Friday, June 03, 2016

Arboreal Deity Cerebration

The parable of the mustard seed is the briefest of parables, but when explicated grows into a sprawling post, so that Raccoons of the world can find slack in it...

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and planted in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that birds of the air come and nest in its branches.

A footnote in my Study Bible says that the mustard seed symbolizes the disciples who "began as just a few men, but soon 'encompassed the whole earth'" -- almost like Jesus knew this would eventually happen or something.

The seed also symbolizes "faith entering a person's soul, which causes an inward growth of virtue," such that he becomes increasingly godlike (AKA theosis).

And on the opposite page, I see that there is a whole section on parables, which are "stories in word-pictures, revealing spiritual truth." In Hebrew and Aramaic, the word is also related to allegory, proverb, and riddle.

With apologies to our godless friends, parables can function a bit like koans, which, according to the google machine, are paradoxical anecdotes or riddles used in Zen to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.

In like fashion, parables "give us glimpses of Him whose thoughts are not our thoughts and whose ways are not our ways." The point is to vault us out of our habitual manner of thinking.

Which is why they require a bit of "work" on our end: the meaning "is not evident to all who hear them. The listener must have spiritual ears to hear, and even then not all have the same degree of understanding."

Parables are layered, as it were; or rather, we are layered, and therefore understand the parable according to our own depth.

The Study Bible cooncurs: the parables demonstrate that "people are responsible for their own lack of receptivity: having grown dull and insensitive," they are unwilling or unable to hear or accept the message.

Importantly, insight into them "does not come simply through an intellectual understanding"; rather, they are, as it were, relatively unsaturated containers into which a kind of higher understanding -- AKA faith -- may pour itself.

Rutler adverts to the intricacy -- and mystery -- of any seed. Jesus's "earthly contemporaries would have been confounded by the system that encodes in the first inkling of a life all that the organism will become.... A seed is alive, even if it looks like little more than lint," just as "the first cell of human life is alive" even if we call it a "blastocyst."

For Rutler, the seed represents the Church, "nascent and fragile" yet destined to reach over mountains, across oceans, and even through cultures, baptizing and transforming what is worthy and leaving the rest behind.

This despite the fact that "The little seedling did not seem to have much promise, and it seemed to die when it sprouted into a cross."

It seems that the seed is simultaneously incarnation, cross, and church, i.e., Body of Christ. Or, the sprawling Body of Christ is the mature plant that has grown from its tiny seedling.

Dávila has an arboreal aphorism that relates somewhat to the above: We cannot find shelter in the Gospel alone, as we also cannot take refuge in the seed of an oak tree, but rather next to the twisted trunk and under the disorder of the branches.

Which is why to fell sacred groves is to erase divine footprints.

Having said that, Souls that Christianity does not prune never mature.

Those three aphorisms add up to the idea that the seed is planted in time, which is why it is entirely bound up with history, which is to say tradition. History is the twisted trunk and tradition the unruly branches. Some Protestants would cut down the tree of tradition to try to get back to the seed, but that is to erase footprints the divine has left in history.

Nevertheless, prudent pruning is always advised. A couple of years ago a massive tree in my side yard split in two, because a huge branch had grown too large and too remote from the central trunk.

There's a parable in there somewhere....

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Tares & Snares: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Stuff

Once upin a timeless...

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away, cloaked in his darkness.

So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came to him and said, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?'

'An enemy has done this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'lest in gathering the weeds, you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat into my barn.

Once again Jesus furnishes his own exegesis -- or at least decodes the symbols -- equating the field with the world, the farmer with himself, the sower of weeds with the evil one, the good seed with "the sons of heaven," the lousy seed with "sons of the evil one," the harvest with the end of time, and the reapers with his angels.

Exactly what is a tare, anyway? Sources inform me that it is a naughty weed that not only resembles wheat when young, but is indistinguishable from it. You won't be able to tell the difference until harvest time, when both have matured.

Plus their roots may become entangled below ground, so you won't be able to pull the tare without risking the wheat. Nor do you want to confuse the one with the other and eat the tare, for it apparently causes dizziness and nausea. It's bad food.

The moral of the story? This world is Messed. Up. Until the end of time.

Note how grace falls from heaven in the form of the good seed. But it is as if, on the way down, there are cross currents from another source, which contaminate what God has poured out.

Interestingly, the bad seed is specifically a counterfeit version of the good. It is as if God throws down sound money, but before it hits the ground the Evil One tosses out millions in counterfeit bills. He must have studied the genuine bills closely in order to produce the phony ones.

The parable, according to Rutler, calls us "to exercise patience with the human will as it exercises its God-given freedom," for freedom itself is neither good nor bad. Rather, it depends entirely upon what one does with it. Or, to be perfectly accurate, it depends upon the vector of the freedom, i.e., where it is aimed.

As it so happens, this is one of the biggest differences between left and right. There is a chapter devoted to this in The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree. Let's check it out and see if it has anything to say about wheat and tare.

Ah, yes. Our real freedom is a natural right that does not (could not) come from the state. But modern liberalism creates and confers new freedoms that it inevitably (necessarily) sows with tares of coercion and control. In author words,

"[O]ur" -- which is to say, the left's -- "most recent ideal of freedom is a rather paradoxical one. We want a radical combination of personal rights and freedoms, but also a broad range of goods and services provided to all by the state."

One of these is not like the other!

"[T]his historically novel combination of enemy opposites" may be characterized as "libertarian [liberTAREan ho ho] socialism, under which citizens have all the personal, bodily, and especially sexual freedoms imaginable, while their former political, economic, social, and expressive freedoms are increasingly either eliminated altogether or heavily regulated by the state, its courts, and tribunals."

Ripped from the headlines, as it were.

So the state always sows tares into its bogus promises of wheat. It's another way of saying that the government that does anything for you can do anything to you.

Look at the promises of ObamaCare, or Social Security, or Medicare, whatever. There are tares enough in state subsidized college, but just wait until it's free! We are still recovering from the economic catastrophe caused by the state sowing its tares into the mortgage industry.

And here is an especially distressing story: California is sowing tares of statism into all its textbooks (as if they aren't far enough left as it is). This is to ensure that children grow up to be worthless tares fit only for hell. Which they will proceed to reproduce on earth, like good little statists.

As to the demons who sow the tares into the textbooks of innocent children? Necks & millstones, says the sower of good seed.

There is horizontal freedom and there is vertical freedom, and unless the former is informed by the latter, it reduces to nothing more than... nothing, really, because it is utterly meaningless.

In fact, to separate the vertical from the horizontal is perhaps the most efficient way to turn God's joyous wheat of freedom into tares of ontological dread and existential mischief.

Back to Rutler. He says that the parable opposes the idea of man's total depravity, "for the bad seed comes after the good seed in Christ's telling. In the beginning, the field was good, and the first seed was good. Nature is not originally evil..."

Note also that the evil one waits until good men are sleeping before he does his nefarious business, i.e., sowing the bad seed. He doesn't do it in broad daylight, being that sunlight is always the best disinfuckedup.

"The enemy obscures lucidity with euphemisms and cloaks with pride the consciences of bright minds." You might day that he focuses an intense beam of darkness so as to turn their mindfields insight-out.

Libruls are tarists, no doubt about it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Seed & Soil, Word & Womb

I'm reading an interesting book -- Hints of Heaven -- that analyzes each of Jesus' parables. "Analyzes" is probably the wrong word; there's some of that, but it's more of a meditation on their meaning. I will try to add to Rutler's exegeses if I can, but there are no guarantees, the spirit blowing where it will and all.

Now, if this is God speaking, these parables should be of concern to us all -- not just the content but the form as well, for why should a co-creator of the cosmos specifically choose this idiosyncratic manner of expression? There must be something about the parabolic form itself that is conducive to transmitting what he wants us to know, and in the way he wants us to know it.

But in any event, as foretold in Psalms, I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world. That's a bold statement!

Let's get some preluminaries out of the way -- like, exactly what is a parable? It is "a similitude employing a brief narrative in order to teach a spiritual lesson" (Rutler). All told there are 24 of them in the synoptic gospels, but for whatever reason, none in John. They are "hints of heaven," or "delicate and veiled indications of our true homeland." Thus they are what we annoyingly call reveilation, revealing and veiling at the same time.

Jesus even gives us one reason why he communicates in parables: because some people hear without understanding and see without perceiving. Thus, it seems that the parable requires a bit of mental work on our end in order to make the penny drop. It reminds me of psychotherapy, the trick of which is to guide the patient to a realization, as opposed to just providing the answer.

The first parable is The Sower and the Seed. It goes a little like this (I just grabbed the first translation that came up; it's not necessarily the same one Rutler uses):

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path and was trodden under foot, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil and grew, and yielded hundredfold.

In this case, Jesus even explains the parable to the slow-on-the-uptake disciples:

The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop...

This parable, according to Rutler, is about our receptivity to grace; it is "more about the soils than the Sower." The seed is the Word, but herebelow the Word falls into more or less fertile soil. Jesus names four kinds of soil with differing degrees of receptiveness and therefore fertility.

Rutler identifies the first -- the seed which falls by the wayside -- with "the path of the proud, who consider the seed, the word of God, out of place or irrelevant."

This, it seems to me, speaks of the quintessential infertile egghead who prefers his own barren path to the fruitful fields of God -- like an ugly asphalt street running through an orchard. Think of academia. Because it has to do with "knowledge," some divine seeds inevitably fall there. But what happens to them? They are carelessly trampled underfoot, and if noticed at all, will be regarded as weeds instead of the very nourishment that sustains truth.

The rocky ground goes to those people who, deep down, are as shallow as can be. "This soil is superficiality, the seductive cosmetic of obtuseness." It is "the senselessness of those who channel-surf through life, addicted to shallow entertainment and insubstantial celebrities..." They are distracted by distraction and addicted to addiction. As Homer Simpson says of himself, "I've discovered my one weakness -- it's that I'm weak!

What about the thorny ground? "The seed that falls here is choked by illusions." It is a mixture of good and bad -- including good and bad religion. (I could say more, but I'm out of time; but think of all the chopra-esque religious parasites, or parasites on religion!)

Finally there is the good soil, which "makes a hybrid of heaven and earth." Pneumaticonically speaking, it is (↓↑), "the indescribable conversation between man and God"; it is the seed that "takes root in the earth [↓] and flourishes, growing upward [↑] toward paradise." I suppose the Archetype of archetypes here would be Word & Womb.

But more generally, it is a "blast of objective grace" plunged into "the soil of human subjectivity." Whatever else the mind is, it is womb and soil for the ends of birth and harvest.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Absolutism, True and False

When asked about his philosophy, Schuon would say that he was an absolutist -- which, in our relativist and totolerantarian world, is intolerable.

But everyone is an absolutist, either explicitly or implicitly, overtly or secretly (especially to oneself). Look at how the left wing tech giants vow to rid the internet of "hate speech" before the sun sets tomorrow. They absolutely won't tolerate it!

Some absolutists are frankly intolerable -- Islamists, social justice warriors, Black Lives Matter, campus crybullies, etc. So, how do we determine the difference between a healthy and functional absolutism vs. a fascistic and dysfunctional one? How do we know that my Absolute is worthy of reverence and respect, while yours deserves to be kicked in the balls?

In the previous post I mentioned Gairdner's excellent Book of Absolutes, which I don't believe I've ever playgiarized with at length. He notes that "for more than a century, the citizens of the Western world have been uncritically subjected in the media, the public square, and the classroom to the disturbing idea that there is no permanent truth in human life or in the material world and that the meaning of something can therefore be found only relative to something else."

Thus, "for most of us" -- and this would include me during my academic years of peak indoctrination -- "this has become the only indisputable truth of modern times..."

"We are told that time and space are relative" -- which is of course true; which is to say they are relative to one another and to the absolute speed of light -- but also that "Cultures are relative. Moral values are relative. Laws are relative. Even biological distinctions such as gender are said to be relative (or 'constructed') at will."

Here we see how mental and spiritual toxins that once polluted only the mountain peaks of academia have flowed down into the valleys and oozed up into the plains of politics, media, lower education, and popular culture.

Thus, for the first time in history we have a president who actually believes this shit. And I think that even Hillary Clinton is surprised that more than half of her base also fervently believes this lunacy -- not as a cynical strategy to gain power (which a Clinton always understands), but in terms of non-negotiable, absolute ideals. Hence the success of the Sanders campaign.

Let's get one thing out of the way: yes, everything is relative, the question being relative to what? For the proper Absolutist, everything is relative to the Absolute, AKA God. Indeed, we don't even believe it is possible to have the word "relative" without reference to the Absolute, for they mutually define one another.

But for the absolute relativist, everything is relative to everything else. This can make no logical sense, for it means that one is truly trapped in language, and cannot make any meta-statements from outside the system, i.e., from the perspective of the Absolute.

So in reality, everything is either ordered to the Absolute in a hierarchical way, or else we are reduced to a kind of absolute disorder about which we can make no true statements at all. Which is why to be a genuine Absolutist is to be a Truthist as well.

One reason why multiculturalism is such an abomination is that culture itself presupposes certain absolutes upon which everyone agrees. Widespread agreement on these absolutes is precisely what creates the conditions for a high-trust society.

In Gairdner's more recent The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree, he writes of how, when he was younger, "it was common at a dinner party with family and friends to find ourselves drawn into discussion and debate over the political and moral topics of the day."

Two observations, which I too well remember: first, no one was fearful of expressing their views, as this was prior to the oppressive regime of political correctness. Second, "I cannot remember any violent personal attacks, tears, or outrage over someone else's point of view, however wacky it may have seemed..."

But nowadays I can't even imagine volunteering my views in public unless I pick up clues from my interlocutor that I am in a Safe Space (I live in one of the most hermetically sealed liberal bubbles in the country). There is no doubt whatsoever that the Trump phenomenon is rooted in this experience -- which is why it doesn't matter what he says, so long as it disturbs liberal idiots.

And when I say "idiot," that's not an insult, rather, literal, for "the ancient Greeks actually used the word idiotes... to describe anyone who insisted on seeing the world in a purely personal and private way."

"Certainly, no young person in the past would have expected to impress a teacher by arguing that all truths are relative," for to do so is a confession of absolute ignorance and/or stupidity. If everything is relative, then truly, everyone deserves an A -- or F, which literally amounts to the same thing.

Hitler was an Absolutist. As was Stalin. And Mao. And the Islamists. How then is our Absolutism different from theirs?

Simple: our Absolutism means openness to the Absolute. In other words, it is a vertically open system in which we are always relative to the Absolute. What we call "general" or "natural" grace is the downward flow of energies from this nonlocal source (to be distinguished from the special grace of Christianity).

But the false Absolutism of the left always involves the superimposition of a manmode, faux absolute on the world, thus foreclosing the open vertical flow. Then, in a perverse caricature of reality, a kind of counterfeit grace flows "freely" from the state. Thus, thanks to Obama, more Americans are dependent upon this unbought material grace than ever before in our history.

At the same time, there is a relentless attack on the competing form of vertical grace, i,e., religion. The left must attack Christianity, because if Christianity is true, then leftism is both false and demonic.