Why the Centre Cannot Hold

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Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,…

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.” (The Second Coming, W.B. Yeats)

IMG: Centre Cannot Hold

Credit: Stefano Corso (2014) [CC BY]

Since I was sixteen I have had a love for the Modernist writers. In fact, soon after I discovered them, I joked to my mother that when I grow up I want to be Ezra Pound. I was hooked.

My mother was never a fan of this generation of artists when she studied them herself. Indeed, many people find them repulsive, or at the very least, challenging. I can understand this. There is darkness in them. There is the undeniable consciousness of a world forever changed by war. There is a strong apocalyptic flavour, or even more radically in some, a palpable sense of the absence of God…

The centre cannot hold. It’s a terrifying statement, whether in or out of context: one of crisis and loss. And it’s true, overwhelmingly true in this age – no longer modern but post-modern or even post-post-modern.  The Modernists saw devastation in humanity and shuddered. Today we tend to the increasing estrangement of ourselves from our nature by taping the “I’m-ok” bandage over chasmic gashes. Sure, you can tell a drowning man that he’s ok every time he bobs to the surface, gasping for breath. But eventually his head will no longer break through the waters.

The centre cannot hold because we have made ourselves the centre. If all of this seems convoluted, let me explain.

Over the centuries, and especially recently, the trend has been to push God more and more to the margins of life and to give everything else priority and authority. A horrible manifestation of the effects of this is the genocide of the twentieth century.

But somehow, we still have not connected the dots. We still think we can make it on our own. We still think we’re ok. This is not to say that religion has been silent. It is that the majority of “religious people” are called “religious” precisely because they live in a way that is distinctive from the mainstream. I know we’re not in Christendom anymore – perhaps we are not supposed to be. But does that mean that the only alternative is anti-Christendom? I don’t think so.

My purpose is to encourage Catholics to be real, to see it and tell it like it is. We live in the muck and guck of the world, but we don’t have to live in denial like the rest of the world. I want us to really think about what it means to believe in something greater than ourselves. I want us to rediscover the axis around which our life revolves, so that we find “passionate intensity” for the Good. So that the anarchy of individualism is replaced by the sovereignty of Love –

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out” (God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins)

So that for us at least the centre holds.

Copyright 2015 Sarah Blake

Image: God’s EyeStefano Corso, February 28, 2014, CC.

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1 Comment

  1. Judith Logan Junop on

    Sarah, Please keep writing. The complicated is made simple by your pen. Your words provide elegance within the muck and guck of my day.
    Judith

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