Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Love has to return
It’s quite common for moderns to assume that if one is a Christian, then one is hopelessly stupid, bigoted, backward, and given to fundamentalist fantasies and other lost causes. We are all assumed to almost believe in a flat earth, since we believe in other such nonsense like literal six-day creation of the universe by a tribal god, and we can be relied upon to oppose every progressive thought or achievement or legislation to better mankind. It doesn’t help that there are Christians who fit their stereotypes.
I am a Christian. I also believe in a Creator whom I identify as God. I’m a Church member. I believe that the universe is probably as old as scientists say, and that it has become what it now is probably by evolving over time—yes, evolution, at least cosmic, but quite possibly biological as well, seems to be how the Creator God fashions time and space and whatever else is ‘out there.’ I don’t waste my time trying to prove the inerrancy of the Bible as a scientific or social history book. Life itself is its proof.
The God I believe in is not the same god that the atheist doesn’t believe in. The Church I belong to is not the same christianity that the anti-religionist likes to bash and ridicule. The Faith I confess is not the same faith that the end-times prophet or the wild-eyed street preacher pushes, or the diamond-studded evangigolo promises as ‘this is your day.’ No, I believe in, I trust, the God of whom the Bible is written icon, the Church that’s always existed in one piece, and the only Faith that people will die for.
Enough said, these three things exist, and you know where to find them. I don’t tie them as bait or as reward to anything I am about to say, and one doesn’t have to be a Christian or even a believer in God to see, know, and understand this: Nobody alive today has seen or lived in a world where evolution, and God, are honored and followed exclusively, universally, and without question—except for the members of peripheral communal societies whose intention is to do exactly that, to the best of their ability.
Tradition, a word that usually provokes either of two responses, neither of them exactly correct—either you are roused by a usually subliminal indignation, or you are filled with a vague feeling of sweetness and sentimentality. The modern person hates tradition, even when he has been raised in an environment where ‘tradition’ is a component, hence the two either/or responses. This is nobody’s fault, because we’re generations deep in our preoccupation with the philosophy of the ‘modern’ world.
We have to go back before the age of revolutions, even the almost innocent ones (or maybe not so innocent), to a time that most of us regard as the dark ages, although the historical ‘Dark Ages’ (just a Western construct) begin with the fall of Rome and end sometime about five centuries later. What we have been conditioned to call the dark ages is any time or place where our modern civil rights are or were non-existent. There was slavery, inequality of the sexes, superstitious religion, and poverty.
For many moderns, the time we’re living in now are actually nothing better than the dark ages in milder form. For them, we still are suffering from the aforementioned blights, and with regards to three of the four, I agree with them. I oppose slavery, though I am aware that it exists today even more prolifically than in any past age. I oppose superstitious religion, but that is a matter I can do nothing about for anyone but myself. As for poverty, well, that’s an ambiguous state. It can be good or bad; it depends.
What I find outrageous, is that the very people who promote and insist on the truth and primacy and importance of evolutionary theory are the first to oppose it when it doesn’t confirm their prejudices. They believe in evolution but are not willing to let it take its course. They want to take charge of it, be its director. They want to be—in my language the being I call—God. They’ve been doing this even before Darwin gave evolutionary theory its vocabulary. They’ve been taking charge of our evolution.
Or, so they think, because even the many false starts and wrong turns in just one area of evolution, human society, that they’ve taken (many of which are still in process, so we can’t see what their outcome will be) are actually still part of evolution, that mindless, almost eternal thrust forward, onward, and upward, which is from a Christian’s point of view—my own—actually the guiding and providential hand of the Creator and not (forgive me, for calling it) mindless, bringing us, the human race, to Him.
Making themselves enemies of Tradition, which they consider blind, backward, and stifling, thinking themselves superior to it, they have outwitted themselves. Why? Because Tradition is the visible and tangible and practical face of human evolution. It is what has guaranteed that we have survived as a species to this very moment. It is the continuous cutting off of false starts and the discovery of new paths for our emergence as—the living images of God on earth, and possibly, in the universe.
I see. I’ve just made the modern man’s (or woman’s) head spin. How can tradition, which has always been anti-progressive, be viewed as something good for humanity? And the traditionalist, the same head spinning, only in the opposite direction. What do patriotic and religious ceremonies and family holiday get-togethers have to do with becoming (gulp!) the living images of ‘you know Who’? Well, it’s like I said, ‘Nobody alive today has seen or lived in a world where…’ not even me, but we have history.
Let’s start with the one of the four blights of the dark ages which I was unable, with the modernist, to classify as a bad thing—inequality of the sexes. What most people mean when they use this term is that men and women are treated differently in society. They might be doing the same work, but men will be paid more than a woman for doing the same job. Certain professions are open to men only, but not to women. In the recent past, men could vote, and women couldn’t, or do any number of other things.
Well, the modern world has been doing its best to change all this. You’d be stared down or shouted down, if you were to say that many if not all of these changes were actually working against evolution. If you objected to the changes because they were against tradition, well, you might be hissed at, but then ignored and marginalized as a pedantic, old fool. But the relationship between the sexes that we have inherited and is now being discarded is part of our racial evolution and is necessary for our survival.
That relationship can’t be defined as a relationship between equals. Equality between man and woman is not analogous to equality between man and man, which is a relationship of the outer world. The man woman relationship is a meeting of outer world (man) and inner world (woman), where each gender reigns in its own sphere. Man builds and guards the outer world, woman the inner. Man prepares the world for it to be inhabited. Woman provides the inhabitants. She ensures the survival of the race.
The old saying of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’ should have been saved for this moment in human history, where the degradation by transformation of woman has deprived her of her role as the guardian of the survival of the race. The baby thrown out simply dies. There is no next generation now or ever. The equality of the sexes that is promoted by the modern world turns men into women and women into men, but men cannot be mothers, nor women fathers, except in exceptional circumstances.
We all know what some of those exceptional circumstances are. Families lose one parent or the other, and so a father has to be a mother to his kids as best he can. Or a dad dies or abandons the family, and so the mother must be the father too. We have already seen the effects of the latter situation, which is far more common, in every western society. Single parent families are usually headed by women, and the lack of a father’s presence in the lives of children of both genders usually has very negative effects.
Tradition is the source of practices and attitudes which have survived because they worked to ensure the survival of the species, but because it is another name of evolution, it is necessarily going to be in flux. Some things that we did as humans in the past worked for us, but don’t work now. These have to be discarded, but they are not discarded by fiat of revolutions. Evolution takes time, and so Tradition takes time too. Change for the better happens slowly, not cataclysmically, otherwise—catastrophe.
It will not be easy to get back to the main road of our human evolution. By taking charge of our own evolution we’ve drifted so far from that road that it’s almost invisible to us. Fortunately, evolution still works even when we are trying to hi-jack it. Nature always finds a way to correct itself, when agents anti-natural, such as humans under the mystique of false divinity, attempt to divert it from its path. The saying, ‘Love will find a way,’ is another way of expressing the same truth. We’ll get back, at least some of us.
Because the sad truth, the very sad truth is, that the longer we wait, the harder it will be to return to the path of Tradition, the more dangerous, the more costly in human lives. Our whole social experience has to be re-imaged, and it may already be out of our capacity to return, short of another kind of cataclysm—one that we don’t cause in our impatience for radical change, but one which Nature herself will supply. We don’t need to be end-times fundamentalists to prophesy this. Perhaps, it’s not too late.
These thoughts, I am writing as a Christian, and so I am already assured in principle of the survival of the race. I know from the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, and from the example of the universal Church throughout the ages, that what we Orthodox call the ‘Holy Tradition,’ when fully and intentionally accepted, produces a human world in which ‘all things are possible,’ but that this world has not appeared yet. It’s enough to know that it hasn’t, but that it can, when we want it badly enough.
We ourselves are the reason why, no other explanation is necessary. All discussion about human rights and social responsibilities, all the schemes by which we attempt to short-circuit the operation of evolution, to take short cuts by hiding the only possible road (because we abhor it) and carving out for ourselves alternate roads, are simply wasting precious time. Families need to be founded. Fathers need to work, beget and raise children. Mothers need to bear, nourish and teach them. Love has to return to the world.
at 8:57 PM