Sometimes, poetry is the most efficient, carbon-neutral vehicle to the soul:
From The Pardoner’s Tale, by Geoffrey Chaucer:
...But, sires, o word forgat I in my tale:
But, sirs, one word I forgot in my tale:
920 I have relikes and pardoun in my male,
I have relics and pardons in my bag,
921 As faire as any man in Engelond,
As fine as any man in England,
922 Whiche were me yeven by the popes hond.
Which were given to me by the pope’s hand.
923 If any of yow wole, of devocion,
If any of you will, of devotion,
924 Offren and han myn absolucion,
Offer and have my absolution,
925 Com forth anon, and kneleth heere adoun,
Come forth straightway, and kneel down here,
926 And mekely receyveth my pardoun;
And meekly receive my pardon;
As I see things, secular humanism acts at the level of belief. There are as many and as various strands of belief as you can find.
I’ve explored a bit of Romantic Collectivism as I’ve experienced it (Back To Earth, back to the postmodern Body, back to feminine and feelings first movements against the masculine and the rational, back or out to a deeper universalism which includes animals, plants and microbes etc.).
With community comes irony. In the world, there are always people in dire need of a (M)oral (C)ause.
As with human things, wisdom is ripe for folly; knowledge for foolishness. Passion can become intimately linked with ignorance and conformity, as much as it might be with intelligence and courage.
There’s plenty of middle-brow environmentalism to go around, too, pushing a PBS-style vision for the public (Saganites) while sanctioning Righteous Activism (Socially Just…the goal is to change the World)
And there are increasingly means to gain (S)elf-Knowledge and (S)elf-Esteem when times get rough (therapists as analogous to priests, with knowledge enough to explain our interior lives, our social lives and our ‘oughts’ to us and guide us to light if only someone pays for their bread).
Surely, they can’t all be right?
For God’s Sake, there is no shortage of lethal ignorance, hypocrisy, self-denial and manipulative indoctrination in the Catholic Church, either. I’m guessing this is why the message of Christ is endlessly debated and re-booted (if you’re looking for what’s true, what’s good, and what’s beautiful, you can not necessarily expect it in this life).
Many of the same people (and types) would have just gone into a nunnery/the priesthood about 150 years ago.
We’re all made of this stuff, of course. Some good thoughts and impulses; some bad, selfish, and destructive thoughts and impulses.
Upon hearing “Gaia” you might be thinking mystic, earth-worshippers (green religion at its worst) but our author uses the theory put forward by James Lovelock over 40 years ago as an interesting philosophical meditation.
“Perhaps in the end, Plato had it right: We need both perspectives, Heraclitean and Parmenidean, to get the whole picture. At our peril, and at our children’s peril, we ignore the messages of those seminal Greek thinkers.”