Don't Look a Gift Cosmos in the Mouth
But that hardly makes the relationship any less real, for it can only be sundered by death of one of the principles. In other words, like its terrestrial analogue, the union of Mr. Truth and Mrs. Love -- or absolute and infinite, in a manner of speaking -- shall last until death do they part.
Now, husband and wife only come into being upon the new condition of marriage. What was a man now becomes a husband, even though it is the same man. And man-woman is not the same as husband-wife, any more than consecrated bread is mere bread.
Likewise, truth-love is not the same as truth and/or love alone. For example, what is a love based on lies? Is it really love when we love an illusion? Or is that just narcissism by proxy?
And is it possible for a person who hates the world -- and his life along with it (which amount to the same thing) -- to know the truth of things? Or does hatred and bitterness exile one from reality?
Can someone who hates America -- say, Noam Chomsky -- really understand anything about it? What about (presumably) less extreme haters, such as our current president? As his bitter half said, ours is a country that is "just downright mean" and "guided by fear."
Really? I won't argue the point. What is more interesting is that this is no doubt how she truly perceives things, because this is who she is: narrow, bigoted, ungrateful, and more than a little thick. So thick that one laments the unfairness of a system that eases such a defective intellect through its most elite universities, just so liberals-of-palor can feel good about themselves. But it is not good to feel good about a lie, since this implicitly sunders the above-noted relationship between love and truth.
I can't help contrasting this with Chesterton, whose spiritual biography I just read. Whatever else he was, this was a Happy Man in love with the world.
Conversely, the ranks of the left are filled with unhappy people who detest the world and want to change it into something it isn't -- and man into something he can never be. The conundrum for the leftist is how to hate the world "enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing" (Chesterton).
You cannot simultaneously love this country and want to "fundamentally transform" it, as Obama promised. If you don't believe me, try saying it to your wife, and see how it goes over: "honey, I love you. But I sure wish you were someone else."
The most perfect system dreamt up by the left cannot redeem man, first, because it will have been dreamt up by a man, and second, because any system that requires perfect people in order to function is doomed to failure. In contrast, our wise founders devised a political system based upon man as we actually find him, not as we wish him to be. This is appropriate skepticism, in contrast to the ubiquitous combination of cynicism and gullibility found in the left.
The reason we divide state power is to prevent anyone from acquiring it undiluted. Not for nothing do liberal fascists such as Obama or Thomas Friedman envy the freedom of the Chinese autocrat to do as he pleases.
Chesterton's gratitude extended not just to his nation, but to all of creation: "You should not look a gift universe in the mouth." Yes, you -- you who "criticize the cosmos / And borrow a skull and a tongue to do it with"!
And you, who superciliously vilify the nation that has beclowned your head with worthless but remunerative degrees from Princeton and Harvard to lend an egregious prestige to your screeching impeachment!
Way before he was a Christian, Chesterton was in love with the world, with "the tremendous Everything that is anywhere." Two things one can say about this: yes, he was a Christian, he just didn't know it; or, this attitude is precisely why he was attracted to a world view that reflected his view of the world:
"The spike of dogma fitted exactly into the hole in the world -- it had evidently been meant to go there -- and then a strange thing began to happen. When once these two parts... had come together, one after another, all the other parts fitted and fell in with eerie exactitude.... Instinct after instinct was answered by doctrine after doctrine."
Isn't that a perfect description of the Way It Is? Or do I speak only for myphilo and itsoph?
Here is another subtle point raised by Chesterton: none of us, when we assent to a "theory of life," do so because it has been "proven" to us with mere logic. That's just not the way the world works. For example, no one accepts natural selection because he has personally examined all the empirical evidence and concluded that the theory is true.
Rather, such a person -- myself included -- provisionally accepts the general theory because it does a good job of tying a lot of disparate phenomena together and making sense of things. But do I therefore accept it as a universal law that explains everything about life -- and more to the point, about human existence? Of course not. Only a terribly cramped soul could ever do that.
It is the same with a theology. Like Chesterton, I never accepted religion and then deployed it as a kind of cognitive grid to superimpose upon reality. Rather, I simply had experiences and insights that were not only mirrored in Christian tradition (surprising enough); but then that tradition provided an even deeper and richer framework to organize the phenomena (which it also generated more of).
As Chesterton notes, "A stick might fit a hole or a stone a hollow by accident. But a lock and a key are both complex. And if a key fits a lock, you know it is the right key."
Chesterton wrote about these matters in such a congenial and informal way, that it is easy to not take him seriously. But that is exactly how it is: I first discovered this interior horizon of contours, of dimensions, of lights and shadows; and then I stumbled upon this key -- that obviously pre-existed me and my so-called discoveries -- that corresponds perfectly to the lock. How freaky is that!
So you cannot "prove" Christianity in the usual way; it cannot be illuminated from the outside, because it illuminates everything else, from the inside out.
And of course, we do not mean to exclude our Jewish friends, who have no doubt had an analogous experience (as I too have had, having a foot, or at least several toes, in that camp).
Better stop now... to be continued...