We hate transcendence. We’ve convinced ourselves that we don’t need transcendence because we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking life is bearable. It is easier to pretend when you’re just wealthy enough to buy some nice wine and some nice pills to put on a convincing act that perhaps life isn’t so bad. We are told never to go outside of ourselves for Truth. After all, who needs transcendence when we have a no-thinking, no-struggle, no-hassle, no-money-down path to satisfaction?
What is proclaimed is not contentment, but pseudo-spirituality hellbent on preserving itself. We’re pleased with how bearable we’ve made our illusions, ignoring their convulsing talons all the same. This satisfied stupor numbs us to the torment of lies. Is there any wonder why the Church Fathers thought so highly of fasting, while our shamans of pseudo-spirituality don’t? When an accessible lie is far cheaper than the abyss of mystery, who needs transcendence?
Transcendence is for the unsatisfied, the disillusioned, those who know the reality of lies and those who know that the Truth is not sold for thirty pieces of silver. Yet, our pseudo-spiritual masters hate transcendence, leaving it no place.
Consider the violinist mother who has to take her children to rehearsal because there is no daycare in the capital of the Congo, Kinshasa. But, when she plays, “She says she has left the planet. She is not in the Congo anymore.” Or the brothers who walk a dangerous trek everyday to get to the same rehearsals. Consider their passionate, albeit imperfect, performance of Beethoven’s Ninth. Watch this 60 Minutes special about the Symphonic Orchestra Kimbanguist, the only symphony orchestra in Central Africa and tell me transcendence has no purpose! (h/t openculture.com)
Consider that six weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leonard Bernstein gathered musicians in East Berlin for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth (see above). For this one performance with global musicians, Bernstein changed the words from the Ode to Joy (freude), but the Ode to Freedom (freiheit). Listen to their Götterfunken and your own pounding heart — tell me transcendence has no place!
I believe in transcendence! I believe in beauty! I believe in Götterfunken! I believe in Elizabethan English with its “thee’s and thou’s.” I believe in Latin, though few speak it outside libraries and cathedrals. I believe in taking seven eloquent words to describe a simple idea, rather than one familiar to describe the same. I believe in dusty old books and musty old buildings. I believe in incense wafting up to the heavens under the watchful eye of a blood-dried crucifix. I believe in the wholly other Truth beyond ourselves! I believe in the wholly other Truth at work in our lives! I believe in the redeemed human spirit! Seid umschlungen, Millionen! Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
You can keep your copy of Eat, Pray, Love. I’ll stick with Beethoven. What more can one write other than that? I don’t know.