Because I Said So vs. Because I Did So (or My Way is the High Way)
I haven't yet had to say that to my son, and I hope I never do. Not to say I can't be authoritarian. However, instead of "because I said so," I might say, for example, because that's the way it is. In other words, it is not "I" who says so, but reality which does. I would then explain why reality operates in this frustrating or painful manner, and how reality always "bites back" if you violate it.
Let's say Andrew Sullivan comes to me in tears, asking why he can't marry his boyfriend. I would calmly explain that a man cannot marry a man, that it is an impossibility. If he pressed the issue, I wouldn't end the conversation with "because I said so." Rather, I would explain that this is the way it is, and that even if the law imposes homosexual marriage on us, homosexuals still cannot live in a state of "marriage," any more than I can make my aunt a trolley car by judicial fiat, or a Fiat by judicial folly.
It seems to me that "because I said so" indicates a position of weakness. But if one is in a weak position, one should simply acknowledge it. Just say, "I don't really know," or "it sounded like a good idea at the time." Don't pretend you have all the answers.
So Balthasar asks the question -- a question we all need to ask our Father -- is God "powerless in the face of autonomous man's 'No'? And how is this divine powerlessness related to the Godforsakenness of his Son on the Cross?"
The answer inevitably shades off into theo-drama, which is the "long" answer to that question, precisely (for it takes ages to be fully revealed). In other words, the structure of the theo-drama would seem to imply something about the nature of God's power over his own creation -- that there are certain limits that even he will not violate. It's as if he needs to operate within his own self-imposed boundaries in order to try to overcome man's autonomous "No," otherwise the Victory is tainted.
Here again, it would be easy enough for God to just say because I said so. Isn't this the way things work in the Islamic world? Sharia is the imposition of "God's will" on everyone, like it or not. "But why must we force women to live in black bags, or murder our rebellious daughters, or beat men who shave their beards?" Shut up!, he explained.
Much of this follows from the conception of a monistic god, which then imposes a strict dualism of god-->man. But the Trinitarian God is fundamentally different, as its intrinsic activity involves the self-emptying of the Father with respect to the Son.
Again, the Father doesn't "hold back" anything, but "gives his all." Thus, his power is in his powerlessness, so to speak. But within the Trinity, this gift is accepted by the Son with eternal gratitude and humility, and then "returned" to the Father in an "enriched" form, if we may put it thus.
Apparently, we have no real access to the goings-on inside the Trinity. However, I think I can get some sense of the eternal delight in observing how this plays out with my own son. The amount of love and care that parents give to their infant cannot be measured. It's about as close to "infinite" as you can imagine, in part because their needs are infinite.
But now that he's four years old, we're starting to see the love we poured into him, not just returning to us, but spreading out into the world. What can I say? It's a marvelous thing to behold.
Yes, you could say that it's only your own love returning back to you, so what's the big deal? And yet, it is a big deal. Something happens to the love by virtue of letting it go and pouring it into your infant, before whom you are helpless. Let Mrs. G tell you stories about the profound helplessness a mother feels toward a colicky baby. Some mothers have been known to abuse or murder their babies rather than tolerate the pain of that helplessness.
My mind just went to the image of Christ's pain on the cross. But imagine the pain of the Father! Now my mind flashes to Saddam torturing children in the presence of their parents. If you have children, you know that this is "unimaginable" pain, probably even outside satan's limits. And yet, this literally unimaginable pain is at the very heart of the Christian mystery. What's going on?
So you can see right away that God's answer to the question of "why," goes way beyond "because I said so." The question now becomes more like, "why are you doing this to yourself? You're God. You don't have to endure this unimaginable pain. Just smite Man and be done with it. He's not worth it."
While we wait for an answer, consider this: "Infinite love is seen, in that God has identified himself with what is alien to him in order to kill it." In math, the multiplication of two negatives is a positive. Could it be that Death x Death = Life? Or Pain x Pain = Joy?
Can death be killed? If so, can we kill our own death? Inquiring minds want to know!
They say that one of the problems in having a child is that your heart is no longer in your own body. Rather, it's now set loose in the world, outside your body, running around free. It's completely helpless and vulnerable -- anything can happen, and you have no control over it. And yet, God sets loose his heart into the world. What madness is this!
Again, why would one set loose one's most cherished possession in this world, of all places?! I can't even imagine doing that with my child. Rather, I will do everything within my power to protect him from the world. Our culture has become the enemy. When "in" it, you are in hostile territory. Any spiritually sane person understands this.
But God's heart wanders around everywhere, high and low: with whores, drunks, lepers, tax collectors, leftists. For this heart, in order to overcome death, must embrace all. He must taste the whole existentialada.
Imagine flushing your child down the toilet, and you get the idea. There can be no limits to his descent, not even human limits. Rather, he must descend to the hidden dimensions of the cosmos, to the vast network of filthy arteries beneath our brightly lit cultures, every last dreadful one of them. He must break free of every "prison of finitude," only in order to find himself in a more vast prison system.
But why? Why must it be this way?
All of this must be so. And it must be hidden, and men have no inkling of what is occurring. They simply walk on past it as over the dark pipes and drains that form the gruesome catacombs under our big cities. Up above the sun is beaming; peacocks fan out their tails; young people frolic with glee, their light clothes puffed by the wind -- and no one knows the price. --Balthasar, Heart of the World
To be continued...