Laudato Si and Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard de Chardin

Note the Roman Collar

Pope Francis gives a thumbs up to Teilhard de Chardin Pope Francis gives a thumbs up to Teilhard de Chardin

First, my apologies about the longer than expected sabbatical. It has been a crazy few months between work, health issues with my mother-in-law and trying to spend more time with family. I hope to begin posting again on a semi-regular basis very soon but I wanted to at least mention Laudato Si. I am not going to discuss its substance as I have only read it once and have not yet fully digested (hope to start doing that this weekend); plus there are plenty of other resources that can provide a better analysis than I can. (However, I will note on a personal level it is a very challenging document as it is directly asking me to step beyond my narrow, personal comfort and security, which I guess the Gospel message always does).

No, I will briefly highlight Laudato…

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Waving, not drowning

Profuse connection and abundant writhing change. The two things we truly know.

There is a collection of molecules called “I”. They change completely every three years or so, but the “I” continues. Isn’t there a clue here? There will come a moment when a particular set of atoms that is known as “me”  finally disperses amongst billions of other creatures. Bound by covalent bonds to the molecules that are in new generations of  you and me and  billion of others. New realities emerging.  Physically we are a constantly exchanging bubbling molecular soup. We’re not separate at all – either from each other or the rest of the physical world.

Metamorphosis.  Water becoming ice. Caterpillars pupating, emerging into butterflies. We journey together into wondrous new states. Society has a reality separate from the individuals that it is made from. And we as individuals in turn have emerged as something new, from the molecules that constitute us now. I am a co-evolving emergence from one state to quite another.

Yet; mostly we think of the material world as static and secure. How strange. We manage that by focussing on short time segments.  Thus we ignore the riverine flow of rocks, the evolution from raw plasma to chemicals to biology to ideas; and  we are also blind to  “now”, the window to eternity.

Why? Fear, I suspect, is to blame. The terror, the existential angst that is located in our ego – which of course is definitely an ephemera. This is just a trick of light.  Look past the surface of the pool with its (reversed) image where  we see our “self” reflected. There, within the water, is the flow of life which is our home. We let our egos rule over us, when – just here, just now (always here, now), in the flow  of the universe is our real deathless self. As Rupert Brookes  puts it “..  a pulse in the eternal mind, no less”. Like Narcissus, we are transfixed by inner absorption rather than an awareness of all-that-is.

Humanity has been at the leading edge of the evolution of consciousness. But consciousness is a wave, a process. Yes we are (now) at the crest of that wave, but we are not, some fixed centre of existence. We are not the wave –  but something different and far bigger –  we are the ocean. Together, we carry all the tides and tsunamis. Constantly flowing and emerging into new realities.

Profuse connection and abundant writhing change. The two things we truly know.

Where to? Where from? Why? God only knows.

Emergent Reality

Metamorphosis.  Water becomes ice, caterpillars pupate, emerging into butterflies. We journey together in a co-evolving emergence from one state to quite another. Ancient creatures become rock, or oil or shale gas. All it takes is time – a healer, but also a wheeler-dealer. Yet; mostly we think of the material world as static and secure. How strange. We manage that by focussing on shorter and smaller time segments. Thus we can ignore the riverine flow of rocks, the evolution from raw plasma to chemicals to biology to ideas. Why? Fear, I suspect, is to blame. The terror, the existential angst that is located in our ego – which of course is definitely going down with these particular  bodies that we temporarily inhabit. Why do we let our ego rule over us, when – just here, just now, in the reflection of the pool of the universe is our real deathless self. Rupert Brookes “.. and think this heart, all evil shed away – a pulse in the eternal mind, no less” There is a collection of molecules called “I”. They change completely every three years or so, but the “I” continues. Isn’t there a clue here? There will come a moment when a particular set of atoms finally disperses amongst billions of creatures. When they are bound by covalent bonds to the molecules that are in you as you become a billion others. Physically we are a constantly exchanging bubbling molecular soup. We’re not separate at all – either from each other or the rest of the physical world. That’s not how we see it though. We are ego-centric. Each of us the pivot around which existence arcs. Like Narcissus, transfixed by inner absorption. But our self-image is just a trick of the light. Look past the surface of the pool with its (reversed) image that we see reflected. There, within the water, is the flow of life which is our home. Humanity has been at the leading edge of the evolution of consciousness. And so we think we are “it”, “all that is”. But consciousness is a wave, a process. Yes we are (now) at the crest of the wave that is consciousness, but we are not, some fixed centre of existence. Not the wave – something much bigger –  we are the ocean. Together, we carry all the tides and tsunamis. Constantly flowing and emerging into new realities. Profuse connection and abundant writhing change. The two things we truly know. Where to? Where from? Why? God only knows.

National Boundaries

We define by creating boundaries; where we place them. (That is you, this is me); what kind they are (a kissing gate or a prison wall). Most important, though. is what they are made out of. The foundations of  Nationalism are laid on enmity. Yes, there can be other building materials  – ideals, even love. How often though does aspiration end in vitriol?

A friend put to me on Saturday that it is possible for nationalism to be a force for good. He cited the British resistance to Nazis. He won me over, but to the possibility,, not the reality.

Boundaries are existential; or at least to our experience of “being”. We have to feel an “other” in order to sense our “self”, this is because all experience is relative. We live inside the uni-verse (the one thing), and so have no absolute external measure, no yardstick or objectivity. It is only by differentiating and re-integrating that we create reality.

Boundaries make things real; but they also separate. Each from each. Technically a form of  good nationalism could come about through a specific kind of boundary. If nationals could stay open and inclusive, by having semi permeable social cell-walls, then well and good. But…

The problem is that “nation” is so often a short-hand for racial grouping. Indeed why else call a community a “nation”? And race memories are there in our unconscious lurking as Archetypes. Irrational and enormously, darkly,  potent. The perfidious English to the French, the Lord Snooty English to the Scots, the chippy Scots to the English. In our collective unconscious our neighbour is the enemy who raided in the night, raped and stole our livelihood.

.. And so – enter mass manipulation by politicians and other self interested parties ( corporations for instance).  We have our psychic buttons, all they have to do is to to push them; and they can’t help it. The end (their end) soon justifies their means. Where community is defined by nation, then you have the cybernats’ outrageous vilification of the “English”, and the Daily Mail whipping up a response (which helped the Tories back to power  last month). Roll up the Bosch, the Hun and the Frogs. Come on in to the EU debate. How much pent up grievance does it then take to move us to internment camps and war. No, this really isn’t hysteria. In the early 1930’s Germany was an pluralistic and active democracy. It only took ten years…

An Aye for an I 

My brother is sixty today. We grew up in deep countryside in England, in an era that is a different country. We both now live in Scotland, through what has felt for us both like a period of alienation. 

But humanity is universal, however  expressed. Ich-du is I-Thou even in Gaelic. 

France was once divided by language, by how the peoples said “yes”. The land of Oui (pays d’oy) and the land of Oc (pays d’oc). 

Yes is yes by any name. So, my exercised up brother Pip, here is a poem for your birthday. From Squeak. X

Pip was the lad,
 Sqeak was the boy
hoi and poloi youthfully goy
Tick-Sixty-Years-Tock’d
The Oys became Och’d
But Squeak said to Pip – just enjoy!