Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Miracles and Openings

In religious circles time tends to get a bad rap, no doubt due to that whole aging and dying thingy. As a consequence, there is a disproportionate valuation of eternity, as if time isn't in eternity and vice versa.

Or at least that's what I suspect, so I was pleased to read in Schindler how Balthasar "insists that the trinitarian life of God contains the 'original idea' of time." In short, if "something is happening" in the Trinity, then something analogous occurs in our experience of time.

Of this High Time, Schindler suggests that "The 'present' of the eternal begetting of the Son by the Father is an 'always-already having been' from the Father which is inclusive of an 'eternal future' for the Father."

To demythologize this somewhat, the present is always a kind of creative begetting from the source or ground. But this creative begetting has never not been, thus the "past." And it will never end, thus the "future." The vector of time is something like conception -> birth -> fulfillment, in a circular movement very much at odds with the idea of the "motionless mover."

For Schindler, this triple movement is "infinitely intensified in God." Instead of an eternal stasis in which God is the ultimate flatliner, the picture emerges of "eternal motion or 'movingness.' Rather than saying there is no becoming in God, one should speak instead of the 'super-becoming of the innerly-divine event.'"

Easy for me to say, since I cannot comprehend God in any other way. If "life within God" were "eternally the same," this "would imply a kind of everlasting boredom," or an eternal snoozefest. That's not slack, that's just unconsciousness.

Thus, I couldn't agree more that "God's trinitarian life is a 'liveliness' characterized by the always new and by 'surprise.'" Indeed, it is "a 'communion of surprise' (in the sense of an infinite ever-flowing fulfillment)."

You know, this is precisely what jazz is supposed to be, at least the kind I enjoy: a communion of musical surprise. I can't imagine the boredom of a musician having to play the same songs in the same way in every performance, night after night.

Demythologizing -- or just abstracting -- again, if the Father is "active action," then the Son is "passive action." The latter is by no means mere passivity, but rather, active receptiveness to the outflowing presence of the other.

I can relate to this somewhat, because this is what one does as a psychotherapist: one listens to the patient -- or attends to his or her presence -- in an actively passive way. "Listening with the third ear," as one psychoanalyst put it.

Similarly, Bion recommended suspending memory, desire, and understanding so as to be able to fully attend to the moment in a creatively open manner. Isn't this also the appropriate attitude for approaching scripture? For there the idea is not to superimpose a grid of predigested meaning, but rather, to have a real encounter with another Wording Presence.

"Activity and passivity in God are thus always-already different because of their relation to each other: activity is not 'merely' active, nor is passivity 'merely' passive." Rather, each is conditioned by, or in the context of, a love that really comes down to a mutual gift-giving.

Returning to the main theme, the divine movement described above is not some kind of defect "to be eliminated by eternity," but rather, a positive resulting in "an infinite deepening and intensification in eternity." Again, this is not the absolute negation of time, but rather, its very basis.

Otherwise neither time nor eternity make any human sense at all. Time becomes pointless and absurd, while eternity becomes... well, it doesn't become at all. The former is endless nothingness, while the latter is a nothingness forever.

But assuming the old formula of the Fathers, that "God becomes man so that man might become God," in more practical terms we might say that eternity becomes time so that time might become eternal. And it does so through God's mighty memory.

"Theory or contemplation become vacancy or boredom, or again, interiority becomes emptiness, for the person whose time has not been filled with eternity, and the form of whose life has not been invested 'with lucid stillness.'"

I'm thinking... this may help make sense of a provocative Schuonism I've been puzzling over for the last several days. Won't know unless I try.

It is in the context of a discussion of the miraculous in the book From the Divine to the Human, in which he says that "A miracle is like a sunrise: it pre-exists in the divine order and it manifests only in conjunction with a human opening."

In other words, the earth is always rotating, so the sun is always "rising" somewhere, depending upon the "human opening." Indeed, there is no such thing as a "sunrise" in the absence of a human observer, for in reality, "the sun is fixed in relation to the earth."

Now, if we jump up a cosmic octave, it is as if Nature is "a moving veil before an immutable supernature." As this veil of nature moves before supernature, all sorts of interesting things flow down and in.

Most importantly, the miracle as such "is prefigured by the eruption of life into matter, and all the more so by the eruption of intelligence both into matter and into life," to say nothing of "the eruption of Revelation" into intelligence.

Thus, there are outward miracles and inward miracles, but the former are always for the sake of the latter, which is ultimately "the divine Presence in the soul." However, here again, this divine presence is like the "eternal sunrise" which is only present for a human opening. But I still think it moves, in the same sense that the sun actually "moves," if only via its benevolent radiation of light.

10 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

If "life within God" were "eternally the same," this "would imply a kind of everlasting boredom," or an eternal snoozefest. That's not slack, that's just unconsciousness.

Funny, I've had much the same thought recently. If eternity is simply an unending "just is" where nothing actually happens, I don't see the appeal. Though it occurs just now that maybe it has something in common with the way small kids can enjoy the same movie or story over and over and over again, long past the point where any adult can find any pleasure in it. Something about having the mind tuned a certain way keeps it from ever getting old.

Similarly, Bion recommended suspending memory, desire, and understanding so as to be able to fully attend to the moment in a creatively open manner. Isn't this also the appropriate attitude for approaching scripture? For there the idea is not to superimpose a grid of predigested meaning, but rather, to have a real encounter with another Wording Presence.

Indeed, and whenever possible it seems to me this is a good way to approach prayer, too. Most people I know seem to have a pretty good idea of what they want to ask for; not so many have the idea that they should just enter into it receptively.

4/28/2015 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Isn't this also the appropriate attitude for approaching scripture? For there the idea is not to superimpose a grid of predigested meaning, but rather, to have a real encounter with another Wording Presence.

Yes, that's one thing that comes through reading Origen. It's breaking me of the habit of telling the Bible what it means.

4/28/2015 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

4/28/2015 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The analogy with miracles and the sun makes sense. Thinking of the gospel accounts of the miracles of Jesus, those that were open to Him received.

Miracles haven't ceased, but we quit recognizing them. It is as if we are walking around on a sunny day wondering where the light is coming from.

4/28/2015 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger katzxy said...

"attends to his or her presence -- in an actively passive way"

Now that's an eye opener right there.

4/28/2015 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Why do surprises, the good kind, always feel like the best sort of Love?

4/28/2015 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Only the unexpected fully satisfies. Nothing that satisfies our expectations fulfills our hopes." --Don Colacho

4/28/2015 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

There again is why onanism, in all its forms, is always ultimately sterile and unfulfilling. Even as people can ever more precisely tailor their world to reflect back every earthly desire, there is less and less room for the surprising joy that comes from a fruitful opening of the self.

4/28/2015 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speechless.

4/28/2015 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Wow Julie. That'll give new meaning to "We really just clicked!".

4/29/2015 09:49:00 AM  

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