For those agrarian minded folk who are looking for a deeper explanation of life than what is commonly found in eschatological literature, I highly suggest Owen Barfield’s “Eager Spring.”
In fact, there have been times when I wanted to scream at the typical Christian author: “I want to FEEL LIFE…not just TALK ABOUT IT!”
Ours is a world of abstracted meaning, where blood-bonds and organic ties to nature are poetic non-realities policed by the apologist. Perhaps children and a few women are allowed to roam the garden, but men; us manly, Christian men; we are destined for the dry halls of abstracted intellectualism. Our God is one to be systematically dissected and examined. Woe to the man who feels!
In this sort of blood-less world, families are intellectual organizations held together by fiat declaration. The extended family doesn’t exist unless it exists within the realm of abstracted unity; unity between individuals concerning political or religious ideals.
I can literally find no reason to live here.
Nietzsche says of this world that God (within it) is dead, and thus, man must forge his own meaning. He must thrust his desires upon reality. Dostoevsky observes similarly: “if God is dead, then ANYTHING is possible!” This is the world of abstracted intellectualism…devoid of ANY transcendent meaning.
There literally is nothing to live for other than arbitrary ends…
No Christian can accept this! It is at THIS point where our regenerated hearts cry out; “NO FURTHER!” We have to shout at the abstracted Christian intellectuals: “STOP!”
But what can we say after “stop?”
Owen Barfield artfully presents a suggestion:
The story line of Eager Spring is simple. Maybe too simple for the abstracted zombie? A romantically involved college couple meet some old guy near their college campus. He is intent on planting acorns and the couple form a relationship with him. This relationship effects the couple differently, and life eventually drives them apart. The woman (Virginia) becomes an environmental activist and falls sick after handling harmful chemicals. While sick, she writes a story. The end. So what?
This is where the Christian heart yells: “STOP!”
The story is really about Virginia’s (Vi for short) intellectual journey towards a realization of ultimate meaning in life! She stumbles onto the tie between her life and the Earth…her place in the cycle of good and evil.
Eager Spring is more than just a story about a couple. It is a presentation of Barfield’s theory about human history and our place as individuals within it. It’s a story about the constant struggle between good and evil, and how the forces of good are seeking a return to the Earth. Replenishment. Life. And how the forces of evil are seeking abuse, rape, and death.
Vi is changed from her path after touching the transcendent! A meteor from outside her experience arrives and enables her to battle the forces of evil! (This is especially clarified in the last third of the book when we finally read Vi’s work of fiction…a work that characterizes and presents, through allegory, Barfield’s view.)
While not as profoundly Christian as I would like, Barfield is asking the right questions and presents an eschatological structure whereby our tie to kin and nature could be coherently articulated within a Biblical framework.
This book gets a 5 out of a possible 5 stars on the Shotgun book scale. Barfield’s deep thoughts promise to influence my writing for years to come.