WILLIAM EDELEN: Sacred Humanism


The Contrary Minister

That brilliant Renaissance man, Carl Jung, said of his Lutheran pastor father: “My father’s bible stood as a great wall between my father and the Living Present God”… What he is saying is this: organized, dogmatic, creedal and authoritarian Christianity has only one primary objective: to sustain, promote and maintain the institution. Individual spiritual growth and maturation become impossible within such an artificial construct.

The bigger the institution, the more stagnation in mediocrity, the more unavoidable is its blind stupidity, and very often immorality. To raise an individual out of this mindless mass and make clear to him/her that they are the one primary factor, and not the institution, becomes impossible.

Articles of faith and theological beliefs are no substitute for inner experiences. Dogma is believed and becomes hypostatized, even as most Christians hypostatize the bible, making it some kind of an authority regardless of its thousands of contradictions and hundreds of different interpretations. The institution of dogmatic Christianity has become the lamentable spectacle of chronic squabblers that has disintegrated into over 400 Protestant denominations, in addition to Roman Catholic chaos and confusion, as well as others.

There is today a massive movement away from archaic and fossilized dogma. Millions, literally millions of members have left the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches over the past decade. Even their OWN OFFICIAL FIGURES admit this. There is a movement toward a new spirituality, with a new consciousness, as it relates to the feminine, the Earth, and the universe of which we are a part. It has become a SACRED HUMANISM, adopting the values of humanism that enrich the human family… values that are “sacred” by their very importance and presence.

There is no such thing as a Presbyterian rain forest, or a fundamentalist polluted river, or an atheistic ocean, or a Baptist ozone layer… we are ALL ONE, and everything is ONE, and inter-related and UNITED in a COSMIC SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP. It is just mandatory for our survival that we hold hands and unite with a life philosophy of a SACRED HUMANISM.

The efforts of Promethean giants has not been wasted. Giants exist who have shattered the dark superstitions of dogmatic religion: Galileo, Voltaire, Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Emerson, Thoreau, Burbank and Huxley… and where would the honor roll end, as we become a part of this spiritual evolution. Through their passion and dedication LIGHT has penetrated the darkness because they dared to write and speak. Promethean giants who brought TRUTH and LIGHT to humankind through their HUMANISM made SACRED. They even NOW, in our own time are still speaking to us… as our nourishing mother… and our lasting life.

The SACRED can never be INSTITUTIONALIZED or DOGMATIZED. And what many in the orthodox Judaeo-Christian tradition do not know or realize, is that when distinguished men and women in the world of science talk about the “sacred” they are not in any way, shape or form referring to any creeds and doctrines of the orthodox and traditional Christian church. When SIR JAMES JEANS writes, “The universe looks like a great thought,” he is only pointing the way toward the Mystery. When STEINMETZ said that scientists must recognize “SPIRITUAL FORCES” he was in no way affirming archaic Christian dogma. As a Unitarian he found them absurd.

When SIR ARTHUR EDDINGTON talks about “universal mind” he is ONLY talking about the MYSTERY… as he said, “Something unknown is doing we know not what.” (The beginning and end of my own theology, by the way.)

When RENE DUBOS writes about “progress” he talks about it in spiritual language. “The word progress has been totally corrupted. It is used now to denote change in standard of living. Progress no longer means spiritual evolution… or a higher degree of education… or more enlightened tastes. It now, today, only means how many manufactured objects people can own. Progress is NOT robots putting out cars. Progress is when 100 percent of Cleveland, OH can read and write. 40 percent of Cleveland is now considered illiterate. Progress is when the river running through Cleveland does not catch on fire with its pollution.”

The darkest problem of man is HIS CONCEPTION OF HIMSELF. Emerson called us “divine animals”. Perhaps that is as good and accurate as any. A first and most basic question is this: Who and what is man, this Homo sapiens, this “wise and thinking animal”?

People are discovering that more goods are not the definition of happiness. I am asking: is there a relationship between a degradation of the human spirit… and living in a computerized culture obsessed with technology? Lewis Mumford, that excellent thinker, wrote, “The pursuit of non-utilitarian activities, the production of non-profit-making goods and the enjoyment of non-consumable wealth are the sustaining values of a living culture.”

Very few ask the first and most basic question, WHO AND WHAT IS MAN? Are you only a walking calcium deposit… or a bundle of carbon? I can assure you that calcium did not write this essay, nor is calcium or carbon reading these words. Whence came this spirit? Where am I in this maze of pipes and protoplasm and chemicals?

CARBON does not write, read and think.

CALCIUM does not cry.

IRON does not laugh.

HYDROGEN does not love.

OXYGEN does not pray… or meditate.

Whence came this spirit… that is within me… called Bill Edelen?

Whence… out of what STEAMING POOL?

Whence… out of what… CLOUDBURST?

“Man shall be what he wishes,” said Shakespeare… saying the CHOICE is ours… yours and mine: Which symbols will shape our philosophy, attitudes and beliefs in the living of our days… the symbols of a computerized technology… or the symbols of the beauty of the human spirit… with the nourishment and enrichment of the psyche and soul and all that it means to be truly human.

The message is this: A SACRED HUMANISM recognizes the human spirit and its flowering… not its retardation relative to the culture. The need to return, with emphasis to the recognition of the feminine principle in our earth and lives… The return to a cosmology where science, mysticism and art are woven together as ONE.

SCIENCE involved with factual information about our relationship, to our earth and each other. MYSTICISM being the response in wonder and awe before the realities of it all. ART… the third dimension, the artist, writer, poet, painter, musician who takes this awe and wonder and mystery and puts it into our psyche with music, dance, story, poetry and ritual. Where all is brought together as ONE… in a culture which understands and celebrates a SACRED HUMANISM.

The great experiences of the human soul in beauty, love and intellectual illumination come to us again, and yet again, in sacred dimensions through a SPIRIT that is beyond human comprehension. That SPIRIT that sustains the universe… that SPIRIT that is the source of the trees, the flowers and the fruits… the very substance of the vegetables and the minerals, that SPIRIT that fills the sea with fish and the air with birds and the land with animals… that SPIRIT that is in the midst of me… continually enfolding and unfolding me… that SPIRIT that is the source of my supply and the very food upon my table… that SPIRIT that is closer to me than breathing… and so whither shall we go from this SPIRIT… and whither shall we flee from its presence… What name shall we give it… this SPIRIT… it needs no name… other than MYSTERY.

To leave this Mystery unknown and unnamed is not to lose… for silence names as well as sound… and it is enough… to remember that this SPIRIT…

“In the blush of every dawn… in the evening breeze… in the leaf’s low murmur… the swell of the ocean and seas… the rising and ebbing of the tide… the mote in the sunbeam… rest here, I whisper to the atom. I call to the orb… roll on. I am what was… is shall be… creations ascent and fall… the link… the chain of existence, beginning and end of all. Artist of the solar spaces…and of human faces… though all human races claim Thee… thought… and language fail to name Thee… mortal lips are dumb before Thee… Silence, only, can adore Thee…” Wordsworth

O Thou… Spirit… thou… before whom all words recoil…