Marx was the one who said that humankind should no longer inquire into its origins and that to do so would be to act foolishly. Marx’s intention here was to move away from the question of understanding the ‘whence’ of the universe and its design… since creation in its innermost reasonableness attested most strongly and ineluctably to the Creator…. The question is seen as foolish from the very start. Creation is of no consequence; it is humanity that must produce the real creation, and it is that which will count for something. This is the source of the change of humanity’s fundamental directive vis a vis the world; it was at this point that progress became the real truth and matter became the material out of which human beings would cerate a world that was truly worth being lived in. Ernst Bloch intensified this idea and gave it a truly terrifying mien. He said that truth is now what we take it to be and that the only truth is change. Truth is, accordingly, whatever prevails, and as a result reality is a ‘signal to invade and an instruction to attack.’
In the Beginning, 49-50
Reflection – Might makes right, and the winners write the history books. So we have all been told. This is not new with Marx or the less well known Bloch. Ruthless and unscrupulous people have generally been able to articulate such as their philosophy, when they bothered to take time out from their busy schedule of rape, pillage, and looting to have a philosophy.
With the Marxist development (and Marxism is far from dead, and far from being limited to its explicit historic development in political-economic communism), the great brake that always bore on the schemes of the unscrupulous is removed.
This brake was the sense, the intuition, the barely grasped idea (at times), and firmly stated and codified idea (at other times) that there is an order to things that human beings cannot change.
We can rape, pillage, and loot—sure thing! But it was always at least dimly grasped that in time a bill would be presented, a debt exacted, that there were weights and measures valuing our deeds, that, in the words of an old Spanish proverb: “Take what you want… and pay for it!”
The Marxist sense is that there is no order to things, no scale in which we are balanced, no one to make us pay because there is no One there. We can do what we want, and make the world however we want. ‘Truth’ is a future-only concept, and the truth will be forged by whoever is strongest.
The theology of creation is more important than ever, in the face of this philosophy, which I firmly believe has broken free of its specifically Marxist context and is now a largely regnant rule of life in the year 2011. That God fashioned all that is, that it has a meaning and a purpose from Him, not from us, and that even our own fashioning, and the freedom with which we move through the world, is from Him, and has its own purpose in His schemes—this is the truth that liberates us from the ‘terrifying’ vista of Ernst Bloch, the vision of a world in which all are at war with all to see whose truth will prevail among its many versions.
To recapture the sense of creation requires, I believe, a recapturing of the contemplative spirit in the world. It is Advent; we are all very busy. It can be very difficult to figure out how to contemplate cooking supper once more this time of year, let alone anything more profound.But the Advent season calls us to this quietness. Not without difficulty, not without struggle. To stop, at least some time; to listen. To watch the snow fall on the hard earth, to hear the wind in the pine trees, to look at the winter stars. To receive creation as it is from God; and in that reception to know our own selves as received, as given, as gift. This is the wellspring of peace out of which we can truly act to fashion the world in justice and beauty. This is the open space we can create so that God can come into our world and have a place to lay his head, a place to be born anew. So that joy can enter the world again, and terror be put to flight, again.