'Lawrence was a prophet and now is a God. Those who follow his example and come into touch with him, may be visited by him—a great gift—and if he so chooses he may bestow sun-glory upon a man.'

This reminded me of Pope Benedict's comment, 'Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.'

Not to equate DHL with Christ - except that they're both Sun Men - but both quotes speak, it seems to me, in the same register. Contact with the Divine - i.e. with the Real - is not about theory or reading or good works or following prescribed actions, worthy as all these may be. It's about encounter with the god. That's the 'great gift', as you put it, Benedict's 'new horizon and decisive direction.' That's when life begins.

I appreciate that it's probably not easy to discuss, but I was wondering to what extent your own encounter with Lawrence has informed your life and work. Would these essays have come about, for instance, if you hadn't met him? Do you think he has more to say? To yourself or to us? What wider, cosmic role do you sense that he's playing now?

'The music of the celestial spheres has never left us: it is still there, ever-present for all those who live with silence and a heart open to the Gods.' Yes, 100%. So I think you're a little harsh when you say that the rot began with Western Medieval Christendom. I know it had its dry, rationalistic side, but Dante's Paradiso, for instance, is replete with this idea of celestial harmony and the music of the spheres. CS Lewis, who took his cue from Dante in so many ways, picks up the baton with his Space Trilogy and Narnia books, where he presents a living, breathing, dynamic cosmos, the very opposite of the endless but sterile stellar wasteland that we've been told to believe in.

I'm also not convinced that contemporary man's overriding passion is growth and conquest. I think that ship's sailed. For better or worse. The energy just isn't there any more. People are turning in on themselves and losing themselves in simulacra. So Klages is spot on here: 'Many, likewise, are oppressed by the wretched and ever-increasing tedium of this existence. In no earlier time was unhappiness greater or more poisonous.'

That's why we need the Real. That's why we need encounter. That's why we need gods. That's why we need DHL.

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Despite what many who read my writings expect, I am actually a great admirer of the late Pope Benedict. Of all the various forms of Christianity, I am most fond of the Roman Church. Due to various historical accidents, the Orthodox denominations are actually more modern, more protestant even than Post-Vatican II Catholicism in everything except form. Now, I think Vatican II was a disaster, but I also cannot accept the particular brand of conservatism of the American Catholics. No, if I had to choose a particular brand of Christianity that appealed to me, it would be the old Roman Church of European villages. Everything I said in this essay has been said by Saint Francis in his Canticle to the Sun. The Christianity of Francis and others like him (were there any really like him?) is a religion of moments, of experience. We desperately need to move away from ethics and theology, and move towards a religion of touch, of direct experience of the Divine and its multitudinous manifestations. I accept all traditional forms of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as having a divine source, and I love the religions and their founders and mystics, even though I do not belong to their circles. One of the greatest statements of how I feel was put forth by Kathleen Raine in her "Autobiographies." She tried to fit herself to a dominant Church, with disastrous consequences. Only later, with age and wisdom, did she feel comfortable to be a solo traveler on the Platonic path. We all need to find our own way, whether that way be Lawrence, Christ, or Buddha; without a direct experience, we are just relying on hearsay, which is almost meaningless. I, personally, have never been touched by Christ, though I love him in my own way. An the other hand, I do truly love San Lorenzo (the Christian), San Antonio, Francis, Eriugena, and some others who experienced the Divine rather than abstracting It into principles. I could never find much love in my heart for Augustine or Aquinas, but Saint Hildegaard's visionary writings almost always reduce me to ashes.

And even I wouldn't say that Lawrence and Christ are equivalent, other than saying that both were great men. The Traditionalist School is often too reductive, but there are certain truths that are uniform throughout all religions. There is a Truth and Reality, there is a life beyond this one, and there is a process of divinization. There have been numerous reports from Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu friends of Lawrence of certain events that testified to his holy character. Lawrence was raised protestant of protestants, committed a good chunk of the Bible to heart, and rejected Christianity due to the failures of Protestantism and of modern Christians. Later in life he accepted the validity of Rome, but was too good a pagan to accept it as the only path. I accept there are many paths, and one of the failures of modernity is to homogenize the many into the one. Perhaps the way forward is through Hölderlin's "Bread and Wine," where we can love and adore Christ and Dionysus. Ultimately, unless one is Hölderlin or DHL, the Gods are hard to reach, so we need great men, Sun-Men like Christ, Lawrence, et al. to show us the way.

What you mention is exactly why I love the ancients, but find no traction with Platonism, or at least late-Platonism. I think E. R. Dodds said it best when he wrote: "that homer's Olympians, the most vividly conceived anthropomorphic beings in all literature, should have ended their career on dusty shelves of this museum of metaphysical abstractions is one of time's strangest ironies." Whether we are talking about the Holy Spirit, the Logos of Heraclitus, Ar-Rahim, or Artemis, they are all facets of a divine reality, and we MUST not limit ourselves to only one expression of that reality.

Regarding my personal encounter with Lawrence, I will say he changed my life. I was in a very, very dark place, and no person, no religion, nothing seemed to give me the answers I hungered for. And then I came to Lawrence, particularly his poetry, and it was all right there. Lawrence saved me from suicide. Somehow, some way, his writings touched me in a way no other writings had before or since. But, it is more than that: I have been on pilgrimages to many of the places he lived, and the places he died and was laid to rest. I am no mystic, and I am not prone to visionary experiences, but I did have experiences in Taos and Taormina. These experiences meant something to me; they are personal, and not relevant to the world, save through showing that one rather insignificant person (I) was helped spiritually and psychologically through both the writings of and the spirit of Lawrence. I could try to put all of that into words, then turn it into a system, but it would be a great spiritual crime. No, I was touched and that is all that matters. I believe that if other open their hearts, great things may come to them, whether their experiences come from Christ, Lawrence, or some other source. I started writing these essays for myself, and myself alone, and I wrote them all by hand, as a sort of spiritual compass for myself. Through my reading of DHL, he took me by the hand and led me through the Hell of the modern world and showed me something beautiful, something which I hope to have captured in the final few essays of this series. I am publishing them simply in the hope they may be of use to someone, not because I have anything to say, but because Lawrence himself had something to say. I think there is a great deal more in DHL's writings than this series of essays has brought out. The few crumbs of Heraclitus have inspired the world's greatest minds for almost 3,000 years, so I believe if people pay attention, they will find unexpected truths in unexpected places, such as one of the deepest, yet least read works of DHL, namely "The Crown." I cannot say what cosmic role Lawrence is playing. To do so would be guilty of the same crimes of abstraction as some of the early Christians. Christ lived a great life and he died a great death; and certainly he is alive and present NOW. That is enough. I could say the same about DHL, but I want to say no more. I don't want to start a new religion; I want to create an impetus for inspiration, even if the most I can do is pointing a finger at the moon.

If I am hard on Western Medieval Christianity, it is a specific form or forms I have in mind. I love Dante, but I am not fond of the Thomistic tradition, except in limited cases, and I do resent the fact that the regimentation of Saint Benedict's Rule along with certain excesses from Rome led to the Reformation, and hence indirectly to modernity. My biggest issue with Christians isn't that they are too Christian, but not Christian enough. Imagine the world if every Christian accepted sacred poverty as a necessity, refused to give or take interest, shunned money as a great evil, and so on. Dante deserves to be listened to in the original Italian, recited by a person familiar with the Florentine dialect. Then one almost hears the celestial music. There is more true Catholicism in David Jones, Edith Sitwell, G. M. Hopkins, and Dante, than there ever was in the scholastics.

Regarding the turning, I hope you are right. Lawrence believed the Machine would come crashing down and that Earth and Man would remain, renewed and showered by light. I hope and pray for this.

It can only come about through touch: touch with earth, air, water, fire, Sun, Sun-Men, and Gods. The Real is not limited: A man may reach enlightenment even through an apprehension of ever-present reality in trash. May we all come into closer touch with the Real.

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What a profound and meaningful reply. Thank you.

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I second that, if I may. Thanks, indeed.

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