It feels to many people as if we’re living in a Humpty-Dumpty time, when everything has gone smash. A sense of chaos and disorder permeates everything, and as you look around, there’s no longer any consensus about the most basic facts. Reality has become the clash of opposing viewpoints. When the phrase “alternative facts” first hit the media, it was met with jeers. Now it’s the definition of our troubling times.
What’s missing isn’t what people usually point to—order, tradition, solid values, and cooperation. Those things depend entirely on the real missing element, which T.S. Eliot poetically called “the still point of the turning world.” For the fact is that chaos isn’t new; disorder has threatened humanity throughout recorded history. The only way for chaos to be defeated is to have a firm foundation, something so solid, immovable, and permanent that we can build upon it. Otherwise, anything we try to build stands on sand.
A phrase like “solid foundation” sounds physical and rock-like, but Eliot understood that nothing more is needed than a fixed point. In his mind that point was God, and civilization has agreed with him. Organized religion issues articles of faith and dogma, on which an entire culture can rise. All of these proclamations of truth stem from truth with a capital T, the almighty. God is like a point because in an age of faith, God is always at the center of everything, the way a merry-go-round might have, at its very center, an invisible dot that doesn’t turn.