Tuesday, February 27, 2007

You Have Omail: The End is Near!

The earth is in a crisis.

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."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Planet of the Apes of God: The Subhuman Agenda of the Stick-Wielding Kosmonkeys (2.28.09)

I have a feeling that we'll be staying with this arc of salvation business for a while. However, like the course of exterior history -- which is the arc's shadow in the herebelow -- we may jump around a bit, up and down, back and forth, in and out. For one thing, I can only write things as they occur to me, as none of this has been thought out in advance. Furthermore, dwelling within it simultaneously brings it into being.

Not to spark another debate about the Trinity, but another universal trinity as it pertains to man's spiritual development is that of purification, realization, and union. Whatever your basketball tradition, this is the form of the path to the bucket (as Big Chief Triangle might say).

Perhaps these three phases can also tell us something about our collective history, which -- let's face it -- is either a process that is leading somewhere, or complete horizontal chaos onto which we simply superimpose fanciful patterns. Obviously I believe the former is true; and in fact, one of man's prerogatives -- one of the things that defines him as man -- is the ability to think historically. In other words, prior to this or that particular history is the intuition of absolute history itself.

Speaking of which, Dupree alerted me to the most appallingly fatuous piece of scientistic gobshite on dailykos the other day. If anyone wants to know why I so despise the secular left -- why it is the mortal enemy of the Coon way of life -- perusing this infrahuman dispatch from the bowels of metaphysical ignorance would serve as well as any, for it reveals the ultimate premise and goal of the left in all its hideously naked barbarity, which is to turn man into a beast. Entitled Science Friday: You Are Not That Special, it reads,

"a pair of recent articles point up the folly of making tool use the test of humanity. It appears that chimpanzees had their own 'stone age.' Around the same time the pyramids were being constructed in Egypt, Chimps in West Africa were using stone tools to get at hard-shelled nuts. It's not only chimpanzees of the past who use tools. It's long been known that some bands of modern chimps use sticks to tease insects from their hives."

There, you see? This ignoramus looks at the vast panorama of creation and concludes that one of the seven wonders of the world is indistinguishible from a hungry monkey cracking open a nut. By this adamantine logic, Kos himself is nothing more than a grubby chimp poking his joystick into a cyberhole to satisfy his animal impulses. Which, of course, is entirely true.

The self-confessed monkey in question then asks,

duh, "how can you draw the line between us and them? Emotions? Language? The answer is that you can't. There are no lines. Deeply unsatisfying as it is to the desire to group items into black and white (a tendency also not limited to humans), all the answers of science are grey."

Oh, really? What could be more black and white than suggesting that there is absolutely no distinction between animals and human beings? For example, even my dog knows better than this. Frankly she is in awe of Dear Leader and his magical powers -- indeed, even of Future Leader and the mysterious Trail of Food he leaves in his wake.

The stick-wielding kosmonkey then presumes to inform humans -- but how would he know? -- that "Your species is not that special. Reading the text of paleontology and history, there is no bold message of certainty. Winding back the clock reveals no inexorable march in our direction, or even the triumph of 'better' over 'worse'.... [H]uman history has been defined as much by fortuitous placement of natural resources as it has been by human action. You're the tail end of the tail end of a process that much more closely resembles random chance than progress toward an objective."

Furtherless, "Your world is not that special. Your planet is not located at the center of the universe. Neither is your star, or your galaxy. Perhaps most disturbing at all, as telescopes have revealed to us the enormity of space, both astronomy and geology have revealed the breathless expanse (sic) of time. We are not just insignificantly small items living in a vast ocean of space; we're living in a moment so brief that it's barely a single tick of a clock that's already run through millennia without us, and will not pause when we are gone."

I don't mean to dwell on this moronic diatribe, but it is important. Don't worry, we're almost done. The beast finishes poking his verbal stick into the dirt by saying,

"No, you are not that special. And yet, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable. Your species is a wonder, gifted with physical and mental resources that provide boundless opportunity. Your planet is a wonder, swarming with life in infinite variety and complexity. Your universe is a wonder, based on laws so precisely balanced that the slightest variation in any of them might have caused everything -- space, time, and everything that moves through both -- to never have appeared."

Let's de-deconstruct this vacuous elegy to nothingness for just a moment, since it does such a good job of articulating the satanic agenda of the left, and presents such a perfect mirror image of the Coon view of creation -- the arc of salvation.

According to Valentin Tomberg, all evolutionary progress in the vertical is accompanied by a sort of shadow version in the lower vertical. (Catholics know full well, for example, that the shadow of evil unavoidably entered the church with its inception; likewise, it is not a coincidence that Marx was the son -- or grandson, anyway -- of a rabbi, being that he crafted what can only be called the ultimate "reverse-sinai revelation"; similarly, most of the "new age" is a perverse reflection of certain primordial truths that are only now coming into full flower in the collective vertical.)

Will has referrred to this as the "ape of God" -- not "ape" in the animal sense, but in terms of aping, or imitating. It would be perfectly accurate to say -- and all true theologians know this -- that leftism itself is the ape of the primordial doctrine. It is not analogous to, say, paganism, which, as Will has pointed out, had its role in the arc of salvation. After all, religion had to start somewhere, as does any developmental process. It only becomes pathological if the developmental process becomes arrested, if there is a regression to the earlier mode, or if there is a "fixation" or a "complex" -- a proscribed area that does not enter the stream of development, but becomes "stuck" in exactly the manner of a mind parasite.

In other words, a human being can be quite developed in certain areas but completely fixated in others. For some reason Alan Watts comes to mind. On the one hand he could speak eloquently and charismatically about matters of spirit, while on the other hand he was a pathetic alcoholic with a masochistic spanking fixation. He was a fairly typical Phase II man, but would never do in Phase III, which will require a much higher level of purity, integration, and actualization.

You will note, for example, how deeply flawed were certain heroes of the Old Testament -- David comes to mind, or even a secular hero such as Alexander the Great. These men had a critical civilizing mission to accomplish, and behavior that was perfectly acceptable in Phase I would be entirely unacceptable in Phases II or III. We are called to a much higher moral standard, but let us never forget that the gulf between animal-man and Phase I man was probably even greater than the distance between Phases II and III. In his context, David is as great a man as any who has ever lived. Unfortunately, it is possible that the same may be said of Mohammed, whose mission involved the evolution of the nomadic animal-men of the Arab world into Phase I. Islam began moving into Phase II some 700 years ago, but then pulled back for a variety of reasons. Now they wish to re-impose Phase I on the rest of the world, completely halting its evolutionary progress.

Back to leftism. It is not not a fixation, a regression, or an arrested mode of development. Rather, it is in every respect a parallel, or "shadow" of principial truth. Let us review the main conclusions of the kosmonkey referenced above:

1) Man is an animal, fundamentally no different than any other.

2) Values are an illusion; nothing is actually any better than anything else (e.g., the Giza Pyramid is a stick in an ant hole and Shakespeare is Maureen Dowd).

3) Emotion and language -- or heart and head, meaning and truth -- cannot actually exist in any human sense. My dog knowing where to poop or when it's time for a walk is no different than the theory of relativity.

4) Nothing can be known with certainty, which is simply another way of saying that nothing may be known except falsehood -- which is no knowledge at all.

5) Ironic though it may be for a "progressive" to say, there is actually no direction in history, no objective standard of measurement, no better or worse. Our unique Western values have nothing whatsoever to do with our extraordinary "success." As the Big Baboon, Jared Diamond, has argued, it's just a matter of geography, disease, and fortuitous placement of natural resources.

6) There is no intrinsic meaning in the cosmos, much less in your life -- which is simply the tail end of the tail end of a random process leading from nowhere to nothing.

7) The secular leftist takes an appallingly violent wrecking ball to the entire realm of the vertical, in that not only are you not special, but you are insignificantly small. Furthermore, the world is not special -- which of course makes us wonder -- but not really -- why all these leftists cheer the fanatical message of Al Gore, which is obviously premised on the doctrinal truth that the earth is of infinite importance; here again, a fine example of the "ape of God."

8) Neither human beings nor the planet are at the center of the universe, since there is by definition no center once the vertical has been demolished by academic monkeys with sticks. Again, the correct doctrine is that of course human beings are at the very center of the cosmic drama if viewed vertically. The center of a three-dimensional cone is a line that descends from the point to the base, not anything located along the base. Reduced from three to two dimensions, we are left with only a circle at the base. This is the self-imposed "circle of hell" inhabited by the the secular left which they -- no different than the Islamists -- would like to impose upon the rest of us.

No, we're not done, because once the leftist has annihilated the vertical -- which is definitional for them -- he performs a bait and switch, inserting the horizontal values of the left into the hole he has created with his monkey stick. This is where the "ape of God" comes into play. Some are more slick and subtle than others -- i.e., Obama or the Clintons -- but the kosmonkey is not subtle, to say the least. In one sentence he declares,

1) No, you are not that special.

And then, in the very next sentence, 2) Yes, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable.

As you folks with a rudimentary grasp of logic will have noticed, there is no way to derive (2) from (1), the eternal yes of life, hope, meaning and value from the NO! of abject nihilism.

But here your troubles have only just begun, because -- to paraphase someone -- hell is the place where logic is rendered null and void, as in a Kafka novel. I will just end with something I wrote a while back, and let you draw your own conclusion:

"The philosopher Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftist thought in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection.

"The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation. This materialistic skepticism is then combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind.

"However, being that the moral impulse remains in place, there is no longer any boundary or channel for it. One sees this, for example, in college students (and those permanent college students known as professors) who, in attempting to individuate from parental authority and define their own identities, turn their intense skepticism against existing society, denouncing it as morally shoddy, artificial, hypocritical, and a mere mask for oppression and exploitation. In other words, as the philosopher Voegelin explained it, the vertical is 'immamentized' into the present, expressing the same religious faith but in wholly horizontal and materialistic and terms.

"What results is a moral hatred of existing society and the resultant alienation of the postmodern leftist intellectual. Having condemned the distinction between good and evil as dishonest, such an individual can at least find pride in the unblinking 'honesty' of their condemnation. Since ordinary decent behavior can never be safe against suspicion of sheer conformity or downright hypocrisy, only an amoral meaningless act can assure complete authenticity. This is why, to a leftist, the worst thing you can call someone is a hypocrite, whereas authentic depravity is celebrated in art, music, film, and literature. It is why, for example, leftist leaders all over the world were eager to embrace a nihilistic mass murderer such as Yasser Arafat."

Let us stipulate that we are engaged in a cosmic struggle between human beings and monkeys with sticks, newspapers, academy awards, suicide bombs, and tenure. Choose sides wisely. It's up to you, but my advice is to choose the side in which the possiblity of wisdom exists, and to steer clear of the side that thrashes wisdom to dust with so many monkey sticks.


Check out Her Badness, Dr. Sanity, who looks through the cosmic colliderescape and sees almost the same beastly pattern.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday Driving on the Innerstate

The Trinity is an idea that seems to baffle many Christians, let alone non-Christians -- the notion that God is the mutual and co-eternal indwelling of three persons in one, one of whom is paradoxically fully human yet fully divine. Although it sounds complex, at the same time, we are assured that God is intrinsically simple (i.e., not an aggregate), so there must be something about this formulation that is as logically clear and necessary as any rule of geometry -- say, "a line consists of two points." Not to entirely demystify it -- mystery being an important mode of knowing -- but there must be some way to cut through the centuries of speculation and see through to the beautiful simplicity of it.

As always, I am driving while intoxicated -- which is to say writing while coontemplating -- so you will forgive me if I careen off the road and end up on Route 666. This can happen when traveling the innerstate, especially if one uses an excessively freeway. I will leave it to you to decide whether that's a fully deployed windbag in front of you or a hot-air balloony trying to lift you by your buddhastraps into the pneumatosphere.

In his Theo-Drama, Balthasar -- who was apparently Pope John Paul's favorite theologian -- say, did you know that JPII also had a copy of Meditations on the Tarot sitting right smack dab on his surprisingly little desk, for which Balthasar wrote the epilogue? -- which only goes to show you that this wonderful man might have worn an imposing pointy hat in public, but a soft and inviting coonskin cap in private... say, where was I? Let's just start over.

In the Theo-Drama, Balthasar likens what we in Coonland are calling "the arc of salvation" to a stage play that reconciles the problem of divine and human freedom -- which is to say the paradox of infinite and finite freedom. For if the soul is created, how then can it actually be truly free?

For example, "facing forward," it always looks like we have a more or less radical existential freedom -- at least those of us privileged to live in the West.

But "facing backward," we can often see that our freedom was more or less of an illusion. To cite one obvious example, psychoanalysis deals with the study of the unmetabolized past-in-the-present, otherwise known as the unconscious. As we explore the unconscious and its repository of mind parasites, we can see how these entities limited our freedom -- not to say fulfillment -- due to agendas all their own -- agendas we can only detect in hindsight. Although a mind parasite exists, so to speak, in the "space" of the mind, it is only by surveying our past and looking at certain dysfunctional patterns in time that we can see the workings of the little buggers.

But at the same time, if you are on any kind of spiritual path and survey your past, a different kind of pattern will emerge. In fact, for most people -- and for Coons by definition -- it will appear coontrived, which is to say that it will look as if it were guided by the workings of a sort of predestination. On the one hand, we can all be relieved that we have arrived at this happy deustination. But on the other hand, it can be a little unsettling to realize that the freedom you perceived at the time was not as free as it looked, in the sense that your life was being dreamt by a "supraconscious dreamer" of which you were unaware at the time.

What this suggests is that the "ontology of the moment" contains two streams of karma, as it were, one of which is pushing you forward into the past (the mind parasites), the other of which is pulling you back to the future -- in other words, this latter karmic stream beckons you to paradoxically "become what you already are."

Yesterday we discussed the idea of spatial, "geometrical" truth vs. temporal, "musical" truth. Our lives are a combination of geometry and music, of adventure and law, of harmony and melody, of freedom within the constraints of some kind of hidden necessity. Our "life" consists of the more or less winding road we take to re-arrive where we startled and even jumped into our skin. In the words of the Poet,

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

Now, Balthasar has a very interesting take on the Trinity and its relation to the cosmic theo-drama. Jesus, because he was all-man, had to be no different than the rest of us in this respect. As such, just like us, he could not fully know or understand the nature of the drama in which he was situated. If he had known, then his passion would have been something less than that -- more of a detached "dispassion," as he simply "played out the clock" -- as in a one-sided basketball game. Not to sound blasphemous, but it would have been much more like the Life of Brian than the Passion of the Christ. Jesus could have been on the cross glancing at his watch, knowing that, outward appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, there was nothing to sweat about -- let alone blood. "I'm cool. It's all good."

Thus, just like our lives, Jesus had an element of horizontal freedom -- which is to say existential nothingness -- within the constraints of a much larger drama in which he was taking part. While he obviously had "hints" of a larger purpose -- as indeed we all do -- the human Jesus could not have been privy to the whole script. And in fact, Balthasar uses the metaphor of playwright, director, and actor to conceptualize the situation. The Father is "playwright"; the Son is "actor"; and the Holy Spirit is "director" (one is reminded that JPII was an actor). As Edward Oakes explains,

"a successful theatrical production always depends on the harmonious cooperation of three freedoms, which are not however equal: for the director must serve the script and the actor must serve both; yet the actor cannot simply afford to be an automaton if the production is to be successful: some unnamed element... must be engaged if the play is to emerge before the audience as playwright and director intended it."

As Sachs (quoted in Oakes) writes, "The fact that the actor-Son has the responsibility to play the role given him by the author-Father, as 'whispered' to him in each moment by the prompter-Spirit, does not exclude the actor-Son's interpretive freedom. On the contrary, it assumes it and provides the material in which his freedom as an actor can become concrete. Therefore, although the author has a definite primacy with regard to the actor and the prompter (or director), it is by no means a tyrannical relationship. The author continues to be present in his work but as one who opens up the creative 'space' of the part."

Thus, even Jesus struggles with the two "streams of karma": a literally infinite gap -- the gap of God's absence or withdrawal from creation -- exists between the O, my father, let this cup pass from me, and the it is accomplished.

Back to our own lives, in which there is a curious freedom that accompanies surrendering to that which we are and He Who Is. Looking back at our lives, we can see that we were least free when we thought we had the most freedom, and most free when we finally gave up the faux freedom. Balthasar compares it to the artist who moves from the persecutory space of being tormented by indecision and infinite possibility, until he is finally "possessed by the idea inspiring him and surrenders himself completely to its imperious and peremptory demands." This feeling of being "seized" and "surrendering" describes exactly what it felt like to write my book, and increasingly, to write these posts. Or to live my life, for that martyr.

So history -- both personal and collective -- is a God-given space of freedom in which we are free to choose the path back to ourselves and to God. All roads lead to the same place, but some get there faster than others. And some routes are much more scenic and beautiful.

If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dreams
Where immobile steel rims crack
And the ditch in the back roads stop
Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again
To be born again

From the far side of the ocean
If I put the wheels in motion
And I stand with my arms behind me
And I'm pushin' on the door
Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again
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'm 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

In another time
In another place
In another face.... --Van Morrison, Astral Weeks

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Boogie Boarding on the Righteous Waves of the Eschaton

Only through time is time conquered. --T.S. Eliot

Just how personal
a relationship with Jesus
can one have
before it's no longer Jesus
Wondered Joan,
as the flames rose higher, and

Thus far, most of us have apparently been on the same page with regard to my little coonspiracy theory of the Arc of Salvation, but I expect we'll lose some people along the way. After all, it is only natural that everyone wants to believe that their particular revelation is complete, and presumably no one wants their theology subsumed into some wacky cosmic scheme hatched by Bob on Saturday morning in his grubby little Coon den.

The question is, how heterodox can one be before one is completely off the map and into the area of a wholly private revelation, if such a thing can be said to exist -- distinct, that is, from a delusion? Obviously this is an issue all mystics struggle with, which in turn is why all religious institutions struggle with their mystics -- who, in their own minds, are simply "prolonging" the implications of the revelation in novel ways. However, you will notice that the mystics never struggle with each other. Rather, they just enjoy the view. It's like they say -- no two democracies have ever gone to war with one another. Why is that?

I suppose it's a matter of verticality. Progress in the vertical is defined by two variables, 1) integration (which has to do with the interior) and 2) actualization ("horizontalizing" or externalizing the interior), and there is simply no reason for two fully integrated and actualized people to quarrel, for there is literally "nothing" to fight over -- the divine nothing being infinite and all, there's Plenty O' Nothin' to Go 'Round (which, come to think of it, would have been a good title for my absurcular book).

Now, it is surely no coincidence that all of my favorite Christian theologians happen to be mystical theologians, many of whom have at one time or another been branded as heterodox, even heretical: Origen, Denys, and Eckhart; or Blake and Boehme, who would not really be considered theologians but visionaries in a Christian context; the author of Meditations on the Tarot, who was Catholic but calls himself a Christian Hermeticist, part of a perennial wisdom tradition extending back before Jesus and parallel to Moses; or even Balthasar, a nominally Catholic theologian who is regarded with some suspicion because of his close working relationship with a visionary mystic, Adrienne Speyr, who essentially provided him with "channeled" material. There's simply no other way to put it -- for example, Speyr explained in detail to Balthasar exactly what was going on with Jesus while he was dead and in hell all day on Holy Saturday, between the crucifixion of Good Friday and the first Easter Sunday.

And the more I study Frithjof Schuon, I can see that he struggled mightily to situate himself within orthodox tradition -- indeed, it was the entire basis of his life's work -- even though it is obvious to this Coon that he transcended any small-o orthodoxy and abided within O-rthodoxy itself: beyond religion, so to speak, into the source of religion. This is not to say that he felt himself "superior" to revelation or that he mixed traditions "from below," in the manner of eclectic new-agers. Rather, he did so "from above," which makes all the difference -- and which again cannot but pose a problem for anyone who regards his given theology as absolute-absolute as opposed to relative-absolute, a metaphysically subtle but crucial distinction.

Am I losing everyone so far?

Good! I need to keep driving down those numbers on my site meter, so I can retire back into my personal cloud.

Now clearly, nothing can be absolute with the exception of the absolute, which goes to what we were saying the other day about bibliolatrists who confuse the word about God with God's one and only Word, the logos. It should go without saying that the logos deploys itself not just in space, but in time, and that it is ultimately the "substance" of each. It is why, no matter how far or deeply scientists peel away layers of Oneion and peer within the physical cosmos, they find nothing but more logos -- or ordered truth -- logos within logos, all the way down, all the way up, and all the way back.

But time also represents ordered truth -- which, for example, is what the much maligned practice of astrology is all about. A gifted astrologer -- of whom there are few, by the way -- is not one of those frauds who predict the future. Rather, they are able to look into the deep structure of the now and tell you about the patterns of your own being -- a "temporal youprint" which will play out in the field of time. It is just another way of saying that "character is destiny."

Institutionalized theologies generally contain the shadow of any principial truth they exclude -- for example, the messiah principle seeps into all Eastern religions, just as the guru principle insinuates itself into all Western ones. A case in point is astrology, for what can it mean that we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him? What do you think it was that made the three wise men wise instead of wise guys?

For that matter, who keeps time with the timekeeper's daughter while the timekeeper's out keeping time? (I don't know why I said that. I just like the song.)

But time obviously presents a different kind of order than spatial order. Spatial order is fixed, geometrical, architectural; its organ of knowledge (in both the inner and outer sense) is the eye. Temporal order, however, is cyclical, flowing, and musical; its organ (again, both inner and outer) is the ear. You might say that deep time is heard through the third ear -- the kind of "third ear" one requires, for example, to sit through a complete performance of The Ring and actually get it.

But one also requires such a developed third ear in order to hear the song celestial, or Cosmic Suite. For example -- to take a thoroughly mundane example -- in the course of my forensic work, I am rarely overwhelmed by a case. Most humans are so simple that ears are hardly required -- most any Coon (like their Subgenius brethren) can sniff out a person's "soul stench" within about ten minutes, give or take. After that, there are no surprises, at least pleasant ones.

But a few weeks back, I was involved in the Mother of All Cases. The medical file alone took me about 12 hours to review, but instead of the usual coherence that emerged, the deeper I dug into to it, the more confused I became. The reason why was that there was absolutely no consensus of medical opinion, no "center" to the case, just a welter of contradictory information.

I ran it by a colleague who gave me some very helpful advice that I hadn't considered, despite the fact that it was right there in front of my ears. My confusion did not represent an absence of information about this patient; rather, it represented the presence of very precise information about her. Specifically, my state of "chaotic bewilderment" was a counter-transferential reaction telling me what it was like to be this woman -- who managed her own chaos by projecting it into others. She confuses everyone with whom she comes into contact because she herself is so confused. She spreads the confusion outward, including into doctors who just want to make their own confusion go away by coming up with an ad hoc opinion. This is an example of Bion's frequently cited adage that "the answer is the disease that kills curiosity."

I am quite sure that if you give it a moment's thought, you will be able to think of people of your acquaintance who are like this -- perhaps not as extreme, but nevertheless lacking a coherent center, which then uncomfortably reverberates outward, including into you. Obviously many leftists are of this nature, which is precisely why it is so frustrating to try to have a logical conversation with them. This happened to me just yesterday with a person whose arguments were just so ridiculous that it was impossible for me to respond to them on the level from which they arose. On that level, I suppose anything could be true -- which leftist academics never stop proving.

It would appear that many leftists experience conservatives in the opposite manner, as overly rigid and unyielding. Instead of no center, there is a sort of faux center, a set of unbending principles that the leftist equates with being more or less dead, or at least no fun. I know that this is the caricature I had of conservatives back when I was a chaotic liberal, and there can obviously be a certain truth to the perception, at least in certain conservatives. But these are precisely the conservatives I don't care for. Frankly, I don't give them a lot of attention, but they are generally the only ones that the liberal media pay attention to.

Now, back to the question at hand, what are we to make of the Christ event, or phase II in the arc of salvation? For this event is like a huge smoking crater in the middle of creation. When I was a kid, I used to think that "AD" stood for "after death," as in "before Christ" (BC) and after his death (AD). In between was the Big Crater. Or to be perfectly accurate, the big crater was the Resurrection -- which, paradoxically, is when the hole in creation was actually repaired and made whole, so to speak. Prior to that, there was a big hole called "death," or eternal separation from our source, if you will. That hole was filled on the first Easter.

Now, unlike most garden-variety Christians, I did not come to my views via the meteor but the crater it left. Although raised a Christian -- a Christian Scientist, to be exact (even though my mother wouldn't have dreamt of taking me to a practitioner instead of a doctor) -- being forced to attend Sunday school had the opposite of its intended effect, and caused me to be alienated from Christianity from a very early age. I only returned to it much later in life, but in a backwards sort of way, in the sense that I immersed myself in the philosophy and metaphysics -- or what you might call the "shock waves" produced by the meteor as it crashed from eternity into time.

Obviously these shock waves continue to be produced in everyone, irrespective of whether or not they are Christian (in the sense that the logos is not in history, but history in the logos). Those shock waves spread both backwards (i.e., leading to a complete reassessment of the Old Testament) and forward, as the reverberations entirely remade a future that otherwise would not have been. Out of all of the statements made by Jesus, this is perhaps the most exceedingly bizarre one, that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Er, right.

Remember, as far as we know, Jesus wrote not a word of this gospel. Nor did any of his followers even have a clue as to what he was talking about when he said it. A contemporary observer -- unable to peer into the structure of deep time -- would have dismissed this as abject kooky talk, to the extent that he gave it even a moment's attention. Imagine anyone saying this, much less an anonymous peasant in imperial Rome, which was more or less synonymous with the eternal order. No one foresaw its end at the time -- or at least no one but One. It would be far less of a stretch for me to say "yeah, I know, I have only a few hundred readers. But someday the Coonifesto will topple the existing geopolitical structure and be preached in every corner of the internet!"

So, if phase I represented the preparation for the descent of the logos in human form, phase II represented the deployment of the logos in historical time, which continues to act as a veritable wrecking ball to so many human cognitive, spiritual, moral, psychosexual, and political structures. To cite just one example, Saddam Hussein was a recent recipient of this logos. Good and hard, I might add. On a more benign note, the United States is the only country directly inspired by, and consciously founded upon, this logos.

Again, the meteor came and went in a matter of some three years, but its shock waves continue to be felt, to say the least. I mean, I am -- and I assume you are -- feeling them at this very moment -- surfing on them, so to speak, because isn't that what real theology is? Boogie boarding on the righteous waves of the eschaton as we ride history into its safe harbor at the end of time?

A diamond necklace played the pawn
Hand in hand some drummed along, oh
To a handsome man and baton
A blind class aristocracy
Back through the op'ra glass you see
The pit and the pendulum drawn
Columnated ruins domino

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping?

Hung velvet overtaken me
Dim chandelier awaken me
To a song dissolved in the dawn
The music hall a costly bow
The music all is lost for now
To a muted trumpeter's swan
Columnated ruins domino

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping, Brother John?

Dove nested towers the hour was
Strike the street quicksilver moon
Carriage across the fog
Two-step to lamplight cellar tune
The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne

The glass was raised, the fired rose
The fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting
While at port adieu or die

A choke of grief, heart hardened I
Beyond belief, a broken man too tough to cry

Surf's Up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song
The child is the father to the man --Surf's Up, the Beach Boys

Friday, February 23, 2007

On Creating a Cultural Womb for the Seed of Eternity (updated with your worst nightmare)

Where did we leave off in the cosmic theodrama and the arc of salvation? Oh, yes, the special role of the ancient Hebrews.

By the way, it's not always that easy to return to the state from which the day's previous post arose. If anyone is startled by certain discontinuities in my day-to-day concerns, it is again because whatever it is I am writing about is as much a matter of "state" or "plane" as it is content. In other words, I must specifically enter a certain state in order to write competently about whatever it is we are tackling.

I know it sounds prima donna-ish, but it's true. I am reminded of something that another petulant prima donna, Keith Jarrett, said. He is probably the world's greatest living jazz pianist, but he has also delved into classical. He said that the consciousness required in order to properly play these two forms is so radically different that it takes him months of preparation to switch over from one to the other. Jazz comes from one plane, classical from another.

Regarding the preparation of a human body for Phase II of the arc of salvation, ShrinkWrapped has had a very thoughtful series of posts on the psychological implications of abortion. A couple of days ago, he wrote that,

"For a couple who desire a child, life begins before conception. A couple trying to become pregnant find that each month, if the woman has her menses, there is a small feeling of loss; the hoped for and already loved child [emphasis mine] has not appeared. When, finally, the woman determines she is pregnant, often responding to barely conscious and unconscious bodily signals that herald the changes taking place within, the child begins to take on a reality, a life of its own. By the time of 'quickening', typically in the fourth month or thereabouts, the child is already a baby in the minds of the parents. There is no question that wanted children are psychologically already babies from very early in the sequence. Furthermore, a wanted child is the repository of all that is best in the couple. They imbue the soon-to-be infant with all sorts of possibilities and qualities... there is no question that from the moment of the positive EPT, reinforced each step of the way (heartbeat, sonograms, movement), the woman is carrying a person, not a fetus, and not a clump of cells."

Remember this paragraph when we begin discussing the preparation of a human body to bear the incarnation.

Scripture does not only reveal theological and metaphysical truth veiled in symbolic form, but also certain intrinsic psychological truths that enunciate the proper "operating system" for human beings. I would like to focus on some of the psychological truths that are veiled in scripture, because just as certain material conditions must prevail in order to create the context for psychological health, so too must certain psychological circumstances prevail in order to create a context for spiritual descent.

Obviously, the Torah is quite concerned with maintaining certain circumstances and arrangements that make possible the descent of divinity, or holiness, or the sacred. Jewish law was not there for its own sake but to create the day-to-day conditions under which God may "appear" in one's life. Yes, God is "always here" because he is "everywhere." But you might say that he is "dispersed" everywhere, and that human beings are uniquely able to engage in certain practices -- rituals, sacraments, and the like -- that act in the way that a magnifying glass focuses the sun's rays on a single point.

An efficacious ritual does the same thing, focusing God's grace, as it were, onto a single point in the now. The purpose of the sabbath, for example, is to unveil and open wide the "hole" in creation through which the divine energies flow. A special day is set aside for this specific purpose, even though the energies are always flowing. But again, in the absence of a divinely authorized human container, the grace will tend to fall like rain on a rocky landscape, with nothing there to "receive" it.

Obviously the Catholic sacraments are intended for the same purpose -- baptism, the Eucharist, holy matrimony, etc. -- in each instance, the medium is not just transformed by grace, but for the purposes of receiving the transforming grace. I am sure that much of what I am saying here is not kosher from a strict Catholic standpoint, but when dealing with any theological truth, the esoterist always asks, by virtue of what principle? does this or that truth operate. It is simply obvious to my Coon vision, for example, that marriage between man and woman is not an end in itself but a divinely ordained arrangement for the purposes of receiving the grace that will transform both parties. A dysfunctional marriage is one in which no spiritual transformation takes place -- it is spiritually "stillborn," so to speak, or "infertile" no matter how many children it produces -- like a Kennedy marriage.

This is why, strictly speaking, there can be no "secular" marriage. Or put it this way: to the extent that your marriage is only a secular affair, I do not see how or why it could transcend the state of essentially being -- as Glen Campbell sang -- "shackled by forgotten words and bonds and the ink stains that have dried upon some line." Anything short of spiritual union involves using the other person in one way or another. It merely creates the conditions for narcissism rather than its transcendence, which is surely one reason why there are so many divorces. Marriage can never do for you what it was never intended to do, which is to make you "happy" or "fulfilled" in the material sense, at least not for long. No mere earthling can do that.

I remember a patient from about a decade ago, a narcissistic, completely secular man who not only rejected religion but despised it. He was married in the strictly animal sense of the term, and naturally sought animal fulfillment with other women. Why not? What's the difference? But one time when he was contemplating another affair, I spontaneously blurted out, "why do you need another woman, when you have no idea how to use the one you've got?"

Yes, on the one hand this is an example of why I am not cut out to be a therapist. Still, it led down a very fruitful avenue in which this profoundly unspiritual man was able to face the pathetic emotional poverty of his existence, poverty that was entirely self-induced but veiled by his sophisticated "playboy" type of neo-adolescent philosophy. Marriages generally lose passion because people are terrified of the vulnerability it entails, so they kill it in subtle ways so that their mind parasites may live in undisturbed comfort, all the while fantasizing about finding the passion elsewhere. But they'll eventually kill the next person too. There are exceptions, of course, but when "the thrill is gone," it is usually murder, not suicide.

Referring again to the book we were discussing yesterday, Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today, Breiner devotes a chapter to the striking differences between the ancient Hebrews and some of their contemporaries with regard to the treatment of women and children. I have no doubt that the treatment of women and children is the leading edge of psychohistorical evolution, and that a culture can only develop as far as its treatment of women and children will allow.

To put it another way, the more evolved the culture, the more women and children will be valued (as women and children, I might add, thus excluding radical feminism as a philosophy that particularly values either). This variable, more than anything else, explains why the Muslim world is at the bottom of the evolutionary heap, and conversely, why the Jews have thrived everywhere they have landed, despite the most adverse circumstances. Just look at Israel, which is persecuted by virtually everyone except the U.S., vs. the Arab world, which is persecuted by no one except themselves -- and yet, fantasizes that Jews are controlling them and holding them back. Madness! But if you think madness is a deviation rather than the norm, I don't see how you can understand anything of history, which is absolutely littered with similarly insane mind parasites.

(The following is an edited version of some material that was posted seven or eight months ago. It will undoubtedly be new to many readers, so it is worth repeating in this context, as it will move the story of the Arc of Salvation along to its annointed deustination.)

It is almost impossible for us to imagine the barbarity of the ancient world -- very similar to how contemporary liberals find it impossible to comprehend the evil savagery of the Islamists with whom we are in a mortal struggle, so they instead fill the moral vacuum by fantasizing that George Bush or Dick Cheney are evil (for if your moral compass is so broken that you cannot recognize evil, you will hate something that is not evil, which is why the left is at war with so much that is good, i.e., the Boy Scouts, the ROTC, "traditional" marriage [which is to say, marriage], racial equality, school vouchers, mens' sports [because of Title IX], etc ).

As we mentioned yesterday, in all other ancient lands, the abuse of women and children, including infanticide, was common. Breiner notes, for example, that On, the King of the Swedes, sacrificed nine of his ten sons in the belief that it would prolong his life. Think about it. It was if the entire ancient world consisted of Palestinians who think that murdering children will lead to their own salvation.

Surely it is no coincidence, therefore, that the story of the Jews as a people begins with the motif of child sacrifice. The story of Abraham and Isaac allows us to assume that, up to that time, the ancient Hebrews were just as barbaric as any other ancient people. This biblical story preserves one of the truly shocking and unexpected “right turns” in human history -- when something caused us to empathize with the sacrificial victim and lay down the knife. Not that it wasn’t a struggle afterwards. The Bible chronicles many instances of backsliding and regression, which gives it even more of a ring of authenticity. The struggle against absuing children was (and is) very real.

But the benefits were obvious. For the first time in history, Jews were also able to intuit the one God. Not only that, but he was a loving God. Other primitive peoples lived in the psychological fragmentation of polytheism. In my opinion, they did not know God because they could not know God. Early childhood trauma leads to what is called “borderline personality structure,” in which the mind is subject to vertical splitting and the inability to maintain psychological unity and coherence. Therefore, primitive polytheism was actually an indirect measure of child abuse and the psychological fragmentation that occurs. Note as well that the gods of ancient Greece and Rome were arbitrary, selfish, and narcissistic, and even got a kick out of lording it over the “little” humans. They were suspiciously simlar to abusive and uncaring parents.

(Perhaps I should point out that this does not necessarily apply to Hindu polytheism, at least viewed from the metaphysical "top" rather than from the superstitious "bottom" -- just as the Trinity can be confused with polytheism. In any event, I will have more to say about the role of Vedanta later in the Arc of Salvation.)

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Hebrews began viewing themselves as having an intimate relationship with a benevolent God who took a deep and abiding interest in them, instead of having to live in fear of a multitude of arbitrary and self-absorbed gods.

Again, we are not comparing the ancient Hebrews to modern peoples but to their own contemporaries in the ancient world, and by that standard, they were moyels ahead of the package. Marriage began to be viewed as a sacred institution composed of two individuals who were in the image and likeness of God. “He who marries for money shall have worthless children,” says the Talmud.

Here again, this cannot be separated from psychological issues. One will not be capable of a stable and loving marriage so long as one lives with the psychological fragmentation produced by vertical splitting. It is no coincidence that the “one loving God” was discovered at roughly the same time that it became possible to conceive of a monogamous, loving, companionate marriage between two equals. (In yesterday's comments I linked to an article that is well worth reading, Judaism's Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality, as it makes many of the same points about the transformative impact of Jewish understanding in Phase One of the Arc of Salvation).

Breiner speculates that this prevailing attitude -- “to take care of and love one’s wife so that she will care for and love one's children” -- was “fundamental in determining why ancient child abuse and infanticide were rare among the ancient Hebrews.” The Talmud stated that those who practiced pederasty were subject to stoning. In ancient Greece, pedophiles were subject to being lionized as immortal philosophers.

One of the most striking differences was in the attitude toward female children, which is perhaps the most critical hinge of psychohistorical evolution. Unlike other ancient peoples, the Jews began cherishing and protecting female children. Many laws that we might now look upon as chauvinistic were very advanced and innovative for their day. They were meant to protect women and girls, not to degrade them.

(Interestingly, the woman who cuts my hair is an Iranian immigrant. Back when my wife and I were attempting to get pregnant, I mentioned that I was hoping for a girl. This woman -- who escaped right after the revolution, is thoroughly Americanized, and despises Islam -- spontaneously responded with a downturned mouth and words to the effect of "ewwwwww." She literally did not believe that I was telling the truth -- it was incomprehensible to her that I would prefer a girl. Interestingly, she has the identical reaction when I mention that race is of no consequence to me. In her tribal culture, just like the primitive left, racial color-blindness is inconceivable.)

The Talmud has many laws about the proper treatment of infants and children. “A baby should be as well looked after as a king, high priest and learned man.” Fathers were enjoined to educate their children under penalty of fines. Furthermore, the father was admonished not to envy his son or pupil, which is very wise, for envy of childhood innocence is one of the psychological bases of child abuse. While there were still laws “on the books” allowing for a rebellious child to be put to death, there is no record of that actually occurring. (In fact, being that I am hardly a Jewish scholar, it is possible that this was a figure of speech, a way to emphasize the importance of filial piety, of honoring one’s parents.)

Again, it is easy to be historo-centric and view ancient Hebrews as barbaric by our standards, but the punishment meted out in Hebrew courts of law was lenient and humane by the standards of the day. So too their treatment of slaves, of captured enemies, of the poor, the oppressed, the widow, the stranger. They were the first people to achieve nearly 100% literacy, a development which had staggering implications for the way children were raised. In other words, it makes a huge difference if you happen to be raised by a literate mother capable of abstract thought vs. an illiterate mother capable only of concrete thought. Think of the contemporary Muslim Middle East, where absence of female literacy -- let alone cliteracy -- continues to hover around 50%.

Tacitus, the renowned Roman historian who lived in the first century A.D., viewed the Hebrews as contemptible because “they considered it a crime among them to kill any child.” Nothing has changed. To paraphrase Golda Meir, the Arabs will only begin to make psychohistorical progress when they love their own children as much as they hate Jewish children. The two attitudes are simply two sides of the same coin: Palestinians and other Arabs engage in systematic abuse of their own children, who then grow up to externalize their implacable hatred onto Israelis.

In any event, I think we can see how the Jewish matrix -- which means "womb" -- was the only possible context for Phase II of the Arc of Salvation.



Speaking of human sacrifice and coonibalism, this hideous bit of information (tail wiggle: Julie) was found on Lileks' snuff site. Sick bastard:

"Raccoon ghoulish" is more like it. I know there's a first amendment and all, but isn't there a limit?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Arc of Salvation, Phase I: Ridding Mankind of its Default Religion (2.23.12)

In the Coonifesto I wrote of the "big bang" of consciousness that occurred around 45,000 years ago, when genetic Homo sapiens crossed the vertical threshold into actual humanness, an event that is most vividly memorialized in the beautiful art that suddenly appears in the more trendy caves of the Upper Paleolithic.

However, it is a bit of an understatement to say that human cerebration was an unambiguous cause for celebration, since we continued roving about in what anthropologists call "bands" of hunter-gatherers, but what we would call "suburban wilderness gangs," or "the NBA." Each of these gangs numbered about 50 homie sapiens, and each gang was at war with all of the others. Paranoia ran deep, because any encounter with another gang of creeps would usually result in violence, death, serious injury, rape, or theft of your bling.

Therefore, according to Nicholas Wade -- and here is something I hadn't considered before -- the evolution from foraging to settling down, or what is called "sedentism," represented a revolution nearly as radical as the creative explosion itself. In fact, Wade says exactly this: "Archaeologists have little hesitation in describing the transition to sedentism as a revolution, comparable to the one that defines the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic 50,000 years ago when behaviorally modern humans emerged from their anatomically modern forebears."

Again, as I said yesterday, the human ingression into the interior of the cosmos -- the vertical -- truly occurs at what might be conceptualized as a "right angle" to history. In other words, the first dramatic evidence of this right angle occurs 45,000 years ago, but it turns out that the revolution of sedentism was hardly less dramatic, in that it went against the grain of most everything that had passed for humanness up to that time. The biggest hurdle was that humans had to learn to somehow get along in larger groups without killing each other. In order to do this, they had to develop a more abstract way than kinship to forge a unity.

Now, perhaps you may have noticed that one of the points of my book and blog is to widen, so to speak, the "arc of salvation" so as to encompass the entire history of the cosmos, beginning before the big bang and venturing into future realms beyond ego. But if one coonsiders Genesis esoterically, it does this as well. One of the supernaturally odd things about scripture is that it is always one step ahead, somehow awaiting us when we arrive there. As such, it speaks -- with great wisdom, I might add -- of both of these revolutions that preceded the formal "arc of salvation" that begins with the covenant with the ancient Israelites. Somehow collective or archetypal memory of these primordial events -- events which occurred before the dawn of writing -- is encoded in scripture.

Someone yesterday complained again about my tendency to get sidetracked when I "promise" to write about a certain topic, but Coons, this is very easy to do when you are trying to write about the entire cosmos. In doing so, you have to develop a certain "wide angle" frame of mind that does not lend itself to dwelling on particulars for any length of time, at risk of losing the vision of the whole. Here is a perfect example of a cosmic artery that I could venture down and which could justify an entire book, but I don't want to get to sidetracked here. Suffice it to say that the fine book The Beginning of Wisdom goes into great detail about what the Torah has to say about human behavior before the covenant, and it is not pretty. It is so much more deep and wise than the typical PC romantic view of human nature that it is somewhat breathtaking.

Trad Coon Joseph forwarded me something by Frederick Turner (I don't know the source), who writes that "The most ancient of the religions of history, Judaism, might be the deepest taproot of human religion, our strongest and clearest connection with the whole creative history of the universe. Judaism's collective mythic memory goes back even before the Black Sea inundation, over seven thousand years ago, with hints in the Cain and Abel story of the dawn of the Neolithic revolution, when the farmer Cains replaced the hunter-gatherer Abels [i.e., the revolution of sedentism and the beginning of human sacrifice]; there is even a kind of reflected whisper, in the story of Eden, of the time when humans first recognized their own uniqueness as animals and imagined their own personal death [the big bang of consciousness 45,000 years ago]."

In fact, scripture contains many references to mans' default religion, human sacrifice, as the Torah is even honest enough (for how could it not be?) to document the Jews' own backsliding in this area (spiritually untutored man's "default God" is Moloch). To this day, I would guess that the majority of useless academics will argue that human beings were not cannibalistic despite the mountains of evidence that they were. Again, this just emphasizes how much more unblinking wisdom there is in Genesis than liberal academia. Genesis is anything but politically correct, which is perhaps one more reason that leftists despise it so. Naturally, scripture explains them much more adequately than they could ever explain it. In fact, it is perfectly accurate to say that Genesis "saw leftists coming" in a number of delightfully ironic stories.

There are many good books on mankind's practice of human sacrifice -- again, it is our "default" religion -- but perhaps the best one is Violence Unveiled by Gil Bailie, because he places it in the context of the overall arc of salvation. I cannot possibly do justice to his full argument here, but in his view, human beings were actually in desperate need of a cure for religion, and Christianity turned out to be this cure. "Ironically," Jesus was a victim -- and as a result, a permanent reminder -- of that which he came to cure -- the ritual scapegoating of victims in order to create social solidarity. For nothing creates social solidarity and temporarily eases the war of each against all so much as when everyone's aggression is hypnotically focussed on a sacrificial victim.

Once you understand the sacrificial mechanism, you only see it everywhere. It is a sort of "master key" that explains the inexplicable, especially in regions outside Judeo-Christendom untouched by the "arc of salvation." To cite one obvious example, what do you think it is that maintains any semblance of solidarity in the entire Muslim world (or the U.N., come to think of it) -- including, sad to say, the majority of Muslims blessed to be living in the Judeo-Christian world? What unifies this disparate group that would otherwise mindlessly be killing each other, as they are doing in Iraq?

Obviously, it is ritual scapegoating of the Jews. I have no opinion as to whether there may actually be some obscure light of vertical revelation contained somewhere in Islam -- the existence of certain Sufi sects argues that there might be, but they represent far, far less than 1% of all Muslims, and nowhere are they considered remotely normative. No, sorry to say that what unifes the Islamic world -- including wretched Muslim spokesholes such as CAIR -- is human sacrifice. But this irrational obsession with hatred of scapegoats is not an "aberration" if we consider the entire arc of salvation, including the period of time before the old covenant, i.e., Phase I.

As I mentioned yesterday, not only did the ancient Jews begin to reflect superior ideals that far surpassed their contemporaries, but these ideals have still failed to permeate into many modern groups -- e.g., in Africa, China, and Islam. Not only that, but the modern West has produced its own permanent counter-revolution in the form of the international left, which, since it rejects the cure for religion, is reverting back to primordial religion -- undisguised "born again" paganism in the form of body mutilation, magic (almost all "new agers" and "integralists" are leftists), infrahuman entertainment, the cult of celebrity, blood worship ("multi-culturalism"), pantheistic environmentalism, sexual license unbound from any sacred channel, etc.

As mentioned yesterday, Breiner's book Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today goes into some of the distinct values of the ancient Jews, as mankind took a particularly dramatic turn into verticality. I just realized I have posted some of the following material before, but it can't hurt to review the situation.

Starting first with the goyim, Breiner notes that the women of ancient Greece were essentially slaves. A wife’s function was to “look after the household and produce children -- preferably boys.” While courtesans -- who were used for pleasure rather than procreation -- could be educated, wives were illiterate.

Similar to Islamic societies today, the ancient Greeks “viewed men as sane and stable while women were considered mad, hysterical, and possibly dangerous and destructive to men.” Furthermore, “a woman’s freedom was severely restricted” and she was without power. “A man could sell his daughter or sister into concubinage if he wished.” Children of concubines were simply “aborted, killed or sold into slavery.” (Please bear in mind that we are not talking about luminaries such as Plato or Aristotle, who hardly reflected the average mentality of the time.)

At the time of Pericles in the late 5th century BC, a girl could marry only through parental arrangement: “no man married for love.” And once the marriage took place and the Athenian bride went to live with her husband, “she was cut off from her family and became a menial worker in her husband’s home.” Even the children she bore were not her own, but belonged to the husband to dispense with as he saw fit. Out of a population of 400,000, only 14,240 people had full civil rights. The rest were women, children and slaves. Unwanted children were simply exposed on a mountainside to die. “In all the Greek cities except Thebes the father had the right to kill his child at birth without question. In all cities except Athens the father could sell his children to slave dealers.” Female infanticide was the norm. Like China today, very few families raised more than one daughter. Even then, girls were given inferior food and no education.

Breiner feels that the revulsion towards women was at the basis of Greek male homosexuality. Can you think of a better explanation? The fashionable modern idea -- a fine example of leftist anti-scientific magical thinking, by the way -- is that homosexuality is purely “genetic” and not subject to environmental influences. If so, how does one account for the prevalence of Ancient Greek homosexuality? “It was considered quite proper for the young men of Athens to engage sexually with older men, and most did.” “Merchants would import handsome boys to be sold to the highest bidder”; these boys would “be first used as concubines and later as slaves.”

Breiner speculates that “homosexual pederasty was so universal in Greek society” because it was “a means of ‘rescuing’ the male child from the perceived dangers of women...” “Boy brothels flourished in every city and a child prostitute could be rented, even at the height of Athenian culture... A freeborn child might see his father having sexual relations with a child his own age who was a slave” (!!!). In this context, the evolution of so-called "homophobia" by the ancient Hebrews was clearly an advance, not a regression, as it particularly benefitted women and children.

I don’t even have time to get into the pervasive human and animal sacrifice. “Human life was considered so short and cheap that there was little concern about killing. When a town was captured the men were automatically killed or sold into slavery and the women were taken as concubines or slaves.” Traits such as “gentleness, kindness, industry, honesty, and integrity were scorned as effeminate and inferior.”

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Obviously, human beings were desperately in need of a vertical intervention to save them from the hell on earth they had created. All of us continue to benefit everyday from that little sliver of light that miraculously opened up in a world of infrahuman darkness. More on which -- now, don't absolutely hold me to it, just in case I am seized by other energies -- tomorrow.


Islamic parenting advice, untouched by the arc of salvation.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Arc of Salvation in the Theo-Cosmic Drama

The arc of salvation.

That phrase just popped into my head while making coffee this morning. I don't know what to make of it, but it sounds like a good title for a book. Or post, anyway.

I've been rethinking my approach to, er, the Whole Existentialada, and this phrase seems to sum up my concerns. As I mentioned the other day, Eastern religions are analogous to purely spatial descents, whereas Western religion unfolds temporally in one continuous story: the Arc of Salvation, as it were. Looked at in this way, revelation cannot be complete, but must be an unfolding drama -- the Theo-Drama, as Balthasar called it (although in a specifically Catholic context).

Naturally I am appropriating Judaism into Christianity in a way that Jews would consider inappropriating, but what can one do? In many ways, the development of Christianity represented the temporalization of the spatial revelation given to the ancient Hebrews. In other words, the Jews were given the law, or the "constitution," so to speak, and we all know how much mischief is engendered by people who think that the constitution is a "living document."

This latter idea is one of the principle tools of ideologues who wish to legitimize their devolutionary policies, always under the banner of "evolution." As such, we must naturally be skeptical of volks who look progressive but who merely wish to overturn the divine-cosmic order so that they will feel more at home in the world. This, of course, is what the left habitually does, since its core constituency consists of alienated cosmic misfits of one sort or another. It's hard to imagine a left without "alienation," which is why we are halfway to a nation of aliens.

Now, in order for the arc of salvation to get underway, a group had to be chosen to receive the law. The Mishnah, or one of those other Jewish thingys, says that the Jews were not chosen in the sense of being better than other human groups. Rather, they were chosen for a divine mission -- truly a Mission Impossible if you know anything about the hideous barbarity of ancient man.

At the time, what God was asking of the Jews could not have been more against the grain of what passed for "humanness": child sacrifice, cannibalism, slavery, horrible treatment of women, and incredible intergroup violence and paranoia. The ancient Hebrews were not just given a "religious" mission, but a civilizing mission. In short, in order for the arc of salvation to leave the starting post, it was necessary to prepare a human group. This group turned out to be the Jews, something which in hindsight is obvious, as all Raccoons may trace their own spiritual descent to father Abraham, who got the old ka-ball a-rolling. (In Coonspeak, this is referred to as our "Abraham Linking.")

Spirituality, since it involves a vertical descent, accounts for the sudden, otherwise inexplicable "right angles" in horizontal human history. Thus, the story of the Jews is one long line that runs perpendicular to profane history, and which created a space for the ongoing ingression of divine energies -- including the preparation of a human body for the next phase of the mission.

We're getting ahead of ourselves a bit, but this human body could not have come from any other human group that existed at the time. If you know anything about cultural anthropology (in other words, assuming you don't have a Ph.D. in it), then you know that it is preposterous to think that this human body could have come from, say, the nomadic Arabs, or the Aztec, or the native north Americans, or the ancient Celts, or the Romans, or any other group that existed at the time. They were all far too barbaric to bear this birth. At the very least, it had to be a group that did not practice infanticide, so the Romans were obviously not in the running.

In fact, there are many contemporary human groups -- both foreign and domestic -- untouched by the Judaic message, that would still be too barbaric to bear the light of this body, including virtually all of the Islamic world. Imagine this body coming out of (ironically) the so-called Palestinians -- or even CAIR, or the ACLU -- and you get the picture.

You might say that our mission in Iraq is nothing less than a forced vertical descent, which -- tragically -- may well be impossible. It may not be possible to "speed up" the arc of salvation in this manner, as one must "assent" or surrender to the descent -- as did the Jews and as did the Jewish body that was chosen for phase II of the mission. (Critically, it was necessary for both mother and child -- and father too -- to surrender to the divine mission, which emphasizes its intergenerational arc. The mother in particular had to surrender in faith to a millennia-long evolutionary mission she could not possibly have imagined.)

Perhaps it is because I have been incubating these curious ideas for so long, but it is not even a question to me that the Jews were evolutionary agents chosen for a divine mission -- or, if they were not, they might as well have been. In the course of writing my book, many obscure books synchronistically fell into my eager coon paws at precisely the right moment, including In the Shadow of Moloch: The Sacrifice of Children and Its Impact on Western Religions by Martin Bergmann, and Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today by Sander Breiner.

(As an aside, you may notice that both of these books surpass even my own in terms of obscurity, in that they are in the amazon "top two million." In most any other day and age, an ordinary cosmic citizen such as myself never would have happened upon them [and these are just two of many]. In a previous post I mentioned how important the internet -- and amazon in particular -- was in the evolution of my thinking -- to my own "mission," as it were. Deputy Will has in the past spoken of the spiritual "quickening" that the internet facilitates -- or will facilitate -- in general. Could it be that the internet will prove to be an integral part of "phase III" of the divine mission? My fellow Coons, you know the answer to that question, in that you are the answer, are you not? What do you think we're doing here?)

Not coincidentally, both of the above books were written not by anthropologists or historians -- who tend to be too blinded by academic correctness to see reality -- but by psychoanalysts, who are accustomed to piercing through the BS and looking at the human condition in all its barbaric splendor. Psychoanalysts specialize in the vertical -- the lower vertical. Freud himself likened the exploration of the unconscious to a sort of archaeological dig, under which are deeper and deeper layers of our personal history. You might say that his brilliant disciple Melanie Klein and some of her own gifted followers (including Bion) hit bottom and kept digging into prehistory -- into the preverbal, pre-oedipal foundation of the mind, a disturbingly phantasmagoric reality explored previously only in literature or perhaps in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.

But what is true of the individual is true of the collective, and these two psychoanalysts looked under the rocks of history to try to understand some of the more disturbing and troubling "acting out" that humans had been engaged in since the dawn of humanness. In particular, Bergmann focuses on the puzzling right turn that occurred in human history when Abraham, instead of sacrificing his son -- which any good father would do, including contemporary Palestinians -- hears the voice of God telling him not to. (You will note that contemporary Palestinians are quite frank and unapologetic in letting the world know that they are still in thrall to a pre-Abrahamic voice they call "Allah" urging them to sacrifice their children.)

One of the virtues of the book we recently discussed, Before the Dawn, is that it pulls no PC punches in chronicling just how unimaginably savage human beings were in the past. I don't have time to look up the exact statistic at the moment, but Wade mentioned something to the effect that if the murder rate in the 20th century had been comparable to what it was among primitive human groups, the deaths due to war would have run in the billions instead of a "mere" 100 million.

Thus, from our vantage point, the 20th century looks like a catastrophe, but from the vantage point of antiquity it was conspicuously peaceful -- even though seven out of ten European descendents of Abraham were incinerated in the process. This is hardly a coincidence, as the fascist/socialist rebellion of the 20th century represented nothing less than a vertical "counter-revolution" which had to involve the Jews, just as the Islamist devolution must involve them -- as if the light produces a rebellious shadow in the lower vertical. The devolutionary forces of the lower vertical are always visible in groups that oppose the Jews, currently Islam and the international Left.

In his book, Breiner analyzes the vast cultural differences between the ancient Jews and their contemporaries -- the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese. The notion that these vast differences can be explained by "genetics" is strict nonsense. This would be the position of Wade and other orthodox Darwinians -- as if Abraham didn't sacrifice Isaac because of a random genetic mutation! Perhaps tomorrow I'll discuss further the cosmic "righteous angle" represented by the people chosen to carry out phase I of the arc of cosmic salvation.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shout-Outs From the O-->(k) Chorale

Just so it's clear, the semi-annual "throwing of the bones" to Dear Leader is not -- not only, to be exact -- a vain exercise in empty flattery or ego boosting. So long as it is not too over-the-top and doesn't cross a certain line into creepy idealization -- which is just the shadow of devaluation -- it serves a vital purpose. For when you think about it, your cosmic witness -- the amen from the Coon choir -- is the only way I can know if my writing is having the intended effect.

Yesterday I mentioned how a true musician -- as opposed to a mere technician -- is able to convey the "substance of music." It is impossible to say this without sounding grandiose, but when I write about spiritual matters, I am attempting in like fashion -- so to speak -- to convey the "substance of metaphysical truth," to the extent that I am able to do so. Now, trying to accomplish this and actually doing so are two very different things. Who knows? It may actually be impossible, even if it does make for a very compelling hobby. But since it is an experimental form of writing, the only way I can gauge the effect is through your fawning, er, objective feedback.

In other words, it is not enough to know that someone simply "agrees" with me. This is the usual a priori error of trolls who come here to start an argument. To be honest, to agree or disagree is in a certain sense to have missed the point. The point is that I am attempting to "reproduce" an experience -- not my exact experience, but your own experience. This is why "disagreeing" with me is to miss the point, but also why merely agreeing with me (i.e., being a subservient "racclone" or "Bobbist") might be even worse.

This is not intended to be a mere exercise in (k) on the mental plane, where knowledge can be passed from mind to mind in such a way that it does not change the object or subject of knowledge. In the case of the transfer of conventional (k), it can truly be said that the mind is more or less a bag full of stuff (speaking euphemistically). I do not sit here at 5:00 AM trying to come up with more stuff to put into your bag, which is already overflowing anyway. If anything, I would actually like to remove some of the stuff -- or perhaps to actually expand your bag, baby.

When you are in the realm of O-->(k), the instrument of knowing is transformed by the knowledge. To "know" something in this way is actually accompanied by an alteration in being. To take an extreme but illustrative example, Paul did not merely "learn" something on the road to Damascus. In fact, I was just rifling through my Bible in search of some more examples, but I can see that the Gospels are full of stories that reinforce the point about O-->(k). There are millions of people -- including many Christians -- who "rationalize" Jesus and reduce him to a sort of prophet who expressed some fine moral sentiments which they endorse. Here again, this is to have missed the point entirely -- the point being that Jesus is hardly conveying (k) or even O-->(k). Rather, if you are a Christian -- indeed, what defines you as Christian -- is that Jesus is O.

So it means little to me if someone simply agrees -- let alone disagrees -- with me. Imagine the absurdity of attending a musical performance, and instead of clapping, the audience yelled, "WE AGREE WITH THAT INTERESTING SEQUENCE OF CHORDS! DO IT AGAIN!" It means everything to me if we are all in this together, making a daily raid on the wild godhead and coming back with a little O-->(k). That is the point of the book and of the blog.

Here, this fine example just came in. Walt writes, "I find the political commentary very supportive, partly because I agree with the depth of your passionate opinions, and partly because I CAN -- i.e., they refer to something I already have 'organized.' But you add a twist, which is unique: presenting the politics as though aimed 'upward' at the vertical; always integrating the day-to-day with the higher, nudging us to 'think vertically' and showing the relevance of the one to the other." While I won't say I am not appreciative of the compliment, it means much more to me that Walt has had the experience of integrating the internal and external and being "nudged vertically." That makes my day.

Ricky Raccoon wrote, "I have never read a book that caused me so often to reread lines for more understanding and really for the pleasure they bring by just re-experiencing the message… or the re-awakening of messages I always had but didn’t realize I had them. I can’t quite describe the feeling of when things suddenly are shown to make ‘sense’. I can’t recall ever having written things in the margins for my own pleasure. My copy has my notes on nearly every page. Multiple notes on some pages." There you go. Provoking his kind of metaphysical disturbance is my fondest hope.

Most of the comments yesterday were in this vein. But you will notice that no one really made it about me. Rather, it was about their own O-->(k). In fact, even the troll who calls himself A Low Form of Life (and who sounds like Will putting us on) -- wrote quite eloquently of a powerful experience in what might be called "upside down O-->(k)," or envy of O. Even if he is not real, he actually articulates a certain very real, "anti-Divine" mind parasite that afflicts many people. Imagine that he's not addressing me, but God: "I feel compelled to oppose you. I read every day, hoping that you'll make a mistake so that I can put you down. I want you to hurt like me. I want you to feel as unappreciated and small as I feel.... For me, One Cosmos is all about emotions. Bad ones.... I can't stop. I must read and wallow in my feelings of shame and inadequacy. I derive some sense that I actually exist when I do this. So, to you Bob I have a mixed message: please keep blogging, I need it. And yes, quit. That would be the ultimate burn. I might feel happy for five minutes."

Now, all of this segues perfectly into the discussion of how transcendental beauty -- "the glory of God" -- reveals itself through religion. For religion is never about mere knowledge, "the true." Rather, the more one ascends toward O -- the source of religion -- the more Truth will be clothed in beauty, and vice versa. In fact, it is because of cosmic analogy -- "as above, so below" -- that truth and beauty even converge on the material plane. For example, world-class mathematicians know that the deep structure of mathematical reality is not only beautiful, but that beauty serves as a sort of guide for the mathematics.

I've been thinking about this issue because I have been re-reading Hans Urs von Balthasar's magisterial -- a word that somehow falls short -- The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics. Before you decide to casually wade into the world of Balthasar, bear in mind that this is a seven volume project, each book consisting of some 400 to 700 pages, and that this seven volume series is only part of a trilogy consisting of six additional weighty books (the Theo-Drama and the Theo-Logic). If Balthasar is not the greatest Christian theolgian of the 20th century, then he is certainly the most wordy.

I discovered Balthasar because he wrote the afterword to Meditations on the Tarot -- which only serves to emphasize how misleading the "tarot" is in the title of a book that is quite esoteric but nevertheless kosher. Off hand, I cannot think of anyone other than Schuon who so emphasizes the centrality of beauty to the spiritual life. Schuon, who fundamentally agreed with Plato that "beauty is the splendor of the true," wrote that, "like the sun," beauty "acts without detours, without dialectical intermediaries." And like love, "to which it is closely connected, it can heal, unloose, appease, unite or deliver through its simple radiance."

Schuon further noted that "beauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in 'another'; thus it is that 'God created the world by love.'" As such, while the cosmos may contain ugliness, in its totality it cannot but be beautiful. This is actually one of the sources of Christian hope, which may be coonceptualized as beauty expressed temporally. In other words, no matter how bad things may look in the "now," somehow the pain or ugliness of this now will be redeemed in the end, in the "fullness of time" -- which is to say, eternity.

Obviously, religion is not dealing fundamentally with exterior beauty but interior beauty. Or, to be perfectly accurate, the external forms are there to support the experience or "recollection" of interior beauty. Beauty is "something limitless expressed by means of a limit," but the limit -- i.e., the form -- is required in order for the beauty to "enter" the world. Through it, "the unfathomable mystery of the Self is 'deployed' in Being."

Properly understood, beauty allows us "to pass beyond the appearance and to follow the internal vibration back to its roots." A couple of days ago we spoke about the importance of having a center and living from the inside out, as opposed to our consciousness being dispersed and living from the outside in. Metaphysical beauty can contribute to centration and union because it communicates, so to speak, "the substance of O" in a direct and unmediated way. This is because it is ultimately "the outward projection of a universal quality immanent in us, and quite obviously more real than our empirical and imperfect ego gropingly seeking its identity." Because beauty is "unitive," it "excludes, with a kind of musical evidence, the fissures of doubt and anxiety."

I'm running out of time here, but this all circles back to O-->(k), because metaphysical beauty -- the glory of God -- is clearly something that bypasses the mind's ability to reduce the divine plane to something "containable" by the lower mind. To put it another way, nothing as ugly as atheism could possibly be true.