Thursday, December 26, 2013

Where do we find God?

Watched a wonderful Nova program on PBS last night.   Scientists explained how the great Gothic cathedrals were designed and built.
The program proved more than fascinating.  The scientists helped me understand the effect these massive, light-filled structures had on medieval townspeople.  Instead of the familiar dark, dank stone structure of the period, they entered a miraculous building designed to evoke awe (Jung’s “the numinous”).  From the celestially high walls, to the exquisite mosaic glass, to the intricate floor tiles and carved statues, the Gothic churches tried to create a “heaven on earth.” (Even modern visitors can’t help but be touched by these structures, labored over for decades by local artisans who poured their hearts and souls into each detail.  Did their religious belief compel such exquisite creations?) 

Watching the program, I envied those parishioners who could not help but be moved by the powerful ritual elements.  The attendee not only gazed in wonder but smelled the incense, tasted the Host, and listened to strange chants (the Latin Mass) and angelic choirs. 

Contemplating these gravity defying Gothic miracles, I felt the power and relevance of the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages.  But our world is so different and the church’s rituals are the same!  Is it surprising that so many of us remain unmoved by rituals that have not evolved? 

What do we have in our own age that brings forth the numinous?  What brings us to God?  Movies?  Sports?  The drive to consume and obtain more?   Joseph Campbell was right:  we are living today without a shared mythology or a culturally relevant vehicle for seeking God.  If we had a potent myth, what selfless work could we achieve for the “Glory of God?” 

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1 comment:

Sue said...

Do you think we're any closer two years down the track to finding our guiding myth? Maybe we were - we're probably the last ones to know, I guess, rolling round as we are in the dark. Perhaps it will burst out at us all of a sudden and we'll realise its been coming on slowly for years and is so obvious once we see it. I feel like I get a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye at times but i'dont have a word for what I'm seeing. I wish it would just bloody well hurry up :-)