Friday, July 16, 2010

This Fellow You Call 'God': What's He Really Like?

This is a good segue for out next topic, which really gets down to how all this mushy talk of love ties into and reveals ultimate reality: Pieper references The Screwtape Letters, "in which the argumentative devil pronounces it the sum of infernal philosophy that one thing is not the other and especially that one self is not another self -- whereas the philosophy of the 'Enemy', that is, God, amounts to nothing else but an incessant effort to evade this obvious truth."

In other words, this so-called God "aims at a contradiction. Things are to be many, yet somehow also one. The good of one self is to be the good of another. This impossibility he calls love" (Lewis).

Conversely, this possibility -- of union, of oneness, of a rapturous bridging of the existential divide between one person and another -- does not exist in hell. There everything is just as Darwin says it is: wholly externally related and autonomous individuals with no possibility of genuine communion, no possibility of the ec-static union of souls. Forget about the afterlife. Hell is the cosmic nul de slack right here and now.

I might add that love is not just what unites -- or reveals the unity of -- two souls, but that which unites one soul as well. For it is merely a convention to speak of a person as an "individual" when we know that the average man is so riven by mind parasites with competing agendas that to call him "one" is a kind of farce to be raccooned with.

But in true love, we come closest to the wholeness and order intended for us. Love orders, not just one with another, but one with oneself and higher with lower, i.e., "natural, sensual, ethical, and spiritual elements," preventing each of these "from being isolated from the rest" (Pieper).

Again, the watchword for the Raccoon is always integration, which is strictly impossible in the absence of the prior oneness (or three-in-oneness, as we shall see). The whole exists prior to the parts, or there can be no parts, just isolated and atomistic wholes, or little a-wholes. (Speaking of which, strange as it may sound, the only reason I can live rent-free in the heads of our trolls is because of love.)

Thus, love is really a kind of cosmic bridge that links together all sorts of things. You might even say that it is the love that moves the sun and other stars (speaking Alighierically, of course). Culture would obviously be unthinkable without this spiraling arc of passion -- without the glue that holds man and woman together, and then marriage and child. Weaken this crazy glue and you'll really see the Crazy, since you'll diminish the extra-state basis of culture, which is precisely why the left does what it does. See Screwtape for details. Love is the ancient highway that runs beneath the modern freeway of secular culture.

Again, married people tend to be conservative. Married with children even more so. And the most reliably liberal people are those single women who believe men to be unnecessary accessories. Except that they end up forming a perverse and pathetic union with the state, as if it can really replace the love of a husband and children. (A correction: we once said that for the left, a family is any two people who love the State; we should have said "one person.")

We might say that love is a cosmic link because man is. Again, another Raccoon axiom is that man is the one being in the cosmos who cuts across all levels and states of being, from high to low and even lower (i.e., only man can sink beneath himself). But the only way to actualize and realize this state is in love. Or so we have heard from the wise, the merciful, the hectoring, Petey. Only in love does the soul truly acquire its wings -- or realize that they are not just a couple of useless appendages for ønanistically beating off the air.

Again, I'd like to use all of this as a bridge, as it were, to even higher things, which is to say, the essence and nature of God, or the Absolute if you like. In order to do that, I'm going to refer back to Zizioulas' Being as Communion, which I only briefly touched on several weeks ago. This way I'll have someone else to blame.

Again, I am not enough of a proper theologian to know whether or not Zizioulas' thesis is controversial in Christian circles. I only know that it is not controversial in Raccoon circles, and that his thesis is triply OrthOdOx for us.

He begins by pointing out that "The question that preoccupied the Fathers was not to know if God existed or not," since this was a given. Rather, they wanted to know how he existed. I mean, wouldn't you?

Long story short, they made the amazing discovery -- you can call it speculation or hypothesis if you like, but I call it discovery -- that "The being of God is a relational being," to such an extent that "without the concept of communion it would not be possible to speak about the being of God."

It is perhaps difficult to appreciate how radical a thesis this is, for the Fathers maintained that "it would be unthinkable to speak of the 'one God' before speaking of the God who is" -- not who is "in" mind you, but who is -- communion.

Let's stop right here for a moment. One of the major theses of my book is that human beings did not, and could not have, evolved in the absence of communion. I won't rehearse the whole argument here, but a central point is that humanness could not have resulted only from a "big brain," no matter how big. Rather, the real prerequisite of humanness is internal relationship with others.

In other words, minds must be internally related, or what is called "intersubjective." In arriving at this theory, I was simply applying what is now known about attachment theory, and the conditions that allow the baby to grow into a mature and healthy (whole) human being. Hence the title of that subsection: The Acquisition of Humanness in a Contemporary Stone Age Baby. I could have equally said The Acquisition of Babyness in Archaic Stone Age Man, because the point is the same: the emergence of the neurologically incomplete and internally related baby is the whole hinge of psychohistory.

Again, the thesis of God-as-communion -- i.e., the Trinity -- is truly radical, in the sense of getting right down to the very "root" of things (L. radix root). We do not begin with a kind of unitary "divine substance" to which communion is added as an afterthought (any more than we can do so with the mind of man, which is intrinsically intersubjective).

Rather, "the substance of God, 'God', has no ontological content, no true being, apart from communion." Or, one might say that the "substance" is communion: "In this manner the ancient world heard for the first time that it is communion which makes things 'be': nothing exists without it, not even God." (And recall the previous several posts which highlighted the fact that only love causes a human being to be, and the easy-to-misunderstand idea that love causes God to be in time.)

Think of it: if God is "Father," there can be no Father in the absence of "Son": the two mutually co-arise. As was the case with me, the moment I had a child was the moment I became a father. One event was not prior to the other. By definition they were simultaneous, just as when I got married I became a husband, not before or after.

Having said that, we can still say that the Father is the cause of the Son, vertically speaking, since the latter is "dependent" on the former. But again, go back to the example of how the Stone Age baby evolves into a human person. He only exists as person when personhood is affirmed through love.

Just so, God cannot be "person" unless he is intersubjectively "linked," so to speak, to his own Other. Again, there is no such thing as an isolated "person." Recall from the discussion of Screwtape that that is hell, precisely.

Just so in God. Being that the substance of God is communion, so too is his essence Person and his mode Love. Or, as they say back East, the one-two-three of being con-sciousness bliss.

Well, that's enough controversy for now. To be continued.

22 Comments:

Blogger Russell said...

"nul de slack"

Superb!

"Except that they end up forming a perverse and pathetic union with the state"

Orwell nailed that in 1984, at the end of the book, O'Brien says 'Do not imagine that you will save yourself, Winston, however completely you surrender to us. No one who has once gone astray is ever spared. And even if we chose to let you live out the natural term of your life, still you would never escape from us. What happens to you here is for ever. Understand that in advance. We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.'

And at the very end, after Winston had realized he could not longer tolerate or be tolerated by Julia, much less have any love between them, when he rejects his true memories of happy times with his mother, when believes the lie about the war, when there is nothing left of Winston the human, then 'He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.'

Yeah, that's the Hell of the State.

7/16/2010 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, Pieper actually has a tangential passage in his book on Faith, Hope, and Love, in which he discusses the impossibility of love in the totalitarian state, where, far from the people being "one," everyone is a potential enemy, thus, children informing on parents and the like. Look at Iran. Who can you ever trust and completely open up to in such a situation?

7/16/2010 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Who can you ever trust and completely open up to in such a situation?

Along those lines comes this disturbing (an understatement) history lesson from Germany in the 60s and 70s.

"Sexual liberation was at the top of the agenda of the young revolutionaries who, in 1967, began turning society upside down. The control of sexual desire was seen as an instrument of domination, which bourgeois society used to uphold its power. Everything that the innovators perceived as wrong and harmful has its origins in this concept: man's aggression, greed and desire to own things, as well as his willingness to submit to authority. The student radicals believed that only those who liberated themselves from sexual repression could be truly free."

7/16/2010 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Russell said...

"Look at Iran. Who can you ever trust and completely open up to in such a situation?"

Heck, look at the public school system!

The foundation of any healthy and free society has to be the family, everything else is various degrees of being Hell on Earth.

7/16/2010 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Re sexuality -- notice the "irony" of how much sexual repression and control there is/was in leftist states such as the USSR and China -- not to mention university campuses, where there are strict regulations for "running the bases." The converse "irony" is that among females, married Christian women report the highest levels of sexual satisfaction.

7/16/2010 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Not surprising; I doubt all those big Christian families had their babies delivered by stork...

7/16/2010 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The epilogue or appendix to Screwtape, "Screwtape Propose A Toast", mentions how the educational system turns out the damned in greater quantity but much lower "quality". Adulterers are just doing their thing automatically. There's not much flavor in them for the demons since they are not really corrupted or corrupting -- just going along with the increasing decadence of society.

7/16/2010 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

These recent posts on communion have pricked my little pointy ears. This, "Rather, the real prerequisite of humanness is internal relationship with others," fits in nicely with my recent reading of A. W. Tozer. Guess you might say, "I've been tozered, bro." And it's good.

Here is from today's devotional, that flavors your riff: "We cannot think rightly of God until we begin to think of Him as always being there, and there first. Joshua had this to learn. He had been so long the servant of God's servant Moses, and had with such assurance received God's word at his mouth, that Moses and the God of Moses had become blended in his thinking, so blended that he could hardly separate the two thoughts; by association they always appeared together in his mind. Now Moses is dead, and lest the young Joshua be struck down with despair, God spoke to assure him, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." Moses was dead, but the God of Moses still lived. Nothing had changed and nothing had been lost. Nothing of God dies when a man of God dies."

7/16/2010 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

GB: Thus, love is really a kind of cosmic bridge that links together all sorts of things. You might even say that it is the love that moves the sun and other stars (speaking Alighierically, of course). Culture would obviously be unthinkable without this spiraling arc of passion -- without the glue that holds man and woman together, and then marriage and child. Weaken this crazy glue and you'll really see the Crazy, since you'll diminish the extra-state basis of culture, which is precisely why the left does what it does. See Screwtape for details. Love is the ancient highway that runs beneath the modern freeway of secular culture.

Philanthropy Daily is carrying an essay written by Patrick Deneen in which he riffs on "Thomas Frank’s thesis in What’s the Matter With Kansas?, asking why wealthy voters in Blue States like Connecticut have been apparently voting against their economic interests in electing higher-taxing Democrats. [Deneen's] provisional thesis, based on some relatively recent social science findings: today’s meritocrats prefer to farm out their charity to the government, rather than be distracted from their lifestyles and “creative class” work by engaging in the work of civil society. In this, they have abdicated the activities of “noblesse oblige” that once marked the older aristocracy. Government fills in the vacuum, providing therapeutic treatment for the losers in the meritocratic sweepstakes. Personal responsibility is traded for a set of abstract relationships, mediated by our tax dollars. Bureaucracy replaces community, bad conscience stands in for love."

7/16/2010 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yup. It's all very impersonal and therefore demonic.

7/16/2010 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

Well, if government was good enough, it would be worthy of love.

Its a work in progress; we shouldn't say it can't be done.

Think of a society in which you are supplied with a job you love, a nice place to live, nice things to consume, a compatible mate,entertaining diversions, and a system of worship--all without lifting a finger or paying a dime. NO more striving, competing, searching, or suffering.

Then think how much suplus time and energy you would have left over to advance the arts or the sciences.

Yes, we can achieve that kind of society, which is all things: your parents, your friend, your lover, and your God.

Give us a millenium more and we'll be close to it.

7/16/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

NO more striving, competing, searching, or suffering.

Sounds hellish to me.

7/16/2010 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"bad conscience stands in for love."

Ain't *that* the truth? I had a professor who called it the politics of guilt and pity.

And I don't see anything at all unorthodox about God's being as essentially communion.

I especially loved what you said about love ordering the person...

One practical outworking is elimination of what I mentally refer to as "what's-the-point-itis." You know, that sense that "I'm spending my life just shuffling stuff around in an endless round of pointlessness" (a.k.a., laundry et al.) which frequently afflicts homemakers, and others too, no doubt. Maybe it has something to do with the acedia you have mentioned.

I honestly do not know why it is so easy for me to forget:

"We don't clean our homes just so they can be clean. We're not taking care of stuff; we're taking care of people."

I stole that quote from a homemaking website for the cover of my home journal--because I get lost sometimes, and I forget: life is NEVER about the stuff. It's about people. It's about relationships. It's about loving and serving those with whom you are in relationship. And it's all rooted in the ultimate relationship.

Not so deep or profound, but I'm a hard-headed, ADD sort that needs to hear it over and over nonetheless.

7/16/2010 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

One thing that occurred to me the other day re: the bad conscience issue...

I think the leftist vision is rooted in an ingratitude that stems from lack of love.

There's no counting of blessings, no focus on the personal (e.g., the one-size-fits-all bureaucracy), no expression of "what a great good that you (and I) exist!" nor "what a great good this freedom is!"

The focus is ever on perpetual grievance, restlessness, dissatisfaction, exaggerated our outright manufactured crises, blame-casting, etc. I guess it's like walking around with a perpetually dislocated soul. I know what a dislocated joint feels like, so I imagine this is very irritating to the spirit, which is evidenced by the lack of thankfulness, and therefore, joy.

7/16/2010 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Re: BH

THX 1138...remember that?

Robert Duvall has always been one of my favorite actors.

7/16/2010 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"I've been tozered, bro."

P.S. This really made me cimc (chuckle in my chair). :)

7/16/2010 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Relevant (in a positive way this time :)

7/16/2010 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jason T. said...

Bob said.."Just so, God cannot be "person" unless he is intersubjectively "linked," so to speak, to his own Other. Again, there is no such thing as an isolated "person." Recall from the discussion of Screwtape that that is hell, precisely. "

To me this speaks of the liberating factor of Knowledge of God based upon a past personal experience of momentary Communion: when the mind parasites emerge and one feels them self to be isolated, alone, in the nothingness and fallen away from God and connection with all the rest of existence, the remembrance of that fleeting blessing of universal consciousness/Love of the Father engenders faith and the courage to sit patiently in the darkness, waiting for the insight that re-integrates the aspect of self that is obscuring the Truth.

Bob also said..."Again, the watchword for the Raccoon is always integration, which is strictly impossible in the absence of the prior oneness (or three-in-oneness, as we shall see). The whole exists prior to the parts, or there can be no parts, just isolated and atomistic wholes, or little a-wholes. (Speaking of which, strange as it may sound, the only reason I can live rent-free in the heads of our trolls is because of love.)"

This reminds me of a poem I wrote about a month ago. It occurred to me that I was fractured internally, and that my job was to recover these parts of myself, which in my experience are energetic components tied to repetitive subconscious thought patterns set in place in childhood. Once I have recovered and integrated these aspects of self and have a more total life force, directed by the will of divine Knowledge, I would then begin recovering aspects of my self (or soul) out there in the world through relationships with others. Because what is communion with others other than a more complete, more powerful, and fuller feeling of self in the Beyond? That is what is interesting about special love relationships, be they with friends or wife/partner/child: they seem to bring about a deeper sense of me-ness while at the same time revearing their uniqueness and divinity, as opposed to the relationship one establishes with the local coffee barista. Both are obviously other, and yet are simultaneously Self--one brings me closer to Source, one does not. Anyway, here is the poem:

The One
Shatters Itself
Into the infinitely
Many,
Then becomes
The process of Recovery.
Individual pieces
Of one Self
Searching for the opportunity
To reconnect with
The original Sublimity
In long lost aspects,
Levels and layers of
Personal identity
Awaiting the intimate rediscovery
Of Love and Understanding,
The Fullness
Of united bliss
In consciousness of
Eternity.

7/16/2010 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Girl from Mill Valley

7/16/2010 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Yes, when a person becomes sufficiently integrated inside, he begins to radiate a "generic" love that anyone around him can absorb, unless they guard against it. This is not different from living (psychically) in a higher world (and therefore a more united or integrated or love-filled world). The two are different ways of saying the same thing.

Living in Heaven while on Earth does not really isolate us from others, though they may isolate themselves from us, I guess.

(It seems this integration and radiation I mentioned is pretty much my highest aspiration actually. The whole being absorbed back in the Eternal Light thing is beyond me currently. Let's look at that again when the universe nears conclusion, is what I think.)

7/16/2010 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"I might add that love is not just what unites -- or reveals the unity of -- two souls, but that which unites one soul as well. For it is merely a convention to speak of a person as an "individual" when we know that the average man is so riven by mind parasites with competing agendas that to call him "one" is a kind of farce to be raccooned with.

...Again, the watchword for the Raccoon is always integration, which is strictly impossible in the absence of the prior oneness (or three-in-oneness, as we shall see). The whole exists prior to the parts, or there can be no parts, just isolated and atomistic wholes, or little a-wholes.

...Long story short, they made the amazing discovery -- you can call it speculation or hypothesis if you like, but I call it discovery -- that "The being of God is a relational being," to such an extent that "without the concept of communion it would not be possible to speak about the being of God."

It is perhaps difficult to appreciate how radical a thesis this is, for the Fathers maintained that "it would be unthinkable to speak of the 'one God' before speaking of the God who is" -- not who is "in" mind you, but who is -- communion."

Integration is the watchword, the One which makes all else possible, and without which no being would be.

I'm reading a book on Induction, "The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics" (warning: Rand inspired, any whiff of Religion is treated as witchdoctory), and there too Integration is key, he traces the progress and dead ends of Physics, how unexamined assumptions about appearances caused, what we might term 'scientific mind parasites' misintegrated observations like 'impetus', which dammed up further knowledge and progress. Theories, concepts and ideas which were just accepted, and held great status as respected knowledge, which brought the advancement of knowledge to a standstill, until someone, a Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo identified and untangled part of the conceptual snag, until finally the big Gordian Knot whacker, Newton came along and identified (and in so doing undid the misintegrations) and showed the proper integrations, which not only freed us of the 'scientific mind parasites', but freed the parasites themselves from themselves.

Aren't these mind parasites we develop, misintegrations, dead ends of incorrect deicisions which can move no further forward and dam(n) up the flowing of the stream of knowledge, experience and truth? At their radix's, there has been a conclusion we've drawn and settled upon at some point in our development, which prevents further progress, further integration, bottlenecks of being within us, they bulge and standout noticeably, draw attention, but through which no development or communion is possible.

Love, undoing the misintegraton by correctly re-integrating their impressions and conclusions, is the answer. And if that is the answer, then the big problem, as Susannah noted, is forgetting the question,

"life is NEVER about the stuff. It's about people. It's about relationships. It's about loving and serving those with whom you are in relationship. And it's all rooted in the ultimate relationship."

That is the way of integration, whereas OTH the way of stuff, the way of "No God worth a damn would allow pain, poverty and sickness", is the way of misintegration and eventual disintegration, the actual in-divide-you-all-ity of Screwtape and bh.

Truly a cosmic nul de slack.

Great post & comments 'today'.

7/17/2010 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Think of it: if God is "Father," there can be no Father in the absence of "Son": the two mutually co-arise. As was the case with me, the moment I had a child was the moment I became a father. One event was not prior to the other. By definition they were simultaneous, just as when I got married I became a husband, not before or after."

Also struck again, at how nothing can be properly Identified, without there also occurring at the same time Integration. Nothing is ever identified is isolation, it is always identified in relation to, that which is properly around it... and assuming properly identified and integrated, that swiftly, instantaneously, integrates into the entire One Cosmos, at the speed of Truth.

To correctly Identify is bring into Integration will all that is - in it's Individuality IS communion with the Totality.

Truly Beautiful.

"♫ ♪ ♬... This I tell ya, brother, you can't have one without the other.
Love and marriage, love and marriage... ♬ ♪ ♫"

7/17/2010 10:55:00 AM  

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