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[personal profile] tangyabominy
Quoth Michael Novak, via Slacktivist:

What if the mad leader of Iran fulfilled his pledge to wipe Israel from the map with the Iranian nuclear weapon, coming soon? What would we Christians do without the Mount of the Sermon? Without Capernaum? Without Nazareth? Without Cana? Without the lovely and mystical city of Jerusalem -- without Golgotha, and the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and the tomb? Without Bethlehem? Without the Sea of Tiberius (the Sea of Galilee), where Jesus after his Resurrection had Peter and the others cast their net on the other side of their boat?


The answer: you would do what many of us who are spiritual and longing, whose true homeland is only glimpsed in fiction and mind's-eye and shadow-ripples on the water of forest streams, already do. You will wonder, and hope, and look to the future, and you will dream of the day. You will dream of Eden, of reunion with your god, of a time when all tangible things will make way for the true Platonic-forms behind them.

Or would you? Perhaps I cannot assume that you would act like me: because you're not doing what I would do, now, if the places of my religious yearning had a definable, physical form, if it felt like all it took to lead me home, to the wellspring of the spirit and the birthplace of my being, were coordinates on a map. If I thought that such places were truly, transcendently holy in the way that would fulfil my needs, I would be hastening to the shores of that sea, to the spires and towers of that city. I would crumble to the ground and I would never leave. I would make myself one with the dirt.

But you know that you could not. The fact that you are not there now, that you are content to sit many thousands of miles away, suggests that you are aware that the meaning of these places is not in their physicality. The meaning of them is in their ideal, in their concept. And if that concept is a truly holy and transcendent thing, then it will live on regardless of what is physically destroyed.

You don't care about that, of course. You just lust after war in the name of what you love. In a way I can't blame you: homeland, true spiritual homeland, the place to which we ache to return, is something that inspires the urge to do anything for it that we can; to live and die for it, if it would do any good. But the thing is, it won't. Maturity, perhaps, is growing up to realise that you want it to mean something to perform a dramatic gesture for your ideals, want to die for concepts, want to rage for the heavens: but the good it will do is so small, and it cannot stem suffering, though you wish it could, and is in fact, in this world, so often suffering's bedfellow. Oh, someday, we'll be granted a world where these desires have full force of meaning: but for now, your enemy is suffering. And you must search for beauty, and wonder, and ideal; but only in ways that do not aid this enemy.
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