Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is the Cosmos a Great Divinizing Machine?

Picking up where we lifted off yesterday with Maximus' vision of the cosmos, there is more where that came from. Balthasar talks about "the world dancing in the festal celebration of liturgical adoration," a "single organism" consisting of diverse ranks and offices, all "circling around the brilliant darkness of the central mystery," unspeakably near to the Source "in all its radiant generosity, yet [being] equally aware of the ever-greater distance of the 'super-essential,' 'super-inconceivable.''

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

18 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

"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."

Cooncidentaly, a common centerpiece in weddings is the champagne fountain, which spills the bubbly bubbly from one bowl, down and into another, and another and... hic....

7/30/2009 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Truly, the closer you get, the further away you are. Virtually all saints affirm this in one away or another."

The image which comes to mind is that of zooming in to the molecular, atomic & sub-atomic levels, where the relative distance between molecules, atoms and particles expands more and more and more between thing and non-thing. The closer you get, the further away everything is.

7/30/2009 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"This is why -- and I really can't recommend Liberal Fascism highly enough; I think it's actually much, much deeper than 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!"

Yes! The only thing progressive about proregressivism, is that once you buy into one single bit of it (as the first states did to doing away with their property restrictions on eligible voters), you WILL become progressively more and more and more barbarous.

How low can you go? You will never gno.

7/30/2009 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Sean said...

"For the unawakened, it is merely a stool."

and the Won and his ilk continue loosing their droppings on us all.

7/30/2009 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I think I've likely said this here before but the idea of it for me is that One Glimpse at that incomparable Face and that's it. All questions answered, all knowledge known and for the seeker, an entrance into, "of course!"

And we move farther up and further in from there.

wv: miquell - yes, it calms me.

7/30/2009 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

"the stars in the heavens are like the letters of a book."

That is beautiful.

7/30/2009 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

You know, there is no single place in this fine post which I can point to to show the connection to this other person’s writing that River pointed out the other day (Thanks again, River). Bob’s post keeps doing this on its own, everywhere. This person writes a shocker – at least it was while I failed to see the Truth of it:

The Ochlophobist writes:

“It is my conviction that human fatherhood (and the acts associated with it) teaches us nothing dogmatic about God, nor does human sonship (and the acts associated with it) teach us anything dogmatic concerning God. We cannot start with human biological or social relationships and end up with Christian Trinitarian dogma. The movement of knowledge is expressed perfectly in Ephesians 3:14-15, For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named (with the classic πατερα/πατρια turn of phrase). The names (or the real, abiding knowledge we possess) of ourselves and of others and of relationships come from God. This is top down theology. But this ride only goes one way. I do not learn God's name by way of evaluating human relationships qua human relationships. There is no sense in which Trinitarian relations are a mimesis of earthly relations. In other words, I can learn something of what human fatherhood should be by way of learning of the Father, but I cannot learn anything of the Father by looking at human fatherhood.

Now, some will here speak of their loving, caring, forgiving, devoted earthly fathers who taught them of the Father, or of horrid earthly fathers who we might be told detracted from their trust of the Father. But we must ask ourselves, who is iconing whom?”

And then a commenter asks:

“[I]sn't fatherhood itself something created and self-revelatory of the Trinity?”

Ochlophobist replies:
“No. The nature of biological human fatherhood in and of itself reveals nothing of the Trinity. This is the point I make in the post. Fr. Hopko has lectured at some length on the modern theological problems which stem from the belief that the nature of human fatherhood teaches us about the relations of Persons within the Trinity. On this matter I very much concur with him.”

I like how he said, “No”, don’t you?
:-)

7/30/2009 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

yes, the actuality is, I think, that it is 'baby' who icons the Father in the family. In this way, we can recognize that the 'fatherhood' of the Father is indeed, something entirely different that we usually understand.

It takes 'the enlightened nous' (i.e. the nous with the energy of God) to comprehend these things. The highest natural theology is what it is because (I think) it either stumbled upon the truth (which is possible) among the many possible derivations, or it, through virtue, opened itself up to some level of understanding, barring the descent and indwelling of the actual Spirit of God which proceeds from the incarnation -> crucifixion -> resurrection -> ascension's restoration of human nature. In other words, you have to tell the whole story, from the beginning, every time...

However, I think we have to be careful where we follow this, because we might then think, that if the Holy Spirit were incarnate, he would take the form of a woman (extrapolating from Father = child, Son = father, perhaps) and from this erroneous extrapolation we have what is called 'Sophianism' which believes that the Holy Spirit essentially DID incarnate in the Theotokos (oh God help us.)

We can also fall into error by using the language construct of feminine (which in Hebrew for spirit we see) to again extrapolate that the Holy Spirit is a kind of Divine Feminine.

However, I think that while we call the Spirit 'giver of life' and we can note that 'Eve' means a similar thing, the theology (if we're to stay little-o orthodox anyway) is top down; the Son, like the Father and Spirit are actually as Divine Persons genderless; the gender goes along with the human nature, which only the Son has.

We can *speculate* about *if* the Spirit was incarnate, but such things are speculative. Of course, if I recall Eckhart was regarded heterodox for speculations as well as Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa's speculative work is also regarded heterodox (while in general he is considered orthodox.)

So, I would caution the Ocholophobist leans toward the orthodox in teaching and away from the speculative, and I know that Bob likes to riff on the speculative, to see what mileage can be gained in it.

I personally have no problem with either approach... but certainly the proper theology cannot be strictly bottom up, or really bottom up at all. You can't learn to read by being given a bunch of books without any kind of guide or even any kind of speaker who speaks that language. You need a speaker to learn the language...

7/30/2009 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

"I personally have no problem with either approach..."

Same hear.

7/30/2009 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

... hey, as long as you meet in the muddle of the mount...

7/30/2009 05:27:00 PM  
Anonymous goddinpotty said...

it is only because of the a priori "existence" of the Absolute -- i.e., GOD -- that progress is possible...This is why ..."progressivism" is just another name for barbarism. It is the rule of the beasts, the infrahumans who have no desire to become human. -- Gagdad Bob, 2009

The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but not human. They cannot be human in the sense of being an image of God, the Eternal. The Jews are the image of the devil. Jewry means the racial tuberculosis of the nations. -- Adolph Hitler, 1923

7/30/2009 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For once I agree with goddinpotty. The leftist Hitler elevated relativism to the absolute, which is why he absolutely hated the Jews, since they symbolized to him man's covenant with the Absolute.

7/30/2009 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

As we move down the worlds, a fragmentation occurs. What is one in a higher world appears as a multiplicity in a lower. This is surely intentional, for if the One wanted Unity above all, there would have been no creation.

In the human spirit the two forces of unity and multiplicity may appear separately, as the mystic lifts his eyes upward toward the higher worlds and their unity, while the creative artist expresses the relative unity in the form of discrete creations, be they books or paintings or works of music. And in some the both of them vie for attention.

But in any case, unity is a hallmark of the higher, and beyond a certain point the full meaning of the many can only be understand by knowing the one above. This is so on every rung of the cosmic ladder.

7/30/2009 06:35:00 PM  
Anonymous goddinpotty said...

Jonah Goldberg has a smidgen of an excuse for spouting his nonsense -- he's well-paid for it (plus, he's obviously not too bright). What's yours?

7/30/2009 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What's my excuse for spouting nonsense?

Hmm, let me think... Wait a minute -- that's a trick question!

7/30/2009 08:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Homer S. said...

Goddinpotty,

ACORN needs to lower your wages because you SUCK man.

7/30/2009 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>Man is not driven to contemplate nature for its own sake, but because it is "a kind of initiation into the knowledge of God," . . <<

That, I think, is the trouble with so much of the eco-mvt. - the contemplation of and reverence for nature-for-its-own-sake, just like contemplation of art for-its-own-sake, can lead to nothing but the emptiness of the sensory.

In the case of art, that results in an ever-increasing addiction to sensation, perversity, shock value.

In the case of the eco-mvt., the result is a trending toward various forms of neo-paganism, which is the apotheosis of the sensory. (and is also the apotheosis of human passion and base instinct)

Both are counter-evolutionary, comrades.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

7/31/2009 02:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

gulpingotty said "Bar bar, bar bar bar bar. Bar bar bar, barrr, bar bar bar barbarbar!"

I rest my case.

7/31/2009 05:17:00 AM  

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