Spirituality - A Modern Day Interpretation
Thou Shalt Love – A revised account of the Ten Commandments
Thou shalt love. The phrase wafted across the mountain top, swirled gently, once, and settled itself deeply in her conscious and unconscious mind. ‘I think I know what that means,’ Rosie whispered to herself. But she was only halfway there. The rest of the world wasn’t even close.
It seems the Ten Commandments have hit the headlines again. Whilst Alain de Botton, founder of the School of Life and modern day philosopher, announced his ‘Ten Commandments for virtuous atheists’, deemed ten worthy concepts relevant to our contemporary world, Margaret Hepworth, author of the powerful and evocative novel, Clarity in Time: A Philosophical and Psychological Journey, has reduced the ten to one: Thou Shalt Love.
Hepworth’s fictionalised account of the story of Moses climbing the holy mountain of Sinai is but one chapter sitting within a broader narrative set in contemporary Melbourne, where a young woman, Rosie O’Dea, is on a search for self. How can I be true to myself when I don’t know who I really am? How so the relevance and connection between Moses’ world of 3,000 years ago and Rosie O’Dea’s world – our world?
Hepworth argues that that the Ten Commandments of Biblical scripture require re-addressing on a number of different levels. Are we really living them? Thou Shalt not Kill? Thou Shalt not steal? Thou shalt not, not, not…A quick glance at newspaper headlines on any given day will reveal the sad truth lying in the answer to this question.
Part of the answer may also unfold in an examination of the Reactance Theory. We all know the minute we read that part in a story that says- you can go anywhere in the house but you must never open that door. C’mon, it’s an invitation – almost an instruction to open the door! Who could not turn that handle and peer into the darkness beyond? The minute we tell ourselves ‘I’m going on a diet…don’t eat the chocolate cake,’ what is the first thing we crave and most probably dive into, two eager hands scooping that cake towards our mouths.
Perhaps the ‘Shalt nots’ should be re-framed into a positive affirmation. And the easiest way to do that is to create one very simple ‘Thou Shalt’…’Thou Shalt Love.’
Simple! Or is it? If it were really that easy then wouldn’t we all be holding hands and dancing our way around the globe, not pausing to stop and peer behind the curtain veiling certain countries or certain dark laneways and scuttle quickly away?
In other words, we have to take action, make an active commitment. As Barack Obama recently and courageously said in his 2013 inaugural address, if we say that all people are created equally, then we must live by it.
For some, Hepworth’s account of the Biblical story will be refreshing; for others perhaps a little confronting. For all, most certainly a talking point.
Both de Botton and Hepworth are seeking change in our world, both through an exploration of how humans think and behave. Both are seeking to “ignite vital conversation.” (de Botton 2013) Both consider people’s attitudes towards each other, to other creatures and indeed to the planet as a key ingredient in our quest to move forward and make this world a better place. Perhaps a point of difference is Hepworth’s belief in God. “Not the ‘old man on the throne God’. I believe in God as an essence, an energy; god as natural energy; immanence and transcendence. The ‘intangible something’ that co-exists within us and beyond us. Call it what you like. Some call it the collective human consciousness. Margot McKinnon author of The Exquisiteness of Being Human calls it The Force of Oneness.
De Botton’s London based School of life has recently opened its second campus, here in Melbourne, and Hepworth will be in attendance. She says she is looking forward to participating in workshops and discussions taking place there; “a meeting of minds.”
“And finally,” she adds, “right here and now, we have the ability to be the most cooperative of all the generations of humanity over time.” Her maxim: hope in action.
Clarity in Time- a Philosophical and Psychological Journey can be found on www.amazon.com or ordered through your local bookseller.
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Author / Educator
Clarity in Time
Creator: Voices Beyond the Classroom