June 21st, 2024

By the Way: ‘Spirit of the age’

By Rev. Oz Lorentzen on May 25, 2024.

I’ve been thinking of a great German term coined in the 1800’s, zeitgeist, the “spirit of the age.”

I’ve been thinking of this because the term was developed to articulate the sense that there is a “force” or pervading impulse/drive that characterizes certain periods or eras of time (both globally and more locally).

I am also thinking of it because in a culture and context where we have dismissed “spirit” as meaningless or unnecessary – dismissed it because the human creature, the human animal, is better understood by science without such superstitious mumbo jumbo – increasingly we are seeing the return of the repressed, as curiosity and experimentation in things spiritual is burgeoning.

This, I think, is not a healthy sign, as our collective psychological insights would suggest, it is better to deal with the thing itself then to wear yourself out trying to deal with the revenge (the return) of the repressed.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of a zeitgeist, because I sense increasingly that our zeitgeist is a poltergeist and I am not sure I like it.

I’ve been thinking about this, because I believe there is a spiritual reality to our culture and society, and if there is something off, something amiss with this spiritual plane/component, then we need a spiritual solution.

The adage is,” you do not get a snake from a rope.” This reminds us, as another wisdom teacher said, what is born of material is material, what is born of the spirit is spirit.

Does the malaise that seems to be infecting our communities and culture go beyond purely material causes – you know the common complaints, poor education and lack of opportunity, inept policy makers and misguided public officials?

If so, we need a solution that also goes beyond the material. If there is a “spirit of the age,” what can we do to shape or direct, to influence, this spirit?

Rev. Oz Lorentzen is the pastor at St. Barnabas Anglican Church

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