You Have Omail: The End is Near!
What a cliché. Start over.
My friends, today we find ourselves at a crossroads.
Please. This sounds like an 8th grade graduation speech -- which is better than Al Gore, but still. Say something kooky, something more in the Gagdad style. Something that makes no sense but sounds like it ought to.
My fellow Coons, I keep getting these vertical messages in my inbox about the final act in the arc of salvation. In fact, it is what got me to thinking about this whole topic to begin with. Of course, one of the problems in being a... a whatever it is I am, is that you never know whether these memos are spam from various levels of consciousness, both high and low, or the real vertical deal. After all, to think at all -- even in the horizontal sense -- is to ignore and delete 99% of what comes into your brainbox. A stupid or confused person doesn't know how to filter out all the garbage. There are also plenty of spiritually sensitive people who are open to the vertical, but who, for a variety of reasons, distort the message.
The reason for this is that the message, regardless of its "purity," must nevertheless be filtered through the crooked timber with which the material human is composed. This is why every step in genuine gnosis (not the heretical kind) must be accompanied by two -- maybe even three, to be on the safe side -- steps in virtue. In other words, the True cannot evolve too far in advance of the Good; nor can it get out too far ahead of Beauty, but that's a subject for a different post. Let's just say that a perusal of the new age section of your local bookstore brings to mind the title of one of Thelonious Monk's compositions: Ugly Beauty.
But debased books of the Tony Robbins/Deepak Chopra/Wayne Dyer variety (the men with the secret!) could also be called "False Truth" or "Bad Virtue." These genuine profits are in a spiritual "catch 22," because if they were to actually become more spiritually attuned, they would never stop being ashamed of what they had written -- of how they had trivialized the Divine Message and rendered it as ugly as an email solicitation for boner pills, as Lileks calls them, so don't blame me. Such writers (not Lileks, the other ones) will remain in a closed circle and keep writing the same spiritually barren self-help book over and over. There is no true divine creativity, no real vertical spark.
One of the purposes of religion -- properly understood -- is to act as a filter -- that is, to help one distinguish between the Real and the unreal, so as to align oneself with the Real. This is why a sophisticated yahoo such as Bill Maher can make fun of religion all day and therefore never understand why America's founders had to have been deeply inspired by Judeo-Christian metaphysics. Such a person must either ignore that truly Inconvenient Truth or imagine that our founders were cynical secular men, just like him. To someone within the Judeo-Christian stream, the connection is obvious, but to someone trying to swim on the dry land outside of it, it makes no sense that such freakishly clear-thinking men were deeply devout, so they must "attack the link," as Bion would say. But this is also to attack God, which is always a bad move.
Anyway, the omail I keep receiving has to do with the nature of the times in which we are living, and how they relate to Phase III in the Arc of Salvation. Now, it should go without saying that if one is totally immersed in the horizontal, one has no perspective on the now. At best, one will superimpose some idiosyncratic, egocentric meaning on the now, derived from limited personal experience. This is why virtually all secular leftist boneheads look at Iraq and see Vietnam. This is as far in the historical vertical they can rise, which isn't very far at all, to say the least. Thus, they interpret all matters of race in terms of Alabama in 1950, or all questions of "class" as if it were 1850, or all questions of "gender" as if it were 1750. Progressives are always temporally frozen in amber, looking at history through a rear-view mirage.
A universal spiritual truth is that one of the gifts, or "charisms," of the Holy Spirit is the ability to read the "signs of the times." One does not know the third person of the trinity "objectively" but only subjectively. It is not that aspect of God which one looks at, but that with which one looks with inspiration, or with "eyes made new," so to speak. Bear this point in mind for later, since if Phase III is the age of the Holy Spirit (Phase I having been the age of the Father, Phase II the age of the Son), then certain important implications follow. This is getting ahead of ourselves a bit, but as Frederick Turner puts it in his Natural Religion,
"The Christian Gospels contain an enormously important implication that is both clear and curiously ignored or muted in the teachings of most of the churches. Jesus leaves us with the promise of sending the Paraclete -- literally, in Greek, 'the one called to help.' Yet in most Christian liturgy the Holy Spirit is tacked on, as it were, as an afterthought, after passages celebrating at length the glory of the Father and the Son. 'Oh, and by the way, let's not forget the good old Holy Ghost' seems to be the general tenor....
"Yet if we analyze the style and characteristic 'plotting' of God's story of the world as Christians see it, it would be entirely out of character for him to have arranged a big anticlimax after the ascension of Christ. The redemption outdoes in drama and even importance the earlier creation and fall; if this is the third age, the era of the Paraclete, then surely it must be more marvellous still, and marked by a personal style not entirely the same as that of the Father and the Son. It would behoove us to pay more attention to the divine person who is with us now, as present among us as Jesus was, if we believe what Jesus says" (emphasis mine).
More on that later. Anyway, to read the "signs of the times" is to peer deeply into the now and perceive a more overarching pattern. However, one is not actually looking more "deeply," so to speak, but from a higher vantage point. Or let us say that the "depth" is a result of the "height," as the addition of a third dimension allows one to see the greater whole. For example, let us say that you are a passenger on a train. There is another train on the same track coming at you in the opposite direction. From your vantage point within the train, you can't see what's up ahead. To be perfectly accurate, you can see ahead a little ways, but for the most part you will be taking in the passing horizontal scenery.
But someone standing on a hilltop, even though he is still in space (i.e., not "time traveling"), would be able to "see the future," or at least a possible future. That is, he could see one train down below and the other train off in the distance, and be aware of the danger. There is really nothing magical about it. To a certain extent, it's as simple as adding 2 + 2. Frankly, psychotherapists do it all the time. They can see the "train wreck" up ahead, but it rarely does any good to explicitly warn the patient. Rather, you have to help lift them up, so they too can see it and react appropriately. Foresight is forewarned.
Now, all humans have this innate ability. A "prophet" is someone who has the same ability, only in a highly developed or more purified form. Like Michael Jordan, he just has a higher vertical leap. Again, this is one of the "infinite distinctions" between man and animal. Of course, one of the "signs of the times" is that it is actually controversial to say that the gap between man and animal is infinite, but this is a fine example of where the radical Darwinians are wrong. An animal knows nothing of the future, only the now. In fact, it would even be incorrect to say that they know the now in any human sense, as a quasi-magical ingression of eternity into time. For animals it is more of a two-dimensional, "in your face" now, whereas for humans it has an additional dimension of "distance" and therefore depth. (One of the purposes of meditation is to increase this depth of the now.)
As mentioned yesterday, humans are only able to know history at all because they have a built in sense of absolute history -- in the same way that we are only able to judge any beauty at all in light of an innate sense of absolute beauty. This is why we all have the ability to judge beauty on a relative scale but why perfect Beauty cannot surpass itself. The same can be said of Truth and Virtue. What is true is true. If two things are truly true, one is not more true than the other, since they each reflect the Absolute. This is common sense to humans, to such an extent that they don't even think about it consciously.
Due to the inevitable temporo-centrism of fallen man, humans are always tempted to believe that they are living in a "special" time. This may or may not be true, but some times are clearly more special than others in a cosmic sense -- in terms of the Arc of Salvation. From the point of view of the Arc of Salvation, mankind is pretty close to a hopeless case that has only survived this long due to a number of extremely potent "vertical interventions," some in the form of a divine smack-down, others a smack-up -- but always a smack. Many metaphysical dullards -- I saw a Hot Air video clip of Bill Maher blowing hot air about it just yesterday -- object to the Old Testament on the grounds that it depicts a "psychotic" or "bloodthirsty" God who is constantly killing people. This is like someone seeing -- I don't know, let's say, Saving Private Ryan -- and saying, "what a stupid film. Just a bunch of sociopathic killers shooting at each other."
To be immersed in the horizontal is by definition to be barred from any transcendent meaning. Transcendent meaning can only be found in the vertical, so it goes without saying that horizontal man cannot understand scripture by converting it into mere horizontal information to comport with his fallen state. This is to do exactly what an animal does to history. Again, animals have no knowledge of history because they do not have access to it. But the difference between vertical man and horizontal man is hardly less extreme, in the sense that horizontal man does not understand religion because he cannot understand religion -- and then has the narcissism -- always the narcissism -- to "hubristically" elevate himself above the vertical man.
By this insane logic, the greatest men who have ever lived -- including America's founders -- must either be nut cases or just plain ignorant. If Bill Maher had been there at the constitutional convention, he would have set them straight. He would have courageously spoken politically incorrect truth to power:
"What's this nonsense about 'endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights?' Please. You're not going to ground our rights in that psychopathic killer God, are you? I have this idea -- I've been corresponding with this brilliant fellow over in France -- Robespierre's the name. He says we have to put the kibosh on all this religious BS altogether and get a fresh start. Forget about re-enacting the exodus from Egypt. That's a stupid myth anyway. We have to go back to the real beginning and reinvent man on totally logical grounds. C'mon people, let's be unsentimental about this. As Max says 'virtue without terror is destructive, and terror without virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible.' Doesn't that make more sense than saying the purpose of government is to protect rights granted by a quote-unquote God whom -- let's be honest, people -- we all know doesn't exist? Arianna, you agree with me, right?"
I apologize for rambling, but I suppose I'm laying a foundation. Work on the foundation is finished for today, as it needs to settle and harden a bit. Please stay away from the soft spots. I'll just leave you with another provocative quote from Turner:
"If in Christian terms this is truly the era of the Paraclete, it means that the history of the world since the redemption must itself contain a message, a message that cannot be less than equal to the Gospel of Christ -- if the Holy Ghost is indeed equal to the other two persons of God. If we look at that history from the vantage point of today, we notice one huge development: the astonishing progress of science, technology, and the human arts in general. That progress occurred chiefly in the parts of the world devoted to the Book and influenced by the life of Christ, while other civilizations lagged, or caught up only when exposed to the Gospel. The implication is that in Christian terms we might see progress in human art and science as the direct sign, the gospel, the very metabolism, of the Paraclete, the Helper."