If you think 2020 wasn’t awkward enough, here comes an eerie, symbolical scene for its ending. A babushka style Mary and Joseph, (ancient?) astronaut, an Uruk-Hai warrior (seriously!), and an angel that looks like taken from a Starbucks logo.
It is not an avangard street art, from a squat. Nope, its this years Nativity Scene revealed few days ago in front of St. Peters Basilica in Vatican. If this is the way that Holy See wants to sum up the weirdness of what we all experienced in 2020 then I guess they achieved their goal.
One might say; this is just art. A creative interpretation, a step beyond the trivial depiction of what we all already know. Yet, if art is to instil in us specific emotions – then why is that it does not bring the joy that should be associated with Christmas. Instead… the feeling I get when looking at these sculptures is something that I would describe as a mix of amusement and uneasiness. It just feels off.
Particularly, that astronaut, that seems to be copy pasted from some fringe historians stories about ancient aliens. If you look closely you will see that its holding something in its hands… is it a gift?
As Catholic, I do believe that symbols are meaningful. So I wonder; is this just a artistic flop or a well thought, obscured preview of a things to come?
There is that house on top of the hill in southern Poland. It towers above the village, yet it remains hidden in the embrace of the forest. The branches of nearby trees stretch above its roof, as if nature is crawling back in, to reclaim the land that once belonged to it.
Although this scenery seems like from a gothic story this house brings the emotions which I will always associate with peace, harmony and respite. My family owns this place, it has become our holiday retreat, and for me personally; a sanctuary.
Each day, just at sun dawn I would run into the woods behind the house, climb up the hill, off the beaten path and sit on the grass. I would close my eyes. And breathe.
This is how I remind myself of what is real. This is how I remind myself of those grim times when the urban life has entangled me and brought me down to the brink of depression. When I was burned out, when toxic work environment and “startup way of life” got me immersed in pointless masquerades. I remember, those times well, when I got lost in the crowd of new humans, and almost lost view of the reality.
In this age of abundance of information the most scarce resource is the Truth
“Quid est veritas?” – asks Pilate. What is truth? he ponders, while the Truth stands right before him. I can’t help but to think, that today it is the same for us.
What is truth? What is real? As we delve deeper into the flashy distractions of modern “culture” and entertainment we lose the sense of what is real. Those things that make us human, that define human experience, that rawness of reality is something I have to rediscover deep in the woods. Those precious moments can be seen and heard only in silence.
Chop wood, plant trees, cut grass, gather mushrooms, shoot a bow, take my kids for a hike through the woods, teach them to walk in silence and show them how to observe the wildlife. Drink some coffee with friends from the village; old-fashioned people who value work of their hands, who toil in the fields, who have not yet been immersed in the noise of the Metropolis.
I see the dichotomy, the growing rift between those people and the ones whom I met when living in Big Cities such as Berlin, Paris or Dubai. It is almost as if there are two species living in parallel worlds.
There is the homo sapiens, and there is this new human. The first one is of the old world, the latter is of the Brave New World. The new human is not taught to create but to consume. The new human trades elusive goals of long term effort for pleasures of immediate gratification.
Nurtured by fabricated food, educated by video entertainment, kept in darkness through constant exposure to blinding lights. A new human thrives when facing a screen and navigates effortlessly through digital jungle yet remains helpless and lost when confronted with real life. The new human is stripped of his identity, cut from his roots, detached from his legacy, even from biology.
The new human unlike the old one is not forged by constant values, but constantly morphs with ever changing trends and fashions.
The history of a new human is not written in stone, not even in paper but in wikipedia. The new human does not belong nor rely on a family, his sense of safety comes from an omnipresent embrace of the welfare state.
Family and marriage are redefined, blurred are the axioms, nothing is normal and everything is normal. You can’t observe reality for what it is, because you would become guilty of a mortal sin of being judgemental. When everything is questioned, nothing is real.
But the Truth, has this one miraculous property that It always emerges, eventually. And it leaves naked, those who try to suppress it.
All these thoughts ran through my mind as I was listening to the wind hustling through the tree branches, touching the moss, smelling the soil, cherishing the view of the bright blue sky above. How foolish I was to ever lose sight of it? I myself, came so dangerously close to becoming new human. Thankfully, I was given that time of blessed silence so I could see what is real and what has a meaning. I could step back and breathe again.
As C.S Lewis observed:
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
Note: Burning pages is my attempt to capture some elusive thoughts and observations before they turn to ash. Call it a journal if you want.
If you are watching the news, rubbing your head wondering if it is just you or rather the whole world went nuts, then welcome in the club. You are not alone. Fortunately, there are a few others, some brilliant minds, that not only have the ability to see dangerous paradigm shifts plaguing our society, but also have the courage to speak against them. Their voices are a breeze of freedom and encouragement to all those, who like me might feel overwhelmed by the madness oozing from the mainstream media narration. Hear them out while you still can.
1. John Cleese
Who would think we will be living in times where Monty Python would become a stronghold of reason and common sense. Yet here we are.
So yeah, you read that right; this list is starting not with a philosopher, but with a creator of probably most famous comedy troupe in modern history; John Cleese.
“If people cant control their own emotions, then they are going to start controlling other peoples’ behaviour.”
These few short words on PC & the destruction of comedy, and the bare fact from whom they are coming from, depict in what scary world we arrived at.
2. Sam Harris
Really now? I am a Catholic and I recommend… Sam Harris to you? Yeah, Sam Harris is an outspoken atheist and probably we would disagree on a few matters. That doesn’t mean I that I don’t wholeheartedly agree with him, whenever he brings reason & common sense, to a conversation which had drifted far off from rationality. He shared some great thoughts on neuroscience and rise of AI. But also on recent events, which shows his courage. In times, where media are oozing at us with emotional blackmail he dares to speak the following;
“ This feeling of not-liking, of outrage, of disgust (..) this feeling isn’t an argument. This feeling shouldn’t be the basis for your belief for anything to be true or false about this world. Your capacity to be offended is not something that I or anyone else needs to respect. It isn’t something that you should respect. It is rather something you should be on your guard for. “
3. Douglas Murray
Speaking of times of madness, this list would not be complete without the Author of “Madness of Crowds” one of the two books which broke the veil of silence, and provided one of the very few neutral & fact based accounts on a raging trends that are reshaping our society.
Douglas Murray is a bestselling author & journalist, who unlike his peers from mass media has done his homework and is not afraid to pick up on subjects which are getting dangerously close to becoming taboo in the mainstream narration. Here is one of the interviews with him, where he delves into the consequences of identity politics.
4. Taylor Marshall
Being a Catholic, I wouldn’t be also myself if I wouldn’t smuggle into the list a strong voice of the Church. But hey, he is not a priest! One might say.
Well Church is also laity, and their voices like the one of Taylor Marshall need to be heard. In his podcast, Taylor Marshall is not afraid to touch topics which are difficult; both for secular and a Catholic world. He dares to speak the uncomfortable truth, while many representatives of the clergy remain comfortably silent.
He gives another perspective, the one that comes of deep understanding of the Christian roots of Western civilisation (same civilisation that gave us science, morals, and the bare concept of objective truth, nothing big, right?). Perspective that sometimes might feel shocking only because we have drifted so far away from those roots.
5. Jordan B. Peterson
“The game of dividing human beings by their group identity ends in disaster, no matter who plays that game.”
I would like to close the list with someone whom I personally consider as one of the most influential thinkers of modern times and a one-man stronghold against the forces of darkness (yeah, not kidding here). The occurring theme of his bestselling book “12 rules for life”, articles, lectures is the one of the constant struggle of forces of chaos and order.
And what we are seeing right now, is raging chaos, that starts to take hold of our culture, society, universities (and what comes with it; science) even our language.
Jordan Peterson has a gift of precisely articulating thoughts, forming them into words that are like sword cutting through that garbage of miasmatic newspeak that hijacked public discourse.
If you haven’t heard of him yet – just do yourself a favour and google one of his interviews or lectures. Here is a rare one , which is more on a funny, laid back note.