Homo-Drama and the Broad Way of History
One may look at human life through the frame of Darwinism. Nothing wrong with that. But only through the frame of Darwinism? That would be insane.
Which I mean literally. No Darwinian lives his life as a rigorously consistent Darwinian. For example, think of, say, Richard Dawkins, who argues passionately on behalf of metaphysical Darwinism. What's that all about? Doesn't he ever wonder how random mutations have resulted in his passion for "truth," of all things? Selfish genes not only don't care about truth, but could never know it to begin with.
Science provides one frame for viewing the world. Religion provides another. Nor can you just say "science," and leave it at that. For example, in order to practice psychology, you need to look at the patient through numerous frames: neurobiology, endocrinology, attachment theory, anthropology, group dynamics, religion, etc.
Indeed, this is what is so interesting about the human being: man is the intersection of all frames, from matter on up and God on down. Some people say man is homo sapiens (the wise guy), others homo ludens, highlighting our capacity for fooling around.
One could equally focus on language, art, humor, freedom, transcendence, love; we are the "political animal" but also the one consigned to an unbridgeable loneliness and solitude. Ultimately we are god and animal in the same package. Which makes for some *interesting* conflicts.
Speaking of which, we might say that God is framed for us by Jesus; and that Man is framed for God by Jesus. But Jesus cannot be reduced to a three-dimensional object, since his life -- like any other life -- takes place in time. He is framed by his own development, from embryo to infant to adolescent and on. "Incarnation" is not a kind of one-off lightning flash that occurs with the Annunciation. Rather, in the beginning is the Word, and the Word is a verb.
The point is, this divine-human frame is not like a static painting, but rather, as Balthasar discussed over five volumes and 2,631 pages (yeah, I just counted), a Theo-Drama. In being the Theo-Drama, it is also the Cosmo-Drama, the Homo-Drama, and the Everything In Between-Drama.
When did we spend that year discussing Balthasar and the Theo-Drama? 2009? I can't say I remember many details. Let's consult some old posts, which are probably old enough that none of you remember them either.
When Christianity is reduced to a creed or formula -- like the folks who hold up those John 3:16 signs at every football game -- it can lose its distinctly dramatic character. For unlike other religions, it cannot become a mere doctrine without betraying itself. After all, if a doctrine were sufficient, then God would have presumably dictated a memo and sent it down to a prophet without having to personally get involved in this messy business of history.
One of the reasons Muslims reject Christianity is that they cannot imagine God as man, since it is so beneath his station. It's unthinkable, like, say, Cary Grant playing a sewer worker or MSNBC host (yes, a distinction without a difference).
The point is that for the Christian, God's revelation fundamentally appears as historical action, as doing. His doing is anterior to our knowing. This is why no one could understand the teaching until the action -- the drama -- had been fulfilled. And even then, it took years of collective reflection upon the drama to understand its nature and significance. Indeed, we're still trying to divine the divine plot, and always will be, until history has darkened its last page.
It seems that many people try to focus on something Jesus said, or even the totality of what he said, in the absence of the underlying drama that ties it all together. But Jesus is unlike any other religious figure, about whom the facts of their lives are inconsequential to the teaching -- any more than the facts of science are determined by the personal biography of the researcher. You can study math or physics without getting into Einstein's childhood or Newton's manner of death. Likewise Buddha or Mohammed.
What this suggests is that God's truth -- or the truth he is trying to convey to us -- is again not at all analogous to scientific truth, which can be handed from mind to mind in an unproblematic way. What is the truth he is trying to convey? And why must it be presented in this way, as historical drama?
.... Here is the dilemma for God: "how to elicit the Yes of his free partner from the latter's innermost freedom" (HvB). Again, for Balthasar, the essence of the Theo-Drama is this encounter between infinite and finite freedom. How can man surrender to infinite freedom without undermining his own?
.... Jesus is God's word, and that word is primarily Yes: yes to existence, yes to life, yes to freedom, yes to love. But remember, Jesus is also man, so he is simultaneously man's ultimate Yes to God. So there is the essence of your Theo-Drama, this mutual dialogue between free partners. Again, the drama is taking place "within" God, i.e., the Trinity, but it is also happening in history, allowing us to take part in the drama -- to say Yes to it, jump on the stage, and accept our role.
Please note that when this Yes happens, it is only the beginning, not the end, of your own little theo-drama. Isn't this what Jesus promised the apostles? Not, "follow me and your problems are over," but "follow me and your problems have only just begun." "For they will hate you as they hate me."
As to how this all relates to our subject, in the following passage, just replace boundaries with frame:
Living in the higher light of this drama, everything becomes more intense with meaning. I believe that this is because the closer one draws to ontological realities, the more vivid life becomes, whether it is death, or birth, or marriage, whatever; it is near these boundaries of existence that we live most intensely, and the boundary of mundane existence necessarily shades off into the celestial. Heaven is conjoined to earth, but only by virtue of being separate from it. Thus, heaven's distance is the possibility of its proximity. Insert drama here.
The Theo-Drama is the secret history of the world. It is both written and unwritten, closed and open, again, in respect for man's freedom. I would conceptualize it as I would a work of art, in which things are conditioned from top to bottom, e.g., theme --> plot --> character --> action --> dialogue. At each level down, there is more apparent freedom, and yet, everything is ultimately conditioned and lured from above.
Got a late start this morning, so that's about it.