Thursday, April 16, 2009

Connecting the Dots: Deja Vu...Have We Been Here Before?

I received an email from my all-time favorite hippie type the other day. All those scratching their heads (either at the confusion that I would have a favorite hippie emailing me or at the idea of the lice that is associated with such) rest your weary minds. I'm not jumping sides. The sides, however, are not what you thought they were.

This favored hippie was John Michael Talbot. He was the former (brilliant) guitarist for Mason Proffit, opening for bands like Pink Floyd, The Byrds and The Grateful Dead. Now, remember the name of his band. It all ties in beautifully. John Michael (JM to those who love him) heard a unique call and answered it. He abandoned the rock star future and did a 180. He left the lifestyle that promised money and fame, and turned to contemplation and the peace that only the Master can offer. In his abandonment to himself, he found his real purpose and his talents weren't laid aside either. Here is a snippet of his work:

Now, while some would say it is airy fairy, there is a much bigger message for you all. He sent me an email, calling us all to rethink where we've been and where we're going as a nation.
Plato and even St. Thomas Aquinas said that the majority of the population should be those who produce the basic food we need to live. They are rural farmers. The reason is simple: If we do not eat, we die. The city should have most of its needs produced locally from the farms in its immediate vicinity. Trade with other cities and towns is necessary, but should be kept to a minimum. Cities should be largely self-sufficient from the land around it. The result was to be a healthy and colorfully rich environment for everyone on the city and on the farm. Today cities are a polluted grey sprawl of factories, warehouses, urban and suburban houses, and cookie cutter strip malls. Most of us produce a specialized service that we really don't need. Then we have to convince everyone else that we all NEED this specialized product. A friend of mine said that his city was a population of restaurant owners where everyone goes to another restaurant for dinner every night. Somehow this seems rather inane.

In other words, we've been redirected out of providing food and sustenance for our families by leaving the family farm and gone into the cities in the hope of finding wealth by working for a bunch of elitists who promise us riches if we just work indefinitely for the corporation.

While reading, of all things, an art history book, I stumbled upon this gem. (Proof that not all university institutions are full of lies.) Regarding the post Napoleonic era, it outlines the societal situation that lead to the Great Depression:
Drawn from pre-industrial home industries and farms, the new machine worker class lived and worked in often deplorable conditions. No longer their own masters, they became virtual slaves. Unable to help themselves, they remained subject to severe organizing restrictions, hampered by a lack of education, and threatened constantly by the prospect of unemployment. The middle classes, caught up in their own aspirations to wealth and political power, largely ignored their plight. Into this mix came the philosophy of Karl Marx.
Reality Through The Arts Dennis J. Sporre Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ

We have, once again, become the unwitting pawns of the upper classes in their addiction to more wealth and power. John Michael is right. We need to get back to the basics. The Depression was the direct result of this kind of industrialization, and we're headed in that same direction, unless we stop and turn things around.

John Michael speaks to the idea of answering a call from God that seems so fantastic, so unbelievable for us, that our defeated egos believe it impossible. I'm sure if someone told him where he would be at the age of retirement back when he was with Mason Proffit, he would have laughed. But the truth is, sometimes we sell ourselves short.

Now, the big tie together. John Micheal, my favorite hippie, runs a hermitage called the Little Portion, where they farm, raise their own livestock and barter for services. He has inspired many to do the same. He is married, and answered the call to live a holy family life (not equal to giving up sex,) in answer to what his heart told him was right.

If you watch the video, you can't help notice the peaceful place some of the notes in his musicplaces the soul, through the crescendoes. Remember this place. It is where you usually get when you meditate, or pray, or look at a little baby's sleeping face. It hits you in your heart, right in the center of your chest, and fills you with a feeling you can't explain. That is what talking to God is.

JM turned away from the pursuit of wealth and focused on what God was calling him to do. The ills of our society are caused when we pursue wealth and ignore what God is calling us to do. Once the "Great Generation" started to come out of the Depression, after finally getting the message that they needed to turn away from the misdirected path the elites had veered them towards, they responded to God's call and had the courage to fight a maniacal ruler named Hitler. They defended the gift of liberty God willed for all humanity. They overcame the evil, and were horrified when they realized how evil he was. Will we do the same?

Remember JM's original band name? Mason Proffit? Supposedly, the Masons were a group that met secretly to gain political control and domination of Europe in response to the control of the Medieval Catholic Church, although this is speculative. The open Masons started in England in 1717 and were predominantly aristocracy who never dirtied their lily white hands. (Interesting.) Proffit..well, that goes without saying. Together, JM turned away from an oppressive group that was drawing him towards virtual slavery.

We can do the same, but we all have to start at the same origin. Where did we come from, and where are we going? As a nation, as a people, as a parent, as a person? It all comes back to the One.

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