Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Searching for Shangri-La

Shangri-La in Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow
A nagging fantasy of mine is one that James Hilton wrote about in Lost Horizon. A hideaway in a deep rift of the Himalayas serves as a repository for all the greatest expressions of truth, goodness, and beauty while the world wars and tears itself apart. Many on the left, I suspect, see themselves flying-the-flag for such a place when they affix little ”Save Tibet” flags to their Subaru bumpers. (On the right, an equivalent might be becoming a life-member of contributors to Ronald Reagan ranch.)

Regardless, when one considers the loss of sub-creations, in Tolkien's parlance, whatever the source, at the hands of those caught in the fearful symmetry of the primitive Sacred, one wonders and dreams of such a place as Shangri-la. Is it a merely a playful fantasy, a parody of being, finally and eternally, in the presence of our greatest desire, the Beatific Vision? Or, is it a valid goal amid the terrors and destruction of conventional culture? Even Tolkien's Rivendell was not a place in Middle Earth of final security for the elves, let alone mortals in his Lord of the Rings.

What grieves my heart, teaching the young through out the school year as I do, is how, seemingly, the young have given up any vision of truth, goodness, and beauty for a compromise: the quick and funny for Truth; the fascinating for the Beautiful; the immediate satisfaction for Goodness. How can they develop a taste for anything other than these poor parodies when their "taste buds," so to speak, are burnt out by the mere spicy and sensory overload of image and "music" (?) of pop culture? And that is among the western young whose greatest influences are neo-pagan. What of those whose models more emphatically laud blood sacrifice and destruction as a "good" worthy of paradise?

Shangri-La looks more appealing to me these days, even as it recedes farther into the realm of mirages. But our hope is that every person who pledges fealty to the one Lord, Jesus Christ, will, by loving the LORD our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength -- and our neighbor as ourself -- by doing so, will be a witness, and indeed an outpost of truth, goodness, and beauty. Only by remaining at-one with the True Vine [Jn 15] do we have a prayer of helping others into God's civility and sanity.


Athos said...

The Holy Father's comments on childhood as the most important stage. Can a person find wonder without the underpinning of a good childhood? I hope so; so much more importance, however, of parents' gift of a safe, trustworthy home in which to grow and learning the ways of sacramental love in Church.

Athos said...

What objets d'art one finds to helpful for devotion -- keen reminders of the historical persons who are eternal in the steadfast love of the Father -- others will find the mere sight of as offensive, even worthy of abuse.

It may not seem worth putting up a fuss over, but is that not how Krystalnacht began?