“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”
Pitirim Sorokin was a Russian-born sociolgist who fled that country during the 1917 revolution. Sorokin taught at the University of Minnesota for a few years then spent the remainder of his years at Harvard. During the 1930’s he wrote a book entitiled, ‘The Crisis of our Time’. if you can find it, read it.
In this critical analysis of western culture Sorokin discusses how we have become a sensate society. That is to say, our satisfactions come from our bodies, what we feel and experience. We are not children of celestial origin but we are children of nature. What’s important about us is that we are organisms, that we collect experiences and satisfy our natural urges and desires. Our kinship is with the rat, the chimp and amoeba and not the angels, archangels and the company of heaven. The meaning of our lives is discovered through our senses. The natural world is the ultimate reality.
Sorokin also points out that 600 years ago, prior to the Renaissance, virtually all the art of western civilization was celestial art. Painters and sculptors depicted the saints, angels and other Biblical characters, the musician penned the exalting glorias, kyries and requiems. Law was thought to be an expression of eternal law, moral law, a universal law, transcendent and given. Man was thought to be a child of the heavens and that his life here, brief and fleeting, was a prelude to the eternity which awaited.
He goes on to say that since that time we have seen ourselves as children of nature, formed by natural law, responding to natural needs. Things have gone so far in this direction that now well over 90 percent of all art is in the hands of advertising companies, whose job is to tell you what your body needs to satisfy itself.
To say that human beings live under these conditions may be a stretch. Exist may be a more accurate word. For can it be said of a creature who is caught in the constant anxieties of trying to satisfy the self and its desires, that it is truly living?
Christians are not dealing with trifles here. In a world that has, at least for now, defined itself out of the equation of eternity in favor of the sensual and rational, the Church has but one option; to speak and live in such a way that it is apparent, at least where we are concerned, that the ultimate definition of the human is derived not from what we eat, or wear or feel or experience, but from the Kingdom of God.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”