Rational Animals and Opinionated Apes
In other words, he has freedom and he has intelligence, but these two would be literally meaningless in the absence of an object or end. Without an end, knowledge redounds to mere opinion, while freedom reduces to drifting, loitering, or tenure. Instead of a Rational Animal, man devolves to an Opinionated Ape.
Thus Sheed's reminder that, "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."
My father wasn't a churchgoing man, but he would have agreed with the foregoing principles, although he might have formulated them as:
"Do you really expect me to believe that? And don't tell me you didn't know it was wrong." In other words, he put a premium on man's innate capacity to distinguish right from wrong, with no lame excuses.
But as we have discussed in the past, it is man's very capacity for truth that renders him capable of issuing lame excuses. Look at Obama. He, of all people, knows exactly what went down in Benghazi -- just as I, as a six year-old, knew exactly what had gone down with the paint brush and motor oil. The ridiculous lies are a reflection of that simple fact.
Of course, if he were candid, Obama would tell you that he couldn't disclose the truth about Benghazi because it would have threatened his candidacy and therefore placed his entire agenda in jeopardy. The problem there is that his agenda is an even bigger Lie. The biggest, even.
To paraphrase Churchill, truth is sometimes so precious that it requires a bodyguard of lies. More frequently, the Lie is so precious to the liar that it requires a bodyguard of more trivial lies. These are like the flying monkeys that protect the witch.
I just read a book, Stalin's Secret Agents, that documents the shocking extent of Soviet penetration into the Roosevelt government. His administration was full of liars who were able to affect policy in a way favorable to the Soviet Union, most conspicuously at Yalta.
Perhaps even more sinister is when the Lie is accompanied by a bodyguard of trivial truths. This kind of misdirection is another of the left's specialties, and they rely upon it to distract us from what they're actually doing to us behind the curtain.
Speaking of massive lies, I've been receiving a lot of vertical memos lately about the need to confront these in a systematic way. Religion is supposed to do this, but often fails for precisely the reasons articulated by Sheed: it doesn't adequately address climate change -- i.e., the disastrous spiritual cooling of modern man.
But if you have a spiritually infused intellect, you shouldn't see the world the way the flatlanders do -- and not just because you superimpose some byte of dogma over it. In the end, that's hardly better than superimposing any other ideology over reality, as does the left.
Sheed writes that it is not sufficient to simply see "what other people see, plus certain features taught us by our religion." We can't just see the same meaningless world with a few religious patches here and there. This approach is very easy to lampoon. I used to do it myself.
Sheed uses the example of a person with beautiful eyes. Remove one of them and serve it on a plate, and it's no longer beautiful. It's the same eye. What gives?
"The eye needs to be seen in the face; its beauty, its meaning, its usefulness all come from its position in the face; and one who had seen eyes only on plates would never really have known them at all, however minutely he might have examined the eye thus unhappily removed from its living context."
Now, religion is here to provide the ultimate context within which everything is situated. That context is, in a word, God. Science, of course, rips things out of their context in order to analyze and study them. Which is generally fine, so long as one doesn't forget the ripping part.
The lower something is on the scale of being, the less we care about the ripping. For example, no harm is done by studying bacteria in a petrie dish.
But imagine a study in which we ripped children from their mothers in order to investigate the effects of broken attachment. What repels us about Soviet or Nazi science is precisely this ripping of humans from their human context. One could say the same of abortion.
In order to engage in the ripping without guilt, the contextual support of a bigger Lie is necessary, e.g., Marxism or anti-Semitism or scientism. It was the same with American slavery, which wasn't originally racist in character. Rather, like all slavery everywhere, it just was, i.e., a sad fact of life.
Only when slavery came under attack in the 19th century did the slaveholders need to come up with a bodyguard of racist lies in order to protect the institution. It reminds me of how no one ever heard of the "war on women" until it became necessary for Obama to protect an even bigger Lie. Likewise, the doctrine of "diversity" wasn't invented until leftists needed a smokescreen for state-mandated racial discrimination.
Is the person who falls for the Lie culpable? Of course, unless he is literally mentally incapacitated. Intelligence has responsibilities, obviously. More on this later.
So: "Nothing is rightly seen save in the totality to which it belongs; no part of the Universe is rightly seen save in relation to the whole" (ibid).
Which is why it must be One Cosmos Under O, because "the Universe cannot be seen as whole unless one sees God as the Source of the existence of every part of it and the center by relation to which every other part is related to every other."
In other words, only verticality accounts for a coherent, spatially and temporally articulated horizontality; or hierarchy and purpose.
The alternative to this is the pneumapathological condition of spiritual autism, in which nothing is seen in its proper relation to anything else: God to man, man to woman, individual to collective, human to animal, adult to child, etc., etc., etc.
Here is a perfect description of spiritual autism: "The man who does not see God may have vast knowledge of this or that section of being, but he is like a man who should know all about the eye, having never seen a face.... He sees nothing quite right because he sees nothing in its context" (ibid).
This is literally the case in psychological autism, in which the face is not "seen," only its unrelated parts. And since it is not seen, the autistic person is barred from the interior life of the person behind the face.
In an analogous way, the spiritual autistic is exiled from the interior reality of things, the "inscapes" of being. He can know nothing of the phase before he was bearthed and begaialed.
Having said that, it is actually quite rare to find an individual so spiritually impaired that he cannot experience the withinness of things.
It's just that in the absence of proper education and refinement, he descends into various idolatries such as radical environmentalism, "art for art's sake," or some other sentimentalized faux religion. He gets a bit of the warmth (without which life would be unlivable) but none of the Light.
Therefore, he has access to the within, but doesn't get anywhere with it. Without a map -- not to mention the winds of grace -- he just randomly floats around the ocean bewilderness.
When you spend your time just floating, you shouldn't be surprised that your nonlocal muscles atrophy and you fall victim to vertical gravity.
But just like its terrestrial analogue, the gravity is there to help you. It provides the resistance needed in order to engage in your daily gymgnostics and verticalisthenic exorcise of mind parasites, with the longterm fitness goal of increasing your cosmic levity.
But right now I gotta float off to work. To be continued....