Monday, July 02, 2012

Quick Proof of God, Not that it's Necessary or Useful

I think I'll take a little unscheduled breather of indeterminate duration. I could be wrong, but I believe my brain is telling me it needs a break (if only Justice Roberts had listened to his brain before committing a blunder for the ages!). Plus, there doesn't seem to be all that much interest in our current line of attack on the celestial horizon, so I'm sure a new inspiration will come to me if I close the current windows and reboot.

Reader Magister left a provocative comment that is worth your contemplation:

"When I look at a chimp, a dolphin, or a dog, or any other creature that is intelligent, it is quite clear that the other creature is less than me. I like my dog, and have a sort of relationship with him, but in the end, he is not going to read MOTT with me, make love or music with me, or help me deal with issues. He's good at playing with a tennis ball and acts like a friendly pack animal. That's about it.

"In chimps there is great family resemblance, so there is indeed something haunting about their returned gaze. But my human sense of 'I' could not arise by prolonged interaction with a chimp. This can only happen with my mother, father, and other humans. With them the other gaze is a commensurate 'I,' which is the only gaze that can be a productive relation for building a sense of identity. What's more, if this interaction is loving and not harmful or smothering, it can be creative.

[I would just add that it is a necessary condition of creativity, and that all subsequent creativity mirrors this primordial dialectic between spontaneous expression and joyous reception and recognition.]

"At some point however even these human interactions will be incommensurate with our deepest longings, not because they lack value, but because they are limited in various ways, and so incommensurate with the scale of our desire for complete understanding and perfect relation. For that, we turn to God. The interaction with God alone is infinite, an ever-expanding mysterium of relation, and this alone satisfies and dissatisfies, leading us both inward, outward, and in every direction.

"Only God is adequate. We are built for the infinite, are groomed for the infinite, and are restless until we live with it in perfect union. Only at that point will our own "I" -- in all its expansions -- be complete.

"Is this another way of saying what this post is saying?"

My response:

Yes, more or less, although I would add an important caveat about human relations -- that there are "sacramental" human relations that serve as a vehicle for the divine grace, so they aren't merely "human" but divine; or, fully human because divine.

Otherwise, there are an infinite number of ways to say it, but you said it perfectly well (and each generation needs to say it anew, in relation to the accidents of science, history, and culture; also it has to be experienced, not just known, i.e., what we call [n] and not mere [k]).

Man is indeed uniquely proportioned to ultimate reality, so nothing short of ultimate reality is adequate to his ontological, epistemological, moral, spiritual and emotional needs.

As Schuon says, "Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing." There can be no middle ground: O or ø.

That last wise crack reminds me of something Captain Beefheart once said: "Yeah, I'm a genius, and there's not a thing I can do about it."

Schuon adds that "If it were necessary or useful to prove the Absolute, the objective and transpersonal character of the human intellect would be sufficient as evidence, for that same intellect testifies irrecusably to a purely spiritual first Cause, to a Unity infinitely central but containing all things, to an Essence at once immanent and transcendent."

Right? Right. Embarrassingly obvious when you stop to think about it.

So, "total Truth is inscribed, in an immortal script, in the very substance of our spirit."

You might say we are condemned to transcendence, which hints at the supreme irony of Crucifixion in its universal sense. There's no way around it. One can, however, fall short of it.

So dive into the deep end. You're gonna get wet anyway. Plus you might even float:


Blogger julie said...

If you're going to take a break, this seems like the perfect way to start it off.

Happy summer Bob, T & Mrs. G!

7/02/2012 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

I was enjoying this current line of posting.

I'm just not commenting much because I'm litigating too much.

7/02/2012 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Yep - what Julie said.

See ya when you're batteries have been recharged.

7/02/2012 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie Godwin said...

You, too, Julie...thanks!

Reading this post made me wonder about adult women who actually feel that dogs are their "furkids."

What Magister wrote about his dog is so obviously true. It's hard to imagine being in a frame of mind where I wouldn't notice it.

By the way, re. the girls are different from boys thing ... I had a good imagination but don't think I would have thought to ride a bike as fast as I could into a swimming pool.

Mrs. G

7/02/2012 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger swiftone said...

I too was enjoying this line. watching the eyes of the infant grand daughter... who alternates between laughter and shrieks (ugh!) But mostly the line of writing has made me thoughtful instead of loquatious.

7/02/2012 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Me three on the enjoyment. I've been going through some benign upheaval; even when I have the slack, there just isn't much brain left over to say anything.

Leslie - yeah, I never would have thought of the trike in the pool, either. But I bet the boys in my family would have, given the chance :)

Re. The dogs, I've often wondered about that, too. We had dogs before kids, and in some ways they were good practice for parenthood, but we never once thought of them as our "children," and it always creeped me out a bit when people (usually at the pet store or the vet) referred to us as their "parents." Interestingly, in Japan where people aen't bothering to have kids, the popularity of pet-centered luxury services is growing by leaps and bounds; not only are they replacing child-rearing with pet care, they're spoiling the pets far beyond anything that would be even remotely appropriate for human children. Much less for animals.

7/02/2012 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

On the one hand, spoiling the pet represents charity held firmly under wraps, because while the pet can challenge your personality (perhaps making you more generous, getting you out of the house more), it can't interact with you *about* that challenge. Your relation with it remains ineluctably dyadic, not triadic.

A professor friend I left behind in another city has been single all her life and is about to enter her sixties. For over a decade, she's had enormous dogs in her house. Her care for these strays is astonishing, amazingly expensive, extending even to cancer treatment. She calls them her "kids." To any outside observer, she'd look like the eccentric dog lady mentioned in psychiatric literature. But I know her very well, and she's completely sane, self-aware. The dogs keep her active, engaged in the world of other dog-lovers, etc. She knows they're surrogates for the children she's never had.

Spiritually, the dogs are an outlet for her caritas, which is powerful and deep. She hasn't met someone she could trust to be that outlet for her. The dogs are controllable simulacra. They're loyal. They don't challenge her with agendas. They don't mind her politics. They are simply pressure valves for her deep desire to love something. This is coping. Recently, the longest-lived dog died, the cancerous one. She had already bought another.

Her case I think is about the risk of trusting human relation in general, and I think even she'd admit that. As a social phenomenon, I think we'll see more of this. As the Absolute recedes as an option for people, surrogate relations will abound and have their upward arc for a while. But then, like all things held aloft by human effort, they will crash.

Not to worry, though. Our kids will interact with sophisticated robots.

And we all know robots don't die.

7/02/2012 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Naugfish said...

Do what you must to recharge your batteries and I will continue to check by every day as I have been doing for the last 7 years or so. With your book and with you and your blog as my mentor I feel as if I've been on the express elevator to the top. I've often thought of commenting but since I've been changing so quickly everything I was thinking yesterday now seems irrelevant and sometimes silly.
And a shout out to all of you seriously great commenters -- and you know who you are.

7/02/2012 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Magister, your comment reminds me of Clifford Simak's City, one of my science fiction favorites. It comes down to the dogs and the robots to carry on humanity.

Enjoy your break, Dear Leader and family.

7/02/2012 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...


7/02/2012 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger JWM said...

I haven't dropped a comment here in a long time, although I still stop by often. Hope all here are well and enjoying life. Take a break, and recharge? Yes, I believe that's why we have summer.


7/02/2012 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

If anyone is sniffing around for some light summer reading, here's something that may be of interest.
Jonathan Rogers is currently hosting a summer reading club on Flannery O’Connor. He has just started Week 5, and the series will continue until the end of August.

7/03/2012 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Time to get back in slack?
Good idea.

7/03/2012 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Well, the Voegelin book found its way to my hand by way of ( I've been mostly amiss from being technically able to read OC - my computer plug is hopefully temporarily broken) magnetic iron attraction last night. Later I looked up "'One Cosmos' Voegelin" in Google and found the recent discussions. Somehow the rotational cycle of give and take goes on. I had been looking for books by another "V" fellow at Powell's (the "largest independent new and used bookstore in the world" in Portland, so it's a dependably variable and pretty rich ecosystem of books going in and out), didn't find any, walked away, about ten paces, stopped, turned around, and thought, "Maybe there is something else that is important there." (...specifically, literally in the tiny space between Vi and Vo, somehow, as odd as that might sound.) I went back, and a thin little book caught my attention... I skimmed it, noticed certain key persuasions and topics and was *delighted* with the find (to make a longer story short.) Anyway, the hallways of progress continue... Onward!

Btw, from what I've skimmed of late, it seems that it has been *very interesting* lately, actually.

7/03/2012 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"I think I'll take a little unscheduled breather of indeterminate duration."

Sigh. Why am I always a day late for the changing of the seasons?

"... I could be wrong, but I believe my brain is telling me it needs a break (if only Justice Roberts had listened to his brain before committing a blunder for the ages!).

If only he had done that, he might have avoided Chief Justice Roberts judgment against Article 3, Section 1 of the Constitution.

"...Plus, there doesn't seem to be all that much interest in our current line of attack on the celestial horizon, so I'm sure a new inspiration will come to me if I close the current windows and reboot."

Lots of interest... very little time - or too much time with too little Slack.

7/03/2012 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Right? Right. Embarrassingly obvious when you stop to think about it.

So, "total Truth is inscribed, in an immortal script, in the very substance of our spirit.""

It truly is, and amazes me how it rings true in contemplating it.

And it ties back to Magister's point about gazing into the eye of your pet... they can return your gaze, but only so deep, and no further... like a sketch in comparison to the painting - you can see that they are pictures of the same scene, but the comparison can go no further between the two.

7/03/2012 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Leslie said "By the way, re. the girls are different from boys thing ... I had a good imagination but don't think I would have thought to ride a bike as fast as I could into a swimming pool."

Um... when he's about 11-13? If your roof is within five feet of your pool? Boys still have that thought, but... bigger. Might want to carefully mention that riding a bike off the roof into the pool leaves skid marks on the sides & bottom of the pool that take a long, long time to scrub off.

Just sayin'.

BTW, love the 'Spy vs. Spy'!

7/03/2012 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

“Between painting a roof yesterday and the hay
harvest tomorrow, a holiday in the woods
under the grooved trunks and branches, the roof
of leaves lighted and shadowed by the sky.
As America from England, the woods stands free
from politics and anthems. So in the woods I stand
free, knowing my land. My country, ‘tis of the
drying pools along Camp Branch I sing
where the water striders walk like Christ,
all sons of God, and of the woods grown old
on the stony hill where the thrush’s song rises
in the light like a curling vine and the bobwhite’s
whistle opens in the air, broad and pointed as a leaf.”

Wendell Berry, “Independence Day”
Happy Fourth of July y'all.

7/04/2012 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Slack on, Bob!

Those are great pics of FL. He sure exudes a lot of joy! :^)

7/07/2012 02:16:00 AM  

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