Modern man has reached a “fallen” state by becoming obsessed with being when what we really need is to know who we are. We cannot learn who we are through being. Being is a kind of essence; a state of awareness or consciousness of our surroundings and our own existence; it simply is; it has noidentity. We discover who we are by learning about our ownculture, about our own society, about the history of our own people, about our ownpersonal past. To have an identity, to define ourselves, we must first put ourselves firmly in context.
Being is analogous to a radio carrier wave. Identity is the music that modulates the wave and gives it meaning. (Image: public domain)
One frigid January night in 2002, while living a hermit’s life in my draughty shack nestled beside a ten-thousand acre tree farm, I turned on the radio at 2:30 AM to catch the CBC Radio rebroadcast of Radio Australia’s “The Religion Report.” I am a manic-depressive and sometimes keep strange hours in order to manage my mood swings. Staying up late to deprive myself of sleep shifts me (like everyone else) away from depression.
The mindset of an anchorite can be useful in everyday life. (Image: public domain.)
On that particular gloomy night, I was delighted to hear Rowan Williams, the then Anglican Archbishop of Wales, do an interview about the ancient Christian concept of what it means to be a religious hermit or anchorite. Badly in need of some cheering up, the unusual topic seemed wonderfully appropriate!