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The residue of The Fall is spread by the growing stain of man upon the earth over time, invariably necessitating a moment of total destruction of all others—resulting in a new dawn, a new Golden Age…

Night is closer than day to the mystery of all beginning.—Nikolai Berdyaev

The governors of all life are space-time and human nature, which is to say that all of life is predicated upon these two concept-entities. Put another way, every question posed can invariably be answered by both space-time and human nature.

Space-time is the forum in which we act; human nature is the foundation for action. Specifically, human nature is essentially self-interested action.

The basis for all religiosity has been, is, and will be, concerned with man’s grappling with human nature—that is, religiosity is concerned with how man might overcome his nature in achieving or contributing to something greater than himself. This is the essence of man’s spiritual life: that he overcome himself.

* * *

In prehistory, man’s seed was scattered to the winds. If we share a common ancestor, it means that over time our people disagreed on this or that, or perhaps matured, determined it was in their best interest to relocate, and ultimately transposed to other realms. In this way, all culture arose from some past disagreement or maturation: The once-shared vision of past and future among compatriots became fragmented. A line was drawn in the sand, and former brothers became strangers. Through the ages, these ideological disparities manifested as physical, or ethnic, disparities; this, of course, was the result of geographical differences and breeding—or natural and artificial selection. Ethnic differences are the end result, then, of historical cultural differences.

For the majority of man’s existence, nature has deemed it necessary to compartmentalize our cultures (save graduated overlap) and, subsequently, our races.[1] In bringing us closer together than historically ever before through globalization, it seems nature has deemed it necessary to homogenize us once again. Or has it?

* * *

The majority of significant religious traditions indicate some kind of “Golden Age” at man’s inception, followed by an abrupt or gradual Fall. This Golden Age is typically understood as a time of harmony within one’s group and with Nature: Men bear no major quarrel with one another, and resources abound; it represents the golden day of a people. This likely suggests a time before cultural-ideological breaks within a community, and a time when the sparse population on earth gave man enough nomadic or agrarian quarter. If The Fall indicates a community’s first major upheaval—the twilight of day—then the spiritual goal of a community—the goal of a religion—is to bring the community back into communion with the Golden Age, back into harmony with man and Nature. Prehistory served as the foundations for all significant religious traditions. That is, prehistory represents the Golden Age of later religious traditions; cultural-ideological breaks among prehistoric societies indicate The Fall; and antiquity into modernity indicate man’s decline into further disarray—his descent into darkest night—and his desire to re-commune with his culture’s divine Golden Age.

From antiquity to now, religious traditions have defined themselves as a means to re-commune with God (or the Golden Age) and a means to understand evil (The Fall). This is only another way of saying that religious traditions have defined themselves as a means to understand human nature (The Fall, evil) and a means to overcome the self (re-commune with the Golden Age; or, implicitly, the age of communal integrity). In order to re-commune, however, a final cleansing must occur; traditions have seen this cleansing in different ways, yet most are truly apocalyptic. The residue of The Fall is spread by the growing stain of man upon the earth over time, invariably necessitating a moment of total destruction of all others—resulting in a new dawn, a new Golden Age. This Golden Age is only possible through the elimination of cultural-ideological differences—that is, differences of opinion. And the surest way to eliminate differences of opinion is to eliminate great numbers of people, which the Apocalypse traditions foretell. So though man might “fight the good fight” by overcoming his self in daily life—if his age is not apocalyptic, then his rebirth is nothing more than subjective and, thus, objectively futile; his Golden Age will exist merely in his spirit, at best.

In many of the significant religious traditions of antiquity and in those that have endured into modernity, the end times were frequently thought to be “nigh.” Paul of Tarsus was convinced his mission was to convert the Gentiles before the imminent return of Christ; John of Patmos believed the end he envisioned was soon at hand; the Hindus believe all history is a history of the final Dark Age, wherein most life will be consumed by the destroyer-creator, Hari-Hara; major strands of Judaism mark the formation of a Jewish State (Israel) as a sign of the times; Islam notes a number of modern issues as indicators, etc. In each case, the religious traditions mark several key indices of the coming Apocalypse. Historically, this final cleansing was understood to be fast approaching; yet historically, beyond his eager and destructive nature, man has not possessed the means to eliminate himself until now.

In the past, when our understanding was limited, our physical world was limited. If we step into the mindset of a spiritual seer of antiquity, we might see that the means of community destruction are certainly upon him; too, he sees the spiritual waste in his society leading to both mental and physical waste; for him, the end is truly nigh. Yet from our vantage millennia later, we see that the means for mass destruction—for true global cleansing, i.e., Apocalypse—were not available. Our seer of antiquity saw degradation and endured hardship, to be sure; but his perspective was limited to his era; his time was destined to be merely subjective overcoming, or subjectively religious. It is only modernity that grants us the technological precipice from which to view our imminent Apocalypse. For it is only modernity that offers us the globalized and “small” world; it is only modernity that offers us multiple means by which we might finally meet our long-awaited spiritual cleansing, our final conquering of the collective self.

Ultimately, what binds us to the man of prehistory and early history are life’s governors: space-time and human nature. From prehistory onwards we have awaited the final destruction our nature guarantees us; when before our former compatriots introduced their now-alien ways, nature was kind to us: Our technological scope was too small. Our nature sought to neutralize the cultural-ideological threat, but our era determined its localized reach. It is only now that we have the technological means to usher in our new Golden Age, our objective religiosity. Human nature remains constant; space-time has allowed for technological progression. This is to say that the scale is tipping.

Apocalypse is coming; human nature assures us of the who and why; space-time will soon tell us the where and when.

* * *

The aim of any people, of any culture, of any ideology, should ever be to sustain itself through the coming hardships by galvanizing a spirit of solidarity, a spirit of supremacy, and a spirit of salvific transcendence of the self for the perpetuation of the community.[2] Anything less is a guarantee of failure, a forgoing of divine re-communion, and forfeiture of the group’s future. And anything less assures our position as fodder for stronger cultures.

Berdyaev tells us that “night is closer than day to the mystery of all beginning.”[3] This is only to say that once the Golden Age has passed into twilight, the night becomes our ally, our means through which the new Golden Age might be reached. For the night of human transgression, of communal disintegration, serves as the backdrop from which we detail the light that guides us to the new dawn: as surely as God has given us day, He has also given us night; and surely as God has given us night, He, too, gives us the lightning and the sun.

The “mystery of all beginning” is prehistory. What life assures us is an end to history through Apocalypse. What clears a path and lights the way for a people back to that time before The Fall are the lightning and the sun; without the dark, our victorious salvation would not be visible.

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Notes:

[1] By “nature,” here, we understand both Nature (geography and natural forces) and human nature (selectivity).

[2] See “The Essential Triumvirate: Family, State, Self.”

[3] Nikolai Berdyaev, The End of Our Time, trans. Donald Attwater (n.p.: Semantron Press, 2009), 71.

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