“THE TOWER OF BABEL: AN UP-TO-DATE VERSION”

(According to Wikipedia the Millenium Dome was designed by Richard Rogers and constructed to celebrate that date. It was described by Prime Minister Tony Blair as “a triumph of confidence over cynicism, boldness over blandness, excellence over mediocrity”. It is fair to say that the response given in the Conservative Manifesto- “banal, anonymous and rootless” and “lacking a sense of Britain’s history and culture” seems more in accordance with the general public and educated reaction at the time. The satire I here reproduced written nearer the time reflects a similar feeling.)

And the most powerful rulers on earth gathered together and said: let us now speak one language. For now that we know the laws of Science and the power of Technology we shall defer to neither God nor Nature. And we shall make the poor peoples of the world give up their traditional agriculture and make them grow what we want them to grow and make what we want them to make. We shall teach all peoples to worship money and we shall be guided by economic experts who inform us how to control economies to our best advantage. And within these guidelines we shall pretend to allow people freedom, equality and democracy. And we shall teach people to mock the past, to despise tradition and to regard as superstition religious beliefs. And we shall educate them to believe only in progress and we shall encourage them always to want more than they can buy and we shall devise great entertainment industries using the resources of technology to keep them permanently amused, or at least distracted, when they are not working. And people the world over will forget religion and glorify Man. So let us build a great Dome where we can celebrate the progress and lordship of Man where the people will rejoice in our great secular and materialistic society.

And the Lord came down to the city and looked at the Dome which the children of men built. And the Lord said: Behold the people are one and they have all one language, and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do.

And the Lord continued: They worship their own productions and defer neither to Nature nor to me. They have despoiled and ravaged Nature and made growing places deserts. They have proclaimed freedom and they have created docility. They have promoted democracy and get themselves elected as sharp practitioners or media stars who care for the interests of their people when they have neither wisdom derived from the past nor concern for the future. They have claimed to grant equality but only when people have been taught to say “Materialism is all” .

They have advanced education but only an education designed towards the service of Mammon. This is a generation that does not know the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.

And because of this, Nature will rebel because it can no longer sustain Man in his greed and arrogance. And because they do not regard the poor of the earth, those from traditional cultures and religions will resist the powerful and there will be war and rumours of war and there will be terror and rumours of terror. And there will be anarchy and to deal with anarchy more dictatorial rule and in reaction to dictatorial rule there will be rebellion and then to repress rebellion there will be more cruel dictatorships and Man and his works will be confounded.

Then came the Son unto the Father as he watched the building of the Dome and said: All that you say is just and yet there is still the Church which can still do good and there are still those who sing the old songs and dance the old dances and learn from poetry, who read the Scriptures and glorify Thee and seek to advance Thy Kingdom. Before you completely condemn Man give those who love and tend and nurture that which is good within their traditions yet another opportunity to recreate the Garden you designed for humanity where different traditions and cultures and languages might flourish on the good soil you have laid for them ; then these may yet grow to honour Thee as the creative source of all that is good.

And the Lord said: What you say is still my desire.

NOTE

Picture: Millenium_Dome_zakgollop

LIFE BECOME LESS THAN LIFE.

I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

Gospel of St. John 10.10

Last October I began a new series of blog “Old Stories That Tell Us Where We Are Now” . The chosen stories were The Tower of Babel myth in Genesis, Plato’s well-known story of the Cave and Coleridge’s long poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Unfortunately going through the Coleridge poem the series lost its initial thrust , meandering rather as I found other subjects to take on at the same time. As a result many new followers will be unaware of the original design as will more occasional blog readers. I have therefore decided to re-run the series over a short period so that readers can follow the developing idea from beginning to end with the original posts being re-edited and re-blogged. This post can act either as a postscript to the series or an introduction as suits the reader.

POSTSCRIPT OR INTRODUCTION

To what extent can we survive without a proper relationship with creation. Science has given us the power to exceed limits of what was long thought possible. Explainers of science have suggested that science alone shows us true knowledge and tells us who we are.

An ancient story from early on in the Bible challenges this idea. It shows us there are limits to what we can do and there should be limits. God as Creator is not to be mocked.

God’s creation is to be respected and indeed loved. Does it not come from God? But humanity is wilful, seeking over-weeningly to impose his power on the Nature. As a consequence the balance of our relationship with the Nature on which we are dependent is distorted. Coleridge’s poem tells a tale in which a mariner loses his connection

Retired from the action of the world as it were comfortably seated in my study-chair as I write this, it is nevertheless easy to be dismayed by what the screen unfolds of the world around me. A recent Climate Change report by the United Nations paints a dire picture of our future based on humanity’s insufficient awareness of the interdependence of our lives with that of Nature. Humanity does not simply belong to itself. Both Coleridge’s poem and the Biblical myth of the Tower of Babel remind us of this.

But the human world also clamours for our attention. Is our hold on life, on life in its fullness reduced? T.S. Eliot reminded us “Humankind cannot bear too much reality”. The Plato story, with its mythic dimension, seems to confirm this. For the dwellers in the cave, conditioned to a type of life they think normal, reject the urgings of one escaped from their midst who tells them of a better life elsewhere in the open sunlight.

Meantime those who live in the open sunlight know life is beautiful. We need to get our thinking right and join them.

(Tomorrow see “The Tower of Babel”)

FROM TOWER OF BABEL TO PENTECOST

And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language;and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Go to, let us go down and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence

(Genesis 11; 6-8a KJV)

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they {ie. the disciples} were all, with one accord in one place.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And there appeared to them unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Acts 2:1-6

In the Tower of Babel story human beings use their collective knowledge and speech to seek to arrogate their status to become gods. God shows this is the way that leads to disintegration. Their collective knowledge and speech is lost and they are scattered abroad speaking many tongues.

In the second story God sends the Holy Spirit to his chosen disciples who carry the knowledge of the resurrection in their hearts. They now have one message to speak to the hearts of people of all tongues.

In our own language we are made aware God speaks to us of love of Him and love of all. We are to bring that assurance to our own culture and participate in its sharing with all cultures.