Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 8 of 8

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The Final Doorway

The payoff of going through the transition from the House of the Tribe to the House of Humanity is very large. If we can make it across the painful threshold from our small but formerly comfortable dwelling space into this new and grander place, we gain an entire fascinating WORLD of people.

People to learn from, to visit, to photograph, to love, to sing to, to listen to, to argue with, to trade with, even to combine talents and efforts with, so as to accomplish great and noble tasks. The United Nations, the International Space Station and the Olympics are all House of Humanity works – absolutely impossible to accomplish in any smaller House.

Part of stepping across these metaphorical thresholds is the simple fact of outgrowing our present abode. We grow through all the available rooms of our self-absorbed childhood house until we are forced by the limited space to look for something better.

Another factor, though, is the supply of friendly guides who are already there, who convince us of the benefits and serve as role models or mentors.

Still another part of it, though, can be exterior forces that push us through. This type of transition can be decidedly un-smooth. In all too many places on our planet, we engage in dreadful activities – wars and genocide – which, because of their universality, appear to be House of Humanity works. Instead, they are the expressions of a determination not to step through a door into the next larger House. Think of a war as a defensive attempt to stay in your own tribal House. To do it by subjugating others to your way of life if you have the strength or, if you don’t, to convince them to leave you alone.

Moving out into the House of Family, we look back and discover that the House of Self is a tiny dollhouse. The House of the Tribe sheds the same sort of light on the House of Family. As we continue to grow, taking each transition in turn through these one-way doors, we look back and always find another dollhouse – a place too small for us to live in anymore.

Once we get to the House of Humanity, though, it’s hard to imagine it as a just another dollhouse. Learning to live in it is the job of lifetimes. The place is simply too big, too changeable, for us to ever really absorb it all. Surely this House must be the final one, the ultimate possibility we were born to experience. How could there be anything beyond a bustling, turbulent, creative seven-billion-member brotherhood?

I have reason to believe there is at least one more door, though.

There’s a great deal missing, even in this grandest of Houses. Having lived for all my adult years with the enormous mass of mankind around me, I’ve come to see that we in the House of Humanity are just as self-involved and self-absorbed as any of the occupants of those smaller houses. We are inward-looking and largely ignorant of what might lie outside.

More than that, nothing in the House of Humanity can account for the connection that clicked into place with Molly.

Molly was my key to this next door, but it took me more than a decade to figure out how to step through it. Even with plenty of people gone before me – through portals of compassion or ecological concern – making the transition was no small chore.

In the midst of all the wonderful things I’m discovering here in this new House, I look back and see, to my dismay, that the apparently boundless dwelling place of most of the people on the planet really is just another dollhouse. Busily engaged in the inbred affairs of the House of Humanity, most of us are unaware there is a larger space in which to adventure and learn, a place wider and more interesting than anything we’ve had – a place that will welcome us as the larger selves we could become, a place that has a real need for our human talents.

This is a House that can’t be complete without us, but that needs an “us” as we’ve never been.

The discomforts of this particular transition are stronger than any before, and the main one, as ever, is leaving behind the old. Old toys, old culture, old ways of thought. But as we take our place AMONG the other creatures of Earth rather than over them or apart from them, one of the many payoffs is a kinship, a sense of belonging, off the scale of anything we’ve ever known.

Someday I WILL write that book I spoke of earlier. I’ll tell what I’ve learned about the Big Picture, and lay out clear directions for how to get to this bigger place beyond that final door.

It will be a collection of conceptual highlights, the way-points and directional signs  that facilitated my own escape from the last dollhouse, and out into the House of Earth.

  • Dan Covill

    I like it, Hank. Especially the House of … metaphor. Each time you leave the smaller House for the next larger one, you encounter new space to expand, new challenges to your understanding, and new opportunities to grow.

    • Hank Fox

      Thank you!

  • deltmachine

    the culture industry – the ideology of death

  • Harry Fox

    Hi Hank,

    When I saw your blog, I did a double-take. “Hank Fox” is how my father was known, and this is the first time I have seen that name in many years.

    I don’t want to misrepresent myself, I am a committed Christian, and think you are probably on the wrong path. Nevertheless, I congratulate you for being concerned about spiritual issues. May you find the true path, large house or small!

    For your information, I have written a book that addresses many of the topics that you have covered in the past few years. It is on

    “CrossCurrents: Making Sense of the Christian Life” by Harry James Fox

    Jim Fo.

    • Hank Fox

      Jim: Thank you for reading! I appreciate that you made the trip here to see what those of us on the other side are writing and thinking.

      One thing to keep in mind is that atheists come in a couple of different flavors. Some are what I call Destination Atheists, who simply declare themselves unbelievers as an act of social rebellion, others are Journey Atheists, who take a long, long mental journey, THINKING about it every step of the way. I’m one of the second type. I’ve been thinking deeply about religion and its effects, but especially about its trueness, for decades.

      Some of that journey is detailed in MY book, Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist: Simple Thoughts About Reason, Gods & Faith.

      If nothing else, read the reviews. But if you DO read the book, you’ll get a look into the mind of a Journey Atheist, and see that most of what I’ve come to understand about religion and its opposite is actually very approachable.

      Another aspect that may interest you — and some of this is coming out in the writing and thinking I’m doing now on Beta Culture — is that a great deal of what people associate with their religion is not religion per se, but the CULTURE associated with their religion. The system of religious belief is only one aspect of that bigger picture.

      I have often suspected that people deeply captured by a religious lifestyle — being in the ministry, coming from ultra-conservative religious families, etc. — do have doubts about the factual accuracy of the core teachings (and what honest and intelligent person doesn’t constantly test things for their truth value?), but stay in the life because they fear the loss of their culture, the people and processes that occupy their comfortable daily lives.

      I’m sure you know there is a demographic of people in the ministry, some of whom have decades of service, who come to be convinced that everything they “know” in the field of faith is false, and who wish desperately that they could move on to something more satisfying. Most of them, having no other career skills, literally have no place to go.

      I think you’d agree that someone less than fully committed to the belief part of their religion should have the option of moving on to another career and culture, and that staying only because you had nowhere to go would be tragic both for the person so trapped and the community they ostensibly served.

      With Beta Culture, I hope to build a place not only where we unbelievers can have some of the same benefits of religious culture (without the religion itself, of course, but with a great number of added benefits which believers lack) but also a place where former believers, or believers in transition to unbelief, can make a safer and less traumatic landing.

      And yes, I’m making a broad hint here. If you ever feel the need to talk about some of these options, or if you know anyone who is thinking deeply about it, get back to me.

      • Harry Fox

        Hi Hank,
        Thanks for the long, thoughtful post. I see what you mean about the difference between the culture and the core values and beliefs of Christianity.

        In a number of countries today, Muslims seem to have more problems accepting Western culture than they do the truth claims of Christianity. The irony is that Western culture is not part of Christianity in many important ways. So there are followers of Jesus who still follow the cultural practices that we associate with Islam, and this seems to be much less of a barrier to the progress of the gospel, or good news, of Christ in these countries. I look on that with approval.

        Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful comment, which certainly rings true in many ways. Cultural Christians certainly should have the freedom to move on if that is where they wish to go. I have no problem with that at all.