Friday, January 1, 2016

The Times Really are a Changin'

AS MUCH AS I dislike cliches I think riffing on Bob Dylan's song title is useful, first to point out how a song I bought in high school is now cliche, hence a change in itself, but more significantly to introduce an extended meditation on what I perceive to be a time of profound transition in the history of man. 

When I revisited this blog a few days ago I was surprised that it had been five years since my last post. I wrote then in the midst of a swirl of life events that were part of a season of great transition and transformation. Death was all around me, and I was in the grip of an extended melancholy that eventually released me and left me in your basic heap.

The hardest part of going through these sorts of cycles in life is grasping their necessity and recognizing the opportunity for growth; the tumult of radical deconstruction of self and spirit tends not to lend itself to introspection. However, having now been though several such cycles I realize that these episodes offer opportunities for personal transformation. 

History moves in similar orbits. Great civilizations wax and wane: consider Egypt, Babylonia, and the Mayans.

Why should we have any expectation that our day and age is somehow different? That the existing order, or disorder if you will, is a permanent feature? 

I believe that we live in historic times; that civilization is in a time of great transition. I also believe that before we can have something new, there must be a death of the old.

Now this is by no means a new idea, but it is an oft-forgotten concept that needs to be revisited ... frequently. The Egyptians and Babylonians fell, but new civilizations and structures arose. European monarchies fell, and democracy arose.

Clearly, we are witnesses to the decay and death of existing orders. Here are a few examples: 

Orthodox religion


Obviously, these are two of our pillars and if they crumble then everything is left in a heap. But don't forget that death always precedes something new, be it good or bad.

I'll be devoting a lot of time to these two ideas, but before I conclude this post I want to leave you with a few other concepts that are deeply entwined with the cycles of individual and collective rise and decline I have mentioned. 

First, Plato said that "time is the moving image of eternity." This is a great truth. What we see in this world is a reflection, if you will, of the activity of the unseen world. Compare this to 2 Cor 4:18.

Second, the greatest paradox of our existence is life and death. Simple enough you might say, but this absurdity is so profound that it drives much of our behavior with our recognizing it. For example, it is intimately tied to religious life.

Third, I will dedicate a lot of effort to discussing that vital and misunderstood four letter word: myth.

IF I AM doing my job properly you will variously abreact, squirm, disagree, embrace, protest, caterwaul, and/or greet its ideas. Hopefully, you will be prompted to engage in meaningful discussion. This is not a scholarly blog, and some of the ideas are mine while others are ideas that I come across that are interesting to me. At times I will engage in technical discussions of ideas because they require it. Also, I'll be doing a modest amount of editing to these posts so no complaining, please, about grammatical errors.

As Lao-tzu tells us, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so let us walk together.

Be blessed.

What I'm reading now:

Edinger, The Creation of Consciousness
Tillich, Systematic Theology
Gardening books
Seed catalogs