Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Monkey in the Middle of the Cosmo-Christic Revolution

I suppose a few more words about words are in order, since I don't have time to come up with a new subject.

Balthasar shares the Raccoon principle that "the true image of God lies in the reciprocity of man and woman" (to which I might add the baby; the tripartite family strikes me as the most adequate earthly icon of God).

In order to eliminate God -- or the vertical, if you like -- the left has succeeded in changing the plain meaning of man, woman, child, and marriage. Now, grace is a force multiplier. I frankly don't understand how a marriage can truly thrive in its absence. Seems a rather foolish and shortsighted thing to exclude it before one even embarks upon the project.

Odd that a complete nobody from nowhere would suggest that though the heavens and the earth may pass away, his words will not. This can only mean -- among other things -- that these words are both prior to and beyond existence: before Abraham was, I AM. This would also explain their peculiar power, in that they must be grounded in a different source. Thus his words possess an "incomprehensible, and yet evident, superiority over all things past and present" (ibid.). Which is why they persist.

The closest analogue would be poetry, which is also "powerful speech" -- or speech that draws part of its power from some extra-linguistic source. Note that this is not just a question of true-or-false in the conventional sense. Dávila has an aphorism to the effect that A work of art has, properly speaking, not meaning but power. Likewise the divine Word: there is meaning, yes, but it is a curious kind of meaning that has the power to perpetually deepen and surpass itself. (So much for being opposed to change!)

So words, if they are not rooted in vertical reality, are indeed like the light of dead stars. Balthasar writes that "Man and his language can certainly 'abstract,' but only as the tree draws its sap up from the earth." Thus, "every spreading of the upper leaves requires a deeper taking root below, otherwise the top breaks" and "everything has to start growing again from below."

Or above rather, since this must be that Upanishadic tree we hear so much about, its roots aloft, its convenient local branches down below. But without that nonlocal tree, what are words, really? Just piles of dead and fallen leaves swept into temporary piles by your crazy deconstructionist gardner.

Furthermore, the mad gardner assures us that the piles have no intrinsic meaning, but rather, are just masks for power. Which is a curious thing, because words, in forsaking their real power, partake of a another. But this latter is merely human power, or the fallen power of the tenured, or of the state, or of the slack-denying agents of the department of Fuck You, Pay Me.

Man is the bipedal creature with one foot in the horizontal, the other in the vertical dimension. The latter "reaches without a break from the spirit through the soul and the living body down into matter" (ibid.). Lately we've been discussing the radical discontinuities between matter and life, life and intellect, Petey and troll, etc. Importantly, the discontinuity is only from the horizontal perspective, or from the bottom-up. From the top-down it vanishes, as per the inverted tree discussed above.

If this were not the case, then there would be no accounting for how "matter blooms into spirit" -- which it is capable of doing because "prior" to this, spirit has taken root in matter. We put "prior" in scare quotes because this is obviously something that is outside time.

This is one of the key principles of the Cosmo-Christic revolution, IMHO -- that there is a simultaneous "corporalization of the spirit" and "spiritualization of the body, neither existing without the other" (ibid.).

In practical terms, this means that "If the body strove one-sidedly to become spirit, without allowing the spirit correspondingly to penetrate the body and become one with it, then man would be striving away from himself into a chimerical self-alienation" (ibid.).

Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man pick apart and destroy. Or at least don't elect such a man to high office, or let him near our children, or place him on the Supreme Court.

Within the vertical there are the Two Pneumatic Winds, which we like to symbolize with the up and down arrows (⇅). Yes, you can try to have one without the other, but it will always end badly.

"[I]n this dual movement man is suspended in the middle, since neither the Dionysian drive back to the material origins, nor the Promethean drive to pure spirit brings him nearer to himself, and the two tendencies cannot be made into one.

"As a product of the maternal earth and paternal heaven he has to turn his face toward both, without being able to see both at once. He cannot find his ground or take his rest in either, or both at once, but only in him who has created heaven and earth, spirit, and matter, day and night" (ibid.).

Obvious when you think about it.

By man's keeping himself open in the suspended center to movement toward the depths, his language is constantly enriched from heaven and earth.... [But] when the mystery of the ground of being fades, then the expressive power of words fades also. --Balthasar

See our progressive troll for the fascinating details.


Blogger julie said...

Balthasar shares the Raccoon principle that "the true image of God lies in the reciprocity of man and woman" ...

Furthermore, the mad gardner assures us that the piles have no intrinsic meaning, but rather, are just masks for power.

I'm reminded of another long-gone troll, who maintained that marriages are actually power struggles - as in, the power struggle is the purpose of the relationship, and not merely a side effect that happens when things aren't right. Sadly, a great many people live their marriages in exactly this way, as a battleground with occasional truces instead of as a partnership and an opportunity for communion.

10/21/2014 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If marriage isn't a sacrament and a school of transcendence, then I don't quite see the point.

10/21/2014 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Well, the left has no wisdom on how to maintain a relationship, but at least they can teach you how to end one.

10/21/2014 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I thought Paul Simon already covered that one.

10/21/2014 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

"Just throw her against the wall, Paul."

Or whatever it was when he was arrested on charges of domestic violence a few months back...

10/21/2014 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Really? Oh, that's disappointing. And awful.

I always assumed he made some questionable life choices, given the tales in some of his songs and all the carrying on with Carrie Fisher, but I never pegged him for physical abuse.

10/21/2014 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I actually have no idea what happened. For all I know, it might have been "do something violent and speedy that rhymes with Edie."

10/21/2014 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

In other words, maybe Edie hauled off and gave him a Garfunkel right in the sweetbreads.

10/21/2014 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yeah, could be.

Looking at the news reports, it sounds like they're both a hot mess, both got arrested, and he was the one who made the call. Different from, say, punching her unconscious in an elevator.

10/21/2014 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

PMS 911.

10/21/2014 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...


Poor fool - speaking of marriages that fail to lead to transcendence...

10/21/2014 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Likewise the divine Word: there is meaning, yes, but it is a curious kind of meaning that has the power to perpetually deepen and surpass itself.

That reminds me of 1 Cor. 2:4 -- and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power

Preaching the gospel such that we encounter the transforming power of Christ is a little like poetry.

10/21/2014 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Great idea: bitter liberal victims should be able to sell their citizenship to eager buyers around the world who would love to take advantage of living here. It's a win-win-win! (We win too by getting rid of these losers.)

10/21/2014 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What a horrible gender-constricted society we live in!

10/21/2014 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, good grief. It sounds to me like her boys are old enough to deal with the fallout, and probably the only one who really cares one way or the other about their toenails is her.

On Ace's sidebar, there's a link to a horrific tale out of Iraq - the true rape culture, the true war on women. I have yet to hear anybody on the left discuss the plight of the Christians and Yazidis over there at all; they're too busy ensuring that drunk sorority girls can claim victim status if they decide belatedly that they weren't that into the latest drunk frat boy they decided to swap fluids with.

No, America must burn for her sins, and the rest of the world will burn right along with us.

10/21/2014 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A war on sexual polarity IS a war on women. These idiots are beyond clueless.

10/21/2014 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, that too. Feminism is nothing so much as an attempt to destroy what is rightly feminine, and replace it with a neutered masculinity that manages to have none of the positive traits of either gender.

10/21/2014 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which is why it is not good for boys to act like girls. Just because the average person cannot articulate the reasons why it is harmful, it hardly means they aren't "gender conscious," or whatever odious term the left uses (that Post writer's moral preening is nauseating). Really, it's the same principle as in this blast at Happy Acres, about how in the modern world "All differences vanish. In a mass-media world, there’s less of everything except the top ten books, records, movies, ideas. People worry about losing species diversity in the rain forest. But what about intellectual diversity - our most necessary resource? "

So if they really want to slow human progress, progressives should by all means continue to efface sexual differences. Among other consequences, there will be no men left to fight for a culture no longer worth saving.

10/21/2014 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Beheadings, rape, mass murder ... eh, just some noble savages on an Arab spring break. Nothing to see here. Back to political fund raising.

10/21/2014 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I've been looking for a right time to point to this excellent essay.
The idea of sexual orientation is artificial and inhibits Christian witness.

10/21/2014 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's always a good essay - thanks, Joan.

As to the boys, their mother, and the nails, I feel I should clarify on this one, even realizing we may not see eye-to-eye. I think their mother is a complete nitwit, as much for singling her kids out online and marking herself as "gender-conscious" as anything else.

If her sons were asking for pretty pink flowers and sparkles, I would be dead set against that. Or makeup, or anything intended to make someone look girly. But I'm not bothered by their wanting to color their toenails to look like sports cars or team colors; in spite of the medium, it strikes me as a very masculine expression, and not terribly different from wanting a logo shaved in their hair or face paint on game day. If it were my kid, I'd probably roll my eyes, allow it once so they get it out of their system, and move on. Not without some unsubtle digs about it being girly, but still. Assuming I'm encouraging their masculine development and expression in all the ways that matter, this one just doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

Of course, when there's a mom who's determined to show how gender neutral she can be, then maybe it becomes a whole 'nother issue....

10/21/2014 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I am kind of confused by Michael Hannon's essay -- as I usually am by things at First Things.

I'm not a Greek or Hebrew scholar, but from my reading, even back in Leviticus, men were not to wear women's clothes and vice versa, because that might lead to, shall we say, misunderstandings. That would indicate that there were men who were "effeminate" -- something Paul condemns in the NT. Also, in Romans chapter 1, it says, "... males left off natural intercourse with females and were inflamed with lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males ...".

Yes, that's sodomy, but it's also homosexuality.

I think his argument is meant to point out that heterosexuality can be sinful outside of the sacrament of holy matrimony. Well, sure, but that doesn't mean there aren't and haven't always been a bunch of deviants out there.

And, yes, you can control yourself and be chaste no matter what you are attracted to.

Maybe I just need to read the whole thing again when I have more time.

10/21/2014 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I think the key points are here:

"If we do not wish to be swept away with modernity’s orientation essentialists, then we need to remind the world that our sexual ethics was never really at home in the modern framework anyway, and thus that our forsaking the framework need not lead to postmodern nihilistic libertinism. There is firmer ground to stand on in the classical Christian tradition. Indeed, it seems to me the only place left to stand.

The Bible never called homosexuality an abomination. Nor could it have, for as we have seen, Leviticus predates any conception of sexual orientation by a couple of millennia at least. What the Scriptures condemn is sodomy, regardless of who commits it or why."

Or more to the point, sexuality has a very specific place: within marriage, between a man and a woman. Christians are called to control their sexual impulses in any and every other kind of relationship.

I saw a headline a couple of weeks ago about some rabbi, married with kids, who has decided to come out as gay. He's getting divorced, but his wife and family are supposedly very supportive, along with (of course) his congregation, his friends, etc. The thing is, what he's really saying is that he's come out as someone who really, really wants to play with other men's weiners. His "identity" as a human being will be incomplete if he does not have this experience. He wants to commit adultery with other men, without having to lie to his wife about it. And he'd like to know that the world approves.

Having lived as he ought, he would now prefer to live as he oughtn't. Per Hannon's article, classification of "gay" or "straight" isn't necessary to the conversation; if anything, it makes it more permissible for him to do what he should not, in essence giving him an "out" by designating him as a sort of exception to the rule.

10/21/2014 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, something about it struck me as wrongheaded, although I didn't finish it yet. I did a quick google search for comments on it, and this one came up. Just skimmed the beginning, but he expresses some of my concerns.

I share the Jewish idea that sexual differences are God-given and critical to human well-being: "man and woman he created them."

10/21/2014 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

(That was in response to Mushroom.)

10/21/2014 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Looking at some of the links today of leftist wackos doing what they do best, I'm reminded of something Tom Clancy said when asked whether it was harder to write fiction or non-fiction.

Clancy said, "Fiction is harder to write because it must make sense."

10/21/2014 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

(@ Bob) Understood - and of course, perhaps I am wrongheaded in my reading, as well.

10/21/2014 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Having lived as he ought, he would now prefer to live as he oughtn't. Per Hannon's article, classification of "gay" or "straight" isn't necessary to the conversation; if anything, it makes it more permissible for him to do what he should not, in essence giving him an "out" by designating him as a sort of exception to the rule."

I can see that point, since he broke his marriage vows. Hardly something to be proud of.

10/21/2014 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm liking this "Lydia" blogger. Might be Raccoon material. Trying to read the post and watch the world series at the same time...

10/21/2014 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Link please?

10/21/2014 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I mean, the guy is trying to create a loophole in marriage to justify his narcissistic selfishness.
A drug addict could do the same thing I suppose, or a polygamist, or whatever.

If the guy was asked if he was proud of his selfishness I wonder what he would say!

10/21/2014 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It should be to the "this one" @ 6:31.

10/21/2014 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ben - exactly. If he had come to the mic to announce that he wanted to canoodle with women who are not his wife, because he just wasn't born monogamous, people would rightly condemn his behavior. Perhaps especially because he's a rabbi and so is (in theory) called to an even higher standard. Instead, he wants to canoodle with men (presumably; if he's planning on being celibately gay, why bother with the divorce and the announcement?), and suddenly everyone is very sympathetic and understanding, and they celebrate his divorce as the "courageous" thing to do.

10/21/2014 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

However, I do concur with the author of Bob's link, Lydia, that deconstructing heterosexuality is a bad thing to do and unnecessary for the First Things author to do in the first place.
Postmodernism poisons everything it touches and at the very least, creates confusion rather than clarity.

Plus, homosexuality and heterosexuality is not symetrical in any sense of the word.

10/22/2014 01:42:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

For example, the points you make, Julie, are clear and concise, and requires no postmodernism to make let alone deconstructing heterosexuality.

I'm not sure if the First Things aithor conciously used postmodernism in the essay but it is there.

10/22/2014 01:52:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I didn't take it so much as a deconstruction of the "hetero" (even though he states it as such) as much as it was a call to eschew the defining of human sexuality with any regard to the act. I did have to read it undistracted because it certainly is a different point of view. My take away from it was, perhaps more because of the great number of "college gays" in this town, young intelligent kids in our own church are questioning their sexuality. One such has decided that she is gender-neutral. It is a way for her to cope with the tremendous peer-pressure one finds among the junior high school set. It's a reaction to bullying by other girls and insecurity about boys. They are rarely given a coherent way to speak of the number ONE issue at school: sex.

I need a way to talk to young people, and trust me, for all that we can know and quote the Bible, we need a way around the objections. I don't think Hannon's essay is a complete world of thought about human sexuality, but if we don't elevate marriage and family as the picture of "on Earth, as it is in Heaven," then we'll continue to want to devalue the standard.

Jesus, with the woman at the well, found a way to speak with her about her hetero tendencies. He held up a standard to her: marriage. She quickly changed the subject from race to religion and He again, held up a standard. She had a right desire for God, but there was confusion there, too. Jesus oppressed her natural desires unapologetically.

Hannon may be an egghead about to enter a celibate life, but I think his attempt, inasmuch as he will be called upon in his role as a priest to address human sexuality, is with that in mind: to set a standard for human relationships is a "first thing" from which we can compassionately address all the other angsts about love, attraction, identity and a host of other psychological exposure that leaves us vulnerable to false comforts.

In Spirit and Truth is our worship. "In Heaven they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as the angels."

No-o-o-o-oo! Not our precious sexuality!!??

10/22/2014 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I'll give you that Hannon is way too abstract for a concrete head like myself.

But after I slept, I could see a way where he could make sense. Consider pre-Christian Greek culture where pederasty was common and male relationships were often sexual. Wives were for procreation. Sodomy allowed virtually unlimited sexual expression whether with courtesans or in homosexual activities. The problem in that culture was not homosexuality per se, but what the Jews and Christians would think of as UNSANCTIFIED sex.

In a situation like that, I can see Hannon's point, sort of.

We certainly have, with convenient, reliable birth control, plenty of opportunity for unsanctified sex, and, I suppose, if you wanted to, you could call any non-procreative sex sodomy. I don't think that's right. I think what you do within the sacred marriage bed is generally sanctified -- without getting all clinical and gross.

The whole identity thing, though, is on the wrong side. No normal person identifies as heterosexual. We have been forced to set up a sort of Great Wall of heterosexuality against the screaming hordes of gay pride marchers in feather boas with sparklers up their butts.

That's only because we are dealing with people who have sexual deviations that can no longer be called deviations. We have people trying to use the arguments against racism to justify self-mutilation and pedophilia.

Yes, we need to understand God's purpose for sex; we need to understand its proper role within the sacrament of marriage; we need, as Christians, to do a better job rejecting the cultural definitions and norms for sexuality. The dynamics of the problem in New Testament times were different, but they, too, had to deal with a hostile culture.

I doubt that changing the terminology is going to make all that much difference.

10/22/2014 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I go back to his subtitle's emphasis on "witness." You and I are not confused (mostly!) about human sexuality, but Jesus was rather unconventional in his approach because he was speaking to a "postmodern" Roman world and the Jews living within it. He rocked their world, pulled them off-center in their thinking and proposed theologically radical concepts of who God is, namely Himself.

He was, and is, outrageous in His pursuit of us and will employ any Word of creative effort to wake us up and make us think. Or to rebuff us and make us ashamed to go on unthinking any longer.

I started out liking much of what McGrew began with, but she lost me in her adamant style within the comments. She really, really, really wants to see some sort of pernicious deconstruction of human sexuality in the words of a man who is speaking transcendently miles above her head.

I think it entirely worthwhile to consider as ultimately serious the thoughts of a man about to take vows of celibacy. It's not an encyclical on human sexuality, but it is something he will be asked about repeatedly in his lifetime. He is carefully considering his choice and his witness. It bears a second look in that light.

10/22/2014 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Hannan's argument makes it more difficult to celebrate male+female sexuality at the center of the human family. I believe this is unhelpful.

I'm guessing his essay comes out of his discomfort with our current cultural situation in which the LGBT view of sexuality has become more and more dominant in both culture and law. Hannan thinks that changing the terms of the conversation will enable Christians to avoid becoming targeted or obsolete.

I'm not sure that's possible. America is turning into a more aggressive version of pagan Corinth, whether we like it or not. I see no signs of it ever stopping in my lifetime. Frankly, I don't feel myself called to stop that tide, just to survive it with body and soul intact.

My kids have lots of friends who come from broken families. When they come to sleep over at our house, you can see something on their faces that hurts the heart. I'm not holding my marriage and family up as any kind of ideal. We've had our fair share of problems. But our kids know they have ground under their feet. They see mom and dad working out difficult things together and so transcending (with God's help) their selfishness.

Our daughter sees both a husband and a wife together. Our sons see both a husband and wife together. Our very imperfections are the means to achieving greater love and fidelity. Nobody has ever persuaded me, or will ever persuade me, that female+female, male+male, or any other permutation of couple-hood, would be anything other than a diminution of the whole.

"Male+female" rules, naturally. The exceptions prove the rule.

10/22/2014 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Lately the boy and I have been watching the program "Everybody Hates Chris" from the earliest episodes. It's about Chris Rock's experience growing up in poor Bed-Stuy with one of the only intact families in the neighborhood. Both honest and funny. But in any event, man-woman is the very unit of civilization. It can't be mother-infant because that's a biological category. If women don't civilize men -- including male sexuality -- it won't be civilized.

Not too long ago discussed the books Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human and Making Gay Okay. Both are highly recommended.

10/22/2014 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Rogelio Bueno said...

What Hannon is so eloquently explaining to us it that human beings are not predominantly and primarily sexual beings. That the progressives of the 19th century hijacked the language of identity and via people like Freud have convinced us that chastity and marriage are cruel chains of bondage preventing the individual from his/her/etc right to flourish as a human being - which is, of course, a lie.

10/24/2014 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Rogelio Bueno said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/24/2014 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Rogelio Bueno said...

Here's another article along the same thoughts:


10/24/2014 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"So words, if they are not rooted in vertical reality, are indeed like the light of dead stars. Balthasar writes that "Man and his language can certainly 'abstract,' but only as the tree draws its sap up from the earth." Thus, "every spreading of the upper leaves requires a deeper taking root below, otherwise the top breaks" and "everything has to start growing again from below."

Or above rather, since this must be that Upanishadic tree we hear so much about, its roots aloft, its convenient local branches down below. But without that nonlocal tree, what are words, really? Just piles of dead and fallen leaves swept into temporary piles by your crazy deconstructionist gardner."

Gardening tips useful the year 'round.

10/24/2014 08:50:00 AM  

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