A Miserable Life -- And Over So Quickly!
Indeed, one of the primary engines of history is the pursuit of false slack -- or the attempt to generate slack in ways that are certain to diminish it, most conspicuously in the form of socialism and other false religions.
I assume that most socialists do not consciously set out to contract the slack supply, but this is what inevitably happens.
Look at social security and medicare -- two of the less dishonorable socialist schemes -- which, in order to create the illusion of giving us slack, must ransack untold slack from future generations.
This smash-and-grab crime against the future is fundamentally immoral unless the slack pays tangible dividends to those from whom it is taken. I see no evidence of this. Even the most mush-filled adolescent skull should be able to see his slack account draining away before his eyes.
As we have been discussing, the ultimate purpose of Christianity is to liberate man. This is not true of most religions, and certainly not of the slackless pagan religions for which Christianity was and is the cure. Man has been aching for a restoration of primordial slack ever since that unfortunate incident in the garden, but his own efforts always come to nought.
Now, "liberation theology" is the quintessential example of a path of false slack, not only because it is false -- which is bad enough -- but because in articulating its principles it negates the true path.
In the words of Ratzinger, it poses a "fundamental threat to the faith," in large part because it is so seductive, especially to the young and innocent, to whom it can appear to be a just and proper "prolongation" of the unspoiled innocence of unfallen man.
Thus, in the heart of every progressive is a deeply atavistic longing -- a vertical recollection -- for paradise. It caters to youthful hope and idealism while clothing itself in a pseudo-scientific veneer, i.e., the dialectic of class struggle.
But when you peel away the layers of tenure and get to its mythic bottom, you see that this is a remurmurance of the same serpentine seduction that got man off to such an inauspicious start. It is the same old tantalizing promise, you shall be as gods. But the serpentine salesman always sells the sizzle, never the slack.
Having said that, Ratzinger makes the excellent point that liberation theology could never have found a congenial home in the heart of man if it didn't contain a grain or two of truth.
But this is small consolation, since "an error is all the more dangerous the greater that grain of truth is, for then the temptation it exerts is all the greater." (And you can well understand how the left uses this seductive "grain of truth" strategy for everything from abortion, to homosexual "marriage," to Palestinian victimhood, to "climate change," to state rationed healthcare, etc.)
As Bob has said many times, truth does not require a thinker, since it simply is, regardless of whether anyone happens to come along and think it. For example, the theory of relativity was true even before Einstein discovered it, just as the Trinity was true before the Holy Spirit revealed it.
Conversely, the Lie not only requires a thinker, but is parasitic on Truth. Thus, one quick way to know the Truth is to simply look at what evil people must pretend is true. As someone once said, a tyranny is any country that has "Democratic" in its name.
More mundanely, it is why leftists call themselves "liberal," why self-hating gynephobes call themselves "feminists," why compulsive fecal smearers are called "artists," why sufferers of Tourette's syndrome are "poets," or why Bill Maher is a "comedian."
Contemporary usage notwithstanding, this sleight of language should not lead one to conclude that liberalism, femininity, art, poetry, or comedy are somehow bad and noxious things.
The error of liberation theology would not be so seductive if there were adequate models of the truth. For this, Christianity has only itself to blame, for if truth isn't both joyously lived and vigorously defended, it will not incarnate in the world. Love, truth, beauty, virtue, justice -- unless personally lived, they are "nowhere."
Likewise, there is no artistic beauty until the artist brings it down into the world. Left to his own devices, he can only strain but not reach it.
Beauty is not something contingent monkeys could ever have "invented" on their own. Rather, it is obvious to every person who awakens to the ambient cosmos that it reflects a generously bountiful and often terrible beauty. We didn't just make it up, any more than we made up quantum theory or the Ten Commandments.
What are the fundamental errors of liberation theology? There are two, one in space, the other in time.
The spatial error horizontalizes the vertical, thus transforming the open sphere of Spirit to the closed circle of political economy. At the same time, this necessarily relativizes the Absolute, and in more subtle ways, feminizes (in an imbalanced way) man, for man is the horizontal prolongation of the Absolute herebelow (since only he can objectively know the Good, True, and Beautiful). Put another way, man cashes in absolute truth for infinite shades of relativism.
The temporal error involves what Voegelin calls "immamentizing the eschaton," which simply means trying to establish our post-judgment spiritual end here on earth. This merely ends up collapsing the spiritual attractor that functions as our faithful guide on this earthly sojourn, so there is no point to our life except more of it.
As the old Catskills joke goes,
"Such terrible food."
"Yes, and such small portions."
"And oy, what a miserable life."
"Yes, and so short."
Slack is inextricably tied in with meaning and with freedom, the former being impossible in the absence the latter. For again, truth cannot be compelled, but can only be freely discovered.
As such, our freedom is truly principial, and not for nothing does the Bible assure a few -- and threaten the many -- that "where the Spirit of the Lord is" -- i.e., his third person -- "there is liberty." Thus it is equally true to affirm that where there is true liberty, there is the Lord, for liberty would be literally unthinkable in a world without his persons to live and love in it.