Monday, March 23, 2015

Open Your Door to the Love Explosion!

Ever since I referred to that point about points of reference, I've been seeing it everywhere. Sheed, for example, asks "how can the finite [shed] any light upon the infinite?" For "whatever concept we use is drawn from finite experience: it is obvious that it must be inadequate: it cannot tell us everything: but can it tell us anything?"

Yes, since these finite concepts are points of reference to the infinite. Two important points about these points: 1) they are -- somewhat surprisingly -- perfectly adequate to get the job done, and 2) without them we would be utterly lost, with no hope of finding ourselves or of being found. You and I would be adrift in the cosmic sea, with no compass, no bearings, and no direction home, just like the roiling foam.

Without God, there is not even a universe to be known, just a random assortment of experiences with no possibility of a metaphysical area rug to pull them together.

In the absence of God "There is no shaped totality, but only myriads upon myriads of individual things, meaningless because no mind presided at their origin, purposeless because no mind intended them, a drift of things drifting where they happen to be drifting, and ourselves elements in the drift; nothing can be known in its context, for a multifold shapelessness is not a context; no integration is possible because there is no integer" (Sheed), i.e., no One OM.

You want nominalism? This is nominalism on stilts, meaning that we are condemned to a horizontal world of pure concrete, with no universals, no abstractions, no transcendentals. It is a world of unremitting appearances, with no reality underneath or overhead. The world, instead of being filled with vertical murmurandoms, consists only of a kind of fragmented speech -- or rather, any coherent message we may discern is just a jumble of cosmic phonemes that we pretend to have meaning, like seeing a Big Dipper in a random assortment of stars.

I don't see any room for wiggle room in this scenario; it's very much an either/or, as in either God or nihilism; or, if nihilism is not the case, then God.

Even for evolutionists, man must be the current last word in evolution. There will presumably be newer and better words in the future, but then again, there can be no "better" in a horizontal universe, only different. In this latter view, there is matter and there is animated matter, but there can be no better or worse animated matter. The liberal idea that a fetus has no more value than a decayed tooth has deep metaphysical roots.

What if man is the "end" of evolution? In other words, what if there can be no possible evolution beyond man?

Man, according to Schuon, "marks not only the summit of earthly creatures, but also, and for this very reason, the exit from their condition" (emphasis mine). Thus, "to see man is to see not only the image of God" but also an open door, a vertical inscape hatch. Man always "opens out" to reality, I believe for the same reason God does. In the Trinitarian view, it is as if, say, the Father cannot help but open out to the Son, and vice versa; it is what they do.

If the Trinity provides us with a point of reference, then it should come as no surprise that we open out to reality, just as reality offers itself to us. There is this mutual indwelling that results in that familiar metacosmic spiral that carries us aloft. How can we be "adrift" when we are quite obviously aloft?

So, man is both summit and exit; or, summit because exit. All other animals are what they are, or in other words, trapped in their forms. But man's form is proportioned to something that transcends it. As such, we are back to the first paragraph above, in that man-as-such is a finite thing that sheds light on the infinite.

You could say that man cannot transcend his own transcendence; or, more to the point, he cannot.... he cannot do whatever the antonym of transcend is. Man is condemned to transcendence, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it short of suicide, whether literal, intellectual, or spiritual.

"The human form cannot be transcended," writes Schuon, being that "its sufficient reason" is "precisely to express the Absolute." Now, the Absolute can have no absolute form, for reasons alluded to above: because the finite cannot contain the infinite. But to say that man is the image and likeness of God is to say that man is a point of reference to God.

That's the good news. But what if man has sunken beneath this proper form? You know, fallen? Then we will be in need of a vertical intervention: call it an Incarnation. Given this principle, then we can say that Jesus (the man) becomes an unsurpassable icon of God; and that our relationship to this icon is likewise another icon, or rather, a participation in the same icon.

This gives new meaning to Jesus' comparison of himself with a door. That's not just the parochial shoptalk of a carpenter.

[I]nfinite love has exploded into our universe; theology is an effort to diagram the explosion. The diagram is indispensable, but it is not the reality and it must not obsess us. What matters is the love, and that cannot be diagrammed. --F.J. Sheed

7 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

I like that last quote by Sheed; well said.

This gives new meaning to Jesus' comparison of himself with a door. That's not just the parochial shoptalk of a carpenter.

Another good one is the comparison of Jesus to Moses' bronze snake on a pole: the icon to which the Israelites needed only turn their eyes to be healed from being snake-bit. But of course, it must have bothered them to make the snake given that they probably couldn't see the difference between an icon and an idol. Come to think of it, most people still can't.

3/23/2015 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Eventually, in the days of Hezekiah, the bronze serpent had become an idol and had to be destroyed.

I imagine that's some of the thinking behind Protestantism's rejection of iconography. It has been or could be misused, so let's just get rid of all it.

It's the same reason we get our "fruit of the vine" unfermented in our little communion cups, and we all get individual ones. Sanitized for your protection.

3/23/2015 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

""The human form cannot be transcended," writes Schuon, being that "its sufficient reason" is "precisely to express the Absolute." Now, the Absolute can have no absolute form, for reasons alluded to above: because the finite cannot contain the infinite. But to say that man is the image and likeness of God is to say that man is a point of reference to God.

That's the good news. But what if man has sunken beneath this proper form? You know, fallen? Then we will be in need of a vertical intervention: call it an Incarnation. Given this principle, then we can say that Jesus (the man) becomes an unsurpassable icon of God; and that our relationship to this icon is likewise another icon, or rather, a participation in the same icon."

Now that is iconoclad icoonovision.

3/23/2015 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"If the Trinity provides us with a point of reference, then it should come as no surprise that we open out to reality, just as reality offers itself to us. There is this mutual indwelling that results in that familiar metacosmic spiral that carries us aloft. How can we be "adrift" when we are quite obviously aloft?"

Aye, the Trinity is not just a reference point, it's a trireverence points, which gives a multidimensional fix that is mOst precise, showing where we are in relation(ship) to God (and our bearings from and to), thus giving us a course we should be navigating.

And we must continually receive our bearings to these reverence points to ensure we remain on the course we are destined to be on.

Like a ship at sea, currents can cause our ship to drift, and without these points of reverence we cannot safely correct our course when needed.

3/23/2015 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"...The liberal idea that a fetus has no more value than a decayed tooth has deep metaphysical roots."

Indeed, and what an abscess it causes. Simply can't get those wisdom teeth in until that's treated, and until then it's a spoon fed Grrbr leftie diet. Beware the diaper blow outs. ...

3/23/2015 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Ben, the J.R. and I were discussing this morning that now matter how big one builds their ship, it becomes very small on the vasty sea.

Love the "reverence points" and shall now appropriate the term for all matters vertical.

3/24/2015 04:35:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Joan and JR,
Yes, that's true. The sea can take any sized ship at any time, even with the best Cap'n n' crew.
Any sailor doesn't respect that is s foolish as those who thought the Titanic was unsinkable.

That's why it's best to have faith in Cap'n God. :)

3/24/2015 02:12:00 PM  

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