Friday, October 03, 2014

Who Was that Unmasked Man?!

Since we're on the subject of time, here is a timely aphorism of Don Colacho: Time should be feared less because it kills than because it unmasks.

Think of how this dreadful truism applies to Dear Leader, Mr. Bequeath Ebola, who, of course, promised "change." Now, change is obviously the essence of time, but a progressive is someone who believes time has a kind of automatic direction, and yet, no telos, no fixed orientation.

Therefore, the kind of change that is championed by progressives is almost guaranteed to result in a grotesque unmasking of the unredeemed man, i.e., the beast that man becomes in the absence of conformity to what transcends him. After all, deterioration is change. One might say that change in the absence of God is just slow-motion death. Or maybe you don't read the news.

So, Obama has been unmasked over the past six years, as have his decroded "people." And I suppose the fact that some 40% still support him proves that they still see the old mask firmly in place. I actually know people who are like this.

The other day, one of them spoke to me of the stunning success of ObamaCare. Not only is he enclosed in the left's alternate reality, but his only knowledge of conservative ideas is filtered through its hateful ignorantsia, so he is programmed to reject reality a priori -- the same way you might react if someone said to you, "Yes, but Hitler wrote that..."

Progressives believe it is possible to determine truth via calendar, hence the belief that they must be on the right side of history. But history has no "side" unless it is in reference to what surpasses history, AKA God. Otherwise history is just history: it has an opaque front and cloudy back, but no periphery.

There is of course a positive unmasking, and this is what we call "metanoia," or conversion, or repentance.

Conversely, you could say that Adam was the first human to put on the mask, for which reason God -- no doubt ironically -- asks "Where are you?" Adam responds that he heard God's voice, became frightened, and "hid myself," i.e., put on the mask to fool God. Good luck with that.

To paraphrase Schuon -- and this is a real orthoparadox -- man is the only creature who is free to defy or contradict his own nature. In California, Governor Brown recently signed a law mandating that children who are confused about their sex are "free" (!) to choose either locker/bathroom. Yes, the left is beyond parody, beyond Orwell, beyond my powers of insultainment.

Even so, time eventually unmasks, no matter how much plastic surgery. Alternatively, we can stop the pretentious charade and just unmask ourselves before time does the job for us.

One of the reasons why the left must legislate so much insanity is to prevent the unmasking that would occur in the absence of force. For example, in the absence of state-mandated racial discrimination, time would unmask some uncomfortable truths about race and IQ.

Now interestingly, unmasking ourselves is an exercise in freedom, whereas time's unmasking is under the force of necessity -- the latter is against our omnipotent wishes.

But the self-unmasking -- i.e., reverse auto-pullwoolery -- takes place "outside time," or it is a kind of exit from profane time. Balthasar writes that the "timelessness which the beloved object [God] bestows on the person who chooses it" is at the same time an expansion of the freedom of the person who so chooses.


Yeah, you could say this is the eternal "day of creation," or fiat lux. Balthasar speaks of "the ever-increasing mutual penetration of these two elements, which were 'created in the beginning' as 'heaven and earth.'"

A Raccoon believes -- well, this Raccoon, anyway -- that Christ appears as the creativity-freedom principle in history. He is simultaneously God unmasked and man unmasked -- "naked" but not ashamed, glorified but humble.

"Here the mystery of the time-transcending origin appears as the total Christ.... The world and its falling away were created for the sake of this origin and this goal," which "surpasses and at the same time justifies time" (ibid.).

Thus, this final unmasking is the "vertical resolution of the whole structure of time, and hence of history..." The irritating abyss of time -- which is a measure of our distance from God -- is bridged by the divine creativity-in-love which, from our side, invites us to free ourselves of the disguises we wear to try to elude the decrosion of time -- the very same time that ruins everybody's lives and eats all our steak.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

A Day in the Life of God: Three Chords Good!

Another problem I have with divine omniscience as usually understood is that it is as if the three modes of time -- past, present, and future -- are reduced to the past only.

Think about it: if events are determined, then it is very much as if everything has already happened. What then, is the point of time? Present and future become oddly superfluous -- inexplicable, really. There can be no "point" to anything, because there is nothing toward which to point.

Einstein agreed that the existence of the now is just a mirage: he "completely rejected the separation we experience as the moment of now. He believed there is no true division between past and future, there is rather a single existence."

Upon the death of a dear friend, Einstein wrote the family and assured them that his death "was of no consequence, 'for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.'"

Well, that's comforting. Why bother with priests and psychologists when one can consult with a psychophysicist or physicotherapist? But as we all know, when it comes to common sense, Albert was no Einstein.

This illustrates the larger fallacy of trying to explain away the concrete human world for some abstract and experience-distance one. This is what all ideologies do, and unfortunately, it is possible for religion to yield to the ideological temptation.

Indeed, this is one reason why I would say Christianity is a cure for religion, for the simple reason that it is impossible -- or should be, anyway -- to reduce a person to an ideology. If you place person at the top, then any abstraction must be in the service of concrete personhood, not vice versa.

(And we might parenthetically add that Jews are covered here by the I AM; by way of contrast, Allah is the YOU DO OR ELSE!, while Buddhism is the YOU AREN'T AND NEITHER AM I. The New Age god is ANYTHING GOES because I AM S/H/IT.)

Now, none of this means that I am right. It only means that people who disagree with me are fools or knaves.

I am not a literal Whiteheadian, but rather, just plunder what I need from him. And one of his central points is that time matters, not just in an abstract sense, but quite concretely, in the manner in which we experience it. For him, our experience of time is something of an analogue of the very structure of the cosmos, for the cosmos is a process of coming into being (whatever that is) and fading into the past (whatever that is) -- just like our experience of time.

In the book for which the blog was named ten years ago this month, I sheepishly suggested that our otherwise inexplicable love of music has to do with the fact that the very structure of music mirrors the process of reality; it discloses the truth of things. In fact, one of the rejected titles for the book was The Cosmic Suite.

If time is an illusion, it is as if we could comprehend, say, a symphony, by taking all its notes -- which are extended in time -- and compressing them into one big noise, not unlike the final chord of A Day in the Life. Fans of Beatles lore will recall that it was produced by hammering an E chord simultaneously on four keyboards. Except that, with no time, there wouldn't even be the forty second decay that follows.

Now, just because existence is a melody, that doesn't mean the composer has completely fixed the notes, nor that we take no part in its composition. In fact, I would suggest that while the chords are indeed fixed, the existence of freedom allows us a degree of leeway as to how we choose to proceed through the "chordal space" (one might say that time is the space between the cosmic chords).

Indeed, we are so free that we can, if we so desire, ignore the chords altogether, as Ornette Coleman purports to do in his harmolodic approach.

Now, I happen to appreciate Coleman, but only because his music is a kind of "comment" on ordinary music. If his were the only kind of music, then I don't think I'd enjoy music very much. I suppose it's like, say, a horror film or thrill ride, which no one would want to experience constantly. It is frankly why I check out MSNBC once in awhile: for the momentary discordant horror.

About those cosmic chords: what are they? And how do we hear them? Well, you could say they are "archetypes," but that has too much of a Jungian connotation. How about just human nature? Which I suppose leads us back to the book we're discussing, A Theological Anthropology. Man always develops through time, right? Remember adolescence? Childhood? Infancy? What was that all about? For starters, it was an unending process of change. But what -- or who -- was changing? And "toward" whom?

I suppose that's like hearing a melody and trying to figure out what it is that is changing, when it is the nature of a melody to change. This suggests that we are not notes, but rather, unique melodies. Or, each of us takes a unique path through the chordal space of time. We are each a mirror of the Song Supreme.

You could even say that God himself is one endless song with three chords: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And as one chap expressed it, Three Chords Good.

Out of time! This tune will resume tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Cosmic Redemption Center

"Pride prevents intelligence become rationalism from rising to its source" (Schuon). Rather, in denying its source -- which is both deeper and higher -- it replaces Spirit with matter, thus accomplishing the Inversion of inversions, or Mother of All Demons: "proud reason" denies "its own nature," but this hardly prevents it from thinking -- if you call that thought!

The end result is that "torrents of intelligence are wasted for the sake of conjuring away the essential and brilliantly proving the absurd" (ibid.).

It seems that this is what the Obama administration has been reduced to (minus the brilliance) on every front: cobbling together a world that exists only in speech, while insisting that our eyes and bank accounts deceive us.

I know. Breaking news from 2008!

The dogged attempt to conform to the ideological fantasy world of the left is what got us into this multidimensional mess to begin with. I wouldn't even call these dopes ideologues; emotiologues is more like it. The left doesn't actually have an intelligentsia, only a bitter resentia or sappy sentimentia.

The Good News is preceded by the Bad News -- which is precisely what makes it good. In other words, if you haven't first been apprised of the bad news, then the good news will make no sense. It will have no context.

What is liberalism but a systematic attempt to deny people their right to hear the bad news, and to thereby get their affairs in order and handle their isness?

Regarding the bad news, the mature person will say to the physician: give it to me straight, doc! Don't sugarcoat it.

Okay. The bad news is that you have fallen and you can't get up -- at least not on your own, and not all the way.

The good news? There is help, as nonlocal operators are always standing by, ready to assist you.

Me? I don't believe in "guardian angels." Rather, I just rely on mine for all he's worth.

About this fall: it seems -- as alluded to in paragraph one above -- that it is very much wrapped up in this thing called "pride." Indeed, it has always been known that pride cometh before a clusterfark, and that an arrogant attitude precedes a fall landslide.

Now, to even say "fall" is to imply verticality. In the absence of the vertical there is no place to fall, nor any place to ascend to, except in one's own eyes (customarily projected into others in order to mirror and confirm one's pride). What is the lust for fame but a misguided search for confirmation of one's wrongness (i.e., that wrong is right)? Even I am sometimes subject to this temptation, because how could 26 Raccoons be wrong about me?

The contemporary world -- its dominant mentality -- is a tangle of inversions that proceed from the first. This, in my opinion, is what it means to be born into sin. A man cannot exist without a world, even an inverted one. We all have to conform ourselves in some form or fashion to this corrupt place, unless we are given the gift of total detachment, like a Saint Francis. But few people have that particular calling.

Pride --> Fall. Fall --> Stubborn arrogance. Absence of humility --> Gradual loss of ability to recognize, revere, and bow down before what surpasses oneself. ObamaWorld.

Now, there is something about falling that results in "brokenness," as in fragmentation and loss of wholeness. Who claims to be whole? Show me this man, and I will show you an unredeemed assoul!

Conveniently, I am reading a book by Balthasar called A Theological Anthropology, which has also been published as Man in History, but in the original German as The Whole in the Fragment. One might say "the health in the brokenness," or "the one in the many," or "the God in the man," or "the voice in my head."

In chapter one, Balthasar speaks of encountering God in the upper vertical; since he is "already there," this is something like a memory, even though it is a new experience.

And to "think," (quoting Augustine) is "to take things that the memory already contained, but scattered and unarranged, and, by thinking, bring them together."

In this regard, it seems that love and unity go together like... pride and fragmentation: for by engaging in disciplined verticalisthenics, "we are collected and bound up into unity within oneself, whereas we had been scattered abroad in multiplicity" (Augustine). Just as the Fall brings fragmentation in its wake, the assent reveals wholeness, or begins to heal the fragmentation (health and wholeness being cognates):

"To descend into time means to 'wander away,' to 'fall away,' to... sink into the abyss which the creature would be by himself, without God's creative and grace-bestowing act..." (Balthasar). "Turned away from unchanging truth," man "drifts in folly and wretchedness" (Augustine).

You might say that the ascending person and descending light meet in a spiroidal, "ever-increasing mutual penetration" (Balthasar).

Critically, this occurs in matter, in the body, and in history, not in some timeless, unchanging platonic realm above, a la Plotinus or Buddhism. In order to undo the great cosmic inversion, we must both turn around and look up, so that God, so to speak, may be down and in with us. Emmanuel.

In this way time is no longer the corrosive and entropic enemy of the Gnostics, but rather, the medium of creativity -- including the creative response to God, which indeed "redeems the time."

So yes, that is correct: the Raccoon lodge is not unlike the sacred "redemption center" where we bring our old containers to be recycled and remade into new ones.

Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. --2 Cor 4:16

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

With God All Things Are... Necessary?

A small error slipped past our editor in yesterday's post: I said I was plagiarizing with Schuon's Logic and Transcendence, when I meant From the Divine to the Human. Otherwise, the post is imbued with the usual infallibility, and carries the nihil bobstat and dodgy Imprimatur of Toots. Both books, by the way, are among Schuon's best.

As we've suggested before, it seems that what most troubles people about a process theology is that it seems to limit God's omnipotence and omniscience. Well, maybe. It depends upon how one defines those terms. There are, however, compensations.

For example, if everything is necessary, then nothing is possible. In other words, everything has to happen just as it does, so deal with it.

I was thinking about this over the weekend. What are we to make of the crack that with God all things are possible? If one were a Muslim or Christian predestineer, one would have to say "with God all things are necessary," and that it is our task to simply resign ourselves to these things and to endure them.

But to say that all things are possible with God is to say something with metaphysical implications, for it is to say that "possibility" exists in God.

But this is precisely what classical theologians do not say: rather, God for them is by definition radically complete and lacking in nothing, so how could he contain possibility? As the ArisThomists say, God is pure act, with no potency: "God is changeless because change means passage from potency to act..."

I don't know about that. Maybe it's temperamental: just as apparent limitations on God's omnipotence make a certain kind of person uncomfortable, this notion of utter changelessness gives me the willies.

But it's not just a feeling and a preference; rather, a logical absurdity; there are also the many passages in scripture that describe God as changing -- not in his essence or his primordial nature, of course, but in what Hartshorne would call his "consequent nature."

The picture just entered my thoughtspace of the planets orbiting the sun, held in place by the force of gravity. However, the gravity works both ways: just as the sun "pulls" the earth, the earth pulls the sun, albeit in a comparatively fractional way. Likewise, when you jump up in the air, your body pulls at the earth, just as the earth pulls back.

So, perhaps creation "changes" God in that way: infinitesimally, but still more than zero.

Schuon bats around some of these ideas in a chapter called The Problem of Possibility. Again, if everything is necessary then nothing is possible, so your problem is solved (because problems aren't possible, only necessary).

I suppose this has a certain appeal for a certain type of person. Again, Islam means surrender, i.e., to the radical necessity of Allah's inscrutable whimsy. There's even a certain element of this in Christianity, i.e., "Thy will be done," but it is in the form of a request and a petition, not just a resignation to cosmic inevitability, or a one-sided surrender to Fate.

After all, some things are truly inevitable, which is precisely how we can know that some things are not inevitable, i.e., that they are possible. It is good and healthy to reconcile ourselves to the inevitable, but I don't see how that could be true of the possible, because the latter invites our active participation. In my view, this explains the superiority of the Christian west over the Muslim middle east, because again, recognition of divine possibility -- and our participation in it -- changes everything.

We can still say that God is necessary being, except that this necessary being contains infinite possibility. I would even analogize this to father and mother, the former connoting the unchanging absolute, the latter connoting the divine mercy, and mercy is only possible because of a passionate connection.

In other words, to feel mercy is to be moved, and to be moved is to be changed. But change is precisely what God cannot do if the orthodox view is correct.

Even for God to "know" us requires a change on his part, for what is knowledge but conformity of the subject to the object (or in this case, another subject)? The classical view is that God already knows everything, so there can be no real relationship of knowing us. Rather, it's just God knowing himself, but even then that's an abuse of the term, because knowledge is change.

Here is how Schuon describes the innards of the Godhead, which I find quite compatible with a modified process theology:

"God is both absolute Necessity and infinite Possibility; in the first respect, He transcends everything that is merely possible, whereas, in the second respect, He is, not a given possibility," but rather, "Possibility as such." In other words, in an orthoparadoxical sense, God's necessity includes possibility (which is nearly synonymous with freedom).

After all, if God chooses to create this world instead of that one, that is the actualization of a possibility. Would it be of absolutely no consequence to God if he had created the other world? Then why bother? It flattens everything and turns God into the ultimate nihilist.

Another way Schuon handles this question is to essentially posit "two sides," so to speak, of God. I have always analogized this to our own consciousness, which is always necessarily two-sided as well, i.e., conscious vs. un- and supra-conscious.

In God, this would take the form of Being and of Beyond-Being. Beyond-Being would in turn correspond to God's unchanging essence, whereas Being would correspond to our Creator-God, the personal God, the God to whom we can truly relate and who can truly relate to us (like the sun and planet alluded to above).

Schuon: "We would say consequently that Being is Possibility purely and simply; possibility necessary in itself, but contingent in its increasingly relative contents..."

Again, possibility as such is necessary, but not this or that possibility, hence the reason for prayer. For if there is no possibility of change in God -- if he is complete necessity -- then prayer can only be an exercise in futility.

Or consider the Trinity itself: is it just an unchanging circle, like God chasing his own tail? Or is it an eternally deepening spiral of love?

In conclusion, I would suggest that possibility is the phase space of divine infinitude.


Also, the classical God would be a bit like Obama, with no need to attend his intelligence briefings because of his omniscience.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Liberalism and the Duty to be Cosmically Stupid

Interesting case of what we might call applied nominalism:

"By listing and sometimes inventing names for small Islamist splinter groups," Obama can pretend to have "rolled back" terrorism by what amounts to a linguistic strategy, i.e., by "rendering it a disparate series of ragtag jayvees.” This is like defeating organized crime by suggesting that each criminal is a unique person.

For it is written: Rather than an ideological strategy, the Left is a lexicographical tactic. --Aphorisms of Don Colacho

Nominalism is the metaphysical view that denies the existence of universals, which soon enough leads to a denial of the ability to think. But a nominalist is never consistent. In Obama's case, for example, he can support his crude generalization that America is a racist country by pointing to Ferguson. Note that he doesn't do with Ferguson what he does with global jihad: reduce it to a unique case.

Nor does Obama revert to nominalism vis-a-vis any of the victim groups that make up the core of his electoral coalition: women, homosexuals, illegals, public employee unions, etc. We can crudely generalize all day long about them, so long as it is in the form of pandering and not meaningful judgments.

"There is a purpose behind this dizzying proliferation of names assigned to what, in reality, is a global network with multiple tentacles and occasional internecine rivalries... Obama has not quelled our enemies; he has miniaturized them. The jihad and the sharia supremacism that fuels it form the glue that unites the parts into a whole -- a worldwide, ideologically connected movement rooted in Islamic scripture that can project power on the scale of a nation-state and that seeks to conquer the West. The president does not want us to see the threat this way."

But the line in that piece that caught my eye is that Obama doesn’t know what’s important because he doesn’t know what’s true. Truth is always important -- even seemingly trivial truths, since they support and lead up to the Big Truths. Thus, the real problem is that Obama elevates falsehood to importance -- or builds a Tower of Babel on a foundation of gelatin.

For example, it is important that police are engaging in genocide against black men, or that women earn seventy cents on the dollar, or that homosexuality and heterosexuality are identical, or that the planet is warming. None of these things are true, so it is the duty of intelligence to reject them.

Therefore, if you are a liberal, it is your solemn duty to be systematically stupid.

That's all I wanted to say about that. Just a little warm-up act. What I really want to talk about is the divine and cosmic orders, or the deep structure, you might say, of the vertical and horizontal worlds. Alert and patient readers will recall that about a year ago I thought I had discovered a way to reconcile tradition with the process theology of Charles Harsthorne. We're about to find out if that was true or just an unimportant boast.

It all begins with chapter four of Schuon's Logic and Transcendence, awkwardly titled "The Interplay of the Hypostases." A hypostasis, if you don't know, is "something that stands under and supports." It is the "foundation," or "underlying or essential part of anything as distinguished from attributes" -- the "substance, essence, or essential principle."

There is also a specifically Christian connotation, of course, in the nature of the Trinity. I believe the Spirit of the Trinity will come back to haunt us later in the post, especially with regard to its "substance," the reason being that this substance must actually be a process and a relation -- or relation-in-process -- so it's a little misleading to call it a substance at all, since the latter implies a kind of stasis.

So right away we see that the first part of this post was not wholly irrelevant, because we are right back to the question of universals -- indeed, the ultimate universals whereby we may understand the nature of reality. Conversely, without these universals we are lost in the universe. Literally, since "universe" is the ultimate universal short of God (and I would say because of God).

In other words, we all implicitly assume the existence of a universe, even though no one has ever seen it, nor will anyone ever be able to logically prove its existence. In order for there to be a universe, there must be a single underlying order to the whole of existence, something that binds all of reality into a comm-unity. Unless you are a nominalist, in which case we are tossed into a world that is ultimately absurd.

Schuon's writing is usually characterized by simplicity and clarity, but this is one of his more challenging essays. He even says as much at the end of the chapter, that "We are here at the limit of what can be expressed," so "it is no one's fault if within every enunciation of this kind there remain unanswerable questions, at least with respect to a given need for logical explanation on the plane of dialectics." What he hopes to provide are "points of reference that permit us to open ourselves to the ineffable to the extent possible" -- or to deploy words right to the edge of the vast What Cannot Be Said (unless by God himself).

Even so, one can still say a lot more than most people suspect but simply file away under the heading of "mystery." Nevertheless, at the end of the deity, we have to concede that "ultimate comprehension" orthoparadoxically "coincides with the inexpressible" -- or that we know (in our hearts) much more than we can say. Conversely, it is often the case that the less one knows the more one can say, therefore Obama.

Schuon begins with the Absolute, but Absoluteness has certain immediate corollaries, most importantly, infinitude. Borrowing a geometrical analogy, if the Absolute is the point, then the Infinite is the circle surrounding it -- or better, an infinite series of rays emanating out from the center.

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but later in the essay he compares the point to Father, the Circle to Son, and the radii to Holy Spirit. You could say that this represents the ultimate cartography of spirit, and that it repeats itself across dimension and scale.

You could also say that the point is the One, while the radii redound to the Many. You could also say that the latter are the precipitate of God's radiant goodness, which we experience herebelow in the form of universal-transcendentals such as beauty, truth, and virtue, to the whole host of possible perfections. Or, to quote Schuon, it "gives rise to an operative Infinitude and to a manifested Good," or to "a hypostatic hierarchy 'in a descending direction,'" which, "in the final analysis, is creative" (emphasis mine).

The only potential stumbling block for the Christian is that this geometrical-dynamic might imply that this is some kind of impersonal emanation as opposed to the free activity of a creator-person. Not to worry. Freedom and creativity and love are smack dab in the middle of this thing, not accidental but essential to its inexhaustible dynamism.

About those things that cannot be understood, or that exist outside man's comprehension: one of the biggies is evil, in that we can understand in theory why it has to be here -- i.e., that we are not God and this is not paradise -- but when confronted with the individual act of evil -- say, decapitating a coworker -- we come up against a wall of incomprehension. Why? Perhaps because evil operates outside God, and therefore within a realm of cosmic absurdity. You could say that "there is nothing to understand," which is what makes it evil, precisely. Which is why it is more effective to fight evil with a hammer and mop than with tenure.

However, you will have noticed that one of the foundational insanities of liberalism is that evil does have some simple explanation: that it is somehow our fault. The left said this during the Cold War, just as they say it of the war on global jihad. They say it of domestic criminals (so long as they are members of a certified victim group), just as they say it of most any evil that can befall a person through his own irresponsibility or bad values. Liberalism is a Rush to Non-Judgment, as in it's not your fault! But one of the things nominalism eventually eliminated was our freedom (and therefore responsibility), because freedom is either transcendental or nonexistent.

So, that's about it for today. To be continued...