Arts

Finding Dante in the Bella Vista Hills

Each of these grape berries is a sun that the grape vine has created out of the only materials it has — not intellect, certainly, nor such products of it as nuclear fusion reactors (very pricey) but the physical stuff of the world. It is, in other words, a photograph in a technology based on life. P1360208 The image isn’t fixed in time, as intellectual and technical products are, with their roots in the eternal world of the medieval church, but flows with it, recreates itself within it, and does so without leaving unity, balance or physicality.

P1360213Contemporary Christian philosophers would argue that this break between natural cycles and eternal lines is the fundamental genius of Christianity. The contemporary Christian pastors I know would argue that this is an image of original sin. Standing just a little to the side of all that, I’d say that those are the same thing. I am haunted by the thought that these Christian philosophies come to the present through a Europe that was both Celtic and Roman, and carry the spirit of those cultures forward in some way. Could it be that reclaiming the natural imagery of the Celts, that would have seen these grapes as part of a natural cycle of life and death, could deepen (or soften) the concept of the individual within contemporary society and return the onus for thought to the world from the self, which is a pretty new piece of technology and might just lead to the replacement of humans with machines? Might this, in other words, be a human image?

P1350066

Choke Cherry After Leaf Fall

It certainly was in Dante. You know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking we don’t need to reinvent the world. After all, there was much about Catholic cathedrals that was not Christian, or, rather, was Christian and earthly at the same time. Like this;

erfurt moonMoon Above the Entrance to the Erfurt Cathedral

Constructed by the Bishop of Mainz, a long way to the West, and Mainz was, well, Rome.

That’s one of the things I’ve been trying to do here, to put things together into wholes — to draw human identity out of the depths of time, rather than to use the products of time and history as arguments in a story of the self. I’m very excited by this work. Thanks for following along here in my valley in the West beyond the West.

 

3 replies »

  1. Harold, don’t forget that Pelagius was a Celt, and totally lost the original-sin battle (he was more for original blessing) in church power struggles. So the patristic Augustinians won, and we have been in trouble ever since… (simplistically-stated, anyway!)

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  2. Harold, don’t forget that Pelagius was a Celt, and totally lost the original-sin battle (he was more for original blessing) in church power struggles. So the patristic Augustinians won, and we have been in trouble ever since… (simplistically-stated, anyway!)

    Like

  3. Thank you for posting all that you have! As concerns Christianity, I’ve just got a hold of a fascinating book – Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love for this World for Crucifixion and Empire by Rita Nakashima Brock & Rebecca Ann Parker (Beacon, 2008). I’d say it speaks to your post today. thanks again

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