The following is a translated and transcribed version of a french podcast recorded in April 2021 by Jonathan Pageau and Jean-Philippe Marceau.

JP: Welcome everybody to this fourth episode of La vie symbolique  with Jonathan Pageau and Jean-Philippe Marceau. In this episode, we’re going to continue what we began last episode, which is to look at some symbolic threads throughout the Bible and attach them to stories or phenomena in popular culture. This week, we are going to discuss the symbolism of the head and the body, particularly how it helps us understand how different levels of reality can interact with each other.

One way to begin, like we did last time, is to look how this symbolism is instantiated in Genesis. We can see in Genesis that Adam and Eve are established as the heads of creation. Additionally, we see it explicitly in Ezekiel that there are four rivers that run out of paradise which is itself the summit of creation. So you have the idea that Adam and Eve are at the summit, like the head towering above everything. After that, you also have the idea that Adam and Eve have a sort of control over the earth. They have to take care of it like gardeners and eat its fruits and it is in doing this that they will offer the fruit of what’s happening lower in the creation toward what is higher than them, toward God. They will be like the head that acts as the mediator between the visible body of His creation, and the invisible Spirit that created the world.

They have that role in Genesis, but then, with the Fall, we see a descent towards the body, where this harmony that existed between the head and the body of creation breaks. This break occurs at many levels, such as when Eve takes the forbidden fruit under the influence of the snake: she is placing herself under a bad head, under a bad principle. After that, Adam and Eve literally descend the mountain. They are no longer the summit of creation. Now, it is Satan that is the head of the world, the head of the earth.

You can see the rupture between the head and the body, not just in the relation between Adam and Eve and creation, but also between Adam and Eve themselves. Right  after the Fall, when God confronts Adam, he tries to blame Eve. He says: “I fell because of the woman that you gave me.” Eve tries to pull the same sort of trick, trying right away to blame the snake. So there is this rupture between Adam and Eve and an internal rupture within each of them as well because they will die — you know, death is a rupture from the spirit, between the head and the body.

I was saying that now it’s Satan that is the head of creation. We can see that in what happens with Cain and Abel. Adam and Eve, once they start going towards death, once their heads and bodies begin to separate, in order to keep themselves together, they try to blame someone else. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. Well, the way to keep yourself together now, once we’ve arrived under the head of the Liar, is to blame someone else in order to hold ourselves together. Adam and Eve do that and Cain does so even more explicitly. Not only does Cain accuse someone else for his problems, he kills his brother, Abel. Mere accusations and his sacrifices offered to God no longer work. He kills his brother and it’s in this way that cities are founded.

Cain is the one that founded the first city and his descendants will continue to build civilization. René Girard affirms that this is what happens in general, anthropologically, if we look at different societies. You know, you can talk of Romulus and Remus, the old story where it’s Romulus who kills his brother and who builds a city after. This type of mythology is everywhere. This interaction between Cain and Abel is present in pretty much every culture, where a foundational murder creates a society, except the difference in the Bible is that it’s not seen as something positive, whereas in other societies, it generally is.

And the crazy thing is that it works for real. A way to gather people together is by blaming and sacrificing someone else. It really works. You can imagine that you’re in a tribe, no matter which one, where you aren’t united together under a principle, under the same head, and, like it or not, you are going to enter into conflict. At a certain point, you’re going to be in conflict with each other for those things that you each want because you aren’t unified toward a shared end. A way to resolve this is to find a scapegoat. If we find one person to blame, like Adam blamed Eve, who in turn blamed the serpent, or like Cain blamed Abel, then we can all rally behind this common cause. If we all blame “Joe Blow” in the village, then it’s really easy to unite under the same head.

We see plenty of phenomena like this today where we blame some person on Twitter or we blame some politician, no matter which one, and in enacting this sort of scapegoating mechanism, in figuratively killing this person, we come to be truly united under the same head, but it’s under the Liar, under Satan.

So, this is the introduction that I wanted to do about the symbolism of the head and the body that is found right at the beginning of Genesis. It’s like a problem that gets set up: we see that the head and the body were supposed to be united but the harmony has been broken, fractally, and now we see the results.

Jonathan: Yes, that’s it. And what’s important is that God acts as the head in the story of creation from the beginning. Just consider the way it’s written: He speaks, He sees. So these are God’s two reactions: He talks and sees what is good. He says: “‘Let there be X” and there is a cycle where X materializes and then He looks and He sees that it’s good. So, He creates, then recognizes the value in the hierarchy of creation, that what is good is that which resembles Himself. Then from there, in a fractal way, God creates Man like a head at a lower level, so it is in this way that we participate in creation. We act like God in creation at a lower level. This is what Man is supposed to do, that’s why Adam names the animals.

And like you say, what we see in the revolt of the body or in the revolt of the lower part against the higher, is that Adam loses a bit of his role as head. In being submitted to what was above him, he participated in this pattern established by God, but in revolting he breaks the pattern and in desiring to position himself as the only head, or in saying that he is equal to the head that is above him, his role as head is broken. All of a sudden, things begin to fragment and we see it manifest as a sort of revolution.

Imagine, for example, like it says in the New Testament, the idea that man is the head of the woman. But in the world of the garden, it manifests like a sort of equality at the same time, because there isn’t the tyranny of the fragmented world. So God creates man, He creates woman and she helps the man, and they enter into an equal relationship, but there is still a sort of masculine and feminine role as well that represents the heaven and earth of the first creation. However, during the Fall, the relationship transforms itself into a literal revolt from below: what’s on the ground and slithers suggests to the woman what to do, which she then suggests to her husband.

We see in Genesis a sort of revolution where the influence comes from below and begins to create a structure. The reason I say that is because if we want to understand our desires or our passions, it happens like that. We have these desires that are not in themselves normally bad that manifest and suggest themselves to us as thoughts. But from there, they influence our actions, our will, and finally, we let ourselves go in the direction of our desires. We become slaves of our desires. So, it’s here that we see the reversal of what should in fact be: that our desires, our passions, our biological functions are servants of our entire being. But we have more of the tendency to fall and to become slaves to them.

It’s not a surprise to anybody that it’s hard to combat our biological desires. Not to fight them because they are bad, but to combat them in the sense that they rule over us in an upside down way. And it’s here you can see that there is a type of fractal system already in the beginning. You have God, then, lower, Man, and then the revolution manifests itself from below. Man falls into multiplicity, into the body, if you prefer. The garments of skin are exactly that. It’s like another layer of corporeality that covers him and we add to that the city, like you said.

It’s like we add layers of corporeality to the body which then comes to obscure the head. This is important because if we want to understand the structure of the Temple or the Tabernacle, its structure is the same. There is a centre, which is the place where heaven and earth meet, which you can see as the head, but you can also see it sometimes as the heart — it would be good sometime to make a distinction between the head and the heart, but for the basics of symbolism, sometimes it’s not so bad to see both as if they were the same thing. So you have the spot, let’s say as the source of light and then we put a veil that hides that light, and another veil, and another, and another, until we arrive at what is strange, to the stranger, to what we don’t know, to what we don’t understand.

We can imagine the sort of potentialities of desires that exist in our own bodies and if we don’t pay attention to them, they begin to manifest themselves more and more. It’s easy to understand it today because we have so many examples. In the 60s, they told us we needed sexual liberation, so we liberated our sexuality, and without realizing it, without people even noticing, we became slaves of sexuality. At the extreme end of that, you end up with the person that is only stimulated by something super weird, by some bizarre object or some sort of extremely strange fetish. He is a slave to it and he isn’t even capable of having an enjoyable sexual experience without submitting himself to something super obscure and bizarre.

We have the advantage of having fallen to the point where we can see that what the 60s lauded as a type of active sexuality, has brought us to a space where there are fewer and fewer people that have actual sexual relations. There is a decline in sexual relations but an explosion of porn and strange fetishes; what we were promised in the 60s has resulted in a type of slavery to the body. And slavery not just to the body, but to a specific type of potentiality to a strange indefinite desire.

JP: It can appear super abstract or almost unrealistic sometimes when we talk about the head and the body, especially when we discuss Adam and Eve, but a way to help people see that it’s true, that everything works like this, is to see that we have a hierarchy of heads and bodies even within ourselves. Once we see ourselves in this manner, it’s easier to see it at higher levels of reality. An example that we have within our own consciousness, that we can feel and see, is that we are clearly a collection of sub-personalities, of passions that can be ordered and it is in the measure that we order them that we can be one person, that we can be unified.

Let’s say you are in a car accident and a part of you wants to flee, a part of you wants to help those who are hurt, and a part of you just wants to freeze. It’s like all these different subpersonalities are trying to take the helm. It’s like different reasons in your mind or in your body are all trying to pull you in different directions. And even lower than that, if you look at what’s happening in each of those regions in your mind, they too will each have a head and a body.

Another place this pattern appears is in cells. A cell has a nucleus, a concrete organelle, which acts as a mediator between abstract genetic information and the cell’s concrete body consisting of many organelles. For the cell to be alive, to exist as one, it needs the proper exchange between the head (nucleus) and the body (organelles). The nucleus listens to the organelles and, decoding what is in the DNA, sends back orders. If the organelles follow, then everything can cohere and the cell lives on.

It’s the same thing if you look even lower, at an atom, for example. You have a head, the nucleus, but there are also other members of the body, namely the electrons and magnetic fields. All the different members have an impact on one another, but it’s the nucleus that glues them together, like a head gathers the body.

So, we can see the pattern of the head and the body if we look below us, at atoms or cells, but we can also see the pattern above us.

A clear example of this is a family or parish. The priest of the parish will gather all the different stories of his parishioners. He hears their confessions, he talks with them, eats with them, etc. He gathers all that in the same way that a head gathers information of the eyes through sight, of the hands through touch, etc. He does that with the many members of the parish. Then, through liturgy, through spiritual direction, through parish events, etc., he integrates them ultimately into the story of Christ, into the story of the incarnation. Many members in one story, mediated by one head.

We already spoke about it in English, but another example of this phenomenon at a higher level is that, for a while, there were people who were burning cell phone towers. At the beginning of COVID, it was pretty common, with even a few examples in Québec. There was a theory going around that either the 5G towers directly caused COVID, or that they facilitated COVID in some way and there were different physical mechanisms that people were proposing as to the reasons why. It was something about 5G that could interact with our bodies in a certain way. The physical causes weren’t super plausible in my opinion, but the rest of the symbolic pattern was really good. You just need to look above the material level, where cell towers have nothing to do with COVID.

Because, it’s indeed true, at the psychological and social levels of reality, that cell towers played a role in spreading COVID and in the social crisis that ensued. The fact that we have the telecommunication technology that permits us to move so easily from one region to another, from one country to another, makes it so that we’re able to work from wherever. We can stay in contact with our workplace from a distance and are so affluent we’re capable of moving around so much that we can propagate viruses more or less anywhere. And cell towers permit that, but they also permit the opposite.

Jonathan: They permit the lockdown. COVID measures are dependent on our communications systems.

JP: Yes. The fact that our governments are capable of disseminating information so easily, they are also capable of keeping us docile because not only can we work from home, we can easily distract ourselves from being stuck there. Movies, social media, etc., can keep a population distracted and docile. There were also a bunch of theories circulating through social media that reinforced the panic people were feeling and made them happy to stay inside.

So, it’s true that cell towers have played a causal role in COVID, if you look at it from a psychological and social level. This is what really happened. Some people who had this intuition, who felt this, literally put fire to cell towers to try to fix the problem. People noticed COVID, a socially invisible pattern, manifesting itself materially through these cell towers. In other words, people noticed that cell towers were a head mediating COVID and they rebelled against them....

Jonathan: ... it becomes like a totem, an idol that people want to burn, to destroy, a false god people see. Cell towers are elevated above us, above society, and that’s super important, too. That might be one of the things that people will find the hardest to understand, but if you put something physically higher than others in your society, it’s not arbitrary. Regardless of the physical or material cause of why you do it, the effect is that it will come to be a head for your society.

It’s interesting, because like you said, you can imagine that when people built things like the Eiffel Tower or skyscrapers, it was explicitly to create a new horizon, a sort of new ascension of Man, a material ascension. This manifests itself even in the materials, the type of iron Eiffel used, this tower in the city of Paris was really a symbolic gesture to try to crown a new head of industry or capitalism in society, a sort of new vision of commerce, without people even becoming aware. You know, today, almost everybody thinks that the economy is the number one value, and almost nobody asks the question whether maybe there were other societies where this wasn’t the case. Sometimes people ask me: are you more socialist or capitalist or communist and all that, and I am none of those things, because they all put the economy as the first principle upon which the rest is based and I believe that that’s false.

Skyscrapers have essentially become that economic representation, and cell towers are now physically above skyscrapers. In the way that we position them, they’ve become the new god, the new head of our society, which is to say that communication, the exchange of information, has become what has the most value, even more than money itself. At this moment, money or value depends on communication, on this information network that propagates it, and it’s becoming a tool of control or like an eye. It’s not without reason that the eye of Sauron that you see on top of the tower in The Lord of the Rings has captured our interest. We’re in the process of seeing something like this manifest itself physically, where this type of new head, this system of total observation, a system of absolute gathering of information appears above skyscrapers through the symbol of cell towers.

So, it’s inevitable that people who are maybe less reflective, who are more intuitive, more incarnated, will have a tendency to directly attack the head that appears above their city and burn the idol. It’s really a religious act at its core.

JP: It’s a good intuition to recognize that there is a problem, but their solution is wrong. There were examples of that in the Old Testament, where the Jews became aware that they were committing idolatry, and then went on to destroy idols, but they also went on to gather elsewhere to venerate the real God anew, and that was what brought them back together. They became aware that they were under the wrong head, and it’s good they destroyed it, but then they gathered beneath another. You can’t just stay fragmented, because if you do, you allow yourself to remain potential and you will just blindly fall beneath another head.

Jonathan: Or even beneath that same head again! I have compassion for people who feel that things are crazy, that systems of control are being put in place, and who want to act. But if you have nothing else to offer, you do nothing but provide the opportunity for that head to come down as a fist. Before, it had to install itself more delicately, but now it will be able to establish itself more solidly.

JP: In the Gospel, Jesus tells of a man who cleans his house after a demon departs, and once he’s done that there are seven more who can come in. If we just cut things out and just put everything in order, if we just leave things as potential, they will inevitably fall beneath another principality.

Jonathan: You know, the expression “divide and conquer” is very real. If you can fragment the identity of your enemy and break his points of contact that keep him unified, then you can impose your identity on him. You can take control of his potentiality.

JP: Yes, and before these skyscrapers and cell towers were the most elevated points in our cities we had the bell towers of our churches that were the highest point. The head of our towns were the cross or the summit of the bell tower....

Jonathan: In the transition, there were even laws about not building anything taller than the bell tower of the church. So people were intuitively conscious of this type of reality, of the experience of something higher than yourself as becoming your head. They wanted to stop buildings from being above the church because they knew that in our own natural process of identification, we would recognize them as heads.

JP: We immediately recognize something higher as having a greater value. For example, people who are taller will have a life that is better in so many aspects. They are often more confident in themselves, earn more, and all that....

Jonathan: In the middle ages, the aristocracy were often taller, you know it sort of happened on its own, that kings were much taller than the people who submitted to them. But it’s interesting and important to really take the time to understand this because there are a lot of people who’ll say that these things are arbitrary, or that it doesn’t work like that. But what we’re talking about isn’t “woo” or New Agey, it is the way that your body is made. It’s the way that you, as a child, saw your parents, the way that during every moment that your consciousness was developing, you recognized what was bigger than you as being above you. It’s like when you climb up a mountain and, when at the top, you can finally see more.

All of those experiences build up our consciousness and make it so that we submit to different heads or to certain principles without even realizing it, and we’re unhappy because of it. So, yes, what we’re describing is biblical, but it’s equally anchored in our biology, in the way that we recognize things as having value. You know, we don’t put something valuable in the mud, we don’t put it on the ground, we don’t step on it. This is very intuitive but knowing this can help us notice the relationship to what we value.

Similarly, if you hit your foot, it hurts and is unpleasant, but if you hit your head you’re intuitively more worried even if you don’t hit it as hard. Hitting your head and hitting your foot is not the same thing, it doesn’t have the same effect on your being.

To understand that, think about when a soldier dies in war. It’s unfortunate and bad, but it’s not the same thing as when the general or the king dies, because when that happens, the battle’s finished. The army dissolves and the people become fragmented. So, the hierarchy between the head and the body is a real hierarchy that manifests itself at all these different levels of reality.

JP: The physical examples we gave are useful as well to help us understand the gatherings that happen around them. There are millions of people who go to see the Eiffel Tower each year — when there’s no COVID anyway. All over the world, people gather together to see this same pattern that elevates metal as high as possible, that elevates industry. It’s a type of worldwide liturgy toward the Eiffel Tower, in contrast to people who used to gather beneath the bell tower of their church every Sunday.

But now, bell towers aren’t the highest thing in cities. Instead it’s the workplace, big office buildings, where people gather not to worship, but to work. Work is now what unites us together and from time to time we make pilgrimages to big places, like the Eiffel Tower. Today we are even further from that gathering principle since we don’t even need to leave our own house and we are already in a sort of pseudo-communion with everybody through cell phones. So you really have this process of falling into multiplicity, where we are all individuals at the lowest point, gathered together by the thing that is now the highest, which is telecommunications.

Jonathan: This discussion helps us understand the fact that the attack of September 11th, 2001 was really a religious act. It was really symbolic. These people knew exactly what they were doing in attacking those towers, which were the tallest in the city and whose function was economic. There was everything in that act to attack the head of American society and to show to what point a society that is centered around commerce is fragile and that fear is sufficient to destroy it.

If you have a society that is just based on commercial exchange, which depends on a type of confidence or a feeling of security, rattle that and you see its consequences still playing out. We still live in a post-September 11th world. All the geopolitical and societal decisions today are based on that destabilizing act on American society in particular, but let’s say capitalistic societies worldwide.

So the idea of attacking the head, like cell phone towers, it’s funny to say, but at a symbolic level it’s similar to what the 9/11 attackers did. At a religiously symbolic level, it’s easy to understand and to see the effect that it has had as well.

JP: So, how do we move towards a solution? I think the solution would be to make church bell towers higher than our cell towers. It’s not arbitrary, because St. Paul explains it really well, such as in Ephesians, where he discusses how to repair the levels of reality that have been broken since the Fall. He describes it concretely, in a very condensed way, when he makes a parallel between the way that a family should comport itself and the way that Jesus and the Church behave. For example, he says that the husband of the family has to sacrifice himself for his family. Let’s say the head of the family, the person who is the most elevated, his responsibility is not to just impose dictatorial laws upon the family, on his body. Rather, it’s to listen to his body and to make the necessary sacrifices so that the body works well.

My head has to listen to what my different members are telling me and then use that information to make the necessary sacrifices to feed my body, to pay attention to the things that it needs. In return, St. Paul explains, the body has to listen and submit to the head. It’s through this union between the body and the head that the family exists. He goes on to explain that it’s the same thing Jesus does with the Church. And, contrary to what we discussed about Girard before, where societies can hold together by blaming someone or something else, what the head ultimately has to do for the group to hold together is to sacrifice itself so that the group can be unified beneath it.

While this scapegoat system is found in the Old Testament, it becomes crystal clear in Jesus who exposes this system of how we blame others, refuse to accept responsibility for our problems and sacrifice for the good of others around us. Ultimately, that is why Jesus was crucified. There are plenty of good examples, but one of the most beautiful is when there were Jews who wanted to kill the woman caught in adultery. Here you have the image of the group of people who undoubtedly have committed plenty of sins themselves but who can hold together and feel good about themselves in accusing someone else — in killing someone else. Jesus does not intervene in an aggressive way, but instead he destroys their mechanism by saying: “he who has not sinned, cast the first stone.” Instead of having everyone else united against something else, they are called to look within, at their own problems, and that serves to interrupt their attempt at scapegoating, so off they go.

Having been exposed in this and in other similar situations, they unsurprisingly plot to kill Jesus, too, but he accepts to be himself the victim, the scapegoat. But then, because people come to realise that he’s God, the sacrifice doesn’t work. He breaks the story. He shows us that before Him, we gathered together in killing other people, but now, we have to accept to sacrifice ourselves on behalf of others. It’s through this that the Church is born.

Jonathan: It is true that the solution we’re talking about is really in that what Christ offers is totally new. The solution to the problem of the inside and the outside or the problem of the scapegoat is to unite opposites. To unite the head and the scapegoat together until, like you said, it breaks the story. It becomes the sacrifice of the self that fulfills all the conditions of the scapegoat, but which does so without creating a bizarre cycle of unity and fragmentation through the rejection of a particular part of the group. It becomes a way to heal one of the problems of the Fall.

The first step to sin is often thought of as coming from below, that it’s just temptation of the body and all that. But, like we spoke about last time with the excess of light, it’s often a sin of the head, of the head thinking that it is self-sufficient, that begins the process. And because of that, it tries to impose itself in a totalizing way on the system. Everybody has experienced this.

You decide you want to start a diet, or you are going to exercise, so you say: “Every day, I am going to workout for two hours,” and you put that in place like a discipline, whereas you did nothing previously. Or, you are going on a diet and you impose super strict rules on yourself. Then you see the vengeance of the body. You see the body refusing, saying: “No, this doesn’t work. It’s impossible.” In these examples, the idea is disconnected from the body, in trying to impose such strict rules that the body cannot adhere to. The communion is lost between the two. So you have to find a type of equilibrium, of love, between the desire of will and the reality of the body through the slow progression toward something cohesive.

If you want to impose a new habit in your life, you have to start small. Sometimes people say they’re going to begin a discipline of prayer, and they think they are going to pray four times a day. They’ll do the Hours and all this. Yeah ... try. You’ll see what happens. You will give up after a handful of days. It’s better to go slow and to create little routines and see how the body reacts and readjusts, and to move little by little toward something that is a real unity between the head and the body.

JP: Yes, it’s the same thing with a family. As a parent, let’s say you want to be in better communion with your children, and you need to address their misbehaviour problem. If you try to solve the problem too suddenly, or impose changes too quickly, it won’t work. It’s like you said in trying to impose something on your body. You have to slowly encourage the emergence of good behaviour. In adjusting a child’s habits in small ways that he accepts, you can build up good patterns. In so doing, as the higher rewards the lower, you have a sort of condescension of the parent and a sort of elevation of the child. Eventually you will establish a sort of communion through love with a union between the two.

Jonathan: You’re right, but people today don’t believe in that reality, of parents and children as a head and a body. They don’t want to exercise authority over their children and believe instead that if they stop exercising that authority that it will establish a type of equality. But that’s not what happens. Rather, in abandoning your role, you become a slave to the thing that should be under you. We see it in parents who are the slaves of their children. It’s everywhere and the repercussions are felt in schools, where students reign over their teachers. All the normal hierarchical structures are destabilised because we want to have an egalitarian relationship.

We could even say that the origin of this problem stems from its opposite. At the beginning of the century, there was a type of totalitarian attitude in society and the Church where we really wanted to control all aspects of people's lives. Today we see the backlash against that and neither option is preferable.

You said before that the solution would be to make bell towers of the churches taller than other things. I think that, like Christ calls us to stabilise this hierarchy inside ourselves, that that’s the solution. One of the mysteries of Christianity is the creation of a people who live this equilibrated union between heaven and earth, between God as head, or Christ as their head, and then themselves as the head of their own bodies. Those who live this see the repercussions on their families, their communities, and on the nation throughout the ages. As the truth of this reality is once again seen, the end result is that it will become self-evident to have bell towers of churches taller than other things. The sort of obsession that we have with technology, with the market and commerce will quietly take its true place and the landscape will naturally begin to show this shift.

The solution is to really begin with the self, with what’s around us, our families and all that. At the same time, we have to submit to authority and to understand that our position of authority comes from above us. We have to submit ourselves to the rule of God, to God’s will, and in that, we become a channel of that for those beneath ourselves. Our body, our children or our employees or whatever else that is beneath us is like our body. That’s the right way to see it.

JP: This example we spoke about before, where parents encourage the emergence of good behaviour in their children, that’s what God does with us. He came to sacrifice Himself for us and He continues to sacrifice Himself so that we can grow as close to His example as possible, so that as the body of the Church, we can manifest His body here on earth. Like you say, you’ll have the emergence of Christians, of Christian families, of parishes and groups of parishes and eventually these things will incarnate themselves physically in concrete representations that move higher and higher toward this ideal, that gets closer and closer to Christ.

A good example of that, and in contrast to today, is all the cathedrals that were constructed during the Middle Ages. During periods of affluence, or as technology became better because of advancements made in monasteries, people did not seek to expand the economy but rather put plenty of money toward founding these large cathedrals.

I have heard evolutionary biologists, you know, like Bret Weinstein speak about that. One reason why we have so many problems today is that as soon as we have a surplus, we build more things. But at a certain point, it’s hard to keep on building and even just maintaining things when we have exhausted so many resources. Whereas in previous ages, instead of trying to produce more and to occupy everything, people consecrated their surplus to massive religious oeuvres, in monuments that really worked to gather people together, such as in these massive cathedrals. It’s crazy the amount that were constructed within a few hundred years in the Middle Ages, all due to this intuition that they should be the highest thing; the summit of our societies.

Jonathan: Yes, and we see the same thing in Québec, it’s fascinating. You do a tour of Gaspésie or you go into small villages in Québec and you wonder, how many people are in this village, like 400? Then you see these large village churches made out of stone. They’re not even cathedrals, but they’re massive! You go up the coast of Gaspésie and it’s like every fifteen minutes there is another massive stone church and you wonder why. But it was natural that when our ancestors had a surplus, they put it in the centre of glory, toward creating the points where we could not only physically, but also spiritually, gather under the same head.

JP: Yes, we felt that it was our head, that it was what would gather all of us together and be the mediator between us and God. It’s how we were able to be in communion with everyone around us, with everybody in the village. We gathered, we did things together and life really went much better compared to today, where we no longer know our neighbours. It’s a bit dark when we talk about the problems of our age, but I think people can feel it. We are fragmented and polarised.

I’m happy that we explored what we can do at a personal level, how we can work toward communion between our head and our body by integrating our passions under one head. After that, in trying to do that in our families and in our communities, we can participate in the reunion of the head and the body like it was supposed to be in Genesis.

Jonathan: Yes, and not only that, but in a dark world where things fragment and dissolve, people notice how those real points of unity shine. People see it and they ask questions like, “what are they doing, that there is love in their family, that there’s a type of equilibrium in those relations?” It’s the same thing in communities and it’s the same at the level of true beauty, in the desire to create churches. It’s hard today because we have the impression that everything is breaking down, but I work with a lot of liturgical artists and there are churches being built in the United States today that are incredibly beautiful. They act as examples of little temples where people really have the impression of being transported.

I think it’s possible today, except maybe in Québec it’s a bit harder, but you have to quietly put the germ in the ground and work toward that, because it is also part of the picture. Beauty as a presence in the world is a part of our capacity to recognize the thing that unites us.

JP: Yes, yes, that’s true. But even if it can be harder in Québec, where Catholicism really took a backseat, the people who are left today are serious. They are there for the right reasons, so I find it hard to discern whether I prefer now or a hundred years ago. For me, a few years ago, it was relatively easy to find a parish where I could grow because the parishes that were failing were so blatantly obvious. People who want something better can recognize one another and gather much more easily. And while the Church here is smaller today, it surely makes for a more solid foundation than what I could have found a hundred years ago.

Jonathan: Yes, that’s right and then you know that the people want to be there because there’s no other external reason forcing them. The social admiration that there once was in being in good standing with the Church is gone, so the only reason to gather this way is the desire to be attached to the head. So, even if some people or society in general doesn’t understand, it’s a good moment like you said, because it’s possible to find something truly strong.

JP: We can better discern what body we wish to belong to ...

Jonathan: ... amidst the darkness.

(both laugh)

Jonathan: I have to — you were going to finish on a positive note — but I have to bring you back into the negative. We always fall in between the two in our discussions.

JP: Yes, that’s true. I think this is a good conclusion for this episode, unless you want to say anything else, Jonathan?

Jonathan: No, I think that that’s good. We are really happy with the feedback we’re receiving on the podcast. I noticed that there are a lot of francophone people who follow me in English and who do not know that this exists, so please share it. Send it to your friends, to your family, to people who might be interested in these subjects. Send it to people who question meaning, who are trying to see how to connect things together. For our part, we’re going to continue, so we’re happy to have you with us for the journey.

JP: Thank you everybody.

This article is currently being edited and will be reposted soon

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