Thursday, January 15, 2009

It is Not Good that God Should be Allone

Just as creation, for Eckhart, is a continuous and eternal process, so too the Word taking on flesh is not a past event we look back to in order to attain salvation, but rather is an ever-present hominification of God and deification of humanity and the universe -- an incarnatio continua. --Bernard McGinn

Bolton notes that "it is generally agreed that the union of the soul with God is the goal of religion, and that its highest forms are the subject of mystical writings." However, "there is much less agreement about the exact nature of the union." Again, for monistic religions, the union could be represented by an equation to the effect that Reality = existence - you. In short, if you're not part of the dissolution, you're the problem. Not a very good deal, IMO.

But in Christianity, mystical experience represents "a union between real persons." In this case, the equation would be something to the effect that Father + Son = Reality. Or again, infinite + finite = true infinite.

In order to mediate this deuspute, we must meditate on the true meaning of union and of person, for union cannot merely be an indistinct blending of substances, nor can it come about as a result of the elimination of persons. Let's say I build a nuclear device powerful enough to utterly reduce the world to its molecular components. Would the result be "closer" or more distant from God? After all, in so doing, we've gotten rid of all the egos, and made the world truly "one."

Or, consider how they treat women in the Islamic world. Being that the face is the externalization of our unique interior soul, those cultures attempt to suppress this uniqueness by concealing it in a black bag. As a result, any woman becomes all women, and all women are any woman. Is this denial of uniqueness and individuation a good thing?

On the other hand, in the West, we have gotten to the point that we vastly overvalue the existentially detached individual who has lost contact with his archetypal, or principial, manhood. In other words, mere individualism is also of little use if it devolves into a hypertrophied cosmic narcissism existing for its own sake. Rather, the true meaning and purpose of individuation can only be appreciated in a dialectical relationship with God, the Subject of subjects and Person of persons.

This is not that different from the manner in which the child can only flourish and actualize his humanness in the dialectical space between child and adult. Child and adult are not merely "stages of growth," nor is "adult" a kind of isolated endpoint of development. Rather -- and this has become much more evident to me with fatherhood -- child and adult mutually define and amplify one another (which is one reason why teen motherhood is generally such a catastrophe, because it is a relationship between babies).

In having a child, I have become more "adult," even while -- or because of -- actualizing a kind of deeper contact with my own inner child. A parent who cannot tolerate his inner child, or who has lost contact with it, will be a poor parent. Equally destructive are parents who cannot tolerate their children's separation, so the child is not allowed to discover himself and individuate from the parent.

I see this all the time -- parents and children who are "one," but in an entirely pathological way. I am reminded of Deion Sanders, who was going through a divorce a few years back. A sportscaster asked him if it would be a distraction during the season, and he responded with words to the effect of, "Nah. It ain't like it's family or nothin'."

This is no joke, because healthy parenting will actualize a real person who is separate from you, partly because the good parent recognizes from the outset that their child is an autonomous soul who must be treated with the intrinsic dignity owed to a person.

But the bad parent sees the child as an extension of him- or herself, and doesn't permit real individuation. This reverses the flow of evolution and leads to psychohistorical stagnation. After all, if children loved their parents as much as parents loved their children, that would be the end of development, because everyone would marry their mother (or compulsively rebel against her, which amounts to the same thing). And of course, many, if not most, people symbolically do just that, as Freud discovered over a century ago.

Transposed to the key of Spirit, perhaps we can learn something about the relationship between Father and Son, who are "one" and yet distinct. Bolton notes that "Union is by definition only possible between similars, not between things which differ absolutely, and in the present case, the difference between God and creature is more extreme than between any two finite entities." Again, the easy way out is to just eliminate that which is "not God," but that "is merely a denial of the real problem, because on this basis, union qua union [of persons] would be void of content."

Bolton sees the solution in a distinctly Raccoonish sort of way, basing it on two interrelated principles, first, that the Whole is present in every part, and second, that every level and possibility of God will be actualized (i.e., in God there is no distinction between his potentiality and actuality). Therefore, if man is the image of God and a microcosm of being, he is ultimately.... darn, I wish I could reproduce that symbol in my book. But just imagine O with a point at the center. That's us. Note that each of us connotes a remote little boat afloat upon the wider moat of Universal being, quote unquote.

But before we gloat, we must remember the goat of the story, Adam. As a consequence of the Fall, Bolton says that man's "individual created nature was no longer integrated with its spiritual center." However, "despite the consequent corruption of human nature, the divine spark was not affected in itself, but only in its relation to the personality." But luckily for us, "grace is always able to reactivate it," thereby resuscitating our little mystical-intellectual pilot light.

Now, this movement represents nothing other than our evolution to God's involution. Other animals do not really evolve, but remain fixed on their particular archetypal plane. They participate in God's "procession," but not his "reversion." As Bolton explains, "Only the power of reversion can balance procession and liberate the being from the entropic current of time. In other words, procession alone ultimately negates itself," as it proceeds all the way to the "relative nothingness" at the vertical periphery of existence.

But reversion preserves the being, and results in "something far more complex than what originally proceeded," that is, the union of God and man, joined in love, i.e., "a free union between two real beings." Sort of like the Trinity, only "actualized" down here.


Blogger walt said...

1- Tour Guide
2- Translator
3- Road Maps
4- Sightseeing
5- Entertainment Tips

When going to a foreign country (like, say, God's Country) for the first time, assistance is crucial to a successful journey. Otherwise, we may be lost at the outset, or even not go in the first place, owing to all the wild rumors.

Such a service you provide!

1/15/2009 09:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the better posts, this. It again targets the central mystery of what is the proper goal in life.

The reversion is of course the thing.

The inescapable conclusion is that we are split off sections of God trying to recoalesce into one Mass. The process of recoalescence is intensely pleasurable to God, who of course is Allone.

Each of us is Allone as well.

The primal pain of loneliness is therefore utterly phony. It is an artifact created so that the Creator can experience the joy of recoalescence.

Shall we play along? Because once the blinders are off, it is still paradoxically easy to do so. Even though I know loneliness to be a sham, still I feel the deep, throbbing hurt of it in my bones.

1/15/2009 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Deion said...

Don't make me come over there!

1/15/2009 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Here you go D. -- this is for you.

1/15/2009 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Lil' Sonny said...

What about Pop?

1/15/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Bird said...

We ain't talkin' 'bout Pop.

1/15/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Before I read today's post, here's some funny news:
From Pamela Gellar at Atlus Shrugs: "Poetic justice! Ace, snarky misogynist (this is the guy, when introduced to me at CPAC 2007, the first thing he ever said to me was 'you got nice jugs ' - true story. Needless to say, it was the last time I ever spoke to him)."

I don't get it, what exactly is she so upset about? That was a compliment. Most wenches like compliments. Sheesh!

1/15/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

first, that the Whole is present in every part, and second, that every level and possibility of God will be actualized (i.e., in God there is no distinction between his potentiality and actuality).

2 Corinthians 1:20 -- "For every one of God's promises is 'Yes' in Him. Therefore the 'Amen' is also through Him for God's glory through us."

wv: thile -- I am not making another Bawney Fwank joke.

1/15/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Barney Frank, Banking Queen.

1/15/2009 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous slim pickens said...

There ain't no pleasin' some wimmen, Skully. 'Sides, fer all she knows, Ace tol' her that jes so's she wouldn't talk to 'im again.

wv: glyncing -- I don' care if it was my rope, I didn't have nothin' ta do with it. It 'es 'em boys from Google.

1/15/2009 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh - wv says "biblexc"

Anyway, I decided to actually chew and swallow this one before commenting, and I think I actually felt a *pop* when it metabolized.

Which got me thinking about seeing and being seen.

(bloviation to follow, you may just want to skip it...)

A long time back, someone threw me a meme containing the question "If you could have a super power, what would it be?" My answer was the power to see people for who they really are. But the reason for that is a reflection, on my own tiny scale, of maybe what the wholey beerglass of raccoon theology is actually all about: not just to know O and float in a vast, blissful Oneness with everything/ one, but rather to be seen by O, in the erotic of soul touch kind of sense. To know and be known, not Unconditionally but as we are, and still be loved.

Rather, the true meaning and purpose of individuation can only be appreciated in a dialectical relationship with God, the Subject of subjects and Person of persons.

We spend our whole lives feeling isolated, and everything we do is an attempt to connect, but of course that connection for which we long most of all eludes us - as necessarily it must. Otherwise, we wouldn't be individuals, and the whole exercise of existence would be kind of pointless. And so, we look for that dangling chain, and then we try to figure out how to be the bridge...

and the meager thread I was trying to grasp in my fumbling fingers has slipped free, blown back into the ether. Oh well.

1/15/2009 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Good point, Slim. I gotta hand it to Ace, he sure has a way with dames.

1/15/2009 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'm gonna try that compliment on Patti again (guys, it's good to compliment your wives often. It means alot to them). I bet she won't call me a snarky misogynist. :^)

1/15/2009 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

one more observation, then I'll let it go...

The irony is, we are seen. It's just that for most of us, most of the time, we lack the vision to see back.

1/15/2009 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Okay, I lied. But this time, I mean it.

The other irony is, being seen is also terrifying, because we are revealed not just for all of our positive attributes, but for our negative ones as well. It's excruciating to think that ordinary people whose opinions matter to us might find us wanting; how much more infinitely excruciating is the possibility that our reason for being might find us wanting, as well?

1/15/2009 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Patti just smiled and asked what I wanted. A perfectly normal response to "you have nice jugs."

Well, she does and it's not too far off topic.

1/15/2009 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Julie said-
And so, we look for that dangling chain, and then we try to figure out how to be the bridge...

And God says, "quit yankin' my chain."
Well, he does to me anyhow.

1/15/2009 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Fezziwig said...

This just in...

Speaking of erotic, Chris Matthews just said he felt another tingle up his leg when Obama kept that plane from sinking today.

1/15/2009 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julie, I get what you are saying. We search for connection, but really the isolation IS the point. Without it we are just back in the blissful undifferentiated soup of the Divine matrix.

Perhaps this explains why relationships are so difficult; a sense of being seen by the other is enjoyed, but then the pain of being judged is felt also. We want to be close to people, but they scare us too.

To be judged by God and found wanting is a daunting prospect, as you allude to.

I fantasize She just smiles when I slip up; holds my arm like a mother holds a toddler. If I can remain a child then I can be stainless in Her eyes.

If I pretend to any power, then maybe the kid gloves come off.

1/15/2009 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"But luckily for us, "grace is always able to reactivate it," thereby resuscitating our little mystical-intellectual pilot light."

We just gotta be sure not to have beans the night before.

1/15/2009 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I dunno, Skully - the mystic beans do result in a brighter flareup...

1/15/2009 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


I heard rumors that Toots had created a top secret metaphysical chili recipe that, as the legend goes, only two Raccoons may gno at any given time (in case one has a hangover or somethin').

I dunno, Slim weren't too specific about it, but it sounds plausable to me.

1/15/2009 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I believe it; after all, the best Mystic Radiance isn't created ex nihilo, it needs a little bit of fuel to go with that spark.

I'd guess it's a "consume at yer own risk" kinda food, though. And probably not wise to eat too close to bedtime, or anytime you're going to be in a confined space. Especially if other folks are around.

Also, you probably want to avoid open flames.

In fact, I think we may have just hit on the real truth behind spontaneous human combustion.

1/15/2009 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I can see the docudrama now:
"A Tragic Epiphany: the Strange Case History of the Procyon Torch"

1/15/2009 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regards image and likeness,where did the idea of King Kong come from?

1/15/2009 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

even the atheists prayed on that river-landed plane...

1/15/2009 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous fay wray said...

Dunno, anon, but he sounded great on paper.

1/15/2009 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

This business with Adam. Why did it have to be this way? That strangeness I mentioned yesterday is here too. Like a car wreck I can’t helping looking at it. For probably similar reasons. Did God want him to fall? He didn’t act that way after the fact. Then why didn’t he say look out! Well, I suppose He did. Maybe it’s not the point after all. Because knowing why won’t undo what is right here happening every 30 seconds to someone in central park. So would you agree then that the answer to this problem with Adam however is worked out through the story of the prodigal son ...and solved with a good ol’ fashioned home resurremedy?
Which, interestingly enough, happens right around the resetting of our internal calendars.

1/15/2009 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, Adam is none other than you and me. To answer the question of why he did it, one must merely ask why you or I do it.

1/15/2009 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“Adam is none other than you and me.”
Which is the same I think as saying, no one is spared, like it or not.
Otherwise, what would be the point.

1/15/2009 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Nobody told me there’d be days like these

WV: ovessl

1/15/2009 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I want to look at Genesis as if I’m hearing the story for the first time. But I wonder lately if it would even work that way. If the point is to make it new, then can you do that unless you’ve made it old first? Lived it out. I mean, you knew the stories as a child too, didn’t you?

1/15/2009 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

True, but I was so much older then...

1/15/2009 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

If amnesia were only as easy to fix as it went in that episode of Gilligan’s island. The one where the coconuts fell on his head.

1/15/2009 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I guess that's every episode..

1/15/2009 07:28:00 PM  

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