A power outage has a way of reminding you that our modern world is rather fragile, hanging on a thin wire that can be cut off by a falling tree. In reading the book The Luminous Dusk: Finding God in the Deep Still Places, the author Dale Allison states that with electricity, reliable heat, a reliable food supply, and refrigeration, we are able to overcome many of the hazards of our environment, save for the large-scale natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. This disconnect from our environment deeply impacts our relationship with God.
It’s hard to fathom this, but losing our power last night helped. While trying to fall asleep last night in the dark with the temperature dropping and little I could do, I began to catch on a little bit of what it means to be at the mercy of the elements as it were. The freezing rain and snow weighed down the tree next to our house and it thumped continuously on our roof all night. Each thump a reminder that it only takes one fallen tree to disrupt our neat, orderly lives.
Allison also touches on the importance of silence for religion, in fact that our modern culture’s assault against silence may be one of the most important contributors to secularism and atheism. We fill our lives with noise: radio, TV, cell phones, conversations, music, and even the hum of our appliances such as computers, always distracting, always preventing our minds from resting, from being still, from finding a sanctuary.
What is the net effect of all this?
As we remove ourselves from the natural, convince ourselves that we can control our own destinies, and deprive ourselves of true silence and quiet, Allison believes that we lose that sense of awe and wonder, that natural connection we experience with God while in nature. It becomes difficult to stop, to be still, and to let God speak.
Allison does not state that our removal from the natural world and estrangement from silence is the sole cause of secularism and atheism, but he does contend that these have made it quite easy to forget about God.
If you’re intrigued by these ideas, I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. Though the cover design is nothing short of hideous, the writing is clear, and easy to read. I rarely find a book that deals with devotional/religious/spiritual topics that is so easy to pick up.