Just One Example
Actually, we don’t do any sermonizing around here. I’ll leave that to others.
We draw connections. And since everything is connected if you know how to look—there of course being a oneness and unity to all things—it isn’t hard to start the drawing.
So it’s Sunday and I’m sitting in the local Starbucks. Ninety year old Walter has jauntily gone off to church and I’ve pulled out a copy of Paul Gauguin’s Intimate Journals. A large dusky man enters carrying a thick book. I need to know what he’s reading! There’s an old saying I made up myself, it goes: “don’t judge a book by it’s cover, judge a person by the cover of the book they’re reading.” Woa, it’s Moby Dick! There’s one for you! Later a man in his twenties enters, he’s carrying a slightly thinner volume. Again, I’m intrigued, and not disappointed! A biography of James Joyce! ‘What a day!,’ I say to myself.
Sunday, the Lord’s Day, Paul Gauguin, Moby Dick, James Joyce: Death and Resurrections abound!
It’s all in the group thing. We’ve lived in communities since before we raised ourselves to our two hind legs. Groups need conventions, systems of sentiment as Joseph Campbell called them, in order to cohere and thrive. They’re the psycho-spiritual glue that holds the group together and dynamically situates it in its particular environment. But the group and its particular environment changes, necessitating a change in systems of sentiment.
However, the many resist change. Conventions are comforting to the majority. To the few, especially those alert or aware of the ever so slowly state of changing reality, conventions are galling.
Which brings us back to pre-Christian Jesus, galled with the hide-bound state of Jewish sacerdotalism circa 0 BC/AD. And what became of his words and living (and dying) example amid a corrupt and collapsing Roman Empire—namely Christianity—circa 100 AD. Move forward 1800 odd years and again the few are ill at ease with the increasingly hide-bound state of society and one by one experiencing Deaths and Resurrections of their own. Herman Melville recounts one in Moby Dick, Paul Gauguin lives one and paints his experience, James Joyce recounts his in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses.
The examples are legion. It is the leitmotif of the age you might say. Always a death to a fixed system of sentiment and convention, and hopefully a resurrection into something new.
What’s the new, you might ask? Buddhism, Christianity, some other form of universal system?
Not here, I’m afraid.
Because Life is ALL there is!