mad in pursuit notebook


Order vs Chaos

I forget which spiritual tradition I was reading about... said this particular belief system was less worried about good vs. evil than about order vs. chaos. I'm playing with this idea.

ORDER is safe and predictable. It gives you a space to live your life in. CHAOS breeds fear, sometimes terror, panic. Living space is consumed with violence. Eat or be eaten. We all face chaos, whether life in the jungle or life on modern Main St. Shit happens and we say "WTF!?"

This morning I'm thinking that this is the point that religions compete on. The religion with the competitive advantage is the one who makes the brand promise of greater protection from chaos and fear. The murky history of St. Patrick suggests that his Christianity offered better protection to the Irish, who were tortured by shape-shifting spirit enemies and who felt forced into greater and greater violence. St. Patrick's God and his heroic Jesus were bigger and badder than any mischievous local spirits. Safe harbor in a storm.

mask CongoMy cataloging project has me reading a lot about African tribal religious practices. It's easy to leap to Western prejudices about black magic and sorcery. Many people who visit our house wonder out loud about the possible evil intentions contained in the artifacts, masks and carvings we have. But, no. They are all meant to draw good fortune, health, fertility, or power and/or to ward off bad luck, sickness, etc. They are friendly.

It's logical, really. How many people go to sorcerers to work evil on their enemies? It's the stuff of horror movies, but you just don't see much of it in real life. (Okay, maybe Al Qaeda and anyone who thinks terrorism is a hoot.) On the other hand, you do see people flocking to mega-churches, searching for sacred spaces. The need to find order is way more powerful than the impulse to bring on chaos. IMHO.

I'm seeing it in our love of patterns. Visual patterns. Music. Beats and rhythms. Orderliness. Safe harbor in the storm.

I think I had a point when I started this, but my thoughts are meandering all over the place, so I'm signing off...


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