On Mother’s Day

MAJORTRUMPS.IV.TheEmpress

neolithic fertility goddess figure

For those of us whose mothers physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abused us—whether overtly or covertly—Mother’s Day can be a joyless experience. So I prefer to think of Mother’s Day as a holy day dedicated to recognition of the nurturing face of the Divine in all its manifestations.

Years ago, when i was visiting the shrine at El Santuario de Chimayo, I wandered into the back of the shrine, where a large metal fenced in area was hung with thousands of pieces of paper bearing the photos and/or prayers for relatives of pilgrims. The statue of La Conquistadora in the chapel had depressed me, as war goddesses always do, and I was feeling low in general because of the condemnatory homophobia of the church hierarchy.

As I stood there, my forehead pressed against the fence, I noticed that a stream ran by the place where I was standing. All at once I received a very strong impression of a female energy saying to me, “Don’t listen to those old men on the hill. From my womb you came, to my womb you shall return. You have a right to be here.”

Another time the Great Mother appeared to me was in a dream. I dreamed that I was standing in a kitchen facing a screen door opening to the outside world. On the other side of the screen were a group of wild animals, led by a giant sow, all gazing at me. When I looked into the sow’s eyes the message came to me, “Please don’t forget us.”

I am firmly convinced that environmental abuse—industrial pollution and despoiling of habitats—threatens ourselves and many other species with extinction. Often such abuse arises from Force and Threat based thinking on the part of corporate heads, who believe that anybody strong enough to take what he wants deserves to enjoy the spoils of victory no matter who else or what else it harms. Sometimes such abuse appears to arise from the trauma of growing up poor in rural areas where only the hardest physical labor results in bare subsistence living; in such cases, it is easy to view the Earth as an enemy and animals as either potential foodstuffs to be harvested or rivals for dwindling resources. Sometimes such abuses arise from the blinders which a privileged urban upbringing often places upon the wealthy; to such persons, “real life” is the concrete and glass of the city, and rural life is a kind of theme park rather than the source of all air, water, and food essential to human life. And sometimes, environmental abuse may serve as a “safety valve” for intense personal anger over abuses suffered in childhood.

I grew up in the New England countryside. I spent hours as a boy wandering our woods. I seldom encountered any animals or heard any birds, the latter because (he confessed to me years later) my severely abused older brother—who demonstrated in other contexts a marked sensitivity towards and caring for animals—had a habit of shooting and killing as many birds as he could find. “It was either that,” he told me, “or shoot Mom and Dad.” (A decorated Viet Nam conflict veteran and lifelong alcoholic now in sobriety over 18 years, my brother has set aside his once-hoarded firearms, recognizing that possessing them did not actually make him safer and stronger. So healing is possible, and I honor him for embracing it one day at a time.)

Anti-pollution and environmental exploitation activism is crucial if we are to rescue the Earth, its animals, and ourselves from Force and Threat consciousness run riot. But while we address corporate malfeasance, let’s not forget that corporations are run by individuals, and that a successful environmental protection campaign must also seek to re-educate the individuals responsible for voting in corporate practices that are harming life on Earth. Identifying and reaching such people can be very difficult, as they frequently view anonymity and freedom from personal accountability (“It’s nothing personal; it’s just business”) as some of the privileges enjoyed by the ruling class. But we must persist in showing these people that there is no such thing as an impersonal business decision where the health of the Earth and its creatures is concerned. •

 

Waiting for Messiah: C. S. Lewis’s “That Hideous Strength”

When I was a Fundamentalist Christian, thirty years ago, one of my favorite Christian authors was C. S. Lewis. Lewis was an Oxford theologian best known nowadays for his children’s books set in the magical land of Narnia. But he wrote an adult science fiction trilogy, too, centering around a spacefaring Messianic figure named Ransom.

Ransom’s name suggests the character of Jesus Christ, who in Christian theology, through His sufferings on the cross, ‘ransomed’ believers condemned to eternal torment in Hell for their sins.
Scientifically speaking, Lewis’s trilogy — Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength — makes for somewhat dated reading today for its view of Venus and Mars as nakedly habitable. But as vivid depictions, in a fantasy setting, of the Christian doctrines of spiritual evil and redemption, and how spiritual evil at the corporate level results in the destruction of both the environment and individual resistance to dehumanization and violence — these books show more than a few moments of genius.

The last book in the trilogy, That Hideous Strength, is for me the most powerful. It follows the struggles of a young British married couple — he an atheist and she a feminist intellectual — as they are torn by conflicting loyalties: he to the hellish corporation for which he works, a demonically led and energized group that is attempting to defile and vampirize for itself the last sacred place in England; she to Ransom and his followers, who are leading the fight against her husband’s employers and the hideous strength of the Enemy of humanity that uses, abuses, and works through them.

There are things I dislike heartily about this book: that the only gay character is a demonic, sadistic Lesbian who enjoys torturing and sexually abusing the persons she is told to interrogate; and that the wife’s feminism is portrayed as spiritual short-sightedness masking rejection of her true God-given destiny as womb for the next Messiah. But nobody, except perhaps George Orwell in 1984, does a better job than Lewis of portraying the spiritual sickness at the heart of Fascist corporations and government.

I bring all this up because I have felt for some time that there is a spiritual sickness at the heart of the Washington, D.C. power culture that the last several Republican regimes have epitomized. I feel very strongly that the mass consciousness, out of fear, called into being an oligarchy of sociopaths whose only idea of right and wrong has been what feels right or wrong for them personally, no matter the consequences to the rest of us.

And just as, in That Hideous Strength, the evil corporation’s veneer of civilization drops away when confronted to reveal the hideous visage of pure unrestrained appetite lurking beneath, so did Republican pretense of reasonableness and candor fall away during these last weeks before the election, showing a glimpse of the hideous amorality and desperate, irrational vindictiveness that had come to control and work through them.

I am not the only person to make the connection between That Hideous Strength and the last two Republican administrations. When I googled That Hideous Strength I found a Fundamentalist “End Times” website that equates Bush with the Beast of Revelations. When I was a Christian I, too, longed for the Beast to show up so that history could end, and Christ return to usher in an age of peace. But I no longer believe that there is a Beast, any more than I believe that there is a Messiah. In fact, I feel that yearning for a Messiah to rescue us could be the worst thing humanity can do given the problems facing us.

I am no longer a Christian. And I do not believe that Barack Obama, for whom I voted twice, is the Messiah. He is just a man, and even if he means half of what he has promised he will possess no magic wand to wave over the mess this country is in. It took years and several administrations for us to get sucked into the mire, and it will take years and several administrations at least to get us out.

But the mass consciousness is not rational. It operates on the most primitive level of Thought Reality, a child’s level. And just as it called into being a Father and a Son — Bush Senior and Junior — so it is capable of calling into being a third member of its Trinity. I hope not. For if Obama was called to power by a mass consciousness yearning for salvation from the masters it called into being previously, then there can only be one ultimate fate for him. And I am tired of good people dying for what is right.

What this world needs more than a sacrificial lamb is women and men committed to living in a balanced, compassionate manner — living for what is right rather than dying for it. So let’s not give the mass consciousness a reason to kill another Messiah for our inspiration. Let’s just roll up our sleeves and do what we can, where we are, with all our limitations, to make our tiny corner of the world a more compassionate place. Angels and demons and UFO aliens aside, that’s what the New Age is really all about, and I think that Ransom would agree.