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The west doesn't need Feng Shui

From Clarissa Tan, writing in the Spectator

. . .What is it about Westerners’ love of eastern philosophies (and, for that matter, Easterners’ love of Westerners’ love of eastern philosophies)? I am constantly puzzled by certain Westerners who regard it as a bit of an embarrassment if one were to attend church every Sunday but who, on visiting a temple in the Far East, can’t wait to cast off their footwear, clutch the joss sticks and roll the Heavenly dice of Fortune, or whatever. I am perplexed why they think that chaotic Calcutta might be a bigger repository of peace and spirituality than Cardiff, or steamy Bangkok a greater font of sanctity than, say, Basingstoke.

cr_salisbury cathedral_500h.jpg

Say, Salisbury.

What astounds me most is that Britain is itself so patently full of holy spaces and buildings, constructed with a sense of positioning and proportion that often takes the breath away.

. . .When I first visited St Paul’s Cathedral, years ago, tears stung my eyes. After that, I wondered why. Was it because the travel guides had explained so thoroughly the meaning of the cathedral’s various architectural features? Was it because I was standing in a Wren creation? Was it because of the pomp of the dome and the sculptures and the choir?

Not really. It was because, when you stand in St Paul’s, you sense history in every stone. And this history was not so much made by kings and bishops, but by common folk who spent decade after decade designing and planning and building out of a sense of shared purpose and belief. A structure that’s sprung out of devotion feels very different from one built for commerce or pure competition.

. . .Sometimes we travel far and wide for higher truth, while divinity lies at our doorstep.

Comments (2)

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Matthew David Nelson :

Let us not forget that Christianity is an Eastern religion, and a very mystical one at that!


"What is it about Westerners’ love of eastern philosophies"

For centuries, those of us who think of themselves as superior or more sensitive or simply alien in the West and seek something more "spiritual" have turned, almost mindlessly, to the mysteries of the East. Like communism, Islam, fascism and general socio-stupidity, it has been until now a minority fascination, often with the temporary devotee recovering and returning to the ordinary, capitalistic treadmill--whose only virtue, to paraphrase, is that it is better than all the other treadmills.

Whether we recover from the present onslaught by brainwashed socialists and sneaky ideological fanatics, is yet to be decided.

One proof that there is something here worth saving is the reverse borrowing of East from West. The insuperable attraction exerted by our greatest creations--music. E.g., the Japanese adulation of and acquired expertise with the greats: Beethoven, Mozart, etc. What equivalent achievements exist anywhere else in the world? And is it not time to contemplate what life under an inimical system would mean? No Ninth Symphony, no Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, no Peer Gynt, No Rigoletto.

Are we really ready to trade a civilization that made music into more than it had ever been in exchange for an Orwellian quest for economic egalitarianism, or delicate script, faceless decorations and recorded calls to the faithful that are supposed to represent a superior civilization? Must we be the blind who are led by the blind?

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