Is the Cosmos a Great Divinizing Machine?
As we sit here thunderstruck, there is "a bolt of lightning that discloses, in a single flash, the overwhelming contemporaneity of all realms of being, down to the very elements of matter themselves -- of their layers and interconnections, their approaches to, and descents from, the invisible peak of all things -- revealing a picture of stability and majestic peace such as has never been glimpsed before in Christendom."
More: the "dynamic insight... into the evolution of all things, step by step, from the primeval potency, is turned here into a picture of a reality that radiates outward, flows downward from above. It is not a cosmos frozen into [an] icon so much as a life that generatively streams and pulsates," something like a fountain consisting of bowls atop one another, so the water overflows down from realm to realm.
As Magnus calmly said yesterday, "Yes. That's it." Nevertheless, two things. One, why did no one ever tell me about this in Sunday School? Two, the whole durn thing thing reminds me of --->
The thing is, this is not just a poetic vision, even though it is one. As I mentioned a while back, the best one can do is try to pour language over the divine being, in the hope that its contours will emerge like an object beneath a veil. So on the one hand, the vision is unavoidably "poetic," even while simultaneously being, as implied by Magnus, rather "exact," evoking a simple "Yup. Bingo. That's the one."
And although the vision is "ecstatic," at the same time, "one's knowledge must possess, in the highest degree, that joyous calm that expresses the peace of this contemplative vision" (emphasis mine). I think this corresponds to the highest degree of transcendence -- which takes us beyond oursleves -- and immanence -- which paradoxically locates this beyond "within." Truly, the closer you get, the further away you are. Virtually all saints affirm this in one away or another.
This is not a "paradox" but a precise account and description. It is "intimacy-distance," or "twoness-oneness," or "union-separation." Only at the very point of ultimate intimacy does one discover the abyss of infinite Otherness. And it is only in this very gap that Love abides, and without which it could not Be, for love is the identity of identity and non-identity.
Just don't say that to your wife on Valentine's Day, because it doesn't sound very romantic. And while I'm thinking of it, don't give her a Garden Weasel either.
So there is simultaneous participation and detachment, even to their ultimate terms. As Maximus explains, "The first concern must, then, not be to speak as others speak, but to conceive the word of truth with understanding and exactitude.... It is not a matter of refuting the opinions of others, but of presenting one's own; not a matter of contesting some aspect of the teaching or behavior of others..., but of writing on behalf of truth" (emphasis mine).
Now that we have described this cosmos, what is it good for, besides sex, thrills, and rock 'n roll? Well, one might say that it is a kind of "divinizing machine," except that it is obviously not a machine.
Looked at in purely linear terms, you might say that you insert matter and energy (which amount to the same thing) on one end and ultimately end up with God at the other. In between you have such interesting features as biology, anthropology, politics, history and all the rest, some of it "progressive," most of it just meaningless eddies off to the side of main cosmic stream, such as "progressivism." This is such a profoundly misleading term, that only Satan himself could have invented it!
As we have discussed on a number of occasions, the whole idea of progress is absurd in the absence of the Absolute. To put it another way, it is only because of the a priori "existence" of the Absolute -- i.e., GOD -- that progress is possible, since "progress" is measured in terms of proximity to the Absolute, precisely. (And we put the qualifier "existence" in quotes, since the Absolute is obviously beyond existence; rather, existence is derived from the Absolute.)
This is why -- and I really can't recommend Liberal Fascism highly enough; I think it's actually much, much deeper than generally understood by both critics and fans -- "progressivism" is just another name for barbarism. It is the rule of the beasts, the infrahumans who have no desire to become human. For them the state is the absolute, and metaphysical gravity takes care of the rest. See Barack fall!
So Maximus envisages the cosmos "as the supporting ground for all supernatural divinization." The first thing that occurs to me is that this idea is mirrored at all levels of creation. For example, you might say that a solar system is a supporting ground for "biolization," or that biology is a supporting ground for "psycholization," or that psychology is a supporting ground for spiritualization.
You have to look at the whole, in both space and time, horizontally and vertically. If you do that, then you see that this is simply "the way it is." It is just an empirical description of "what happens," cosmically speaking. Nor is it anything that human beings -- let alone Darwin! -- could ever "make happen" in the absence of divine intervention, or let us just say a "vertical descent" to avoid saturation. Nature is supernatural, or it is nothing. Literally. But more important, figuratively.
Thus, this vision establishes the infinite value of the creation, since it is not only infused with potential divinity, but its very purpose is tied in with divinization. This is why Maximus "may be considered the most world-affirming of all the Greek Fathers." The world is not some big mistake or simple illusion that one must escape by any selfish means narcissary. Rather, not only is it a source of wisdom and revelation, but it is again the very "means" of divinization.
Man is not driven to contemplate nature for its own sake, but because it is "a kind of initiation into the knowledge of God," something which more and more physicists and cosmologists appreciate, even while fewer and fewer biologists do. For "the stars in the heavens are like the letters of a book." "The wise person stands in the midst of the world's realities as in an inexhaustible treasury of knowledge... everything provides food for his intellectual nourishment." Mmmmm, reality (Homer).
But only if you are sufficiently awake to be aware of your divine intellect (¶), so that it has emerged to the front of the personality. For the awakened intellect, the world is a ladder, "a hoist to higher intellectual insight." For the unawakened, it is merely a stool.
Last rung in's a written gag! --The Wholly Coonifesto