Thursday, June 30, 2011

I AM, therefore WE ARE

Before being ordained as a priest, the future John Paul toyed with the idea of entering a monastery and taking up the contemplative life, in part because of his interest in the great mystic, St. John of the Cross.

Given my druthers, I'd certainly prefer the life of interiority and slack... spending the evenings in the silence of my room, in an atmosphere as restful as an undiscovered tomb. But then, I am an ordinary man... Yes, a pensive man am I -- of philosophical joys -- who likes to meditate, contemplate, far from humanity's mad inhuman noise... You know, a quiet living man...

But his Archbishop wisely turned our fair laddie away from that path, and toward the priesthood. Yesterday we spoke of "thinking in God," but to become a priest is more like "living in God," especially as it pertains to human relationships. (Cue trolls obsessed with homoeroticism.)

Indeed, Weigel says that Wojtyla's ideal was the alter christus -- "another Christ" -- and all this implies and entails. Taken seriously, it entails about as challenging an endeavor as one can undertake in this world, for it requires a "complete self-emptying in service to [one's] people," a "dying to self," or "self-gift" via "self-immolation." The word "radical" is casually tossed around -- as if it is radical, say, to prefer limited government -- but this is radical.

But then, whatever one's vocation, so long as it is "seriously lived," there will be this element of kenosis, of ego death in service to a higher ideal. This "human sacrifice" is a kind of seal of authenticity, for truly, there is no such thing as a free launch.

In his first doctoral thesis, Wojtyla expounded on the idea that ultimate reality is relationship, which, when you think about it, is an astonishing and revolutionary hypothesis. Even if one is not prepared to follow it all the way up, back, and down, it is nevertheless the ultimate basis of our humanness, which is irreducibly intersubjective through and through. On the human level, there is clearly no I without a We.

In other words, even if one holds a different metaphysic, one must acknowledge a relational metapsychology. However, it will be impossible for such a person to unify those two meta-s without eliminating the human being, who is only the most unexpected and important "fact" in all of the cosmos.

To turn it around, if one's metaphysic cannot fully account for the existence of metaphysicians, then it is a rather paltry thing, unfit for human consummation.

Nor will it touch on man's experiential and phenomenological encounter with the divine reality -- of O:

"In his dissertation, Wojtyla emphasized the personal nature of the human encounter with God, in which believers transcend the boundaries of their creaturely existence in such a way that they become more truly and completely themselves." Although this is confirmed by any number of saints and mystics, it is important to recognize that -- as was said above about the Christian vocation -- this reality "is not for mystics only."

Rather, it is analogous to the way technology evolves in a free market economy. At first it is only available at the "top," to the wealthy people who can afford it (I believe cell phones in the 1980s were a few thousand dollars). But eventually the technology trickles down to everyone.

Just so, the mystics do not just make their own "breakthrough" (which is simultaneously God's break-in). Rather, -- at least in Christianity -- such a person is always a living bridge between God and world, or person and community. Love cannot be love if it isn't in relationship.

There are, of course, non-dual mystics, but in our opinion, this impersonal ball of con-fusion is either a wrong turn on the last offramp or a lower stage of ascent, for love and truth are higher than any radical monad. Like Otis Williams, this turning away from relationship is the last Temptation, meaning that I can't get next to You.

Rather, "the highest wisdom we can achieve is to know that we cannot 'objectivize' our knowledge of God, for we do not come to know God as we know an object." Alert readers will recoil that I discussed this in section 4.1 of the bOOk -- which my publisher informs me is now available in kindle -- Unknowing and How to Communicate It.

In short, a certain finesse is involved in talking pure nonsense, for the simple reason that, in the end, it is impossible to disclose the subject through any other medium than personal experience. Language can only go so far, like trying to describe red to a blind man, or economics to a liberal.

Unless one has endured some kind of childhood trauma, identity is not lost in relationship, but discovered. This is a kind of paradox, because it means that, in a very real sense, our "self" is partly located in the other, who holds it in escrow until we receive it.

It reminds me of the rabbinical adage that we are all walking around with the missing parts of others. To us the part may be trivial, but there is someone else out there for whom it is a vital piece of their self. That is the "clicking" sound you just heard.

This applies quintessentially to the male-female complementarity, in that the two "complete" one another in a way that could never occur between members of the same sex, since the differences between the latter two are not essential but merely accidental.

The only way out of this cosmic fact is to insist that there is no essential difference between men and women, which is precisely what the left does, but only when it is absolutely convenient. In other arenas they will hold fast to female privilege.

Continuing with Weigel's account of Wojtyla's dissertation, "We come to know God as we come to know another person, through mutual self-giving. As two persons in love come to live 'within' each other without losing their own identities, God comes to live within us, and we come to dwell, in a sense, 'within God.'"

In my case, I can say that I had never really met anyone who truly understood me until being introduced to God. Now, the more deeply GodWord I plunge, the more things I find out about myself, but also about the world and all its unhappitants. This is obviously a real experience, or an experience of the Real, since I can see the results with my own third eye -- as can the people closest to me.

Obviously, since ultimate reality is not an "it," there exist intrinsic "limits to rationality as an approach to the mystery of God." It is not difficult to prove through reason that God exists, but unaided reason cannot reveal much about the nature of God, or of specific attributes.

If one could "grasp" God intellectually, it would mean that the personal I "contains" him, thus making one superior to God. Again, experiences of mystical communion reveal that God is not just being, but "being-with."

From this, Wojtyla argues for the centrality of freedom, for, just like any other relationship, one cannot be "forced" to be friends or fall in love with someone.

Rather, "an authentic relationship of mutual self-giving can only be entered freely." (Which, by the way, is a big reason why there is no love lost between me and my greedy state government. Thanks Democrats! As of today, One Cosmos is a completely charitable innerprize instead of only 99% charitable. Oh, and thanks to all the readers who clicked through here and purchased things on amazon. It was a nice thing while it lasted.)

Now, this intersubjective "tension" between man and God is "the key to the drama of human life." Thus, whosoever "takes away God from human beings is taking away what is deepest and most truly human in us." Can I get an amen? Certainly from the eastern Europeans who celebrate Ronald Reagan's birthday.

Please, my dear leftist, do not puzzle over why we dread your philosophy -- not you, mind you, except in certain cases -- because it is a frontal assault on both reality and man, and renders knowledge of the former via the latter an impossibility.

In any event, you have just been tagged, and you are it. But don't worry. There's still time to find Mr. Light.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Solution to Institutional Stupidity: No Child Left Below

If one is to live a life in the mystery of God -- or O -- one must relinquish a lot of conscious plans, in part because the decision to surrender to the high life doesn't necessarily yield immediate "sense" or purpose. Frankly, it will usually be seen as a little "crazy," at least by contented inhabitants of the Matrix.

What I mean is that the element of time must be considered, and as we all know, time takes time, and eternity even more. Things don't happen instantaneously, as if by magic. An acorn doesn't just "decide" to be a tree, and then skip the process of actually becoming one.

Rather, there is a maturational or formative process that operates from the inside out via formal and final causation. Thus, on a personal level it is very much analogous to the belief in liberty and spontaneous order as opposed to the conviction that it is preferable for one's life to be ordered by distant, top-down decision makers. Left to your own devices, you'll only mess things up.

Obviously there is a great deal of truth in the latter, as many, if not most, people will misuse, abuse, or otherwise waste the freedom their smarter-than-average furbears fought so bravely to secure. But liberty is no picnic, especially for people with spines of jelly and no stones.

This becomes especially problematic once the habits of freedom are lost, stolen, or betrayed. People inevitably behave less responsibly when there is no penalty for doing so, which is then used as evidence by the left to prove that citizens cannot cope with liberty, and require an intrusive state to care for them. It's a great little scam they have going.

An obvious example is our contemporary "urban culture." These people are so obviously messed up and dysfunctional, how could you be so heartless as to deny them the help they need from mommy government? And when we say "urban culture," we are not only referring to inner city Americans. Rather, the identical phenomenon has occurred in England and other western welfare states, as compellingly described in Dalrymple's Life at the Bottom. From the review at the top:

"[T]his volume puts forth a vision of the modern world and of intellectualized modernism as hell," describing an underclass that is "'not poor... by the standards of human history' but trapped in 'a special wretchedness' from which it cannot emerge."

Ironically, the clueless liberal reviewer at Publisher's Weakling doesn't like it, in part because Dalyrymple "offers few concrete or theoretical solutions." In other words, s/h/it will concede that Dr. Dalrymple's diagnosis of the failings of liberalism is both astute and provocative, but hey, how come he doesn't offer any liberal prescriptions? Doy!

Either the problem is in man, or the problem is in "institutions" and other collectivities. The left locates the problem in abstractions such as "institutional racism," but the much deeper problem facing the underclass is the institutional stupidity its members have imbibed from the left. To put it another way, members of the underclass who refuse to absorb left wing institutional stupidity will not remain there long.

This can be demonstrated empirically with statistics showing that there is no such thing as "the poor" in any reified sense. Rather, it is only an abstraction created by the left, and which specifically eliminates the temporal element in order to create the illusion of stasis.

But the plain fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Americans are not still in the "underclass" five or ten years later, which means that there is really no such thing, and therefore no basis for their class warfare.

In other words the left wants the people who fill the lower quintile or decile at any given moment to abandon the well-understood behaviors and values that will lift them out of the underclass, and instead do battle with those "selfish" people who have already successfully risen out of it.

And if this abstraction doesn't succeed, there is never a shortage of individual exceptions, of heartbreaking stories provided by the media to "prove" that The System Doesn't Work, and that we need a huge welfare state to help their Cavalcade of Victims.

But nearly five decades since the War on Poverty commenced with the shit heard 'round the world, there is, curiously, the same percentage of people in the bottom quintile. How can this be? Can't we just empty out that quintile and put everyone in the top 75%? Can't we give all Americans a free college education, so that half the population will no longer be fated to a life of below average intelligence? Let's do it! While we're at it, let's make every man tall and handsome, and every woman a California Girl!

When I say that our educational system consists of liberal seminaries, I am not only being quite literal, but plagiarizing Dennis Prager. I think the only way one can recognize what is otherwise a banality is to hold a different set of values. Then one sees quite vividly that children are being forced by law to undergo statist indoctrination (unless one can afford a private school).

Prager mentioned another recent example, with an Orwellian story from Maryland about how children can no longer graduate high school without being "environmentally literate." You can be sure that this will not revolve around sober and skeptical questioning of Algore-style hysteria and pseudo-science, just as the California requirement that children be "culturally literate" doesn't involve learning just how crappy most cultures are. Indeed, it is against the law to depict any culture in an unflattering light, which means that the left has succeeded in making it against the law to think.

My kid has only finished kindergarten, but he has already imbibed a number of precious values that will stand him in good stead for the rest of his life. This is because in his religious school there is not only an emphasis on intellectual formation but of moral formation, or the articulation and development of the conscience (which in many ways is the marker of genuine psychospiritual maturity). Throughout the year he learned that life consists of choices and that he is free to choose between them. This is on the one hand liberating, but also a burden, in that it means that we are responsible.

To propagate the opposite lesson -- that we have no meaningful freedom and that we are oppressed and victimized by "the system" -- is a form of child abuse, because it not only stunts but warps moral development, since it legitimizes violent action to right the injustice.

Frankly, violence is indeed justified against a tyrannical regime, but the left's misuse of this valid principle results in frivolous Europeans rioting because they might not be able to retire in state-funded affluence at the age of 50. Once one is "entitled," then removing the entitlement is felt as a form of persecution and oppression, as when the civil right to a lavish pension at taxpayers' expense is threatened. No appeasement of greed, no peace!

We got off on this tangent as a result of mentioning the temporal element in the divine life. It occurred to me while flipping through the John Paul bio we've been discussing. It describes the years during which he underwent his "priestly formation," as one does not, and cannot, simply "decide" to become a priest. For one thing, the decision is not ours to make. Rather, it is a calling to a vocation which can only gradually be heard and revealed.

For John Paul it was "an evolutionary process of gradual clarification or 'interior illumination.'" As the process unfolded, there was a simultaneous "progressive detachment from my earlier plans."

You might say that as the interior priest "grew," the exterior ego shrank. He began to recognize that "the people who had touched his life most profoundly... were not fragmentary incidents in a life, but signposts along a path pointing in the direction of the priesthood." And if one draws out the implications of this ontology, then they were also pointing to his papacy and even to this very post, among literally countless other "goods" that resulted (yes, I realize it may not be good for you, but that's just the way God rolls).

But there is also effort or willed cooperation with the call (↑). Elsewhere it describes how he later encountered a certain philosopher, and how "after two months of hacking my way through this vegetation I came to a clearing, to the discovery of the deep reasons for what until then I had only lived and felt.... What intuition and sensibility had until then taught me about the world found solid confirmation."

This describes the Raccoon's familiar transition to post-egoic knowing, or what we might call the conviction of the mind by the intellect. After that, one is capable of "thinking in God" as opposed to just feeling, sensing, or being attracted.

In a way, one might say that John Paul was pulled into the vortex of O, and that innumerable others have been pulled along with him, as if in his wake. In fact, I think this is a good analogy of how the nonlocal saints are able to exert such a profound influence upon our lives. One doesn't just enter "a book," but in a sense enters them.

This, of course, would be the inner meaning of Jesus' statements about "preparing the way," or of living "in" him. A friend once told me that he drove cross country by staying close behind large trucks pulling him in their wake, thus saving lots on gas.

Reminds us of an old post, Breaker Breaker, Anyone With a Copy, Come On. It's from January 2006, and its subtext is that I had already reached the outer limits of my self, and was running short on ideas. Fortunately, I gave up trying to come up with any, which is what has made the subsequent 1,691 posts possible. I very much feel as if both I and this corpulent corpus were given shape through deriving below some big ol' mothertrucker in the sky. Of course, your smileage may vary.

An apt aphorism or two of Don Colacho come to mind: of how in genuine spiritual development "the materials are not fused in a new alloy; they are integrated into a new element," and how "The quality of an intelligence depends less on what it understands than on what makes it smile."

Guess I must be semi-crazy:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Don't Blink When God's Flash Bulb Goes Off

Unity involves the synthesis of contraries and the ordering of degrees of being. That being the case, it is precisely the opposite of the left's horizontalized approach to reality -- or rather, to denying it -- since they abhor hierarchy and obliterate differences, most notoriously, the differences between Man and Woman. This inevitably results in such misbegotten inventions as "homosexual marriage."

And I use the word "horizontalized" advisedly, because it would be a misunderstanding to call the leftist merely "horizontal," as if bad values and no values are synonymous.

Very few people are actually horizontal, generally only the brain-damaged, the severely retarded, the sociopathic, and Charles Johnson. Everyone else lives in vertical space, no matter how much they would like to deny it.

It reminds me of a bright fellow to whom Mizz E linked yesterday, who writes of free will and the overeducated knaves who pretend to deny what cannot be denied without affirming it:

"Unless a person’s faculties are truncated or injured by some tragedy, each and every one of us recognizes in himself an intelligent and free agent. Many people argue, in their personal flight from truth, that this recognition is an illusion, but nobody -- I repeat, nobody -- lives as if it is an illusion. We go right on analyzing our world, formulating goals and purposes, and directing ourselves to pursue them. What’s more, we perceive that we do this, and we reflect abstractly on our ability to do it, on what is required to do it well, and on how the process is working out. We human persons are supremely self-aware, and sometimes embarrassedly so.

"This is simply another way of saying that intellect and will are at the core of what we are. It is one of the fundamental things that we cannot not know."

Swish! What this ultimately means is that any form of doctrinaire leftism immediately and by its very nature sets itself over and against the deep structural patterns of reality, since its vulgar and horizontalized world view simply cannot account for any of the quintessential properties of our humanness -- properties which man attempts to recognize and sanctify through rituals that simultaneously turn us inward and open us to the transcendent. These are what we might call "flash bulb" moments of divine ingression. So don't blink!

These are decisive -- as in scission between the "old" and "new" man -- moments when the divine reality manifests in the clothing of time -- or the clothing becomes transparent to the unseen -- and that we need to acknowledge on pain of closing ourselves to the vertical reality that precedes and gives our lives structure, direction, and meaning (which are aspects of the same reality as manifested in space, time, and depth, respectively).

Man must "turn around to recognize how blind he is if he trusts only what he sees with his eyes" (Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity).

Or, in the words of Don Colacho, "To be stupid is to believe that it is possible to take a photograph of the place about which a poet sang." And to be extra-stupid is to believe it is possible for members of the same sex to take out a marriage license and imagine they will know the thing itself instead of a mere facsimile, a "pretend" version.

The bar mitzvah would represent an archetypal example. Boyhood is oriented -- or at least it should be -- to the ideal of responsible manhood, i.e., the post-biological categories -- or divine deputations -- of Husband and Father (either literally or figuratively).

But in a purely secular world, time has no qualities or properties that condition our existence. Rather, it is simply a "straight line" leading from nothing to nowhere.

Sure, we can make up conventions such as birthdays, anniversaries, baptisms, confirmations, and awards shows, but they are only human contrivances to make it seem like time isn't just a graveyard train hurtling us toward the tomb and that celebrities aren't just a bunch of selfish narcissists.

Religious forms are not intended to "invent" but to disclose and acknowledge reality. And in some sense, most of these forms revolve around birth and death -- or death and rebirth. Obviously a funeral has this explicit purpose in mind. Likewise circumcision, baptism, and communion.

But so too is marriage a funeral rite. It is the death of the mere "man" or "woman" and their rebirth as husband and wife, which only a fool would regard as somehow "equivalent" (equal yes, but hardly equivalent -- thank God!).

Now, one-to-a-customer man-woman marriage is obviously a Judeo-Christian ideal. However, unfortunately, so too is the destruction of this sacred institution. I say this because the unchurched mob that mindlessly clamors for the redefinition of its plain meaning are usually motivated by such fine Judeo-Christian liberal principles as tolerance, compassion, and fairness. It is "not fair" that two people of the same sex cannot get married. End of discussion.

This only goes to show that any virtue isolated from the others and removed from its properly organic hierarchy will eventually turn upon itself. As Don Colacho observes, and history confirms, "The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues." And "The fool calls conclusions he does not understand 'prejudices.'"

With this sleight of unseen hands, the leftist places his sanctimoniass on the side of angels and has no obligation to engage with the bigots who beg to differ with him.

Ratzinger, in Salt of the Earth, notes that "law without a foundation in morality becomes injustice." Misguided leftists pretend they want to preserve a "wall of separation" between religion and government, but what they really mean is that they want to impose their materialistic value system on the rest of us, and that our traditional Judeo-Christian value system somehow violates a Constitution that the left otherwise doesn't take seriously anyway: you know, "the Constitution has no fixed meaning, and you're violating it!"

What are the values that animate the left's desire to impose "homosexual marriage?" Obviously the values cannot have a transcendent or objective source. Therefore they are immanent only, invented by man and rooted in his shifting sensibilities.

For the leftist, this ultimately means that in order to distinguish wrong from right -- or this action from that -- he consults his feelings. It feels good -- even superior! -- to permit people of the same sex to marry, and what kind of assoul wants to make people feel bad?

Again, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, time is not linear, but nor is it circular, as it is for pagans and other Nietzsche brothers living in Bongo Congo. And it certainly isn't determined, as "revealed" by the dreary gods of Islam and scientism. Rather, it is a spiral-bound bewilderness adventure.

As Ratzinger notes in Spirit of the Liturgy, this is "the great movement of the cosmos."

Thus, "Our existence is a kind of fractal of the whole," in that "the small circles of the lives of individuals are inscribed within the one great circle of history as it moves from exitus to reditus. The small circles carry within themselves the great rhythm of the whole, give it concrete forms that are ever new, and so provide it with the force of movement."

This is why, in the book, we symbolize it as ʘ (the dot in the middle is a fractal of the whOle) nestled in the spiraling trinitarian energies of (↓↑). ("So to say," it should otherwise go without saying at all.)

Ratzinger continues: "The two -- the great circle and the small circles -- are interconnected" in such a way that "worship is bound up with all three dimensions of the cross-shaped movement: the personal, the social, and the universal."

But critically, what distinguishes the Judeo-Christian understanding from, say, Plotinus, is that the initial "exitus" is not some kind of mistake or necessary prolongation of the One, but rather, a positive and free act of creation. It is a gift, not a curse.

And man's troubled predicament in this annoying "vortex of finitude" is not intrinsic to our nature, but a fall from it. It doesn't have to be this way, since nothing can negate our freedom. It is wounded, yes, but not killed.

Not yet, anyway.

Monday, June 27, 2011

John Paul II.3: God is a Playwright

Everything is trivial if the universe is not committed to a metaphysical adventure. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

I don't want to deplane from the flight of John Paul just yet. I hate to read a book of this magnitude -- especially about a person of this depth -- and just move on to the next adventure.

Since he has already been beatified -- and there is every reason to believe he will eventually be recognized as a saint -- this is a life from which we can presumably learn something. To say that it was an "unusual" life is an understatement, especially in comparison to the contemporary ideal -- if there is one.

In the end, it comes down to a rather simple dichotomy: either he thought and acted in conformity to a Truth that transcends us, or he was essentially a lunatic who wasted his obvious talents in thrall to a host of primitive delusions and childish superstitions.

There's not much room to maneuver here. For the vertically challenged leftist, the latter is not a "cynical" belief. Rather, it follows directly from their first principles. What they never understand, of course, is that their first principles render anyone's life a pointless exercise in denial shrouded in hot air, but leftism will never be accused of intellectual depth or consistency.

One wonders: what is the attraction of a John Paul, an attraction that is so spontaneous and widespread? How could a life devoted to unreality resonate on such a deep and familiar level? Just last night I watched a wonderful documentary on Dave Brubeck (produced by Clint Eastwood), in which Brubeck discusses what happened to him after writing a piece of sacred music.

Brubeck suddenly and inexplicably -- one might say dramatically -- found himself being drawn into Catholicism for reasons he did not consciously understand. To the surprise of his family, he underwent formal conversion (although, as he says, he didn't actually convert "from" anything). He is now ninety years old, and conspicuously filled with a kind of "light" that radiates from his being. You'd have to watch it and draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, being that he was a product of modern Europe, the young Wojtyla found himself knee-deep in the same cultural soup as everyone else, between the rockheads of the secular left and the softhearts of a retro-romanticism that rushed in to fill the spiritual void. Both represented "revolutions," the one implying "a complete break with the past" -- including Christianity -- the other a revolutionary recovery of some sort of pre-cultural, edenic state of fusion with nature.

One can indeed see this same duality at work in the contemporary left: We Are the Future We Have Been Waiting For, which is to say, the resurrection of a mythical proglodyte past that never was and can never be.

What can only be, of course, is Truth, regardless of whether we recognize it. Again, Truth is synonymous with "reality," and reality is not diminished by one's failure to appreciate it.

One might also say that truth is among the first fruits of Being, so that our own being can only be (relatively) real if it is aligned with Being as such. Otherwise it is no exaggeration to say that we are not human beings, but rather, uniquely "human non-beings," for we are the only animal that can fail to be what it is -- that can deviate from its own being, truth and reality.

But the fact that we can so deviate obviously implies a reality from which to deviate, which undercuts the alert leftist at the knees and kicks him in the balderdash.

Now, if the secular leftist is correct, then history is obviously just a weird interlude in the eternal march of physics, but of no cosmic significance or meaning. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying tenure.

But for John Paul -- and for us -- history is of the deepest significance. This is for a number of reasons, but in John Paul's case it was because the Ultimate Real took the time and trouble to incarnate right here in the middle of it; indeed, it is what created history's "center," so to speak -- a point of metacosmic orientation. Thanks to the Incarnation, we all know "where we are" in time, which is to say, 2,011 revolutions around our central star, give or take.

Speaking of which, it occurred to me yesterday that we all carry within us -- either explicitly or usually implicitly -- a solar system around which we revolve. One cannot be human in the absence of a solar system that provides a central axis and direction.

Each of us -- believer and "nonbeliever" alike -- has a central sun which provides both the intellectual light and emotional heat that guides our way. However, the "un"believer has what we might paradoxically call a "dark star" at their center, with predictable results (either that, or they are their own dark center of cosmic narcissism).

In other words, they are either sucked in beyond the horizon of darkness, or they float away, adrift in a centerless void. Such a person becomes a Periphery in search of a Center they will never find (or a false center in search of peripheral people to mirror and prop him up) unless they consciously turn toward it and establish a relation. This turn can only take place in freedom, the latter of which is another word for "nothing" if it isn't oriented to truth.

John Paul's central sun is, of course, the incarnated Godman, or the ultimate universal manifested in the concrete particular. That this "happened" (or happens, to be precise) proves, among other things, that we inhabit the type of cosmos in which such a marvelous thing can happen. For if it couldn't happen, then neither could we.

In other worlds, we would be entirely closed off to the divine realm from which flow being, love, truth, beauty, and integral oneness -- all the Good Stuff this cosmos has to offer.

Among the young Wojtyla's influences was a poet who remarked that "A man is born on this planet to give testimony to truth" (all quotes are from Witness to Hope unless otherwise noted). Indeed, to even say born "to" implies a purpose to one's life, a direction toward which it is shot.

Again, either our life has a meaning and purpose or it doesn't. You cannot deny them up front only to sneak them in later. Have the courage of your absence of convictions, chickens! But there can be no courage in such poultrygeists either, for courage is nothing if not rooted in wisdom and justice.

From early on, Wojtyla was a man of words -- a man who appreciated the unique power of the Word to enter and change us from within. "He was seized by the power of words, not just to communicate an idea [i.e., light], but to elicit an emotion [i.e., warmth], which was both entirely subjective and entirely objective, or true."

This is a meta-idea worth pondering, for it recognizes that no absolutely "objective" account of reality -- if indeed such a thing were possible -- can be complete. For one thing, it leaves out the Subject who realizes it, and what is he, a potted plant? (Also any such attempt at completion is felled by Gödel's mighty axe.)

But nor can an entirely subjective, or idealist, account be complete. Rather, the only complete metaphysic must account for both subjective and objective reality; or, one might say, an intelligence and intelligibility that are thoroughly entangled. They are distinct but not separable. Indeed to sunder them is a kind of original cognitive sin that necessarily exiles one from the paradise of Truth and Intellect (i.e., knower and known at a higher level).

This sort of reminds us of the last page of our book before the whole durn thing dissolves into perfect nonsense and holy babble:

"In the end, we are no longer a scattered, fragmentary multiplicity in futile pursuit of an ever-receding unity, but a Unity that comprehends and transcends the multiplicity of the cosmos. The universe, human history, and consciousness itself all achieve their fulfillment when any being passes into this Unity."

The question is, did John Paul pass into -- or even by -- this Unity? For again, if he did, then his is a life worth emulating -- not in every detail, of course, since we all have different gifts and are who we are -- but in the broad outlines.

Even as a lad, Wojtyla recognized the cosmic significance of language, and was struck by the "intimacy" afforded by words, "between the one who spoke and the one who listened."

In a way, this goes to man's ontological status as "priest" or pontifex of the cosmos, the living link between time and eternity, Creator and creation, the medicine of Truth above and its side effects herebelow. One of his literary mentors taught that properly communicated -- and received -- words could "open up, through the materials of this world, the realm of transcendent truth" and universal moral values.

And if the world of the stage "could unveil the deeper dimensions of the truth of things, might there be a dramatic structure to every human life? To the whole of reality?"

In the past we have written of how we are drawn to music because it discloses vital information about the nature of reality. If John Paul is correct, the same could be said of man's universal appreciation of, and need for, drama.

Here is how Cardinal Ratzinger describes the plot line and theme of this cosmic Broadway -- actually, narroway -- production:

"Man can be and should be a synthesis, comprising every floor in the whole building of creation," ending -- and beginning -- in the living God, for "it is in this that the whole thrill of the human adventure resides." You know, dramatic tension.

On the one hand, the drama "has a fixed shape -- it is always the same -- and yet it is inexhaustible and is ever new. It always leads us farther on. We are not just chained to a past in which there is nothing more to be discovered; rather, it is a whole country of discoveries, in which each of us can also find himself anew" (ibid.).

In any event, God obviously studied math, but his major is in drama.

Modern history is the dialogue between two men: one who believes in God, another who believes he is a god. --Don Colacho

Friday, June 24, 2011

Further Cosmic Adventures with John Paul

Continuing with yesterday's loose associations on the subject of John Paul, his recent beatification has raised objections from the usual suspects, largely under the pretext that he's only been offstage for six years, but also for purely political reasons.

There is an obvious precedent for this, in that the NHL wisely bypassed the standard waiting period and canonized Wayne Gretzky into the hockey Hall of Fame immediately after his retirement. And as evidenced by the photo of John Paul depicted a few paragraphs down, Gretzky wasn't the only King with an effective slapshot.

I just googled the subject, and it brought out the predictable complaints from predictable coroners of the Culture of Death.

For example, one Joe Lynaugh, from a self-styled Catholic poutfit named "Call to Action," whined that "This will just go down as another disappointment from a church that is unfortunately filled with disappointments these days."

Before I look it up, let's take bets on whether "Call to Action" is actually a Catholic group or a neo-Marxist front in holy guise. If I am wrong, I am prepared to eat this post.

Here is their website. Its motto is "Catholics Working Together For Justice and Equality." Okay. The question is, how?

Let's see: mostly through an insistence that marriage should be redefined, that it makes no difference to children's development if they have a mother and father or two fathers, that the Church needs to have priestesses just like any other pagan fertility cult, and that transgendered people make fine parents.

As anyone with a shred of common sense knows, it is not at all confusing for a child to wake up one day and discover that his father chopped off his penis and is now his mother. Indeed, it undoubtedly frees the child from rigid gender stereotypes, and encourages him to explore his own sexually ambiguous nature. You know, liberal "open-mindedness" and all that.

Why these people imagine they are Catholic, and why they don't just join or invent another denomination, is not explained. This is like joining the Democratic party because one values liberty, limited government, and a functioning educational system, or joining the Boy Scouts in order to scout boys.

Here is a more detailed statement on their objection to John Paul's beatification: his papacy "was a divisive and often painful experience for millions of Catholics worldwide." Awww. That makes me sad. Can't we just believe anything we want? Why must there be rules? Why a Pope? A creed? Indeed, why must there be reality at all? Doesn't it just get in the way of our desires?

Apparently, growing up under communism and fascism taught John Paul nothing about the left, for he inexplicably had a problem with "liberation, feminist and other theologies that support the poor, women and other marginalized groups."

Indeed, his rejection of these thinly veiled Marxist theologies that warp femininity and demonstrably victimize the poor and oppressed, "left many Catholics shocked by a papacy that would withhold its support of theologies and spirituality that sustained poor and oppressed people." Shocked I tell you!

If you don't believe them, here is a photograph of John Paul administering a much-needed smackdown to a communist tool in Nicaragua. This priest was employed as Minister of Culture in the Sandinista regime. If this doesn't prove that John Paul was anti-culture, then nothing does.

John Paul also failed to have an "open discussion of sexuality in the modern world that compromised sexual health access and agency for millions globally" (sic), whatever that means. What, Catholics are not allowed to avoid dangerous sexual practices or treat venereal diseases? This is new to me.

In reality, as summarized by Weigel, here are some of the powers and principalities that John Paul was up against:

--a modern world "dominated by the pleasure principle"
--"an intellectual environment in which the human capacity to know anything with certainty is denied"
--a struggle to affirm that universal truths -- including moral truths -- exist, and that we have a duty to know and conform ourselves to them
--the secular fundamentalist dogma that the person has no essence, and is but an "infinitely plastic" cultural construct
--a Marxian belief system that defines the human spirit out of existence and reduces history to the mechanical play of economic and political forces
--and a debased culture that identifies happiness with a deeply narcissistic celebration of self (even though the self doesn't really exist, which, in our view, leads to the implicit belief that one is not real unless seen by others, i.e., the lust for celebrity)

As we have discussed before, there is always a temptation to regard the present day as uniquely catastrophic, or wavering on the knife-edge between survival and apocalypse. However, just because people habitually believe this, it doesn't mean that it isn't sometimes true.

Christianity has a view of time and history that situates them in a vast cosmic narrative that proceeds from cosmogenesis to cosmotheosis, or from creation to sanctification. It is principally a spiritual adventure, not a mere shadow of material forces; furthermore, there are "pulse points," as it were, when the Spirit is more frisky.

One such pulse point is the Incarnation, which John Paul properly regarded as the axis of history, that toward which it is ultimately ordered. In his view, the present crisis was fundamentally a "crisis of ideas," not of class warfare, sociobiology, or any other inhuman reductionism. Obviously, any humanism that regards man as anything less than human is a false humanism, of which their name is legion.

Now, the most important idea of culture is its idea of what a human being is. In other words, in a way, everything follows from one's anthropology. Get that wrong and your life is doomed, i.e., drained of its objective meaning (and if that is all that happens, consider yourself lucky).

If a culture's notion of man is flawed, then one of two things follows. Either the culture in question will "give birth to destructive aspirations," and/or it will become "incapable of realizing its fondest hopes," irrespective of how "nobly" and humanistically they are expressed (Weigel). Good intentions, road to hell, unintended consequences, Murphy's Law, New Deal, Great Society, Change You Can Believe In, blah blah.

For example, places such as Cuba, China, North Korea, and the vast majority of the Muslim world are laboring under a deeply false understanding of what man is. Likewise, we should all be able to agree, illiberal leftist and conservative liberal alike, that our battle for civilization -- the culture war -- may be reduced without oversimplification to a dispute over the nature of man.

Clearly, we are dealing with two anthropologies that are absolutely irreconcilable. One embodies the traditional American view that man's life and liberty are rooted in the Creator and all this implies.

Conversely, the secular leftist view insists that man is but the residue of random Darwinian accidents, with no essential being and therefore no intrinsic rights or duties but a whole lotta gimme. In this world view, everything is necessarily relative, which makes its adherents all the more dangerous, for their metaphysic prevents them from seeing how authoritarian dogma creeps in through the back door -- such as the absolute right to kill one's unborn child, or the absolute duty for you to pay for the healthcare of irresponsible slackers.

For John Paul, our freedom has to be grounded in something real, without which its security is jeopardized. Obviously, secular leftism has no such secure basis, and "a humanism that cannot give an adequate account of its most cherished value, freedom, becomes self-cannibalizing" (ibid.)

Indeed, many so-called liberals -- who are really crypto-authoritarian leftists -- will openly profess that there is no such thing as free will, a nihilistic doctrine that -- ironically -- absolutely undermines man's intrinsic dignity and invites a host of human disasters, all engineered for our benefit by the People who Know Better how to run your life.

But "to be human is to be a moral agent" (ibid.). In other words, freedom is ineluctably tied in with good and evil, otherwise it is a kind of blind nothing floating atop an absolutely opaque nothingness.

But for us, the cosmos has a moral structure that descends from the top, since it did not, and could not have, come "from the bottom" on pain of immediately denying its own reality.

For John Paul, this means that the cosmos, history, and the individual human life are all situated in a structure that is inherently dramatic, an idea that we have discussed in the past, in the context of Balthasar's Theo-Drama (a quick search of "Theo-Drama" on this site yields a number of posts which I don't have time to review, but may be helpful). Everyone's life is a kind of dramatic journey from the "person-I-am" to the "person-I-ought to be," which ultimately comes down to incarnating Truth in this world (ibid.). The alternative is anon's starter.

In order to get the puck to where one ought to be, the great ones recognize that the future is now:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Second Thoughts About John Paul II: There But For the Goad of Grace Grow I

Not a lot of time this morning, so I think I'll just just riff away on this massive 1,000 page biography of John Paul II, which I just finished reading. It's probably not for everyone, as it gives a virtual day-by-day account of his papacy, but I found it fascinating.

There's a second volume that takes the story from 1999 to 2005, providing additional information about his struggle against communism (because of the opening of the Soviet archives), and giving an overall summary and analysis of his meaning and significance. It might be the more sensible purchase for the buy-curious.

First of all, John Paul is another one of those people -- like Reagan and Thatcher -- to whom I didn't pay sufficient attention while they were alive, mainly because of my stifling moonbattery, but also because, sad to say, Catholicism was completely off my muleheaded braydar anyway. I might add that I had even been laboring under lingering delusions about Catholicism until reading this very book, persistent moron which below.

I am now resigned to the fact that it will take the rest of my life to eradicate the secular indoctrination I assimilated through osmosis just by virtue of living in this time and place, but greatly exacerbated by my passage through the upper reaches -- or darkest depths -- of academia. In another lifetime I could have been... fill in the blank with your least favorite idiotorialist. But I would have bent all my energies toward promoting the illiberal leftism I had confused with freedom and truth.

So much of my life has involved a new appreciation of precisely those things I had previously devalued and/or dismissed with deep contempt. When I say that I was exactly like our predictable hydraheaded troll, Willionymous, it is no exaggeration. My mind was a vast and specious warehouse of alreadymade cliches about God, politics, science, woman, gaia, and everything else the leftist Knows with dead certainty. Politically, all of them involved danger on the right!

On the one hand it makes one cringe with vicarious embarrassment for the poor sap, but it also reminds one of the power of grace, because as I look back, I see a pattern of coincidences that the cheesiest novelist wouldn't inflict upon his readers. There but for the goad of grace grow I.

As it so happens, John Paul regarded his own life in the same manner, and in considering its dramatic and unlikely plot line -- which reads as if it were written by the hand of anOther -- one is hard-pressed to disagree. This was a man of not only true world-historical significance, but of divine-historical significance.

What I mean by this is that his "horizontal" impact upon history is evident to even the most myopic secularist. But the source of this impact was clearly in the vertical, of which the circularist can recognize nothing but outward features cut off from their roots -- which are aloft, in the upper atmansphere, not below, amidst the deceptive mayaplicity.

John Paul's historical impact was ultimately a result of the prolongation of this vertical energy -- or light, or truth, or freedom -- into time and history. Absent this vertical source, he would have been just an oddly dressed man with a stick and funny hat and a lot of unlikely stories.

Also, the animus he generated in assouls such as myself was really a precise measure of the light and truth he embodied. I now see this with great clarity. Although I would have undoubtedly regarded him as a "reactionary," it was I who was reacting in a kneejerk manner to the blows of truth. When one is struck, the first reaction is to lash back at the perpetrator.

This is a fair description of my modus operandi, as is true of the left generally. They have such preemptive contempt, that they inevitably smear us in that endearingly predictable way by attacking our motives, without ever pondering the source of the energy provoked in themselves, i.e., their various derangements.

Just as there is a predictable "canon of dissent" against the Church -- e.g., abortion, celibacy, female priests -- there is a similarly reactionary loose canon on the left, e.g., "tax cuts for the rich," "income disparity," "attacking Medicare," "homophobia," "racism," and other sacred cowpies.

One of the major things I learned from this book is that I am actually -- surprise! -- a Vatican II guy. Prior to reading the book, I was an anti-Vatican II guy, oddly enough, because I knew literally nothing about it.

Rather, based upon rumors from trusted sources (mostly traditionalists such as Schuon), I assumed that it was some kind of modern aberration designed to pander to the needs of spiritually crippled modern folks. Instead of asking these people to rise up to truth, it was a watering down of truth in order to reach them. The reality could hardly be more different.

Come to find out that the real spiritual meaning of Vatican II is to open the church to everything, AKA to reality, not by altering its fundamentals, but by engaging and dialoguing with all sources of truth, whether from science, religion, or culture, in order to deepen and broaden the faith.

Most particularly -- and this is a central tenet of the Raccoon -- its purpose was in part to present the faith to modern men in such a way that they could see beyond the blinders of modernity and grasp it.

It is not that the Church was or is "medieval." Rather, it naturally developed in a manner that allowed it to transmit its truths to the medieval mind. For a host of reasons, this tended to settle into a kind of institutional inertia, which made the Church slow to react to the developments of modernity in philosophy, science, politics, and economics. (Indeed, there is still a struggle with the latter, for in many ways the Church still embraces the antiquated zero-sum economics of the left.)

This is what prompted my appreciation of the Orthodox east, in that I assumed they preserved the truth in all its premodern goodness. But these trappings are no more essential to the message than the trappings of Greek philosophy. Of necessity -- because there must always be cultural, historical, philosophical, and even personal vehicles and matrices of divine truth, there is always going to be a "human margin" where the essential truth shades off to the inessential.

Weigel notes that John Paul managed to change the world with what the world calls "power," but from his perspective it was a very different kind of power: the power "to be the truth that could set people free in the deepest sense of freedom: the truth about the dignity, vocation, and destiny of human beings..."

There is a certain cliche about the trajectory of his papacy, suggesting that he was a kind of progressive radical prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, becoming a more of a reactionary scold thereafter.

There is simply no truth in this, for John Paul never placed freedom above Truth -- as if freedom itself, absent any transcendent ground and vector, were some kind of unambiguous human good.

Rather, with the acquisition of freedom the battle is still half-fool -- perhaps even more than half if freedom is misunderstood, misused, and misoverestimated. Thus, the so-called "scolding" was no more than a reminder of the purpose of freedom, which no leftist wants to hear about, since it insults their self-centered lives and calls their manmade, and therefore relativistic, values into question.

Opponents of the Church often obsess over their own warped interpretation of its views on sexuality. Another major revelation to me was the extent to which John Paul was anything but a narrow-minded prude -- you know, one of those "celibate old men" who imagine they know so much more about human sexuality than Bill Maher or Anthony Weiner.

To the contrary, he explicated -- and you will forgive the analogy -- a virtual doctrine of Christian "tantric sex" in his "theology of the body." Not only did he regard sexuality as a divine gift, but he saw it as an icon of the trinity, a kind of terrestrial revelation of the trinitarian goings on that go on behind closed doors in the interior Godhead. I don't see how any soul-washed secularist could apprehend the truth and beauty of his writings in this area. I would call it a spiritual ménage à trois, but that would be utterly tasteless.

Further Cosmic Adventures with John Paul.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Building a Better Future through Coercion and Trauma

It is interesting that our familiar anonymous troll took exception yesterday to my assertion that cultures are spontaneous orders and not "built."

I have to concede his point, because I can indeed think of several historical instances in which elites have attempted to build cultures from the top-down and outside-in. Conspicuous examples would include revolutionary France, the Soviet Union, the Third Reich, and currently, Iran and North Korea. None of these were or are spontaneous orders.

In fact, leftism of any kind necessarily involves this type of top-down indoctrination under godlessness, since the bitterly clinging masses are always addicted to some opiate of annoying and irrational tradition that interferes with Progress.

In order to create the -- hello! -- NewMan of the left, it is necessary to uproot religion and culture and eliminate sentimental allegiances to anything other than the revolution. Their zeitgeist town is not big enough for God and the State.

Coincidentally, I have become more vividly aware of this reality in reading the fascinating biography of John Paul II, since this was one of his deep principles, both before and after becoming Pope.

For example, having grown up in Poland, he knew that the Soviet Union could not have vanquished the Polish spirit in so short a time, since it takes generations to destroy a culture. The seeds of spiritual renewal were there. Someone just had to Water them from above.

But once a culture gone -- once the string is broken and there are no living embodiments of it -- there's no going back to it. Culture can be revived, but not resurrected. For example, the federal government can pretend that American Indian culture still exists, but it is no more. Guilt, I suppose. But all the guilt in the world won't bring it back. Once awake, you cannot resume the dream.

Having lived through it, I and millions of other Americans have been witness to the left's war on American culture. And when I say this, I am not attempting to be inflammatory or insulting.

Rather, I assume that any self-aware and intellectually honest leftist (now, now, let's be charitable) will acknowledge that he is at war with traditional American values, just as I am at war with the value system of the left, e.g. collectivism, moral relativism, materialism, etc.

To cite just one example, the left wants to redefine marriage, an institution that is not only older than the state -- any state -- but in a certain way coterminous (in the spiritual sense) with the very emergence of man. Man has always acknowledged the spiritually luminous complementarity of Man and Woman, and attempted to formally recognize its sanctity (to be sure, often in garbled, unjust, and perverse ways, fallen Man being what he is).

What made the American "revolution" unique is that it was not a revolution. Revolution implies a sharp and discontinuous break with the past, but ours was anything but.

Rather, it actually sought a deep continuity with the past. Americans wanted to live as they had always lived, only independent of an increasingly meddlesome crown. Thus, in an oxymoronic orthoparadox, it was a "conservative revolution." Conversely, there was nothing whatsoever conservative in, say, a Hitler, who was as radical a revolutionary as one could imagine.

Similarly, in modern times, Martin Luther King was the very opposite of a revolutionary. Rather, his whole program -- at least publicly -- involved holding America to account in honoring its first principles, both political and religious. Clearly, he did not want new principles, just full recognition of the existing ones.

The frontal attack on our liberal principles only came with the next generation of racial careerists, whose bright idea it was to impose government mandated racial discrimination, to generally obsess over race in exchange for cash and other valuable prizes, and to cynically use it as a bludgeon in order to beat their leftist values into the citizenry.

Dennis Prager often speaks of the "American trinity" of liberty, e pluribus unum, and "in God we trust." Not surprisingly, the same troller trash who wants to build a better culture explicitly rejects the Greco-Judeo-Christian principles upon which ours was founded. In his opinion "This country was founded on the principle that people of differing metaphysical beliefs could manage to coexist."

If this merely means that the state should not get involved in the imposition of culture, then of course we agree with him. But this not only contradicts his prior statement that cultures are "built," but the principle to which he alludes is a distinctly Judeo-Christian one of liberal tolerance -- which is why it specifically blossomed in our culture and not elsewhere.

By a wide margin, the writings of the Founders cite the Bible more than any other source. Their ideas were not rooted in Islamic values, or Buddhist values, or atheist values, or Marxian values, although, because of their Judeo-Christian prejudice, they believed that the personal conscience represented a sacred and inviolable limit to governmental power, because it is given by God, not the state.

But it never occurred to the Founders that the system they devised could be sustained if not rooted in the abiding principles upon which it was founded. Even someone as erratic and confused as Jefferson -- not coincidentally, a big fan of the French Revolution -- recognized this, for his lame "Jefferson Bible" still privileges the values of Jesus, if not the person.

Again, the left, in order to succeed, must vanquish genuine culture, which is always organic and rooted in transcendent principles that are "before the beginning." Thus, instead of liberty they cherish equality -- which is why, for example, they are obsessed with the idea that some people earn more money than they do.

Likewise, instead of e pluribus unum -- from many, one -- their value system promotes the balkanizing ethic of "diversity" and multiculturalism: instead of a sober One, an inebriated few too many.

And instead of "in God we trust" -- well, let's not belabor the obvious. Look at the commissars of NBC, who, just last weekend, removed the offensive "under God" from a video of children reciting the Pledge. This is at once trivial and profound, in that the left's concern with such trivia is a profound commentary on where their interests lie and then lie about it.

A couple of years ago the county of Los Angeles saw fit to spend millions of dollars -- which they do not have, but priorities are priorities -- to remove a tiny cross from the state seal of California, even though it had always been there as a spontaneous reference to the historical fact of the Christian missionaries who founded the state.

Frankly, no one even noticed it before these petty paranoiacs of the left broke out their magnifying glasses. But in their minds, there must be a sharp separation between religion and the state, or history, or education, or culture, or anything else. Religion must be ghettoized in order to limit its influence.

Consider the obnoxious group we discussed in yesterday's post, Psychologists for Social Responsibility. In order to eliminate our traditional culture and build a better one, it is necessary to start with children, for if they adopt leftist values early enough, they will never know what hit them. (It's a strong field, but their crazed take on Climate Change and Mental Health may win the prize for purple prose).

Thus, under the transparent pretext of Protecting the Children, their true agenda is to traumatize them with hysterical fantasies of THE EARTH IS ON FIRE AND WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! Thanks to these abusive activists, children are "among the most severely psychologically affected in a world of climate change and environmental unsustainability."

Here's an idea: why not stop frightening the children to begin with? Even if these fevered fantasies had some prospect of being true, I wouldn't want my child to know about them, for the same reason I don't want him to know about the Holocaust, or about lynching, or that his best friend's skin color is of any relevance, or that millions of Muslims would like to murder him.

Nor do I have to traumatize him with horror stories about what will happen to him if he ignores, say, gravity, since gravity is real.

What these child abusers really want to do is -- in their own words -- create little "socially engaged community activists" and "effective peacebuilders and agents of positive social change," codewords for the golden rule of the left: indoctrinate others as ye have been indoctrinated. The most effective way to reprogram someone is to traumatize them, which creates a fertile ground for the importation of mind parasites.

Similar to Soviet psychology, these tools want to reprogram people by helping them to "identify their cognitive errors about climate change and environmental degradation that prevent pro-environmental action," and force them to "feel despair and grief about our environmentally harmful actions and harness those feelings to motivate behavior change."

Above all else, people must not be permitted to think about the subject on their own, because they might come under the influence of those counter-revolutionary scientists who are enemies of the proletariat.

So comrades, let us together build a new and shiny happy future!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cosmic Anthropology: True and False Humanisms

Well, this is good news. I just received a letter from my malpractice insurance carrier, letting me know that I can get a discount if I join a group called Psychologists for Social Responsibility, which is obviously a left wing cult of some kind. Imagine the outcry if they offered a discount, say, to people who complete the RCIA program and become baptized in an actual faith instead of being indoctrinated in a phony one?

In that case, you would actually take a solemn vow to absolutely avoid the sorts of activities that result in malpractice claims, such as bonking your patient. I mean client. No, consumer of mental health services. Wait, co-evolutionary partner.

But it seems to me that the type of gelatinous Joe who would join an outfit such as Psychologists for Social Responsibility has, by definition, a severely broken moral compass, since he systematically externalizes responsibility to the collective, thus robbing the individual of his moral agency, not to mention his human dignity.

That's a little unfair, isn't it? I don't even know anything about them. For all I know -- since they have the word "responsibility" in their name -- they could be a group that promotes personal responsibility, clean living, teenage abstinence, the cultivation of virtue, living by the Ten Commandments, shunning the self-defeating culture of victimhood, not whining, and generally acting like a man for once in your life.

Uh oh. According to the website, PsySR is an organization "that applies psychological knowledge and expertise to promote peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability. Our members are psychologists, students, and other advocates for social change in the United States and around the world."

"Advocates for change?" What the hell is that supposed to mean? Such gibberish. Now you know why I don't relate to my profession. "Promote peace?" Something tells me that "killing bad guys" or tossing them in the slammer is not on the agenda.

"We share a commitment to the application of psychological knowledge and expertise in addressing today's pressing societal challenges and in building cultures of peace with social justice."

Even if you wanted to, how do you "build" a culture? Much less one "of peace and social justice" -- especially when "social justice" is just a code word for a backward and justice-denying collectivism?

Ah. Under the rubric "Our History," it says that they fought against fascism before and during World War II. Oddly, I am quite sure this didn't involve killing nazis.

And to suggest that these people "fought fascism" prior to World War II is just an outright lie, since they were and are the fascists (the liberal fascists, as demonstrated in Jonah Goldberg's book of the same name).

Proving once again that the left is irony-proof, they brag that "during the height of the Cold War in the 1980’s," they promoted "the use of psychological skills and knowledge to push for nuclear disarmament and to reduce the threat of nuclear war." Thank God they didn't succeed, or the Cold War would still be be with us.

Nevertheless, after they ended the Cold War with psychological magic, "we expanded our mission to include broader issues of peacebuilding and social justice." One evil empire down, one to go: the United States.

Ack. Every click brings new horrors. Anti-Semitic? Naturally. They don't call on genocidal Islamists to end their siege of the Palestinian territories -- or to renounce terror and recognize Israel's right to exist -- but demand that Israel cease defending itself from these monsters. One can hardly be more morally confused than that.

And they are so concerned about abuse within the Catholic church that they cannot call it what it is: predatory homosexual abuse, since the vast majority of victims were adolescent boys. And I don't even have to check to see that there is no concern expressed for teacher abuse in the public schools, where the abuse is more prevalent.

Oh for the love of.... "Climate change" causes mental illness in children. Being that the climate has never not changed, I suppose this explains why humans are so crazy. I know my son suffers a psychotic break every time the weather changes from sunny to cloudy.

Look at how they just make shit up in that letter. There's not a word of truth, much less science. It's all hysteria. These people are the very sickness they presume to treat. I'm sure they don't want to know that the air and water are actually cleaner than they've ever been since we started measuring, or that there is no non-junk science linking the natural disasters they cite to carbon dioxide.

Social responsibility? Let's begin by undermining the unit of society, the traditional family! They are opposed to any legislation that "seeks to deny same-sex couples the right to marry."

But of course, no one is denying anyone the right to marry. Persons of the same sex just can't marry each other, since it is impossible for a man to be married to a man. We want the state to simply recognize "what is," not to impose a new and idiosyncratic definition of reality upon the rest of us, and to redefine an institution that is much older than the state. No state has any right whatsoever to usurp this power.

*****

Enough of what isn't and can never be. Back to what Is.

I don't know if we can appreciate how radical it was in antiquity to announce that God is love; today its meaning has been largely drained, rendering it as biting as a Hallmark greeting card. Therefore, it requires some deprogramming in order to re-appreciate its world-altering consequences.

Consider how love spontaneously emerges in our free society. I would guess that the vast majority of popular songs are about love (I can't really speak for contemporary music, since I don't listen to it). Why should this be? It's quite odd when you think about it. But we don't think about it, because it is so pervasive.

Benedict notes that there is "a certain relationship between love and the divine," in that earthly love evokes our instinct for transcendence, and promises something far beyond the object of love.

Rather, love taps us into "a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence." And one of the problems affecting contemporary relationships is that they are asked to bear the weight of this "totally other" in a way that no human being can.

In other words, instead of looking toward that to which love points, or following it to its source, it becomes focussed solely on the (human) beloved, which cannot help but end in frustration and quite literal dis-illusionment.

But in Benedict's view, the very purpose of terrestrial love is to provide a kind of everyday ladder to the divine. A relationship is both a crucible and an escape (or rather, inscape) that can heal the wounds it makes through the unification of mind, body, and spirit, i.e., through the purification and divinization of man.

Man is a complementarity who is always fishing for his complement; he is a "unity in duality," both vertically, i.e., spirit + matter (or body), and horizontally, i.e., man + woman. Love is not only the basis of their unification, but oriented toward the telos which lights the path of ascent:

"It could hardly be otherwise, since [love's] promise looks toward its definitive goal: love looks to the eternal. Love is indeed 'ecstasy,' not in the sense of a moment of intoxication but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus from the closed, inward-looking self toward liberation through self-giving, and thus toward authentic self-discovery and indeed of God" (Benedict).

Benedict also explores one of our orthoparadoxical principles, (↓↑), i.e., eros and agape, or the "ascending and descending love" that "can never be completely separated" (ibid.).

Rather, "the more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized" (ibid.).

Only because God is a three-in-one is it possible for man to be a whole in oneness. The union that results "is no mere fusion, a sinking in the nameless ocean of the divine; it is a unity that creates love, a unity in which both God and man remain themselves and yet become fully as one" (ibid.).

This is the True humanism. Anything less is just zoology or economics.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Round One of the Culture War: Is vs. Isn't

This post is brought to me and you by a curmudgeonly passage linked at American Digest. It is what we call "self-evident," but no less profound for being so, for in the latter daze it is sufficient to utter truth with clarity to be regarded as intemperate.

In the words of the very private Don Colacho, "Intelligence, in certain ages, must dedicate itself merely to restoring definitions." To paraphrase another aphorism, while ideologies are surely "fictitious nautical charts," the reefs they shipwreck us upon are nonetheless real. Keynesian economics may be pure doo-doo economics, but that doesn't make the malodorous results an illusion. Some ideas really do stink.

Anyway, the passage: "At the very core of our national discombobulation, this very problem We no longer speak the same language. We don't recognize the same historical records. We don't share the same values, principles, hopes, dreams or morality. People like Maddow (as proxy for her ilk) are as fervent in their socialist dogma as we in our love of freedom. After years of agitprop by well placed activists, we're past any possible rapprochement."

"We no longer speak the same language." True, but it goes deeper than that, as implicitly recognized by the writer, for the failure to embrace the same values and principles is rooted in ontology, not mere linguistics or epistemology. To "recognize" a principle is not to invent one.

Rather, in our ontology, the principles are real and man is uniquely privileged to know and live in conformity to them.

Indeed, this is what we would regard as the central "drama" in the Adventure of Consciousness. In other words, our ontology automatically confers a meaning, and therefore purpose, both to history and to the individual life situated therein.

I hope this is clear. As always, we are not aiming at agreement, only clarity -- or clarification of differences.

I believe it is fair to see that the postmodern left is rooted in an entirely different ontology. It is admittedly a rather makeshift one, borrowing from here and there -- much of it, ironically, is purloined from ours -- in a manner that never adds up to "one," as any proper metaphysic should do.

In other words, in a functioning metaphysic, one = one; what this means is that there is an intelligible reconciliation between the many and the One, or between appearance and reality, time and eternity, vertical and horizontal, maya and brahman, etc.

Now, the postmodern left has fooled itself into believing that it has transcended metaphysics. This is a self-refuting claim, in that transcendence of any kind requires a metaphysic to account for it, for either the transcendent position is real -- or discloses reality -- or it is not.

The vulgar materialism of postmodern secularism insists that the transcendence is not real, which forecloses man's very ability to know reality. Therefore -- and this is a critical point -- secular fundamentalism necessarily forecloses reality-as-such, for there is no reality in a cosmos that cannot be known (truth and reality being synonymous).

Rather, existence would be "pure illusion," or "absolute relativity," both of which are intrinsic absurdities. These are analogous to an optical illusion, but with no reality underneath, or like a mirage floating over a desert of nothingness.

Which is why Don Colacho is correct in noting that "Revolutions have as their function the destruction of the illusions that cause them." For example, the real Obama has destroyed the illusion that was embodied in "Obama '08." He is a political suicide, as it were -- but unfortunately, he is taking a lot of people down with him.

What is the meaning of existence? What is Is?

First, I think we can all agree that what Is, is. What Is can appear to be what it isn't, but that's obviously just appearance, not reality. Man is the only being who is prone to systematic illusion and tenure, for the very reason that he is capable of adequation and truth. If the universe were not intelligible, man could never know it, for to know it is to at once render it intelligible.

So our dispute -- the "culture war" -- is not just about politics or values, but is ultimately rooted in competing visions of reality. It is actually an "ontology war," which, in the Judeo-Christian arc of history, has been going on since "the beginning."

Indeed, the ontology war is fully recognized and accounted for in the third chapter of Genesis. One might say that it is woven into our existence, or that history is constructed out of the warp and weft of truth and error.

Prior to man there is no error because there is no truth from which to deviate. There is no choice, which can only take place in the space of man's conscious being. Man is free to choose, which again opens the cosmic door to error -- not to mention ugliness and immorality.

Appropriately, in what I believe was his first encyclical, Pope Benedict speaks for us in making the bold ontological claim that God is love. In other words, love is ultimately what Is, and what Is is love. But how could this be? You've seen the world. What kind of ledbrained bag of hot air would suggest that it is really just a whole lotta' love?

First of all, this is not a "thought" about reality; rather, it is the reality itself. Embedded in it is a decision about the world, again, a free choice made in the transitional space of human consciousness.

To de-cide means to cut, to make a scission. In this case, it is that same cut referenced above, between the Trees of Life and Death. This fork in the ontological road is always before us, never behind us. One cannot choose not to choose.

Benedict says that the assertion that God is love is rooted in an encounter "which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." But unfortunately, due to the debasement of language, "the term love has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings."

Among the varieties of love, one particular type conspicuously stands out from the rest, the love between Man and Woman.

Now, "falling in love" cannot be willed, can it? Rather, it is to awaken to a kind of intimate knowledge of who and what the beloved Is. Absent the actual experience, it cannot be adequately conveyed to anyone else in such a way that it could reproduce the experience.

In a couple of ironic aphorisms, Don Colacho says that "We do not know anything perfectly except what we do not feel capable of teaching," and "Of anything important there are no proofs, only testimonies."

Reality surely qualifies as "important." That being the case, it cannot be communicated (without remainder) via language, mathematical equations, or empirical sensation. Rather, it can only be experienced and testified to.

Importantly, the testimony cannot be prior to its experience, but it can certainly be a signpost, or lamp, along the way. The saints, for example, are fleshlights who illuminate the path for us, but we still have to take the path. We can't just phoneme it in.

In a purely rational world view, falling in love must be a kind of inebriation, at least if we are to trust Mr. Spock.

Likewise, as Benedict notes, "The Greeks -- not unlike other cultures -- considered eros principally a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a 'divine madness' that tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience the supreme happiness" of knowing what it's like to be the volatile Captain Kirk.

And with that I must abruptly stop in my own treks, because I'm still overloaded with work.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Father

... laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us. --Meister Eckhart


My Lord told me a joke. And seeing Him laugh has done more for me than any scripture I will ever read. --Eckhart

Friday, June 17, 2011

Economics, the Gay Science

I'm under too many deadlines, so there's no time for an entirely new post. Yeah, you could say The Man's got me down, at least for the moment. But I'll be back. Large. In charge. Tights and cape shit. Winning!

However, in lieu of a new post, I've been holding in reserve this lightly soiled one from a few weeks ago, which was mysteriously disappeared from blogger only to return home to daddy a couple days later, landing among my drafts. I think it was only up for a couple of hours, so here it is:

Dismal science? How did economics ever come to acquire this pejorative appellation?

In reality, "dismal" is any discipline to which liberals affix the word "studies": e.g., Womyn's Studies, Queer Studies, Chicano Studies, Gender Studies, Hip Hop Studies, Peace Studies.

You want dismal? How about feminist economics, which combines the joyless wisdom of Marx with the penis-withering face of Gloria Allred?

It says a lot about liberals that they can reduce even the study of women to a dismal and tedious endeavor. But this is what feminism does: transform a light and beautiful cosmic mystery into a grim and oppressive political animal, a dreary cult of hectoring ex-wives.

Ironically, it says here that "dismal science" is "is an inversion of the phrase 'gay science,' meaning 'life-enhancing knowledge,' a reference to the technical skills of song and verse writing."

But the term was coined by the illiberal Thomas Carlyle, in the context of (mis)using economics to argue for the moral superiority of slavery. This is essentially a proto-Marxian stance that posits a zero-sum economy and rejects freedom because of the bad things people do with it. This results in the anti-gay and homophobic economics of the left.

I didn't always regard economics as so very gay. By now you all know the story of how I jumped or was pushed from business school, so there's no need to rerun that dismal episode. But as it so happens, one of my stumbling blocks was Economics. That and Accounting. And Finance. And Business Law. And Marketing. And Management. And eventually, showing up.

If I recall correctly, one had to complete four years of economics: Principles of Microeconomics, Statistical Methods, Money and Banking, and Macroeconomic Theory. All of this was so foreign to the Gagdad orientation -- my own truth as an economic gay man -- that I either dropped out or was suspended, depending upon whom you want to believe. Only later did I emerge from the closet and openly identify as homo economicus.

Like so many other young men, I was seduced into the lifestyle by an older gentleman I shall call "L."

L made it all seem so thrilling, even dangerous, not to mention transgressive! I remember the very first thing he told me -- that the gay science is not about numbers, statistics, and aggregates, but all about getting a little action.

Eventually I discovered that the gay science isn't even a science, at least in any straight way. For one thing, nothing about it is replicable.

But even more foundational than that is the fact that economics rests on a ground of subjectivity.

And not only that, for it is actually intersubjective, meaning that the real action of economics takes place in the transitional space between two subjects who together determine a thing's "value." There neither is nor can be intrinsic economic value. To a man dying of thirst, a glass of water is priceless. To a drowning man it is worthless.

I know what you're thinking: does this mean that everything is relative? In economics it does. In other words, when we "think economically," we cannot help but to think in terms of constantly adjusting relationships that emerge as prices, and prices are no more stable than the weather, or Keith Olbermann.

But by itself, economics cannot tell us about intrinsic or perennial value, which is why I ultimately had to break off with the older gentleman mentioned above. In other words, while there is a hierarchy of real values in the cosmos, it transcends economics for the same reason truth transcends the closed system of logic.

For beyond the sea of conventional economics is an economics that dare not speak its name. Frankly, I don't know that it has a name. Let us call it Cosmoeconomics, unless I come up with a better term before the end of this post.

Richards addresses this subject in an appendix to Money, Greed, and God, but almost as an afterthought -- like an appendix or something.

As touched on a couple of posts ago, "the creation of wealth has as much to do with spirit as with matter" (Richards). Thus, "Christians should be the first to understand this, since we know that human beings are a unique hybrid of the spiritual and the material" (ibid.).

Spirit and matter can't do much on their own. But incarnate the former in the latter, and you can really get something done down here.

The free market, which embodies the two, is, in the words of Hayek, "probably the most complex structure in the universe" (in Richards). Like anybody could know that!

That's the point -- that we know we can't know something that embodies an infinite amount of information that is dispersed throughout the system. Those who don't understand this -- who pretend to know what cannot be known -- are now called liberals.

Which is (intentionally) confusing, because that name used to go to the enlightened ones who understand this principle, not to the ignorantsia of the left who pompously presume to know the unknowable, which always results in the unthinkable.

The market is the most complex structure in the cosmos because it is constituted of billions of the second most complex structure, the human brain, all linked together.

In the anonymous bathhouse scene of the market, all of these brains are plugged into one another, engaged in the constant intercourse of processing information and making minute adjustments within the intersubjective space of value. Again, without human beings there is no value, because there is no valuing subject -- or subject with values.

"Seen in its proper light, the market order is as awe inspiring as a sunset or perfect eclipse" (Richards).

Which is a pretty dismal understatement. A sunset? C'mon, you can do better than that!

Here is what we believe: that ordered liberty is one of the means through which post-biological human evolution proceeds. It is specifically within the context of freedom and restraint that the human spirit evolves toward its proper attractor, its nonlocal origin and destiny.

In his raptured appendix, Richards reviews Hayek's argument that the market is a spontaneous order. This is surely true, but Hayek either failed to draw out the cosmic implications of this queer fact, or else simply began with materialist assumptions that inevitably result in materialist conclusions.

But materialist assumptions can turn even the most awesome sunset into the trivial side effect of an insignificant planet revolving around an anonymous star.

Obviously Hayek was on the right track -- or at least off the left one -- in writing of "the implications of the astonishing fact, revealed by economics and biology, that order generated without design can far outstrip plans men consciously contrive."

Not so fast, Fred! Is it really true that the emergence of meaningful complexity becomes unproblematic if we just dismiss it as a side effect of open systems doing what they are constrained to do, i.e., generate all this fabulous order from such unstylish chaos and rigid necessity?

That is soooo ungay!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Is Man the Problem or the Solution?

The disease or the cure? Or the very disease he pretends to cure? If so, is there an actual cure for man, or is the condition always fatal?

It seems that we are born in critical condition, and that it's all downhill from there. At best, we can manage the human condition with increasing sophistication, but not cure it. I mean, can we ever win the war on greed? Jealousy? Envy? Rage? Sloth?

One thing is certain: before the arrival of man, there were no problems in the cosmos, and therefore no solutions either. For roughly nine or ten billion of its thirteen or fourteen billion years, the cosmos was free of even the shadow of a hint of a problem, since it hadn't yet left mother nature's basement and gotten a Life.

Once matter was emancipated into life four billion years ago, one could say that there were problems -- specifically, the problem of staying alive -- but not really, since I don't think prokaryotes are conscious of being alive. No, I'm certain of it. Rather, they're like some needlessly baroque filigree on the elegant and tasteful laws of physics.

The true cosmic bar mitzvah doesn't occur until the arrival of man -- at least if we adopt a wide enough view, and regard primordial life as the metabolic bridge between nothing and everything. Prior to it: matter + law, or chance + necessity, and that's about it. Subsequent to it: everything that transcends those two, up to and including the Phenomenon of Man.

If we trancelight this into biblical terms, first there is nothing but the formless void, then separation into two. It doesn't matter what two per se; rather, it's twoness as such that counts. Thus, darkness and light, day and night, heaven and earth, man and woman, form and substance, wave and particle, inside and outside, whatever.

The point is that complements will get you everywhere, since they are all founded upon the primordial parting of the Dead Sea, and provide a way out, up, and into the Promised Land, or the Land I AM will show you. By appointment only. Do not disturb occupants. When the buyer is ready, the seller will appear.

Yesterday I wrote a spontaneous note to my future: An irony curtain has descended upon America. What I believe this means is that the above referenced division between light and dark finds roughly half the population on the wrong side of the tracks, without so much as a fig leaf of irony to conceal their futile dreams of control. But has it ever been different? I doubt it.

And while looking up the exact wording from Churchill's speech, we find the following timelessly timely truths:

"The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future."

Accountability to the future. Is this true? To whom or to what is man accountable? As we discussed in yesterday's post, man either has transcendent obligations to the Cosmic Law, or he doesn't. Only if he has this prior obligation is he intrinsically obligated and accountable to the future generations who, from their timeless perspective, already stand in judgment of our actions today.

Now, regarding that principial division of darkness and light, we can see that from Iran to the Palestinian territories, from Harvard to Berkeley, from the White House to the foreclosed house, a vertical curtain has descended across the Continent.

On one side of that line lie the Founders, prophets, saints, heroes and defenders of liberty and virtue. This we call the sphere of Light.

On the other side is what we must call the moronosphere, and everyone there is subject, in one form or another, not only to moronic influences but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from the state-controlled media and its political arm, the DNC. These fifth columns and columnists constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization.

Please note that we are not being Manichean here, any more than it is Manichean to divide humanity into male and female, or to respect the division between man and animal, or to place a line between truth and falsehood.

Manicheanism proper is a gnostic heresy, and while there is some truth in it (as there is in most any enduring heresy), it places a false division between matter and spirit. It is dualistic, as opposed to the complementarity of Christianity, where there can be no such sundering of man's integral psychosomatic unity.

More generally, the creation itself is "good," a fact that is crowned by the appearance of the Godman who fully divinizes both matter and human nature. Yes, we are at war with the "forces of darkness," but these forces have no ultimate reality. Ahriman is always his own worst enemy.

As Ratzinger explains, man's essence "precedes all history and is never lost in history," although it is often stolen, misplaced, or foolishly bartered away.

Man is simultaneously mere "dust of the earth," and yet, in-spired with the Divine breath, i.e., mouth-to-ear resuscurrection. Thus, we embody a complementarity that spans every degree of creation, from the lowdown downdest to the toppermost of the poppermost, and everything in between.

"Human life is untouchable because it is divine property" (ibid.). Which is why we can say to the state: get off my property! (Pre-emptive memo to trolls: yes, I know, but an unborn child is not the mother's property, or we are all someone's property, to be disposed of as they please. Unlike you, we don't make up the rules.)

"Both aspects, the divine dignity of the human race and the oneness of its origin and destiny, are definitively sealed in the figure of the second Adam," who "appears with total clarity." This is the authentic humanism on our side of the cosmic divide. All of the other so-called humanisms, regardless of how seductive, are manifestly false, for they cut themselves off at the roots.

For example, if man is nothing but a random accident enjoined by nature to pointlessly reproduce, he has no dignity and no value at all. He is but a pernicious disease of matter, a compulsively driven weiner with no cure short of extinction or a one week stay in rehab.

Here again, there is truth in this heresy, as man must indeed extinguish himself and be reborn. As a consequence of our freedom, there is always this fork in the road, one way leading to life, the other to death. Way it is. Or I AM, rather.

The stream of Western man bifurcated with modernity, as civilization "passed from an affirmation of the rights of freedom, detached from any objective reference to a common truth, to the destruction of the very foundation of this freedom" (ibid.). This was conspicuously untrue of America's founders, who were spiritually mature enough to anchor our liberty in ontology, not mere existence.

And this was simply the recognition that our rights "belong to man by nature, that the state recognizes them but does not confer them, and that they belong to all human beings as they are human beings and not because of secondary characteristics that others would have the right to determine arbitrarily" (ibid).

But "it is an illusion to think that man is in complete possession of himself, that he enjoys absolute freedom." Rather, because our sacred rights are a gift, they come with an obligation; or let us say a kind of reciprocity, or an open "vertical flow."

Thus, "conscience is the capacity to be open to the call of truth, which is objective, universal, the same for all who can and must seek it. It is not isolation but communion" (ibid., emphasis mine).

This brings us back to our opening question: is man the problem or the solution?

Well, he is both and neither, depending upon how -- or through what -- one looks at it. He is a problem insofar as he severs himself from his nonlocal ground, and supposes himself to be radically free and self-sufficient, which immediately reduces him to a cosmic nothing with no possibility of meaning.

But if the creation is "good" and it is good to be human, then it is human to be good -- or, more specifically, to be the cosmic eros shot into the transcendent realms of truth, beauty, goodness, and the One.