Friday's book: Femininity Lost and Regained
Enterprises in western culture are weighted, loaded, and rigged against the feminine. When the feminine is weak, the masculine rampages, and downward they spiral to ultimate destruction. That is the thesis of Robert A. Johnson’s 1990 book Femininity Lost and Regained . I bought it last Friday night, read it through, and now the contrast is much more vivid as I watch the dramas unfold in our human enterprises.
Saturday's Book: Seeds of Deception
I bought Jeffrey Smith’s Seeds of Deception (2003) after watching his video about genetically engineered foods, or transgenic foods as I’ll call them. What an eye-opener!
Until now, the battle for our food supply has seemed to me like just another tawdry political mess – bureaucrats ignoring citizens, industries buying judgments, politicians jockeying for control. It is all that, but it’s more. As I learn more about transgenic foods, I wonder, “Is this some kind of plan to wipe out the human race? Who actually wants to do such a thing? Are people that clueless?”
Well, actually, yes. Some people are that clueless. Americans have had it pretty easy, so they think, as they rack up material gains and pursue ever more. But there is a price ….
Johnson uses Sophocles' play Antigone to show the price paid for the drive for power. I agree with Johnson: “The pursuit of power is the most serious danger that faces feminine values” ... values like love, kindness, compassion, loyalty, forgiveness, and relatedness.
The antagonist Creon’s single-pointed drive for power over the city of Thebes pushes a cascade of events that ends with him standing alone after the violent deaths of his son’s fiancee and his son and his wife – his whole family is dead. So much blood stains the stage in a quest for power and denial of love.
And it was all foretold in the play – the Greek chorus and the oracles warned of the terrible fates. But characters who spoke for love and compassion did not exercise enough strength to prevail over the forces for power and the artificial order imposed over natural vibrance.
Such a fateful cascade is arranged for us, you and me, here and now, as our little blue planet spins through space. The chorus and oracles have been warning us for years, decades, and our fate becomes ever more obvious to those who are listening.
To represent those who are not listening, I’ve chosen one who spoke Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, during the hearing of Monsanto’s GM alfalfa case. He said to the farmers’ attorney, Mr Robbins,Mr Robbins replied, “I don't think we bore the burden, an end-of-the-world burden, Justice Scalia."
“It's the creation of plants of -- of genetically engineered alfalfa which spring up that otherwise wouldn't exist. It doesn't even destroy the current plantings of non-genetically engineered alfalfa. This is not the end of the world. It really isn't. The most it does is make it difficult for those farmers who want to cater to the European market, which will not accept genetically engineered alfalfa, it makes it more difficult for them to have a field of 100 percent non-genetically engineered. But that's not the end of the world, Mr. Robbins.”
That’s true, the farmers bringing the case don’t need to prove the likelihood of the end of the world. But in the end, in an ironic turn of the phrase, all of us bear the burden of the potential end of the world.
DNA’s double helix symbolizes the intricacy and vitality of creation on our planet. It is marvelous and mysterious, and it tantalizes industrialists to apply their hard logic and their hard probes, to fantasize about wielding their power over the slinky and unpredictable sex symbol. Like Creon’s drive for power over Thebes, the industrial drive for power over DNA is pushing at the head of a cascade that will ripple through every living organism on earth. Like Creon, alone on the stage after his family has perished because of his policies, will the last lone industrialist see the perishing of the human race and wonder?
“I am nothing. I have no life.
Lead me away,
That have killed unwittingly
My people, my race.
I know not where I should turn,
Where to look for help.
My hands have done amiss, my head is bowed,
With fate too heavy for me.”
This is our fate if the feminine of our culture, like that of the ancient Greeks, continues to be too weak to challenge the masculine drive for power. The drive for power is one-tracked and heavily invested – not easy to guide, slow, and turn. Thus, Robert Johnson calls us to regain the strength of femininity through understanding it in the Hindu culture. His examples come from the Mahabharata.
Of all the places on earth for this understanding to grow, for healing to begin, for wounds to mend and bonds to become strong, my little town is the place. If we can’t do it here, then the world has not much hope.