Religious Causation and the Climate of Love
A. Jared Loughner.
Q: What causes liberals to imagine that causes outside Jared Loughner caused Jared Loughner to murder six people? (We are assuming, of course, that he is capable of distinguishing right from wrong.)
A: That is impossible for the liberal to answer, owing to the infinite regression of liberal fantasies about psychic causation. If everything is caused by something less, then so too are liberal ideas about causation.
But the short answer is usually college, where young adults go to eliminate their common sense, the first step in indoctrinating them with liberal ideology. If you can get a person to doubt the most obvious things, then you can get them to doubt anything, from truth, to free will, to objective morality. And this is the space the liberal exploits in order to fill with their nonsense.
As I have mentioned before, just because someone pretends to be irreligious, it hardly means that they actually are. If you consider the fact that virtually all human beings for all of human history have been religious, we're talking about something that is so deeply ingrained in the human being that it would be folly to imagine that one could so easily slip out of this reality by a mere conscious declaration. (Indeed, adopting the moronic view of the psychic determinist, what actually causes the person to reject religion? Perhaps it is just the climate of anti-religious bigotry among our elites.)
It is critical to bear in mind that religion is not just a content, but a container. It is not just a belief system but a dynamic mode of thought. And in order to comprehend religious truth, one must deploy this mode of thought, even if (as is usually the case) it is done unconsciously. No one needs to do it consciously, which is one of the beauties of authentic revelation, which has been "pre-thought," so to speak, by a mind vastly superior to ours.
While the average person routinely draws upon the religious mode of thinking, they have no idea they are doing so -- any more than the person who falls in love is aware of all the unconscious processes that contribute to this phenomenon, and without which it could not occur. No one employs logic to will themselves to fall in love. And it would be absurd for a rationalist to come along and say they don't believe in love just because it escapes their little net of reason.
Rather, once the person enters the "space" of eros, they are entering a kind of ancient cathedral that long antedates their own personal existence. Hidden forces begin to emerge, as if one is suddenly thrust upon the stage of a very old play. Remember?
I do, partly because I was by no means prepared for the forces that were unleashed when I was 17. For a weaker man, it might have been, in the words of Sonny Boy Williamson, her funeral and my trial, but the point is that there are human realities that it would be foolish to pretend we understand, or that we can simply "reject" with our local ego. Nothing could be more naive.
The same obviously applies to religion. Much better to simply acknowledge that one is religious rather than to pretend one has escaped this vital and pervasive mode of thought. For the consciously religious person, it is strictly impossible to escape religiosity as a consequence of our deiform nature. In other words, the plain fact of the matter is that human beings are in the image of their Creator. The absolute abides within us, which is why we may know absolutely -- which is another way of saying know, full stop. It also means that a spark of the "uncaused cause" indwells us, i.e., divine freedom.
Think of what happens when one becomes a mother. It is as if a whole new computer program kicks in. One doesn't have to accept it. Rather, one can only reject it. Many "born again" experiences are analogous to this, in that the person's "religious mode" has suddenly come on line, so they are able to see and understand a whole new dimension of reality that was there all the time, but had gone undetected without the software to discern it. It is no different than what words look like to the illiterate -- just random squiggles.
Which is why when we say that for the leftist, "nothing is sacred," we mean that ironically. For as soon as one says that, the leftist takes offense, which only proves that something is indeed sacred to the leftist, even if it is only irreverence and blasphemy. But the point is, one cannot actually be human and be unaware of the reality of the sacred, even if one idolatrously displaces it to profane objects and ideas. You can even reverse-engineer a person. Find out what is sacred to them, and you have discovered their religion.
I still remember quite vividly when my religious mode came on line and I suddenly found myself on the "other side." I don't want to romanticize this, because it is such a common experience, perhaps only made more noticeable for someone who had made the journey all the way back up from ideological atheism. As I mentioned in the book, it was analogous to those magic eye pictures, in which the third dimension suddenly pops out at you. Or do you pop into it?
Now, a religious practice largely involves maintaining and deepening one's involvement with this previously hidden dimension. At first it might be dimly perceived, or perhaps one moves in and out of it. One reason why I still struggle with conventional religiosity is that I cannot imagine, say, going to a religious service once a week and thinking that that is in any way sufficient to maintain contact with O.
Importantly, the idea of weekly worship evolved in a context that was thoroughly religious. It wasn't as if there were no religion for six days and then religion for one. But because of the radical secularization of our culture, we truly need to develop and internalize our own "private cathedral" that is with us at all times. Modernity brings countless blessings, but we must also be aware of the costs, for there is generally no blessing without a curse (and vice versa).
These blessings are mostly in the horizontal/quantitative mode, which can easily hypnotize and seduce us away from the vertical/qualitative which confers meaning upon them -- just as a disproportionately religious culture can be pulled away from the world, so it remains stuck in an unevolving socioeconomic rut. To be excessively in or out of "the world" is to push a partial truth beyond the breaking point. Rather, we should be in but not of, as the Man says.
The real Cosmos is not and cannot be synonymous with what materialists call "the universe." The universe is an abstract construct employed by scientists to help explain and frame their data. It does not actually exist, except as an abstraction. You might say that it is the (merely) logical residue of the living Cosmos, the latter of which is the ordered totality of being, as reflected on both the macro and micro scales ("as above, so below"), and in both its interior and exterior aspects (subjective and objective).
In turn, the cosmos cannot be synonymous with the Creator (pantheism), but is, however, incomprehensible in his absence. The world is none other than God, but God is not the world.
Now, each of us is born with certain invariants which constitute our true or essential self. However, these categories remain empty potential unless they are actualized in life. We are all "driven" to achieve this unique potential, something the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas calls our "destiny drive."
The word "drive" is probably misleading, because this doesn't operate like other drives, which are more mechanistic and past-to-future in their orientation. Rather, the destiny drive is clearly teleonomical, operating in a future-to-present, or top-down manner. Sensing one's destiny feels very different than discharging an urge. Furthermore, it is not a repetitive or one-time-only sort of thing, as in "What did you do last weekend?" "Oh, I gratified my destiny drive. I think I'll do it again next Saturday."
Rather, the destiny drive mysteriously applies to the whole of one's life, not just to an isolated part of it (in fact, analogous to the cosmos, you could say that it is the implicit totality of one's being, which naturally must be disclosed in time, for it cannot possibly manifest all at once). It is the ultimate organizing principle on the subjective-micro scale of human existence. Obviously it is not coterminous with the ego, which is a general function that most everyone has.
The ego is more like hands or teeth -- which is to say, a tool for navigating around internal and external reality. Just as soma is in psyche and psyche in pneuma, the ego is in the self.
The ego is unique in the way that a snowflake is unique. Yes, every snowflake is distinct, but it's a distinction without an essential difference. No snowflake surpasses "snowflakiness." Like the egos of Hollywood, everyone is different, but they're all the same flake. Alec Baldwin is no flakier than Sean Penn, and they both smell about as sweet as a Rosie or Roseanne.
Bolton discusses this question of uniqueness in Keys of Gnosis, but I would use slightly different terminology. That is, I would say that each snowflake is an individual, but they are not individuated. Only a human being can individuate, which is to say, achieve a destiny which is unique to him. Everything else in the cosmos simply is what it is; only man is orthoparadoxically both who he is and is not yet.
So yes, there is a kind of "predestination," but it is very different from the materialistic predestination of a snowflake. Human beings alone can become something they are not, and thus arrive at the wrong destination. No one has to tell a pig to be one, but you can never stop telling a liberal to be a Man.
In fact, there can be a fine line between destiny and fate. Only destiny is within the realm of providence, whereas fate implies its opposite.
Now, a universe of pure providence would be indistinguishable from a universe of pure fate, and therefore, devoid of destiny. Under a system of pure providence, only the whole system has a destiny, which is no destiny at all. This is a monist metaphysic that Obliterates the value of the unique individual.
In a materialistic context, hard determinism reduces one to a plaything of genes, physics, and chemistry, while in a Christian context, predestination reduces one to a praything of God. And in an Eastern context, one is just a preything of maya. But the whole point of traditional Christian metaphysics is that time is both real and irreversible, so that true and eternally valuable novelty occurs within it.
"For this reason," as Bolton explains, "supposedly spiritual teachings for which the total system is the only real agent [i.e., monism] are only disguised expressions of Fate," and fate is not providence, let alone destiny. Predestination explains precisely nothing, but unexplains everything of concern to us.
Rather, providence and destiny work with the freedom left over by fate, and are manifest "in the ordering of things by a benign intelligence which leads souls to a good which seems to have been pre-ordained for them, or for which they seem to have been made" (Bolton). Interestingly, we are able to recognize fate as fate, because it is a "constraining force" that can never totally contain us, and which we could not recognize "unless there were something in us which did not belong to it."
But at the same time, providence could have no meaning unless it existed over and against the "unfreedom" of fate: "[T]he Catholic idea of co-operating with Providence is linked to the idea of realizing one's individual Form or Exemplar." Thus, it is not so much that "God is my co-pilot." Rather, I am God's co-pilot, a formulation that uber-Coon Meister Eckhart would have appreciated, had he known about airplanes, which he might have used to flee from the authoritarian forces of fate in religious garb.
By the way, although airplanes crash, that is not what they were designed to do. Yes, you need a blueprint to create an airplane capable of crashing, but that is not the purpose of non-Muslim airplanes. As such, as Bolton says, there is no grounds for a "negative predestination," since creating something to fail is a contradiction of terms.
Fate has to do with those things over which we have little power, "a kind of order manifest as necessity, constraint, and coercive causality, which includes purely random events" (Bolton). For example, we are fated to die, or to live with sexual tension, or to toil for our daily bread, or to endure dopey comments from trolls.
This is very different from our destiny. Fate generally interferes with our destiny, but even then one must be cautious in leaping to conclusions, for in hindsight our lives can often look like a trail of fate which led to our destiny. Here I think that fate can serve approximately the same purpose as entropy, discussed in yesterday's post. An organism can never eliminate entropy; rather, it uses entropy by dissipating it in order to maintain its dynamic equilibrium.
Likewise, we can "dissipate" fate to achieve our destiny. In this regard, fate has a way of underminding the "best laid plans of mice and men," plans that likely came from the ego, not the Self. Thus, fate can often serve the purpose of eroding the ego's pretensions of control. This may sound a bit abstract, but it's not. For example, I have a sense that this blog has to do with my destiny -- who knows, maybe even yours, but that's for you to discern.
But I could never do this with my ego in the way. Rather, I can only achieve "control" of my destiny by giving up egoic control. I could never do this with effort. Quite the opposite. Each morning I abandon memory, desire, and understanding, in order to make a little raid on the wild godhead. So, even if I'm wrong, let it never be said that I wasn't truly, uniquely, and unprecedentedly wrong in the way only Bob could be: deeply wrong to the very core of his being. Which is the only right way to live.