Psychologically speaking, being elected to govern in America is very much like being commissioned to teach a common language at the University of Babel. E Pluribus Unum. We've got the "Pluribus" part down pat (no one can say that Americans don't understand diversity). It's the "Unum" we seem to be having trouble with.
And for us the only possible bedrock principle of that unum? That we acknowledge as our common creed a faith at once the most profoundly religious and least dogmatic, least denominational of all of history's endless fumblings toward the divine, a faith as blind as our yearning for justice, as directional as our understanding of hope. Freed by our insistence on the absolute necessity of an authentic self, a singular soul wrested from the clamor of the social mass, we deploy the right to a will thus won to navigate toward a distant and anonymous light, the endpoint of evolution.
By itself reason is insufficient for that navigation. Proceeding as it must from fact to fact, building thereupon to create still newer facts, reason unrestrained and untempered can yield only its own endless self justification. It can have no object but its own infinite elaboration. Ultimately tautological it produces only classification and hierarchy. Thus, while giving every impression of movement, it is essentially static. It is movement we seek and insist upon, a genuine change of state, a birthing into the world as new creatures, remade of our freedom's victories. And reason of itself neither guides us nor propels us there.
Slowed by resistance, stung by doubt, gutted by indifference, I am become cautious of heresy --- rational, religious, or scientific --- and therefore often plead either ignorance or humility. But truth external to me intervenes: it is an error to mistake ignorance for humility or humility for ignorance...and a greater error still to mistake either for fear. And so I too am thrown into tautology. To save my self my thought must spin, as does a dervish.
An individual journey, then, not of itself grounded in hierarchy, in acceptance of the consensual order, but in the aggregate of all such journeys --- which aggregate is properly understood to be simply the whole of history, its substance and elaboration through time --- revelatory of an innate hierarchy, an innate order, neither discoverable nor describable by reason alone.
Science --- reason --- has brought us to this point but can carry us no farther.
"Do I believe in mortality? I've looked in the mirror every morning for more than sixty years and every morning the evidence is there, successive, stark and indisputable. So of course I believe in mortality. It's death I don't believe in." (Page 92) Prattlesham, Herbert Displaced Souls:Convalescent Conversations On Theories of Finality Atlanta: Prescott Press, 1979. Print
How then do I understand the Christ? As the sum of all the innate, unrealizable aspirations of our common consciousness, the coda to all our immemorial dreams, the teleological tautology. Asked to explain this understanding, to detail its meaning, I cannot. Understanding is primal and individual, explanation secondary and communal. Thus I can point to the words as experience only, I can say only that the words themselves are the meaning, that the meaning palpitates there, that the meaning luminesces there.
Proposed, A Corrective Thought for the American Consciousness:
Capitalism is not a religion, economics is not a theology, competition is not the proper fundament of moral law, and neither greed nor penury is a virtue.
At its deepest, music is the consort of the art of silence, the negative space defining mute thought, the figure-ground reversal of contemplation.
What we understand as action --- the effect on reality of pure will absent individually ascribable material intervention --- becomes possible (specifically, most properly, perhaps only) at the intersection of wisdom and intent.
The structural disadvantage under which all secular government labors is that it must by its nature function as though there is fundamental truth to the notion that you only live once, whereas in actuality the most one can properly say logically is that you only live one life at a time...and for certain deeply matured souls even that last misses the mark.
Preamble to An Overdue Confession:
As with so many of my contemporaries (and so many of our offspring) I am a creature of the 'sixties, shaped by upheavals in a pacific common consciousness birthed in renunciation of its antecedent history, the horrors of our fathers' wars. Forming a community of thought contraposed to the culture of our nativity (a community based perhaps as much on youthful hormones as on youthful ideals) we proclaimed our identity as the generation of "sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll." In my own case, energy and time being constrained, the deeper exploration and fuller allegiance was limited to but two of the three. As rock and roll was the easier to abandon --- and for me the infinitely less interesting --- the choice was not a difficult one.