Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why the quest for the sublime is the solution to America’s socio-economic crisis

Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33) .

If you think that the quest for the sublime is unable to solve our current socio-economic crisis, please think again.

(North Rose Window at Notre Dame Cathedral, Chartres, France, c-1235 photo- © Guillaume Piolle / public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The root cause of America’s growing socio-economic crisis is based on the fact that we have built a market economy on the premise of a colossal production that can never satisfy us. 

Purely material goods will always frustrate us since they cannot satisfy the demands of our spiritual nature; they cannot satisfy our longings for eternal goods, which ultimately find their plenitude in God Himself.

As a result, we impose the unlimited expectations of a spiritual order upon a limited material order.  In such circumstances, we can never produce enough goods since we will always be on a frantic search for fulfillment through unbridled demand fragmented in a thousand different markets.

These frustrated desires create the conditions for an economy of frenetic intemperance and our great unhappiness.

How much better it would be if we could base our economy on the
premise of our quest for the sublime. Such an economy depends much more on the quality rather than the quantity of goods produced.

It would seek to imbue our production with the beauty and perfection that our nature asks of us. It would give our economy unity, order, and purpose. It would awaken in us passionate yet temperate desires that aid us in our quest for plenitude.

There is no reason why this economy of the sublime could not also
have abundant production and development.  We differ from those who would propose downsizing or sub-consumerism as a “spiritual” solution to today’s crisis.

The very nature of an economy of the sublime tends towards the production of magnificent and grand things like the medieval cathedrals that inspire in us so much awe and wonder.

At the same time, the sublime does not despise the little marvels of artisan crafts, for example, that delight the soul by their innocent simplicity.

Today’s consumerism frustrates desires by drowning them in a sea
of materialism.  With a more focused production, the sublime could satisfy our desires by producing those things that fill us with wonder and expectation.

Such an economy would incite within us the desire to sacrifice for higher ideals.  It would turn us towards the eternal where we will feel ourselves ordered according to our nature and disposed to repose in the perfection of God Himself.


Taken from John Horvat’s new book Return to Order.  You can visit the website here:

Return to Order web site

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