mad in pursuit journal


Snowy Easter

It snowed. Not a memorable April blizzard, just a couple inches of frigid white stuff to keep us cocooned in bulky sweaters and boots.

Today is supposed to be about resurrection and renewal and pastel outfits with corsages. I know we are still a month away from Rochester's true spring, when all the trees flower and the air is perfumed with lilac. Still, our tulip shoots should not look so flattened.

In ancient times, people lived in fear that spring wouldn't come and food would not grow. While they analyzed phases of the moon, they made sacrifices to the gods to give themselves some insurance.

Easter snowI read something interesting.

Two mighty motives run through the mythologies and relgions of the world. The are not the same. They have different histories. The first appear we may term wonder ... from mere bewilderment in the contemplation of something inexplicable to arrest in daemonic dread or mystic awe. The second is self-salvation: redemption or release from a world exhausted of its glow. [Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology]

Campbell uses the term "great reversal" to describe the moment when a culture has sort of figured out the mathematics of their universe and can survive by their own technologies in cities and along trade routes. At this point, religion becomes a communal psychoanalysis, with Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed the greatest psychologists of all, emerging from an age filled with itnerant preachers.

The irony... [is] that precisely those who desire and strive for salvation most earnestly are in their zeal bound the more, since it is exactly their self-seeking that is giving them their pain. [Campbell]

Why did I bring this up? I didn't mean to start a discussion of the history of belief systems.

Maybe I'm just thinking about the world run amok on this snowy Easter. We're making blood sacrifices in Iraq — center ring in the circus of human zeal. The weather is going awry and the planet headed for climatic Armageddon and yet we seem stuck on the religion of personal salvation, as if it were gay marriage that causes glaciers to melt.

I wonder if it's time for another Great Reversal where we can feel more wonder and attunement with the universe and less personal panic about one another's sins.

I'm rambling... Maybe I'll just go on strike till I can walk outside without a ski jacket.


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Easter 1953