Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Re-Gifting God

When I started blogging almost five years ago, one of the purposes was to try to assimilate things that I had learned over the years. In other words, it's one thing to know something (as our trolls do), another thing to understand it (as our trolls don't), and yet another thing to "become" it (as our trolls can never do unless they seriously get a clue before it's too late).

And when it comes to spiritual growth, #3 is all. Knowledge -- essential knowledge, or knowledge of essence -- does not save unless it becomes substance -- or returns to substance, to be exact. And this goes to the vast difference between intellect and mere intellectualism, between common sense and tenure, or between (n) and (k).

You may think of gnosis (n) as a memo from God to God, with man as mediator. Truly, Man as such is the middleman of the divine economy. To be this middleman requires much more than mere know-how. Rather, it requires a great deal of be-who.

What this means is that -- and believe it or not, this is straight-up Catholic doctrine if you read the fine Prince -- the whole Trinitarian business goes to this virtuous circle of economic exchange between various persons of the Trinity.

I know I'm not saying this correctly, -- like a seminary student might -- but my rustic and omspun manner of expression is actually a big part of my point. If you truly assimilate a teaching, it shouldn't involve just repeating it verbatim, any more than having a child is like reproducing a carbon based copy of oneself.

There's a kind of "wildness" in the Godhead that makes it ever-generative and ever-new (not unlike sex, really, if I misunderstand the latter correctly), so that it can't actually be contained by our categories, even though they are nonetheless necessary to chart the territory of the torahteller.

For example, we learn musical scales not to just repeat them but to use them as the basis for composition and improvisation. The one does not negate the other.

But while improvisation would not be possible in the absence of the scales (the latter are a necessary condition), I would nevertheless say that the scales were made for improvisation rather than vice versa. The Spirit always takes precedence over the Letter, but never obviates it.

As for the intrinsic orthodoxy of this view, Schall writes that "what is not God will, in its own way, manifest the non-loneliness or friendship that is characteristic of the inner life of God. The first point of what is not God will be the last point, as it were, of what is within God" (emphasis mine).

If you don't understand what that means, think of God's grace descending into the creation, and then returning to him in the form of man's love, truth, virtue, and sanctity; or of man "surrendering" and offering up these gifts to the Divine.

Again, we're dealing with that virtuous circle through which "the last point of the inner life of God is the receptivity in which the love of the Father and Son is reflected in the Person of the Spirit...." The Spirit is like the energy that completes this circle of giving, receiving, and giving back. Thus sayeth Petey: Come in, open His presence, and report for karmic duty.

Or, in a nutschall, "If we return to the inner life or order within the Godhead, we see that the love of the Father and the Son is understood to be a Gift..." The world is not "complete" in the absence of this particular form of "eternal return."

So really, a spiritual practice is like re-gifting God, but that's okay. What else are you supposed to give someOne who already has everything? It's the thought that counts -- from one to three and back again, but who's counting? Prayer is really self-offering.

If that wasn't sufficiently unclear, allow Schall to shed a little more obscurity on the subject: "the highest point of contact between the inner life of God and the life of the world is at the point where an intelligent creature is capable of receiving a gift and returning it to its source."

And this, if you really want to know, goes to the circular structure of my book, in which the cosmos perpetually returns to God in the self-offering kenosis of the saint, sage, or mystic who empties himself in order to be filled by God: not I, but Christ lives in me. So sayeth Petey of this circle: We'll meet again. Up ahead, 'round the bend. The circle unbroken, by and by. A Divine child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes!

That is, we offer or surrender God's highest gift -- the human subject -- in exchange for an even better model, a luxury corps at pentecost! Saying "yes" to this gift is more difficult than one might imagine, as many people are more comfortable with giving than receiving.

Again, speaking of improvisation, what always strikes this Coon with great force is when something I raved off the top of my head comes back to hunt me later like a pack of wild dogmas in the from of orthodox doctrine that some fellow independently discovered hundreds of years ago, but just expressed in a different way.

For Schall expresses orthoparadoxical Raccoon dogma when he writes that "ultimately the point of contact is where God meets gift, where what proceeds out of the inner life of the Godhead meets the inner life of the finite persons who have, in the end, nothing higher to do than to accept" the gift back from God, in that eternal circle of truth, love, and union.

The cosmos ends in man, but man ends in God. Therefore the cosmos ends in God, right back where it started, as does this post. Thank you and you're welcome.


Blogger Jack said...

As a musician it is clear that technique i.e. scales, chords, exercises etc are merely the means to an end. Technique can easily be confused and the accumulation of technique never makes that mysterious leap in actually *making music*...which is a never ending process that is always capable of greater depth.

In the North Indian tradition music is likened to the ocean. Maybe the great ones manage to get a cupful and the rest of us get our thimbleful. Regardless, it's still the one taste of the ocean.

How this alchemy actually works, it's hard to say, but enough challenging practice and *Abracadabra* things shift...and not only is one making music but if you keep going music starts making YOU. Why else would so many of us tolerate such a precarious life being a musician!

Rule #1: Music is the process of becoming fully human.

3/25/2010 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

correction: "technique can easily be confused as an end rather than a means. In fact it happens all the time."

wv: funds.

Yes, please...

3/25/2010 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which is also why music becomes both exhausted for the creator and fatiguing for the listener if it isn't coming from a divine place.

3/25/2010 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

If you truly assimilate a teaching, it shouldn't involve just repeating it verbatim, any more than having a child is like reproducing a carbon based copy of oneself.

When you can take something completely out of context and apply it as a solution to what appears to be a different problem, you know that you understand it. I tend to use one of two ways to solve any new problem -- repeated blind failure or analogy. Solutions by analogy will always work -- if you get the right analogy. For those who are bad at analogies (or can't find the right one at a given time), repeated blind failure will work -- unless you continue to repeat the same failed solution, e.g., Keynesian economic theory.

3/25/2010 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"If that wasn't sufficiently unclear, allow Schall to shed a little more obscurity on the subject: "the highest point of contact between the inner life of God and the life of the world is at the point where an intelligent creature is capable of receiving a gift and returning it to its source.""

That connective point in making a choice, where you, that core deicision point, examines this, and that, and unites them through your selection... and if True, you integrate into all that is, and if false, you slide further into all that isn't.

Nothing personal, just your choice. That' schall.

3/25/2010 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger will said...

>>The cosmos ends in man, but man ends in God. Therefore the cosmos ends in God<<

Yup, to continue the musical analogy, the return to God is mirrored in the basic A-B-A cyclical form and all its variations, eg., AaBbABA or ABaabbBA, or the music of the Swedish ABBA.

>> . . . music becomes both exhausted for the creator and fatiguing for the listener if it isn't coming from a divine place<<

Unfortunately, though, anti-divine music can become, for many, highly addictive.

(from yesterday's comments, here's a shoutout to Van!)

3/25/2010 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...


Headline on Drudge:
"Clyburn says Republicans 'aiding and abetting terrorism' against Dems..."

Doesn't that make them freedom fighters?

3/25/2010 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, you know what the left always says: one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

3/25/2010 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Art = Thank you

Or yer doin it rong.
Or you don't have a good reason to.


Art = I get it

But mostly the first one. The second helps but not required. If yer lucky. And then the rest of us are.

Hey Will! I likes the blue ink.

3/25/2010 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger will said...

Shoutout to Rick!

>>Hey Will! I likes the blue ink<<

Thank you, though I must say mutating into a squid can be difficult at times.

3/25/2010 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

Bob quoted the left:

"one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

The correct terms for the players are as follows:

Government(security forces of any established regime)

Insurgents (anti-government fighters)

Terrorist (any governmental or insurgent player using violence to incite fear in a wider audience)

Note that the motive for using terror does not in any way deflect the definition of terrorism.

The US use of Drones is in fact terrorism. The effect of inciting terror in the enemy is considered one of its most useful effects. It is a supreme morale-buster.

Note that the term "counter terrorism" is inaccurate. The proper phrase would be "counter-insurgency."

Al Quaida and the Taliban are properly called insurgent organizations, not by definition terrorists, even though that is their prime tactic. But, they also indulge in squad-level fire fights all the time also. This is not terrorism.

I hope this clarification is useful to someone out there.

3/25/2010 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...


Art=Thank you.

I like it.

Makes me think of Pink Floyd. And while I think they made some incredible music, they ultimately leave me with a bad taste. I think you helped me fathom why that might be. It is often very UNGRATEFUL least lyrical. The music on the other hand is often quite beautiful.

It frightens me to think how much of "dark side of the moon" and "the wall" I listened to as a teenager. I don't think it was good for my didn't help anyway.

3/25/2010 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Blackhole, that's a great example of rationalization crap you just wrote.

And no, it helps noone whatsoever.

3/25/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Black Hole,
It is not useful. It is counter-useful.
We know what terrorism means. That's why leftists use it the way they do.

3/25/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

black hole said "The US use of Drones is in fact terrorism. The effect of inciting terror in the enemy is considered one of its most useful effects. It is a supreme morale-buster."

No... actually, the US use of Drones is a pansy ass way to kill particular terrorists and mollify anti-American elements at home and abroad, rather than carpet bombing the hell out of lands of those who are sympathetic to, and supporting the terrorists in their actions and overall cause.

But they are kinda cool.

I hope this clarification was taken to be as offensive as possible.

3/25/2010 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I don't mind the use of drones. Only if at the expense of something more effective. And of course, if not in the hands of the good guys.
The good guys would be the side not sawing off heads.

3/25/2010 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Oh, Rick. The head sawing was so last year."

Call me old fashioned.

3/25/2010 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I don't know if anyone has seen these videos, but Victor Davis Hanson on War at:

They are definitely ON topic for the non-music related discussion here today. I found it very useful.

3/25/2010 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Ilíon said...

Gnosticism is not Christianity.

One cannot save oneself by one's knowledge/understanding, any more than one can save oneself by one's deeds.

One's only ability to contribute to one's salvation is to stop fighting the one who is working to save us. We are like a drowning man ... we cannot save ourselves (else we'd not be drowning) and the lifeguard cannot save us so long as we are fighting his efforts.

3/25/2010 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I'm helping Drudge today:

Freedom Fighter "Osama bin Laden, in tape, threatens to kill Americans..."

3/25/2010 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

well re P. Floyd I always felt only the Syd-penned stuff--ie PIPER--was worthwhile/eminently relistenable, unique----he was one 'casualty' genius i was negatively-hyped by so intentionally avoided [ditto w/ R. Erickson] but am glad i at last did dip into their madcap oeuvres

3/25/2010 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Retriever said...

Loved this post. Reminded me of that old cliche about medical training: hear it, do it, teach it. And Jesus on "be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only".

Easier said than done...

The thing is, although we were redeemed once and for all by Christ, salvation is a labor of love, that goes on, His work in us, our work responding in gratitude to grace, our listening, going on simultaneously, each process potentiating the others. Never a once for all done deal or sure thing.

The hubris and natural pleasures of youth (Augustine on "make me chaste, but not yet")giving way to a humbler sense of one's own dependence on God. As Augustine later wrote "our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee."

Thinking of the saying "You can tell a (fill in the hated institution) guy, but you can't tell him much" when I hear the loathsome henchmen of the O and the talking heads prattling about H & C. And how (as you've described before) the road to political hell is paved with good intentions.

3/25/2010 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Wolf said...

Thanks Bob, Van, and crew.

Terrorism discussion, BAH!

Beaky, Simon and crew say hi to all who know their names.

3/25/2010 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

One would think that fear of an angry God would be a more powerful motivation than gratitude, but experience does not bear this out. I am not sure why, but one theory is that we tend to be idiots during the first phase and have just plain false ideas about ourselves and the universe.

3/26/2010 01:33:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Will!
It's good to see ya!

3/26/2010 02:54:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Wolf!

Thanks! Give Beaky and crew a hug for me, okay?

BTW, nice blog! Love the posters! :^)

3/26/2010 02:58:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Prayer is really self-offering."

And honest praise and thanksgiving ought to always be included as the prayers of Jesus or the psalms of David aptly demonstrate.
ONLY if sincere though. It's not a magic formula that will get you what you lust for.

Of course, we can also pray through stories, poetry, paintings, sculptures, etc..

By giving or re-giving of our self illuminated by His Truth and Love, we reflect His grace through our humanity as sons and daughters with the gifts He has given us.

One thing a gift will never have (among other things) is envy and bitterness (else it's not a gift).

Perhaps this is one reason why New Agey prayers ring so hollow and dead.

Great post, Bob!

3/26/2010 03:39:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

will prudishness
be our [or a plane's] downfall?

"T & A"
Female homicide bombers are being fitted with exploding breast implants which are almost impossible to detect, British spies have reportedly discovered.

The shocking new Al Qaeda tactic involves radical doctors inserting the explosives in women's breasts during plastic surgery — making them "virtually impossible to detect by the usual airport scanning machines."

It is believed the doctors have been trained at some of Britain's leading teaching hospitals before returning to their own countries to perform the surgical procedures.

MI5 has also discovered that extremists are inserting the explosives into the buttocks of some male bombers.

"Women suicide bombers recruited by Al Qaeda are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery," Terrorist expert Joseph Farah claims.

The lethal explosives called PETN are inserted inside plastic shapes during the operation, before the breast is then sewn up.

The discovery of these methods was made after London-educated Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab came close to blowing up an airliner in the U.S. on Christmas Day.

He had stuffed explosives inside his underpants.

Hours after he had failed, Britain's intelligence services began to pick up "chatter" emanating from Pakistan and Yemen that alerted MI5 to the creation of the lethal implants.

A hand-picked team investigated the threat which was described as "one that can circumvent our defense."

Top surgeons have confirmed the feasibility of the explosive implants.

Explosive experts allegedly told MI5 that a sachet containing as little as five ounces of PETN could blow "a considerable hole" in an airline's skin, causing it to crash.

3/26/2010 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger Retriever said...

Use Ben: love your comment--will bring it to our Lenten small group meeting tonight.

3/26/2010 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Retriever said...

Typo: meant USS Ben (cellphone)

3/26/2010 05:37:00 AM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

Will said:
“…or the music of the Swedish ABBA.”

Which is strange since at least one of the former ABBA members is one of Sweden’s most fundamental atheists and self styled “humanist”.


3/26/2010 05:56:00 AM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

“We are like a drowning man ... we cannot save ourselves (else we'd not be drowning) and the lifeguard cannot save us so long as we are fighting his efforts.”

You are probably correct, but:

It can be good to know something about our peculiar situation. Why are we in the water? Why can’t we swim?

It can be good to know something about the Lifeguard so we recognize Him when reaching out for us.

It can be good to know that there actually is a lifeguard and not only some brute trying to drown us.

It can be good to know something about the water we are in, so we can adopt the correct behavior.

It can be good to know something about how to keep floating until the Lifeguard comes.

To know all this is also good if you want to help saving some of the other poor bastards in the water.

3/26/2010 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Ilíon said...

Knowing or not knowing how we came to be drowning doesn't change the fact that we are. And, since we are drowning, we can't save ourselves ... or one another.

3/26/2010 07:20:00 AM  

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