In The City Or Country – Hipsterize The Rest of This Advent or Lent
What is it about nature that is so appealing to some people and unattractive to others? When it comes to any of the activities like farming, camping, hiking or mountain climbing, we find that many people in the country wish they could live in the city and many who live in the city wish and long for the country. And there are those who wish to stay right where they are.
Cities provide us with tremendous opportunities for relationships amongst ourselves and conveniences, but also tend to be the generators of pollution – environmental and otherwise. More people means, of course, more of what people do wrong and more of what people do well. The country tends to lack the best and the worst art created by man. Aristotle’s distinction between art (anything created by man from poetry to technology), and nature-that which is untouched by man is useful here. One gets its order from man, the other gets its order from the ultimate reality, well, God.
As Russell Kirk put it: “Innovation comes from the cities, where man uprooted seeks to piece together a new world; conservatism always has its most loyal adherents in the country, where man is slow to break with the old ways that link him with his God in the infinity above and with his father in the grave at his feet.”
But no matter what side of the tracks you are on, I think we can all agree there is something existentially more “realistic” about nature because it’s order endures, while ours decays. The urban dissatisfaction is expressed in this song:
Now that advent is here and Christmas even nearer, just like lent, we enter a penitential period where we reflect on where we have come from and where we are going. It’s traditionally a time for simplicity and preparation for God becoming man – leaving the heights of perfection and coming to dwell with us in the dirt:
Though it’s gotten cold, don’t stay inside in the warmth too much — lent and advent we leave behind the artificial to remind us of what we really possess in the long run. The homeless fella on the street might be able to tell you more about that.
“The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil….If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other “lights”, that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk. Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment?” – Benedict XVI’s Easter Message 2012