Monday, July 13, 2009

Cosmic Anthropology and Anthropic Cosmology

Or, you might say that man is the key to God, and God the key to man. No, that's not an absurcular argument.

I didn't discover John Scottus Eriugena until after I had already written my book, but he provides a perfect Christian template for what I was trying to accomplish there, with the idea of the cosmic procession and return to the apophatic Godhead, and with "evolution" being that which takes place in between the two big Nothings at either end (which are of course the same "place").

I'm going to try to summarize his theology and point out the parallels, which I don't know if I can do, since I've never done it before. Our tour guide will be Bernard McGinn, who has a chapter devoted to Scotty in volume two of his history of Christian mysticism, The Presence of God.

By way of background -- let's just call him John -- John was born in Ireland in around 810. I don't really know how he is regarded these days -- as in literature, people go in and out of fashion as their reputations go up and down -- but it seems to me that he provides a critical link between eastern and western forms of Christianity, since his main influences were such luminaries as Denys the Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor -- two of the early Fathers who were also among the biggest influences on Toots Mondello, as he feverishly transcribed the Summa Raccoonica from the white salamander Gabriel.

McGinn calls him -- John that is, not Toots -- "the greatest speculative mind of the early Middle Ages, the most original and subtle thinker in the West between Augustine and Anselm." That's a hell of a long time. Imagine being "the Man" for 600 years! Think about it: can you name a contemporary author who will not only be relevant but still cutting edge in 600 years? No, not Richard Dawkins or Deepak Chopra.

John's overall intention in his theology was identical to mine: "The Irishman's thought, from start to finish, was intended to provide an account of how the cosmos, through the mediation of the human subject, returns to its fullest possible unification with the hidden God."

Also, note that he had the identical attitude toward truth that I discussed in yesterday's post, i.e., that all truth comes from God, whether or not it looks like it on the surface. As he put it, "True philosophy is true religion and true religion is true philosophy" (and back then, philosophy encompassed the totality of natural knowledge).

Thus, John's body of work provides "a systematic account of all reality, or of nature," and "since God is the source of both reason and the Bible, there can be no real conflict between the two." Of course, "seeming conflicts will occur," but "essential conflict is impossible," since Truth is of one essence -- or the essence of One.

On the one hand, scripture is "God's speech about himself." But John does not reduce scripture to the Bible. Rather, there is a parallel revelation called "creation," i.e., the wor(l)d: "John stressed that creation and scripture were two parallel manifestations of the hidden God..."

Furthermore, scripture only became "necessary" on account of the Fall, which John interprets allegorically as a state of ignorance resulting in "the inability of humanity as we know and experience it to grasp its true relationship with God." That being the case, we also have difficulty reading the "book of creation." Thus, a certain kind of development will allow us to comprehend and unify both God and cosmos on the interior plane.

In fact, you might say that it is the Fall that "triggers" history and makes it necessary, so to speak. The Fall results in the exteriorization or dissipation of our divine interior, which necessitates the long arc -- or is it actually short, relative to cosmic time? -- of salvation history (or what I call salvolution, i.e., salvation + evolution).

We will return to this idea later. The main point is that "illusion and ignorance... can only be overcome historically" through the incarnation of the God-man "whose task it is to incorporate all of humanity into him and thus restore it at history's end to the Father." Again, as in the title of yesterday's post, timelessness takes time, which in turn takes a cosmos: the end result is cosmotheosis (again, more below).

I hope this is all making sense so far. It certainly does for me, another reminder of how there exist "divine attractors" which people separated by centuries or millennia can occupy at the same timeless. As a matter of fact -- and this is an idea shared by Eckhart -- when you are in that particular attractor, you are actually making it "present" by explicating it -- or trying to, anyway.

In other words, "the return to God is not only spiritually foreshadowed, but actually performed in the exegetical process." Thus, for me to communicate and for you to comprehend all of this is a kind of miniature version -- or fractal -- of the whole cosmic process. It is O --> (n), which is ultimately O --> O, or God contemplating and knowing himself through the human medium.

And of course, it can only take place "within" the Holy Spirit. But the point is that we are not dealing with any kind of objective (k) that can be handed from mind to mind, but a transformation. In other words, I am trying to speak from the space of O --> (n), and if I am successful in my communication, it will facilitate the transformation of (n) --> O for you.

True gnosis is presence. It is of a sacramental nature, except that instead of actualizing sanctity it actualizes the presence of divine truth. Thus, you should be able to feel God's breath, or pneuma, as you approach, or "enter" the space of O. We call this breath holytosis.

This is one of the reasons why it is so critical to maintain an apophatic stance toward God, i.e., an unsaturated stance of unKnowing. This is probably a good place to stop for today, because that will require some time to explain.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

Holytosis

Heh. Remember the one about the randy nun whose penance was to gargle with holy water?

7/13/2009 07:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post but not contentious or political enough to provide fodder for an argument, which I would certainly enjoy.

There's always tommorrow, eh?

7/13/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Presence, indeed.
This is going to sound strange but, on more than one occasion lately I’ve lost track of the fact that the Founders knew of Jesus. (Alright, take it easy) By that I mean, I’d misplaced their order; as if Jesus came after the Founders. The details of my “out of chronological order” are not important. In fact, recently, I returned to the NT simply because I missed hearing Him speak. I didn’t necessarily need to hear Him speak, I just felt I wanted to. It’s a “drawing” or pulling. All this reading we do around here, can, in a way, distance you from Jesus as well; listening to others talk about Him – even authorities. When I returned to the NT a few weeks ago, now the second time, I notice how He is present, as in, right here, right now, and that’s how I noticed, He seems more recent, than the Founders. Funny, I say “my” misplacing when it really just proves what He can do, or rather, does. He simply is Present, whether I think so our not.

7/13/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Try to imagine if this weren't so.

7/13/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger lance said...

"This is one of the reasons why it is so critical to maintain an apophatic stance toward God, i.e., an unsaturated stance of unKnowing."

I really like this. Great post today I am looking forward to the follow ups.

7/13/2009 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Holytosis Batman.....i can't wait for tomorrow!

7/13/2009 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>. . the idea of the cosmic procession and return to the divine Nothing of God, and "evolution" being that which takes place in between the two big Nothings<<

This is obvious, but I think worth the occasional emphasis: The "evolution" between the two Nothings actually ceases to be evolution at a certain point, ie., it ceases to be a blind, inexorable, evolutionary/organizational drive and it becomes a matter of spiritual volition, free will, to be exact.

I suppose an analogy could be drawn between Jehovah, God of strict Evolution and Christ, God-Man, prime example of the Indwelling Spirit, the point at which we are called to account for our own spiritual progress.

I know there have been some - I'm thinking of Malachi Martin, to name one - who are very uneasy with d'Chardin's concept of a strict evolutionary process from Nothing to Nothing, from Creation to the Omega Point. I don't know d'Chardin's philosophy well enough to say if Martin's perspective is completely sound, but I get his point.

7/13/2009 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Great Liz Cheney oped in the WSJ today.

7/13/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

...and Scott Ott is running for public office.

"If the Tea Party movement, the 9/12 movement, the blogospere, conservative radio and other efforts are to make a tangible impact in the long run, we have to start finding ways to replace career politicians and progressive statists with limited-government advocates who understand that public service means just that...Until last year, I had never made a contribution to a political candidate, but the state of our nation, and the threat posed by progressive statists, pushed me out of my comfort zone..."

7/13/2009 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Yep, RR, behind every good man...

Thanks for the link!

7/13/2009 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

My pleasure, NoMo.
HT goes to Ace of Spades

7/13/2009 01:02:00 PM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

Gil Bailie use to start his talks on the Emmaus Road Initative with a short memo that the best adventures always end up where they once started - at home. There is a lot av truth in that, regarding to that wich Bob writes about here.

Really good stuff, as usual :)

7/13/2009 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"...among the biggest influences on Toots Mondello, as he feverishly transcribed the Summa Raccoonica from the white salamander Gabriel."

It is a little known fact that the so called 'white salamander' named Gabriel, was not actually white, nor a salamander... though it was white, at that time. In actuality, the 'salamander' was actually a chameleon, and only appeared to be white at the time, because it was perched upon the edge of Toot's porcelain tub (which was convenient, due to Toot's being in the... ehm... praying position... during that episode), while revealing the self-same revelations.

I have this information from a very good source, who heard it from his uncle's brother's, cousins, nephew's girlfriends Dad, who was sneaking out the basement window at the time with Toot's favorite bowling ball (better keep that portion quiet though. You unnerstand.)

And how was your day today?

Back to the post.

7/13/2009 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Also, note that he had the identical attitude toward truth that I discussed in yesterday's post, i.e., that all truth comes from God, whether or not it looks like it on the surface. As he put it, "True philosophy is true religion and true religion is true philosophy" (and back then, philosophy encompassed the totality of natural knowledge)."

And how could it be otherwise? Being that it does mean 'love of wisdom'.

"13Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

14The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

15Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

16For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.
"

(trying to get the jump on Nomo

;-)

7/13/2009 10:07:00 PM  

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