After several days (and nights) working over the main pages of this site, catching up, I got around to adding a link to John Beckett’s blog, Under the Ancient Oaks, in the Reading Room. He always has something useful to me. I randomly picked an older post of his that I hadn’t read, and it went to the heart of my musings.
Shall I call it Divination via Beckett, a version of the old method of opening the Bible to a random page and taking to heart what you read there?
What is Seen Cannot Be Unseen was right on.
A sign I used to see with some regularity said “In God we trust – all others pay cash.” It was intended as a comment on the realities of cashflow in a small business, but in a completely different context it explains the worldview of mainstream Western society. That is, it’s nominally Christian but highly materialist.
Most people don’t think deeply about spiritual matters. They pay them lip service, particularly when they’re used to justify their preferred cultural and political positions. They pray when they’re in trouble, but not otherwise. The nature of the divine? What comes after death? Why we’re here? Nobody’s got time for that.
When it comes down to it, they really don’t believe in ghosts, or demons, or even Gods. When they experience something that points toward the existence and agency of spiritual persons, they look for “a rational explanation” (by which they mean one grounded in materialism) and if they can’t find one, they’ll make one up.
But sometimes, people experience something that defies a materialist explanation. They have an encounter with a God, or an other-than-divine spirit, or they see magic work in a way that can’t be denied.
All of a sudden they’re confronted with the fact that the world is a lot bigger and a lot stranger than they thought it was.
And we know what happens when most people are presented with evidence that their core beliefs and opinions are false. They deny the evidence and double down on what they’ve always assumed was true. They tell themselves it was a coincidence, a trick of the light, their imagination.
But deep down, they know what they saw, what they heard, what they experienced. They may not have the context to interpret it properly, but at some level they know it’s real.
And it scares the hell out of them.John Beckett: “What is Seen Cannot be Unseen” 13 January 2022