God's Eternal Surprise Party: Just Add Love
By the way, I'm going to try to speedblog a bit, otherwise we'll never get to the end of this. Do you realize that nearly every post this year (excluding reruns) has been about Balthasar, and yet, we've hardly made a dent? We never got beyond volumes one of the Glory of the Lord and the Theo-Logic, and now I'm only on page 68 of the Theo-Drama. I'm afraid that old readers will drop off one by one, and that no new readers will want to come on board because they'll think this is a hyper-specialized blog catering to Balthasar freaks and stalkers.
I don't want that to happen, because I do still want to convey a "universal" message. As I have mentioned before, even if I were officially Catholic, I'm not so sure I'd want to be a "Catholic blog," because then I think I'd have (even) less credibility to outsiders, and it would be much too easy to categorize and dismiss me, instead of being relatively easy to do so.
And although I realize I am fooling myself, I would also like to appeal to a secular audience, at least those for whom their intellectual condition is not fatal. Remember, despite appearances, we are not arguing "from" Christian orthodoxy, but toward it. (In fact, you could even argue that this movement "toward" Christianity is the proper mode, but we'll let that go for now.)
To cite just one example, I talk about the Trinitarian nature of God. Christian theologians say that this is something that mankind could never have arrived at independently in the absence of God revealing it to us. Otherwise, the highest conception of man can only be the One (a la Plotinus) or "beyond being" (a la Shankara or Schuon).
But I think I actually did kinda sorta more or less arrive at this idea independently. I don't think it's so difficult. All you have to do is posit "love" rather than "one" as the highest state. Once you do that, then love automatically implies threeness: lover, beloved, and the love that passes between them. The rest is just commentary. A lot of it.
In my case, oddly enough, I arrived at this conception via modern psychoanalysis, not theology, much less revelation. As I have mentioned before, the structure of my book mirrors somewhat my own journey from lukewarm atheism to promiscuous poly-monotheism.
But in chapter three, in analyzing how man became hu-man and how God put the sapiens into a bunch of homos, I explained how the emergence of man would have been strictly impossible if it hadn't rested on a foundation of being "members of one another," which is an extremely unusual state to be in, i.e., interior relatedness. Human relationships are not like two atoms coming together, but more like an organism with diverse parts. Or, you could say that the private particles are a function of the holographic wave, and that waving to yourself would be stupid.
In short, intersubjectivity is prior to individual subjectivity ("maleandfemale He created them"). And since intersubjectivity is an ultimate ontological category, it was sort of a no-brainer for me to jump to the conclusion that God, whatever else he is, must be intersubjective, consisting of distinct and unconfused "parts" that are nevertheless inseparable "members of one another."
And, just as it is for human beings, it turns out that love is the medium in which this intersubjectivity has its being. Love is what floats your boat on those holographic waves of being. This can be misleading, because we cannot think of this love in any abstract way -- as if it can somehow exist outside a lover and beloved, or ship and lighthouse.
Again, if everything reduces to one, then love gets blown out of the water. Indeed, if you start with One, and then add love to it after the fact, then -- anyway you try to spin it -- you're talking about a narcissistic God who is in love with himself, or who lives allone in a pineapple under the sea.
Furthermore, God being God, you would have to say that love is only an illusion, an aspect of maya. It's just God pulling the wool over his own eyes. But let no man say that O stands for Onanism.
Again, once you posit love as ultimate, then an intrinsically "flowing" intersubjective trinity follows from that. What does that mean? Many things.
For example, the "highest state" cannot be any kind of empty void or static unity, but must be the essence of love, which is boundless self-giving and grateful receiving. You will notice that power has nothing to do with it.
Indeed, as we touched on yesterday, to live in this state is to be peculiarly powerless, since one does not "control" the loved one. Or, to the extent that you do try to control the beloved, love withers and shades off into possession, or you end up like that Othello fellow. Love is a dangerously vulnerable position to be in -- the more love, the more vulnerable.
There again, this would imply that God does not "possess," or horde, or withhold. Just as his power is in his powerlessness, his treasure is in his giving. Here is how we may understand the "paradox" of the powerless and abandoned Jesus on the cross being the highest expression of God's power and love and glory, hallelujah. I would say that without this master key of intersubjective love, it makes no sense at all, and we simply have to accept it on faith: "Er, I realize this looks bad, but trust me.... "
This also implies that the Godhead must be eternal surprise, the very opposite of predictability, boredom, tedium, LGF, MSM journalism, etc. I've heard atheists argue that even if heaven existed, they wouldn't want to be there, because it would be too boring.
Au coontraire! God by his very nature must be "full of surprises." Indeed, why do you think human beings like surprises? Have you ever noticed that all other animals hate surprises? We used to have an extrarordinarily intelligent dog who was a freakishly good security guard. It was a kind of OCD. If anything in the house was in a slightly different place, she'd notice. And she wouldn't like it. She didn't even like it if I did something unpredictable. I might jump up and cheer at a base hit, and she'd start barking at me. Sit down! Shut up! No sudden movements! Achtung!
Now, children especially love surprises. Perhaps they know something we don't know. As a matter of fact, as I explained in chapter three of my book, neoteny is a key that unlocks or breaks down many doors, neoteny being none other than a state of "permanent immaturity." Think about that: only human beings are (potentially) in a state of permanent immaturity. All other animals have a fixed endpoint to their development, but a proper human being keeps developing until he draws his last breath.
But there are two types of immaturity, aren't there? In a way, you could say that these parallel holy vs. assouly childlikeness. In order to enter heaven -- which is where God makes his crib -- you must be childlike, never childish -- you know, just a touch of infanity.
Children live in a state of trust and spontaneity, at least so long as they are given the proper environment. But the childish are only caricatures of this: not spontaneous but impulsive; not faith-ful but gullible; not obedient but conformist; not grounded but stubborn; not affectionate but clinging; not loving but narcissistic.
But enough about liberals.
Wo. Getting late. Where are we, anyway? Oh. Page 68. Do you see the problem? I started on page 68. And now I've gotten up to page 68. Same old same mold, to put it mildewy. If God didn't keep placing all these unpredictable surprises in my Way, I'm just sure I'd find him....