Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Liberalism
In short, the span of time between conception and death is a pilgrimage, a meaningful movement in which the purpose is to journey closer to our true end by metabolizing and assimilating its "substance," so to speak. Thus, each moment of life is conferred -- or partakes of -- ultimate significance, since it bears upon our eshcatological end, so that our being is never just that, but a meaningful becoming in the direction of Being itself, or the source of our borrowed being.
Or, as I would prefer to say, the end, or telos, casts its shadow "down and back" into our lives, while simultaneously serving as the attractor (telovator, or eschalator) that lures us up into the phase space of O, the Absolute, God.
Also, my view is that this is not just "Christian anthropology" but universal anthropology. Christianity would not be true if it didn't comport with The Way Things Are. I'm not one of those people who believe that Christianity is true only because "God said it." I don't think the Creator would abuse our intelligence in that way.
Rather, he wants us to know that there is no conflict between revelation and Reason, and that we need the latter to comprehend the former. At least for the most part. There are, of course, certain things we couldn't know in the absence of God revealing them, but even then, probably fewer things than one might imagine.
For example, it is often said that the Trinitarian nature of God is one of those things, but I gradually arrived at a similar conclusion based upon metaphysical speculation on the thoroughly intersubjective nature of the person. Indeed, that is what allowed me to appreciate the breathtaking philosophical daring of the early fathers at arriving at such a formulation, since they did so without the benefit of 21st century neurodevelopmental attachment theory.
The point is that a person -- as opposed to a merely biological human -- cannot be a monad, psychically closed system, or radically isolated individual, but is intrinsically and irreducibly communitarian, so that human minds are members of one another.
This is not something "added on" to the individual, but the very basis of even the possibility of the individual <----> social dialectic within which we live and have our being. If you don't believe me, just ask Julie about the metaphysics of the mother-infant bond, and the interior substance that flows back and forth between them. The oneness is not imposed from the outside, but apprehended from the inside -- which is none other than the very "cosmic interior" that makes love possible, more on which later. (Exteriors cannot love, only be attracted or repelled by one another.)
As Pieper explains, one who has "arrived" is no longer "on the way." Rather, his journey is over. This can happen in two ways, one good, one bad. The bad way occurs as a result of any of the intellectual heresies we have been discussing, say, materialism. If the world is ultimately matter, then the only journey in life is from death to death, which is no journey at all.
Or, for a relativist, there can be no progressive journey, only an infinite number of lateral ones. In the absence of the Great Attractor, there is nothing that can confer absolute meaning upon our own otherwise arbitrary movements.
In my book I discuss various intellectual pathologies such as materialitis and reductionosis, which obviously infuse leftist thought. Thus, my disdain for leftism has nothing to do with the left per se (much less the slaves who are in its grip), but with their intrinsic betrayal of cosmic truth.
To cite just one particularly glaring example, they are always talking about "the poor," as if there is any such thing. Rather, there are only poor individuals. But the left converts a temporary adjective that applies to individuals into a reified characteristic of a permanent "group."
But a bare acquaintance with economics reveals that very few people spend their lives in this reified category of "the poor." First of all, as Sowell points out, it is simply a truism that anyone can divide the population into abstract quintiles, so that by definition there will always be five of them, no matter how hard the left tries to outlaw the number five.
The point is that most of those individuals are no longer in the bottom quintile after a decade, and the ones who remain there usually do so because of easily recognized pathologies and self-defeating behaviors such as drug abuse or having children out of wedlock.
But in reifying this quintile, the left is able to create this mystical entity called the poor, thereby converting a temporary weigh station to an enduring state of being. And most importantly, this state of being robs the poor person of the virtue of hope, which is where the left comes in, in that they offer false hope to the hopeless dupes they have created -- the false hope of dependence on the state rather than individual initiative, good values, prudent behavior, etc. This is why, for example, the incomes of married black families are virtually identical to married white families.
As I've said before, I'm sure I would have qualified for "poor" during the many years I was putting myself through college and graduate school. But while I knew I wasn't wealthy, I certainly didn't identify with this state of being that the left wished to confer upon me.
Rather, I knew that finances would improve, because I had hope. But even then, I never, ever, confused "economic hope" with genuine hope, i.e., the theological hope that converts otherwise biological life into a spiritual path. To convert life into a mere journey up the economic quintiles, as the left does, renders life nothing more than a nihilistic death march to empty prosperity. I want no part of it. Unless a wealthy benefactor wishes to make a generous donation to the, er, Foundation for Missing Raccoons.
Now, one factor that motivates our journey is the occasional glimpses of our end that we are granted. Faith (or vertical openness) comes into play here, because faith is a kind of tacit foreknowlede of an as yet undiscovered reality -- not dissimilar to how the gifted scientist is guided in his explorations by a tacit sense of moving in the right direction -- which is why good questions can contain as much light as their answers, whereas the kinds of stupid questions asked by, say, our anonymous troll are already so full darkness that there is no room for the light they pretend to seek (similar to Helen Thomas's darkly loony questions at presidential press conferences, which no light could ever penetrate, much less satisfy).
The critical point is this: "it is astonishing how many basic concepts of theology have a meaning in reference to the state of being on the way that is different from their meaning in reference to the state of total possession" (Pieper). For this being on the way is precisely the journey from outer to inner, from existence to essence, from image to likeness. "Hope" is simply a side effect, so to speak, of being properly oriented in the vertical, in contrast to the "enlightened despair" of the flatland secular fantasists who hopelessly look to matter for meaning.
Essentially, you could boil and half bake it all down to a symbolic schematic:
ʘ <---> (L), beatitude, or sat-chit-ananda
(¶) <---> (n)
(•) ---> (+K)
(•••) <---> (H)
Ø <---> (-K)