Friday, August 12, 2011

How the Under Half Lives

Let us cautiously proceed with this idea of Jesus' psycho-spiritual or pneuma-cognitive "development," which essentially comes down to his -- or anyone else's -- deployment in time.

Obviously, no human being is born "complete," or, less inaccurately, finished. No one is -- or should be -- finished until their life is. And even then... or so we have heard from the wise.

Rather, just like the body, the soul always points toward its own fulfillment, meaning that it must, in a sense, be both an "already" and a "not yet" -- which, as we shall see, has some important implications for Christian eschatology in general.

(And with regard to these irreducible orthoparadoxes that are not susceptible to aristotelian logic, -- e.g., already/not yet, I-in-Christ, Christ-in-me -- I would recommend using your God-given bi-logic to understand them.)

I am reminded of a couple of quotes by Norbert Elias contained in the Cʘʘnifesto:

"[T]he individual, in his short history, passes once more through some of the processes that his society has traversed in its long history.... If one wished to express recurrent processes of this kind in the form of laws, one could speak, as a parallel to the laws of biogenesis, of a fundamental law of sociogenesis and psychogenesis."

Never ask why human beings keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over, or why each generation discovers anew the wonderfulness of socialism, only to see their collectivist tower of bubbles come crashing down.

The second quote, and it's a good one, full of implications:

"It seems as if grown-up people, in thinking about their origins, involuntarily lose sight of the fact that they themselves and all adults came into the world as little children. Over and over again, in the scientific myths of origin no less than religious ones, they feel impelled to imagine: In the beginning was a single human being, who was an adult" (emphasis mine).

Interestingly, one thing I've really noticed about Balthasar, Ratzinger, and Wojtyla, is their deep appreciation of psychological development, and with it, attachment, bonding, parental relatedness, etc., which automatically, even if only implicitly, confers much more importance upon Mary, since carrying Jesus in her womb was only the beginning of her task (as indeed all mothers know).

With all due respect -- and I love icons -- the baby Jesus cannot resemble those paintings in which he looks like a mature little man with a full head of hair, grasping a Torah scroll instead of a bottle.

The idea we've been developing over the past several posts is that -- consistent with long-established dogma -- Jesus is man and God, unmixed and yet undivided. Here again, with the use of our bi-logic we may imagine how such a situation could be.

For Rahner (as described by Schönborn), we might imagine in Jesus "a basic mode of being that is immediate to God, of an absolute kind," coexisting with "a development of this original self-awareness of the absolute fact of the creaturely intellectuality having been given away to the Logos."

I don't know if that last sentence was entirely clear, but Schönborn goes on to suggest that "what develops in the human life of Jesus" is obviously not the basic mode, or his essential ground of divinity, but rather, "the thematization and objectification of this basic mode of being in human concepts that are taking place."

Here again, this allows us to at least imaginatively enter into his mentality, and understand how he could gradually come to terms with his mission -- for example, while praying in the garden of Gethsemene.

And it helps get our minds around the idea that Jesus can be God and yet have an "I-thou relationship with the Father that occurs in history."

For Balthasar, Jesus "mission" in time is precisely the realization in history of the eternal activity of the godhead, or the historical prolongation, so to speak, of the Trinity into time.

In a certain way, I suppose we may imagine it as the dialectic of O and (¶), only writ large, to put it mildly. As alluded to above, Jesus both "is" and, in the End -- or better yet, Begending -- "becomes" O: not My will, but Yours, be done.

This we might say is the full concordance of Man and God, or the full conscious realization of ʘ. Indeed, we might even pneumaticonically represent the well-known formula of the Fathers by unSaying: O became (•) so that (•) might become ʘ.

As we have discussed in many posts, there is not, nor can there be, any humanness in the absence of relationship, and this would apply quintessentially to Jesus.

For who is Jesus, ultimately? He is Son, and the essence of Son-ness is the relation to Father (and vice versa).

Gotta get rolling. To be continued....


mushroom said...

One of the deep divides between protestants and Catholics is Mary. We all acknowledge the Virgin Birth. To the average evangelical protestant, like me, it sure looks as though Mary is being deified and given a place virtually equal to Christ Himself. And I freely admit having trouble with that.

Yet, as you point out, Jesus had to be nurtured and be in relationship with both Mary and Joseph in order to full develop. God is picking pretty carefully. It ain't just anybody can raise your average Messiah.

I remember listening to a priest's homily where he was talking about Jesus teaching in the temple. The priest suddenly stepped away from his prepared words, and said something like, "Can you imagine what the dynamic must have been like in that family?" After a pause, he shook his head and went on with the standard stuff, but it would have been, I think, worthwhile to hear him continue on that riff.

mushroom said...

Speaking of Mary

julie said...

Mushroom, indeed. From the outside - to anyone who knew the family - they must have seemed pretty ordinary, for the most part. After all, the people who "knew" Christ best were the ones who shook their heads and said, "we know that guy, and there ain't nothin' special about him." And yet, within the family there must have been something wonderful - a strength and trust on the parts of Joseph and Mary that allowed for them to parent this child whose very existence must have been reason for much wonder.

As to Mary in particular, there must have been something wonderful about her; something that allowed her to say Yes without hesitation. I was thinking about that last night in terms of the fall, and the shame which came about as a result - that which causes us all to hide our deepest selves from God and from each other. I think she must have lacked that shame entirely; had it been otherwise, it would have been difficult (inconceivable, perhaps?) for her to bear the child at all.

As to her holiness, one of the interesting things that has been discovered about motherhood in recent years is that mothers retain some of their children's DNA for the rest of their lives. What, then, does that mean for Mary? At the genetic level, she literally is one with Christ, even if only to a tiny proportion (but again, what is a billionth or a quadrillionth of infinity?). She is not God, obviously. But she is certainly more than a mere warm body and warm heart.

Van said...

Julie said "I was thinking about that last night in terms of the fall, and the shame which came about as a result - that which causes us all to hide our deepest selves from God and from each other. I think she must have lacked that shame entirely; had it been otherwise, it would have been difficult (inconceivable, perhaps?) for her to bear the child at all."

I do believe you turned over a stone there and found a diamond.

And a big One at that.

Aloysius said...

This is a convincing argument for the premortality existence of the soul.

julie said...

Interesting thought, Aloysius, but I wonder. It's been a while, but I've often thought about the possibility that our souls precede us in existence. Even if that's the case, though, the whole person is only realized through the totality of the life lived.

Aloysius said...

Exactly Julie. That is the purpose of Life.

dwongmeichi said...

If God so loved the world that he gave us His only begotten Son, then did Mary so love the world that she carried His only begotten Son?