Sunday, September 22, 2019
TKC MUST READ!!! KANSAS CITY OPEN LETTER TO THE FAITHFUL: LITERATURE, END OF LIFE AND THE LATIN MASS!!!
On this Sunday we share this masterfully crafted perspective from a favorite of the TKC comment section as he shares some of the most BRILLIANT AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING writing on the topic of faith life that we've seen in Kansas City for years.
Chuck: A Eulogy For An Old Friend And The Latin Mass
A friend of mine is dying. His energy is sapped, his faculties are scattered and his memories of war, visit and torture him in his dreams. He yearns now, as darkness approaches, comfort from above as his time comes close.
Long ago, in middle age, I suffered through an existential crisis similar to, I believe, Ernest Hemingway. In his book, "A Farewell To Arms" (Written here, in Mission Hills Kansas), at one point, the protagonist, Fredrick, sits beside a fire, reviewing his desperate situation and sees ants on a log, some escaping, but most, being consumed by the flames. He is holding, in his hand, a tin cup of water that he is no longer thirsting for, yet, does nothing and the ants perish.
Throughout Hemingway's oeuvre, a leitmotif is an indifferent God.
" Hemingway mockingly portrays God as an alcoholic who does not care about the lives of the ants any more than he cares about the lives of humans. This depiction by Hemingway purveys his dubious feelings about the existence of a God and furthers his suggestion that with death all around humanity, life is impermanent and nothing, not even a God, can change this basic truth." - Seth Cassel
At the age of 62, an alcoholic who realized his best days were behind him and unable to cope any more with his life long depression fostered by uncertainty, Hemingway took a shotgun and blew his brains out. I think the "ant" story, was his suicide note. An "Indifferent God", the genesis of his depression, the inability to diverge from the Ecclesiastical "Duality" that permeates Western thought and of course, the Western Canon forced him to pull the trigger and stop the pain. An agent of his own destruction, his contributions to that same Canon reinforced his myopia.
IQ and education, is no determinate, ever, of any relief, when it comes to understanding the nature, purpose and mystery of life.
The mystery itself, is the answer in my opinion. Religious ideology is an impediment to the relief Hemingway sought and so despaired of, on that last day, alone, after such a singular and accomplished life.
Raised as a Catholic, even at a young age, I reveled in the mystery, the unknown, the possibilities of some unspoken, hoped for insight accorded by the High Priests, the High Mass, the Vestments, the Chalice, the Symbolism, but, most of all, the sui generis, sine qua non, that was the foundation for the ceremony itself, the dead, dead, dead language of the ancients. Latin. "Kyrie, eleison", or, "Lord Have Mercy."
We should and can not wait anymore for mercy and redemption from an ethereal, unknowable, indifferent being. We live our lives, whether we know it or not, according to the famous French philosopher, Blaise Pascal's "Gambit". He is well known for the wager he says, we all make, in our daily efforts to appease that unknowable, indifferent entity. He posits, that humans, bet, with their very lives, that God either exists or does not.
"Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas he stands to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell)."
The original "Hedge Bet".
None of my friends knew it at the time, but the end of the Latin Mass, was the end of Catholicism for us. The mystery itself of the Latin Mass, emulating, unknowingly, the mysteries ever so present in Oriental dharma were the doorway to knowledge that in no way can be transmitted by way of religious writings, didactic dialogue and the presence of "Holy Men". The "Spirituality" that would seem to be the goal of all religions will escape us all, if we don't see the connection between unknowable mystery and an unknowable ceremony which forces, or encourages us to look within.
Words fail me with my friend. They are of no use. They must have failed with Hemingway's friends too.
28 years ago, tomorrow, The Dead Sea Scrolls were finally made available to the public complete with much of the Apocrypha. They are of a mystical bent and offer insight into the nature, purpose and mystery of life. Occidental and Oriental Mystics throughout the ages have found solace from within, not in a literal, or metaphorical Cathedral and the organizations that supported same.
I wonder at Hemingway, who, born a Protestant, converted to Catholicism and still, with mystery beckoning, comfort still available in his church, died alone in a field with a gun in his hand.
I worry for my friend, as it he slips slowly and daily into that "Good Night" if he sees past that "door". I hope, as we are faced with death, we can enlarge our view of ourselves and see our lives and our so called "sins" in a light through an oculus provided by our god, or gods and forgive ourselves in anticipation of the end.