September 2, 2007

The Terror of History

The Terror of History: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition is set of lectures by Teofilo F. Ruiz, Ph.D. of UCLA published by the Teaching Company.
In the first lecture, The Terror of History, Professor Ruiz reminds us that history is written literate elite and may not reflect the people from the lowest levels of society. He goes on to explain the "terror of history" is the response to tension and pressures of life and that there are three ways to escape the misery of human existence.
  1. The formulation of religion and embracing of transcendental beliefs.
  2. Embracing the material world and a life of dissipation.
  3. Aesthetics and the pursuit of art is also used to escape the burdens of life.
For the Druid, the formulation of religion is almost a given. So many of the those along the Keltrian Druid Path have made a conscious decision to reject more traditional religions embrace their own sense of spirituality. These are typically coupled with idealistic beliefs. When armed with a strong religious belief, it is difficult not to incorporate a sense of superiority. We, as Druids, know that there are many paths to wisdom and that a sense of superiority can leadsto intolerance. And intolerance leads to the ugliest responses that humans express in their combatting the "Terror of History."

Certainly our (US) society is all about embracing the material world. Mental distraction, amusement, intemperance, drug use are all parts of a life of dissipation. We can, to a limited extent, escape the miseries of life by indulging ourselves -- "shop to you drop." But such materialism goes against the Druid's Path. We need to live with the natural world and gain wisdom from our relationships with it. Those on the Seer's path especially need to develop their relationships with the natural world; embracing the material world would be counterproductive. We, as Druids, should embrace life and not try to escape from our existence.

Aesthetics, the study of beauty, particularly as it relates to the arts is a clear part of the Druid's Path also. Developing the understanding of the principles that are used to make critical judgments concerning works of art. For the Bard, to gain an understanding of how to release emotions based upon the reactions to the beautiful and the ugly, the sublime and the comic is one of the foundations of the Bardic Path.

Professor Ruiz includes suggested reading list with each lesson and several questions to consider. The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion by Mircea Eliade jumped onto my wish list. One of professor Ruiz's questions to consider, "Why has the irrational played such a significant role in history?" will remain with me throughout the series of lectures in hopes that it will be answered.

I highly recommend The Terror of History: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition which retails for $254.95 for the DVD and $129.95 audio download. Watch for when it goes on sale at 70% off. The Teaching Company (24 lectures, 30 minutes/lecture).

1 comment:

maplehouse said...

Fellow Teaching Company addicts can join my Yahoo groups and phpbb forums:

Some of my new Yahoo groups:

Teaching Company forum:

Robert Hazen's "Origins of Life" forum

Doug van Orsow