CHURCH OF THE SCIENCE OF GOD, INC.
Incorporated, State of California, May, 17th, 1967
1967 - 1993 25th Anniversary
1993 – In Review
“The Year it rained news.” TIME Annual By the Editors of Time.
By: Lance Morrow
I MAGINE THAT A YEAR HAS ONE EVENT CONTAINING A HIDDEN EXPLANATION FOR EVERYTHING ELSE THAT HAPPENED: A METAPHORICAL CODE, SOMETHING LIKE THE YEAR’S DNA.
Find that, and all else follows.
If such a metaphor were to lie buried in the jumble of 1993, it might be the one that fell from the sky in the exact middle of the year, upon the middle of America---—a perfectly centered symbol, but a terrible mess.
It fell and fell, week after week, a drenching, interminable rain that lifted the Miss-issippi out of its course and set it loose upon the landscape. As the wet sky all but fused with a liquefying earth and the air became a lighter layer of water, the weath-er and the river explored new possibilities of relentlessness and disorder. Whole landscapes, expanses of entire states went under. The Mississippi, T. S. Eliot’s “strong brown god,” dissolved into a sort of hydro-chaos that flowed undifferent-iated over farms and highways and lowland cities. Read about the great flood.
On moral and political and scientific’ flood-plains around the world, boundaries and familiar landmarks were similarly vanishing, eroded and washed away by border—crumbling economic tides, surging political swells and new streams of powerful electronic information. Through it all, except for a transforming vision here and there, occurred terrible seepages from the ugliest regions of human nature: the most vicious ethnic savagery, the growth of sexual assaults and a rush of vio- lent and unfathomable crime—the new frontiers of swampland and id.
T HE SPECTACLE OF THE MIDWESTERN FLOODS, THE WORST IN U.S. HISTORY, PRODUCED, AT THE TIME, ONE OF THOSE UNEASY, SUBLIMINAL, ANYTHING-CAN-HAPPEN MOMENTS.
It prompted a kind of mild amazement that fitted perfectly with a sense that the world was up to surprising things, that old records and old values and familiar patterns might not stand: that the globe itself was rapidly and sometimes dangerously changing. A boundary, after all, may be a limitation upon freedom (therefore bad) or a necessary defense and insulation (therefore good). Or both. So the destruction of old borders may be a blessing (as in Eastern Europe, outside Yugoslavia) or a catastrophe (Yugoslavia) or both (the former Soviet Union’s republics, several of them now dissolved in civil war).
In truth, the year was probably no more disillusioning or shattering than most others. As Flaubert wrote to George Sand more than a century ago, as the two tried to account for some atrocious crime or other: “Our ignorance of history makes us slander our own time. People have always been like this.”
That truth—the more or less constant flaw—could be seen in the arrest of fundamentalist Muslims suspected of attempting to blow up the World Trade Center,
But the dilemma remains: a frequently low human nature working with high technology. People before and after Hiroshima may be the same, but who would deny that something is forever different? If the free-floating year of 1993 induced a queasiness, that was caused in good part by the barely assimilable sense of accelerated technological change, by the speed of communication and the velocity of global culture. Some of that sense of unease arose from the border-less quality of television—its strange simultaneous world-scope and intimacy. Television changes the perspectives of normality. It seeks the abnormal, because it has an appetite for drama, even as it obliterates distance and boundaries and brings the most disturbing events inside the brain, rendering them as intimate as thought —or fear.
Instant global communication (TV, faxes, telephones, computers, the incipient information highway) has already given the world a fourth dimension. Now it is pointing to a kind of fifth dimension that may lie somewhere down the road, a mental universalization in which the entire world will be absorbed into an inter-linked network. For the moment, however, a society whose institutions of authority tend to be washing away is left with television to dramatize the spectacle of flood-waters driving the snakes (murderers, rapists, “ethnic cleansers,” and all of the merely vicious oddities) up into the open air, into the trees and onto the daytime news and talk shows.
The motif of a dangerous borderlessness was evident in the spread of AIDS and the comeback of malaria and TB. The planet’s safe havens seem fewer now, as the world grows smaller year by year. At the same time, AIDS induces a regressive terror of plague, a kind of collective memory of the black death, that coexists with the astonishing news of the first cloning of human beings. A sort of brutal meta-physical win-some-lose-some spirit fills the air. Those watching the border be- tween life and death have seen strange traffic in both directions. Mass abortion and Kevorkian’s easeful-death desires move in one direction, matched by life desires going the other way: ingenious inseminations, for example, surrogate parenthoods, biotechnical feats. What once were accepted as the gift of life and the fate of death must soldier now as issues of political rights.
F OR AMERICANS, SOME OF THE YEAR’S UNEASE INVOLVED GROWING PAINS AND IMMATURITY: THE SULKING AND SELF-PITY, THE TANTRUM-PRONE ADOLESCENCE OF AN ALMOST ENTIRELY NEW NATIONAL IDENTITY.
America today is a rapidly feminizing multicultural nation engaged in redrawing its social contract, redefining its place in the world and trying, in the process, to keep from committing suicide by gun glut, drugs, illiteracy, stupidity and bad manners.
The central article of the American credo, the dynamo of its optimism, has always been Progress: a conviction that American history is not only ascendant but indeed divinely endorsed. That belief persists, but it has become provisional in ways it never was before. Part of the national mood is a chilly intimation that history may be on a down-slide, that the Golden Age was long ago and the future can only be a steady darkening. In the days when two great oceans protected the American exceptionalism, and a few thousand miles meant something, Americans thought they operated the nation on a contract with God. Today, in a new world, in a post- American century, they are busy drawing up, for the first time, a thousand contracts between themselves and everyone else on the planet.
Simultaneously, Americans are struggling to discover the terms of a fresh internal social contract that will cope with the tremendous flood-waters of their grievances: their drugs and crime, their gender and cultural complaints, their pervasive, litigious sense of injustice. The goal is that, through their struggle, they will come upon a new way to live with themselves—something that, by all appearances, they find increasingly difficult to do
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© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993