Caught up in a mass of abstractions, our attention hypnotised by a host of human-made technologies that only reflect us back to ourselves, it is all too easy for us to forget our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities. Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth—our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese. To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our own senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human*.
David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, p. 22 (my italics)
We are fragmented. Our lives are too busy. London is chaotic, dirty, and noisy. We don’t have the time or quiet necessary to be with You as with a lover or a deeply cherished friend. Missing this close connection we look for glimpses of You in a tree, a cloud, a smile, the vista while walking over the Thames between one interminable meeting and the next, a stripe of sunlight between the shadows of tall buildings. We relish an unexpected delight at surprising corners of creativity jammed between soulless housing, homeless beggars and refugees, and unchecked sharp force trauma to the belly of the Earth by one egotistical erection after another imposed over years of infuriating road closures and maddening jack-hammers.
God is in the city. God is everywhere. God cannot help but be in all things. Jesus is each face that we meet. Every thing is made of stardust irrupting into being 13.8bn years ago, each particle more alive with the Divine than we can possibly imagine. But our constructed environment and our city living is unGodly. I believe it does damage to our humanity.
However much creativity and life there is in the city, the day-to-day, step-by-step experience is dehumanising and damaging to life. The benefits do not come close to outweighing the disadvantages: the disconnection from the other life-forms on the Earth, the dirt, the noise, the over-population, the unceasing knocking down and building up, the many people who live in physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual poverty.
I have come to think that the city wants our destruction. Each of us is like a battery in The Matrix. Human resources.