Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Wild God”
At some point in my predawn walk—not at the top of a hill or the exact moment of sunrise, but in its own good time—the world flamed into life. How else to describe it? There were no visions, no prophetic voices or visits by totemic animals, just this blazing everywhere. Something poured into me and I poured out into it. This was not the passive beatific merger with “the All,” as promised by the Eastern mystics. It was a furious encounter with a living substance that was coming at me through all things at once, and one reason for the terrible wordlessness of the experience is that you cannot observe fire really closely without becoming part of it. Whether you start as a twig or a gorgeous tapestry, you will be recruited into the flame and made indistinguishable from the rest of the blaze. (p. 116)
This is the challenge that comes hurtling out at me from across the decades like a final exam or an exit debriefing: What have I learned? And of course it does not mean what did I learn about protein conformational changes or military history or even about the roots of systematic human cruelty and how we could go about creating kinder social arrangements. It means, What did you learn about all of this? What is going on here? Why is this happening?
Well, I have to admit to my child-self: not enough, not anywhere near enough… I learned this much, though, which, given the poverty of metaphysical speculation in our time, an atheist admits only at some risk to her public integrity: You first have to revise the question. To ask why is to ask for a motive or a purpose, and a motive has to arise from an apparatus capable of framing an intention, which is what we normally call a mind. Thus the question why is always really the question who. (pp. 235-6)
I have the impression, growing out of the experiences chronicled here, that it may be seeking us out. (p. 237)
From the perspective of a Stoic, that certainly makes sense. If the cosmos is, as the ancient Stoics suggest, permeated with divine Reason (logos); and our psyches are, as the Stoics claim, a fragment of that logos; then, it seems reasonable that the logos is pursuing us. Therefore, seeking to understand and live in accordance with that divine Nature (logos) is both the highest and the most rational response for humankind.
Ehrenreich, B. (2014). Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything. New York: Hatchette Book Group