in the desert: exodus and purgatory and apocalypse

Paul Kingsnorth:

In the desert, strength is needed, and prayer too. But the desert, perhaps, is not a bad place to be. Civilisations come and go, but nature keeps renewing, and God is eternal. There are things higher than our cultures; there are things higher than the Machine. If we are in the desert – if this is our Exodus – then we can work to understand how we got here and we can wonder, as we wander, about what the Promised Land might look like. As one cycle ends, another begins. The dead leaves of one culture fall to cover the seeds of another, already sown beneath. The more things fall apart – the more the centre cannot hold – the more new centres are seeded on the margins, which is the only place they can ever grow.

The Desert Fathers of the early church went into the sands and the caves and the tombs not to look for culture, but to be purged of the self. The Faustian people of the West – us – have spiralled far down into the self, all the time believing we were rising up towards liberation. We forgot what the hermits learned and taught: that liberation of the self is just another form of slavery.

But the desert is a place of purging, and of revelation; an apocalypse and a purgatory. Sometimes an Exodus is needed. It is never easy. Perhaps you come to the desert when you lose yourself. Perhaps we have been sent here to learn again what culture means – what being human means – and where it starts: in the small places, under the gaze of God and the wide sky.

  • Many of the same themes as Thomas (in his first poem), “but nature keeps renewing, and God is eternal”
  • The melding of so many different transitions from revelation; Exodus, Purgatory, Apocalypse, Exile is interesting, do they up actually saying anything though?
  • It really all does come back to Christ and Culture.
  • Every three score and ten must learn again what culture and what being human means.
    • How much does that truth paired with the Great Acceleration account for all the negative stuff that gets filed under “Apocalypse”, then once that assumption is in place we retroactively do a search and destroy on Mammon, Liberalism, Luther, Calvin, Ockham, Plato; who or whatever is ‘the cause of it all’? Essentially what Kingsnorth’s project on substack is.
  • As one cycle ends, another begins”, what is the place of cyclical histories in the world? Cristians seem to have a real love/hate relationship with em. 

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