

Perhaps we haven’t disenchanted the Earth, but rather enchanted it with the anti-gods of atheism.

Phenomenologically, these secular rituals shape us into intending, and creating, certain worlds.

James K.A.Smith writes,

Human persons are intentional creatures whose fundamental way of 'intending' the world is love or desire. This love or desire--which is unconscious or noncognitive--is always aimed as some vision of the good life, some particular articulation of the kingdom. What primes us to be so oriented--and act accordingly--is a set of habits or dispositions that are formed in us through affective, bodily means, especially bodily practices, routines, or rituals that grab hold of our hearts through our imagination, which is closely lined to our bodily senses...

...liturgies - whether "sacred" or "secular" - shape and constitute our identities by forming our most fundamental desires and our most basic attunement to the world. In short, liturgies make us certain kinds of people, and what defines us is what we love

While we typically think of liturgies in terms of religious practice, Smith says that "some so-called secular rituals actually constitute liturgies". Smith defines liturgies as "species of practice" or "rituals of ultimate concern" which are "formative for identity," "inculcate particular visions of the good life," and "do so in a way that means to trump other ritual formations"

The liturgy is a “hearts and minds” strategy, a pedagogy that trains us as disciples precisely by putting our bodies through a regimen of repeated practices that get hold of our heart and “aim” our love toward the kingdom of God. Before we articulate a worldview, we worship. . . . Before we theorize the nature of God, we sing his praises. . . . Before we think, we pray. That’s the kind of animals we are, first and foremost: loving, desiring, affective, liturgical animals who, for the most part, don’t inhabit the world as thinkers or cognitive machines. . . . My contention is that given the sorts of animals we are, we pray before we believe, we worship before we know—or rather, we worship in order to know."

We live in a technological society, with inhuman rituals, unnaturally, we make machine men. 

‘I have heard my teacher say that whoever uses machines does all his work like a machine. He who does his work like a machine grows a heart like a machine, and he who carries the heart of a machine in his breast loses his simplicity. He who has lost his simplicity becomes unsure in the strivings of his soul. Uncertainty in the strivings of the soul is something which does not agree with honest sense. It is not that I do not know of such things; I am ashamed to use them.’

- Chinese proverb (related by Heisenberg.)

The theologian David Bentley Hart opines,

“I am not disposed to believe that their cultures are somehow more primitive or unreasoning than ours. It is true they come from nations that enjoy nothing like our economic and technological advantages; but, since these advantages are as likely to distract us from reality as to grant us any special insight into it, that fact scarcely rises to the level of irrelevance. Truth be told, there is no remotely plausible reason-apart from a preference for our own presuppositions over those of other peoples-why the convictions and experiences of an African polyglot and philosopher, whose pastoral and social labors oblige him to be engaged immediately in the concrete realities of hundreds of lives, should command less rational assent from us than the small, unproven, doctrinaire certitudes of persons who spend their lives in supermarkets and before television screens and immured in the sterile, hallucinatory seclusion of their private studies.”

Instead of waiting for God, God is waiting for us, waiting for us to make a bow to him in our hearts. We do this by remembrance, plato called it anamnesis, In Christianity we recall God with our whole body reliving the Life of Christ in the liturgical rhythms of the year, and we experience the crucifixion and resurrection event of Christ during the liturgy, incarnating the birth of the universe ritually.

 Forget about Protestantism with their leases and contracts, this is about being caught up in the life of God, being grafted like a Vine onto his Life Giving Tree which is the cross.

In this way we co-create with God, we sanctify the Earth by ritually offering it to God where it is blessed with life giving grace before being returned to us, otherwise it can only be dead matter, death-giving.

We took the apple and it gave us death, in the mythical Garden. When something is given it is ontologically changed as a vehicle for Grace, by giving it to God it is charged with life.

During the Eucharist we give God the most valuable gift of all, Himself. We offer God to God, God surrenders, becomes a weak human that lay in our arms that we can then give back to Him. The Eucharist is then blessed with God the source of all values and given back to us which we consume. 

In the same way when we offer our life to God it is given back to us in a blessed life giving form.

That less we bless the world the more death gains the upper hand, Plato noted that material has a natural entropy to it tending towards chaos, it is through religious ritual that we give it form to maintain its integrity, this is true of social formations as well.

By giving creation to God, it is given back to us enchanted, filled with value and meaning.

The modern Enlightenment View has the idea that everything is just a bunch of atoms and matter, but that's not our real experience, that's just an idea.

Steal a ring. It’s just a bunch of atoms. It’s value is exclusively monetary. But, if given a ring, someone intending it as a gift to us, all of a sudden it presents itself as having “sentimental values” as well. Both are symbolic, gold is just a rock, but phenomenologically, appears as something flushed with meaning when received as gift. This is how we make the world meaningful - we gift things, and receive them as gifts.

Now maybe, just maybe, when something is given, it’s ontological structure changes as well, after all, it presents itself not as a bunch of atoms to our rational intellect, but an entire world of meanings now present themselves to our intuition as well.

If what I wrote has any truth, then Life can only be received if it is received as gift, otherwise it will be experienced as a burden forced upon one - as a living death.

And I think it can only be received as gift if it is then given as gift - to God, others, the world etc

A gift economy doesn’t do away with financial compensation, but it doesn't level all transaction to that only. In a small local community, where people know each other, that wedding cake can also be given as an expression of love.

There's nothing wrong with a market economy, profits, or corporation set organically within a hierarchy of social values, however late capitalism has taken on a specific cultural form the shapes humanity to intend death-full practices.

It is its own ritual, or rather anti-ritual.

After all even Marx characterized capitalism as taking on a religious function, a modern monetary animism

Eugene McCarraher notes that the anarchist mystical misfit Simone Weil 

“speculated that just as “yeast only makes the dough rise if it is mixed with it,” so in the same way “there exist certain material conditions for the supernatural operation of the divine that is present on earth.” The knowledge of those “material conditions” for “supernatural operation” would, Weil surmised, constitute “the true knowledge of social mechanics.” If matter is not exactly “animate,” the material world of society and history could be a conduit for divinity. Because we have “forgotten the existence of a divine order of the universe,” we fail to see that “labor, art, and science are only different ways of entering into contact with it.”

As Rowan Williams explains, sacramentality entails the belief that “material things carry their fullest meaning … when they are the medium of gift, not instruments of control or objects for accumulation.”

McCarrher continues,

"This sacramental critique of Marxist metaphysics would not be that it is “too materialist” but rather that it is not materialist enough—that is, that it does not provide an adequate account of matter itself, of its sacramental and revelatory character. Sacramentality has ontological and social implications, for the “gift” that Williams identifies is “God’s grace and the common life thus formed.”

It is us up to us to offer the world to God, receive it back full of grace and meaning, otherwise this world can only give Death.

The solution is a radical revolution of the Sacramental imagination, such as these cracked mystics are attempting HERE


No comments:

Post a Comment