Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Aug/11

22

Obsessed?

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Via Andrew Sullivan, comes this rather odd piece by Tony Woodlief. This extract caught my eye:

We are god-obsessed because we have lost God or we are running from God or we are hopelessly seeking Him, and maybe all of these at once.

Well, let’s just say that I’m not so sure about that ‘we’. I suspect that there are quite a few folk out there who are not in the slightest bit god-obsessed and, for that matter, that, sensibly enough, they are more than content to leave all that losing, running and hopeless seeking to others. I know I am.

And then there’s this:

We are god-obsessed the way a child snatched from his mother will always have his heart and flesh tuned to her, even after he forgets her face. Cover the earth with orphans and you will find grown men fashioning images of mothers and worshipping strong women and crafting myths about mothers who have left or were taken or whose spirits dwell in the trees.

And at the edges of their tribal fires will stand the anthropologist and the philosopher, reasoning that all this mother-talk is simply proof that men are prone to invent stories about mothers, which is itself proof that no single story about a mother could be true, which is proof that the brain just evolved to work that way.

It’s the only narrative that fits the facts while affirming the skeptic’s presupposition that all this mother business is just leftover hokum from the dark ages.

Except that in a century, when the most famous of the skeptics is long forgotten, broken men will still be telling stories about what we have lost, and what we pray is still out there, coming even now to set all things right.

Good lord.

5 comments

  • Matt Foss · August 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Ah, but the mere fact that you’re writing about it is proof positive that you’re obsessed. Or something like that.

  • Polichinello · August 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Via Andrew Sullivan, comes this rather odd piece by Tony Woodlief.

    This is new. Usually, the oddness originates with Sullivan.

  • Susan · August 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Woodlief’s screed brings new dimensions to the term “overwrought”.

  • Acilius · August 23, 2011 at 2:47 am

    It’s hard to imagine a science that would be able to come up with ideas about the brain evolving but that would not be able to find evidence of maternity as a biological process. I doubt Woodlief was imagining such a science; it sounds more like a sort of free association. Maybe at some point in his thoughts he had a more coherent idea; perhaps he wanted to say that under certain circumstances a harshly reductionist approach to science might fail to draw a connection between biological maternity and the emotional significance of motherhood as that institution has been constructed in history, and that those hypothetical circumstances bear some or other comparison to the actual circumstances that exist in our world, where God is seen by none but desired by so many. Who knows, maybe if he had a scientific education Woodlief could have made something interesting out of that idea. ‘Tis a pity.

  • Sean, the Ex-Con(servative) · August 27, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Woodlief’s argument is just Pascal’s silly “God-shaped hole” supposition, seasoned with a dash of Joseph Campbell.

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