Tuesday, March 10, 2015

This Post is Awesome

(Here is a track I believe perfectly captures the mixed feelings of awe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldx60GEL7Ck )

      Awe is a confusing emotion - all at the same time it inspires fear, joy, wonder, peace.  Furthermore, awe can be felt in a variety of situations:
  - a large gathering of people such as a rally or mass
  - a spiritual event in solitude
  - a parent looking upon their child as a new life
  - the presence of something very large (the Washington Monument, the Grand Canyon etc... during this song I imagine staring up at an immense sauropod dinosaur whose head reaches into the clouds),   - perhaps awe can even be felt reading about an act of sheer love and kindness - a town that learned sign language to accommodate their deaf neighbor - a God who became man to experience weakness and death with us.

     Wherever one experiences awe, I believe that awe seems to be an impetus for spiritual-esque consideration, perhaps that is even the best way to define it.  Anywho... I believe awe is also sort of a spur-of-the-moment type thing. It is like a nightmare or a particularly good dream, which is stunning, terrifying and amazing while it happens, but once one is fully awake the feeling wears off - the nightmare no longer so terrifying, the dream no longer so great.  From personal experience I can say that the Grand Canyon was much the same way - for the entire day that my family hiked, it was awe-inspiring, majestic, and photos absolutely don't do it justice.  But it was only ultra-fantastic in that context.  Two years later, away from the Grand Canyon, and knowing that it was formed by natural geological processes, it's just another tourist site (I still recommend it if you like to hike).
    With a way to explain it, with words like 'cognitive dissonance' and 'mineral erosion' we have a sort of power over these things.  They become less divine and more immanent outside their own context.  Does knowing how 600,000 people got together make a 600,000 strong march any less impressive?  Not when you're there.  Does knowing the processes of fertilization and gestation make a child - a new human life - any less incredible?  Not when you're the parent.
    To conclude, I think that living in secular3 age means being told about an infinite number explanations for the sources of your awe, and how you should react to your awe - do you praise the Lord, praise men who built it or discovered it, praise nature etc?


  1. I think you bring up an interesting point with the explanations that are available to us in the modern age. Take, for example, the night sky. To people in the medieval era that was the heavens. It had a very clear meaning as being a place that is transcendent by its very nature. Now, however, it is a different story. We have observed, measured, and attempted to unravel the mysteries of the vastness of space. We have sent satellites and humans into space. It is no longer the heavens, but rather just another place. The night sky has gone from being the heavens created by God to just a bunch of stars that have been named and marked on a map of the sky. In our present age this seems to be the case with most things. The night sky, the Nile River, the Grand Canyon, and even human life. We are told that they are all just natural things, and are totally explainable in scientific language. The sense of awe may still be there in these things, but it is not like it was in eras past. I find this illustrated in a quote from Anatole France. “The wonder is, not that the field of stars is so vast, but that man has measured it”.

  2. Maybe it is a generational thing but to me music does not represent a sense of awe. To me it seems more representative of being cross-pressured; the pulling back in forth between the buffered self and the porous self creating dissonance and discord. The confusion of not being sure which you believe in; does God actively participate in this world, has he set the universe in motion then leave us to our own devices or even doubts about the very existence of god? Sometimes feeling one way, then on another occasion the other, never quite sure what you believe. To me, the music represents the pulling and confusion of being cross-pressured.

  3. I have to disagree. To me music always has had some sense of awe and makes me wonder about what goes on in the world. I think music adds questions to our lives. We can't answer life's questions through music but it opens our minds to think differently. Certain people and their opinions often times influence what we believe and what we think. There is a reason more people are atheist and egotistic now because we are able to hear more opinions than just ones local to us. We hear both sides and we think more broadly than our ancestors.