The World as Corpse
To live is to change. Living things are continually moving, evolving: birth, maturity, old age, death. Witness--if you can bear to watch just a few minutes of it--the YouTube video of Tempest Storm (what? You never heard of her?) being interviewed by Dr. Susan Block. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_62qEHt83nY Some of us more sensitive souls (mostly men of a certain age, I suspect) may find it a bit embarrassing to watch her trying--however “successfully”--to hold onto her past, to continue her pretentious art into her eighth decade on our beloved Planet (itself not the same anymore) Earth.
The Gospel of Thomas (what? You haven’t heard of that either?) has no action, no narrative. Nothing happens. It is a collection of some 113 logia, or sayings, of The Living Jesus. Living because He’s happening now. The words come to us in the present tense, rather than from someone once alive, but long since departed. As such, this Gospel has a peculiar quality, a power to startle us, to jolt us alive, at least as much as “Tempest Storm.” She dances anew, as in her prime… If you’ll forgive the analogy. I make the case in Forgotten that this was the original Jesus, snuffed out by those who, then as now, fear this message of change, novelty, progress, creative spirituality. We knew this once, but have chosen to forget it.
Needless to say, this ancient book, discovered in 1945, part of the Nag Hammadi Library and akin to the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947)--remains unknown, unrecognized (maybe even more so than “Tempest Storm”) by most Christians. But its Jesus is Living because he calls us to recognize the Now, to acknowledge that things have changed. He warns us not to stay stuck in the past, however glorious it may be remembered or imagined to have been. Here we have a new Jesus, a now Jesus. The past is gone and cannot be recovered, the future is a blank slate. There is only the Present, where we are however free to create. We have a new God, too, according to this new Jesus, bidding us to a new life, called upon to continually and creatively transform that which is received from the past, to actualize novel possibilities. This new God is a God of Novelty. God is not the God of the dead, but of the Living.
This Living God of this Living Jesus has a quarrel (not to say that He’s nettlesome!) with most religion, most of which has taught that the deity is the ground of an established System of some kind, a guardian of the Status Quo. The Order of Plato’s Forms has been brought down to earth, ossified as Tradition, settled theological truth, canons of infallible scriptures and Bibles, infallible economic systems. We are called to move forward, to actualize novel possibilities. Too bad that Tempest could not think of a new way to create herself in her old age, rather than this gauche attempt to do the same old stuff in perpetuity, long after it has ceased to bring anything but pain and/or a smiling indulgence.
God is not the God of Plato, of an established and changeless Order, here or elsewhere. There is no escaping Change, nor should we want to do so. Life is the gift of this Living God, who champions Change. (Now don’t quote me some New Testament verse to “disprove” this). And BTW, this gives us a basis for understanding Evolution as a mechanism for Creation. Alfred North Whitehead said it all: The pure conservative is fighting against the essence of the Universe.
But the world as corpse, what about that? It is dying--whether thought of as the “present world order,” or as even the physical planet. Maybe we should stop trying to own it, to control it. Or pollute it. Like all living things, including ourselves, its health must be guarded. It is bright and beautiful, but as the Cosmic Lady knew, there’s something amiss, there’s something wrong. It is flawed, frail, false, has a fatal illness. It is dying, by all accounts--let’s just don’t hurry it along. I was listening to Thom Hartmann the other day, and he had on a guy who predicted that at the present rate of global warming, by the year 2040 humanity would cease to exist on its surface. “Liberal hoax,” or was the Cosmic Lady right after all?