Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Merely Absolute

As a way to warm up, perhaps I will deal with objections to yesterday's post (those that I didn't respond to in the comments). And I do welcome the objections. No need to be shy. I'm thinking this through in real time, so any criticism is helpful. We're in this together!

Ebony Raptor says "My questions have to do with how to describe the be-ing of God. Theologians I talk to see Hartshorne as saying questionable things about God's immanence in nature. There's something troubling to them about how he describes ontology."

Well, I suppose one must specify the things that trouble them. Hartshorne does say that God is immanent in nature, but also transcendent. Thus, this is not pantheism but panentheism, the latter of which is entirely orthodox.

Oopsie. At the end of that section we read that Hartshorne was a Unitarian, which for me is a little like finding out Don Colacho was a scientologist, or worse, Schuon was a Muslim. As I said yesterday, we need to rescue the poor man from himself. Or at least kidnap his heathen ideas and raise them in a proper Christian home.

Mushroom stumbles over the notion of change in God, which is perfectly understandable. In the classical view, if something is capable of change, then it isn't perfect. In other words, it if can develop, it implies that it wasn't perfect.

Here I think we need to be very careful about projecting our words onto God, and then being trapped in them. Furthermore, we need to be cautious about making deductions about the nature of God based upon such abstract logic, and then using the abstraction to trump the concrete. Doing so is a little like emphasizing transcendence to the exclusion of immanence and coming out with half a God.

Think of some of the primary attributes of God that render the concept of changelessness extremely problematic: personhood, creator, love, life, self-giving, etc. Again, if these words mean what they mean, then I don't see how they can possibly be reconciled with changelessness. What would it mean, for example, to be an unchanging person? Basically being dead, or insensate, or in a coma, or autistic, or an MSNBC host.

For Hartshorne, God is both absolute and relative: absolute in the abstract but relative in the concrete. In short, absolute/relative is an irreducible complementarity, something which I believe is a fundamental lesson of the Trinity.

The Trinity cannot be further reduced to something less (or more) than itself (i.e., a monad) without thereby losing its identifying features of love, relationship, knowledge, creation, etc. Behind or before the Father is not an ontological bachelor; we might even say that the Trinity is just as much an effect as a cause of eternal love-in-relation. Certainly it is a way to conceptualize, frame, and think about this eternal love.

For me, one of Hartshorne's most helpful ideas -- and it can be used in many contexts -- is that when faced with a complementarity, the more concrete of the two complements is the more fundamental. Thus, for example, the abstract and unchanging God is the form of "the supreme personality as such." It is like saying Joe is Joe. Without ever actually meeting him in the flesh, we can affirm that Joe is Joe, has always been Joe, and will always be Joe. In that sense, Joe is unchanging, for Joe=Joe.

But there is also the concrete state of "God as person caring for the creatures he has created." This is the real Joe, not just the idea of Joe. For Hartshorne, "The abstract does not act, only the concrete acts or is a person." Furthermore -- and this is the (for me) revolutionary part -- "it is the divine Person that contains the Absolute, not vice versa" -- just as "the man contains his character, not the character the man."

Here is where, I believe, human language lands the champion of changelessness in the soup. "Any concrete case," writes Hartshorne, "contains the entire unlimited form." For example, consistent with Aristotle, there is no abstract realm of disembodied ideas.

Rather, the idea is in the concrete expression: any man is an instance of man-as-such. Thus, the abstract form appears "unlimited, not because it has all possible cases in actualized form, but because it has no actual case within it, being the common form of all actuality, and no actuality whatever."

In short, abstract possibility "is unlimited because it is not actualized at all. It is everything in the form of possibility, nothing whatever in the form of actuality."

Therefore -- and I realize this is a Big Leap for many people, "God as merely absolute is nonactual," whereas God-as-relative is concrete person.

I love that "merely" absolute. For example, if someone tries to sell me on Islam, the first thing I would say is: "Allah? He is merely absolute. He can't be the real thing. He can't even be actual. He's just an abstraction, not a concrete person."

Perhaps this is why the only way to relate to the abstract Father is through the concrete Son, always and forever. God is our eternal relative, and we his.

[A]s absolute God is 'simple,' has no constituents. But this only shows once more that it is God as relative that is the inclusive conception.... A wholly absolute God is power divorced from responsiveness or sensitivity... --Hartshorne

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipathos

Since recent posts haven't seemed to generate much interest, I am going to hunker down and write more for myself. You are, of course, free to eavesdrop on the process.

Although Hartshorne always identified himself as Christian, it seems that many Christians suspect him of being a closet pantheist. Says here that he came in for criticism on a number of grounds, such as the assumption that "there is an objective or rational structure to the whole universe," and that "human thought can acquire accurate and adequate knowledge of the universe."

I certainly don't have a problem with that one, so long as we specify that our knowledge is always asymptotic, meaning that it ceaselessly approaches its own completion without ever acquiring it.

But more generally, being that man is in the image of the creator, this reflection must quintessentially include the intellect. It doesn't mean that we are "omniscient," only that the intellect is conformed to the nature of things. If it isn't, then we are excluded from truth.

I don't know if it is true that Hartshorne denies a first cause, but if he does, that is of course a cosmic non-starter (but easy enough to remedy).

He does make the controversial claim that God "needs" the creation, but he doesn't just come out and say it like that! He has his reasons, which we might just get to in this post. At this point I would just say that to truly love something or someone is to permit oneself to "need," and that to do this is "higher" and more noble than its opposite. For example, does the Father "need" the Son? Perhaps we wouldn't put it like that, but that doesn't mean the question is out of bounds.

Others complain about his "denial of divine foreknowledge and predestination to salvation." True. We'll also get back to that one.

The following is more problematic for me: his "highly optimistic view of humanity, and hence its lack of emphasis on human depravity, guilt and sin." In short, he is definitely a liberal, sometimes an obnoxiously clueless one (but I repeat myself). Having spent his life in academia, he does seem to have uncritically assimilated its narrow-minded ambient liberalism. And yet, aspects of his theology strike me as undeniably true, thus my desire to see if we can rescue him from himself and situate him in a more traditional context.

One thing that Hartshorne highlights is the "omnipathos" of God. This is a very useful word, because it means that, in addition to being all-knowing and all-powerful, he is all-feeling. Right there we see an interesting Trinity consisting of truth, love, and power, each conditioned by the other. More to the point, if we deny God's omnipathos, there is no way for him to meaningfully relate to us -- to put himself in our shoes. But isn't this what the Incarnation is all about?

Since I'm only writing for myself, I'm not going to go in any particular order. In The Divine Relativity -- speaking of omnipathos -- Hartshorne makes the intriguing point that God is not only the cause of all effects (which seems to take care of the First Cause), but also the effect of all causes. This would be the metaphysical/theoretical basis of his all-feeling omnipathos, as it means that he is supremely receptive to his own creation (or better, perpetual creativity).

This leads to one of Hartshorne's most controversial ideas, that God "changes." Quite simply, he changes because he is truly receptive to his creation -- hence also the "suffering with." Hartshorne believes that the emphasis on the notion of Unchanging Absolute -- as we've discussed in the past -- is a Greek import, not truly biblical (not to mention incoherent and ultimately absurd). In the Greek conception, time is completely devalued in favor of eternity. Time is change, and change is bad because it cannot disclose unchanging truth.

But there is change and there is change. For example, there is decadence, deterioration, corruption, degradation, dissolution, decline -- you know, Obama style change.

But there is also growth, development, maturation, perfection, etc. These are very different things. For Hartshorne, God possesses super-eminent relativity, meaning that his omnipathos is to our empathy as his omniscience is to our knowing. But it is certainly not to be thought of as a deficit. Rather, it is a kind of perfect attunement.

On a purely logical basis, how could God even have knowledge unless that knowledge is related to a known? No, we don't want to simply anthropomorphize him, but we shouldn't say that God has knowledge if we mean something totally different by the word. As Hartshorne writes, if

"the divine knowledge is purely absolute, hence involves no relation to things known, what analogy can it have to what is commonly meant by knowledge, which seems to be nothing without such a relation?" Yes, he is the cause of this world, but here again, what is a cause without an effect? To say that in God cause and effect are one is to simply deny cause and effect, and to enclose him in a static monad.

The same applies to free will. If being omnipotent -- all-powerful -- means that we have no power, then that ends the discussion. But if omnipotence is bound up with omniscience (bearing in mind that to know is to relate) and omnipathos, then this changes the equation.

As Hartshorne writes, "Power to cause someone to perform by his own choice an act precisely defined by the cause is meaningless." Again, if God's omnipotence excludes our limited potency, then he is as pointlessly enclosed in his own circuitous locution as any deconstructionist.

If we consider the creation, we see that it is woven of chance and necessity, of freedom and constraint, of boundary conditions and emergent phenomena, of order and surprise. Perhaps this tells us something about its creator. Too much order equates to absolute omnipotence in the traditional sense, but a world of pure chance is inconceivable.

Even leaving all the specifics to the side, life makes no sense without this oddly "perfect" cosmic complementarity of design and freedom (which I would say is the very essence of creativity). Furthermore, "the reality of chance is the very thing that makes providence significant," because otherwise any intervention by God is just necessity in disguise.

Running out of time here, but perhaps "maximizing relativity as well as absoluteness in God enables us to conceive him as supreme person." Unless by "personhood" we mean something totally alien to us.

For if God is "in all aspects absolute, then literally it is 'all the same' to him, a matter of utter indifference, whether we do this or do that, whether we live or die, whether we joy or suffer." In short, if this is "personal," then we aren't.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Temporal and Spatial Oneness

A few months back I read Hartshorne's The Divine Relativity, but never got around to discussing it in detail. In retracing my steps, I see that I touched on it on August 22. At the conclusion of the post it says "Well, I didn't have time to get nearly as deeply into this as I had wanted, but we'll take another plunge on Monday." Evidently, this is the promised Monday.

Let me first review what I said before, so as not to repeat myself...

One line stands out this morning, the reference to a "spontaneous interior knowing, which in turn implies a wavelike connectedness or unity of things." This latter is an important principle to which we will return, in that the wave of being renders possible the particle of knowledge. Or in other words, ontology is to epistemology as wave is to particle. Thus, we may know as we do because being is as it is.

Coincidentally, yesterday afternoon I was dipping into Meditations on the Tarot, and our Friend from Beyond the Grave says much the same thing. In Letter I, he discusses the attainment of practical and theoretical unity, the first consisting of the unity of the self -- i.e., concentration without effort -- the second to "the basic unity of the natural world, the human world and the divine world." To perceive the latter one must be the former:

"As concentration is the basis of every practical achievement, the tenet of the basic unity of the world is the same with regard to knowledge -- without it no knowledge is conceivable." In other words, in the absence of the prior unity, not only can we not know knowledge, but we can't even know of knowledge.

Thus, "The ideal -- or ultimate aim -- of all philosophy and all science is TRUTH. But 'truth' has no other meaning than that of the reduction of the plurality of phenomenon to an essential unity -- of facts to laws, laws to principles, of principles to essence or being."

Bottom line: "Without this unity nothing would be knowable." There would be no possibility of venturing from the known to the unknown, because there would be no link, no common ground, between the two. But in reality, there is always a bridge of being between them, analogous to how the continents of the earth are separated by oceans but connected underneath.

To say that "the world is knowable" is to implicitly affirm "the tenet of the essential unity of the world." And if we pursue the latter principle to its logical end, we understand that the world is not a "mosaic," or jumble of fundamentally disconnected parts, but rather, an organism, "all of whose parts are governed by the same principle."

Which leads directly to Alfred North Whitehead's organicism (AKA process philosophy) and to his most prominent acolyte, Hartshorne. Hartshorne was the first to systematically apply Whitehead's insights to theology.

As we have discussed in the past, where most philosophers "spatialize" the cosmos, for Whitehead, time is central. As a consequence, where others see things-in-isolation, Whitehead sees processes-in-relation. There is nothing in the cosmos that is not concretely related to everything else, at all times. Yes, we can think otherwise, but that is an abstraction from the concrete reality.

For example, we can look at a cloud in the sky and imagine it as a separate thing (indeed, it is difficult not to), and yet, it is simply the visible expression of the infinitely complex process we call "weather." We could say the same of "price" vis-a-vis economics. Hayek's central idea is that the price of the most basic item is full of information about the entire economy.

Unless the state -- the great destroyer of information -- gets involved. A market economy is a vast organism that processes an infinite amount of information. The "fatal conceit" of the statists is to pretend to control a process that is fundamentally impossible for any human -- or group of humans -- to understand. (Same problem with Darwinism, global warming, and scientism more generally.)

What we commonly call "science" presupposes the unity of the horizontal. Not only does it not study the vertical, it knows nothing of it (at least explicitly). For example, because of the unity of the horizontal, we know exactly where the earth will be in relation to the sun in one, one hundred, or one thousand years (assuming no hidden variables science has not yet discovered).

The unity of the vertical is known in a different manner, via the method of analogy. It too is an artifact of the unity of the world. The most consequential vertical analogy is between God and man. Such analogies are "timeless" where science necessarily operates in time.

Take, for example, the myth of Genesis. To reduce it to a scientific statement about the horizontal world is to fundamentally misunderstand it. Rather, it embodies a number of key "typological symbols," or prototypes and their relations. Such vertical archetypes "manifest themselves endlessly in history and in each individual biography." Although they are in time, they are not of time. But they do impress their patterns on time, which is why they must be expressed via myth.

The myth is the story of the prototype as it moves through time. Our BFF from Beyond the Grave compares them to the undulations left in the sand as a result of desert winds. The undulations are not the wind, only its visible effect. Likewise the archetypes, which are not seen but which nevertheless leave their imprint on our lives.

This is why it was so easy for us to "see" where Obama would end, way back in 2008. For as Joyce wrote, -- and this is the one lesson of Finnegans Wake, repeated endlessly in an infinite number of ways -- "if you are abcedminded to this claybook," then "what curios of signs in this allaphbed!" For "it is the same told of all." (Man is the curious claybook written with the archetypal ABCs.)

Change? "Modern man calls 'change' walking faster on the same path in the same direction" (Aphorisms of Don Colacho).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Nothing

Yeah, this is it for today: circumstances have conspired to reduce today's offering to an open thread.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Getting Your Heart & Mind in Order (In That Order)

Knowledge is dangerous; that is, it can always cut both ways, depending upon who has it and what they intend to do with it. For example, no morally sane person is troubled by Israel having nuclear weapons. Conversely, all morally sane people are troubled by the prospect of Muslim nations possessing those same weapons.

Therefore, knowledge must always be subordinated to something beyond knowledge, at risk of sinking beneath itself. As Green writes, knowledge may well fuel pride, as in the timeless stories of Adam, Prometheus, Icarus, Gruber, and countless others.

But this should not discourage one from seeking knowledge, any more than Charles Manson's impending nuptials should steer us away from sex. In short, misuse of an object or idea does not detract from its proper use.

"The fact that knowledge can puff up," observes Green, illustrates the point that "knowledge is inherently a moral reality," and "can be used for good or ill" (emphasis in original).

This is elementary, similar to the principle that rights not only come with responsibilities, but that the responsibilities must be prior to the rights. In other words, you cannot give rights to an irresponsible entity, or one without free will. You can't give a bear the right to roam free through a city. Why? Because the bear has no responsibility.

The left, of course, never stops talking about rights, but these rights are always in the abstract, disconnected from the responsibilities that legitimize them. The notion of rights without responsibilities is precisely analogous to the absurdity of knowledge without truth or art without beauty. Not only is the one severed from the other, but rights, knowledge, and art are deprived of their sufficient reason. They become meaningless if not pernicious.

Want to confuse a liberal? Try this: let's assume for the sake of argument that you have the constitutional right to abort your baby. What is the corresponding responsibility in which this right is grounded, and without which it makes no sense? Remember, it must be something even "higher" and more fundamental than a dead baby. What could it be?

Now, one of our cosmic principles is that any truth speaks of the One Truth. It is this latter to whom (or in whom) our knowledge is ultimately answerable. "[W]henever we come to know something, our very capacity to know is brought about and sustained -- in every instance -- by God." So long as we bear that in mind, we avoid pride on the one hand, and the temptation of a false absolute -- idolatry -- on the other.

Yesterday I had a conversation with the mother of one of my son's friends. He's extremely bright, full of philosophical and theological questions that don't occur to most adults. He's also very interested in science; at nine years old, Stephen Hawking is one of his heroes. Therefore, he was quite distressed to learn of Hawking's pronouncement that God doesn't exist.

This is a fine example of knowledge not only severed from truth, but even from the possibility of truth. It's an elementary metaphysical error, entirely self-refuting but self-aggrandizing at the same time. It equates to saying: "there is no God, and I am that one." For if God doesn't exist, obviously only He can know it.

I would add that Hawking's denial serves as a kind of implicit acknowledgement of God. As Green writes, "all persons, at some fundamental level, know God but suppress this knowledge."

As we have discussed in the past, since our human personhood exists in a vertical space, we are just as prone to repress the higher as we are the lower. Just as one can only pretend that the unconscious doesn't exist, one can only pretend that the supra-conscious doesn't exist. But once one stops pretending, one sees evidence of both everywhere.

Imagine the vertical as an AM radio band reaching from 540 to 1600 kHz. The average station is set somewhere in the middle, at 93, or 1070, or 1110. But the rest of the band is always there, waiting for someone to tune into the frequency. Much of what we call "higher knowledge," for example, is just regular knowledge tuned to a higher frequency.

Take the example of a church. On the one hand it's just a building, not fundamentally different from any other. But tune into the higher sacred frequencies, and it is transformed to "heaven on earth." For that matter, a sacrament is an occasion for the inflow of those higher frequencies.

This also goes to why we cannot comprehend certain evils and certain people. We just can't pick up the frequency they are hearing. This is because "The mind's pursuits are always, and without fail, related to one's 'loves,' or to the state of the heart.... we really cannot know what we do not love" (Green).

This would explain a great deal -- for example, why Obama doesn't understand the constitution, and why we do not understand his animosity toward it (or toward Israel, or the police, or our military, etc.).

Well, the contractors are back, so that's the end of this post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Last Honest Liberal vs. The Spiritual Lepers

I'm starting to think Gruber is an angel sent by heaven on a divine mission:

(Here's another good summary of his angelic work.)

Everything I have ever written about the left is encrapsulated in this story, which reveals the corruption at the heart of the media-academic-government complex. Each is rotten to the core, but is kept from collapsing on itself by leaning on the other two for support. For example, a non-corrupt media would have exposed Obama's rot before he could even have become a viable candidate. Likewise, a non-corrupt academia would never have borne Obama upward on wings of affirmative action and neo-Marxian ideology.

Look at the end of the second video, in which the honest man, Bret Baier, is attempting to pry truth from the dishonest man, Obama. Not only can it not be done, but Obama becomes edgy and indignant, when by all rights it should be the other way around.

I have seen this behavior innumerable times in the context of evaluating people who are attempting to defraud the workers comp system. An honest person welcomes scrutiny, whereas the dishonest person attempts to push away compassion and curiosity by aggressively filling the space with his narrative. Attempt to probe the narrative, and the patient will indignantly react as if you don't believe him, or as if you are conducting an aggressive cross examination on the witness stand.

In other words, the transitional space -- AKA the intersubjective space between two human beings -- is flooded with what Bion called beta elements, or raw, unmetabolized emotion. The reason it is unmetabolized is that it necessarily exists outside the more "refined" narrative; or, there is the unreal narrative accompanied by the real emotion, and the two are at odds. You essentially say to yourself: "if he's saying x, why is he feeling y? And why is y being directed at me? I didn't do anything."

What is so refreshing about Gruber is that he is the Last Honest Liberal -- or at least the last honest one I've ever encountered.

To be perfectly accurate, there are actually many honest liberals. We call them conservatives. True, there are many conservatives who were once liberals mugged by reality. But countless others, like myself, are former liberals appalled by the deception, illogic, and agenda-driven approach to reality, whereby evidence that doesn't fit the narrative is either ignored, or, if it persists, aggressively attacked.

It is instructive to consider how prominent liberals are reacting to the "simple truth" -- the naked factuality -- of Gruber. It's like the five stages of death, although most of them can't get past denial and anger -- mostly at conservatives for bearing the message. The genius economist they once put on a pedestal is now being demeaned and devalued like a self-aggrandizing intern, except this intern has received millions of dollars of taxpayer funds for the hard work of lying to the people paying his fees.

It's quite perverse, because if he had ever told the truth to the people paying his fees, then the fees would immediately stop, as now they have. He will never earn another dime from the state, because he has committed the unforgivable the crime of TELLING THE TRUTH. I mean, it's fine to drop the mask in the presence of fellow leftists, but not with the microphone on or the camera running!

After denial and anger comes bargaining, and I have already seen some of this. For example, a host on MSNBC, in true Stalinist fashion, conceded that Gruber said what he said, but hey, isn't it ironic how great the bill has turned out?! So, what's a few broken eggs if we ended up with this fabulous omelet in the process! But really, that's just denial in disguise, a refusal to look at what the bill has done, is doing, and will do, especially when the deliberately backloaded deceptions kick in. (I see that the New Yorker takes the same lying approach to bargaining the lies away.)

The other day, Ace of Spades had a link to a short piece on how one can spot a Lie. One of the rules of thumb goes to what was said above about beta elements: liars supposedly "feel subconsciously guilty about their lie (or at least uncomfortable at being in the position of lying)," and consequently "add in unnecessary negative emotional language into their lie."

I suppose that is sometimes true, although I would frame it somewhat differently. I would say that the liar necessarily divides his soul. In order to utter the lie, he must deny the very purpose of the mind, which is to know truth. Now, one cannot deny the purpose of any organ without suffering adverse consequences. Just as the wrong type of diet may redound to, say, heart disease, the wrong type of discourse will result in soul pathology. In soul pathology there must be pain, but the really sick person forces others to feel the pain.

This pathology can become so advanced that the person is no longer capable of "feeling" the barbs that occur when he deviates from truth. Obama is at this stage: like a leper who can no longer feel his extremities, and ends up causing them so much damage that they must be amputated, Obama -- and Reid and Pelosi and all the rest -- have such advanced cases of spiritual leprosy that they no longer even know when they are lying. They have become insensate to the epistemophilic pangs of conscience. Consider how they deny even knowing who Gruber is, when there is such extensive evidence to the contrary.

Another important point about lying -- not just the occasional fib, but someone truly immersed in the Lie -- is that it always partakes of omnipotence. It is as if the real liar believes that his lies have the power to shape reality.

Which they do! Consider how the media-academic-state complex managed to impose this monumental lie-of-a-bill -- literally, the greatest consumer fraud in history -- on the citizenry! We are only having this discussion because someone couldn't help himself from telling the truth about it.

Oddly enough, this was the healthy part of Gruber -- the corner of his soul that is somehow still in tact. Yes, part of the motivation was no doubt self-aggrandization, but nevertheless, truth has hijacked stranger things in order to escape into the world.

Another telltale sign of lying: liars "are forced to make up stories, and when they do make them up, they tend to be very simple, straightforward tales. Their stories tend not to have complexity and implied background details of stories about real events."

Here again, I've seen this pattern many times in cases of workers comp fraud. As to Gruber, consider the rich detail in his accounts of visits with Obama (e.g., he paused for a cigaret), vs. Obama's simplistic denials, or his assurances that everything about the bill was "transparent." None of what he says has the ring of truth. It's too cleverly simple by half.

But at the same time, the simplistic story may be couched in overly convoluted language. This has been one of Obama's trademarks from the beginning. Supporters hailed it as "nuance," but this is more like the nuance of a corrupt defense attorney defending an obviously guilty client. It is the oily nuance of Johnnie Cohchran.

Liars seem to realize "that something is missing from their stories -- that their stories aren't life-like, in being so simple -- and attempt to pad them out by using convoluted language, and irrelevant parenthetical details, to make them appear more complex than they actually are."

Truth is simple. Defenses against it are not. Likewise, Gruber's confessions are as straightforward as one could possibly hope for. But dropping truth into the left is like stepping onto an anthill and watching the ants freak out in all directions before settling back into their orderly patterns. At the moment the left is struggling to keep its drones in line, but new shoes keep dropping on the hive every day. Give them a couple weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When Liberalism is in the Saddle, Lies are on the Move

It is interesting that lying has been so much in the news, but this is inevitable when liberalism is in the saddle. To cite a timely aphorism, "The lie is the muse of revolutions: it inspires their programs, their proclamations, their panegyrics. But it forgets to gag their witnesses" (Dávila).

But why should humanitarians like Jon Gruber shut up when they are doing God's work? Rather, it is in the nature of the Good that it wishes to radiate, to communicate, to share its goodness. This is why he is not only unashamed, but visibly giddy in the videos we have seen.

Now come to find out that his grubby co-conspirators not only want to gag him, but would be pleased to see him tossed into a shallow grave, maybe next to the guy who made the Mohammed video. What kind of strange goodness is this?

Above all else, human beings are wordlings. Language is what defines us, but what defines language? For the postmodernist, nothing defines language. Rather, each word refers to another, in an endless deferral of meaning. But they can't really say that meaning is deferred when they really mean it is strictly impossible.

Why then do we have the word? Apparently, if the postmodernists are correct, meaning is simply the word we use to refer to an arbitrary closure of its infinite deferral. It is precisely analogous to declaring an arbitrary end to pi, which otherwise goes on forever.

Let's try looking at this through the other end of the telos-scope: "It is not so much that the way language works helps us to understand the theology of the Incarnation, but rather that the theology of the Incarnation helps us profoundly to understand the way in which language works" (Jeffrey, in Green).

It seems that the way language works is that there is something about the world that enables it "to come to speech" (Gunton, ibid.). In other words, when we speak, it is as if speech is the "last word" of a spiroid process that must begin in God, or the Word. I would say that we can only pull words from reality because the Word is already there to be pulled.

In short, "To justify any sort of affirmation of the meaningfulness of language, we need to affirm that we really do live in God's created world" (Green): no creation, no meaning. And meaning deferred is meaning denied!

Think of how this works in practice, bearing in mind the principle that we are in the image of the creator. We begin with a silent thought, an invisible idea, which is then "uttered outwardly."

Isn't this a little like creation itself? Augustine observes that "our word becomes a bodily sound by assuming that in which it is manifested to the senses of men.... And just as our word becomes sound without being changed into sound, so the Word of God" becomes flesh without being reduced to flesh.

Even so, one never knows what will happen to an idea once it is let loose in the world (just ask God!). To speak the word is to incarnate the word, but it then must be re-incarnated in the listener, and, as in natural selection, there are mimetic errors along the way. This would imply that liberalism is analogous to an epistemological birth defect, a copying error -- assuming that somewhere in its genealogy there was an original truth, now turned monstrous.

But the issue is not just what *lies* behind speech, but what is up ahead. For example, "The notion of an ultimate telos to all language is what, of course, is missing in the deconstructionist universe..." This means that there are two ways for language that has gone off course to self-correct. The first way is to see to it that language refers to reality, i.e., to reaffirm the covenant between words and things.

But this is no assurance of ultimate truth, so we must also check our formulations against the telos of language, which can only be God: "God himself is the goal of all language," so to the extent that our ideas and theories don't point in his direction, you can be sure we have been derailed somewhere along the line.

Which is why language can be used to reach such a fallen person and lift him back up toward the Great Attractor. This itself implies that words must be accompanied by, or infused with, a kind of "generic" grace, which makes abundant sense if language indeed comes from (and returns to) God.

So, "words are instrumental in reaching out to the fallen man." They are "not an end in themselves," but "play a crucial role in leading people to" God, the "transcendental signified" (Green).

Which reminds me of something I heard yesterday on the radio. A caller mentioned how liberal elites regard voters as stupid, but the host cautioned him that conservatives do the same thing, what with our reference to "low information voters."

However, there is literally an infinite difference between the two attitudes. In the case of the left, they need to lie to us because we are stupid. Conversely, we believe that voters are only low on information, for which reason we desperately wish to communicate the truth and thereby remedy the deficit. Under no circumstances do we wish to deceive them, let alone coerce and control them. God forbid!

If words do not replace anything, only they complete everything. --Dávila