Recovering the Sacred

A Vision without a Task is a Dream

A Task without a Vision is Drudgery

A Vision and a Task is the Hope of the World¹
Religion resides in our eyes rather than in our minds. We see; then we love. -- Alun Lewis

Religion resides in our eyes rather than in our minds. We see; then we love. The life of the imagination is serious business. Secularism is as much a metaphor (thought to be liberating humanity from the shackles of religion) for our shared world as is the image of the sacred. And, insofar as popular religion was imprisoning, secularism was an important corrective. It was needed and it worked for a while but there was something good in what it rejected. Our longing for depth wouldn't go away and as the way of understanding and celebrating the human project secularism has proved inadequate. In fact, it is discredited and dying. Some of us feel ready for a breakthrough into something new. We're pregnant.

There are also political and social implications involved in the direction the world (or that affluent part of it) is moving. We are told that there's a meltdown of "the real" coming, if not already upon us, in favor of the virtual, the projected, the made-up. The popularity of the two Matrix movies have made the most of the philosophical common place that the world is something we make up. Something "big" is happening in the world. What is it? The new and deepening world of cyberspace with its ever-expanding and complex forms of delivering information is available to everyone if you have the money and education to buy it and understand it. Remember? "New technologies alter the structure of our interests: the things we think about. They alter the character of our symbols: the things we think with. And they alter the nature of community: the arena in which thoughts develop."

We are in the middle of a world revolution in which old boundaries are breaking down. A New World Order? Or a New World Chaos? What stories and metaphors will help us live into what's coming. We will have to choose our metaphors carefully or they will choose us. Will we be so unconscious that the myths (perhaps savage ones) will play out in us, like some manic mass psychosis? Or, will we be sufficiently awake to choose the myths and metaphors by which we live. We need ways of discerning the difference between crazy and repressive stories and those that are liberating and loving. We are in a war of images - images about the fate and dignity of the human.

The images we choose to interpret our experience have implications for the way we think and feel about ourselves, about our "soul." Is spirituality a commodity? Can it be? In cyberspace, nothing is actually produced, but everything is marketed and up for sale. So, spirituality appears to be a commodity. We go shopping for meaning rather in the same way that we pick out shirt or buy a stereo. If we treat the life of the spirit as if it could be bought and sold, glory, meaning being in all its fullness, fades or becomes fake. When cultural options are presented as consumer goods, passion drains away - becomes virtual. More of us are feeling trapped in a world of consumer pluralism in which we are handled and managed rather than truly governed.

We have lost something. What is it? A sense of the sacred. Why is the sacred important? The sacred is important for human freedom because "the sacred" signifies that which cannot be bought or sold. The hope for the world lies in recovering its sacred identity. The sacred, in the end, wont be controlled or manipulated and certainly cannot co-opted by the consumer culture. It is the guarantor of true freedom.

¹ Borrowed from St. James's Piccadilly