Old Milk in New Bottles
It's a little like that distant-but-close boundary of death -- and why we can't find out something only dead men know, or buy back the beat of a heart grown cold (referring again to the Prophet Bob -- no, not me, the one with all the honors).
The infinite "presents itself to us in the mode of withdrawal, of silence, of distance, of being always inexpressible, so that speaking of it, if it is to make sense, always requires listening to its silence" (Rahner).
It is what the rabbis mean when they refer to the Torah as words of black fire written on pages of white fire, i.e., finitude on infinitude -- or perhaps relatively-absolute on absolutely-absolute.
Also, note that as we expand, the wild frontier of the godhead recedes but doesn't shrink or contract. Which is why the cosmic bus has a "way" but no end. The map is straight but the roads are crooked.
In euclidean space the expansion of one sector comes at the expense of the one adjacent.
But in this higher-dimensional non-euclidean space, as we expand, so too does God. This is why atheists have such a tiny godling, and why it is so easy for them to understand and reject their imaginary fiend.
This whole approach ensures that God is always our measure, not vice versa. If we are God's measure, then God is not God. We are.
In reality, we exist by way of analogy to God, not the converse. But for this very reason, you can learn a lot about God by studying his highest and most complete creature.
Speaking of which, the Bible is much more interested in vertical than horizontal creation, an area of confusion for both believers and infidels.
When it comes to horizontal creation, we're happy to accept whatever tentative conclusions science comes up with -- so long as they don't take the word "creation" literally, since nothing can't actually create anything but more nothing. Obviously, only someOne can make something of nothing.
But vertical creation takes place not once upon a time, but always upin a timeless. It doesn't "point back to an earlier moment in time at which the creation of the creature in question took place" (Rahner).
Rather, it is "an ongoing and always actual process which for every existent is taking place now just as much as at an earlier point of time," although "extended in time" (ibid.).
If you need a visual, imagine a sort of (↳) movement. A universe of pure (→) is a metaphysical absurdity. Understand this, and you have sufficient proof of the Creator.
When we say we have a "relationship" to God, we need to look a little closer at this word, relationship. For it is easy enough to understand how we have relations with our equals (other humans) and lesser beings (animals, liberals, and material objects). But how do we relate to that which infinitely transcends us?
By way of analogy, how does a circle relate to a sphere? The circle can think to himself, "I understand the sphere. It's a humongous circle, the biggest one we can imagine!" Or, "it's like the giant circle that surrounds us!" Or, "it's like a circle, only with no outer boundary."
This is an example of how imagination can betray us when try to use it to think of higher things. Just like the subphysical world, the supraphysical world is intelligible but not imaginable.
Intellect and the imagination are very different faculties. Imagination can of course aid intellect, but for most people in the modern world -- especially the educated -- imagination has displaced intellect (for example, via ideology, idiolatry, and plain idiocy).
I recently read a book by an author who is so clear, he could be the anti-Rahner. He's a bit like Josef Pieper, who wrote with such clarity but without sacrificing depth or subtlety or giving me a headache.
I'm referring to Theology and Sanity, by F.J. Sheed.
The author shares the laughty goal of this blog, which you might call Sanity with a capital S. In other words, not the contingent and ultimately meaningless sanity of anthropologists, psychologists, and historians, but the true sanity of the coonical pslackologist, which connotes radical adjustment to WHAT IS. Cosmic sanity, baby.
Funny that sanity and sanctity are only one letter apart. Or that insane and in sin are so close.
"Just as loving what is good is sanctity, or the health of the will, so seeing what is there is sanity, or the health of the intellect" (Sheed).
In the introduction, Sheed is almost apologetic for focusing on the intellect instead of the will, but he has actually hit on the main stumbling block for most people in the modern west (and this was some 65 years ago): that they genuinely cannot wrap their minds around religion but can only submit to what they don't really understand.
In a way, it's like the difference between children and adults. In the formation of a child's soul, you first have to work on the will, because they don't understand enough to reach them through the intellect. But as they grow, it becomes increasingly possible to speak to them of principles and abstract truths.
Milk and meat.
Not much time this morning. To be continued.