Have you ever had the experience of noticing a certain pattern in a wild variety of contexts, a pattern that occurs so consistently that you feel it simply has to mean something … but you have no idea what? I say “in a wild variety of contexts” to rule out cases of patterns that occur within the same context, even though, at the time, you may have no idea of the cause. I remember back in the early 1960s, when I was in junior-high school, I went on a “geology jag”. I spent several months reading books on geology, geophysics, and volcanology that noted with perplexity the mysterious – in the early '60s – pattern whereby volcanic activity tended to be concentrated around the circumference of, e.g., the Pacific Basin, what we today call the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” and similar places.
The world of dew
Is the world of dew.
And yet, and yet --
-- Kobayashi Issa
I am convinced that certain geographical areas “prefer” certain religious traditions. In certain areas of the Nation – I will concentrate on the US, though I think analogous remarks apply elsewhere – climate, topography, and history conspire to render the spiritual climate favorable to what I will call “rule-based” or “command-based” traditions that emphasize a Deity Who stands outside human history, but occasionally intervenes to formulate rules of conduct and to issue commands. Members of these traditions tend to speak in terms of God being “in control” and in political metaphors of monarchical sovereignty. It is quite common, also, especially in the American tradition of conservative evangelical Prot
I had been reading about Rudolf Otto’s concept of the numinous and studying his classic The Idea of the Holy for a few decades, and it all made perfect conceptual sense. But on our recent trip to Hawaii in April of this year (2018), Diane and I actually experienced the Holy, the numinous, on a very raw and visceral level. In The Idea of the Holy, Otto, who coined the term “numinous”, describes it with the Latin phrase mysterium tremendum et fascinans. Literally translated, that phrase means “the tremble-inducing [tremendum, the same Latin root as “tremor”] and attractive [fascinans, the same Latin root as "fascinating"] mystery [mysterium]”. Despite the title of his book, Otto makes it clear that the Holy is not only, or even primarily, something about which one entertains ideas. Rath