Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cosmic Divorce and the Threedom of Marriage

One reason why divine beauty -- the Glory of the Lord -- is central to Christianity, is that beauty is form. In contrast, in Eastern religions the formless trumps the formal, just as the impersonal Self trumps the personal self. But at least Vedanta, Taoism, and Buddhism dissolve form "from above."

In the anti-Christic world of the secular West, we have a masturbatory double, or dopplewänker, of this transcendence, so that form is dissolved "from below," all the way down to the infertility dregs of deconstruction, multiculturalism, scientism, metaphysical Darwinism, etc. As such, this is why there is so much ugliness and barbarism in the secular temples of the university and among the slowbrow priesthood of the elite media.

We left off yesterday with a comment by Balthasar that "if form is broken down into subdivisions and auxiliary parts for the sake of explanation, this is unfortunately a sign that the true form has not been perceived as such at all." Furthermore, "it would not be worthwhile being human if man were but the amalgamation of such 'material', if the one thing necessary, the irreplaceable pearl, were not a reality for the sake of which we would sell everything else."

The pearl is not just a form, but a beautiful form. Which is why "when all genuine worldly forms are questioned and discounted, responsibility for that form really lies in the hands of Christians." This very much reminds me of Richard Weaver's observation that attacks on religion are in the end attacks on mind. But they are equally -- and must be -- attacks on beauty.

For example, it is not even possible in our debased culture to make the commonplace argument that the redefinition of marriage, whatever else it is, is a frontal assault on beauty -- specifically, the divine elevation and beautification of the male-female sexual bond. Either you see this beauty -- i.e., you are spiritually adequate to it -- or you don't. And if you don't, it will hardly matter to you if the state forces "homosexual marriage" on the rest of us, thereby dissolving this beautiful archetypal form from below.

Hmm, that's a coincidence. Balthasar next goes into a little riff on marriage, which he says "is only true to itself if it is a kind of bracket that both transcends and contains all an individual's cravings to 'break out' of its bonds and to assert himself." One of the reasons this form must be preserved -- besides the fact that it is ontologically real, so that to deny it is to situate oneself outside reality -- is that it is the most common means of the spiritual transcendence of sexual polarity into a higher union. More generally, it is the very archetype of the union of opposites, which "homosexual marriage" can obviously never be.

(A point of order: as our Minister of Doctrinal Enforcement reminds us, fulfilling the archetype of marriage does not require being married to another biological person; one thinks of the nun who is "married to Christ." The archetype is real; how one fulfills it is another matter.)

"Marriage is that indissoluble reality which confronts with an iron hand all existence's tendencies to disintegrate, and it compels the faltering person to grow, beyond himself, into real love by modeling his life on the form enjoined." What begins as imitation of the form eventually grows toward the form itself. This is why it is difficult to imagine a more precious gift one could give to one's children than a loving and passionate marriage.

In fact, I remember a few years back, reading a study about the psychological effects of divorce on children. One of effects -- and the researchers were not sophisticated enough to draw out all of the cosmic and metaphysical implications of this -- was an inability of the child to later apprehend the deeper unity of things, being that their own attempt at primordial unity -- i.e., the unification of Mother and Father -- was sundered at the beginning.

Remember, from the perspective of the child, Mother and Father are much more than mere "people." Rather, they are more like worlds, and if these worlds literally separate, it is beyond the means of the child to bring them back together in his immature psyche. The later effects can be subtle or profound, but I certainly notice them in my practice. For a host of ontological and developmental reasons, a merger in threeness is very different from a merger in twoness. Suffice it to say that our humanness is rooted in the former. We are trinitarian to the core.

One important point to bear in mind is that marriage -- at least from our side of things -- should not be thought of as a noun but a verb. To be precise, it is more like a "journey toward" the archetypal state of marriage. Again, Balthasar describes it well:

"When they make their promises, the spouses are not relying on themselves -- the shifting songs of their own freedom -- but rather on the form that chooses them because they have chosen it, the form to which they have committed themselves in their act as persons." In other words, the spouses do not entrust themselves to biology, to self, or even to the other, but to the fulfillment of "a form with which they can wholly identify themselves even in the deepest aspects of their personality because this form extends through all the levels of life," all the way "up to the heights of grace and of life in the Holy Spirit."

As a result, a higher and more intense kind of freedom "is discovered within the form itself, and the life of the married person can henceforth be understood only in terms of this interior mystery."

Now, just because many if not most people fail to ascend to the form is hardly a reason to throw out the form, any more than we should redefine health just because most people are fat and cannot attain the archetypal physical form. But one of the strategies of the left has been to increasingly demean marriage, so that no one sees the form anymore. As a result, why should it matter if a man wants to marry a man, a mannequin, a Manilow, or a melon? Again, once the form has been destroyed from below, it's all meaningless anyway.

Suffice it to say, as we mentioned above about beauty and about the mind as such, the form of marriage "is today more then ever entrusted to the care of Christians." It is an example of how we "need not destroy the natural in order to achieve the supernatural goal."

Rather, the natural becomes a very means of our supernatural re-ascent. It is not just "maya," or cosmic illusion. Rather, the divine reality radiates through the natural, at least for those with eyes to see. And at risk of belaboring the point, it is only possible because the one is three, and one of the three became -- and therefore can become -- human flesh.

The Incarnation uses created Being at a new depth as a language and a means of expression for the divine Being and essence.... This incomparable paradox stands as the fountainhead of the Christian aesthetic, and therefore of all aesthetics! --Balthasar

21 Comments:

Anonymous Low Gong said...

About like that.

1/28/2009 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Bob – Thanks for a beautiful post on a subject of great beauty. Marriage is inescapably central to Christianity – both literally and figuratively. The New Testament offers significant direction as to its reality between a man and a woman and it is used beautifully as a description of Christ’s own relationship with the church. For example, here is just one simple, but loaded, passage:

(Ephesians 5) “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. (Paul quotes here from Genesis 2)’FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.’ This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

Although God knows I have done a lot of things wrong, marriage may be what I have done best. When I say “I have done best” - given that I came from a home broken by a dispassionate marriage and divorce, married my wife after having known her for 3 weeks, and other challenges – I mean that only God could have done this through me. I must give Him all the glory for my wonderful marriage. Our three sons, now married themselves, all attest to what you said – “…it is difficult to imagine a more precious gift one could give to one's children than a loving and passionate marriage.”

In the end, perhaps my marriage itself will have been my greatest legacy and most important ministry within my small sphere of influence.

1/28/2009 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

In the end, perhaps my marriage itself will have been my greatest legacy and most important ministry within my small sphere of influence.

NoMo, that is absolutely beautiful.

1/28/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Nomo, on your achievement.

I'm about to marry for the second time, and I hope to do it right on the second go. I shall try to fulfill the archetype, as Bob puts it.

1/28/2009 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...if the state forces "homosexual marriage" on the rest of us, thereby dissolving this beautiful archetypal form from below."

Though I share your concerns about secular culture, it is inevitable in a "Novus ordo seclorum" that spiritual principles will be undermined.
Nonetheless, it should be remembered that regardless of what attempts are made by totalitarian secular states, it is simply not possible for it to "dissolve" the archetype of marriage, or the archetype of religion, or any authentic archetype, for that matter.

1/28/2009 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Of course. We cannot destroy heaven, but we can create hell.

1/28/2009 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

"We have duties, for the discharge of which we are accountable to our Creator and benefactor, which no human power can cancel. What those duties are, is determinable by right reason, which may be, and is called, a well informed conscience."

--Theophilus Parsons, the Essex Result, 1778

1/28/2009 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Slight dovetailing here...

Especially the quote from Gregory. That, 'creation is divinized as man uses it to participate in the divine life.' (paraphrase...)

If the beauty of the natural world is great, imagine the beauty of the natural world divinized?

I remember Walt talking about the eastern gardeners, who would do very little to the wood in which they lived, but just enough, just enough. It is somehow like that.

1/28/2009 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

I actually understood some of today's post the first time through!

Some further thoughts/questions:

1. Is a marriage, that form which we hand ourselves over to, a form of Christ in our lives? A trinity formed by subjecting our marriage to Christ?

2. Is the child a reflection of the higher trinity (above) to a lower trinity below?

1/28/2009 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

What NoMo said. Hear hear.

When the beautiful form of marriage appeared clothed in female raiment, I recognized it immediately, as did she through my shabby imitation of eligibility. I may be blind to a lot, but not that.

1/28/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

all the children sing
old macdonald had a form
O i O i O

1/28/2009 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous lynn said...

'They say we're too old to care for our grandchildren': Social workers hand brother and sister to gay men for adoption

"...When they made their opposition clear, however, the couple were told that social workers would 'certainly look' at allowing them access to the children 'when you are able to come back with an open mind on the issues'. ...

"Adoption by gay couples in Scotland was approved by MSPs in 2006 - despite an official consultation process which showed that nearly 90 per cent of people opposed it. ..."

We're now facing the same scenerio in America if we let them get away with it:

Obama once backed full gay marriage [in 1996]Windy City Times ^ | 2009-01-13

1/28/2009 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's an alarming article, Lynn, and not just because of the the gay adoption. Almost as disturbing is that the couple were deemed too old to raise their grandchildren - at ages 46 and 59! What do they tell couples who decide to have their first children later in life?

"The man said last night: 'It breaks my heart to think that our grandchildren are being forced to grow up in an environment without a mother figure. We are not prejudiced, but I defy anyone to explain to us how this can be in their best interests.'"

Wrong and appalling on so many levels.

1/28/2009 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Yes, the article is alarming. To me, what jumps out, given recent OC posts, is the encroachment on freedom that has resulted from the destruction of the form. It's not that easy to imagine how this process plays out on the ground, but here the grandparents are being told they cannot see the children unless they think in a certain way.

Without the form, they/we are subject to being enslaved.

1/28/2009 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

I've mentioned this before. Sometimes I get 'the voice'. Usually it's a prompting to take a step in a new direction for my life, even if I don't realize it until much later. I used to see Mary from time to time when I'd drop in to the Frame Shop and Gallery to visit with my friend, and mentor, artist Janet Church. I liked to talk to Mary, but I never considered her as anyone other than someone to talk to. I was forty eight, and I was comfortable with the realization that my one failed marriage was it for me, and I'd spend the rest of my life single. I had bought myself a new bicycle for my birthday. I rode it by the shop. Mary was there. Suddenly it occurred to me to ask her if she'd like to go riding sometime. I began to stomp that dumbass notion like a bug, when 'the voice' said CHOOSE LIFE!
And I asked her to go riding.
We dated a few times, and we were both relieved to find out that this wasn't going to turn into some damn love affair or something. But we took a drive that turned into an overnight stay, and then a three day road trip. I remember putting my shoes on in a Motel Six in romantic Victorville, looking at her sitting there, and realizing that I had loved her from the moment we had first said hello, and maybe even before that. That was nine years ago. It's been like Victorville ever since.

JWM

1/28/2009 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

I am of pure Scottish ancestry- both sides of the family all the way back to the old country, and not a Britt, or an Irishman in the mix. (no offence meant to the Irish)
What the hell has happened to the Scotts? We used to be the toughest, gnarliest, and most fiercely independent SOB's in all the Brittish Isles. My God, I don't think that even the French would stand for that kind of abomination. Robert the Bruce weeps.

JWM

1/28/2009 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Apparently, all the best Scots came here, J.

1/28/2009 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

I've not a lick of Scot in me all limey through and through but my respect for the Scots has always been strong, especially like the pipes and the fighting tradition. After reading the article I have lost much respect for the land of the kilt clad hill runners, sorry to say.

wv is pus-ture yes and posturing pusses sums it up

1/28/2009 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Outstanding post, Bob!

For example, it is not even possible in our debased culture to make the commonplace argument that the redefinition of marriage, whatever else it is, is a frontal assault on beauty -- specifically, the divine elevation and beautification of the male-female sexual bond. Either you see this beauty -- i.e., you are spiritually adequate to it -- or you don't. And if you don't, it will hardly matter to you if the state forces "homosexual marriage" on the rest of us, thereby dissolving this beautiful archetypal form from below.

Yep. The fact we now hafta defend the beauty that is marriage demon-strates the debasement of our culture.
An erosion of the beautiful, which has always been, I reckon, I mean, the Sodom n' Gammorah subculture aren't unique to man.
The aim of that subculture is to be dominant.

I often read others sayin' "we must not impose our morality on others."

Well, they sure as hell are gonna try to impose their morality (actually, anti-morality) on you!

I'm all for liberty, don't get me wrong, however, we must not give an inch to this encroaching cancer. It sure ain't bringing more liberty to the table, because liberty doesn't destroy beauty.
Licenciousness does, that is freedom without responsibility, and no sane person wants that.

If we stop the radiation treatments because we're worried we'll upset someone's feelings, we'll be slip sliding down that slippery slope at brokeback speed.

Well said, Nomo!

1/29/2009 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"In the anti-Christic world of the secular West, we have a masturbatory double, or dopplewänker, of this transcendence, so that form is dissolved "from below," all the way down to the infertility dregs of deconstruction, multiculturalism, scientism, metaphysical Darwinism, etc."

dopplewanker! Iss splorf!... wish the whole subject was a laughing matter.

Good post, and Nomo, that's a keeper as well.

wv:unduct
Somethings even ducttape can't fix?

1/29/2009 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"What the hell has happened to the Scotts? We used to be the toughest, gnarliest, and most fiercely independent SOB's in all the Brittish Isles."

I know what you mean, my grandma's grandma was from Scotland and was a family legend, came across in a covered wagon, was there when the golden spike joined the railroads, survived & escaped Brigham Youngs house... what did happen to the Scot's?

Well... if not THE cause, certainly a related one, the Scot David Hume brought full blown skepticism into the 'Scottish Enlightenment', and what dissolves Forms more than skepticism?

1/29/2009 07:00:00 AM  

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