My page has been dark for a long time as I’ve invested all the energy I have into the eventually-to-be-released, The Pursuit of Leviathan.
However, in that research, I spent a great deal of time reading about Islamic mysticism as per the Sufis. Like many eastern philosophy/religions, Sufism argues that ‘evil is an illusion.’ Evil does NOT exist, per se, but is simply a lack of goodness. Much of western thought agrees: Evil is not a presence with a purpose of its own. Therefore, we have no ‘evil’ ideas, only ignorant notions needing enlightenment. There are not ‘bad’ people, just folks who need more education, a hand up, a few extra bucks, etc.
But if Evil actually EXISTS as a presence–an existential force with an agenda–the game changes. Ignorance then is caused; oppression, murder, hatred, bigotry are manifestations of something far greater than supposed.
Deciding what we believe about this makes a great deal of difference in how we approach the world around us. Most of us operate on one assumption or the other. It would be very helpful if we took a moment to recognize how WE view the ‘unhealthy,’ ‘wicked,’ things around us. Are these voids in need of filling, or the residue of a presence we need to oppose? Or perhaps something else altogether?
What world would you rather inhabit, the world of ‘!’ or the world of ‘?’
‘!’ is certain; it instills confidence because it declares stuff.
‘?‘ is uncertain, wavering because it’s always adding another question.
‘!’ therefore seems more powerful. After all, it exclaims the Truth about things. But ‘!’ has a secret: it’s actually terrified of ‘?’ so it tries to crush questions whenever they appear.
Religious systems in particular love ‘!‘ and despise ‘?’ So questions are not welcome. But, certainty doesn’t actually need faith. This leaves us with a sudden irony: the essence of faith…belief within the humble world of ‘?’… stands opposed to many religious communities.
Linguist Victor Klemperer argued that the ‘?’ is actually the most potent human symbol. Perhaps that’s why true faith is ultimately a more powerful force than certitude.
So I think I’ll hang with the doubters of the not-so-certain world of ‘?’ Faith seems safer, after all.
I was going to stay silent for a time and just listen, but I recently ‘heard’ this image and had to say something. Take a good look at the guy in the middle of the circle. He doesn’t belong. In fact, he’s not just standing there, he’s protesting with his arms folded making sure everyone around him knows that he’s chosen to be an un-belonger. Un-belonging isn’t easy and I’m guessing this guy came to a bad end. Ironically, his bad end was a good end, however, for his solitary protest proved to be on the right side of truth and goodness. In a world of political, cultural and religious correctness, we may need more un-belongers like him. We need people with the courage to fold their arms in a sea of true believers to say, ‘wait a minute, something’s wrong here.’ I’m wondering how often any of us have had the courage to make the conscious decision to un-belong to an ideology, a dogma, a political perspective or a cultural consensus that had an aroma of stink around it. Truth and goodness need more of us to belong with this guy in the middle of circles like his. When conscience calls, may more of us choose the way of Un-belonging.
You may have noticed that this site has been dark for a time. First, thanks for noticing. Second, there’s a reason for it: I’ve recognized that I talk too much and listen too little. So I’ve politely asked myself to stop talking.
I’ve come to recognize the value in believing that others just may be wiser, better informed, and/or more ‘enlightened’ than myself. It seems like a healthy assumption…with an occasional exception.
I will be back from time to time with something to say, but in the meantime, I hope to invest more time in the power of listening, for listening is the gift too often forgotten. Feel free to keep in touch; I’d love to LISTEN to what you have to say.
I watched a TV show that debunks the claims of various historical legends. The host took great delight in pointing out that one of my boyhood heroes, Davy Crockett, didn’t actually die swinging his favorite musket ‘Ole Bess’ in the Alamo.
I grumbled. It seems that our scientifically oriented world continues to enjoy its own delusion that facts define reality. In so doing, it arrogantly shrinks life into that which is measurable, testable, and/or accessible by sensory experience or ‘knowledge.’
So what, you ask?
Well, reality includes facts, to be sure, but it also includes whole categories of immeasurable, untestable, inaccessible other truths. Beauty, poetry, metaphor, intuition and mystery are realities that confound scientific explanation. Limiting reality to factuality costs us the liberty to imagine, and with that comes the loss of possibilities, the joy of the story, the wonder of a painting, the rapture of a song…and much more. Enjoying the freedom to embrace realities beyond the ‘knowable’ is the invitation to be human; stretching beyond literalism brings life.
It may be a fact that Davy Crockett died a plain battlefield death, but the INSPIRATION fueled by imagining he and Ole Bess going down together remains a very real thing…at least to those of us who are still little boys at heart.