For the ancient Greeks, there must have been a time when the name “Zeus” suffused people with awe, especially when gazing up at rugged Cretan mountains and seeing frightening flashes electrifying the night sky, along with hearing deep-bass rumblings rolling out into the distant horizon like huge heavy metal balls.
When Roman civilization succeeded the Greeks, however, “Zeus” got translated into “Jupiter,” and the numinous began to fade in light of this new rapidly-expanding world power. What were “gods,” then, compared to people’s actual experience of Roman world power – the power relied upon by successive Caesars to justify declaring themselves to be “gods”?
Today, in America, as Rome’s successor empire, “God” has gotten as dim as the evening star – barely visible through vast metropolitan conurbations of “light haze”. When any of us ever does bother to look up from our ongoing daily affairs, we usually only see the spiritual equivalent of phosphorescent streetlights. All the earlier “bright-line” moral/spiritual distinctions set down by the ancient spiritual masters, prophets and saints are no longer clearly distinguishable by us through this society’s electronic media haze. Tragically, the numinous – that is, the direct individual experience of the “Holy” – is no longer even imaginable for most of us.
Why am I talking about a Nineteenth/Twentieth Century “God” who’s apparently already started on “his” count-down to retirement, on the way to becoming just another of civilization’s memory-relics?
Isn’t it true that the entire Western religious infrastructure, along with all the people supporting it, has now entered a process of irreversible collapse – and is rapidly becoming part of the past?
The main question for us, now, is: does anyone out there know what’s coming next? Who might be capable of spotting incoming bits of joy somewhere out there on the horizon traveling fast enough and hard enough to break through our protective-concrete traditions and bring us a hint of fresh spiritual life?
Who’s out there and, if you are, would you be kind enough to call in now?