Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
As is still his wont sometimes these days, ol’ Robbo tagged along with the family this past Sunday morning to his former Episcopal Church pour encourager les autres, where he was chagrined to observe that the youngest gel had discovered one can put one’s head in one’s arms across the back of the pew in front and look deep in prayer while, in reality, grabbing a quick snooze.
Anyhoo, after the service, I found myself sitting in on the adult ed hour downstairs in the parish hall. The topic this week was the Sabbath – what it means and how to observe it, the presentation being made by some visiting cleric.
Well, as it turns out, the woman giving teh presentation – despite claiming to be a priest – quickly asserted that she had no intention whatever of discussing the theological aspects of the Sabbath, i.e., its place in the relationship between God and Man. Instead, she spent the better part of the hour serving up a combination of common sense time management and New Age spiritual gibberish about aligning the circles of one’s inner being in order to release the Seventh Chackra, or something like that. In other words, the lecture was really about self-worship. (On reflection, I’m rayther glad she didn’t tackle real theology. I probably would have got quite upset. This was a lot easier simply to ignore.)
Eventually, in order to emphasize her theme about self-alignment, she served up a story about a South American tribe that, when it traveled, would walk for four days and then, no matter where it was, simply stop for a day before continuing. When asked why they did this, they replied, “We stop in order to give our spirits the chance to catch up.”
The audience, or at least certain parts of it, ate it up. I heard any number of those little mmm‘s and ahh‘s of wonder and affirmation from around the room, a virtue-signalling technique that I hate almost as much as the knowing, ironic chuckle the same sort of people let out whenever some oddity of their own church’s tradition is discussed. (Such vocalizations, in my observation, are two parts preening and three parts sheer, gut-wrenching ignorance.)
But ah, the South American Tribe! Jolly Jean Jacque Rousseau’s Noble Savage is alive and well in the Amazon Basin, imparting wisdom to anyone willing to take the time to listen. I started musing about what other stories of South American Tribes could be served up and swallowed without question:
- There was the South American Tribe who were so attuned to Nature that they could hold conversations with not only the animals but also with the trees. The trees being Really Old could pass on all sorts of accumulated observation and wisdom.
- There was the other South American Tribe who worked out Pi to its final decimal place using nothing but a complex series of finger movements. Even their children could do it, although it would take a Westerner three whole lifetimes to become sophisticated enough to understand their technique.
- There was the other, other South American Tribe who became such experts at peyote-fueled meditation that they could actually alter the atomic structures of their bodies and pass straight through rocks.
- Finally, there was the South American Tribe who, through eons of studying the stars, were able to accurately predict the winning number in every single Power Ball drawing.
Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.
The whole thing reminded me once again of the line attributed by some to Chesterton (although I’ve never actually been able to locate it) to the effect that when people stop believing in God, the trouble is not that they believe nothing but that they’ll believe anything.
(Speaking of GKC, I am currently rereading his Everlasting Man. Unfortunately, I bought my edition from one of those fly-by-night publishers and the font can’t be much larger than about 8 or 9 points. Very headache-inducing.)