Monday, December 8, 2014

Word, God, Rock

 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." --John 1:1, KJV

I.  I've always loved the opening of the gospel of John, but last night I was lying on the couch staring into space and it occurred to me, what if we lived in a culture where Word wasn't God?

Would we be so very afraid of going "out of our minds"?(dementia: de = out of + mens = mind)

Polls show older people fear Alzheimer's more than cancer.
Of course the Big A comes with all sorts of horrors––"memory loss" is just the tip of the iceberg––and is scary enough on its own. 
Still, I wonder . . . what if we, as a culture, weren't so worshipful of intellect? (I don't mean Americans value intellectuals, but we generally supervalue the take-charge  functions of the brain).

R: God on Top: Diagram of Perception by Robert Fludd, 1619
L: Baby in water, from World Water Day
I got thinking along these lines because my father recently told me that he will end his life if he gets dementia because, he said, "I value my intellect too much. I see no point in life without it."

We've never agreed about this, but I understand his identification. He was a professor of political science. 

One of our biggest fights when I was a teenager was over my question of whether rocks have souls. Actually, the disagreement wasn't about whether or not they have souls, it was about whether or not it was worth asking the question.
He said it wasn't: if we couldn't figure out the answer, it wasn't worth thinking about.

But I've also been disturbed by the Protestant Christian pastor who leads a worship service at the senior residence once a month.
Only a handful of people attend, and about half of them live with Alzheimer's. It's my job to hang around with them. 

The pastor talks and talks and talks. She makes no concession to the fact that half the congregation can't understand what she says. (I almost wish I didn't: her Thanksgiving sermon was on the theme of "our" Puritan heritage.)  

After that service, I asked my boss if the pastor knows she's talking at people with dementia.
My boss said yes, she's told her more than once. 

"Can I wait in the hall and just stick my head in now and then?" I asked.
She said I could.

I'll bring my prayer beads and try to get out of my mind.

"Monk at Golden Rock," (Burma/Myanmar)" by David Lazar


The Crow said...

Rocks may or may not have souls, but some of them have eyes, other holes aligned in such a way to suggest other facial features, therefore - to me, at least - they have personalities. And, depending upon my mood when I look at them, they speak to me...I probably should keep that to myself, shouldn't I?

The Crow said...

One more thing: Could "In the beginning was the Word," be the ancients' way of explaining the Big Bang theory? If so, and supposing further that the ancients would continue to propose that a humanoid god-head was responsible for the Beginning, then wouldn't it make just as much sense to say that "In the beginning was the Big Noise and the Big Noise was with God and the Big Noise was God."

Scientists theorize that the beginning of the Universe was a massive explosion of superheated gases and chemicals. Sounds to me like the beginning was a huge, supernatural belch.

Or a fart.

Fresca said...

CROW: I like your Big Fart Theory! :) I should have talked to someone like you about rocks when I was a teenager.

Zhoen said...

How arrogant of anyone to just assume rocks don't have souls. They've been around so long, done so much, moved so far. We fail to understand their language, but it's written all over them, for those with the wit to read them.

ArtSparker said...

Heh, I wish I could sit down with you for a good long talk about Americans worshipping intellect (or perhaps you mean humanity).

Not that I have noticed- and definitely not worshipping logic.

I will agree that everybody is worshipping/obsessed with something, which is not always helpful in living,you know, life.

Have you read "The Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker? A great book, although you will have to forgive him for some rather outdated attitudes if you look into it.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: Arrogant? Gasp. My male progenitor of Sicilian descent?
[Looking back, I can also see I was being my pushy teenage self--not able to see other people's limits, not respecting when they don't want to talk about something---I'm still working on this!]

Fresca said...

Oh, I'd love to talk to you about this! It's a big snarly topic, and I condensed too much into that phrase "worshiping intellect."

No, I didn't mean "humanity"--you're right, I meant Americans & Co.
Foremost, I was thinking (because of the pastor) of word-heavy American Protestant religions, with their association of hard work and productivity (frontal lobe stuff) with God v. their association of the sensory life of the body with the devil.
The senses come forward in Alzheimer's, as you know--rhythm, for instance, and emotions too.
I could imagine a religious service with more emphasis on the senses---not necessarily BIG liturgy, like in a Catholic church, but just a little stimulus, like handing everyone a candle to hold.
(I'm OK with taking some physical risks, like cutting with scissors or, with someone watching, holding candles.)

Also, I was thinking of academe---NOT a dominant part of U.S. culture, but certainly of mine, with a professor father...

I've not read "The Denial of Death"--will put it on my list.
I'm fine with reading around outdated stuff (usually).