The popular--though unheralded--philosophy of our time is undoubtedly a happy nihilism. The end of the 20th century saw also the end of facile secular creeds and perfectionistic utopian visions (ah, if only that were true; but it at least saw their end as cohesive large-scale movements). The attempt to put on that which is not human (even that which is good) without aid of divine grace (wheresoever it might lie) resulted in nothing more than bloodshed and terror. We have fallen back upon the wisdom of our pagan past, for a brief moment in time content to live the life of the beast, doomed to death and utter eradication--thus the "happiness" of our nihilistic vision. How long before some new attempt at spiritual structure is thrust upon the world (for humankind has never been able to live long in a spiritual vacuum)? From whence shall this new spiritual structure arise? Out of the east, thronging at the rear of a massing Islamic Horde, proclaiming purity while practicing baseness and cruelty? Out of the West, in the guise of a renewed rationalistic vision of man based on the twin gods of science and power, which promises existential freedom but delivers only physical chains? Out of the dissembling mouths of the Christian Churches, preaching peace and brotherhood with their mouths as they slaughter their brothers and sisters with their hands? Or will it be from some new quarter undreamed of? Out of the South perhaps, the neglected children of two centuries of capitalistic imperialism, hailing social justice for the poor which devolves into the equality the firing squad for all?
Now I tell you a riddle: the God that Is is not hidden. Surely we can sense, if we are not yet senseless, His displeasure. We see and hear how He weeps for us--His tears falling in violent rivers, filling the oceans and sending giant tidal waves to crash upon the shores. How can our nihilism be a happy one against such a flood of pain and grief? If not cowed by our material splendor and lulled with the wonders of our impotent entertainments (which raise our underlying despair to the level of art) surely we would cry to heaven that the mountains would fall upon our heads and spare us any longer from the vision of the world that we have wrought! Surely the answer to our conundrum is indeed to reawaken our spiritual vigor. But from whence may the spirit spring? That which is merely human will not satisfy (unless we can mendaciously convince ourselves that we are divine) and that which is more than human will unsettle and despoil; for we can know it not as it is itself (that is, spirit). It is a hard truth that that which we desire yields (so often) the opposite of that which we sow; and this all the more so when that which we seek pushes beyond the scope of bare physicality. And thus the wheel again turns. All is hopeless for us as flesh and as spirit and yet we must not give up Hope! Hope is all that is left us in this age of "happy" nihilism, even if there is no real object for this Hope. But hope cannot long survive unsupported lest it too fail. Where shall we then place our hope? In the eternal spring of the everlasting dialectic between matter and spirit; that which refuses to give up on base matter and yet continues to sing songs to God Most High. We must embrace the pagan wisdom of the old while continuing to cherish the Christian innocence of the young. We must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.