Thursday, February 24, 2011

Atheism and the Wings of Irreligious Faith

Deeper into the seventh circle of Hell are those who are violent against God. Interestingly, they are subject to a pelting rain of fire, which Upton calls "an inversion of Divine Grace, a kind of negative Pentecost." Grace, like sunlight, falls upon everyone (although not everyone is receptive to it). But instead of conveying light and warmth, the inverted version drops Napalm, or liquid fire.

Why, it's a bloody pentecursed, that's what it is. Indeed, one cannot actually curse God without cursing oneself, since all are "included in Him." Thus, the torment of the blasphemers "is the only way they can experience" this inclusion (Upton).

Upton reminds us of Eckhart's wise crack to the effect that the more they blaspheme, the more they praise God. I suppose it's similar to the tenured who deny the existence of truth. The only way they can experience truth is in an inverted form, for to deny truth is obviously to affirm it. Thus, they live in a world of weird conventions and superstitions that hem them into a kind of pseudo version of truth and reality.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, for a serious person to not be preoccupied with God. By this I mean, To speak about God is presumptuous; not to speak of God is idiotic (Don Colacho's Aphorisms). But if one nevertheless idiotically rejects God, what is one to do? This explains the recent reactionary crockload of books by the "new atheists," most of whom are serious if not somber people in their own way.

Being a doctrinaire atheist is obviously one way to be preoccupied with God. And these darkling children do serve a purpose for the believer, in that they help to prevent a descent into intellectual laziness by sharpening the objects that fill one's argumentarium.

Really, to be a believer of any kind is to be religious, because belief in anything requires a leap of faith, even -- or especially! -- for materialists who have no reason to even suppose that contingent organizations of matter may know what is not contingent.

Therefore, instead of taking an absurd leap of faith into faithlessness, or believing in disbelief, one might as well illuminate the muddleman and just be a believer, period.

For Nothing important is reached simply by walking. But jumping is not enough to cross the abyss; one must have wings (DC), i.e., wings of faith. Only wings of faith can carry one safely to the ether side.

Don Colacho has an unusual number of other excellent aphorisms along these lines. Why, just today he said

“Meaning,” “significance,” “importance,” are terms which do not merely designate transitive relations. There are things with meaning, significance, importance, in themselves.

This is such an important point, for to recognize meaning of any kind is to have vaulted oneself -- or to have been vaulted -- into a transcendent space. Virtually everyone recognizes that the world is overflowing with meaning, significance, and importance, in a way that is immediate, which is to say, unmediated by various ideological superstructures that alternately try to explain or explain away the meaning. But after all the explanations are exhausted, there it is (or rather, I AM).

Thus, on the one hand We are fully convinced only by the idea that does not need arguments to convince us (DC). The corollary to this is Our spontaneous aversions are often more lucid than our reasoned convictions. People may imagine they are arguing "for" or "against" God, when they are actually using secondary arguments in order to defend something that is actually self-evident, that is, unmediated (which any experience of God must be by definition, i.e., an experience).

As such, Only to defend our secondary convictions do we possess abundant arguments (DC), again, especially if one is a materialist, since materialism is not something that can actually be experienced by anyone except the dead -- who are no longer there to experience it. Thus, one might say that the materialist actually replaces experience with rational arguments, which is why Sensibility is a compass less susceptible of going crazy or misleading than is “reason” (DC).

And Whoever appeals to any science in order to justify his basic convictions inspires distrust of his honesty or his intelligence (DC). Do you see why? Arguments from science applied to the realm of metaphysics or theology are just arguments from authority, and are far more authoritarian than religion (at least Christianity, which never puts forth a proposition in defiance of our natural reason).

But just as the answer is the disease that kills curiosity, An “explanation” consists in the end in assimilating a strange mystery to a familiar mystery (DC). Which is why materialism, scientism, and atheism manage to be simultaneously mysterious and banal, or mere mystagoguery. For When we invent a universal meaning for the world, we deprive of meaning even those fragments that do have meaning (DC).

In other words, the superimposed dogma of materialism -- and the pseudo-meaning it generates -- either obscures or denies the underlying theophany of the world, i.e., its metaphyscial transparency, or mysterious ability to convey truth and beauty through its veil of appearances. Which is why There are certain types of ignorance that enrich the mind and certain types of knowledge that impoverish it (DC).

You will have noticed that what really separates liberals from conservatives is their very different sensibilities, over which the liberal is prone to superimpose any number of secondary and tertiary explanations.

For example, conservatives spontaneously recoil from the idea of government workers colluding with other government workers to extract money from taxpayers in order to elect more government workers to collude with more government workers and call it a "public sector union," when the correct term is Public Suckler Union: in the first and final analysis, these unions are a fiendishly clever con "by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party" (Barone). Arguments for and against this proposition are just evasions. They do not illuminate but obscure.

Clearly, this is one of the virtues of Christianity, in that it possesses and conveys a meaning that is im-mediate -- which is why it spread so exponentially in its first three centuries. People heard and understood, but long prior to receiving any coherent intellectual explanation. Yes, Only loyalty to a person frees us from all self-complacency (DC).

Indeed, it wasn't until the first Council in 325 that it became necessary to forge a theology that was both universal ("catholic") and intellectually consistent. Otherwise, the "raw" revelation of Christ was too mixed with individual idiosyncrasies to provide universality.

In other words, when Christ meets and mingles with a soul, a "new man" is created, each new in his own way. It is not possible to create a theology in an additive way, out of all these very personal experiences. Even so, there is no escaping the fact that Certain ideas are only clear when formulated, but others are only clear when alluded to (DC).

Thus, ever since then, the Church has tried to maintain the balance between experience and doctrine, which is not possible -- thank God! -- so long as religion is an encounter between free persons. There will always be a living dialectic between the church of Peter and the church of John, between the exterior and interior, between mystics and shepherds. For The truth resides in the indeterminate area where opposing principles interweave and correct each other (all praise to Don Colacho and his loyal trancelighter).

--Could be worse.

--Yeah, how?

--Could be raining fire.

14 Comments:

Anonymous will said...

>>Grace, like sunlight, falls upon everyone (although not everyone is receptive to it). But instead of conveying light and warmth, the inverted version drops Napalm, or liquid fire<<

I think this can also be understood as a counter-evolutionary regression back into God's primal fire. The rain of fire that pelts the atheists is also of God, it IS God, to be sure, but it is the un-sublimated fire that does not produce Light - it's really order reduced to chaos.

>>Our spontaneous aversions are often more lucid than our reasoned convictions<<

Hmm, well. When jazz music first left the bordellos of New Orleans in the early decades of the 20th C. to spread north to NY, Chicago, Kansas City, etc., it was initially received by northerners with gasps of horror and revulsion, this due to the music's emphasis on sensuality. It's easy to dismiss this reaction as that of a bunch of uptight, intolerant fogies, but . . . it does make me dwell on how much of that we first found ugly and appalling and that, over time, we began to accept and even embrace. (I say this as a jazz fan, btw)

I think that often, when we forget or dismiss our initial spontaneous aversions, we go a distance in deadening ourselves, in atrophying our higher senses.

I might add, however, that my initial spontaneous aversion to beer has long since been overcome, and that I see no real spiritual failing here.

2/24/2011 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Don is often being a little ironic, but I can certainly see, for example, how my son's spontaneous aversion to all things homosexual is a sound council. To tell him he is "homophobic" would be as benighted as telling him one ought to mistreat or bully homosexuals.

2/24/2011 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, our aversions can be to things both higher and lower. Obviously, only the latter are good aversions, so to be repelled by beer or jazz is wrong a priori. God wishes us to be happy and to swing.

2/24/2011 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, I don't care much for what might be called "vital jazz" of the lower vertical. I much prefer the cerebro-spiritual type that flourished between around '59 and '67....

2/24/2011 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>our aversions can be to things both higher and lower<<

Hmm, I think an aversion to, let's say, classical music - which some people claim to have - is not so much the visceral, stomach-turning aversion that the Don was speaking of, or so I take it. This kind of aversion seems to me to be more on the lines of "Classical music doesn't do anything for me, I find it rather boring."

Likewise some people's "aversion" to flowers, train travel, the humor of Dennis Miller, and Tudor-style architecture. This, I think, is not really the aversion of the truly spiritually dead, although if you've taken Amtrak lately . . .

Anybody who really does find such "higher things" as sunshine, flowers, kittens, Christianity, etc., truly revolting is somebody to whom I'm going to give wide berth.

2/24/2011 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

In other words, when Christ meets and mingles with a soul, a "new man" is created, each new in his own way. It is not possible to create a theology in an additive way, out of all these very personal experiences. Even so, there is no escaping the fact that Certain ideas are only clear when formulated, but others are only clear when alluded to (DC).

Wow, does that ever resonate with me today.

2/24/2011 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Will,

Anybody who really does find such "higher things" as sunshine, flowers, kittens, Christianity, etc., truly revolting is somebody to whom I'm going to give wide berth.

I once took an art class where one of my fellow students was like that. We went to the museum across the street to see some watercolors by Paul Jenkins, and when the teacher asked what people thought, he hated it. The brightness of the colors was too cheerful, too pure. Me, I'm not often much of an abstract fan, but these were just gorgeous. The photos on his website don't do them justice, they were like visual Jolly Ranchers.

Anyway, I can understand being unmoved by the abstract, but his visceral dislike of the essential purity of the colors was shocking, to the point that most of the rest of the class steered clear of him after that.

2/24/2011 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Julie -

I can't say whether your art colleague had completely gone over to the dark side, but the fact is: when an individual's spiritual inversion is complete, he or she actually finds the Good literally painful to behold. That's why demons are said to inhabit deserts and caves, that's why they actually are attracted to garbage and decay.

And that's why I endeavor to keep a fairly tidy home.

2/24/2011 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

" I suppose it's similar to the tenured who deny the existence of truth. The only way they can experience truth is in an inverted form, for to deny truth is obviously to affirm it. Thus, they live in a world of weird conventions and superstitions that hem them into a kind of pseudo version of truth and reality."

Ain't that the Truth.

2/24/2011 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I will accept that there is some merit to abstract art as long as I don't have to give up my loathing of all things Jackson Pollock.

2/24/2011 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Not at all; I loathe him, too.

Even after getting a painting degree, I can't say I know art, but I know what I like ;)

2/24/2011 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos, I noticed Beginning to Pray on the sidebar the other day, and having heard of it before over at the Anchoress' place decided to pick it up.

So, from today's post, the various As of D.C. and the following:

In other words, when Christ meets and mingles with a soul, a "new man" is created, each new in his own way.

And from the intro to Beginning to Pray:

"I expected nothing good from my reading, so I counted the chapters of the four Gospels to be sure I read the shortest, not to waste time unnecessarily. I started to read St. Mark's Gospel.

While I was reading the beginning of St. Mark's Gospel, before I reached the third chapter, I suddenly became aware that on the other side of my desk there was a presence. And the certainty was so strong that it was Christ standing there that it has never left me. This was the real turning point. Because Christ was alive and had been in his presence I could say with certainty that what the Gospel said ... was true... History I had to believe, the Resurrection I knew for a fact. I did not discover, as you see, the Gospel beginning with its first message of the Annunciation, and it did not unfold for me as a story which one can believe or disbelieve. It began as an event that left all problems of disbelief behind because it was a direct and personal experience."

2/24/2011 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Could be worse.--Yeah, how?--Could be raining fire.

That is a smidgin worse than Skully after an all-you-can-eat buffalo wings hootinanny.

2/25/2011 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Therefore, instead of taking an absurd leap of faith into faithlessness, or believing in disbelief, one might as well illuminate the muddleman and just be a believer, period.

The muddleman is the precurser of darkness and it's always best not to muddle anyways.

Leftists are never satisfied muddling their own business which is why they muddle everyone elses.

Besides, if leftists did simply muddle their own business they would either cut themselves out or become dis-illusioned soon enough.

2/25/2011 12:45:00 AM  

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