Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Hovering in Love Around the Above

In response to yesterday's post, reader Magister suggests that life is analogous to a film, and that "whether the film is already shot is a matter of perspective. To those immersed in time, it can never appear to be already shot," in contrast to God, who is "both in and outside time."

That is precisely the issue, or one of them, anyway. Take only the Incarnation, which is analogous to the director jumping into his own film or the playwright into the play.

Thus, if God is subjecting himself to the full monty of humanness, then surely he is submitting to time, no? For if he isn't, then not only is he excluding one of the most characteristic features of humanness, but he isn't really with us all the way to the end of our cosmic predicament. Not even the beginning, really, since it all begins in time. For humanness, time is surely of the essence.

Magister continues: "The question to me is this: how must we understand the relationship between God’s be-ing and His knowledge? If God's being is infinite, then so too must be His knowledge. Otherwise, it is difficult for me to understand how God could be present to something and not know it. The two must be co-extensive.

"I’m not sure then what to make of a claim that God’s omniscience and his omnipresence can be separated. Jewish thinkers have speculated about a void' (tsimstum?) that God created to put a space between Himself and creation, a space where He is neither present nor, presumably, even aware. I get the metaphor, but have a difficult time seeing the logic in it."

Allow me. Regarding tzimtzum, it is an important Kabbalistic concept meaning God's prior "withdrawal" from being in order to leave a zone of real cosmic and human freedom.

This is a metaphysical concept, so it cannot really be contrasted to the physics of the big bang. I wouldn't take tzimtzum absolutely literally; rather, it's an "as if" story that helps to elucidate the phemomena -- you know, like Darwinism.

But it is as if, instead of expanding outward with a badda-bing, badda BANG!, God first "contracts" to "a point of infinite density" before taking up the work of creation with the resultant void; this void is the Great Nothing out of which and into which God creates. It very much reminds me of the Tao, which says, for example, that we build a house but use the space.

I appreciate this way of looking at things because it is so "existentially near," so to speak. When we say, for example, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," we are acknowledging that God is present in heaven in a way that is different from his presence on earth.

Under celestial conditions he is "fully present," but here on earth he seems to be slightly introverted. He doesn't overwhelm us or suck all the oxygen from the room. He gives us our... space. He is not, in the words of the Book of the Same Name, an "ainsoferable gnosis all."

As to the relationship between God's being and knowledge, yes, in him knowledge -- which is to say truth -- would be entirely wrapped up in his being (as would the other transcendentals, beauty, goodness, and unity). However, it would seem to me that God's ultimate attributes are love and relationship -- AKA Trinity -- such that God's being is always a giving-and-receiving.

I think this goes to Mushroom's later comment to the effect that "There is an eternal 'depth' to time like a spring boiling up from beneath." Now we're plunging into the Eckhart of the matter, because that is precisely how the Meistero describes it. Admittedly we are attempting to describe the indescribable, and yet, I don't think God wants us to be out here with no earthly idea of what goes on in there.

In one of my favorite books, Bernard McGinn writes of "the dynamic reciprocity of the 'flowing forth' of all things from the hidden ground of God, and the 'flowing back,' or 'breaking through,' of the universe into essential identity with this divine source."

Now, I think this flowing-forth and flowing-back result in "change" in God. You could say that with the Incarnation, God includes man in this eternal freeflow of the Trinity. We are cordially invited to participate in this same eternal creation-in-love. How this can be reduced to a static and changeless reality, I have no idea. Who needs a heart that doesn't beat?

Magister writes that "Emotionally, I'm all for freedom, joy, unpredictability, improvisation, and unpredictability. I completely agree with Bob: 'I'd want to create a little realm of unpredictability just to relieve the tedium!'”

Well, what we have outlined above provides an airtight alibi for belief in the divine freedom, unpredictability, and improvisation, AKA the Adventure of Consciousness in which we may participate -- but only by mirroring God's own kenosis, i.e., chucking our illusions of control and predictability and surrendering to the the flow (especially the vertical flow of grace). Conversely, to be drifting downstream in the creek of time without a kenosis is to be sealed up in our own personal hell.

Magister continues that "In the Thomistic view, God is an infinite supernova of creative love. All be-ing is present to Him, the good and the evil, He sees it all elapse, He responds to its elapsing, and He has it all, every bit of it, in His embrace. But here we can only resort to metaphor. God does not experience the sequential thing called 'tedium' because God is not only in time."

Well, yes and no. If he does indeed "respond" -- and he does -- to things that are in time, then he has surrendered at least a part of himself to time. It's just that he always "enlivens" time, and I would go so far as to say that he is the life in the time, which is why in a genuine religious practice, we enjoy the time of our lives.

Again, the Incarnation is necessarily an In-temporalization. And we have heard it from the wise that this temporalization shall continue to the end of the age, during which Christ is "always with us." Being that we are undoubtedly in time, then if God is with us, then he too is in time.

Think of the alternative -- which strikes me as absurd -- in which "God influences all things, nothing influences God" (Hartshorne). What, is God autistic, like Obama, oblivious to the reality he has brought about?

But Genesis tells us that this is not the way God rolls. Rather, each time he creates, he responds to what he has created by declaring it "good." It seems to me that if he just creates but doesn't respond to his own creation, then that is more like the God of deism, in which there is one creation, one time, and then we're on our own.

I won't press the point, but for me, this is a more sublime description of our Ultimate Reality: "He influences us supremely because he is supremely open to our influence. He responds delicately to all things, as we respond delicately to changes in our nerve cells," although "Of course, his delicacy is infinitely greater" (ibid.). And no way would we have this delicate responsiveness if he didn't first.

The point is, the creation is a two-way street, not a one-way nul-de-slack. And in this regard, it again mirrors the interior of the Trinity. Therefore, if becoming is the primary reality, then God's being is only an abstraction from his perpetual becoming-in-Trinity.

Thus, in contrast -- or better, addition -- to Magister's point above about God's being and knowledge being co-extensive, prior to this would be his becoming and his knowing. And this is indeed "infinite delight."

In conclusion, our love of God is a kind of floating on the currents of his eternal trinitarian mystery. Don Colacho even says so:

To love is to hover without rest around the impenetrability of a being. And Religious thought does not go forward, like scientific thought, but rather goes deeper.

Hovering in vertical space, drawn ever deeper into the vortex of the Great Attractor. The Raccoon lifestyle.


Blogger julie said...

But Genesis tells us that this is not the way God rolls. Rather, each time he creates, he responds to what he has created...

And not only in Genesis, in Genesis, but all the way through. His goings back and forth with Moses are actually pretty entertaining.

I'm starting to think this topic would be better served by psylocibin than pot ;)

12/02/2015 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Huh. There's an echo in here, in here.

12/02/2015 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Echo or not, I love this stuff. That makes me some kind of freak in many circles, and I could care less.

12/02/2015 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Then you'll appreciate Evolution 2.0. Only a third of the way through it, but really blogworthy so far.

12/02/2015 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

I was going to ask you about that book. Very compelling reviews.

12/02/2015 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

Bob, thank you sincerely for all this. I'm going to meditate on it a while, very sympathetically.

Plus, I have to organize receipts this morning to get reimbursed in time for Christmas. *smiles*


12/03/2015 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Jules said...

Yes psylocibin... Ayahusca etc are doorways to real reality which is weirder and more wonderful than we can imagine.

I like the bit about God being like a supernova of love... and yes I think duality is part of the plan, therefore evil... as hard as that is too accept. Might make it a bit easier to accept being burnt at the stake...

I suspect ISIS and their legions will be the West's awakener... we have become such materialistic , spiritless slobs... they can only be defeated with concerted courage and belief in ourselves. Something the Trumpinator may bring to the USA.

good youtube video by Dr Sheldrake on "the science delusion" .
see my blog if you're interested:

12/04/2015 05:40:00 AM  

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