Live Wires, Power Failures, and the Curved Space of Politics
So I don't know why I'm using this analogy, because it can only end in a lot of acrid smoke in classroom. But the image and smell came to me in HvB's discussion of the transmission of truth, which is a far stranger phenomenon than we realize, especially when we are talking about truths that transcend the material. After all, it is not the least bit problematic to explain the transmission of a purely empirical or rational truth, say, "two and two is four," or "mtraven's skull is unusually thick."
But it is much more tricky to explain the transmission of aesthetic or spiritual truth, because this will depend upon a host of factors, some of which we do not control, e.g., grace. Also, the higher we ascend up the spiritual ladder, the more we will confront the question of qualifications, both in the transmitter and the receiver. A good transmitter has no effect on a poor receiver, while a good receiver who is exposed only to bad transmissions can end up as contaminated as Keith Olbermann's soul.
HvB notes that there are certain people of whom the most we can expect of them is that they do not damage the truth while passing it along. Such a person may still be capable of transmitting truth, so long as they do not try to get involved in it, because they will inevitably mess it up. In this regard, one sympathizes with the Catholic or Orthodox, who try to at least "do no harm" to the truth in passing it along to the next generation, as opposed to the various protestant sects that distort the truth in highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and deviant ways.
This is surely not to criticize all forms of protestantism, but one has to admit that the wackos to whom I refer are "out there" (and there are, of course, many confused and and/or malevolent liberals within Catholicism). Indeed, I'm afraid that much of the so-called "religious right" might well be composed of such individuals, although it also seems that the sincere rank-and-file believer is in some way "protected" by the Holy Spirit in spite of the church he finds himself in.
It's more the leaders who cause the problems. I could be wrong, but that's my perception. It's somewhat analogous to the distinction between the truth of conservatism vis-a-vis what happens by the time it trickles down into the brain of the typical moron Republican pol. Then the real damage occurs, because people take them as exemplars of conservatism.
So first and foremost, we must be faithful conduits of the truth of which we are not the source. At the very least, we must do no harm to it as it passes through us.
As HvB explains, it is possible for "the truth of a Plato or Augustine" to "be transmitted by those who do not draw inward life from it." These would be analogous to all those uninspired teachers who made you hate school so much -- and probably Sunday school as well.
Being that truth is very much "alive," it's just not appropriate that it should pass through a medium who is anything less than alive, because it can lead one to conclude that the truth is "dead" or inanimate. For example, without question, we can see how the evangelists of atheism treat spiritual truth as a dead thing -- which it surely is for them. Thus, they are simply following their first principle to its logical conclusion (another fine example of how perfectly executed logic leads to pure error).
But a Raccoon is like a frog, in that we are only interested in consuming living food. Place a dead fly in front of a frog, and he'll starve to death.
I try always to be the teacher I wish I had had, by which I mean that I want to first and foremost demonstrate what happens when the truth is "alive" in oneself. In all of my schooling, I really only had two such teachers, and each had a profound effect upon me. For truly, irrespective of what they were discussing, "the medium was the message," the medium being a soul alive to truth and enthusiastically transmitting it to others in a purely spontaneous way. Neither man ever relied upon notes, but very much engaged in what I now know to be O-->(n). When in this mode, one will transmit an automatic "charisma," at least to the sensitive.
And bear in mind that these descriptions all have deeply theological implications, e.g., charisma is from charis (divine favor or gift), en-thusiasm is to be brimming with God, and to be in-spired is to be filled with spirit. Obviously, many people are taken in by Obama's patently false charisma and en-thusiasm, for both vanish when he is separated from the TOTUS and he is reduced to a tedious and stuttering, gaffe-prone cypher. I am quite sure he is able to fool secular folks, because he has the imitation of O-->(n) down pat, and secular people wouldn't be secular if they were familiar with the real thing.
Again, so long as we don't do damage to the truth, it can still shine through a mediocre receptacle. Remember Mrs. G.'s experience a few weeks ago, at the ceremony involving Cardinal Mahoney? In that circumstance she instinctively did exactly the right thing by imagining that it was Christ speaking, not Mahoney.
HvB explains that truth can "shine through" such a flawed vehicle, so that "the sacramental graces of Christ are efficacious irrespective of the worthiness of the priest who dispenses them." I should hope so! I should hope that the power transmitted by the priest -- or any wholly man -- is not self-generated, or we're all in trouble.
But by the same token, HvB cautions that in such a situation, truth does not escape entirely "unscathed." Here he sounds very much like Schuon, when he writes that "the medium absorbs a portion of the rays that ought to have shone through it, whereas a suitable medium would amplify the luminosity of what it mediates."
This is a fascinating observation, again because it is so palpably and empirically true. For clearly, there are people who "amplify" the electrical charge, so to speak (HvB being one of them), which, if I remember correctly, is the function of the capacitor alluded to above, in the first paragraph.
But there are others who "drain" some of the charge, like an energy-inefficient appliance. I'm sure you've had this experience. It's the first thing I think of when I open my door to those Christian missionaries who somehow radiate their darkness -- the darkness into which the light is swallowed. I don't mean they are sinister or diabolical. They can be quite sweet, if at times a bit robotic.
So ideally, we want to receive that charge, and then "amplify" it. This very much reminds me of something Mouravieff wrote about in Gnosis. Not sure which volume. Let me see if I can track it down.
Here it is. He calls it "the law of seven." As I read it, it is somewhat analogous to the principle of entropy, or "the destructive character of time," only as applied to the spiritual plane. The law of seven has to do with countering this tendency toward information loss and eventual destruction.
I think a lot of his explanation is needlessly technical and mystagogic, but the conclusion strikes me as sound: for a movement going toward a definite goal to continue without deviation in the same direction, it is necessary to impart to it adequate additional impulses at specific moments and points. This is because, if left to itself, the original impulse will tend to curve back on itself, so you will end up where you started -- very similar to the idea of curved space in the physical realm. This would speak to the need for "perpetual metanoia," or repentance.
Indeed, you could say that psychic space is "curved," so that a kind of constant effort is required in order to move in a straight line -- the line between man and God. Mouravieff describes a subtle but inevitable shift that occurs if we are not aware of the law of seven, not just in religion, but also in politics. Take the example of the "Reagan Revolution." It began with the proper impulses that pulled us out of the entropy of dead and discredited leftism. But then what happened? The effort did not continue, and the law of seven took over. So now we're back to Jimmy Carter and 1976, as if the revolution never happened! Truly, political space is curved.
Not only that, but this new counter-revolution is even attempting to overturn the original revolution of America's founders, which is provoking the real energy behind the tea parties. But unless that energy is converted to real truth-power channeled through adequate political intermediaries, the left could very succeed in blowing up the American experiment. I can already smell the acrid smoke. Time to install some resistors and smoke detectors.