In this culture of perpetual aggrievement, could it be that we’ve been missing the message that’s right in front of our faces?
“Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’” mountaineer John Muir once asked an interviewer. “It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’”
The notion that “enlightenment” consists in 24/7 calm, in short, had never sat well with me. True, Christ curled up in the back of the boat during a storm and took a nap—but that wasn’t impassivity; it was trust.
Auth finds much to like in Realism, Impressionism, and modern art. He gives a fair read to Picasso, Seurat, Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock. He celebrates Salvador Dali’s 1954 “Crucifixion,” which depicts an ascendant, cosmic Christ.
But he’s also clear that the soul searching for God finds little sustenance in art grounded in atheism and secularism.
“To be sure, man’s search for meaning and values may arouse inner tension rather than inner equilibrium. However, precisely this tension is an indispensable prerequisite of mental health.”
“Yudina was a strange person, and very much a loner.” “Strange things kept happening to her.” “Yudina saw music in a mystical light. For instance, she saw Bach’s Goldberg Variations as a series of illustrations to the Holy Bible,” Shostakovich observed. “She always played as though she were giving a sermon.”
‘Why do you stay here, Father?’I asked. ‘Why don’t you leave?’ He gave the impression of a man in whom some small part had already died. There was already something missing. ‘I cannot,’ he answered. ‘Someone has to guard the church.’
“The hermitage garden is designed to provide a place where nature, scripture and Glendalough’s history are combined in harmony, delighting the eye, comforting the soul and leading pilgrims to prayer and a deeper awareness of God.”
One day last week I tramped through a dark wood, up a very steep hill, and around a couple of bends and came out at the edge of meadows and meadows full of…could it be?…I was pretty sure…heather! I’ve never seen my namesake flower growing in the wild so this was a rare thrill.
For all their solipsism, these young men are not self-pitying so much as they’re bewildered: by the state of the world, the culture, and the fact that as young males they’re unseen, unwanted, unremarked upon.