William Butler Yeats wrote his famous poem, “The Second Coming,” in 1920, a time when most people assumed that what had just come to an end was “the war to end all wars,” something we now refer to as The First World War since more war would come. Yeats sensed that the then new political and cultural configurations were wildly unstable. There was no unifying principle, or cause, that could bind nations and peoples together. He seemed the prophet by suggesting anarchy and dissolution would advance in the world as the twentieth century progressed, ultimately the bloodiest century in human history.
And now as we approach the poem’s 100th anniversary in our distressed political season, see if his words still eerily capture the moment:
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
Hope often begins with the naming of truth. I think that was the poet’s intent.
And I think we followers after the way of Jesus are also meant to be truth-tellers. That is, we’re asked to see and report our circumstance clearly. That seems hard duty today. As I see it, this requires standing where Jesus stands and observing the world from his vantage point. Where you stand when you look makes a very big difference in what you see…