Perhaps in the years to come I may look back at this blog and find some delight in reflecting on the 2017 state of affairs and how we came through all of this without much fuss. You know all too well the "state of affairs" to which I refer:
- our environmental crisis with ice caps breaking away, seas rising, people displaced, homes lost, etc.;
- the longest war in our country's history (approaching 16 years) still going on in Afghanistan with an announcement today of thousands of additional troops to be deployed, while our other war in Iraq (approaching 9 years) grinds steadily on, and the warring destruction in Syria adds daily to the list of 220,000 people killed in that country;
- economic markets rise while old jobs disappear, communities decay, infrastructure crumbles, ideologues preach a religion of aggressive capitalism with unending profits, gladiator sports teams reward star players with multi-million dollar contracts that still cannot compensate for the destructions of their brains and bodies, and the advertisements on TV glamorize the toys and lifestyles of the rich and famous, making you think we all could look and live that way forever;
- racial tensions escalate, extremist groups proliferate, Nazi groups march in front of synagogues in Charlottesville, VA, pausing to extend the Hitler-era salute of demagoguery and anti-Semitism;
- while in the office of our United States President, a Fuhrer-like insanity stalks the land, igniting the baser instincts of our people, toying with our minds, threatening "fire and fury" against the regime of another madman in North Korea, escalating the chaos within the institutions that our tradition has provided for the welfare of all, giving reinvigorated power to the Reagan quote, "In the present crisis, government is not the solution, government is the problem." This is a quote taken by the ideologues to support attacks on the structures of our civil society, and employed now in extremity by the Trump administration to dismantle the very foundations which make possible a social contract by the people, for the people.
But let's give them a little slack. Hardly a week goes by in my consulting room that I do not have someone announce to me that they are how they are because of their astrological sign. "I am a Taurus; " "What can I expect of myself to change my behavior when I am a Leo, a Virgo, Libra," and on and on. They seem not to see the disconnect between describing their behavior and lot in life as something prefigured in the heavens while at the same time coming to analysis in order to somehow change their state of affairs. Most often, these are educated, professional people who bring their astrological charts into our sessions along with their daily astrological readings in the comic section of their newspapers beside the Billy Graham column.
Which reminds me of yet another incompatibility. This is the confusion within well-educated people about the nature of prophecy in the Bible. Prophecy in the Bible generally has to do with concerns about the "outcome" of worldly events. For example, it is something like this: if you do not pay your taxes, one day in the not-too-distant future a member of the IRS will come knocking on your door, bringing a day of judgment to your house, and a demand for settling up your account! That is a prophecy having to do with the outcome of an event not in the celestial heavens but within a sequence of events, a cause and effect, here and now. That this example I just gave refers also to a moral consideration of life makes the outcome weighty. It may feel calamitous if it is your delinquency at hand. In the same way, the "prophets" in the Hebraic history of our Judeo-Christian tradition spoke eloquently about the ruinous outcomes not only of individual transactions but quite often the projected catastrophes of nations, of rulers, who acted without consideration of the meaning of their actions. In these cases, it is not the movement of the stars which guided the prophets; rather, it is their inner moral consciousness.
But what about the saying of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew (24), Luke (21) and Mark (13)? The words of Jesus are not characteristic of anything he has said elsewhere.This text is what students of the Bible call "the little apocalypse." It describes "strange signs in the sun and moon," culminating in the end of the world marked by the "Son of Man coming on the clouds of glory." As I said earlier, these words sound nothing like Jesus' reference to the Kingdom of God as a spiritual reality within oneself. Consequently, most serious biblical scholars regard the passage as a later insertion of apocalyptic themes not associated with Jesus of Nazareth.
However, once again, we can see how the old idea of a relationship between celestial bodies and events on earth fuels ancient beliefs, old archetypal themes dormant within the human psyche. Which brings us back to the events this day.
The eclipse has now passed overhead. With 98% of a total eclipse, we saw the sky darken, the cicadas chirped loudly, a few birds joined in, and Sheba indicated with a yawn that she wanted to go inside -- perhaps thinking it must be bedtime! I put down my pen long enough to experience this phenomenon. My reaction? I noted the other-worldly feeling that came over me, as if I were drawn back in time or to some other, distant reality.
Something very different, very strange was taking place in the heavens, just as they are in the political, social life of people around the earth. What a very strange synchronicity!