Sunday, July 10, 2016

Recovering the Home as a "Microcosm"

  1. a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.

Sunday Musings from the Heartland:

As I sit here in my armchair sipping my southern-style ice tea this fine Sunday afternoon after Mass, keeping shelter from the squelching Oklahoma heat, I muse over an old philosophical subject--i.e. MICROCOSMS--I ran across reading Josef Pieper.  Or was it Jacques Maritain (scratching head)?  Can't recall at the moment.  
It was one of those modern-day classical Thomists with a knack for professional-philosophical musings on modern culture in light of Catholic philosophy.

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What's a "Microcosm"?

The concept goes something like this...within Creation, there are many local environments defined by a boundary, and that boundary makes that locale a kind of microcosm or "mini-universe."   If the Ancient Sages are correct, that local place would somehow contain all the universe inside it.  Not physically, but metaphysically.  Basically in a way that "goes beyond the physical."  The universal properties of natural things corresponding to transcendental reality, beauty, natural goodness, and created order would be found--in some sense--within each microcosm.

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Yes Joseph Ostermeir, I believe you are referring to what the Philosophers called "Transcendentals" - Sister Wendy

The Home as a Microcosm:

 A "house" becomes transformed into a "home" by what it contains.  Flowers, wall art, and interior decoration that communicates a connection with the outside World, would reflect Universal Reality.

In my opinion, Pieper (or was it Maritain?) was right.  Modern man has lost a sense of his home, work place, etc as a "microcosm."  


 a) we artificially build up the walls of our home so much that we effectively disconnect from Nature (cue the kids isolated behind internet/TV, not playing outside with neighborhood friends )

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b) we seek to "tear down walls" in pantheistic, materialistic fashion (cue modernist nuns tearing down the cloister wall to dissolve themselves in existentialist fashion into the modern mainstream).

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A Microcosm.  

But not only do our homes' walls protect us physically from the weather and intruder, they also manage to help the interior place metaphysically become a small society that reflects universal society.  The most local and smallest society, that is Father-Mother-Child reflects the body politic of government, economy, and common man.  Plants and pets in the home reflect the Kingdoms of Life on Earth. 

One mere framed and hung photo of a European village with a church in the background, could connect one beyond time and space to the World, Europe, the Christian West, etc.

Microcosms are a funny thing to me.  They're everywhere, and of all sizes.  The little area I've carved out around my armchair is a microcosm of my home --> my home is a microcosm of Oklahoma--> Oklahoma is a microcosm of the US -->the US is a microcosm of the World.  

Even the walls of a car form an interior microcosm where most of us spend hours every week.  

What if you could transform your home (or even car) into a transcendental, Catholic microcosm?  What would it look like?

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