‘In the late Modern and Postmodern periods we have become acutely aware of the Empty transience of all existence and of ourselves. We have lost the old belief in a timeless Real World beyond the world of everyday appearances, and it is now very common for people to suffer from severe time-dread and fear of death. For such people, the Fountain may be an efficacious religious symbol. It is nothing but a formless rush of events, pouring out and passing away continuously: but when it is seen from a distance it becomes still, and appears as a soothing symbol of life, healing and respose. So much is this so that in many parts of the world a fountain is the central design feature both of a city and a square, and of a paradise garden, whether it be a cemetery or a pleasure-garden….
‘It can teach us as individual moral agents to live generously, by pouring ourselves out continuously into expression. We should go with the flow of life. We should try to live purely affirmatively, without any recoiling or revulsion or other ‘reactive’ or negative emotions. We should totally reject the popular spirituality of introversion, by which we spend much of our lives recollecting ourselves, looking within, and seeking to purify our own supposedly immortal souls. I have no soul: I am not a substance, and there is no real me. There is only what I am able, rather uncertainly, to make of myself as I go along, and what you can make of me: that is, I am only a stream of events, a process in time, and all ideas of me are only interpretations of that process, or bits of it.’
Don Cupitt, The Fountain: A Secular Theology
All things considered I don’t quite go along with that: I’m something of a standard issue Christian Platonist – I do think there is something beyond the flow of appearance. But I have appreciated and enjoyed Don Cupitt’s writing for many years now. He continues to turn out a book every year or so, well into his eighth decade, continually refining his non-realist theology, a kind of post-modern quicksilver Buddhism that inverts traditional Christian metaphysics. I particularly enjoyed his most recent book, The Fountain, which makes wonderfully creative use of that image as a unifying symbol for his philosophy. I find it a rich, and in some moods, profoundly consoling vision.
3 thoughts on “The Fountain”
Really interesting concept and passage. I found myself thinking ‘I don’t agree with Don Cupit’ just as I scrolled to see you say the same. It’s fascinating how in the very disagreement, the passage still provides much for helpful reflection and though. Thanks.
Yes, I think he’s one of those who really makes you think carefully about what you believe and why. His latest book is full of wonderful quotes – fine distillation of the thought of a lifetime. And less than 100 pages!
‘less than 100 pages’ is still a bit more Cupitt than I can handle in one sitting. I’ll look out for it, though. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any.