Thursday, November 04, 2010

Along the narrow path of grace

I was born in the middle of high-minded liberal Protestantism - and when it comes to stakes in high-mindedness there are few traditions, if any, to compete with liberal Protestantism. Luckily in my case it was much softened by the mysticism and radical existentialism of Finnish Pietism as high minded and as liberal as it is. It was handed on with love and acceptance (and in this we were luckier than the earlier generations), along, of course, with the unreal beauty and longing of the Pietist folk melodies. One can hardly think of better inheritance or one more at odds with the realities of our human world. Of course, there are many things besides sorrow here, but there is much sorrow - and if that sorrow and homesickness are not seen as an inherent part of our experience in the world, how deep can that experience be? I can well understand the rationalist critics, I share with Dawkins the estimation of the factual odds of a God existing (almost non-existent), but I have never thought that this was the point of the particular tradition that I was born in. It has a deeper point, a more serious point.

Philadelphia that the spiders ate

I guess it is my country background that makes me wince to see fields turned into suburbs. A strange, alarming sight. I never had to work on fields in any serious way but I still felt their importance in my boyhood. Not a long time had passed then, almost none at all. I suppose that names of the fields are one of the biggest groups of place names in Finland - how many names now forgotten, buried by streets or overgrown by trees? So much sweat, so many generations, so many tales. Now gone. A whole culture, a world has passed during the life time of my parents, their world, their culture. In Southern Ostrobothnia that is: in one generation we moved from agriculture into service industry and high technology. In many ways it has been all for the best, but not in all cases, not at all. So much of the world of my childhood now eaten by spiders, so much long gone that once seemed so permanent. We are like grass. Of course things are immeasureably better now, but this mad, blind change does not inspire much trust in it's long term direction. There is no memory and no control, only change.