Monday, December 10, 2012

Ask Not What Being Can Do For You

Not much time this morning. We had a zero dark thirty projectile vomiting situation, so I got a late start. Amazing what a boy can do in his sleep. Only lightning reflexes spared me from a worse fate.

Is it possible for man to be at home in the Cosmos?

Yes and no.

First of all, think of how that question doesn't arise for other animals, which cannot transcend their immediate environment.

A dog knows nothing whatsoever of a cosmos; or, its cosmos consists of nothing beyond the orderly succession of meals, walks, naps, and the like.

And so long as that pleasurable order is maintained, the dog will have no complaints -- similar to how the grazing 47% have no complaints about Obama.

But a man who is adapted only to his immediate surroundings is hardly a man. Rather, in a very important sense, man is never adapted to the environment, and is constantly trying to break out of it with questions, abstractions, theories, myths, rituals, drugs, etc.

Think of how slaveowners didn't want their slaves to learn how to read, because they didn't want them to even conceive of the wider psychospiritual world beyond the plantation.

Same with the slaves of North Korea, and, to an increasingly shocking extent, the passive American humanoids whose mental horizons don't extend beyond the academic rantations of the left.

No wonder Obama wants to drive literature from the classroom, as it has always been one of the great windows on the wider world.

Then again, if students are just going to be exposed to leftist subhumanities anyway for the sake of "diversity," it hardly matters if they read that kind of wet excrement or Obama's dry executive orders.

Now, sanity, according to Sheed, "involves seeing what is."

That is a fine definition, but the first question a dishonest man -- or the aspiring sophist -- will ask is: is, in relation to what?

And this innocent sounding question is the loophole that has been discovered by the secular left, which allows them to affirm that nobody is insane except for those who believe somebody is.

In other words, the left, in their denial of God as the source and vector of transcendence, has devolved to the infrahuman notion of sanity as nothing more than conformity to the environment (e.g., "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter").

There is no privileged perspective outside this or that environment that permits one to make any objective judgments about sanity as such, because any such judgment will just be another conditioned perspective, undoubtedly rooted in power or self-justification.

Ultimately, we can say that in the absence of God, there can be no such thing as sanity -- including moral sanity. There can be no answers to our incessant "why" questions, and the sooner you stop asking them, the saner you will be. From a Darwinian standpoint, such ultimate questions are pure noise, with no possible answers.

Here is a perfect aphorism by Goethe: "Every epoch which is in the process of retrogression and disintegration is subjective, but all progressive epochs have an objective trend."

Which is why we can state with certainty that self-styled "progressives" are objectively disordered -- or insane if you like.

I don't want to pretend I spent the weekend hanging out with the venerable Goethe. Rather, that quote is from a typically lucid little book by Pieper called Living the Truth.

The book actually consists of two separate works, one on Truth, the other on the Good. But he links the two in such a way that one can see how human goodness is entirely dependent upon truth: ought must be rooted in is, or you will inevitably end up doing what you oughtn't.

As soon as you think about it, it's a little obvious, isn't it? Obama, for example, has done all sorts of things he oughtn't have done. Why? Because he has never been exposed to any Is other than that which he assimilated from his leftist professors in college.

Thus, like so many others who have spent too much time in the looniversity bin, "everything President Obama 'knows' about American history comes from left-wing academics like American University professor Peter Kuznick."

In short, Obama's Is isn't. Not even close.

Pieper sums it up very neatly: "All obligation is based upon being. Reality is the foundation of ethics. The good is that which is in accord with reality."

As such, "he who wishes to know and do the good must turn his gaze upon the objective world of being. Not upon his own 'ideas,' not upon his 'conscience,' not upon 'values,' not upon arbitrarily established 'ideals' and 'models.' He must turn away from [these] and fix his eyes upon reality."

Or, as my good friend Goethe once quipped, "All laws and moral principles may be reduced to one -- the truth."

Friday, December 07, 2012

Mystery and How it Gets that Way

"Our minds remain finite," writes Sheed, "and so can never wholly contain the infinite."

But this hardly means the infinite is completely unthinkable. Rather, the interpenetration of finite and infinite "accounts for the existence of what we call Mysteries in religion." Mystery is a term of art, not an evasion, much less an unseemly case of furiously deepaking one's chopra in public.

The Raccoon Glishary defines mystery as an orthoparadox, which, translated literally, means "straight-up freaky."

It is analogous to the complementarity principle in quantum physics. When the human mind attempts to visualize the quantum world, an irreducible paradox results in the form of a wave of vacuous new age books that nevertheless sell much better than mine.

Now, just because the quantum world is paradoxical, it doesn't mean you can't know anything about it. To put it inversely, if there is no Absolute, then man's stupidity is infinite, and I couldn't have sold even one copy.

A Mystery is not like "a high wall that we can neither see over nor get around," but rather, more like "a gallery into which we can progress deeper and deeper, though we can never reach the end -- yet every step of our progress is immeasurably satisfying."

Can we get an I-witness?

A Mystery is not a Keep Out! sign but "an invitation to the mind." There is an intrinsic attraction to them -- a subjective correlate to our being in the presence of the Great Attractor -- signaling our proximity to "an inexhaustible well of Truth from which the mind may drink and drink again in the certainty that the well will never run dry, that there will always be water for the mind's thirst."

(This goes directly to the transfinite and hyperdimensional "religious sense" we will soon be discussing, I'll bet.)

You know the wise crack, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink," and then "out of your heart will flow rivers of living water." Can we get a wetness? You bet! Especially those of you in the first few rows.

Again, as with the complementarity principle -- which is much more generalized than the average person realizes -- "any given Mystery resolves itself (for our minds, of course, not in its own reality) into two truths which which we cannot see how to reconcile."

Example?

Oh, I can think of any number of orthoparadoxes that arise just from the human condition, in which we are material animals with immaterial spirits.

Well, which one is it then? Animal or spirit? Christianity has always insisted that it is both. Indeed, this may be traced all the way back to Genesis, in which man is a lump of clay in-spired by the Breath of Life.

Any attempt to resolve this orthoparadox -- say, by insisting that man is fundamentally no different from any other animal -- results in a spiritual catastrophe.

At the other extreme is the attempt to "be as God," but the result is the same because the one reduces to the other. In other words, if there is no God, then man is Him, and vice versa.

Or think of how we have an essence that is nevertheless deployed in time, so that our being paradoxically "becomes," and the point of life is to become who you already are.

More generally, I think a bonedry conundrum can be elevated to a thirst-quenching Mystery if we merely invert the cosmos, and put it back right-side up.

If we truly understand that the cosmos is a tree with its nonlocal roots aloft and convenient local branches down below, we suddenly find ourselves "inside" the mystery, instead of being on the outside looking in, or just another prick in the wall.

Sheed mentions several religious mysteries, such as how it is that One can be Three, and vice versa; how Christ can have two natures in one person, or be all God and all man; or how we can possess free will in the face of divine omniscience. One could cite countless others.

I remember a discussion with a distant family member when I was working on my book. Now that I think about it, this was almost exactly eleven years ago, in early 2001. Seems like another lifetome!

Although he was a good-natured, rank-and-file flatlander with no religious instruction, he surprised me, in that he immediately "got" some of the more esoteric and orthoparadoxical elements of the book, and why they had to be that way -- for example, the continuity/discontinuity of the chapters, the inspiraling circularity, and most especially the inability of normal cutandry & wideawake language to contain the Mystery.

I remember explaining to him that the "ultimate answer" was analogous to pi, which he again fully appreciated (probably because he was unburdened by preconceptions, whether scientistic or religious).

Pi is quite definitely and unambiguously the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. And yet, it is irreducibly ambiguous and "transmeasurable," so to speak. It's not that you can't measure it, rather, that you can measure it forever without ever reaching

the end

(all quoted material from Theology and Sanity)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Intolerable Disparity in Spiritual Wealth

When an irresistible force such as you / Meets an old immovable object like me / You can bet just as sure as you live / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give --Francis Albert

When an irrepressible force such as his meets an implacable heart such as ours, the result is what we call a mystery.

And what is a mystery? It is a necessary consequence of the finite's inexorable attempts to contain the infinite. The infinite is the container, the matrix, the womb, symbolized ♀. Obviously, the contained (symbolized ♂) can never contain that which contains it, although Mary came the closest.

But still we try. Which leads to two big mistakes, the first of which is imagining one has succeeded. This obviously occurs in such anti-intellectual doctrines as atheism, metaphysical Darwinism, and scientism, but also in any ideology more generally. An ideologue always imagines his little ♂ can fill the big mamamatrix of ♀.

In the above case, ♀ (the infinite container) is reduced to ♂ (the finite). The opposite error is to elevate ♂ to ♀, which is what many unreflective and unphilosophical religious types do. It's not nearly as damaging as the first error, unless it is backed by state violence, as in the Islamic world. To paraphrase Sheed, it is always possible to be ignorant and virtuous, even if ignorance is not a virtue.

But in either case, whenever ♂ is divorced from ♀ and then assumes state power, the result is hell on earth, whether in the Islamic world or in the atheistic paradises of communism and National Socialism. Obama's form of socialism is just a slow-motion version of the same psychopneumatic pathology.

Speaking of which, I want to call on Sheed's Theology and Sanity to further explicate this felicitous conjunction of finite, infinite, and mystery. I don't remember what he said about it, but I remember being impressed with his clarity. And sanity.

First of all, it is a matter of intellect and the proper functioning thereof (or again, of sanity). It is the task of intellect "to explore Reality and make its home in it." And we all want a happy home.

But I can't think of a time in history when there has been such a disparity in spiritual wealth, with so many Americans living in the undignified hovels constructed in the public education system prick by prick, others living in grand mansions not built by hands over the centuries. This should be intolerable in a democracy.

The problem begins with a deeply anti-intellectual school system that, instead of nurturing the intellect, denies and extinguishes it. Afterwards, upon attaining chronological adulthood, the only task that remains is getting these ciphers to their polling places in order to ratify their masters and wait for their goody bag from the state.

"The result is that when any matter arises which is properly the job of the intellect, then either nothing gets done at all, or else the imagination leaps in and does it instead." This latter is the province of academia and journalism, when these two have devolved to being tools of the state.

Imagination is fine, so long as it knows its subordinate place in the psyche. But if it doesn't know its place, then it easily dominates the intellect. When this occurs, the imagination puffs itself up with an unearned and worthless intellectual pride. You know the type. It's one of the reasons leftists are so annoying.

So, "imagination plays a part in the mind's affairs totally out of proportion to its merits, so out of proportion to its merits... as to suggest some long-standing derangement in man's nature" (Sheed).

One is tempted here to agree with the left that this is a malady that is especially virulent in females, who are so captive to their imaginations that they will fall for the first politician who offers them sex without consequences, whereas white males are somehow immune to their frivolous and imagination-infused appeals to "free" contraception and the like. But this is not what we believe.

Rather, the Fall is general, and there is no exemption for race or gender or class. Furthermore, the temptation is always there, and we must resist imagination's constant attempts to saturate our psychopneumatic space with some kind of finite formula. The "eleventh commandment" of Raccoons is that we are forbidden under any circumstance to deepak the chopra.

Now, God, the infinite, is unimaginable. This is axiomatic, and if people could just remember it (i.e., the Second Commandment), it would keep them out of a lot of trouble. This includes atheists, who, when they "disprove" their idea of God, imagine they have disproved the unimaginable. But this is impossible, obviously.

However, to say that God is unimaginable is not to say he is inconceivable.

Here again is where the intellect comes in, because the intellect routinely deals with unimaginable realities that are nevertheless conceivable, such as the square root of negative one, or the unvisualizable world of quantum physics, or the big bang. If these evoke a picture in your head, the picture is wrong, just a displacement from the ponderable world of matter.

Thus, "to complain that a spiritual thing is unimaginable would be like complaining that the air is invisible." Air is merely "beyond the reach of one particular sense, namely sight, because it lacks color." And "Spirit is beyond the reach of all the senses (and so of imagination) because it lacks all material qualities" (Sheed).

However, like the wind, you can certainly see, or feel, or hear, the effects of the spirit, i.e., the windy siddhis.

So: "the reality of any spiritual statement must be tested by the intellect, not by the imagination." Yes: test those spirits! For many of them are just demons, zombies, wannabes, professors, etc.

Sheed makes an important point about faith, that it essentially asks us to accept certain saving truths that an intellect "grown flabby with disuse" might be inclined to reject: "Thinking is very hard, and imagining is very easy, and we are very lazy. We have fallen into the habit of using imagination as a crutch, and our intellects have almost lost the habit of walking" (Sheed).

But once you begin engaging in your daily verticalesthenics and gymnostics, you start to lose the flab. And "once the intellect is doing its own work properly, it can use the imagination most fruitfully; and the imagination will find new joy in the service of a vital intellect" (ibid.).

Then, brother, you've got a happy home in your head, with a harmonious and swingin' relationship between ♂ to ♀.

Fight fight fight it with all of your might / Chances are that some heavenly star-spangled night / We'll find out just as sure as we live / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I Pledge Adherence to the Flight into the United Space of Amorica

What do you call an animal who breaks into the luminous space of transcendentality through which he then actualizes his spiritual essence in time?

Hmm. How about Adam?

To paraphrase Rahner, this is a dynamic transcendentality which doesn't merely exist but takes place. Thus, the God <--> man encounter is an event; this event not only requires history to play out, but ultimately is what we call history.

This is an important consideration if we are to exercise due diligence and examine Christianity all the way down to the foundations, because "something historical" -- since it is relative and fleeting -- "seems by definition incapable of making absolute claims of any kind" (ibid.).

Furthermore, "if the whole history of creation is already borne by God's self-communication in this very creation, then there does not seem to be anything else which can take place on God's part" (ibid.).

You know, I created this endlessly fascinating cosmos, I brought you into existence from nothing, I gave you a mind and a conscience and women and grog. What else do you want from me? Immortality?

Well, now that you mention it...

Clearly, history itself is the history of transcendentality, which is why animals have no history. Rather, they have only genes. Which is what evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists would like us to believe about man.

But in reality, man's discovery of evolution is a part of, and embedded in, his prior transcendentality.

To put it in plain english, our transcendence contains Darwinism. The converse is impossible and quite literally unthinkable, for if we are contained by Darwinism, there is no conceivable exit from that closed løøp, nor would we have any understanding whatsoever of what contains Darwinism, i.e. Spirit. As Petey says, if Truth doesn't exist, man could never know it.

The bottom line is that "wherever we really find a being of absolute transcendence... there we find a man with freedom, with self-determination, and with an immediate boundary with absolute mystery," with O. If you know about O, then you're a man. And if you don't know, or have forgotten or denied O, then you've only sawed off the branch that connects you to reality. Nice work, assoul.

It reminds me a little of being an American citizen. America is the only nation defined by a transcendental ideal, so we don't care if you're black, white, male, female, rich, poor, whatever. If you believe the ideal, then you're in: congratulations, you've exited the wilderness of nature. Let us be the first to welcome you to your bewilderness adventure in history!

(Suffice it to say we're speaking of the ideal here, not the primitive rebarbarization of the reactionary left.)

This is such an important point, because it again goes to the whole project of the left, which cuts at the very root of what man is. It goes lightyears beyond the noisy buzz of politics, all the way down to ʘntology, and beyond!

But at any rate, wherever this transcendentality is absent, "what we call 'man' in a philosophical and Christian and theological sense did not exist, however similar this being may have been in other respects."

Thus, if you're an animal who penetrates into the transcendent -- and so long as you can afford the $1.50 initiation fee -- then we don't care if you have a tusk, a tail, a trunk, or a tree for a house, you're a Raccoon, so you're in. Of course, thus far only a Homo sapiens with a public school diploma fulfills the criteria, but you never know.

To paraphorize G.C. Lichtenberg, the cosmos is a mirror. Therefore, when an ape looks in, no apostle looks out. In fact, trolls who are on the threshold of consciousness will dimly recognize that the same holds true of these posts: when a such a prehuman looks in, no Raccoon looks out. Your inane comments can only confirm this deeper truth.

So, we have a history. And so too does God. We call it "salvation history." Salvation history is the chronicle -- chronos meaning time -- of the ahistorical object (or subject) as it relates to time and history. From our side, it manifests in encounters with the self-revealing God; you could even say that history as such is a necessary artifact of God-consciousness.

In this way -- and only in this way -- history becomes the cure for the problems created by history. At the same time, man attempts to cure the problems created by man in history, but it seems that the only final solution is for God himself to "become the problem," i.e., to incarnate.

Of the latter, Rahner writes that "Not until the full and unsurpassable event of the historical self-objectification of God's self-communication to the world in Jesus Christ do we have an event which... fundamentally and absolutely precludes any historical corruption or any distorted interpretation in the further history of categorical revelation and of false religion."

Theoretically, of course. Man is still free to mess things up.

A housekeeping gnote: our next topic of discussion will be the writings of Luigi Giussani, beginning with The Religious Sense. I mention this because there may be some of you out there who want to participate in a readalong on the cosmic bus. This is one of those rare books which I wanted to reread immediately, which is what I'm now doing, so I probably won't begin posting on it until some time next week.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Obama's a Success, but the Country Died

Are we all done with Karl Rahner? Yes, more or less. I've moved on to a new subject.

However, I don't want to just leave it at that, as if we'd never met. I need some closure. Therefore, a brief wrap-up of Foundations of Christian Faith, if I can manage it. I'll just flip through and hone in on some of the things I highlighted.

"But in reality freedom is first of all the subject's being responsible for himself.... Ultimately he [the subject] does not do something, but does himself."

Freedom is selfhood lived, just as selfhood is freedom lived.

Painful, I know, but imagine an alternate universe with an educational system in which such spiritually healthy attitudes were inculcated from kindergarten on. That's how they do it at my son's private religious school: he knows that every moment confronts him with choices.

As things stand, the left employs a bait-and-switch tactic to rob people of their freedom-slack. For when the state bestows its free stuff upon the grazing 47%, it absolves them of responsibility and thereby disenfreedoms them.

Such a strategy also destroys religion at the root, for "freedom is the capacity for the eternal." In a horizontalized world there is no finality and therefore no meaningful freedom.

In fact, just this weekend I read a quote along these lines by the father of the moonbat educational establishment, John Dewey. For those with ears to hear, his advice is truly demonic:

"To abandon the pursuit of reality and the search for absolute and immutable value can seem like a sacrifice. But this renunciation is the condition for entering upon a vocation of greater vitality," i.e., social control engineered by the benevolent and all-wise state.

This is the very opposite of freedom, and it is why we dread the left. For "Freedom is the event of something eternal," and we are perpetually "forming the eternity which we ourselves are and are becoming."

Nor is freedom conceivable in the absence of God, for to understand freedom is to realize the absolute:

"For wherever there is no such infinite horizon, such an existent is locked up within itself in a definite and intrinsic limitation... and for this reason it is not free either."

No God, no freedom. Simple as. The left doesn't have to murder God directly. Rather, they accomplish the identical goal through the backdoor by simply eroding our freedom.

The leftist lives in hell and naturally wants you to live there as well. What do we mean by this stinkbombast?

Since a "free" rejection of God is nevertheless "based on a transcendental and necessary 'yes' to God in transcendence, and otherwise could not take place," it "entails a free self-destruction of the subject."

In other words, the leftist freely chooses hell for himself, but then imposes it on everyone else. Only he is free to choose, which ultimately results in only the man at the top being truly free.

I'm sure Obama has no idea that the exercise of his fake freedom redounds to the loss of your real freedoms.

This is all strictly orthoparadoxical: "For every 'no' always derives the life which it has from a 'yes,' because the 'no' always becomes intelligible only in light of the 'yes.'" In short, no Yes, no No.

Obviously, an explicit No to God requires an implicit Yes. Same with freedom, truth, and any other transcendental reality: no doesn't really mean no.

Rahner's whole discussion of freedom is in the context of capital G Guilt, and I found it to be quite helpful in that regard.

As it so happens, my study of Rahner was partly motivated by a desire to more deeply understand this whole question of guilt and redemption, for redemption is unnecessary if man isn't Guilty.

But it seems that Guilt and Freedom are necessary partners so long as we exist "outside" paradise, so to speak. We are condemned to freedom, as the existentialists say, and we are bound to misuse it, as Genesis says.

As Rahner expresses it, "a free subject continues to be threatened by himself," and there is no way we can eliminate this permanent threat with some sort of ultimate act, short of suicide.

Which again goes to the left's perversion of this principle: "the Utopian idea that a world functioning in perfect harmony can be created by man himself only leads inevitably to still greater violence and greater cruelty..."

You might say that original sin results in the left's extremely unoriginal solution to it. It works, of course, at the cost of killing the host. You know the old wise crack: "the operation was a success, but the patient died."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Whittle While I Work

No time for a post this morning. I'm turning the wheel of the cosmic bus over to Bill Whittle, who, I think you'll agree, speaks excellent coonglish (HT: American Digest):

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rational Animals and Opinionated Apes

Picking up where we left off yesterday: man is a being capable of knowing Truth and doing the Right Thing.

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....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Old Milk in New Bottles

So: what is over and around the subjective horizon cannot be brought back within the horizon.

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).

Simple as.

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.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Breaking: Sisyphus to Replace Christ as CEO of Cosmos

Let's conduct a thought experiment. Let's suppose the entire world is an American public school, where all talk of God is banned by liberal fascists (or, if you prefer, an elite liberal university where diversity of thought is forbidden).

I don't have time to track them down, but I've read any number of comments of prominent atheists to the effect that this would be an unalloyed Good Thing, both for individuals and for mankind at large.

For example, Richard Dawkins has said that exposing children to religion is a form of child abuse. And if you accept his premises, you can see his point. It is indeed abusive to inculcate a massive lie in a developing soul. And I will stipulate that one of us is indeed a child abuser.

Back to our gedankenexperiment. We have removed the word God from the human vocabulary. Now what?

"Then man would no longer be brought face to face with the single whole of reality, nor with the single whole of his own existence" (Rahner).

That much goes without saying. Man would be condemned to absurdity and to fruitless searching for an understanding of himself and his existence. Sisyphus would displace Jesus as our archetypal man.

For if we no longer have access to that to which God refers, then we are also exiled from "the single whole of reality as such and the single whole of human existence in the mutual penetration of both aspects" (Rahner).

In other words, liberal fascists can't just get rid of that one offensive word without it dragging down a lot of other things with it. To us this looks bad, but to the leftist it is a good thing. They know better than we do that if you can destroy the keystone, then the rest of the building will topple on its own.

This is why the left also goes after private property with such disgusto. For if you can delegitimize that, then everything else -- life, speech, religion, the rule of law, self-defense, the pursuit of happiness -- comes crashing down as well.

The great liberal fascists -- the cursed FDR, LBJ, and BHO -- all begin with the premise that what's yours is mine; or that the wealth you have created belongs to the state. Nothing about Democrats has changed since Lincoln summarized their philosophy as: you work, I eat.

Actually, that's not quite fair to 19th century Democrats. Now it's you work, I get food stamps.

It all goes together, of course, because the very keystone of our Constitution is the Creator who gives us the rights which the Constitution exists to protect. Remove the keystone, and the document loses all defenses against the predatory state. It loses its very reason for being.

So it is no surprise that the left is always on offense against God and against private property. These are the Twin Towers of the cultural terrorists of the left.

Let's get back to the point of our post, which is the effect upon man's soul when he loses the principle of God. Let's just try to describe the effect like a dispassionate scientists, without getting into whether it is good or bad.

Man "would not notice anymore," observes Rahner, "that he is only an individual existent, and not being as such." He couldn't notice this, for God is the name we customarily give to being as such. Or, as soon as man rediscovers being as such, God will sneak its way back into the human vocabulary.

Since man would be reduced to a mere object in an objective world, "he would remain mired in the world and in himself, and no longer go through the mysterious process which he is" (ibid).

In other words, it would no longer make any sense for man to engage in the business of isness, because our isness would no longer be related to the isness of the whole.

And my isness would be none of your business, so this would also be a loveless world. Oh sure, we'd still have friction between bodies and all that, but to call it "love" would be an abuse of the term.

A godless universe is a loveless universe, for the same reason it is a truthless and amoral universe. Frankly, it's not even a cosmos anymore, i.e., an order, because we'd know that any order we encounter is just a human projection, no more meaningful than the projection of a "Big Dipper" on a bunch of random stars.

We can summarize man's existential situation by saying that he will have lost all notions of his Center, his Origin, and his Destiny (which, in a created universe, are all necessary reflections of one another).

In Rahner's formulation, "man would have forgotten the totality and the ground," which amounts to the same thing, for there is no spatial or temporal wholeness and no privileged cosmic position from which to access and experience them anyway.

The irony here is that the Jews of antiquity were way ahead of the curve when they came up with the idea of forbidding the naming of God. Because as soon as you have reduced God to some human category, then you can toss it out. But God is the uncontainable vector and object of our own undefinable transcendence.

There are two alternatives to this strict kosher orthoparadox, both resulting in false gods: "Both atheism and a more naive form of theism labor under the same false notion of God, only the former denies it while the latter believes that it can make sense out of it" (ibid).

Which is why orthoparadox and perfect nonsense always go hand-in-hand, without any hands.

What do I mean by this? What I mean is that when a hyperdimensional object crashes through four-dimensional history, we shouldn't bloody well expect to be able to capture it in our finite categories, should we? The very nature of the event is going to generate paradox, and indeed, paradox is the only proper way of discussing the situation.

What do I mean by this? "The term of transcendence [that would be God] is indefinable because the horizon itself cannot be present within the horizon."

Obviously, transcendence cannot be dragged back down into radical immanence without destroying it. It is always one step beyond, just over the subjective horizon, thank God.

What do I mean by this? Well, for starters, if this weren't the case, then the world would be flat boring. You know the type, right? What can you say? For them the gedankenexperiment is all too real, and they are the guinea pigs that have been sacrificed.

I prefer the real world of God-infused hyperdimensional evolution, because this way it's a nonstop adventure of consciousness. I know there's a bottom and a top, because I can't reach them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Man in the Presence of Absolute Mystery, or Seeing ʘ to O

We've spent the last several posts discussing the mystery that is man. Not the mystery "of" man, mind you, but the mystery that man is.

For the intrinsic relation between man and mystery is not "prepositional" but essential. This relation is deeper than language, as language too is predicated upon it. If there were no mystery, then there would be absolutely nothing to talk about and no one to hear it. You know the type.

Today we want to get into man's experience of the ultimate Mystery customarily called God, but referred to here as O in order to preserve the Mystery.

As Rahner points out, the experience of this Mystery "is more primary than reflection and cannot be captured by reflection."

Indeed, man himself is the mirrorculous reflection of this prior Mystery, and the mysterious experience of oneself is also obviously deeper than reflection. It is the unfathomable Ocean upon which we float, AKA the Great Sea of the UnThought Known.

Man is always Oriented to the Absolute Mystery. Here again you may need to respectfully forget about your seenill grammar and gravidad, because this is like no other familiar relation. "For we do not have an experience of God as we have of a tree, another person and other external realities," all of which "appear within the realm of our experience at a definite point in time and space" (Rahner).

Rahner makes the provocative point that it is impossible to imagine a future in which the human race could exist without the word "God."

In order for this to occur, man would have to lose all contact with the experience that gives rise to the word; and to deprive ourselves of this experience is to annul our manhood and cash in our chimps, precisely.

Man's consciousness comes into being in the space between Mystery and mystery, O and ʘ, so the elimination of God would necessitate paving the space over with contingency and turning it a big barking lot.

Among other things, it would imply a complete eradication of our inborn bullshit detector. The whole world would be reduced to those 59 precincts of Philadelphia, where 100% (at least) of the people voted for Obama. All zzzombies all the time.

As such, our atheist friends, by incessantly using the word for what they haven't experienced, halfwittingly keep the experience alive.

The only alternative for the genuine øtheist is to not just feebly hope the word will someday disappear from the human vocabulary, but "to contribute to its disappearance by keeping dead silence about it himself and not declaring himself an atheist." You know, don't just stand there doing something, but sit down and shutup.

In order to achieve this, the atheists will need to be more like their fellow liberals, who are always trying to ban words in order to pretend that the unpleasant realities to which the words attach do not exist.

But in an evolutionary cosmos, words -- to say nothing of Word -- will always find a way. As they say, supernature abhors a vacuum. Banishing the word "retard" doesn't mean you aren't one, only that you're the last to know.

So "The mere fact that this word exists is worth thinking about," to put it mildly. For starters, as alluded to above, it's not like any other word, and yet, we still understand it, if "understand" isn't too misleading a term.

Which it no doubt is, because to understand God would be to be God. In other words, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it. And if he does exist, only a retard could not know it.

Even if we deicide that God is dead, we still need to reserve the name for what has died. But as soon as we do that, some mischievous rascal is going to start nosing around and redeuscover the empty tomb where the body is supposed to be buried. Game over. Or resumed, rather.

Nevertheless, if man were to effectively banish the word God from his vOcabulary, he would obviously still be immersed in mystery, except the mystery would "rot," so to speak, being deprived of all light and oxygen, i.e., its proper gnourishment.

What I think I mean by this is that man would have to regress to a time when he was plunged into the body and immersed in the senses, with no hope of an inscape or help of a teloscope. He would have to forget all vertical memories of higher things, and then forget he had forgotten, i.e., double I-AMnesia.

"The absolute death of the word 'God,'" writes Rahner, "would be the signal, no longer heard, by anyone, that man himself had died." Call it a signul.

Last night I was listening to the prophet Bob on my walk -- yes, in mOnʘ, as God intended -- and he reminded me of a number of plain facts that only the cosmically lost can never know, for example, that there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden -- whether Eden is understood in its proper sense or as some kind of statist utopia that denies all truth outside it.

But we won't press the point, for we know too much to argue or to judge.

With a time-rusted compass blade / Aladdin and his lamp / Sits with Utopian hermit monks / Sidesaddle on the Golden Calf / And on their promises of paradise / You will not hear a laugh / All except inside the Gates of Eden

The kingdoms of Experience / In the precious wind they rot / While paupers change possessions / Each one wishing for what the other has got / And the princess and the prince / Discuss what’s real and what is not / It doesn’t matter inside the Gates of Eden

The foreign sun, it squints upon / A bed that is never mine / As friends and other strangers / From their fates try to resign / Leaving men wholly, totally free / To do anything they wish to do but die / And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden --Bob Dylan, Gates of Eden

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Man is a Person in Order to Become One

File under Hints that You May be More than a Finite Object: "The experience of radical questioning and man's ability to place himself in question are things which a finite system cannot accomplish."

You see? We are always standing "outside and above the system of empirical, individual and specifiable data." And this is not just one element to be placed aside the others that constitute man, but is again always above them. If I say "you are a bepedal ape" and you say "um hmm," you've just transcended apehood, however tenuously.

Which makes one wonder: why can't leftists see this? The whole enlightenment project of classical liberalism culminated in the notion that we are unique persons, not races, genders, classes, ethnicities, and all those other lucrative accidents of existence.

But no. Progressives want to turn back the world historical clock and devolve to a time when man identified with his contingencies. Which, among other problems, always leads to increased civil strife.

If you wanted to come up with a malign doctrine of unregenerate hatred and resentment, you could hardly do better than multiculturalism and "diversity" (in the diabolical leftist sense of the term, i.e., neo-Marxist materialists of different colors and sexual preferences). Obama and the left might not know much, but they certainly understand the principle of "divide and conquer."

People talk about Obama's failure to "heal" the polarization in the country. Well, doy.

When we say Obama is a wicked man who is unfit for the office he holds, this is what we mean -- that he not only stands by silently while his allies engage in the most slanderous racial and sexual demagoguery, but that he himself instinctively engages in it. Instead of healing it, he fuels it: the police acted stupidly, my son the thug, Trayvon Martin, incompetence is beyond the reach of blacks, etc. If Obama doesn't make you want to vomit, you may be morally retarded.

But more to the point, he participates in and even leads the campaign to render man a shadow of what he actually is and can be. Yes, these mephistofeel-your-painian statists will give you losers lots of stuff. And all they ask in return is your soul. It's that sucking sound you hear at the core of your desiccated being.

Remember, leftism doesn't explain man. Rather, it explains him away. It does this in a multitude of ways, for example, with respect to crime.

In a free society, man is responsible for his acts. I mean, I realized this by the age of six or so. But in the 1960s the left finally had the power to actually implement their crackpot ideas about crime and justice. In this view, people were simply creatures of their environment, lacking the ability to distinguish between good and evil that I, as a six year old, understood.

So, what happened with that experiment? As we all know, crime rates increased exponentially, most especially among the supposed beneficiaries of the new approach, e.g., blacks. Which is my point: if your philosophy regards people as animals, you shouldn't be surprised if they behave like animals.

You can also point to the economic crisis of 2008, which resulted from the state deciding that some people are just too stupid and helpless to develop the traits consistent with homeownership. How'd that work out?

Note also that such an infrahuman animal is no longer in need of redemption from above. Rather, he can get it from some quack psychologist who pardons him because -- well, in the words of West Side Story, because he's depraved on accounta' he's deprived!

"Being a person," writes Rahner, "means self-possession of a subject as such in a conscious free relationship to the totality of itself."

You must understand that this peculiar way of being is the prerequisite of little things like truth, freedom, and virtue. It is the antecedent "space" out of which we all operate, and the point is to expand this subjective horizon, not to shrink or negate it!

Oh peoples, I gots the anointin' this mornin'! Listen to what the almighty is tellin' you in yo' soul! And lord, help me shut my big mouth at tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner with the liberal relatives!

In contrast to the free person, the left offers us this... this bigbrained cosmic freak who is "totally determined from without," even if this is impossible, because a person who believes this nonsense has nevertheless chosen to do so. There is no escape from your freedom and responsibility, leftist assoul!

To say that man is a Person "means first of all that man is someone who cannot be derived, who cannot be produced completely from other elements at our disposal."

Yes, you can say that only God can create such a singular being. Or, if that makes you uncomfortable, just render it in the form of an algebraic equation: only X can produce such a being. But don't pretend you understand the nature of the variable before investigating it. In other words, don't be a jackass.

"Man shows himself to be a being with an infinite horizon." It's not just that in America you can "be what you want." Rather, the point is that you already are (as being), and because you are, you can make the choices you want, i.e., drive the cosmic bus over the subjective horizon:

"When freedom is really understood, it is not the power to be able to do this or that, but the power to decide about oneself and to actualize oneself."

And since the space is infinite, there is no end to the expansion: "The infinite horizon of human questioning is experienced as a horizon which recedes further and further the more answers man can discover."

Elsewhere Rahner writes that "A person is always a Christian in order to be one." But this is because a person is always a person in order to become one.

Conversely, a leftist is always a leftist in order to become less than a person in the full sense of the word. And yes, we mean that literally. Because we are trying to help.

But unlike the left, we only offer the help. It would frankly never occur to us to force it on you, backed by the threat of state violence.

If the more radical empirical psychology is, the less freedom it is able to find, that is perfectly consistent with its method... --Karl Rahner

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Good News for Man, Bad News for the Left

"Good news" presupposes an awful lot about its recipient, doesn't it? The great majority of news is neither good nor bad; or, more to the point, it is relative to the person or group.

For example, good news for a Palestinian would be the murder of every Israeli man, woman, and child. But that would be bad news for the sane, decent, and civilized remnant of the world.

Likewise, the re-election of Obama is good news for parasitic public employee unions, for crony capitalists, for those thousands of soulless petty tyrants who get a thrill out of bossing others around, but bad news for the poor, the unemployed, the maleducated, the recently college educated (but I repeat myself).

So when Christians say their news is objectively and absolutely good, that's saying a lot -- again, not just about the news, but about the recipient.

The word "gospel" -- which means good news -- appears close to a hundred times in the New Testament. A quick etymological check reveals that gospel is a translation from the Greek for evangelize, and both ultimately derive from angelos, or “messenger.” Obviously, in this case we're dealing with vertical messages and messengers.

In the spirit of Rahner, let's just call it "news," so as to avoid too many presuppositions. This news, in order to be effective, must be analogous to the key discussed in yesterday's post. When the person hears it, it must be different from hearing other types of more mundane news, say, about the weather, or about those damn Romans and their high taxes.

Rahner asks the question, "What kind of hearer does Christianity anticipate so that its real and ultimate message can even be heard?" And this is indeed "the first question we have to ask," because it reaches all the way past our existence, down to our very being.

Or to put it inversely, if it doesn't so reach, then the message will be no more efficacious than any other so-called news. It certainly won't have the power to transform its hearer.

When a bird sings a particular song, it is heard in a particular way by other members of its species. The rest of us hear the same thing, but not really, since we can't unpack the message. Bearing this in mind, Rahner observes that

"When the reality of man is understood correctly, there exists an inescapable circle between his horizons of understanding and what is said, heard and understood." And "ultimately the two" -- what is said and what is heard -- "mutually presuppose each other."

As such, the Christian message assumes it is already somehow "present in the ultimate depths of human existence," again, on pain of only understanding the message superficially or not at all. The message not only "summons man before the real truth of his being," but does so in such a way that the person is "caught" by it. Or, to extend yesterday's analogy, the key fits all the way in, to "the infinite expanse of the incomprehensible mystery of God."

Wo, wo, wo, slow down partner. Didn't you just pull a fast one? First you're talking about a key that opens the door of understanding, but then you tell us that behind the door is an "incomprehensible mystery." How is that supposed to be helpful? Doesn't that mean we're no better off than we were when we started this whole human thing, which is to say, mysteriously engulfed in depthless layers of WTF?!

We'll get there. But let's finish our discussion of just what kind of a being man is. Rahner makes the subtle point that we only really discover what -- or even that -- we are via encounters with who and what we are not.

This reminds me of Bion's wise crack to the effect that the first thought is No Breast. From the infant's standpoint, there is no need for thinking until this unpleasantly novel thing called "hunger" occurs, which gives rise to something along the lines of: What happened to that infinite source of all warmth and goodness that was just here a moment ago!

We all like to think of ourselves as individuals, and we are; but imagine all the things that make individualism possible, which precede our presence and are not us: language, culture, history, and family, for starters.

However, as alluded to in yesterday's post, man is ultimately a (?) to himself, which very much parallels what was said above about the Incomprehensible Mystery behind the big door. It seems that if the key is to fit into our lock, it must reach all the way down to the mystery of ourselves.

Think about the many alternatives to this view. Let's begin with the most ready to hand, since it is so... ready to hand. Actually, most of the alternatives come down to leftism and scientism in their many dreary varieties, but these two may be unified by the principle that they both try to derive man from something else, something less than man.

Which immediately brings to mind a perfect aphorism by Don Colacho: The permanent possibility of initiating causal series is what we call a person.

How we initiate a causal series goes to the whole mystery of man, which in turn converges upon the mystery of God, for we take seriously the statement that where the Spirit of the lord is, there is liberty (2 Co 3:17), and vice versa.

Man's free will is full of implications, for which reason its denial is equally full of implications. As Rahner points out, all of the sciences (and the pseudo-philosophy of leftism, which may be traced to the pseudo-science of Marxian thought) regard man "as a result of and as the point of intersection between realities which on the one hand exist within the realm of empirical experience, but which on the other hand are not man himself, and yet establish and determine him in his reality and hence also explain him."

This in itself isn't problematic, so long as we don't confuse the map with the territory, and suppose that these partial explanations reach down to man's essential being. Such an approach -- and this is where scientism meets the left -- is usually "motivated by the secret desire not only to understand man... but also to control him thereby."

But the truth sets you free, which is why tyranny is always rooted in lies about man. There are political, economic, spiritual, intellectual, and other types of tyranny, but all are unified at their rotten core.

Hey, I think I'm really becoming like Rahner, because I'm not sure this post went anywhere, and now it's time for me to check out!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Peeping Thomists and Mysterious Keyholes

So man is a (?!) to himself, to which many answers are possible, if not plausible.

Any even modestly deep thinker intuits that there is no possible secular answer to the question, hence the turn to religion for a more plausible or satisfying one.

But in any event, to engage in theology is to "reflect upon the fundamental assertion of Christianity as the answer to the question which man is." In other words, it is a "second pass," so to speak, over the subjective horizon where question and answer fit together in this altogether surprising way.

At least it's surprising to me. As I've mentioned on numerous occasions, I did not come at this whole innerprize from the standpoint of religiosity, but all the way back from blind atheism.

By the age of nine or so I realized that Christianity -- specifically, the version presented to me -- did not address the question I was to myself. Which is what I mean when I say that Bill Maher is every bit as intelligent as a nine year old.

But it took much longer to realize that the various feeble substitutes provided by the culture didn't address the question either. If anything, they just tried to force me to be a different question -- which, when you think about it, is what all forms of secular thought, from leftism to Darwinism, do: you are a race, or a gender, or a class, or a machine, or an animal, etc. Therefore, it was back to the dreaming board.

The deeper the question, the longer you have to hold off on answering it. But a good question generates deep answers, for which reason we need to avoid premature closure vis-a-vis this Ultimate (?).

Also, to paraphrase Schuon, there is far more Light in the good question than a bad answer; and in religious matters, as we shall see, the luminous question is actually composed of the very Light we are seeking -- otherwise, it would never even occur to us to ask it.

We could also say that (?) is a kind of precursor to the grace it evokes, or is even the grace itself. In author words & symbols, our (↑) doesn't just evoke (↓), but in the last analysis, is already the descent of (↓).

The (?) we are to ourselves is not analogous to a scientific or mathematical puzzle. Rather, it is fundamentally a mystery. But the latter is not, on the one hand, a riddle to be solved, nor, on the other, "a statement which is senseless and unintelligible for us."

For which reason our own mysterious question is susceptible "to those Christian mysteries which constitute the basic content of the faith" -- things like Incarnation, Trinity, and Resurrection.

Note that those latter three, if reduced to rationalistic non-mysteries, no longer speak to our own mystery in the same deep way. Myster-O must speak to Myster-I in a deep and intelligible way, and we mustn't confuse intelligibility with mere surface reason; nor should we be expected to simply accept mysteries that have no inner resonance at all. Intelligence has its legitimate rights.

Man is a mystery to himself, but everywhere and everywhen we find him intrinsically oriented to the greater Mystery, to O. This is what motivates everyone, from the scientist, to the philosopher, to the mystic theologian. All are on a quest for answers to the mystery.

Now, there was a time, not too long ago, when none of this was problematic. But today, as Rahner points out, we have to accept the fact that "Jesus Christ is himself a problem" (or, if you are Jewish, you could say the same thing of Torah: that it is a problem because there is no God, and besides, he doesn't spend his timelessness writing books for a bunch of stiffnecked nomads wandering in the bewilderness.)

For which reason Rahner doesn't begin with Jesus. As mentioned in a previous post, Rahner doesn't get to him until chapter six. Meanwhile, he is examining the keyhole, not the key: "A keyhole forms an a priori law governing what key fits in, but it thereby discloses something about the key itself."

O ho! This explains why a guy can learn a lot by simply keeping the keyhole open and uncorrupted, instead of shoving in any damn key, or even trying to pick the lock (or looking for the key under the streetlamp because that's where the light happens to be).

It seems that it won't be long before keys will become completely obsolete. Instead, we'll just have codes and passwords for everything. A physical key is a password, just as a password is a virtual key. And the purpose of the key is to -- or let us say the key's reason for being -- is tied in with this idea of a semi-permeable membrane between two spaces, for example, the inside and outside of my house or car or bank account.

Man needs boundaries in order to live -- for example, the skin that separates us from the environment. But all human boundaries are simultaneously open and closed. For example, as we go about our day-to-day business with the world, certain boundaries are more "rigid" than they are when we are with our family. Some people hold the keys to our heart in ways others don't.

As alluded to a couple of posts back, it isn't difficult to establish the existence of God -- or better, O. What is a bit more puzzling is why human beings should not only know of O, but be oriented toward this Big Mystery. This itself reveals a great deal about our mysterious keyhole, something which Rahner calls "unthematic knowledge of God."

You might say that this latter is the completely unsaturated knowledge of God that is part of our standard equipment. Later, theology will be superimposed upon, or fill in, or respond to, this unsaturated space. It is similar to our intrinsic "preparedness," so to speak, for justice or to receive beauty. No one would create a specific beautiful object if there weren't an innate receptiveness to beauty in general. And law couldn't exist unless man loves justice.

Likewise theology. No one would waste a moment on it if it weren't a response to the primordial mystery.

Rahner speaks of the "anonymous" God. Since it is anonymous, we'll just have to call it O, on pain of descending into either mythology or rationalism or yelvertone deafness, which amount to the same thing.

In any event, "the original idea of God is not the kind of knowledge in which one grasps an object which happens to present itself directly or indirectly from the outside." Rather, it has "the character of transcendental experience" as such.

This is a subtle point, but an important, well, key to the whole. But it's so familiar, that most people seem to miss its significance -- as if any other animal -- or mere animal -- is oriented to the Mystery of All. No, this is only possible for a mirror animal.

As Rahner explains, this built-in transcendental experience -- or experience of the transcendent -- "is always present unthematically and without name." It is present in the "non-objective luminosity of the subject in its transcendence" toward the hOly Mystery.

So, once we're aware of this transcendental keyhole, then we can start talking about the type of key that might fit.

In the contemporary world this whole issue -- as with most everything else -- has become completely inverted. By which I mean that man has convinced himself that he may start his self-understanding with various kinds of knowledge that aren't really knowledge at all, not when you trace them all the way down.

Rather, the one thing we can know and must know is that this stuff we call "knowledge" is but "a small island in a vast sea that has not been traveled. It is a floating island, and it might be more familiar to us than the sea, but ultimately it is borne by the sea and only because it is can we be borne by it." Again?

Yes. So the questions become: which do we love more, "the small island of... so-called knowledge or the sea of infinite mystery?" And "is the little light with which [we illuminate] the island -- we call it science and scholarship -- to be an eternal light which will shine forever for [us]?"

"That would surely be hell."

(All quoted material from Rahner.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Man: Putting the Quest in Question

I know, I know, enough with the throat-clearing. Let's get on with it!

The problem I'm having is that I don't yet feel qualified to discuss Rahner, since I keep thinking that I'm going to get his overall point, which will then organize the hundreds of pages I've slogged through already.

But it's not happening. In Bion's terms, there is no PS <--> D.

What is PS <--> D? That refers to a critical psychopneumatic process whereby a mass of seemingly unrelated material suddenly discloses its inner coherence, and the outward "many-ness" resolves into an internally related One. Or, it could just mean you're paranoid.

It's complicated enough when you're just dealing with space, more complex when you toss time into the mix, and even more so when you're talking about what amounts to hyper-dimensional chess.

Or again, think of what we were saying about a person who spontaneously produces all those musical notes while simultaneously searching, so to speak, for their interior unity.

For those of you who are new to the incoondescent luminareum, blah blah blah, this is what I was attempting to do in the book of the same flame.

In short, we moderns are aware of the fact that everything is situated in history -- that history didn't just begin when we started writing stuff down, or when man split off from the Homo Yelverton branch of protohumans and began thinking for himsoph.

Rather, we now know -- or at least think we know -- that history has been going on for 13.7 billion years -- next month, if my calendar is correct. This means that it isn't just possible, but really necessary, to tell OneStory that encompasses the whole existentialada. To do less than this is to approach the task in a completely arbitrary manner.

For example, think of contemporary Darwinism. It is certainly a historical science. And yet, it arbitrarily starts its history with a bright line between organic life and its cosmic matrix.

As I wrote in the book -- and I wasn't kidding -- who's to say that biological life isn't just what we see in a sufficiently mature cosmos? I mean, there are very good reasons why it couldn't get going more than 3.85 billion years ago, because the cosmos simply hadn't reached puberty. Once it did, the planet became a hotbed of biological activity.

As it so happens, this is precisely the approach Rahner takes. You can say that Christianity starts with the Resurrection, or the Incarnation, or in Genesis, but each of these presupposes an awful lot of stuff that we need to take into consideration, at least if we want to go beyond a mythopoetic understanding.

Again, the latter is fine, except it won't necessarily speak bo diddley to a modern mind rendered barren by scientism, college, and TV.

Anyway, Rahner is trying to do this, but I'm not sure he's succeeding. Again, it seems to me that he's putting it all out before having completely digested and assimilated the material, so that too much work is required on the reader's part.

Nevertheless, we'll try, dammit. At least we'll try.

He writes in the preface that the purpose of the book will be to "try as far as possible to situate Christianity within the intellectual horizon of people today." As such, he doesn't "begin with a faith in which everything is completely settled and simply repeat what is in every catechism." That's an entirely different task which has already been done thousands of times, so there's no need to do it yet again.

This task is a more difficult one, and "is going to require some rather strenuous thinking and some hard intellectual work." He even warns off the looky-losers and spiritual thrillseekers: "Anyone who is just looking for religious inspiration and shies away from the demands of patient, laborious, and at times tedious reflection should not enter into this investigation."

Think of all the disciplines and subdisciplines one must deal with in order to do justice to such an endeavor: "philosophy of knowledge and the philosophy of language," "sociology, history, phenomenology and philosophy of religion," not to mention biology, cosmology, anthropology, neurology, psychology, and more. And let's not even talk about the fragmentation within theology, nor the extrinsic fragmentation produced by awareness of other faiths.

Who but a metaphysical b'atman would be brash enough to even try! Readers who are not up to the task can "only be referred to the church's catechism and told that they should simply believe what is taught there and in this way save their souls" (which he is by no means trivializing).

In short, Rahner wants to provide "an intellectually honest justification of Christian faith," one that is again geared toward modern sensibilities (or prejudices, if you want to be less charitable).

First of all, the task might not be as daunting as it appears to be at first blush, because although many people in the modern world have convinced themselves that they are wholly rational and bow to the scientific worldview, absolutely nobody actually lives, or could live, in that cold and dark world. Every sane and decent person recognizes the limits of science, even if he pretends otherwise.

Rather, we always inhabit a human world, and religion is addressed to just this world. In other words, it is not addressed to animals, because they wouldn't understand it. It is not about the world of physics, nor is it about some other hypothetical cosmos. Rahner addresses the book to the person who is Christian or who wants to be, and who wants to situate his Christianity within "the totality of his own existence."

First of all, we must begin where we are, which is to say, in the human form. But what is a human?

Ah, good question! If you are intellectually honest, the first thing you will acknowledge is that man is a mystery to himself, period. Yes, we can learn more and more about ourselves, but this is a vessel that can never be filled.

Therefore, Rahner posits man as "the universal question he is for himself." You might even say that man is the original (?!), or the sacred WTF!

I mean, right? Isn't it obvious when you think about it? And isn't it immediately apparent that such godforsaken disciplines as evolutionary psychology and behaviorism are just so much whistling past the graveyard, just fairy tales the tenured tell themselves so they can sleep at night?

To jump ahead more than a bit, Rahner later suggests that Christianity is first and foremost the mysterious Answer to the mysterious Question that man is.

And in fact, we can jump even further ahead, and suggest that the figure of Jesus will represent both the Question and its Answer in the same being. But we will first have to do a lot of preluminary gruntwork to get there.

To be continued. Another entirely different kind of gruntwork beckons.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Secret Plan of the Tenured to Torture Readers Revealed!

I don't mean to complain so much, but one of the difficulties with this book -- Foundations of the Christian Faith -- is that it's so disorganized and repetitive. Could have definitely used another run through the Rahner brain before letting it fly out the piehole, in order to render it a bit more linear and coherent.

Yeah, yeah, I know it's a challenging -- the most challenging -- subject, but still, the only excuse for being so non-linear is a particularly beautiful literary style, which is lacking here.

I mean, I enjoy free jazz as much -- or more, if you want to believe my neighbor -- as the next guy, but playing it properly requires intense discipline, the reason being that one must find the compositional center, or "container," so to speak, even while one is spontaneously producing the content.

This requires, on the one hand, a kind of surrender, but on the other, the ascent to, or descent of, a higher order. It frankly requires a kind of mating between ♀ (container) and ♂ (contained), but let's keep this clean, okay?

What this means is that whatever comes out must be placed in a higher and deeper context, just as in a normal melody, only at a much higher level of abstraction. The alternative is just blowing notes with no internal coherence, which is hardly the same thing (similar to the difference between liberty and freedom, as discussed a couple of posts back).

It reminds me of something a particularly brilliant friend of ours wrote to Mrs. G, which I'd apparently filed away for just this moment. She writes of "a huge gulf between being able to play the piano in a technically brilliant, dazzling way, and the people through whom the music literally lives and breathes. For the latter very small group of pianists, making music is a very spiritual experience, and playing the piano is like opening up a window into their soul."

More: "It's difficult to describe, but when you play piano you can enter a kind of transcendental state where you feel at once both entirely disconnected from, and at the same time almost controlled by, the music you are making.... The physical actions of playing don't require any thought at all. You don't think about technique or how to play, and your mind is entirely free to go anywhere; meanwhile your hands are playing the music and it keeps just appearing as if by magic. In fact, if you try to think about where it's coming from or how you are doing it, then it's impossible and the magic stops. Often I've sat at the piano and started to play, and it's been 3 or 4 hours later before I know what's happened.... Each piece leads seamlessly to another and it's like my mind went on a vacation to another place."

As I said, brilliant. But what about the restavus slobs? I think I know the feeling, because writing can definitely engender a similar experience, especially this type of writing, which is completely, er, spontaneous. But if it were only spontaneous -- i.e., self-indulgent -- then why would anyone want to read it?

Oh, right. That explains a lot.

The key, it seems to me -- and it is clearly not something within our conscious control -- is to "be controlled by the music you are making." Sounds paradoxical, and it is. Orthoparadoxical, to be precise, meaning that it is, among other things, an irreducible mystery.

Therefore -- well, as usual, Don Colacho has a piquant aphorism made to order: The writer who has not tortured his sentences tortures the reader.

Ah, Don Colacho. Now there is a man who knew his lumitations. Of his own gnomic style, he writes that The reader will not find aphorisms in these pages. My brief sentences are the dots of color in a pointillist painting.

That is an apt description, for each aphorism is a free-standing gem of its own, and yet, throw them into a big pile and a whole sensibility emerges. In fact, I would say that the soul of this person, Don Colacho, appears before us.

In this context, each aphorism is a fractal, or microcosm, of the macroman, like spiritual DNA. Indeed, "The only pretension I have is that of having not written a linear book but a concentric book" (DC). And his center is everywhere in those pointillist dots that constitute the circle.

Hmm. I wonder what other advice he has for the aspiring blogger?

"To write honestly for the rest, one must write fundamentally for oneself."

Yes! Now maybe my in-laws will finally believe me that it's not just morbid introspection.

"The first step of wisdom is to admit, with good humor, that there is no reason why our ideas should interest anybody."

I am unworthier than thou!

But also, if you're going to toss yet another book onto the existing pile of millions, you'd better have a damn good excuse.

"Only he who suggests more than what he expresses can be reread."

See, I told you I wasn't just being vague and evasive.

"A phrase should ruffle its wings like like a falcon in captivity."

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

"Prolixity is not an excess of words but a dearth of ideas."

Ouch! I'll let you field that one, Professor Rahner.

"A writer should know that only a few of those who look at him will actually see him."

Hello? Is this thing on?

"Phrases are pebbles that the writer tosses into the reader's soul. The diameter of the concentric waves they displace depends on the dimensions of the pond."

Ah. That would explain William Yelverton.

"Clarity is the virtue of a man who does not distrust what he says."

Call me credulous, but at least I got that going for me.

"The fewer adjectives we waste, the more difficult it is to lie."

So true. In the back of my head I always hear the stern voice of Professor StrunkWhite: Omit needless words! That and Do not affect a breezy manner!

No, I am not affecting one. Rather, it's genuine.

"Mere talent is to literature what good intentions are to conduct."

In your face, Shakespeare!

"Write concisely, so as to finish before making the reader sick."

Well, if that's the way you feel about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Bigger the Mansion, the Deeper the Foundation

I remember reading that Schuon, although German was his mother tongue, preferred to write in French, because he found it much more conducive to expressing highly subtle metaphysical ideas with clarity and precision. He felt that German simply wasn't up to the task. Which might well explain the problem with KantHegelHeideggar et al.

On the other hand, they say that Schopenhauer was a fine stylist who expressed himself clearly despite being burdened by the German tongue. He absolutely detested the bloviating Hegel, and wasn't afraid to say so. Here are some of his greatest hits:

"[If] I were to say that the so-called philosophy of this fellow Hegel is a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in its place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by its success, most stupefying verbiage, I should be quite right."

That is a rather overlong sentence, though.

Moreover, "If I were to say that this pseudo-philosophy has as its central idea an absurd notion grasped from thin air, that it dispenses with reasons and consequents, in other words, is demonstrated by nothing, and itself does not prove or explain anything, that it lacks originality and is a mere parody of scholastic realism and at the same time of Spinozism, and that the monster is also supposed to represent Christianity turned inside out, hence, ‘The face of a lion, the belly of a goat, the hindquarters of a dragon,’ again I should be right."

Hey, that's what I said about the Democratic platform!

"Further, if I were to say that this [Great Philosopher] scribbled nonsense quite unlike any mortal before him, so that whoever could read his most eulogized work... without feeling as if he were in a madhouse, would qualify as an inmate for Bedlam, I should be no less right.”

Calling Professor Krugman!

Finally: Hegel is "a flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan who reached the pinnacle of audacity in scribbling together and dishing up the craziest mystifying nonsense. This nonsense has been noisily proclaimed as immortal wisdom by mercenary followers and readily accepted as such by all fools, who thus joined into as perfect a chorus of admiration as had ever been heard before. The extensive field of spiritual influence with which Hegel was furnished by those in power has enabled him to achieve the intellectual corruption of a whole generation.”

Now there is a singular feat. In order to accomplish the same corruption in America, it required the entire leftist educational establishment.

Anyway, toward the end of his life Schuon reverted to German, but this was when he essentially wrote nothing but poetry. For the purposes of the latter, German was the more effective vehicle, presumably because it burrowed all the way down to his most primary experiences -- the types of primordial thingys beyond, beneath, behind, and above speech.

So I guess we're stuck with Rahner and his German, and we'll just have to deal with it. You can pretty much open a page at random and be faced with a wall of impenetrable semantic something. What makes it especially funny is that --

Put it this way. You know how I'm always *helpfully* saying in other words? A reader once commented on this, and thanked me for it (I think he even said that the blog ought to be called In Other Words, which is not a bad idea).

Anyway, this quaint expression is supposed to be a tipoff that what follows is going to be the same idea presented in a more digestible form. No, not "dumbed down," but if anything, "dumbed up." I often do it for my own benefit, because if you can vividly and spontaneously describe the same thing from various angles -- as if it's standing right there before your mind's eye -- you can be pretty sure it's really there.

But when Rahner says "in other words" -- or the German equivalent thereof -- it's just more words, and there's a fifty-fifty chance that they are even less clear.

This whole thing about clarity of expression. Is it overrated? One would think so, given the appalling quality of writing one finds in academia.

But I am of the belief that if one really and truly understands something, one should be able to express it in a clear and convincing manner, in such a way that a person of average intelligence should be capable of understanding it (assuming, of course, genuine curiosity, good will, and intellectual honesty on the reader's part; and a pinch of grace, of course).

I know what you're thinking: "you should talk, Bob, what with all the mystagogic homophonia, sub-Joycean pundamentalism, and general portmanteau much of a good thing." I see your point and I'll even raise you a nickel, but that's getting into the whole Raccoon doctrine of Perfect Nonsense, and we don't have time for such nonsense at the moment.

On to Rahner. As alluded to in yesterday's post, he doesn't start his analysis of the foundations of Christianity with Christianity. For many faithful this no doubt sounds suspicious, but I think he's absolutely correct to do so. For starters, how does one -- especially in the no longer homogeneous modern world -- talk about Christianity in a way that isn't just solipsistic?

In other words, it isn't really intellectually honest -- if that's the right word -- to ground Christianity in Christianity, because it begs the question. Obviously there are millions of Christians who do this, and that's fine. It's perfectly valid for purposes of salvation (is that all?), but not really optimal for communication. For example, if someone asks how you know Christianity is "true," it's not going to impress your interlocutor to respond, "because it says so."

Think of the fundamentalist who says that every word of the Bible is literally true. How does he know this? Not only does the Bible nowhere say this, but it is entirely accurate to say that the Bible knows nothing of this thing called a "Bible." What, do you think that when Paul was dashing off his letters he knew that someone would later come along and put them in a book that includes not just the Torah and prophets but also the Gospels which were composed after he died?

As far as I can discern, one of Rahner's central concerns is this issue of helping Christian theology make sense to a mentality that is entirely different from the mentality which prevailed when it was developed.

Sure, you can keep expressing it with the same old cognitive tools, but in the long run it's probably not going to work. Or there will be an intolerable split between religious cognition and other forms of cognition, both within the individual and in the wider collective.

It no doubt helps explain why we have this dreadful being in the White House, because his most vocal supporters obviously know nothing of God (and are proud of it). But it's not entirely their fault, since they are the passive victims of an infrahuman culture that made them what they are (and more importantly, aren't). Their primary sin is this spiritual and intellectual passivity, but we can see that passivity soon enough transforms to a disordered activity in order to fill the void. That is how you create a liberal. (Note the more subtle point -- that we are all created; the leftist is a creature of his horizontal matrix no less than we are of the vertico-horizontal nouscape.)

So Foundations of Christian Faith starts with five chapters before it gets into anything specifically Christian. It is not until chapter VI that he gets to "what is most specifically Christian in Christianity, Jesus Christ." But there are excellent reasons for this, and I've never seen anyone approach the issues in such a, well, fundamental way.

That is to say, before we can have this phenomenon called Jesus Christ, we must assume -- or establish, rather -- a certain ontology, cosmology, anthropology; we must understand the nature of language, of space, time, and history, of why man is in need of this thing called "salvation," how such a thing could even be possible, and how man could recognize it if it were.

We must ask what it could mean for God to "become" something other than what he is, or indeed how the changeless can "become" at all. We must understand how the infinite may clothe itself in finitude, and how it is possible for man to understand communications from God (whatever that is), and what kind of understandable category the "godman" falls into.

This post was deusrupted by having to take the boy to school. To be continued....