Cosmic Conservatism and the Politics of the Infinite (11.22.10)
Religion "is based on the recognition of a superhuman Reality of which man is somehow conscious and towards which he must in some way orientate his life." If man is the bridge between matter and spirit, then religion embodies the engineering principles, so to speak, of this bridge building. Far from being an "opiate for the masses," it is modern secular ideologies "which serve as nothing more than addictive drugs for decadent and lost peoples."
Revelation does not stop with the written word: "On the contrary, the whole history of Christendom is a continual dialogue between God and man, and every age of the Chruch's life, even the most remote and obscure, has some important lesson for us today." This would imply that the present is not "more important" than the past; but neither is it less so. I find that traditionalists have a sort of "inferiority complex" about the present, and conversely, tend to idealize the past.
But if each epoch of history is in some sense providential, then the question is, what is the purpose to the present time in which we are living? Perhaps it has to do with "sanctifying" the scientistic "reign of quantity" and bringing it back into harmony with timeless religious principles in a higher synthesis of spirit and matter. Which is to say, same as it ever was, for as Augustine wrote, to the extent that science and philosophy reveal truth about the world, "we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it."
In so doing, just as paganism was incorporated and sanctified by Christianity, perhaps our task is to sanctify these modern forms of neo-paganism. Certainly this is what I attempted to do in my book, which is hardly opposed to science, but rather attempts to place it in a context in which it "becomes" or "reveals" what it actually is in the larger scheme of things. Petey and I simply wish to bobtize science in the anamnoetic waters of eternity -- to cleanse it of its unnecessary cultural and temporal accretions.
Another way of saying it is that modernity has shattered the unity of the world into ever-smaller, disconnected and isolated fragments, in a process that is indistinguishable from decay. But this is not just a passive process; rather, the forces of secularism oppose any attempt to put the cosmic egg back together in a greater humptyarchy. Thus, on a very deep level, secularism tries to impose a religiously anti-religious lowerarchy on the rest of us, which is what liberal intolerance is all about -- diversity, moral relativism, multiculturalism, political correctness, etc.
In this specific sense, you cannot be "in love with the world" without hating God; for to love only the world is to reduce man to matter and therefore to a machine, and ultimately to a means rather than an end. But then secularism slips in its own teleology, converting man into a means of achieving wholly materialistic ends as defined by the "progressive" who substitutes material perfectibility for spiritual evolution. Thus, there really are "two Americas," the one that exists in reality -- i.e, the "shining city on a hill," and the one that exists in the fantasies of the left, or "Sugar Candy Mountain." Secular ideologies "promise much by taking much," which is to say, your soul.
Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and "precedes the state." As such, it is a competitor with the modern welfare state, something that has become obvious vis-a-vis Western Europe or the black family in America. Since man is a social animal, if his tightest bonds are not with the family, they will be with something less. Should the family collapse, "society itself must collapse or change in a fashion so drastic as to be no longer recognizable."
Indeed, this is what the whole debate about the re-definition of marriage is all about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with "homophobia," but with a prudent appreciation of the profundity of the issues involved -- i.e, not with homosexual "rights" but with heterosexual duties. It's like performing a needlessly radical experiment on a body that is already taxed and trying to maintain its health and equilibrium. Except the experiment is conducted by a handful of elite judges instead of doctors, so we can't even sue them for malpractice.
"There is a point at which the world of spirit comes in conscious contact with the world of matter. That point is man." Dawson felt that "most heresies have come from the inability to walk between the two extremes," so that "to privilege either the spiritual or material at the expense of the other is to verge into a modern form of Gnosticism." Man's "whole destiny depends on the proper co-ordination" of matter and spirit; since Man is a bridge, "the lower world is in some sense dependent on him for its spiritualization and its integration in the universal order." And man's true order does not come from the material and temporal world, but from the timeless and atemporal. To ignore this reality is essentially to commit cluelesscide as it pertains to one's genuine humanness.
"All true progress comes from the proper use of language." As God "spoke" the cosmos into existence, man "speaks" culture into existence. If the family is the fist thing undermined by the left, then language is the second. What is always most startling about leftist discourse is the inebriated and intoxicated abuse of language. Call it discoarse, I guess. They truly are at war with the Word, so we can say that Word War I has been going on since the beginning of human time. The left is a new whine in a very old battle.
"The 'mastery' of professional historical methods and 'techniques will not produce great history, any more than a mastery of metrical technique will produce great poetry.' The true historian, or the metahistorian, will recognize that 'something more is necessary -- intuitive understanding, creative imagination, and finally a universal vision transcending the relative limitation of the particular field of historical study.'" Thus, the genuine historian must also be a poet in the true sense of the word.
History has both upper and lower vertical aspects, or unconscious and supraconscious: "What we see in history is only a partial and uncertain manifestation of the spiritual activity which is taking place at once below and above the level of historical study." "We modern sophists... are the ones being unscholarly in discounting a higher power, a power unseen and unknown through our five physical senses, but recognized by all human cultures prior to the advent of modernity."
"Christian culture is always in conflict with the world," whereas leftist culture is always at odds with reality, i.e., the realities from which the world derives its meaning and significance. This reality is what Augustine called the City of God, whereas we are merely brother-and-sista' sojourners in the City of Man, "nothing but a stranger in this world," as Van Morrison sang:
To be born again
In another world
In another time
Got a home on high
Ain't nothing but a stranger in this world
I got a home on high
In another land
So far away
So far away
Way up in the heaven