Saturday, June 12, 2010

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Liberalism

Pieper begins his discussion of the virtue of hope with the observation that for man -- and man only -- well, Christian man, anyway -- life is a journey, and we are pilgrims.

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:

O
↑↓
ʘ <---> (L), beatitude, or sat-chit-ananda
↑↓
(¶) <---> (n)
↑↓
(•) ---> (+K)

(•••) <---> (H)

Ø <---> (-K)

29 Comments:

Blogger anon said...

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."


Can you identify how this assertion undermines itself? Left as a not-very-difficult exercise for the reader.

6/12/2010 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. You wouldn't be so needy of the government's assistance if you used your time more productively than arguing all day with a bunch of shallow people. That's a sure pathway to failure and dependency.

6/12/2010 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Besides, why should you complain? Obama is making poor people as fast as he can.

6/12/2010 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

At the risk of being a bit too self-promotional-- a band I play with got a song placed on the latest episode of "Friday Night Lights". The damn songwriter didn't even tell me! I just happened to be watching the show anyway!

If anyone cares to check it out, one can do so at hulu.com. It is on the latest episode entitled "Stay" and the song starts at around 39:45 into the episode. I play lead guitar on the track...a baritone guitar to be precise.

Just thought I'd share that with fellow Raccoons...thank you!

Friday Night Lights

6/12/2010 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

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.

:)

Parenting is definitely one of those things which can be loosely understood from the outside, but can only be properly apprehended experientially. I'm lucky enough to have very little to do this summer besides be a mom, which is a good thing because this little ♂ still needs a whole lot of ♀ before he can properly figure out where he ends and the world begins.

Right now, his worldly outlook seems to be, in the words of Homer, "Freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom!"

6/12/2010 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You'll know right away if you have an "easy baby" or a "difficult baby," the latter of which will severely test your sanity, and allow you to understand what prompts parents to abuse their children. Tristan was one of those, but on the positive side, he became a delight after only about, oh, four years.

Some babies just have more of the force, which naturally they cannot contain. If you do have a force-filled baby, just know that he picked you because he knew you could handle it!

6/12/2010 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Way to go, Jack! :^)
Here's to more great gigs!

What's the name of your band?

6/12/2010 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

So far, he's mostly been pretty calm and laid back. This morning, though, the only thing that would settle him was to wear him and bounce him for a couple of hours. If he's going to be colicky, we may not find out for another few days yet; they say it usually starts around week 2. I think I'm as prepared for that as anyone can be, though. Which probably means that there will be some unknown unknown for which I have no preparation whatsoever :)

6/12/2010 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

They need a different name than "colic," which sounds too benign. Maybe Infantile Death Ray. It especially affects mothers, who are so biologically cued into their baby's voice anyway. When you can't stop their crying, I'm told that it's like they're pounding a nail into your heart. You can understand how a not well put-together woman might interpret it as a kind of attack, which then causes "retaliation."

Vigorous movement was the only thing that would settle Tristan down, so I can remember countless times that I just put him in the frontpack and commenced to walkin'. He'd fall asleep, but wake up if I stopped. I wish I'd kept a pedometer to track the miles I put in....

6/12/2010 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"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."

I cooncur! Nor would He abuse our liberty as the statist Muslim mooner "god" or the leftist Gaia (and Obamess-I-uh) does.

God...The God, offers freely because love must be given freely to Be love.
Just as Truth must be freely accepted.

A free society will not remain free without a virtuous society on an individual level.

And we see our liberties taken away today not only because of a lack of virtue but because many deny that God is the Author of our rights not man.

Leftists, particularly secular "humanists" (and leftist ideology itself) must deny God (Reality) in order to attain the power to "dispense" "rights" in their own image.

They may not explicitely say so, as some believe in God, but the result is the same since they deny God's authority.

They also are quick to embrace an "all merciful" God but deny or diminish Justice which is reflected in their concern for the rehabilitation of criminals and lack of concern of justice for the victims of criminals.
Which is why we see a lot of repeat offenders in Blue states.

6/12/2010 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Which probably means that there will be some unknown unknown for which I have no preparation whatsoever"

Ha ha! You'll see a lot of that. But you'll laugh...later. :^)

6/12/2010 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Gagdad Bob said...

"They need a different name than "colic," which sounds too benign. Maybe Infantile Death Ray."

That would be more accurate, heh.
Our youngest daughter had one of those and you're right, vigorous movement does work.

That girl always fought sleep too, as a toddler. She didn't wanna miss anything.
I wasn't surprised when she joined the Army. :^)

6/12/2010 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the IDR, I can see how that would drive some women crazy. I figure if vigorous motion is required, it'll help me get back into shape that much faster. As far as the crying goes, I just don't take it personally; the best thing I can do is remain calm and sympathetic, and try to remember that there are few things as terrifying as constantly feeling like you're falling. It would be nice if I could ignore it when I'm trying to sleep & Liam is in the perfectly capable hands of his father, though. Oh well - I can sleep in 20 years or so...

6/12/2010 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

We can totally see Tristan as an army ranger. He also responded to loud music and dancing. I remember one time I put him over my shoulder, and began rocking, and I mean rocking, him to the Clash -- the earlier punk material. The wife comes in and he's fast asleep over my shoulder, even though I'm bouncing him around like we're on a pogo stick...

6/12/2010 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D
I'll have to remember that one. Sean is still in the "afraid to break him" stage. I'm betting that won't last if it turns out the best way to settle the boy is with punk music...

6/12/2010 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

I go by the rule "If you can't think of anything bad to say, don't say anything at all."

So I'm done for the day. Hooray.

6/12/2010 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "They need a different name than "colic," which sounds too benign. Maybe Infantile Death Ray."

HA! Perfect! Ryan trained that darned thing on me for a couple months straight. The only thing that worked was laying him face down across my forearm like a football carry... and then walking around the couch... and around... and around... often 2-3 hours at a time.

And lest you dare think the finally snoozing tot is asleep at the trigger and try to pause, lean against the couch or even sit... BLAMO! the Infantile Death Ray blasts you where you slack.

Oh my.

6/12/2010 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"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."

Same here, and nothing has surprised me in the last couple decades than discovering that that was true.

Crud gotta go... Jack, well done on the song, I got to listen earlier, congratuations!

6/12/2010 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Definitely experiencing the bouncing/motion thing with Katie. So far though at just over 1 month old she is content to leave the IDR alone. For now. Riding around in the car works well: Cadillac CTS-V wins hands down as a soother over wife's Krautmobile. Baby loves 556 hp American iron! (And daddy likes revving said monster motor next to Prius drivers at stoplights).

6/12/2010 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Jack:

Congratulations man! You guys definitely have gobs of talent and deserve even more success.

6/12/2010 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Ben and Van- Thank you. The name of this band is "Blue Light". I didn't even know this was happening, as I hadn't talked to the songwriter in a while. I am a fan of the show anyway and was watching. Imagine my surprise! Anyway, a nice little gift.

I hope everyone is doing well and thank you again for the kind words!

6/12/2010 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

NB-Thank you! As it turns out even the songwriter didn't know this was happening! And today is his birthday! Funny how things work sometimes!

6/12/2010 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger The Western Chauvinist said...

Hope you'll indulge me for a moment. I've recently engaged in intellectual combat with some liberals at my parish and I've found this series a tremendous aid in explaining the heresies they're arguing - to myself anyway. Thank you, Bob.

My friends and I have been offering this truth: what God wants for us is to flourish - to become that which He created. I wonder what you think about one of my friend's thoughts about the significance of Jesus' sinlessness. He believes Jesus was sinless because He was fully Man - not because He was fully Divine. This may be obvious to you and your readers, but I'm a relative newbie on this pilgrimage and I've been captivated by the idea.

We've been trying to point out the necessary condition of liberty (as formulated by the founders) for human flourishing and how there is a real choice (not the "false choice" Obama and the Left boringly repeat) between liberty and the "security" offered by liberal policies. Liberals keep trying to get us back to Egypt while we're fighting to go vertical!

6/12/2010 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger The Western Chauvinist said...

Just a few more thoughts/questions.

Have you ever studied Ignatius spirituality? My priest recently gave me a set of CDs and I'm only a couple chapters into it, but I'm already finding it very helpful. I suspect the approach is universal (to Christianity anyway) as everything discussed so far is so obviously true (barriers to God include serious sin, worldly attachments, etc. Conditions for the discerner include prayer/contemplation).

"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."

This may be so, but I love that God's creative mechanism was the Word. "And God said..." And I love that language is the most obvious refutation of those who would equate humans and animals. It is the most self-evident way in which we are made in God's image. And it is probably why I so enjoy your creativity with words, GB. I realize you would have a heckuva time writing a dictionary of terms because I suspect you'd get nothing else done!

Finally, I believe it was mushroom and Susannah who commented on Hitchens in an earlier thread about how miserable he seems as an intellectual heretic. Couldn't agree more. I have often thought he is a man ripe for conversion. I wouldn't be surprised to wake up to that headline some day. Although I also expect his attachment to liberalism is a giant barrier to that potentiality.

Regards,
WC

6/12/2010 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"Infantile Death Ray"

I am SO appropriating this.

wv: hystersi... No lie.

6/12/2010 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad and Julie re:

"Vigorous movement was the only thing that would settle Tristan down, so I can remember countless times that I just put him in the frontpack and commenced to walkin'. He'd fall asleep, but wake up if I stopped."

The best thing for my son during colic was long drives in the car seat of my pickup. He would fall asleep within two minutes of taking off. After about 15 minutes I could return home and put him down for a full sleep. Dodge Ram, go figure?

6/13/2010 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Tigtog, you bring back fond memories of studying the sleep phases of my newborns. I always had to wait about that amount of time, until they were twitching with dreams and dribbling a little milk down the chin--then and only then could I shovel them over into the bassinet and get some shut-eye myself. :)

6/13/2010 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Couldn't resist posting with this wv: dilys

Other than that, belated congrats to NB and Julie on their latest additions!

6/15/2010 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Hi Paul!

That is an awesome wv :)

6/15/2010 02:12:00 PM  

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