Brian’s Reflection: Friday, March 25, 2011
History is a cyclic poem written by
time upon the memories of man.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, poet; on this date, 1811
(200 years ago today) he was expelled from
Oxford University for his publication of the
pamphlet “The Necessity of Atheism”.
What we call “History” is a fiction. Which, in my view, makes History much more profound in terms of understanding Humanity. Essentially, everything that is written purporting to be a factual accounting of events is heavily shaped by human emotions, perceptions, feelings, evaluations, prejudices, survival instincts, cultural formation, etc.
History is essentially, as Shelley says, a poem. An audacious, interpretive, artistic act, without which Humanity cannot survive.
Myth, understood as “truth story” ~ an attempt to “explain” Life ~ is a poem writ large. And Myth includes all religious narrative. No Myth can remain relevant without relentless contemporary examination, or its power dies, or worse becomes self-destructive. I suspect this is why Shelley wrote his pamphlet. Without challenge, “God” becomes irrelevant. In my opinion, so do we.
I think we are at the low end of a cycle in our World today. Imagination has faltered. Vision, as it did in Israelite life from the great prophets until John the Baptist, withered. It has happened in all human societies. I suspect it always will, in the great sweep of the poetic cycle.
The great Truth Stories and their Life Energy, however, live on in human hearts and minds. And now is the time ~ as violence and division and exclusion rage ~ to place the lamp upon the lampstand so that others may see the shining beacon and take hope.
Let us not doubt ourselves. Time has written the great poem upon our memories. Let us live it.