A light shines in the darkness: a cliché, but with good reason. Yes, lights can mislead, like the light over at the Frankenstein place. And the Angel of Light is the Devil’s favourite disguise. But light itself cannot be bad. It gives sight and warmth, it is what makes existence possible and comprehensible. Without the light there is neither life nor meaning.
But to see the light more clearly, sometimes you have to enter the dark. And when you see the light at its brightest, its intensity can blind you. Touch the edge of your spiritual and intellectual limits, and the night becomes as day.
We live in an age of darkness and of chaos, of relativism, utilitarianism, and materialism. An age where the light is either so dim that our eyes grow pale and mistake the shadows on the wall for reality, or refracted into such a panoply that we chase a myriad rainbows, but never find the leprechaun or the pot of gold at the end. An age of misinformation where meaning is lost and existence threatened.
My aim is to retrace the ancient paths that we have lost, either by accident or by bulldozer.
Like the advocates of the Benedict Option, I think we need to deepen our connection with God through a deepening of prayer and the preservation and recovery of ancient wisdom. But I want to go further. It is not only Christian tradition that the technocratic forces of modernity have done their best to demolish. All over the world, people are being converted from the ancient religious and philosophical traditions which have sustained their families, tribes and nations for centuries, into the atomising individualism of consumer capitalism or the forced collectivism of Communism – both of which are historically speaking, products of Western deviation from Christianity, or perhaps exaggerations of certain of its facets.
So while I am a traditional, orthodox Christian, I also explore non-Christian traditions. Christians have more in common with Buddhists, Muslims or Shinto adherents than with secular atheists. We face the same onslaught of homogenising technocracy. Its masters want to eliminate all difference and all opposition. Our religious traditions are the only obstacles it faces, and the longer it can divide us and privatise our beliefs, the more likely it will conquer. We need to find our common roots and share our strengths.
I’m Fr Thomas Plant, an Anglican priest in Tokyo, Fellow of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Platonism with expertise in comparative theology and Japanese Buddhism, and author of various popular articles, academic papers and books, including The Lost Way to the Good (Angelico Press, 2021). An acolyte of Pseudo-Dionysius, of the 20th century theological ressourcement movement, and of the Inklings, I advocate a sacramental, liturgical metaphysics which touches upon practical spiritual and political concerns.
I hope that my writings might inspire you to join the quest to unveil the light of God’s goodness hidden in the dark, and so to re-enchant our world.
“Reading Tom Plant’s The Lost Way to the Good is like drinking from a stream: fresh, clear, thirst-quenching.”
DR STEPHEN J. BLACKWOOD, founder of Ralston College
Thomas Plant has written a timely, profound, and trenchant work. He writes with admirable verve, eloquence, and scholarly precision: this is an important book.
DOUGLAS HEDLEY, Director of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Platonism
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