After taking that trip to Paris and tromping through Marie Antoinette’s estate (isn’t one of the wonderful perks of our age that commoners can tromp through the palaces of the world?) I was inspired to read Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser. (If you haven’t yet read this excellent biography, I highly recommend it.) When I did, there were two things that struck me:
1. The world had a special something in Marie Antoinette’s age that it seemed to have lost since.
2. No matter how far back in history one looks, women seemed to get the short end of the stick.
This seemed to provide a focus for a lot of the things that had been floating around in my mind up until that point. It seemed to me that if I could come up with a theory that explained these two observations, I would have finally figured out what makes the world tick.
So I was mulling over these observations, trying to make sense of them, when I stumbled upon a book that seemed to address everything I was thinking about. In fact, it was a book published by a New Age cult that claimed humanity’s golden age was in the prehistoric period, when society was ruled by women, who are naturally the more spiritual sex. As time went on, the book argued, the world shifted from an emphasis on the spiritual to an emphasis on the material, and at the same time from matriarchy to patriarchy, and nothing has been right since.
It should be noted that at the time I read this book, I had just moved from Japan to America for a man who did not actually want to get married after all, and was perhaps feeling less than charitable towards men in general.
The book’s theory was outlandish, but it did seem to neatly fit my two observations, and besides, I was already thinking that I wanted to return to religion. So, in a dazzling display of superior intelligence and judgment, I shrugged, said, “seems legit,” and joined the cult.
Needless to say, the more I studied the cult’s beliefs, the less they seemed to align with reality. Eventually I would become very uncomfortable with it, and when I finally read in a New Age book about the importance of revealed religion (after all, if we want to know God, shouldn’t we listen to what He has to say about Himself?) I knew I couldn’t stay. I just didn’t believe it was true anymore.
But I still wasn’t aware of any other feasible explanation for my two observations. Until I started reading Catholic books, and realized:
1. The Catholic Church was a huge influence in European culture in Marie Antoinette’s time, and not so much now.
2. Women may arguably suffer more than men, but suffering can have redemptive value when united with Christ’s suffering on the cross.
There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, indeed.