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For modern Westerners, nature is opaque, mute, transmits no message, and holds no key to existence. But in reality, nature reveals the supernatural; a rock is never merely a rock, or a bird just a flying machine, or a human being an animal that appears between one nothingness and another. Nature always expresses the transcendent.

We cannot go home again to the cozy, ancient cosmos, where the night sky displayed the transcendent and Mother Earth manifested harmony and fecundity. Nor can we undo scientific knowledge; we live on a tiny planet, orbiting an ordinary star, near the edge of an ordinary galaxy that contains at least two hundred billion stars, in a universe with more than a hundred billion galaxies.

Still, over the past one hundred years many conservative philosophers and theologians have tried to reject the Newtonian Cosmos and return to an Aristotelian understanding of nature. Such thinkers rightly point to the inherent flaws in the methodology of modern science, such as reductionism—the whole is merely the sum of its parts—and the absence of final causes—no purpose in organisms.

The Death of Nature

A friend of mine, Robert Ross, is committed to the re-discovery of nature, by which he means first reconciling modern science with Aristotelian philosophy and then with Thomistic theology. One day in a casual conversation, I asked him if his feet ever went off the paved walkway we were standing on and ventured into the surrounding, dark New Hampshire woods.

“No,” he replied, “I have no interest in that. Besides I have no idea how to go into the woods.”

Yet, Robert would defend to his dying day the fundamental principle of Aristotle’s philosophy of nature: Every action in nature aims at an end, whether it is a falling rock or a sprouting petunia seed. “Without looking carefully at nature,” I asked, “how do you know everything in nature aims at an end?”

“Isn’t it obvious,” he answered. “How could it be otherwise?”

What was immediately obvious to me was that despite his claim to be an Aristotelian, my friend, like the rest of us, was trapped in the modern world, where philosophy, politics, and art are founded on ideas, not direct experience. For Robert, nature was found in Aristotle’s Physica and to some extent in the poetry of Robert Frost, but not by venturing into the deep New Hampshire woods as Frost did. The more I thought about his attitude I saw a kind of crazy correctness to it. Robert recognized that modern science and technology no longer allow a direct contact with nature. He frequently told me that we need mediators and constantly extolled the insights of his favorite nature poet, Annie Dillard.

In her book, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, Dillard reports on her visit to the Galapagos Islands. She followed in the steps of the great master, Charles Darwin, much the way Japanese haikuists traveled to places that inspired earlier poets, hoping that they might also be inspired. For classical Japanese poets, nature was admired through the poetry of the past Masters. Following in the footsteps of Darwin, Dillard lugged in her head ideas from On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and the cosmological theories of Georges Henri Lemaître and George Gamow. Not surprisingly, she returned from her encounters with nature in the Galapagos to tell us, “The silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega.”[1]

I live in Northern New Mexico, where at sunset a golden light envelops the high desert; the adobe buildings glow with the richness of polished gold and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with the deep red of blood. Artists Ernest L. Blumenschein and Bert G. Phillips settled in Taos in 1898; since then the extraordinary light, the sparseness of the high desert, and the clarity of the air have drawn thousands of painters and photographers to Taos and Santa Fe. A painter friend of mine, Ronnie Lawrence, is known for his huge landscape canvases. I was shocked to discover how he works. He treks into a remote area and takes numerous shots with his digital camera; then, back in his studio, he paints eight hours a day, rendering four-by-six photos of narrow canyons and expansive deserts into oil paintings. The last plein-air painter I knew was Tommy Maccione, a lovable character from old Santa Fe; El Diferente died thirty years ago at the age of eighty-two.

Physicist Werner Heisenberg asserts that the artificial world created by science and technology has expanded to such an extent that “for the first time in the course of history, man on earth faces only himself.”[2] In this artificial world, nature is encountered through science, not direct experience. For most of us, nature has already disappeared, replaced by textbooks and television images. Nor do the rhythms of nature govern our lives. Because of electric lighting our day is ordered by the clock, not by sunrise and sunset. In the dead of winter, we buy blueberries flown in from Peru and Christmas flowers grown in Columbia.

Andy Warhol, arguably the first artist to portray the new reality most of us inhabit, silk-screened Campbell soup cans and portraits of Marilyn Monroe to show us our world, images of products that include movie idols, rock stars, and sports figures. Literary critic Sven Birkerts likens digital cameras, cable TV, and the World Wide Web to a “soft and pliable mesh woven from invisible thread” that covers everything. “The so-called natural world,” he writes, “the place we used to live, which served us so long as the yardstick for all measurements can now only be perceived through scrim. Nature was then; this is now.”[3]

For modern Westerners, nature is opaque, mute, transmits no message, and holds no key to existence. In contrast, Fortuna, an old Indian woman from the San Ildefonso Pueblo, repeatedly told me that nature reveals the supernatural; a rock is never merely a rock, or a bird just a flying machine, or a human being an animal that appears between one nothingness and another. Nature always expresses the transcendent.

My guess is that Fortuna’s experience of nature is much closer to Aristotle’s than to either Robert Ross’s or mine. Thus, in the twenty-first century the endeavor by neo-Aristotelians to rediscover nature is hopeless; the attempt to restart philosophy by an appeal to some common, to some supposedly uncorrupted, pure experience of nature found in ancient texts is doomed.

Fortuna and Los Alamos

I headed north on US 285 to a place near Los Alamos that Fortuna wanted me to visit. The place, once sacred to the Indians, was on top of a mesa, where she told me “the spirits move between the sky and the earth.”

Fortuna was more than an acquaintance. Three weeks after I arrived at Los Alamos National Laboratory on a post-doc in the theoretical physics division, a friend called to ask if I would hire Fortuna to clean the small two-bedroom apartment I rented from the government. I laughed. The smallness of the apartment made such a proposition ludicrous. My friend told me that the woman needed money, and I said that is a different situation, so I hired Fortuna.

The first Wednesday she showed up for “work,” I made sure that I was there to  meet her. I found out she had not had lunch, so my wife, Ann, made her a ham and cheese sandwich and to my surprise, Fortuna requested a glass of milk. Later, Ann, a registered nurse, explained to me that Fortuna must have been taught to drink milk because tuberculosis was rampant amongst the Indians when she was a child.

After that day, Fortuna always ate lunch with us on Wednesdays, and afterwards she “worked,” mainly playing with Tanya, my only daughter at the time. Sometimes, Fortuna insisted on cleaning something, which I allowed but did not like, since she must have been at least seventy.

During our lunches, Tanya usually napped, and the three of us, Ann, Fortuna, and I, would sit in silence. At first, Ann and I were uncomfortable by Fortuna’s silence, but we learned not to babble to fill in the silence. When Fortuna had something to say, she spoke; otherwise, she was silent.

I am not sure why, but Fortuna took a liking to us three Blue Eyes.[4] Several times a year, she gave Ann and Tanya old Indian jewelry and me pots made in the style of María Martínez by a relative on the San Ildefonso Pueblo. As much as I prized the black-on-black pottery, what I really appreciated was Fortuna teaching me how to sit still and be quiet, although I was far from a perfect pupil and by no means did I ever master silence.

I turned off US 285 and headed on New Mexico Route 502 toward Los Alamos. About five miles up the road, I drove past the road to the San Ildefonso Pueblo and crossed the Rio Grande at Otowi, the place where Edith Warner, a thin, boyish woman around fifty, ran a teahouse that scientists from the Manhattan Project visited.[5] Shortly after the government took over the Los Alamos Ranch School for Boys, scientists started to arrive in Los Alamos. J. R. Oppenheimer, the first director of Laboratory and the science head of the Manhattan Project, persuaded the military authorities to let small groups of scientists to come down from the Hill for dinner at Edith’s tearoom. Everyone sat at one long, hand-carved wooden table set in the center of the dining room. With minor variations, Edith served one basic dinner, a beef or lamb stew, posole, lettuce, fresh bread, a sweet tomato relish, watermelon pickle, and her specialty, a rich, moist chocolate cake, loved by Fermi and Oppenheimer.

The Indian word “otowi” means the place where the water makes noise. All equipment and materials to build the atomic bomb at Los Alamos crossed the ten-foot wide Otowi Bridge next to Edith Warner’s teahouse. After the war, a new two-lane bridge was constructed upstream, forcing Edith to move a half mile away, up a canyon south of the old bridge.

Just before the road begins to steeply wind up to the Atomic City, I turned left toward Bandelier National Monument, a national park with steep narrow canyons and ancient Indian ruins. After the sudden and mysterious collapse of the Anasazi civilizations at Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon around 1300, the Anasazi built smaller settlements in Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier and on the surrounding mesas, only to abandon them in the 1500s.

Two miles farther, I drove past the Tsankawi ruins, believed by the San Ildefonso to be one of their ancestral homes. I continued up the road a few hundred yards more and then turned right onto the truck road to Los Alamos. I drove on the truck route for a mile, pulled off on the shoulder of the road, and parked the Jeep.

Through the driver’s window, I saw on the other side of the road an opening in a government, barbed-wired fence that ran for miles in both directions. Beyond the fence were sparse desert grasses, some taller than others, and beyond the grasses a typical New Mexico woods of piñon and juniper trees.

I got out of the Jeep and put on a daypack that contained my lunch and water bottle. I crossed the road. Once I was through the opening in the fence, I saw a little used trail that I followed. The trail ran through sandy patches bordered by mountain mahogany and scrub oak bushes no taller than three feet. Soon, the trail began to climb and become rockier.

All the surrounding land and mesas were compacted beige and white layers of fallen ash from the million-year-old Jemez volcano, now extinct. The rock made up of very small volcanic fragments compacted together is called “tuff” by geologists. The ancient pueblo inhabitants dug caves into the soft tuff at the base of cliffs and extended their dwellings with walls made from loose stones, mortared together with mud. Only traces of the dwellings remained, blackened caves and fragments of the collapsed walls; the roof timbers must have been used for firewood years before.

After I climbed four or five hundred feet in elevation, the trail leveled off. In the middle of the trail, I came across a rectangular pit three feet deep that hundreds of years before Indians dug as a trap to catch small animals. I knew I was on the right trail; Fortuna gave me the pit as a landmark.

I recalled that once Fortuna invited my wife and me to a dance at the San Ildefonso Pueblo. At the beginning of the ancient ritual, the Hunters with sprays of evergreen at wrist and knee, stood in a line opposite the Hunted, stripped to their waists and painted with symbols, and wearing headdresses of green twigs and horn. Fortuna explained to us that the Hunters renounced enmity toward all animals and begged the Hunted to sacrifice their lives, so human beings could continue living.

I walked around the animal trap. The trail soon descended along a cliff. A few moments later, I stopped in front of a cave with an iron grillwork permanently attached across the entrance to prevent vandalism of the extremely well-preserved petroglyphs inside. Hundreds of years ago, the inhabitants of the cave had blackened its walls from fires used for cooking and for heat in the winter. Later, the inhabitants scraped away parts of the blackened walls to form white-on-black petroglyphs of animals that looked like goats, a stick figure of a man throwing a spear, and wavy lines. Later, I would see numerous petroglyphs carved in the rock walls, the most striking were a Kokopelli (a stick figure of a man playing a flute and dancing) and spirals, most likely having astronomical significance.

The trail rose and fell in elevation and crossed several sandy arroyos. I varied the speed at which I walked; slower up inclines, faster on the straightaways but not as fast on the descents. As I walked, I expended the same amount of energy, not unlike a flowing river that gives up its energy in the most uniform manner as possible. Instinctively, or perhaps consciously, I adhered to that great principle found in all nature: accomplish the end with the least amount of work.

Here and there, I saw rocks with patches of rough-textured lichens; the sea foam greens predominated over the bright yellows. A lichen is a successful alliance between a fungus and an alga. In a beautiful symbiotic relationship, the alga uses sunlight to make sugar that feeds itself and the fungus, while the fungus creates a body that houses both organisms. The natural cooperation of the alga and the fungus slowly breaks down the rock into tiny amounts of humus, permitting mosses and higher plants to obtain a foothold. In a real sense, lichens are rugged pioneers, creating soil for more complex organisms.

For the fun of it, I often tried to think outside the box. In this case, I questioned whether nature was red in tooth and claw, that in the words of Alfred R. Wallace, the co-discoverer of natural selection, animals and plants were locked in “a struggle for existence, in which the weakest and least perfectly organized must always succumb.”[6] The lichens seemed to say otherwise. I saw no good reason to think that organisms were like men competing for a prize, where only one man, or a group of those allied against others, could win the prize.

I knew that Darwin would admonish me for my naiveté. He would tell me that I saw merely the “face of nature bright with gladness,”[7] not that life constantly destroys life. For Darwin, death is more important than life, for death is the source of all successful life. In natural selection—in the struggle for life—the advantaged are promoted by the death of the disadvantaged, and in this way, new organisms appear and old ones perfected.

Darwin would tell me, on the surface, nature appears beautiful, good, and peaceful, but beneath this idyllic face lies a ruthless struggle between opposing forces: “All nature is at war, one organism with another, or with external nature. Seeing the contented face of nature, this may at first well be doubted; but reflection will inevitably prove it to be true.”[8] Unless this universal struggle be “thoroughly engrained in the mind,”[9] the “face of nature bright in gladness” will seduce you, and you will not see that the source of all life is death. Beauty, goodness, and tranquility are illusions painted on the face of nature; the underlying reality is death.

I wondered what Darwin would think of the San Ildefonso Indians. Fortuna once told me, “If, when we dance, our hearts are right, the rain will come, and the drought will end.” Like any good Westerner, not just a scientist, I did not believe that magic could control the forces of nature; however, an ancient, almost forgotten, thread in Western culture held that if human beings brought their lives into harmony with nature, they would be happy. But in a Darwinian world, to act in harmony with the deepest aspects of nature means to align oneself with self-interest, war, and ultimately death.

Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t realize the trail had branched to the right. Soon, I reached a canyon wall, with the mesa four or five hundred feet above me. I started up, walking along a path so traveled by moccasined feet that grooves were worn into the tuff, in most places a foot deep and in one place hip high.

On top of the mesa, I heard sporadic gunfire and walked west, not following any trail, and came across a series of Indian ruins, buildings that had collapsed hundreds of years ago, now only strewn rock and fallen-in kivas, the underground rooms that the pueblo men used for religious rites. Although I knew it was illegal, I pocketed a potshard, an irregular two-inch-square, gray piece with narrow black stripes.

I walked on until I saw Laboratory buildings in the distance and beneath me a shooting range next to the truck route to Los Alamos. The shots I had heard must have come from security guards practicing with their weapons.

My feet stood on the ruins of an ancient people living in harmony with the cosmos and my eyes surveyed a modern civilization built upon the control of nature. Francis Bacon and René Descartes, the principal architects of the modern scientific worldview, imagined a glorious future for humans after they “render [them]selves masters and possessors of nature;”[10] however, the ever-ascending arc of science and technology turned out to be not under human control. Physicists, neuroscientists, and computer and genetic engineers are the new sorcerer’s apprentices, having summoned great forces that they now cannot either control or banish. Science and technology became the masters and possessors of us. No one knows how molecular nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and artificial intelligence will transform human life, not the engineers at M.I.T., the geneticists at Stanford, or the computer scientists in Silicon Valley. Perhaps the ever-ascending arc of science and technology is headed to superintelligence, maybe to a thermonuclear war that annihilates humankind, or possibly to a severe climate change that destroys Homo sapiens and most other animals.

The chasm between where my feet stood and what my eyes saw probably could never be bridged. I wondered if some day, five or six hundred years from now, some person would stand on the ruins of Los Alamos, pick up broken pieces of plastic and small lengths of copper wire and wonder about the people who created such a civilization, maybe comparing them to the Aztecs and their human sacrifices to long forgotten gods.

I turned back and walked to the edge of the opposite canyon wall, the one I had climbed up. I found the sacred place, where Fortuna said the spirits move between the sky and the earth. The San Ildefonso Indians believe that each stone, bush, and tree is alive with a spirit, something like what the ancient Chinese called ch’i.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to be angry with myself for following the whims of an old Indian woman.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, I had become bewildered by the hideousness of nuclear weapons and the nice guys who built them. I could not reconcile Hiroshima and the beauty of physics, nor could anyone else at Los Alamos. I heard Hans Bethe, the head of the theoretical physics division of Laboratory during World War II, ask publicly in his slow and thoughtful way, “You may well ask why people with a kind heart and humanist feelings, why they would go and work on weapons of mass destruction.”[11] I never heard his answer, and I do not know if he ever gave one.[12]

In addition, Los Alamos brought out my own personal demons. In some strange, ultimate sense, human life never made any sense to me. To me, a person showed up here on Earth, walked around a bit, and then disappeared with no apparent purpose being served. In graduate school, what kept me going was Jack Daniel’s, romance, and quantum mechanics, my version of wine, women, and song; still, I would periodically spiral out of control, headed for a dark abyss.

So, I decided to take what I thought would be a temporary excursion in the humanities by fleeing the Laboratory for the Destruction of Humankind to what I took to be its antidote, the co-teaching of seminars on the Great Books at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Five years later, living in Santa Fe, at night from the deck of my house in the Sangre de Cristos, I would look out across the Rio Grande valley and see the lights of Los Alamos beckoning me back, while four miles to the south of my house and at fifteen hundred feet lower elevation lay St. John’s College. It was a straight shot from Bacon and Newton to Los Alamos and Hiroshima. Science ended up subservient to a recently born idol—the Nation-State and its military-industrial complex. In contrast, St. John’s College aimed to restore the Western tradition, a seemingly impossible mission. Nevertheless, I continued to struggle with tutors and students in conversation about ancient and modern texts to free ourselves from the dead end of Modernity and to embrace the eternality of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.

I undid the straps of my daypack and set it on the ground.

I could hear Fortuna admonish me, “No clock time here.” I took off my watch and placed it out of view on the ground next to my pack.

I looked at the small valley below me. Soon, I felt as if I were the only person in the world. A faint breeze brushed my face; nearby I heard songbirds and far away the hoarse, baritone croaks of ravens. Before long, two ravens flew high overhead and disappeared into the distance.

I wondered what it was like to live here five hundred years ago. A former colleague of mine in T-Division claimed the ancient Indians and present-day theoretical physicists were essentially the same; both were IGUSs, information gathering and utilizing systems, searching for patterns in nature, the crucial difference being that modern scientists have better ways to gather information. On a blackboard, he showed me the cosmology of the ancient pueblo peoples. Each of the six directions, North, South, East, West, Up, and Down, was assigned its own color, bird, snake, shell, and tree. Each person in the tribe was assigned to one of three levels of spiritual attainment. At the bottom were the Dry Food People, excluded from the inner secrets of the religion; at the middle level were Towa é, the earthly representatives of the two sacred twins who discovered the four magic mountains; at the top were the Made People, the keepers of the religion.[13] The complexity of the diagram on the blackboard made my head spin. When my colleague told me the consequences of the cosmology that he had merely sketched were exceedingly complicated, I told him to go no further. For, I was skeptical that the only significant thing the Indians had to teach Blue Eyes was an outdated cosmology.

I guessed that in some ways the present-day San Ildefonso Pueblo and that of five-hundred-years ago differed little. Fortuna, over many lunch conversations, told me about the child-rearing practices of the Pueblo when she grew up. A child was never separated or isolated from the group. From the day of Fortuna’s birth, many arms comforted her, many faces smiled at her, and at a very early age bits of food chewed by various members of the family were placed in her mouth. Fortuna was not put in a room by herself and told to go to sleep; every room was crowded by sleepers of all ages. She was in no way forced to find satisfactions within herself; rather, her household and clan group provided for all her needs.[14]

Fortuna told me that when she was a young woman, Edith Warner baffled everyone at the Pueblo by living alone at Otowi Crossing. How anyone could live alone was a mystery to them. A San Ildefonso Indian is always part of a community; prayers, dances, farming, and dining, all are communal activities. When “alone” in nature, a Pueblo member lives in community with earth and sky, plants and animals. The world teems with life and wisdom; no complete solitude exists for a San Ildefonso.

Once while holding my sleeping daughter Tanya on her lap, Fortuna briefly recounted the story of Tilano, a man held up to the children by the elders to warn them about what happens when a San Ildefonso adopts the Anglo ways.[15] One summer, Tilano and several of his friends went to Coney Island to perform their dances for money. From there, they traveled to London, Paris, Berlin, and Rome. Eventually, Tilano drifted back to the Pueblo, a changed man. Years spent with Blue Eyes made him rootless; his long absence from the Pueblo’s communal life turned him into an individual. He now knew loneliness, which, like an Anglo, he tried to cure with drink. Not until he met, and later lived with Edith Warner, as a brother with a sister, did he feel security and peace in his heart again; then, the urge to drink disappeared. For the San Ildefonso, to exist is to exist in relationship to nature, to others, to tradition, and to the spirit world. For a Pueblo member to cut himself off from any of these realms would diminish him. To sever all ties with the whole would result in the loss of identity and death.

I heard Fortuna’s voice reprimanding me, “You have not been silent.”

I laughed out loud, and suddenly realized I had been carrying on an interior monologue, like I always did when alone, and often with others. This time my monologue was focused, instead of insanely jumping from one topic to another, like a monkey swinging from one tree to the next in a tropical forest. I answered Fortuna’s imagined voice: “Guilty as charged.”

I tried to be truly silent. After a few seconds, however, my infernal interior voice started up. My monkey mind leaped from tree to tree with only the briefest periods of silence, while in the air. Instead of trying to take in the whole surrounding landscape of volcanic rock, piñon and juniper trees, and desert grasses and cacti, I turned in my sitting position to focus my attention on a small juniper tree three feet away. Because of the intense sunlight, the green needles, the blue berries, and the ridges of grey-brown trunk stood out with an amazing clarity. My breathing slowed, and my brief periods of silence increased in duration. In some crazy way, I saw a juniper tree for the first time; in a way I did not understand, I felt one with the tree, or rather, as if the tree were part of me. I looked at the surrounding landscape, and my interior babble began again, but at least I could understand with my mind, if not through direct experience, the Hindu scripture “Thou Art That.”[16]

I had all the interior silence I could take for one day. My mind drifted to pondering the connection between the desert and the spiritual life. In the Western world, religion and philosophy began in the deserts of the Middle East and Greece, respectively. In the desert, because of the sparsity of life, a person could encounter a single rock, a single plant, or a single animal, and in that encounter, a person encountered himself and discovered that he was meant to behold the beauty of the world around him. Furthermore, in that beholding, he was in some mysterious way connected to a higher spiritual being.

I no longer knew if my former colleagues at Los Alamos and I were the lost ones, or if we were the brightest and the best—the enlightened ones, as my fellow scientists believed—leading humanity to a glorious future. I did know that I like everyone else in the modern world had been trained to believe the interior world, our fleeting experiences of transcendent beauty and eternal peace, had no significance beyond our private selves. The ideas stuffed in my head by culture contradicted the motions of my heart.

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1 Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), p. 94.

2 Heisenberg, “The Representation of Nature in Contemporary Physics,” Daedulus, 87 (no. 3): 104.

3 Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Boston: Farber and Farber, 1994), p. 120.

4 In New Mexico, there are three cultures, Indian, Spanish, and Anglo. Indian is not a pejorative term. In times past, Indians called Anglos “Blue Eyes,” because no Indian had blue eyes.

5 See Peggy Pond Church, The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1973), p. 90.

6 Alfred R. Wallace, “The Linnean Society Papers,” in Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition, ed. Philip Appleman (New York: Norton, 1970), p. 92.

7 Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1st edition (London: Murray, 1859), p. 62.

8 Charles Darwin, “The Linnean Society Papers,” p. 83.

9 Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, p. 62.

10 René Descartes, Discourse on Method in The Philosophical Works of Descartes, trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), Vol. I, Part VI.

11 Hans Bethe, interview, Day after Trinity (Pyramid Film & Video, 1981), Director Jon Else, DVD.

12 I recently learned that on the fiftieth anniversary of Hiroshima, in 1995, Bethe went to Los Alamos to convince scientists there not to work on further improvements of nuclear weapons. Afterwards, he called “on all scientists in all countries to cease and desist from work creating, developing, improving, and manufacturing further nuclear weapons—and, for that matter, other weapons of potential mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons.” His statement in full is quoted by Silvan S. Schweber, In the Shadow of the Bomb (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), p. 171.

 13 See George Johnson, Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order (New York: Vintage, 1996), pp. 185-186.

14 See Dorthy Eggan, “Instruction and Affect in Hopi Cultural Continuity,” in From Child to Adult: Studies in the Anthropology of Education, ed. John Middleton (Garden City: Natural History Press, 1970), pp. 117- 118.

15 Church, pp. 54-57.

16 The Upanishads, trans. Juan Mascaró (Baltimore: Penguin, 1965), p. 117.

Editor’s Note: The featured image is a detail of a photograph from Unsplash.

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1 reply to this post
  1. Having spent eight years in northern New Mexico, many of your descriptions brought ancient mental images to life. Thank you for those.

    It would be “interesting” to observe a conversation between St. Thomas Aquinas and your friend Fortuna. St. Thomas said God is Being, Being Itself, Ground of Being. Not that God IS the Universe, but that God is that which sustains the Universe, the foundation of All (Assuming I even understood what he was saying there.) If so, that means that God is closer to us than the cells of our body, closer than the atoms that make us up, and not only for humans, but for everything that exists 14.5 billion light-years in every direction from HERE. (The estimated size of the Universe — at least, last week.)

    The important thing for me is, if God is Ground of Being, that means there is connection with ALL that IS. We are not, never can be, truly isolated and alone. And if God exists in Eternity as well as Time, we also have connection with all that ever Was, and all that ever Will Be. (And Burke had a glimmer of this notion, perhaps.)

    It boggles my mind. Maybe not so much for others.

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