The Steamroller of Culture

On the Live Science website this week are a number of news items about the nativity in the Christmas Story.[1] The findings depict accurately the story of the nativity but are 3000 years older. It is no wonder that faith often rejects science. On the one hand, faith accepts wisdom in any form as valid and eternal. On the other hand, science depends entirely upon facts and logical assumptions based largely on facts. Over the decades, mariner has found this confrontation to be the most complex and convoluted relationship – that is of dependence on faithful beliefs in good, life-saving theological and behavioral ideas versus the forever emerging accumulation of facts, discoveries, and the pressure of changing cultures.

What is good? What is divine? What is the behavior that will save humanity? The answers to these kinds of questions require a mythic premise – one that is not influenced by human history, one that is valid beyond human behavior and abuse. This is a good way in which to secure our religious ritual; it is beyond the reach of daily life and is based on heroic goodness.

Alas, it seems science is dedicated to disassembling myths. Still, humans are created to be sensitive to forces beyond human achievement. Since the earliest times 12,000 years ago there is evidence that H. sapiens has incorporated the powers of God as part of the management of life. If one could take a snapshot every 1000 years to assess the role of God, one will find remarkable modifications in who God is and how God contributes to human quality.

God must do some fancy dancing to keep up with the latest in cultural changes. Not only does science keep changing the rules, humans keep reinventing the way humans interact and find meaning in life. Whoever thought God would have to deal with memes? How will God find a path through the electronic games, devices and preoccupation with capitalism? How will God reintroduce for the umpth time that love and respect, not possessions, is the core value to happiness and sublime life?

We know science has no interest in inculcating spiritual value; that is not its job. But given the results of science – certainly knowledge is beneficial – how do we construct a new myth that is meaningful today? How do we return divine essence to the forefront of humanity’s values?

There are fragile signs. It is a topic of conversation that we have lost, among ourselves, the soul and spirit that is required to manage our political and economic life. There are growing concerns about matters beyond our own comfort and pocketbook: the environment of an entire planet is beginning to fail. There are conversations about how to elevate this issue to daily levels of awareness in our destructive oil economy. There are so many humans on this planet that the basics of why we have an economy must change dramatically.

Unfortunately, you and I are in the generation of basic labor and sacrifice. It is we who must pull hard on the reins of a diverse and self-indulgent world. It is we who will pay the price of change in our comfort, our faith and our pocketbook. Our job is to stop further degradation for we are approaching something akin to Armageddon (largely a metaphor but nevertheless inevitable).

It has become your turn to step up and take charge.

Ancient Mariner

[1] See http://www.livescience.com/57311-5000-year-old-nativity-scene-found.html

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