Anonymous Light and Personal Darkness
In one sense the term can be seen as magnanimous, in that it eliminates the obnoxious and simpleminded idea that God condemns anyone who doesn't literally accept Jesus as their personal savior (for who would presume to say exactly who, what, where, why, when, and how Christ is?). But if the recipient of the designation is not equally magnanimous, I suppose they might see it as presumptuous and condescending -- in other words, you're only doing good because you're secretly a Christian.
But the point is more subtle than that. Rather, the idea is that just because God takes a form, it doesn't mean that he is limited by that form. I mean, obviously. Indeed, to enclose God in a particular form is what we call an intrinsic heresy, not to mention idolatry. It's fine for savages, but not for Raccoons. As Magnus wrote in a comment yesterday, "The first Christians were not going 'Hey we've got a new and better religion!', they were saying 'That which you have worshiped without knowing it, we know it and we've come to tell you.'"
But the essential formlessness of God should should not be taken to imply its converse: that God is not the form through which it has pleased him to incarnate. In a way, this is in keeping with the simple fact that God is always both immanent and transcendent, so that he will of necessity "spill out" of whatever form we use to try to contain him.
Nevertheless, we must make the effort to contain him, especially through the channels he himself has authorized. These acquire a particular power, as seen in phenomena from Torah study to the Eucharist to the sacred spaces that are simultaneously revealed and created by great cathedrals.
If the revelation represents a vertical ingression of divine energies, then tradition represents the horizontal nurturing and prolongation of those energies. One might compare the former to rain, the latter to a river. But the river, of course, ends in the open sea, which is the point of tradition. In other words, tradition should not be revered for its own sake, but only insofar as it floats your boat down that sacred river.
As mentioned yesterday, every culture is situated somewhere along its own sacred river. Even (especially!) the secular left has its own creation myths, its own prophets, its own unexamined (pseudo)vertical sources. But in naively denying the vertical, the radical secularist simply sells us all down the river, a river with no destination. And in turning the cosmos upside down and inside out, he locates Eden up ahead, not behind.
Thus, according to this myth, once the state is large and intrusive enough, we shall all live in Obama's socialist paradise, in which the wealth that is no longer created is well and truly "spread around." Others will just call it poverty.
But what would be the purpose of such a world? Even supposing the leftist's utopia were possible, what would people do with it? The dim ones would continue playing video games, seeking tenure, and watching MSNBC. But the gifted ones would do what they already do with their slack: use it to explore and colonize the vertical. I say, why place one's hope in the left, when eternity is already available to you while you wait?
If there are anonymous Christians, then the corollary is that there are "anonymous adversaries," or whatever you wish to call them. Not only are they necessary, but they are inevitable, given the nature of the pneumacosmic economy, for if there is O, then there must be Ø. And if there is Ø, then there are beings who will "incarnate" it. These people are "flesh made word," even though such a thing is strictly impossible (again, it is the surd made flesh).
Back to Balthasar and the supramundane Light that lights this otherwise endarkened world. Among other things, this is the light that enlightens the anonymous Christian, and furthermore, exposes the artificial light of various manmade ideologies. In other words, when the Light shines on them, it is analogous to the sun shining on a little lightbulb that only appears bright because the shades are drawn. Open the shades, and ideology is revealed for what it is.
The "landscape of humanity... is lit by a glow of reconciliation," "which in an almost inexplicable manner brings the estranged world back to reality." In light of this Light, man's strongest searchlights are turned back upon themselves, since all light is only the one Light. And "it is precisely this 'anonymous light' of Christianity that lights up all places and all characters, unique, unparalleled, penetrating, that irritates the ideologists and stirs them up to persecute and fight for its extermination" (Balthasar).
Now, "can anyone forbid this light to shine?" You can only kill someone once, and that obviously didn't work.
Which reminds me. Why is the whole world up in arms about a kook who wants to burn a Koran, when, if it were a Bible, he could apply for an NEA grant? I suppose because for a Christian, the worst blasphemy has already occurred, and the Light overcame it. Burning a Bible is like trying to set fire to the sun. Good luck with that.
Thought for the day: "'[A]biding in the source'... is understandably an act of a very personal nature that we perform consciously and involves us in being open, ready to listen to and obey God's word, and in being prepared to give time and contemplation in order to allow the rain from heaven to soak its way in. For only when we have received the word of God can we rightly return it in the words of prayer from the depths of our own hearts" (Balthasar).
Hey, don't try to box O into a tight little space: