This time, though, I wish to let his words lead us to some questions. On page 74 of Out of the Riven Century the character, ruminating on the glorious Gothic cathedrals of light, asks in contrast
the reason for that colossal self-deception of our century that subjected the objective reality of our world beneath the conceit of the latest enlightened generation. To me this seemed a sinking-back to a ptolemaic world, the human brain replacing the earth as that around which everything revolved.
I could not help trying to distill the consequences. What had been the human results of those retreating horizons, drawn short and tight by the now-dead priests of matter? Let us name them, these tumbled idols, prisoners of their age, jailers of ours—Marx and Darwin and Freud. What was their achievement? Self-loathing, lonely and malleable man, mortar of the bloody utopias of our century’s strutting supermen. How could it have been otherwise for a credulous era that embraced on faith its own self-label of random higher beast?
Reading this, I thought he could have further mentioned Nietzsche, Haeckel, Dewey, Sartre and Camus, Derrida and Rorty; and following in their trail and the trail of others, all the grandiose genocidal dictators of the 20th century. And I recalled this from the previous story in the same book (page 59),
In the waning of the Modern Ages, what was the legacy of the great founders?
It was the moral sensibility of that rationalized the medical farming of fetal brain matter. It was the Gentle Land, the lethal utopia once again. It was the desolation of marriage and the war of all against all in the plague of the dying century that science, comprehending all, did not comprehend.
And I asked myself, why do some still insist on calling those former days the Dark Ages? (Romjue asked the same question a page or two later, for that was where he was headed all along.) The conceit is that they were lacking intellectually, which is a prejudice that historians now are finding was false all along. Of course knowledge has grown massively since then; but is knowledge the only light? What about beauty and art? What about love? What about hope, and glory? What about understanding and doing what is right?
What brightness have we left behind in embracing “these tumbled idols”?
But I would not want to be overly pessimistic. A classic Christmas carol reminds us, “Yet in these dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Jesus Christ came as the light to brighten all the years, all the ages. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4,5).
Every age is both dark and light.
As far as I know the Bible does not say Jesus was born at night, but the imagery around his birth is filled with this contrast: the bright star in the night guiding the Magi; the angels appearing in light to the shepherds at night. The shepherds hurried, it says (Luke 2:8-16), and found Jesus as the angels had said they would, which perhaps implies a nighttime birth. It would be more than fitting if Jesus did indeed come that way: the light-life of the world piercing the dead of night.
The light shines. The darkness has not and cannot overcome it.
By commenting here you agree to abide by this site's discussion policy. Comments support Markdown language for your convenience. Each new commenter's first comment goes into moderation temporarily before appearing on the site. Comments close automatically after 120 days.
Copyright, Permissions, Marketing
Some books reviewed on this blog are attached to my account with Amazon’s affiliate marketing program, and I receive a small percentage of revenue from those sales.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.