|Depressed resignation: more common among Gen-X than Millennials.|
My daughters will be involved in today’s proceedings.
Toronto is an absolute pass for me — just watching coverage of the Raptors’ victory parade was enough to trigger my agoraphobia. I am giving the local happening some consideration. We will see. I am increasingly chary about groups of any sort — to my own substantial detriment, I’m sure.
I marched when Reagan ramped up rhetoric and ICBM production, and again when Trudeau Senior permitted cruise missile testing in our hinterlands. Both gatherings reminded me so viscerally of the revival meetings of my youth that I declared my second march to be my last.
I was also taken aback by the extraneous agendas being brought to the protests. On the face of it the thousands who showed up were united in one common concern — no nukes. But the group ahead of mine was carrying a large “Pro-Choice” banner, while another banner further back read “Pro-Life.” I wondered what it might take for everyone to at least admit reproductive control is a variegated concern? Then I wondered, why is this a front-of-the-queue question at a no-nukes rally?
Any club that will have me...
Last week my wife and I threw out a bunch of books. Among them was her late father’s copy of My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. We gave it consideration, as we do all books facing the bin. But c'mon: neither of us was ever going to refer to it. The title alone conjured sawdust floors, sweaty faces and disturbed sleep patterns — and for what? Buh-bye.
Like many of his contemporaries, Chambers was obsessed with the question of the individual’s autonomy and power. He was full of the 19th-century complaint against modernity, a complaint focused on the Industrial Revolution, which, in sending people en masse into factories and offices, had reduced them to “cogs in a machine.” He bemoaned the “commercialized” existence of modern men, for whom money seemed to determine worth. He distrusted the various political and philosophical ideologies that seemed to demand total allegiance from their followers — ideologies like nationalism, capitalism, socialism, communism, Darwinism, positivism, progressivism, rationalism, and scientism.
Also and equally, he was against the religious ideologies that seemed to shut out science and rationality in the name of blind or unthinking faith. As a student of philosophy, he had an acute awareness of the mind’s tendency to be led astray by its own ideas and perceptions, to “believe its own beliefs,” and he was suspicious of the kind of charismatic leaders who, through “propagandistic” teaching or preaching, sought to win converts to their agendas.
In short, Chambers’s vision of the individual was of a creature who was all too easily enslaved, by forces both external and internal. His vision of society was equally harsh: It was “civilization, organization, and Churchianity,” and it needed to be “smashed.”That’s Macy Halford, who cultivated her consideration of Chambers' book into one of her own — My Utmost: A Spiritual Memoir. Halford's book received a glowing NYT review from Carlene Bauer, whose final paragraph appeals directly to my own sensibilities:
Halford acknowledges that growing up evangelical can make one feel that one has inherited a traditionless tradition. With “My Utmost” she reminds those of us who might have once dismissed Chambers as just another bewhiskered eminence that in this traditionless tradition there lives a man who read Balzac, Emerson, Nietzsche, Wilde, Dickens, Darwin and others with ferocity and humility, confronting dissent rather than hiding from it. “I begin to notice with astonishment that I do not read in order to notice what I disagree with,” Chambers wrote in the last year of his life. “The author’s conclusions are of very little moment to me, what is of moment is a living mind competently expressed, that to me is a deep joy.” Such generosity of mind is just as worthy of celebration as unshakable faith.Hey, was that the recycling truck? Wait, waaaait!
I was clued into both links via Matt Cardin, who I was clued into via Erik Davis (“horror theologian”? Whut dat?), who linked to this interview. In one paragraph Cardin riffs off so many shared seminal influences — Peter Berger, Mircea Eliade, Lovecraft, Huston Smith, Alan Watts, RAW plus sleep paralysis? — it felt like I’d caught a glimpse of “my best life” being lived by someone else in the very same cosmos.
Not at all so, of course, but I am grateful for the introduction and look forward to reading Cardin’s latest, To Rouse Leviathan.
I hope to continue a little public thinking on ed-yoo-mah-CAY-shun. Until then, please reduce, reuse and recycle. And don't be too quick to throw out that old book.