I just read "The restoration of Christian Culture" by John Senior, a radical book from the point of view of contemporary thought, yet a very down to earth and practical book from the point of view of reality.
This is of course my opinion, based on my own expreince of the matter, but anyone who wishes to experience this could do so taking the same steps, and thus it becomes more than just a personal opinion but a matter of scientific approach.
The book states repeated times the exhortation to "smash the television set", and for that also the radio, and media in general and extensively, even computers, etc... being these technological advantages impediment for the healthy living of a christian culture.
Last week while pondering in these things, a thought suddenly came, in the way you usually have when two concepts otherwise separated link and you say !Aha!, as in solving a riddle. Well the two concepts also streamed forward and backward with a series of other thoughts, is just difficult to explain, yet it became clearer to me that technology can cripple human beings in one generation. Because I am immersed in modern society, I was not aware so strongly about the implications, yet in seeing the Amish culture and my own side by side, the gap between them helped in seeing the danger we are faced with, the danger we are actually so involved with.
Some of my friends have difficulty relating with other human beings in a healthy way, they learn early on to expect a fast response from the environment to satisfy their needs, which in turn are selfish, and seek mainly pleasure. I am also in this difficulty, and to try to get away from it I decided to do some things as my own experiment:
1st- to withdraw from any technological communication as much as I am able to do.(no TV, no radio, no computer, no telephone except necessary)
2nd- to stay confined at a walking or horse riding distance from home.( even if still my husband owns a car)
3rd-to minimize my expenses to the basics, counting my goal in America to be about $700 a month, including mortgatge.
4th-to spend at least half of the day involved in physical and meaningful tasks, and at least one hour to prayer or contemplation.
I thank all of you that have been a company in these writings and wish me the best in this experiment. I'll come back when I have some results to share.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
We found in an essay the description of the same impulse in Schiller that we are trying to define in the earlier posts:
“Two impulses are present in human nature that hinder it from achieving perfection when they develop in a one-sided way: the sensual and the rational. If the sensual impulse has the upper hand, a person is conquered by instincts and passions. In the activity illumined by consciousness, a power then mingles, by which this is darkened. Human action becomes the consequence of an inner compulsion. If the rational impulse dominates, a person attempts to suppress instincts and passions, and to commit to an abstract necessity, which is not sustained by any inner warmth. Human beings are subject to compulsion in both cases: in the one their sensuality enslaves the spiritual in them, and in the other, the spiritual enslaves their sensuality. Neither condition gives full freedom to people in the kernel of their being, which lies in the midst between the sensual and the spiritual. Freedom is to be realized only through a harmony of both impulses. Sensuality should not be suppressed but ennobled; instincts and passions should permeate themselves with spirituality, so that they themselves can bring to realization the spiritual power which has entered into them. And reason should take hold of the human soul in such a way that it deprives what is merely instinctive and passionate of its power, so that human beings can fulfill what reason indicates, as if out of natural instinct, and with the strength that passion gives. “When we are passionately attached to someone who is worthy of our contempt, we painfully feel the compulsion of nature. If we have a hostile relationship to someone who compels our respect we painfully feel the compulsion of reason. But when our affection is involved and our respect is won, then both the compulsion of feeling and the compulsion of reason disappear, and we begin to love.” A person who reveals the spiritual quality of reason in sensuality, and the elemental power of passion in his reason, would be a free personality. It is upon the development of free personalities that Schiller wishes to base a harmonious common life in human society.”
I understand this also to be needed for the building of any true community.
In my own experience I can tell of many times where I lean too heavily on one of the sides, and yet as I grow older instead of the swinging motion being balanced I found myself swinging in more and more extremes, as if when the reason tries too forcefully to suppress passion, then passion gets the upper hand violently and without warning. Or vice-versa, when my passions are at command, all of a sudden an abrupt action determined by reason breaks the air in coldness. I am reminded of the youthful teens, when emotions would create a mood swing too, here is an old time poem that depicts one of the ends of the pendulum:
Nublada, perdida, llorada sed,
No embebe ya el alma que hastia se vuelve red,
Y a ratos olvida el vacio y cree ser algo. Ser que?
Tumbada al sol de su frio
no le queda cordura ni amigo
para volverse pez.
Clouded, lost, mourned thirst,
The soul does not soak anymore, and tiresome becomes net,
And at times she forgets the emptiness and believes to be something. To be what?
Laying under the sun of its coldness
She has no more sanity nor friends
To become fish again.
I could also see these patterns in other areas, how many times in trying to do what I ought to do, my energies tire, after 6 months or so I am exhausted and I have to discontinue my work because reason is not strong enough to live! Yet in the other extreme, when I follow life’s wind and guideposts in naïve trust, the impulses do not take wings, their foundation is so sandy!
Most of all I sense it in relationships, when out of duty someone is taking an interest in us, or we do in turn to them, the air fills with tepid smells, whereas when the interest is based on attraction laws the smell is pungy. It is only when the interest we take in one another is pure and keen, then the fragrant aroma of roses is sensed, and we can fill our cups respectively.
I am lately involved in the Amish community nearby, and I have to bow my head to some of their members, they display this middle point in their lives very much, and it is so refreshing to encounter some more people living by this practical application of Christianity.
In fact many of their “traditions” coincide completely with spiritual indications:
-plain color dress, (peach-yellow-green-blue-violet) I would even claim that their way of clothing is more free than our following fads, trends and desires, as long as freedom is understood as is stated in the above paragraphs.
-Working the land manually, small acreage and small diverse husbandry. (when things get bigger they change in nature, usually to the detriment of the work of Christ forces )
-No ownership of cars, TV, radios, phones, etc…. to encourage face to face interactions with neighbors. They can use these devices but not own them, just as one plain father said to his son: do you own the car or does it own you?
-Church services in homes, to encourage ensouled buildings.
-Singing for more than one hour at a time, exercising the harmonization of the individual to the community, the larynx slowly adapting to the tune that is found reverberating in the cupola of sound formed.
-Academic school work starting after 7 years old.
I also found that many other of their customs to be completely in line with my thoughts since I was small:
-Non-resistance. (Love changes the world, war does not)
-Non-conformity. (voting and other political aspects of life are for other people, especially if you want to follow the spiritual path)
-Non-missionaries. (I always thought it strange to raise money for other countries, or to go somewhere else to be a witness, there is so much to be done at home! One Amish comments on Kissinger’ aptitudes in being a peacemaker around the world, but his home was in divorce, if we are not able to be peacemakers at home, the fruits outside the home are not lasting. (“The Amish in their own words” compiled by Brad Igou)
Well, I have been then stretched between the two sides, and the more I walk the more it stretches, I am wondering if the thread that unites them will at some point break, and I will get stuck in one or the other side, or this is just part of the journey.
In the Lord of the Rings allegory, again we found the same characters described above, I am at awe of what Frodo can do, I myself cannot manage an inch of his path, lest I become Saruman or stay in the Shire awaiting the end of the world. I pray for some of his purity in heart, so we can all, taking turns at a time, bring the Ring to the Fire.
We were so fortunate to host a Community Camp at our farm the last week, the priest held the children and us parents with love and caring ears, and we were able to make some new friends and see that we are much in the same boat; I am still like Ariadne’s thread, unraveling what it all meant to us and what it may mean for the future. When I go to the garden to weed memories of the camp flow in my eyes, like when we were spraying the silica early in the morning, or when we were gathered around the fire for the special story. One of the songs we learnt is very fun to sing with the children, as the capital letters are sung louder that the rest and in a three group round, a secret is unveiled.
Hey ho cried the merry DWARFS (pause, pause)
It’s off to the woods we (pause) ARE
We’d like to stay but time is (pause, pause) SHORT
–THE TIME IS AT HAND!-
at 2:33 PM