The Other Face of Gaia
Published on: September 19, 2012
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  • John Barker

    This deadly future has already arrived if you substitute Hitler or Stalin or Mao for Kali-Durgan or nation for nature.

  • Robert F

    I know people who believe this. As part of their neo-pagan spirituality, they believe that death is a celebration, a beautiful thing for which mourning is a delusion. This article may have been meant satirically, but it is also prophecy fulfilled.

  • The hard part is going to be finding virgins to sacrifice.

  • Anthony

    Regarding different perspective and comic debunking for entertainment The Other Face of Gaia succeeds – the earth trembles and the mighty fault lines threaten the flimsy cities of modernity (reads/sounds empirically presidential).

  • And let us not forget new Gaia revelations, joining the newly discovered papyri Gaia has enabled to be unearthed revealing the power behind the thrown of Jesus, his Gaian wife. Hence the Gaian militants have long marched in solemn compacts over sacred earth. Recall how Gaia led the Puritans out of a Europe that oppressed them so they could bring Gaia’s divine spark to Plymouth Rock and be able to freely oppress and suppress themselves without interference, where they wore Scarlet Letter A’s signifying the Alpha, their new beginning.

    Thus it was that the vagina deorum gave way to the Gaian oracle deconstructing the phallocracy oracles so that the supreme organ sounds of the vagina dialogues could be heard by all. Gaia helped her victimized followers reverse history in the 1960’s by empowering them to correct their positions vis a vis males dominating them as victims. Before Gaia intervened, when females asked what was their position in the social movements of the 1960s, the males told the females: “prone”. Gaia opened their eyes and led them in their freedom march to restore harmony to the universe, as females guided males to take their proper and correct position, as celebrated in the arts, films, TV shows, councils, and gatherings of humans everywhere: prone and prostrate before females.

    Inner city young men and women rediscovered the Native American worldview as well, so great is Gaia, that now these inner city tribes compete in constant prairie inner city combat, as males sacrifice each other in their attempt to get to their desired incarnated Gaias.

    What male toddlers need to be rightful and correct future Gaia worshippers in preparation for being properly prone and prostrate before their future incarnated Gaias is a One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest frontal lobotomy to cast out those demons of male individuality and dominance.

    As small, insignificant parts of the vast, pulsating whole of cosmic life, Gaia will lead all to ultimate significance by the escape from the delusional blue-marble-in-the-sky individuality by freeing her followers from the wheel of death, the eternal cycle of reincarnation, so that all may eventually fly off that repetitive life cycle wheel and leap through the layers of the plarima, each becoming an integral part of the universe in their final exit, a great orgasmic poof.

  • Correction: the end of the 2nd paragraph should not read “gatherings of humans everywhere: prone and prostrate before females.” It should read: “gatherings of human everywhere in the worst country with the most victimized women, the United States: prone and prostrate before females.”

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    Prof. Berger once wryly wrote that Max Weber was alive and well and living in Guatemala. We could say the same for Prof. Aglaia Holt.

    I spend a good deal of my time here in California in coffee houses using their free wi-fi as a researcher for a think tank. In the course of my daily routine I actually see Prof. Aglaia Holt wander in to get her daily Masala Chai hot tea and artichoke brioche wearing an all-white tubular sarong. She usually has a book with a depiction on the cover of the same Kali-Durga which Dr. Berger described with her four to eight arms extended and her long fingernails holding the heads of the dethroned dead white males in her grasp. Holt is known for wearing no makeup, having no girl friends, and being perfectly self-absorbed with earphones and her Apple i-Pad.

    Most of the middle aged unemployed single males that hang out at the coffee shop have written her off as totally unapproachable. Her hands free conversations with her cell phone could be mistaken for the ramblings of a schizophrenic in another less technical era. Schizophrenics should all be issued cell phones to cover their clinical identities.

    Aglaia is usually surrounded by male students from Cal-Tech all performing long equations the length of a full paper notebook page. This real life juxtaposition of the post-modern with the hyper-modern is sort of a page out of Robert Musil’s A Man Without Qualities.

    This sociological field report is to confirm that Aglaia Holt is not Max Weber’s ideal type but is alive and well and residing in Pasadena, California.

  • Gary Novak

    In “Questions of Faith,” Berger identifies an original “mythic matrix” in the religious history of every human culture. “The mythic matrix perceives reality as a unified whole. The boundaries are fluid and permeable between what we would call the natural and the supernatural, between human beings and the spirit world, between human beings and animals. In this mythic reality the human individual experiences and understands himself as being part of the cosmic whole.” He writes “what we would call the natural and the supernatural” not because early peoples had other names for those concepts but because the distinction between the two had not yet been made. Likewise, we can hardly say that individuals were submerged in the collective, because individuals had not yet emerged from the collective. Western monotheism drew man out of this cosmic womb and placed him in dialogue with the transcendent God. The resultant alienation from one’s natural place in the cosmic order is the price we pay for existential freedom and individuality.

    The alleged reemergence of Gaia after an unhappy interval of Judeo-Christianity clearly represents a regression to the mythic matrix. As Berger notes, God’s creation of the world implies His transcendence and thus negates the mythic continuum. Gaia has no face value for those who embrace freedom, individuality, and , yes, alienation. And that is true quite apart from any additional downside to the other face of Gaia. Prof. Aglaia Holt attributes the lingering respect for individuality to “quasi-Christian sentimentality” and predicts that, when the last remnants of that are gone, the New Age groupies will recognize and embrace the other face of Gaia—Kali-Durga, who is red in tooth and claw. The ants don’t matter, only the cosmic ant colony.

    But that seems to contradict Holt’s own claim that “all life is sacred and must be protected from the ravages of the species ironically titled homo sapiens.” Anarchist Murray Bookchin speaks of (but does not endorse) a “misanthropic environmentalism,” which might very well endorse Holt’s “final solution,” but the timid followers of the happy-face Gaia could easily argue that the best way to save the experimental rats from the humans is not to kill the humans but to educate them. When the humans confess that they are no better than rats, the true followers of Gaia will want to protect them, too. And why should Darwin have any hold on the worshippers of Gaia? Wouldn’t they be more attracted to Prince Kropotkin’s cooperative version of evolution?

    So it is not clear to me that Gaia, freed from Christian sentimentality, would logically turn murderous. Indeed, Berger makes the case in an excursus “On Christian Morality” (in Questions of Faith) that there doesn’t seem to be a distinctive Christian morality. “Suppose that I woke up tomorrow and decided that I am an atheist—what would change about my moral convictions?” His answer: “virtually nothing.” He points out that “. . . even in a cultural situation marked by a widespread understanding of the relativity of moral values, there are what could be called eruptions of moral certainty in the face of certain evils.” Could such eruptions take place in a Christian-free world ruled by Kali-Durga? Or must one already be a responsible individual (of the kind that doesn’t exist in the mythic matrix) to receive such revelations? Perhaps the best answer is that such moral eruptions can occur in the world of Gaia—but when they do, they are not only morally imperative but represent a recognition of signals of transcendence which constitutes the emergence of the individual from the happy horde and reveals a vertical dimension supportive of a more abundant life than that available in the mythic matrix. The voice out of the whirlwind is more “interesting” than natural cosmic flow. (Berger writes in “Questions of Faith” that “. . . the morality [of the Sermon on the Mount] is eschatological in character and does not offer guidance for ordinary life in this world.” He concludes: “If Christianity is a moral project, it is not a very interesting project.” pp. 58-9)

    In an earlier parenthesis (p. 28), Berger noted “the fatuous character of some recent efforts to construct a universal ethic in which Buddhist ‘compassion’ is equated with Christian agape. I would argue [he continues] that, despite some similarities on the level of practical activities, the two have very little to do with each other, indeed are almost opposites.” Christian morality is, finally, distinct from Buddhist morality (and Gaia morality), but the distinction lies more in the meaning of life than in “practical activities.” Christian morality may overlap code moralities, but it is more “interesting” because it is not grounded in law but in God. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer observes at the beginning of “Ethics”: “The knowledge of good and evil seems to be the aim of all ethical reflection. The first task of Christian ethics is to invalidate this knowledge.” Why? Because “[man] knows all things only in God, and God in all things. The knowledge of good and evil shows that he is no longer at one with his origin.” Ethics is not a very interesting project.

    Many thanks to Berger and his witty reader for collaborating to reproduce “The Other Face of Gaia.” It successfully meets both goals of satire: entertainment and perspective challenge.

    Incidentally, I see that Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School (also known as the Department of Wymyns Studies) is busy unearthing Jesus’s secret marriage. No doubt the next edition of “The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies” will contain a companion article to her “Which Early Christianity?” which argues that Christianity has no essence (and seems to be mostly a matter of males arguing about how best to con people into believing that it does).

  • Robert F

    Yes, if I woke up tomorrow morning and decided I was an atheist it probably would not reflect a change in my moral convictions, but if my moral convictions were formed in a culture that sacrificed children to a god my moral convictions would probably be different than if they were formed in a culture that promulgated the idea that God forbids the sacrifice of children to himself or any other god. I think professor Berger is wrong about the relationship of ethics to religious practices/convictions.

  • Rodger Kroell

    The Judeo-Christian tradition is very clear about its support, promotion, even celebration of sacrificing children (who are agents of Satan) when YHWH so commands his prophetic/sainted agents on earth:

    “Oh daughter of Babylon, you devastator!
    Happy shall he be who requites you with what you have
    done to us!
    Happy shall he be who takes your little ones [your
    children] and dashes them against the rock!”

    –Psalms 137: 8-9, Revised Standard Version

  • Rodger Kroell

    My revised version: The Judeo-Christian tradition is very clear about its support, promotion, even celebration of sacrificing children (who are the supposed agents of Satan) when YHWH so commands his prophets/saints to do so on this very earth:

    “Oh daughter of Babylon, you devastator!
    Happy shall he be who requites you with what you have
    done to us!
    Happy shall he be who takes your little ones [your
    children] and dashes them against the rock!”

    –Psalms 137: 8-9, Revised Standard Version

    This applies, of course, only to literal interpretations of the Book.

  • Beth Martin

    Professor Berger, have you checked your idea of the decline of religious beliefs with the new leaders and population of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria? Syria? Iran? Yemen?

    Your ideas were formed in an eurocentric culture, true. How can you possibly be taken seriously when 1/4th of the world’s culture cannot possibly agree with anything you think or say?

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