July 29, 2009

Unable to turn inward, all fear turns outward

The title is a quote from John D. MacDonald, quoted in the essay "The Enormous Absurdity of Nature" by Paul Carter:

"The culture," adds adventure-fiction writer (and, at times, social philosopher) John D. MacDonald, "has labeled death unthinkable and unspeakable.  One is forbidden even to think about it."  That repression generates a deep cultural sickness: "Unable to turn inward, all fears turn outward."  ...

... And this empty, conventional linear time, within which modern folk live and move and consume but can scarcely be said to have their being, "goes on and on, simply toward a future that these very people refuse to consider, but it cannot go in and in, toward the hidden springs and fountains of life."

I don't agree with the entire essay, but find it thoughtful... especially now as the great health care non-debate continues.  It talks about how modern man, especially in cities, is separated from the life cycle: 

"there is something incredibly charming about nature, but also something harsh and awful."  We evade the harshness; seedtime and harvest become something we encounter only on the supermarket produce shelves.  If we took time to consider nature, we could understand more fully the raw beauty of the life cycle.  In the natural rhythm of life, things are born, grow up, grow old, die and rejoin the Creator.  But we have become nature's misers, hoarding our youth."

We tinker with nature, tame it, push it back, turn Job's wilderness into grudged pockets of museum preservation.  It becomes harder to gain access to a side of God that resonates with the wild passions of the psalms and provides a balance for the tender mercy that Christ preaches in the gospels.  It becomes harder to gain access to the God o fthe Behemoth and Leviathan, the God of the lamb and the dove, "Who eons ago fashioned the trilobite in His hand, Who has put lightning and thunder in the skies and tenderness in our hearts."

Carter notes that Jesus went into the wilderness, the desert, the mountains, for temptation and transfiguration... this is a wild world, God made, not a tame world, and we need, sometimes, to remove our watches and phones and iPods and swim in the wildness, be sparrow, be owl, and pray without grumbling.

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