In fundamentalist Christianity there is the oft-used phrase, “in the word” as in “I’m in the word a lot now-a-days.” I’ve been there, done that, and it has its place. I now am “in the word” daily though my “word” has broadened to include non-Christian holy writ, spiritual teachings (contemporary and historical), and literature (past and present), philosophy, and religious tomes.
I’m aware of how much brain-washing is involved here. It is a way of indoctrinating ourselves, filling the void that we are with something we deem important to keep that void from sucking us up. It is part of maintaining the identity that we formulated a long time ago, that identity being “a veil we spin to hide the void” (Norman O. Brown).
So, what’s the point? Is brainwashing all there is? Am I merely espousing nihilism here?
I think the answer is to realize that the “stuff” that we have filled our minds and heart with must have meaning beyond itself. This “stuff” (words, images, ideas, etc) is important but it has no meaning unless we have an ultimate reference point outside the realm of time and space. I think it was Gabriel Marcel who once noted that “words have meaning only when they burgeon forth into a region beyond themselves.” So, when it comes to spirituality…at least…does our ideology, our words, our dogma “burgeon-forth into a region beyond themselves” or is it merely so much flotsam-and-jetsam that we have glommed onto to stave-off the existential abyss that we live in.
As a culture…and I could broaden that to “world culture”…I fear that we do not have an ultimate reference point. Or to put it more correctly, an “Ultimate Reference Point.” Therefore we “glom on” to “stuff”. We are materialistic.