Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Seductions of 'Beautiful' Nothings
"Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream"---John Lennon
Maybe it is one of those curious fearful symmetries that the words of John Lennon quoted above are found in the Beatles' album titled 'Revolver'...and that he was finally gunned down, shot multiple times in the back by a "fan".
I grew up reading Kerouac (we hailed from the same city) and the Beats, intrigued in my youth by their calls for 'spiritual mindlessness,' that peculiar Western decadence and spiritual nihilism related to Eastern religions, though minus the asceticism, to be sure. In the real thing one was supposed to turn away from desire which is considered the cause of all suffering.
There is a curious seduction in it all for many. George Harrison opted for the wilderness of gods in Hinduism. John Lennon likewise rejected Christianity. "Turn off your mind...," Lennon sang, because there is no 'answer'; nothing to find, nothing to know, thus one is "free" to either indulge or forsake. To 'answer' is to lose enlightenment, regardless of the the inherent contradiction in anyone's saying "Truth does not exist".
The seduction hides the meaninglessness. One lives in the space between one's thoughts, and proceeds over the waterfall like foam and bubble into the vast great Nothing.
In Buddhism and its variants, whether you are sitting lotus in the park reading Hans Kung amid falling blossoms on a beautiful Spring day, or being raped, slashed and strangled in a back alley---or shot in the back by a fan as Lennon was---it is all the same at the end of the day: 'there are no answers,' its adherents reply.
For Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, it is altogether different. Evil and death are not "natural," nor illusion, but intrusions in the universe through the perversion of freedom which goes back to our First parents and which we ratify every time we sin (Rom 6:23)
God our Creator in Christ---who came into the world to bear our judgement--- calls us to repentance, because He is not indifferent to evil. In man-made religions, man aspires to the transcendent. In Christ God comes to us.
We judge no one's soul and pray for God's mercy for all, especially for ourselves, you and me. But religious systems qua systems cannot all be true in the final analysis, or even coherent with each other. Jesus said "I am the Way the truth and the Life. No one comes unto the Father except through me" (Jn 14:6). Evil is, Christ taught, too real, not maya-illusion, and we are accountable for our deeds. But Christ bore them all, our sins, if we will only receive Him where He is to be found, in His Mystical Body, the Church, sinners and saints.
According to sacred history, the many religions throughout the world reflect a kind of amnesia in degrees of that one revelation from God which was first given to the human race in its primal unity (Gen 1-3). Accordingly many religions still contain much that is very good, seeds of the Logos-Word (Jn 1:1) and transcendence which Christ came to re-gather as promised in Genesis 3:15. This is what evangelism and missionary endeavor is all about, not arrogance, or, God forbid, arbitrary dominance, but the faithfulness of God to restore all things in Christ, the Messiah, the Beauty and Desire of all nations. Just as there is only one God, and one universe (not a multi-verse), there is only one "Way" (John 14:6) in one Faith. It is the Good News, the greatest Love Story ever told.
--->The Restless Emptiness of Alan Watts
Hey, Girl, Sleeping With That Guy---Why Should He Even Think of Marrying? You're Already Very Inexpensive!
He says he "looooves" you, as he tries to get under your shirt. Yes, yes, we know. But not enough to contract, not enough to sign on it, to take care of you, to provide for you, forsaking all others, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death. If he hits the lottery or inherits money, you have no ties on him...He's taking you for a ride---and may dump you just as quick...for a different dish...No strings...
And more, this time from Catholic News Agency: What the great dispute about is over the meaning of "freedom," Is freedom simply to do whatever you want to do? Or is real freedom the freedom to do what you ought to do? Today the herd of conformist thinkers in the dominant western culture believes the first. It's simply being shackled to one's own passions and desires and impulses.
Jesus was not hung up on social conventions. He freely ignored stupid social conventions such as being forbidden to hang out with the Samaritans. But when it came to sex he was very serious. Why were Jesus and the apostles so serious about sex when they were so radical about breaking down other social barriers? I think it is because they knew something that modern culture has forgotten. ...Cont.
[This Post Last Updated 9/10]