Not Wyrd

My mother bought me a copy of The Way of Wyrd, by Brian Bates. It’s a novel about a Saxon Roman Catholic priest who discovers and excels in the very pagan spirituality he is meant to suppress. I enjoyed the read, but was not as inclined to fuse my Christianity with pre-Christian belief as the novel’s hero, Brand. 

The book, carefully researched by Bates, a professor of psychology at Sussex University, is an interesting reaction to the soul-destroying emptiness of modern secularism. Charles Taylor, the Canadian philosopher, suggests that Western culture is out of kilter with the rest of human experience; what we proudly consider to be the model for other cultures to follow is very much mistaken. As society breaks down into lonely individualism, so our need for corporate identity is not met. This is why people seek that identity in race, nationalism, gender and sexuality. Terry Eagleton, professor of Literature at Lancaster, attributes secularism to capitalist greed. Relegated to base consumers and producers, our bleak, godless existence is just one more product of privatisation.

While Britain and the West continue to deprecate and belittle their Christian traditions and heritage, humans will seek alternative outlets for their spiritual longing. This may be in the books of paganism and lore which increasingly fill our bookshops’ and libraries’ shelves, or in cults and strange sects. I wonder if the growth in fundamentalist Islam is a reaction against the godless hedonism that many young Muslims see around them. Wyrd, shamanism, wicca and ‘alternative spirituality’ cannot present a sinner faultless before God, but they rightly understand humanity as a supremely spiritual species.

In Hebrews 11:6, we read

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

It isn’t enough to believe in the spiritual dimension, nor even to be a theist. One must seek God, through the Lord Jesus, diligently expecting to find Him, and have one’s search amply rewarded.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13