Saturday, May 26, 2007

Painting, President, Planet

I saw this painting hanging on the wall of my accountant's office (click the graphic to enlarge it), and it was so revealing to me that I snapped a photograph of it. My accountant thought I was simply admiring, as he did, the impressive realism of the painted scene. But what I saw was an artist's rendering of modern culture.

"Can you see what this painting is telling us about our culture, and the relationship between spirituality and commerce?" I asked Peter, my accountant.

He gave me a blank look in response, so I stood beside the painting and explained:

"There's the Stock Market, massive, brightly lit, with a stream of busy blurs of people moving before it. On the right is the Federal Reserve Building, seen in profile as it were. Again, massive, rising out of the steps over which Washington stands in regal, giant splendor. Squished between these two and shoved way into the background, so that it is thrown into near-total shadow, is Trinity Church. It has a narrow, cramped, faded look about it, compared to the bright, white, flag-draped monumentalism of the other two buildings. This is a picture of how the spiritual center has been pushed out of the center, and into a distance of shadowed, pale irrelevance."

The accountant's jaw slowly dropped as I delivered this little speech, and then he muttered that "this used to be my favorite painting..." I told him it still could be, but for a different reason.

Now for the rest of us, the point of all this is not to bewail any supposed morbidity in religion and spirituality. If you've read my writings about fundamentalism at this blog, or my discussion of Lord Voldemort in The Tao of Hogwarts, then you know that the eclipsing of institutional religion is to my mind anything but a subject for regret or lamentation.

So what's the problem, if any? Well, what isn't in the painting? Nature, of course: not a single bush, animal, plant, even a cut flower. Hell, you can't even see the sky! Only the brick and stone monuments of two ideologies: church and commerce, with the suggestion of state in the Federal Reserve Building.

Thus, my point is that we can't reduce this issue to a debate about competing institutions—church and state, spirituality and commerce. We have to transform both by making Nature and the health of the Earth primary, ascendant in our thinking. This, in a nutshell, is the entire message—the mission, if you will—of our blog. We need a new leader within ourselves, before we can think about leaders in our governments and businesses. That leader must be Nature—the nature within us, and the nature around us. There is no separation.

With that point made, maybe you can guess who I'd like to see in the White House. The rightful and duly elected President of the United States. If he decides it's not right for him now, I respect that decision. He will remain a force of sanity and truth in any event. But if he tosses his hat into the ring, I'll hand out leaflets for him in downtown Crawford or at Liberty University. My only advice for him would be: turn within and trust nature, your own true nature, Mr. Gore. It'll lead you right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what you said about the painting tho is nonsense, tho amusing.