It used to be said that there are 8 million cities in the Naked City (New York). That was when New York had 8 million people living there. They could just as well have said, there are 8 million religious quests in the Naked City and each of them is different. Most of us were brought up to think there was only one. In the small city in which I was raised and still live, this view is still pretty common, but I think many of us now realize that is too narrow a view. There are many religious quests and many of them are worth looking at. But some of them are maniacal, like that of Captain Ahab’s mad pursuit around the world for vengeance on a white whale.
In this blog I want to share some of the more interesting ones that I have found. I am not trying to convert anyone, or persuade them to abandon the one they are on.
This idea of mine, as I have mentioned was inspired by a Religious Studies Professor in the 1970s at the University of Winnipeg. Some of my friends were lucky enough to take that course. I had to be satisfied with hearing a lecture or two on television without an opportunity to ask questions. Now I have decided to go on this quest on my own. I hope to learn a thing or two. And I hope to share of my thoughts along the way.
Moby Dick, the second book, I have considered on this voyage, actually considered a few different quests. The one that stuck out was of course the one by its Captain. It was not only his quest, but he actually persuaded the members of his crew to join him, even though it was pretty clear that his quest turned mad. What makes people follow such a leader like Ahab? That is a puzzle. Many of us think we have seen such blind allegiance in the United States recently, where people were led to the Capitol in Washington to participate in a rampage, solely because their leader, I would say their spiritual leader, called them to do so. What makes people heed the call? I think Herman Melville has some important things to say on the subject, and even though the book was written more than 150 years ago, those thoughts can help us understand this phenomenon better. For example, It can help us to understand what happened in Washington on January 6, 2021.