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  • A Bell That Cannot Be Unrung

    61  bar rises 29.87  0mph N dew-point 53  sunrise 5:59  sunset 8:39  Lughnasa

    New (Corn) Moon

    Outside tonight the sky has no moon.  This illustrates the paradoxical nature of light.  We think of light as illumination enabling us to see, but it has another, not often recognized property; it can obscure as well as reveal.   The night sky during the dark moon shines with stars, many invisible when the moon is brightest.  A cool night with a clear sky, a panoply of stars, ancient messages from faraway places gives a northern summer its true character.  Able to burn with heat in the daytime, the northern summer can cool down, remind us of the coming fall, just as Lughnasa, the Celtic first fruits holy day does.  A convergence of a new moon, Lughnasa and cooling temperatures make this a night made for myth.

    The research for Heresy Moves West will probably end tomorrow.  I hope I can get at writing, too, but I doubt it.  Sunday.  This is a big task, one I set for myself, but I’d like to get a first draft done, so I can set it aside for awhile.  I have Stefan’s poems to edit and the Africa tour, too.  Not to mention a firepit to dig, hemerocallis iris and lilium to move.

    A piece of this project troubles me.  Maybe troubles is not the right word, provokes, that could be it.  When Channing and the others split from the Standing Order Calvinist orthodoxy in New England, they started a cascade of controversy that has not ended.  Not long after the Unitarians had left the congregationalists behind, Emerson began writing his essays and giving his lectures.  With the strong push Transcendentalism got from Theodore Parker, there was soon a split over natural religion versus theistic religion.  The Civil War obscured this problem for the first half of the 1860’s, but it re-emerged as the Western issue as the more radical, Parkerite ministers began to dominate the Western Unitarian Conference.  This led to constant conflict with Eastern conservatives (used to denote those who wanted to retain Jesus as Christ, keeping Unitarianism’s original perception of itself as liberal Christianity).  The Free Religious Association and The Ethical Culture movement kept the Western issue alive in the east.  This split healed with a broad understanding of liberal religion, only to be sundered again in the 1920’s with the rise of humanism.  Humanism set aside theism for good in the interest of a scientific and humanistic approach to the ethical life.

    Here’s the problem.  Conservatives predicted the gradual erosion of religious sentiment if there was not at least the glue of Jesus to hold the center.  Their predictions came true as the shift away from theism took its incremental, but, looking backward, inevitable progress toward an essentially secular movement focused on ethical living.  This leaves the field free for radical inquiry into the nature of the human experience.  A great, not small thing.

    But, it can lose the faith that burns in the heart, that seeks the reality next to or beyond this reality; it can lose it in the same kind of scientistic move that linguistic analysis made, that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris make.  It is, though, a bell that cannot be unrung, so we must seek this faith that burns in the heart elsewhere than in tradition.  Good.  Emerson thought so, too.  The question is, where?

    Investigating this question will occupy some time, perhaps the next few years.

    When I went out to check the drying onions, I found one with a bit of a soft spot.  I brought it inside to cut up for a salad for lunch.  Cut open I put my fingers on the white flesh.  It was very warm, almost hot.  That drying would take place inside the onion had not occurred to me.