Creation is a Gift, and There's Not a Damn Thing We Can Do About It
Among other things, the book is a critique of liberalism, not just the fake and malevolent liberalism of the left, but the real liberalism of American conservatism. Not a condemnation of the latter, mind you, just an acknowledgement of its limitations, or better, its inherent contradictions if separated from the Christian metaphysic that first animated it.
Here is a provocative statement, but it is the key to understanding what's going on in Indiana, with the left's assault on religious freedom:
"The increasing nihilism of liberal culture is unmasked as fundamentally gay in character," ultimately grounded in a "non-nuptial" relation to God. In the Christian view, the soul is feminine in relation to God, as is the Church to Christ. Therefore, "the world's response to God" necessarily takes "the feminine form," otherwise spiritual infertility results.
Vis-a-vis Indiana, we see a total inversion of cosmic and constitutional reality, whereby sexual perversion is literally sacralized, whereas religion is deemed perverse. How has it come to this? (I'll address this question more directly in a subsequent post.)
Schindler writes of how the "marian fiat" -- the primordial Yes to God -- is "the primary or originating act that serves as the ground of all Christian life and action." Mary's "'emptiness' and her humility [o] are what make it possible for her soul to magnify -- not herself, but the Lord."
Thus, in terms of Christian anthropology, "human freedom is receptive freedom before it is creative freedom -- or better, is a freedom that becomes authentically creative only by being anteriorly receptive." This is another way of saying that (↓) is always prior to (↑) in the transnatural cosmic spiral. Which should be obvious, or not even Darwin could get off the evolutionary ground.
You might say that (↓) is pure Gift. It is given to us, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. Except give it back, "by generously extending to others what has first been given and what we have always-already first received. All that is, is gift." We "gratefully receive from God," and "this provides both the warrant for the deepest meaning of [our] giving to others." This is nothing less than the "soul's magnification of the Lord and of the riches of his creation."
Now, it goes a little deeper than this, because even more than "giver," God is gift per se; or, one might say that he is irreducibly giver-gift-recipient (or love-generosity-gratitude), each always implying the other.
Conversely, the left always wants to force the giving, which of course isn't giving at all, if only because it is predicated on taking from someone else. But more insidiously, the faux-giving is just a pretext for the usurpation of force. We see this playing out in Indiana: the left doesn't really want to "give" anything to homosexuals, rather, just use the force of the state to suppress our constitutional (and before that, natural) right to freedom of religion. Obviously there can be no natural right to what is by any definition unnatural.
The creation, being a reflection of God, is gift. One might say that the gift is simply the objectification of love. Thus, for Schindler, in "the basic structure of the cosmos, logos and love are convertible."
This is why creation "opens out" to the intellect, just as the intellect is receptive to the creation. "Simply stated, meaning and intelligibility presuppose God," such that "if God goes, so go the foundations of meaning." This is the very basis of science -- and all the further gifts it brings. Or, try engaging in science with a passive-aggressive cosmos that refuses to share its secrets!
"Intelligibility -- identifiable meaning -- does not, and cannot, outlive God. Rather, following the death of God, we stray 'as through an infinite nothing.'"
The other day, Taranto linked to this thread at Reddit on the pointlessness of life. Yes, these are deranged liberals who have strayed through the infinite nothing, but one can at least admire their honesty:
"What's the point?... Happiness? Pleasure? Why would I want happiness? Why would I want others to be happy? Why should I care about other people? Why should I care about myself? Happiness is just an illusion, free will is an illusion, pleasure is an illusion, love is an illusion, sadness is an illusion, fear is an illusion, suffering is an illusion, and we are just a bunch of atoms trying to maximize entropy.
"Nothing has intrinsic meaning nor value. If the only way to create your own meaning and value is based on your own happiness, how can I create my own value knowing that emotions are just an evolutionary biological illusions to keep us running on the treadmill of life to maximize our chance to pass down our gene pool?"
Given this premise, the conclusion follows ineluctably: "And now I have very little motivation to keep studying or doing anything."
A commenter responds "I think the exact same way.... Everything just seems pointless to me, we live a life trying to achieve happiness only to die. I just don't see the point."
Interestingly, the poster ticks off all of his liberal dreams but sadly concludes that "there is a chance that I'm going to die before I can do and see all of of those things, and all the hard work is going to be for nothing. So I come to this world, struggle for imaginary happiness and die. What's the point?"
This is a transparent reflection of the left's always-futile attempt to immanentize Christian eschatological hope. When you realize you've founded your life on an illusion, it is depressing.
Note that the unconscious assumption of the leftist is that somehow he will become happy and fulfilled if he forces the rest of us to be happy on his terms. I say, why not skip the middleman -- the coercive state -- and just be happy? If you can't make yourself happy, then what makes you think the state can by proxy?
Besides, my happiness won't really make you happy. Rather, only more envious.