Worldviews of Old Stories and of New Stories

David Brooks in today’s NY Times has an oped, titled The Great Escape, which fits in well with this series of posts on worldviews. There, he references an “essay, which appeared in Books & Culture, is called “C. S. Lewis and the Star of Bethlehem,” by Michael Ward, a chaplain at Peterhouse College at Cambridge.”
Speaking of CS Lewis, Brooks writes:

Lewis tried to recapture that medieval mind-set…. He did it not because he wanted to renounce the Copernican revolution and modern science, but because he found something valuable in that different way of seeing our surroundings.

The modern view disenchants the universe, Lewis argued, and tends to make it “all fact and no meaning.” When we say that a star is a huge flaming ball of gas, he wrote, we are merely describing what it is made of. We are not describing what it is. Lewis also wanted to include the mythologies, symbols and stories that have been told about the heavenly actors, and which were so real to those who looked up into the sky hundreds of years ago. He wanted to strengthen the imaginative faculty that comes naturally to those who see the heavens as fundamentally spiritual and alive.

I closed my last post, The Value of a New Story — An Accurate Worldview, with a quote from Thomas Berry in which he too writes of strengthening this imaginative faculty, specifically here in relationship to our children.

…If this fascination, this entrancement, with life is not evoked, the children will not have the psychic energies needed to sustain the sorrows inherent in the human condition. They might never discover their true place in the vast world of time and space. Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives. Children need a story that will bring personal meaning together with the grandeur and meaning of the universe. pg. 32-33

Berry later writes, in the same essay, The New Story in Creative Energy: Bearing Witness for the Earth:

The story of the universe is the story of the emergence of a galactic system in which each new level of expression emerges through the urgency of self-transcendence. Hydrogen in the presence of some millions of degrees of heat emerges into helium. After the stars take shape as oceans of fire in the heavens, they go through a sequence of transformations. Some eventually explode into the stardust out of which the solar system and the earth take shape. Earth gives unique expression of itself in its rock and crystalline structures and in the variety and splendor of living forms, until humans appear as the moment in which the unfolding universe becomes conscious of itself. The human emerges not only as an earthling, but also as a worldling. We bear the universe in our beings as the universe bears us in its being. The two have a total presence to each other and to that deeper mystery out of which both the universe and ourselves have emerged. pg. 35

And so it is that we may have hope in our future, because of the wild blossoming forth of the universe’s creative spontaneity… that’s how we got here and who we are. It is our wild resiliency and our most elemental identity. And now is the time to remember it. You know when David Brooks is feeling the itch of the mystery reawakening… we are not alone.
This belonging is our indigenous birthright. Reclaiming will be for Life to transcend, again.
Thanks to Kent at The Golden State and Fat Finch blogs for sending me the link to the NY Times piece.

1 Comment

  1. Kent

    04/29/2008 at 4:47 pm

    Thanks for the links. I was particularly interested with the thought that science has reduced the universe to facts, a place without meaning. That is, of course, one interpretation of the materialistic universe: It is a place without intrinsic meaning. Another is that it is a place infused with meaning by some supernatural agency operating it for some end of which we are unaware. A third is that it is a place without any extrinsic meaning, but one that is imbued with meaning only by the sentient, transient beings who inhabit it.

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