Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Into the Wild

Over the Christmas break from Divinty School, I watched Into the Wild about three times. I felt a connection to the main character Chris McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch). While I don't foresee myself abandoning my lot in the consumer market in which I'm entangled, I can sympathize with the attraction of such a drastic dive into apophasis.

I purchased the soundtrack to the movie, and as I listen to the song "Society" I think about the desert fathers that turned their backs on secular Roman economy and retreated to the desert in search of the true kingdom in response to Constantine's Christendom of Christianity.


Oh it's a mystery to me.
We have a greed, with which we have agreed...
and you think you have to want more than you need...
until you have it all, you won't be free.

Society, you're a crazy breed.
I hope you're not lonely, without me.

When you want more than you have, you think you need...
and when you think more then you want, your thoughts begin to bleed.
I think I need to find a bigger place...
cause when you have more than you think, you need more space.

Society, you're a crazy breed.
I hope you're not lonely, without me.
Society, crazy indeed...
I hope you're not lonely, without me.

There's those thinkin' more or less, less is more,
but if less is more, how you keepin' score?
It means for every point you make, your level drops.
Kinda like you're startin' from the top...
and you can't do that.

Society, you're a crazy breed.
I hope you're not lonely, without me.
Society, crazy indeed...
I hope you're not lonely, without me
Society, have mercy on me.
I hope you're not angry, if I disagree.
Society, crazy indeed.
I hope you're not lonely...
without me.

The song says "until you have it all, you won't be free." How true and unattainable this is. Happiness will never be found in the promises of our consumerist market. So I'm trying to opt out more and more in symbolic ways. Less is more, and I have to continually remind myself of this.

Click for a listen to "Society"


Bill said...

Somehow this Living Stones community seems to bring out something I am reflecting on at that particular time.

This morning I was thinking about some of the principles of Deep Ecology and how there is some overlap with being a Jesus follower. I recognize that some of the Deep Ecology material, especially since Arne Naess, about the need to deliberately reduce populations may have slipped too far.

Yet the underlying principle of being respectful to nature and nurturing the natural world for it's own intrinsic value is so relevant - at least from my perspective.

The first way this plays out in my life is having a sense of place. Knowing the primary natural habitats and plant communities that historically made up the town where I live. Understanding the primary natural dynamics of fire and flooding and how they impact those plants and habitats.

From that basic understanding I have found that my heart begins to expand with an ache for the needless destruction of the natural world.

So I am still learning to control both the flight or fight syndrome - withdraw and criticize everthing or violently, by word or deed, attack all that is wrong. I am learning to walk the middle way of intentional, deliberate engagement all the time making sure that my center is focused and calm. As Brother Lawrence commented (paraphrased) "Whether in prayer or engaged in chores, keeping the same attitude of love towards God, the creator."

Paul Corrigan said...

Mark, Thanks for sharing this song and your reflections. This phrase in particular strikes me: "a drastic dive into apophasis." I want that. But I want it in such a way in which I can remained balanced and remain in the spaces in which I feel called to work and live.

I've seen Into the Wild, but I'd not keyed into this song. So I appreciate the lyrics and the link you've provided here.

Bill, thank you for your engaging "comment." You could have even posted what you wrote here as a blog post in itself.

I am encouraged by this interacting and dialogging!

RC said...

Very insightful and caring post! Thank you, Mark. And I love Bill and Paul's comments in response. Our community continues to stimulate and strengthen me and help me be aware and caring. I'm grateful for the investment we are making into one another.

RC said...

Mark, I can see how this made you think of the desert fathers (and mothers) who retreated to a barren place. This past weekend a friend showed me a piece of palm bark she had picked up during a retreat desert day. I noticed (and liked) its odd shape, rough texture, and naturalness. She wanted me to notice the scripture verse she had written on it, along with the date. It was a marker for her, a reminder of God’s presence and action in a dry, difficult place. Reflecting on it now, I like how a simple sentence from God and a scrap of his creation were both so real and authentic. Maybe that’s some of what the desert folks wanted—simplicity and authenticity. It’s what I want too. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Anna

Joy said...

Mark, thank you for sharing this song. I enjoyed reading the lyrics and listening to the song itself.

Bill, your comment hearkens on the balance I'm constantly trying to find: how can I live in this crazy society of extravagance with a clean conscious? How often I long to either escape or battle! But both seem too - easy.

Recently, the choir director of the church I'm attending here in Korea invited my host family and I to dinner. When we arrived at the restaurant, I saw the extravagant prices on the menu and had a minor meltdown: how could anyone spend so much on one meal while people all over the world - just a few miles north of us across the DMZ - are starving, dying, suffering? I wanted to walk out, wanted to protest. But I was reminded that in this culture especially, treating a guest to an expensive dinner is a way to honor them. I would not only have been rude and acting out of a haughty spirit had I left or said something, but I would also have been very unwise.

I confess: I don't understand the art of living in this world as simultaneously a foreigner and yet at home everywhere, the bearer of the kingdom of God in this present world. How did Jesus manage to eat among the tax collectors and prostitutes, to walk among the Pharisees in the Temple courts, to feed the 5,000 when He longed to be alone...? Sometimes we are called to turnover tables, sometimes we are summoned to the desert, but most often, we are simply called to be faithful in the quietness and stillness of the present moment:

"He will not shout or cry out, or raise His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness be will bring forth justice" (Isaiah 42:2-3).

Oh Lord of quiet justice, may you help me to be faithful, pure and simply.

In His love,

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