Not so much “star” dust…
One thing about San Francisco I did not expect before moving here was the degree to which everyone seems to remember the 1960s. Of course, most people I’ve met here are not old enough to remember the 60s, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The collective memory of my adopted city does not seem to go much further back than that tumultuous decade.
Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock“ – popularized by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young –remembers one of the most generation-defining events of that decade. I was a Joni Mitchell fan long before I moved to the Bay, but the chorus to that song struck me today. She sings, ”we are start dust, we are golden, we are billion year-old carbon, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.“
”We are star dust,” underlines the new pagan belief – a way of thinking which has much of its roots in the 60s – that we are all one, that everything is connected. It is a monistic affirmation, denying Creator and elevating creature to the heights of being able to “get ourselves back to the garden.” Since we are star dust, since our origin is somewhere off among the stars, since we somehow are heavenly beings ourselves, we can, if we just put our minds to it, return to Eden. We can make paradise happen if we accept that we are all “star dust.”
Of course, Genesis 2 has a different take on human origins: “the Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth” (Gen. 2:7).
Where the pagan ideology that is so prevalent in our culture exalts humanity because we come from dust, the Scriptures remind us that we got our start in less lofty places than among the stars.
John Calvin does not mince words when commenting on our origins in the dust. He explains that “man had been, in the beginning, dust of the earth. Let foolish men now go and boast of the excellency of their nature! …[T]he body of Adam is formed of clay and destitute of sense; to the end that no one should exult beyond measure in his flesh.” He sums up this thought by writing, “He must be excessively stupid who does not hence learn humility” (Calvin, Commentary on Genesis, 111.)
Where paganism says we are born in heaven, Christianity tells us to humble ourselves. We were born from dirt. We aren’t so much “star dust” as just plain old “dust.”