The Chaos and Compassion

I have been thinking a lot and feeling a lot about the border crisis, about the children in cages, about their conditions, that photo of the father and child drowned.

First a few lines from Wallace Stevens’ well-received Sunday Morning,

We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.

I have been wondering too how it is that Trump’s Christians can only defend him. How cruel their remarks. How astonishingly inhumane. And I ask myself how did they get this way. It’s almost my job to do that, I study religion for a living—or what passes as a living.

Below is a comment I made to a friend who made a similar observation citing an article in which a Trump Christian describes why she cannot feel compassion and why we must not feel empathy. Really. It is a study in pathology. And still how did this happen to such believers, why does their religion do this to them?

What is that religion now? It is how these people live clinging to sterile dogmas, superstitions, and insipid formulas because they cannot address their own lives with any care or seriousness. They use religion not to query, question, or explore but to assert, to solve, to claim their own superiorities, to tell the rest of us how certain they are. So how we can expect them to care for others, especially children.

Why is it that they fail the simplest tests of humanity? It is not merely because they are inept and cruel and stupid, it is because they hate the vulnerability they see because they refuse to see it in their own lives, in their lies, their own valueless religious nonsense that consoles their empty souls.

We live amidst “a heap of broken images,” as Eliot put it so plainly in The Wasteland. We will not banish or exile religion because it’s the easy way out, the way lazy minds and frightened hearts take so that they don’t need to look at themselves.

I say we must affirm that heap of broken images and find our way into it. We must not stand on it but go into the crevices and spaces where the rocks and stones will hurt us, where we must stumble, and take care even to find our own footing. And then we must look for those broken upon those same images and give them a simple hand.

We may be faltering and stumbling too but their lot is far more precarious, in deeper need, and it’d be a good thing to remind ourselves that our shared humanity is our only true hope. I don’t give a damn for god until we can see each other in that form.

Sorry for the sermon here yo.

1 Comment

  1. Keep preaching DB. For to look deeply into our own Life, our own Self, to peer deeply into and see through our own folly, ignorance and hate… is to discover the quiet beauty, and silent joy of Compassion & Love….thx, DB

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