Our age is one in which usefulness is thought to be the chief merit of nature; in which the attainment of power, the utilization of resources is taken to be the chief purpose of man in God’s creation.
On some days, I think the greatest challenge for faith is to re-humanize us. Abraham Heschel, who wrote the thoughts on our age quoted above (God in Search of Man), summons us to return to awareness of the grandeur of the world around us. If we can answer that call, maybe we can also rediscover something of the wonder within us, the wonder we are in the midst of God’s creation. But do we even know what Heschel means by grandeur? Do I?
Everything these days is “awesome!” Do we know how awe feels? In common usage, something is awesome merely by exceeding that to which we have already grown quickly accustomed. A video game becomes awesome by attaining new levels of blood and gore, a movie by spectacular special effects, an online comment by smacking down the opponent spectacularly (which may mean no more than rudely and crudely, with no special insight). It seems awesome has come to mean spectacular, and so grandeur is reduced to spectacle that surprises or startles.