From the past, we see falling upon us the carcasses of old institutions as they die and yet as they fall to us, they will also feed us. All our institutions come in one way or another out of the multi-millennial development of the Western world, which has in fact given us the basis for the cherished traditions of religious and governmental order. Our old new world emerged to be the wealthiest, most educated and economically effective situation ever known to the people of this earth. Yet, as well, we suffer with this complex development in ways that the great theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, identified the the early 20th Century. He believed that we were at a massive turning point in the divine revelation to be found in human evolution. We were groaning and travailing in the process of birthing, as he recalled from Paul's writings. He and others in the 20th Century who prophesied a great turning point were correct, I believe. In the last century, what Teilhard predicted has occurred, a developing and electronically based and spiritually empowered world consciousness that lies deeply embedded in our new global reality on which an old world is dying and conferring in its death, its legacies of history to the new transforming order, one that is far more complex and vital than what we see dying. The question is that of where we focus, on the dying or in accepting this death and learning to carry its legacies as gifts of nourishment into the new world that is, as yet, so newly developing.
If we accept the dying, we are equally called to be grateful for what the old world gives us as its many lessons. These lessons may come in positive and negative forms, in things that best need to be put away and others that can invigorate and shed a past light on our present circumstance. Such lessons can recall negatives, like our injustices and excesses which we must continue to leave behind while we strive for justice and equality in which to frame the new world. So out of the negative, the positive lessons can ring true and need to be developed and protected in these new circumstances of ours.
One of the lessons we are learning in this new world is the power of emotions and relationships. With the end of the Enlightenment and Modernity, we see the groaning excesses of rationality as they fall and alienate us. They do not serve us well as we attempt to define our feelings about what is happening and how we find both conflict in and need for our relationships with one another and the whole created order. In short, we find ourselves confused by the need, on the one hand, to define our situation in a way that is universal, and yet we beg for the unique applications of definition to who we are and how we relate to our many world partnerships. We want systems that give us rational, meaningful and satisfying ways and means to relate to one another and yet do not try to make us conform to a single global, cultural or social mold.
From the past, we see falling upon us the carcasses of old institutions as they die and yet as they fall to us, they will also feed us. All our institutions come in one way or another out of the multi-millennial development of the Western world, which has in fact given us the basis for the cherished traditions of religious and governmental order from which has emerged the wealthiest, most educated and economically effective circumstances ever known to the people of this earth. Yet as well, we suffer with this complex development in ways that endanger us with various material and spiritual pollutants. In part our response has either been to create utopian notions that have all failed or to attempt to retreat to a past ideal which is both romantic and desperate. However, another response has been and is to carefully pick through the historic debris around us and to find new adaptations of old things left unused and forgotten. It is in the picking through, that we are beginning to locate gems of great worth. We are finding traditions that could not be used by the Enlightenment and Modernity, which now today, in our electronic and emotionally charged age, have new vitality.
A practical example can be seen in answering the question as to why Finland of all places had the earliest and still one of the largest use of cell phones and why Nokia, its cell phone company, is so successful. Within the rubble of history, we learn that Finland was also one of the earliest land phone connected countries in the world in the early 20th Century. Being isolated by weather and location, the Finnish people understood the power of myth making and stories to convey information about survival in all sorts of conditions. They quickly accepted phones as a way of keeping in touch and conveying the information they needed to care for one another and survive together. The cell phone is a sort of icon of myths that gain the Fins and us connection and survival!
Another example was the rapid rise of technology in Ireland. Ireland, an enchanted land of story and myth, a place, thought to be rather backward among other developed countries of the Western world, has revived its place in the global economy as a technological power house. Even while the recent set backs have hurt Ireland greatly, it is a very different country than it was even thirty years ago.
History in Ireland seems to indicate one of those turning points where we see history anew as we turn the corner and discover a new vision of our world. Ireland, nearly two thousand years ago was very primitive. Yet with the rapid acceptance of a pre-European Christianity, it transformed its cultural myths. Ireland became for many centuries, a great and significant repository of Latin scholarship during the early Middle Ages. It was before its conquering by the Latin (Western or European) Church at the latter time of the Middle Ages, a place of great civilization and faith quite different from that of the European Continent. The Christian Celts had a way of life that was less due to rational governance, economy and organization than what they based in their life on loyalty, trust and affiliation, itself grounded in a common faith merged effectively with its ancient mythology. But finally the Celts fell under the domination of the West. Their ancient ways had to die to the efficiency of organization that was necessary to win the world to a new order, to make a new more unified, rational European model from which came nearly all of what has formed our recent world, as we have known it. But this world itself is now dying! So as this old new world dies, we see in the shards of its history and the record of our common experience, Celtic possibilities are now being found as nourishment for bringing in new technologies and global reality. We see glimpses of a new world where Celtic Christian remnants may well give us a new energy for a transforming personal and global spirit.
The need for connection among a vast and growing human population, the need for survival skills that will enhance and not cause the decay of our earth, the cry for a great unity that celebrates a diversity of life experience and cross fertilizing cultures and the promise of profound and deeply satisfying mental, emotional and spiritual bonding across all borders and barriers, calls for a recollection and transformation out of a past that can nourish us. We are perhaps in this transformation, new little creatures, whose pathway takes us near old kingdoms fallen at our feet and whose treasures are there for the picking from their broken vessels. The Kingdom of God is near at hand in the treasures of our many and varied for-bearers.
More later. . .