Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Birds Gotta Sing and Bob's Gotta Blog

In order for revelation to be possible, the situation is not all that different from the ontological requirements of science; which is to say that there must be a knower, something knowable, and knowledge. Or, one could say subject, object, and truth.

Even leaving God out of the equation, this is an extremely odd situation to be in, and one must be a curiously incurious fellow to just leave it at that -- as if truth and subjects and intelligible objects are not extremely weird things. For me, they are the most important facts of the cosmos.

As I just said, in terms of structure, what we call revelation is not all that different from science, the only difference being that the revealer wishes to be known; unlike mother nature, he is not totally passive and doesn't just lie there. As I mentioned in the book, in order for science to occur, human beings must be open systems (cognitively speaking) on the horizontal plane. And in order for revelation to occur (or to be perceived), we must be open systems on the vertical axis. What's the big deal?

As Pieper explains it, in order for revelation to be possible, man must understand himself "as a being by nature open to the divine speech, capable of being reached by it." Again, this is hardly an outrageous claim, especially if we appreciate how weird the situation already is with regard to our ability to know scientific truth.

For Pieper, the fact of science flows from our receptivity to "the obvious reality of the world" (obvious to some, anyway). In contrast, revelation has more to do with "receptivity to Being" as such." And who says Being is not intelligible? It seems arbitrary to say that existence speaks to man, but that the deeper source of existence -- Being -- doesn't.

Pieper goes on to say that "this cognitive apprehension of reality can be considered as a form of hearing divine speech, since things, by virtue of their origin in the creative Logos of God, themselves possess a 'verbal character.'" Many if not most people are capable of perceiving this fact even in the absence of what goes by the name of official "Revelation," that is, what in Vedanta is called śruti , or the sacred texts that come directly from the Divine.

What I mean is that, once you get the picture, you understand the sacredness of the entire Creation, since it too is a logoistic form of Divine speech -- which we can, of course, understand, and not just through science. Rather, the beauty of creation speaks to us quite directly, in a way that bypasses cognition. It's just that the world is a more "general" revelation, if you will, that doesn't address itself specifically to the human mind in terms of what it really needs to know, i.e., how to live, how to treat others, what God is like, what he expects of us, etc.

This is why, as Schuon writes, revelation is characterized "by its tendency to deny all that does not concern man as such." And this is precisely where a lot of misunderstanding slips in, especially from the malevolent and/or stupid. For example, take the account of human origins given to us in Genesis. Whatever one thinks of its historical basis, that is really beside the point. Rather, the point is to reveal to man perennial truths about himself and about God.

We won't get into all of those truths here, because the document is obviously quite rich and dense (plus, there are already many posts on the subject). But dis- and misunderstandings arise when we forget that it really isn't supposed to be an instruction manual for things that do not concern man as such. For one thing, man is not in need of God's direct intervention where his own faculties suffice. Man can discover endless things about the cosmos without any direct meddling from God.

Just so, there are certain things he will never understand, and which will always puzzle him in the absence of Revelation. God is a wise and appropriately hands-off parent, if you will. Like the parent of an adolescent, he gives you enough rope to "live and learn" on your own, but mainly wants you to know about certain easily foreseeable disasters.

Please understand the delicate situation God finds himself in with regard to a "perpetually adolescent" (at best) mankind. If you try to overly control the adolescent, he will either act out in a rebellious manner, or you will end up crushing his spirit. What's he supposed to do, suspend all the rules, so you find out the hard way and kill yourself in the process? Or, as in the Islamic world, impose rules so stringent that you can't even take a leak the wrong way without going to hell?

I think elsewhere Schuon has mentioned that there are three distinct forms of revelation, each a miracle in its own way. First, there is Revelation so-called. Next there is the creation -- and not just the fact that there is something instead of nothing, but that it's so beautiful and so true, which is to say, knowable in both heart and head.

And last but certainly not least is the miracle of the human subject, who serves as the bridge between God and creation. Indeed, if man didn't exist, God would have to invent him, otherwise there would be no link between "reality" and "world," which would make no sense, for it would be analogous to the creation of a language that no one will ever speak or hear, or a hierarchy with a top and bottom but no middle.

This goes back to the irreducibly Trinitarian nature of all reality, which is to say, the many permutations of Father-Son-Holy Spirit, such as Creator-creation-truth, or subject-object-knowledge, or God-man-love, etc. In fact, here is how Schuon describes our total cosmic situation: "The sufficient reason of the human state, its existential law, is to be a bridge between earth and Heaven, hence to 'realize God' to some degree or other" (emphasis mine). This involves simultaneously "leaving" the cosmos while still being in it -- or, of transcendence within immanence.

Take for example, oh, me, at this very moment. What is it exactly that I'm doing right now? Yes, typing. Yes, "thinking," in a manner of speaking. But in order to really understand what I'm doing here, we're going to have to have a little chat about the birds and the Bobs.

What I'm really doing -- or at least trying to do -- is exactly what Schuon describes. I'm just trying to build a little bridge between earth and heaven in order to understand God in my own way. As I have said on many occasions, the blog is really just a private "conversation" that I happen to allow others in on. But it is first and foremost the fruit of my own daily spiritual practice in attempting to strengthen that little bridge and establish a beachhead on the father shore.

That being the case, criticism doesn't bother me, because it's a little beside the point, to put it mildly, for it's like berating a flower for turning toward the sun, or haranguing a bird for singing when the sun's rays come into view each morning. A Bob's gotta do what a Bob's gotta do.

Oh my! Out of time. This song is over.

44 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

"We won't get into all of those truths here, because the document is obviously quite rich and dense (plus, there are already many posts on the subject). But dis- and misunderstandings arise when we forget that it really isn't supposed to be an instruction manual for things that do not concern man as such."

It really is amazing when a dawkins blurts "Genesis doesn't square with the carbon dating of igneous rocks!". Ummm... not to put too fine a point on it, but ya think it might be possible that the Wise Goys who first revealed the tales, weren't really thinking about the social habits of carbon or of ignorant musicians with amps that go up to 11, and maybe they were more concerned with revealing to men what might be wise to gno about themselves and their place in the scheme of things?

"For one thing, man is not in need of God's direct intervention where his own faculties suffice. Man can discover endless things about the cosmos without any direct meddling from God. "

Self evidently true (unless you sopher from Modernitis).

"This goes back to the irreducibly Trinitarian nature of all reality, which is to say, the many permutations of Father-Son-Holy Spirit, such as Creator-creation-truth, or subject-object-knowledge, or God-man-love, etc."

As with Existence, Identity and Consciousness, it really is at the root of all of the root causes, and the more you pursue things the more it starts to get a bit spooky.

Even to the point of electron, proton, neutron... ya can't help asking "Is there a pattern here?"

And just when you're tempted to say "Nyah, it's just that in order to establish a pattern, you first need thr...!"

Boo!

7/06/2010 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Existence, Identity and Consciousness


That's a good one too, especially identity, since in order to be something, something must first be something, not just anything, let alone everything. This flies directly in the facelessness of our erstwhile troll's mush-headed idea that everything is everything else, i.e., I am you and you are me. Without intrinsic identity, nothing is. Which is one more reason why postmodernism is intellectual suicide.

7/06/2010 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Exactly, and it's definitely a trinitarian package deal, can't even begin to discuss one, without also involving the other two.

Boo!

7/06/2010 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...this cognitive apprehension of reality can be considered as a form of hearing divine speech, since things, by virtue of their origin in the creative Logos of God, themselves possess a 'verbal character.'

Good vibrations.

7/06/2010 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of identity, Neo had an interesting post up the other day where people were talking about their first memories. One of her first memories was this:

[M]y first memory that involves thinking—and it’s a pretty big thought, actually—took place in the bathroom when I was about two. I was sitting on the john, probably being toilet-trained, and my mother was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, waiting for me. It suddenly struck me that we were two different people, a thought both scary and fascinating, perhaps even exhilarating.

I remarked to her in awe: “You’re you and I’m
me.”

It's been fascinating, this past month, watching the various stages of awareness develop. You can really tell when those connections are made. Last night, I was singing to him, trying to get him to sleep. He was staring at me, watching my mouth move with a very intent expression, then suddenly he realized the sound was coming from me and this look of sheer delight washed over his face.

That process, seeing how that awareness of otherness and O!therness develops, is a wonder to behold. It can't happen without three-ness.

7/06/2010 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

For one thing, man is not in need of God's direct intervention where his own faculties suffice. Man can discover endless things about the cosmos without any direct meddling from God.

What I want to say in response to that is on the tip of my tongue, but, as often happens, it is beyond my capacity to express. Not only does God not meddle, He watches over our shoulder, so to speak, and is, if anything, more delighted than we with our discoveries.

What parent/grandparent hasn't experienced the joy of seeing a little one discover something that we thought we knew all about.

7/06/2010 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I can't wait to get to communion as the basis of reality, which is our next topic.

Julie, your story remind me of a photo I wanted to put in my book. It is of my sister-in-law and her baby. In it you can see them gazing into each others eyes in such a way that the space in between just crackles with... with what? With everything, really, because that space is where it all goes down.

7/06/2010 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mushroom -- that is so true! We're in awe every time Future Leader learns a new trick.

7/06/2010 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not really awe. More delight.

7/06/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which you said.

7/06/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

On a related note, it is perhaps no surprise (if a damning shame) that many today don't understand that while children absolutely do bring happiness, awe and delight, they aren't there to make us happy. Any more than any other person is. It's always amazing to me how few people don't understand the difference.

7/06/2010 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

That being the case, criticism doesn't bother me, because it's a little beside the point, to put it mildly, for it's like berating a flower for turning toward the sun, or haranguing a bird for singing when the sun's rays come into view each morning. A Bob's gotta do what a Bob's gotta do.


No free will, eh? I know the feeling.

7/06/2010 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

anunce said "No free will, eh? I know the feeling."

Wow... the ignorance in that response is palpable... sorta like the tide from our first black president washing ashore....

7/06/2010 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos yesterday's discussion of Axe & Oath is this show, about dark ages monasteries as corporate entities. Pretty interesting for a lot of reasons, although the actual faith parts don't seem to play into it much.

7/06/2010 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

I heard something this morning I thought would be a few more years in coming. But it could have something to do with the fact that my son's been a parent himself now for a little over a year (yeah, I'm a grandma - but still holding at 39;)

It's my birthday today, and my son called me before I left for work this morning to say Happy Birthday, and that he thinks I did a good job raising him and he's glad I'm his mother.

Best birthday present ever!!!

7/06/2010 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Bob:

Look what I found under the glass on my table at lunch today.

Trying to recall what was going on with them around '81...?

wv: burgr
Good guess, wv, but actually it was a pulled pork sandwich if you must know.

7/06/2010 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

About the monasteries in the dark ages, I'm sure there were good people and bad people in them, just like anywhere and in anything.

I think the monasteries had to wield what power they could against the lawless, the barbarians and the corrupt kings/leaders. And I think it's pretty miraculous that they DID have that kind of power in those times when landowners had to maintain their own private armies to defend their property and families. And the monasteries weren't the ones they had to defend themselves against.

But I believe they pulled us out of the dark ages and instilled the ideals of truth and honor, at least to the West. Because without truth and honor you end with an islamic or communist society. Without those monasteries, there probably wouldn't have been the thought and progress that allowed a country like the USA to even exist.

It seems that the history I see portrayed of them in the last several years tries to make them look as abominable as possible.

7/06/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Somebody missed a good show. Or probably not, since they were pretty burned out at that particular point.

7/06/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Dianne - Happy Birthday! Sounds like you got the gift every parent hopes to receive, sooner or later :)

7/06/2010 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Dianne...what a moment, when they rise up and call you blessed. :)

Julie, you described that moment so well, I felt I was looking on. Then again, I've been in it more than once.

"What I want to say in response to that is on the tip of my tongue, but, as often happens, it is beyond my capacity to express."

A common experience for me at OC. Bob already said it so well, and it resonates, but I can't express what bubbles up as I read it.

And then there's the eternal mystery and fascination of wordveri.

7/06/2010 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

GB said "Somebody missed a good show. Or probably not, since they were pretty burned out at that particular point."

What do you mean?

7/06/2010 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Julie, I'm not sure if I can put my finger on what bothers me about that article.

Relationships really aren't subject to scrutiny by sociologists. In fact, these studies didn't even seem to touch on the child-parent *relationship.*

It's as if the unspoken assumption (not only in this article, but in many others I have read on the subject) is that children are more like optional life accessories, and not as much real people with eternal souls, with whom the parent is in *relationship.*

Add to that: any person who goes into parenting without the proper understanding that it involves selfless work is going to be in for a shock to the system. I guess the "gospel of me" doesn't set one up for that sort of mindset, though.

Furthermore, we parents often create many of our own problems (e.g., with the t.v./homework incident--"counting to three": failing to train the child when he is young to first-time obedience). That's not the child bringing on unhappiness--that's 100% the parent's doing (she said ruefully ;) ).

If you don't train the child early to respect your word, then yes, there will be a significant lack of peace in the home. If a wife doesn't put her husband first, children's "scheduling" second, then yes indeed, there will be a disruption in their relationship.

And re: the "scheduling"--I just can't relate. We've chosen a more relaxed, home-based lifestyle and we've proven it can be done. Aside from a few carefully chosen activities, and one tutorial session a week for our schooling during fall through early spring, we stay home, do school work, do housework, swim, play, and tend our animals.

I've found in order to be any kind of a homemaker or home-schooler, I kind of have to be... *home*...kwim? Same with being a family. You kinda have to be around each other sometimes. (We're lucky our daddy gets a good summer and winter break.) It all depends on how much you value it, whether you'll make it happen.

Anyway, somebody more succint than I can sum up "what's wrong with this article." Those are just my rambling thoughts.

7/06/2010 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Dianne:

In reference to NB's photo of the unused Allman Brothers ticket from 1981.

7/06/2010 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

This is one of the best videos ever. http://www.sunbelt-software.com/stu/viking_kittens.swf

Unless, you're a guy....

There is always someone who wants to take over anything good. And then generally turn it into crap.

And people LET them!!!

7/06/2010 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

OK. I thought I was missing something.

7/06/2010 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Susannah, I think your summation was spot on.

If a wife doesn't put her husband first, children's "scheduling" second, then yes indeed, there will be a disruption in their relationship.

Indeed, especially that poor schmuck who complained that he was getting zero attention before the kid, and negative fifty percent after. What, he thought somehow there would be extra time for his wife to devote to his well-being after adding a small human to the house who requires assistance with pretty much everything except breathing, when she couldn't be bothered when it was just the two of them?

I'm with you on scheduling, too. Life - and childhood - are far too short to waste by running around in a frenzy of activity that keeps one from properly appreciating the actual living part.

7/06/2010 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Ladies - here's my advice. I know it's not PC, but it's the low down truth. Give your man sex on a regular basis and he'll be a lot more cooperative.

7/06/2010 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Dittos, Dianne. ;)

7/06/2010 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I think that's one of those "secrets" most every female raccoon knows...

7/06/2010 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

(For clarity's sake, I meant "secret" as in, it really should be common knowledge, but somehow it isn't.)

7/06/2010 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"(For clarity's sake, I meant "secret" as in, it really should be common knowledge, but somehow it isn't.)"

Yep, there was another one of these "sociological angle" articles recently on this very subject. Not sure I remember where I read it...

If a wife decides to eliminate "not tonight" from her vocabulary (I mean, apart from doctor's orders), she'll see an immediate un-disruption in the relationship. Guaranteed.

7/06/2010 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Aha.

Reminds me of a joke I heard recently. Some engineers came up with a way to plug the oil leak in the Gulf--they dropped a giant wedding ring around it and it stopped putting out immediately.

7/06/2010 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

Well the blog may be your personal spiritual practice, but the comment section is a combat zone, or should be.

I'd like to see it retored to the rude frontier it used to be. I don't do polite very well, I'm afraid.

Oh well what's to be done? I don't know.

7/06/2010 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Dianne said "Ladies - here's my advice..."

(Smiles, begins whistling... wanders off... aimlessly... really...)

7/07/2010 04:19:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Happy Birthday Diane! :^)

Good point about the monastaries too.
The so-called "History" channel also tries to put anything Christian from those times in the worst light possible.

It's no coincidence they always seek the "expert" advice of leftist revisionist history professors.

I believe Van has aptly called it the Hitler channel (due to their obsession with everything Hitler and Nazi).

BTW, the History channel and the far worse History International have never covered he Crusades honestly, nor what caused the Crusades.

To be sure there was far more brutality in those days compared to today (on average) but revisionists always lose sight of context and the big picture.

For example, when I was a boy it was "normal" to put me to work during summer vacation picking strawberries, beans, etc., or baling hay for up to 10 hours a day.

Most psychologists today would call that child abuse and barbaric but they couldn't be more wrong.

Just like when the left decries "sweat shops."
They don't realize those are very good jobs in those countries. Instead they demansd "Fair trade" goods which means lots of those folks who worked in the "sweat shops" lose their very good jobs, but hey, at least they ain't sweating anymore so leftists can feel good about that.

7/07/2010 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

You know, that Atlantic article was actually pretty reasonable now that I re-read it. Probably because no sociologists are quoted.

7/07/2010 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

Well yes plenty of sex keeps the men happy. Keeps certain ladies happy too.

7/07/2010 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"This is why, as Schuon writes, revelation is characterized "by its tendency to deny all that does not concern man as such." And this is precisely where a lot of misunderstanding slips in, especially from the malevolent and/or stupid. For example, take the account of human origins given to us in Genesis. Whatever one thinks of its historical basis, that is really beside the point. Rather, the point is to reveal to man perennial truths about himself and about God."

Aye! Whenever suckularists talk about Genesis or try to "explain" it they are more fundamentalist than the Christian fundies I know.
It's no surprise they completely miss any clue about what it's about in their quest to ridicule and reduce Genesis (and anything Judeo/Christian) to superstitious letters (thereby not only missing the Spirit but attacking it as well).

It's always the letter over the Spirit for those who embrace their fallen manhood.

7/07/2010 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"Most psychologists today would call that child abuse and barbaric but they couldn't be more wrong."

Have you ever read Ralph Moody's books, Ben? Good stuff. I'll bet you would relate.

7/07/2010 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of "female wisdom," if you ever get the chance to hear Allison Armstrong on the Dennis Prager Show, be sure and do so. In fact, I recommend going to his website and ordering a CD with all of her appearances. (Maybe you can find them free.) She is a true savant when it comes to understanding the male and female psyche, and how relationships work. She is one of the wisest people I've ever heard. Suffice it to say she had no training as a psychologist.

7/07/2010 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sussanah-
No, I haven't. Thanks for the recommendation, he sure seems like an interesting fellow (looking at the wikpedia write-up).

7/07/2010 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. Alison Armstrong, she apparently helped Alanis Morisette to decide she likes men. That's got to be some industrial strength wisdom!

7/07/2010 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

His writing is by no means polished, but he conveys such a vivid picture of the American West as it was then, and his books (especially the first one) just reach out and grab you emotionally.

And the ingenuity and hard work of that family is just astounding.

7/07/2010 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/07/2010 12:24:00 PM  

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