Monday, August 21, 2017

Staring at the Nonlocal Sun is Bad for the Health of Your Ego

Are you bored of the eclipse yet? Even my son asked, "What's the big deal? There's a sunset every evening." And he's no cynic. Just group-trance resistant.

Well, at least the media are momentarily hysterical about something other than Trump.

The sun is such a primordial symbol of divinity, it must resonate in a particularly intense way among the spiritually obtuse and/or untutored. I'm sure you've read stories of how eclipses affected premodern people. I just looked it up, and we don't actually have to go back in time. For example, here's a laughty sage who explains why eating food during a lunar eclipse is harmful.

But solar eclipses are that much more dangerous. For example, 4,000 years ago a couple of proto-pundits were beheaded for failing to notify the king of a forthcoming eclipse. If only we could do the same to pundits who failed to predict the cosmic catastrophe of Trump.

The general consensus seems to have been that a demon or monster was attacking and robbing the trembling horde of the central principle that orders and illuminates their primitive cosmos. In other words, Trump Derangement by another name.

Schuon has some pertinent things to say about the symbolism of the sun:

To say that the sun is God is false to the extent it implies that "God is the sun"; but it is equally false to pretend that the sun is only an incandescent mass and absolutely nothing else, for this would be to cut it off from its divine Cause; it would be to deny that that the effect is always something of the Cause.

The point is that for the great majority of human history, the sun was regarded as a god. But before you dismiss this as kooky talk, consider the adequacy of the symbol for a preliterate people. It is as if the sun wordlessly conveys a number of perennial metaphysical principles, for example, "luminosity, heat, central position, and immutability in relation to the planets" -- or the light of intelligence, the warmth of emotion, the centrality of the Absolute, and the infinitude of its benevolent grace. We might say that helio-centrism is theo-centrism v.1.

Let's return briefly to the subject of language abuse. It cannot be sufficiently belabored that this is what the left does. Remember Jesus' crack about how Satan is a liar from the beginning, and that "whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies?" That's the left; or rather, the left is that.

Please note that I do not say this polemically or bobnoxiously. Rather, I say it literally. Later in the post -- or maybe tomorrow -- I will explain why this must be the case, for God gives us the choice between God or nothing, O or Ø, and on that choice rests everything else. Choose the latter and you have chosen to live in a permanent solar eclipse. You are officially a lunatic, someone who reflects light but imagines it comes from within.

"Man's chief nourishment," writes Pieper, "is truth.... Anyone who wishes to live a truly human life must feed on truth." Which is theophagia, or eating God.

Just this weekend I was feeding on a particularly rich source of truth, in the form of some bon bons from the pen of St. Thomas. Actually, I read it through twice, but even then, it's not "digestible" in the usual way, for this is not "information" per se, but more like spiritual pneutriants -- or better, enzymes -- that catalyze vertical recollection. As Pieper says in the preface, they "should be absorbed thoughtfully again and again; in this way the reader will kindle his own thinking."

I was going to present some of these pregnant thoughtlets "without comment," but they inevitably kindle my own thinking. They are naturally -- or supernaturally -- fertile.

Pieper mentions that Thomas combines order and mystery: there is "the clear and intelligible building up of reality, as well as the doctrine which reflects that reality." But this order is everywhere "interwoven and crossed by mystery." Therefore, in a note to myself, I added that the cosmic area rug is a tapestry of mystery and intelligibility, each necessarily flowing from the fact of Creation.

In other words, if the world were not created, it would be unintelligible and not even mysterious. As we've mentioned before, the world is only intelligible to us because of God, but it as also never completely intelligible for the same reason. Simple as. What we know is always surrounded by and even steeped in Mystery. You might say Left Brain Right Brain. No matter what the former knows, the latter imbues it with a Mystery that cannot be eliminated short of a devastating stroke or soul-deadening tenure.

"Everything eternal is necessary."

Right. Therefore, everything necessary is eternal. Man can never contain the eternal, but he can certainly know the necessary, and thereby touch the eternal, no? For example, God is necessary being. Put conversely, he cannot not be. Boom! Eternity while you wait.

Extending that one a bit, "Everything changeable is reduced to a first unmoved being," another Necessary Truth. As such, "each particular knowledge is also derived from some completely certain knowledge, which is not subject to error." Knowing truth -- any truth -- is sufficient to prove God.

Recall that Pieper is providing these nuggets shorn of their explanatory apparatus. But none of that is necessary -- nor sufficient -- if you just see their Truth directly. The bottom line is that God Is. If he isn't, then neither are we. Literally.

Why? Because "The further a being is distant from that which is Being of itself, namely God, the nearer it is to nothingness."

Recall what was said above about man being situated between O and Ø. It doesn't get simpler -- or more complicated -- than that. But the complication results from falling out of the orbit of O, for Ø is not actually a "direction"; unlike O, it is not an attractor, rather, a tendency in man -- a tendency to go nowhere by any number of paths.

Christians reject evolution! Hardly. St. Thomas out-Darwins Darwin, not only permitting evolution, but mandating it; he provides a ground for evolution that Darwinism itself cannot furnish: "The Divine Wisdom joins the last of the higher kind with the first of the lower kind." Man and ape. But also man and angel (or archetype), for there are always two sides, vertically speaking.

Well, I think I'll go outside and check out the eclipse. That's enough gazing at the nonlocal sun for today.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Words Mediate Reality; Journalists Mediate the Narrative

Speaking of words and their meanings, journalists are referred to as "media" because they mediate between two realities; or, between reality and the reader or viewer.

Clearly, no one can be everywhere, see everything, and know everyone. I wouldn't even know of the existence of Donald Trump if not for the media. We can only have direct knowledge of a rather restricted range of persons and events.

So we have journalists to mediate between us and those distant persons and events. We employ these trundling mules or asses to carry messages from here to there. It requires no special skill, just rudimentary honesty and embryonic self-awareness.

In information theory there is the signal and the noise. Inevitably some noise gets into the signal (as in the game "telephone"), and journalists once prided themselves on the minimization or elimination of noise, which is related but not identical to the concept of objectivity.

If too much noise gets into the signal, then it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between the two. Thus, communication requires a stable medium that is resistant to entropy. Money, for example, is supposed to be a stable medium of exchange. If the government prints too much, then the result is inflation, because money loses its exchange value. It can no longer purchase as much stuff.

Yeah, I could have explained all of that better, but I slept late and the coffee hasn't yet turned over my crankshaft. In any event, these thoughts were just now provoked upon reading the following passage by Pieper:

[T]he moment a person sensitive to the use of words deliberately ceases to govern his words with a view to stating the reality of things, he automatically ceases to communicate anything.

In other words, he ceases to be a medium; or, he's still a medium, just not of reality.

There are many reasons why a person would cease mediating reality: there might be passive reasons such as stupidity, ignorance, cultural impoverishment, or tenure. There can be reasons of self-interest, for example, exaggerating or inventing stories in order to advance one's career.

Mental illness can often be a factor, ranging from distorted perception (e.g., paranoia) to, say, narcissism, in which the journalist conflates the importance of what he reports with his own self-importance.

Yeah, that never happens.

Another reason is indoctrination. It might be the most important source of journalistic noise these days, but it is surely blended with ignorance, stupidly, mental illness, narcissism, self-importance, and a self-monitoring groupthink. Add them all together, and we have... the MSM. MSNBC is all of these things, only refreshingly unmasked.

Oh, I forgot another major source of noise. I'm going to have to amend what I just said about indoctrination being the most important.

In fact, this is what really separates me from those other bloggers and commentators, and journalists from reality: without any hesitation whatsoever, I say that the source of this noise is demonic.

Or better, that this noise is evidence of demonic influences, right before our eyes. It's like the wind: we never see it, only its effects. Same with Satan: we never see him, but we surely see his effects. We know him by his fruits, so to speak. Or fruitcakes, in the case of journalists.

Let's take an extreme example, Nazism or Communism. Natural explanations of these phenomena are inevitably banal. You can take a dozen different approaches, from cultural to psychohistorical to economic and more, but they are simply inadequate to explain that level of frenzied and yet systematic sadism. What makes these ideologies so unique is the combination of creativity, which is divine, and violent sadism, which is demonic: creative depravity, or savage creativity.

Something similar is occurring in our civilization. And it's happening very fast, as last year's parody becomes this year's reality. Now they're talking about tearing down Monticello and the Washington Monument. And why not? Principles are principles, and if the principle is that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves and therefore represent unalloyed evil, why on earth would we want to honor them? QED.

But if the left is going to be consistent in applying this principle, several other venerable things will need to go. For example, Thomas Jefferson was the founder of the Democratic party, so this deeply tainted institution needs to be abolished at once. And Jesus has got to go, for he might have been the first to suggest that "all lives matter," thus revealing his racial animus and White Privilege.

Back to Pieper:

For language becomes communication the moment it expresses a link to [mediates] reality, and by the same token it ceases to be communication the moment this link is destroyed.

And it is not as if the mediated-to haven't noticed. What percentage of the public trusts the MSM to mediate reality without coloration? Fifteen percent?

Nevertheless, the incessant pounding of the message gets through; or, not so much the message as the Narrative, for the Narrative is pure noise, something superimposed on the facts before they are even facts.

Indeed, the Narrative is what journalists use in order to see facts at all. Put conversely, something that supports the Narrative is a fact, while something that fails to support it isn't seen at all, and therefore never rises to the level of fact. If you see things outside the Narrative, you're either lying or hallucinating.

Which might be the main reason Trump is so hated by the media, because he challenges the Narrative. Last weekend he did it big time, by equating Antifa and white supremacists.

Of course Trump has it all wrong, in that the far left is far more dangerous to the nation than the KKK, which is totally marginalized and has no political influence whatsoever. Nevertheless, one is not permitted to notice that banal truth, and punishment for doing so is swift and severe. "Even" Republicans aren't on board with it, which highlights the fact that they are no less immersed in the Narrative than Democrats.

In a way, Republicans are even more diabolical than Democrats. It's like a disease. We know the disease is evil. But what if the doctor is also evil, and only pretending to treat you? What I really want to say to these Republican quacks is -- pardon my French: physician fuck thyself.

When one person ceases to speak to another in the artless and spontaneous manner which characterizes genuine conversation, and begins to consciously manipulate his words, expressly ceasing to concern himself with the truth -- when, in other words, his concern is with something other than the truth -- he has, in reality, from that point on ceased to respect the other person as a partner in conversation. He has ceased to respect him as a human person....

[W]hen words lose contact with reality, they become an instrument of power.... (Pieper).

And power without truth might be the essence of the diabolical.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On the Nature of Ultimate Unreality

About what shall we blog today? There is our 30th anniversary, but I don't know what to say about that. Life before 1987 is just a blur or an embarrassment. Since then it's just a blur.

And now I don't remember much before the birth of our son in 2005, which once again reshuffled the existential cards. I guess I'm just not a nostalgic person. I'm certainly not a sentimental one. We are only given today, and that's it. So many ways of escaping the now! Nor do I think of alternative lives. Mine is what it is, the only variable being how much isness one can pack into the day; or rather, derive from it. The former goes more to Doing, the latter to Being.

Which I believe is the point. At least for me and my kind. Obviously we need doers out there. If they weren't doing their thing(s), then I could never be mine. Warriors and Priests. Hands and heads.

The other night the boy and I were watching television when an ad came on featuring a skydiver. We both agreed that this is something we need never do. I added that I've already got the skydiver doing it, which relieves me of the burden. He even took a video. I'll check it out if I ever need to, but the sensation of falling strikes me as totally superfluous. I've fallen before. I get it.

Not that I am in any way anti-sensation. God forbid! Literally, being that the Incarnation doesn't just involve heart and mind, but body as well.

But sometimes the search for novel and intense sensations is rooted in an inability to notice and appreciate the subtle ones that are going on all the time -- like, say, this cup of coffee. Again, we need adventurers, people like Columbus or Magellan or Neil Armstrong. But I am rather easily stimulated. I AM enough. Earth is more than enough. Going to the moon would only unsettle me.

It is often the case that doers are incapable of being. Or, they can only be in the midst of doing. Nevertheless, being is always (vertically) prior to doing, and always available to us right here, right now.

Churchill writes of how in war, "the uncertainty and importance of the present reduce the past and future to comparative insignificance, and clear the mind of minor worries."

No doubt true. But what about spiritual warfare? There is an obvious parallel, in that the latter too can only take place in the present, and Jesus calls it the "greatest commandment" that we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength. Of course that's not possible, but what does impossibility have to do with it? That's none of our business.

Abruptly -- or maybe not -- shifting gears, I've begun reading a compendium of The Wisdom of St. Thomas, put together by Josef Pieper. It basically consists of his Bottom Line Takes, stripped of all the scrupulous scholastic argumentation.

All that argumentation is not necessarily necessary to get to God. Certainly it is never sufficient. Rather, to paraphrase Schuon, such arguments are points of reference to satisfy the needs of the intellect, but in the end, there is a direct seeing that cannot be reduced to argument -- just as no eye witness needs to first prove the existence of sight. No, seeing is enough. Direct perception trumps any rationalism. No merely finite statement can contain -- i.e., is adequate to -- the infinite.

However, a finite statement can... how to put it... "transmit" the infinite. So long as the transmission occurs, then argument per se becomes unnecessary. Rules of the intellect can never take the place of depth of intelligence.

Analogously, everyone uses the same rules of music. Yet some compositions are infinitely more deep than others. And not even compositions; sometimes just the raw musical expression.

The best vision in the world can never "see everything." And yet, seeing only what we can see is sufficient to posit a "universe" we will never see, that is, the totality of interacting objects and events. No one needs to see the entire cosmos to know we are in one.

Likewise the intellect: no one needs to know everything in order for everything to be known! In this regard, a few principles go a long way -- all the way up to God, or O, if you prefer a less saturated placeholder for Absoluteness. As Schuon says, "nothing is ever rejected without being replaced by something else." Reject the Absolute at one end, and it will just haunt or beguile you at the other. You gotta serve somebody. Might as well be someOne worthy of service.

The intellect can ascend all the way to God, but in so doing (at least in the moment) extinguishes itself -- just as, say, the idea of a tree is eclipsed in seeing one (even though the idea is necessary in order to see it). Conversely, language descends from God, such that we can communicate the vision, but never in its totality. "Logic is perfectly consistent only when surpassing itself" (Schuon). Go Gödel Go!

This is something I realized in the spring of 1985, long before I understood the religious consequences. I've written before of how my discovery of the obscure psychoanalyst W.R. Bion Blew My Mind. Through him I understood that a good psychological theory must express an unsaturated general truth that can also be "realized" in the particular individual.

The same challenge is involved in realizing the eternal in time, the infinite in space, or God in flesh. Experience must be expressed in dogma, but can never be reduced to it, for the symbol can be no substitute for that which it symbolizes. Fortunately we don't have to choose between the two, for God has conveniently provided a cosmic bridge woo hoo.

Such proofs of God as furnished by Aquinas can never be disproved, but this is still not the same as the experience of that to which they point (and from which they descend). "[A] proof is of assistance only to the man who wishes to understand and who, because of this wish, has in some measure understood already."

The man who wishes not to understand can easily deny the proof, for rationalization has no trouble defying reason. The arguments are "of no practical use to one who, deep in his heart, does not want to change his opinion and whose philosophy merely expresses this desire" (Schuon).

As such, atheism is rooted in desire and in will, not in reality. More to the point, the function of faith is to remain an open system on the vertical plane. The only possible ground for knowledge of God's non-existence is God himself.

Here is Pieper's first nugget of Thomas: The least insight that one can obtain into sublime things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge of lower things.

Boom. I don't need all the detailed intellectual scaffolding to support that belief. Rather, I see (by) its Light directly.

Here is one on the ultimate pattern of our cosmic adventure. Again, I see the same thing Aquinas sees with my own three eyes, so no one needs to prove it to me:

The complete perfection of the universe demands that there should be created natures which return to God, not only according to the likeness of their being, but also through their actions.

That explains how it is that we're all swimming in this spiraling vortex lured by God, AKA the Great Attractor.

Another nugget that summa-rises the Way of the Raccoon:

Intellect is the first author and mover of the universe.... Hence the last end of the universe must necessarily be the good of the intellect. Hence truth must be the last end of the whole universe.

Nevertheless, there exist human beings who are Of, By, and For the Lie. Put it this way: it is always possible to reject O, as per Genesis 3. But the denied reality merely returns as Ø, which is a theme of so much of the Old Testament, i.e., the reversion to worshipping false gods, which is to say, conforming oneself to an ultimate reality that is ultimately unreal. The left-hand path will always be with us.

Monday, August 14, 2017

I Unreservedly Condemn All Violence Toward Language

So, President Trump is being criticized by both opportunistic Democrats and craven Republicans (but I repeat myself) for condemning political violence. Here is a vivid example of what was said in the previous post about the abuse of language. In this case, the President is being criticized for failure to abuse language in the customary way.

The customary way involves seeing all political violence as emanating from "the right," which represents an inversion of the reality. Violence is intrinsic to leftism, being that leftism is inconceivable in the absence of force (of the state over the individual).

And if we recognize that fascism is a movement of the left, then we see that Saturday's violence was a small-scale version of communism vs. Nazism. These are revolutionary movements that have nothing whatsoever to do with classical liberal conservatism. Obviously, neither one is grounded in first principles of liberty, natural rights, and limited government. In reality, conservatism is situated neither to the right nor left of these twin barbarisms, but vertically above.

(To be clear, I don't know whether the victims were actually Antifa activists, only that the counter-demonstration was organized by Antifa cretins spoiling for a fight.)

As we know, because the communists defeated the Nazis in WW2, they successfully defined themselves as being anti-fascist, and the left has been dining on this lie ever since. Communism was (and still is) the original Antifa movement.

But because of the language-abusing Narrative of the left, condemning Antifa violence is equated with being ProFa or even Na! For reasons that are impervious to reason, a Nazi sympathizer mowing down Antifa protesters is different from an Antifa activist attempting to assassinate Representative Steve Scalise.

Diabolically clever. It is to be expected that the robotic simpletons of the left will propagate and honor the Lie, but just nauseating when Republicans do.

Let's get down to basics: man's original crime against Being is rooted in language abuse. The "vector of reality," so to speak, flows in the direction of God --> Being --> Truth --> Language.

Likewise, the way back to God flows in the opposite direction, beginning in Truth (or true speech) -- the same Truth that sets one free. Which is a little misleading, being that freedom is required in order to seek truth. Therefore, we might equally say that freedom sets one upon (the path of) Truth, AKA the cosmic adventure. Our God is a God of Freedom and of Truth, which are two sides of the same primordial reality.

There is indeed a sacred covenant between language and Being, which is a reflection of the bond (of love!) between God and Word. Again, whatever else Genesis 3 is about, it is about severing this link, which necessarily redounds to a kind of expulsion from reality.

Obviously, the Incarnation represents the restoration of this bond in the most heightened way imaginable. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Suffice it to say that the Crucifixion of the Word is still taking place. And always will be, at least on this plane. It very much defines what goes on down here, doesn't it? Which is why the cosmic adventure is a continuous struggle toward Truth. It wouldn't be a struggle if there weren't counter-forces at play.

Pieper writes of the "consummate mendacity" that "must inevitably result in the atrophy of communication between human beings."

Here again, to attack or deny the vertical link between man and God is to abolish the horizontal link between man and man. Do you not see why? Truth is ultimately grounded in love; or at least inextricably intertwined with it. We might say that Truth is the Love of the Intellect, just as Love is the Truth of the Heart.

Instead, as prophesied by Aldous Huxley, we are plunged into "a vast mass communications industry" that is concerned "neither with the true or false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant" (in Pieper). This is the Unreal News alluded to in the title of the previous post. It is anti-Christic right down to the ground. Man builds and inhabits his own verbal prison while holding the keys in his hand. Madness!

If I am to make the right decision (regardless of what the decision may involve), I must be guided by the truth of things themselves, by the facts, by what is really the case. In other words, the realization of the good presupposes knowledge of reality.... An act is good if it conforms to the nature of things.

The nature of things. It cannot be sufficiently emphasized that for the left there is no such nature. This is indeed what separates liberal conservatism from the tyranny of the contemporary left. It ultimately comes down to whether essence precedes existence or vice versa. For the left it is the latter, which is why, for example, a man can be a woman or homosexuals can marry. For the left man defines reality. For us, reality defines man.

That was Marx's great original insight -- which has given unsight to purblind leftists ever since. Movements of the left always involve liberation. But can man be liberated from his own nature, and supposing he can, is it not misleading to equate this with freedom? Yes, I am free not to be myself. But if I manage to escape from myself, isn't that the last word in being lost and alienated?

Speech which emancipates itself from the norm of (real) things, at the same time necessarily becomes speech without a partner.

The Cosmic Divorce.

What is meant by the 'emancipation from the norm of (real) things?' What is meant, essentially, is indifference toward the truth. After all, truth implies a link to reality.

Which is why, beneath it all, leftism must devolve to violent nihilism. For the problem isn't just that Language and Truth are divorced, leaving us cosmic orphans. Rather, Language is remarried to Power, such that we come under the authority of a violent stepfather.

Once the word, as it is employed by the communications media, has, as a matter of principle, been rendered neutral to the norm of truth, it is, by its very nature, a ready-made tool just waiting to be picked up by 'the powers that be' and 'employed' for violent or despotic ends.... [T]he greater the inroads this 'neutralized' word makes on our lives, the more the word itself creates an atmosphere of epidemic susceptibility to the disease of despotism....

What all "forms of propaganda have in common is the degeneration of language into an instrument of force." This highlights the implicit "link between the degeneration of political authority and the sophistical corruption of the word," such that "the abuse of language by the communications media could actually be diagnosed as a symptom of the despotism to come, while the virus is still in its latent stages."

Latent in 1964, when that was written, but a florid infection today.

First the word loses its dignity; then man. Which is why "the fate of society and the fate of the word are inseparable. A relationship founded upon violence... corresponds to the most pernicious destruction of the link to things as they are: the public loss of the ability to know reality."

So yes, Nazi sympathizers and Antifa thugs are both violent. But first to the Word. Gravity takes care of the rest.

(All quoted material in Pieper.)

Friday, August 11, 2017

On the Urgent Need of Safe Spaces: for Truth

Great essay -- actually, a formal address -- in Pieper's Problems of Modern Faith, called The Abuse of Language and the Abuse of Power. The content is quite similar, if not identical, to his little book of the same name. Looks like either the talk was turned into a book, or vice versa.

Whatever the case may be, do not be deceived by the brevity, for in the words of the Aphorist, Prolixity is not an excess of words but a dearth of ideas. It actually made me see stars. As in the Aphorist's maxim that The collision with an intelligent book makes us see a thousand stars.

That's close to the truth, being that I highlighted nearly every sentence. Usually, when I highlight something, it's not in order to "remember" it in the usual way. Rather, it's because a star flashed into view. Actually, I've developed an informal system of notation with about five levels, depending upon the density of stars. The last level is dog-earing the page. That happens when I've collided with a supercluster.

The whole thing is both timely and timeless, which I suppose amounts to the same thing. Or at least what is timeless is always timely, even if what is timely is rarely timeless. At any rate, let's take out our telos-scopes and see if we can unpack some of the stars.

First of all, even the title is provocative: how is it even possible to abuse language? Language isn't alive. Or is it? And what can it possibly have to do with power, much less the abuse of it?

Pieper doesn't put it this way, but I believe language is indeed alive. It is a medium of life, much in the way of circulating blood. Quite simply, in the absence of language, there would be no way for mind and spirit to circulate. Obvious, no? Haven't you ever felt more alive after reading or hearing something? (Or more dead, depending.)

As we shall eventually see, this goes back to a triune structure of reality in which God eternally speaks the Word. And if you only look close enough, everything is composed of intelligible words. It is why we can understand the world, for it is not made of atoms or quarks or waves or particles, but of language. We are immersed in wordstuff, which is why existence is so endlessly fascinating. Or boring, depending upon the soul's level of literacy.

Pieper adverts to the misuse of language as "an eternal temptation which, throughout the course of history, man has been, and always will be, called upon to resist."

Interesting. Could our primordial calamity be related to language abuse? Something inside me says "yes." And what is the Crucifixion but -- literally -- the last word in abuse of the Word? It is the attempt to snuff it out entirely. For what is Truth, anyway?

That's a cynical question. No, it's worse than that, for it betrays the seduction of sophistry, the same sophistry that has been with us from the time of Plato right down to this morning's New York Times. What is academia but a Temple of Sophistry?

Which only emphasizes the power of its lure, a lure that can be traced back to Genesis 3. Jumping ahead a bit, here is how Pieper describes the original vision and purpose of the university. Try not to laugh. Or cry. Or be triggered:

[T]he concept 'academic' has... retained a common or identical feature over the course of time, a feature which, moreover, is easy to define. [Bear in mind this was written in 1964, when academia was far less woke than today.]

This feature is the fact that a 'zone of truth' is deliberately set aside in the midst of society, a hedged-in space to house the autonomous engagement with reality [!], in which people can inquire into, discuss, and assert the truth of things without let or hindrance; a domain expressly shielded from any conceivable attempts to use it as a means to achieve certain ends [!], and in which all concerns irrelevant to its true purpose, whether collective or personal, whether of political, economic or ideological import, must keep silent [!].

In short, the university is indeed supposed to be a safe space: for truth! Because if truth isn't safe, then none of us are.

How does truth decay begin? It must have to do with the detachment of language from reality. Note that this is not a bug of postmodernism, but a feature. For again, language is no longer about real things, but about language.

Thus, not only is postmodernism sealed in tautology and sophistry, but it is a statement about the permanent and ineradicable stupidity of man. In this context, exposure to the university can only arm and aggravate the stupidity, not ameliorate or cure it.

What is truth? "A person must not have progressed very far in his education if he has not discovered good reasons to justify the worst behavior. The evil which has been done in the world since Adam's time has been justified by means of good reasons."

Okay then. What is evil?

Evil on a wholesale level begins in corruption of the word; or better, corruption of the function of the word. Which is whatnow?

Two things, distinguishable but inseparable: knowledge and communication (of reality):

Its first achievement is the fact that reality becomes manifest through the word. One speaks in order to make known something real in the act of calling it by name in order, of course, to make it known to someone else.

This latter reminds me of something I learned in my psychoanalytic training which actually turns out to be true: that all language has a from --> to structure, even interior dialogue.

This goes back to Bion's idea that communication begins with the mother-infant dyad, which is the most primordial level of interpersonal exchange. It eventually evolves into proper speech, but any number of things can go wrong along the way, such that the person becomes more or less capable of communicating his interior world in the form of speech.

People who cannot do this end up splitting, repressing, or projecting it (for it still exists, only in an unglishable and therefore externalized form). These primitive unwords become flesh. In a bad way. (For unspeakable truths can also become flesh in a good way, as in love; or, love is the way they are communicated.)

In other words, they become leftists, wordlessly communing with fellow leftists who are likewise incapable of articulating WTF is wrong with themselves.

Take, I don't know, Lena Dunham, who is persecuted by imaginary airline attendants who express reservations about the left's obsession with normalizing aberrant and confused sexual identity. If you ask her WTF is wrong with her, she will not be able to point to something inside, but rather, express alarm at something she has projected into you, you alt-right fascist! In short, you are her unspeakably badword made flesh. No wonder she's alarmed, for there are no safe spaces inside her head.

To be continued...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Face the HalluciNation: Real News, Fake News, & Unreal News

The moment ideology comes before reality, one is living in an unreal world. But this statement constitutes a pleonasm -- word of the day, pleonasm -- being that ideology is by definition prior to reality.

Look at Google, where equivalence of the sexes absolutely trumps science. Truth and reality are no defenses. Guilt arises from failure to conform to the ideology, when the very purpose of the mind is to conform to reality.

Guilt is situated between the Is and the Ought. When we do something we oughtn't do, then the result -- for the properly ordered person -- is guilt. One thing we ought not do is live a lie. But at Google the lie is necessary -- at least if one wishes to continue working there.

What is reality, anyway? While one cannot answer the question without reference to the mind, it is critical that reality be situated anterior to the mind that cognizes it, or else we have descended into the subjectivity of modernism and post-modernism.

Rather, reality comes first, even though -- as alluded to in the previous post -- reality is the sum total of our means of accessing and comprehending it. Put conversely, if we have no access to it then it isn't real for us; and to exist is to participate in intelligibility.

Put it this way: reality is, in the words of Pieper, "the one great object of cognition." And we are its subject. Thus, there is a complementarity between reality and man, which is why science can exist at all.

This is another way of saying that "The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute" (Schuon), the Absolute constituting total reality, both vertical and horizontal, celestial and terrestrial, heavens above and earth below:

Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or else it is nothing. The Absolute alone confers on our intelligence the power to accomplish to the full what it can accomplish and to be wholly what it is (Schuon).

Please take that literally: the intelligence is either (potentially) everything or it is nothing. This in turn goes to our worth and our dignity. In rendering intelligence worthless, Google robs its employees of dignity.

By the way, never wonder why the left is so lacking in dignity. It follows from the first error. "Safe spaces," trigger warnings, naked rallies, howling mobs, craven college administrators, hysterical students, BLM, transgender madness, fake news, the whole catastrophe. It's all related.

Is Trump as dignified as I would like him to be? No. But in these times, it is sufficient that he provokes the left to new depths of auto-debasement, thus revealing what they are.

To be precise, there is "what they are," and "what they really are," and Trump miraculously exposes the the latter. This is not the face the left wishes to present to the world, but they obviously cannot help themselves. They really are what they really are. Which is true of everyone, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

Once man loses God then dignity is out the door. One way of emphasizing man's dignity is to remind ourselves that we are made "in the image of God." Big responsibility! This image is inconsistent with a squishy and manbunned Pajama Boy in need of feminism over guilt for his White Privilege. Whattsa matta with you! Act like a man! Besides, women exist for men (and vice versa), not for feminism. It's why we have them.

There is religion and there is magic. If you are not properly religious, then it is likely you will default to implicit or explicit magic. Which is what? Recall above (and from the previous post) that religion involves openness to and conformity with Total Reality. Conversely, magic is the attempt "to make superhuman powers serve human ends" and thus "the antithesis of of a religious act" (Pieper).

Man's ability to know truth at all is a superhuman act, right? If you don't understand this, then think again. It is what we call a Necessary Metaphysical Truth. In this context, ideology is a magical formula -- for example, a formula for rendering men and women equivalent. Being that it has rejected truth at the foundation, it can only operate via power. You can't simultaneously appeal to truth and claim truth is just a narrative conceaing the will to power.

This is what we call the Triumph of the Will. But such a triumph can only be understood ironically. A man can have his privates amputated and pretend he's a woman, but has he really triumphed over reality?

More mundanely, you can increase the minimum wage but can you really make a man more valuable by paying him more than his labor is worth? Or, let's pretend Trump is more dangerous than Kim. Just as everyone in the 1930s knew Churchill was more dangerous than Hitler, and everyone in the 1980s knew Reagan was more dangerous than the USSR.

Reality exists. And we can participate in it, or choose not to. These are the extremes of freedom.

This whole line of thought was provoked by a typically crazy editorial in the NY Times called The Policies of White Resentment. It made me realize that we need a third category for news: there is real news and fake news, but the Times (and most of the left) has descended into frankly unreal news.

"Fake" implies some conscious control, but this has more in common with hallucination. Instead of the Triumph of the Will of ideology, this is more like the Triumph of Mind Parasites. It is a systematic falsification of reality.

Consider the first sentence: White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. No evidence is needed, because this is a statement of a priori ideology, not an appeal to reality.

Trump "continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties." That means you and me. Never mind that we have no "seething, irrational fears" about anything. True, we object to what is called "diversity," which is to say that we object to the left's lack thereof, and its totalitarian attempt to impose its monolithic uniformity upon the rest of us, a la Google.

"The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage..."

Right. That must be why the left is so enraged and resentful.

"That so many of these policies are based on perception and lies rather than reality is nothing new." That is rich. What a fine example of Power appealing to Truth. It's what Satan does.

"White resentment has long thrived on the fantasy of being under siege and having to fight back," as with "the mass lynchings and destruction of thriving, politically active black communities..." That part is true as far as at goes, but Democrats are no longer lynching anyone, at least physically. Rather, they have more subtle means of racial indoctrination and control.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Loss of God is Just Plain Careless

Lately my reading has gotten so far ahead of my blogging that I'm writing about things from weeks or months ago instead of doing so in Real Time, which is the usual procedure. So I'm going to fast forward to what I'm reading at the moment, an out-of-print book of essays and talks by the esteemed Josef Pieper, called Problems of Modern Faith.

(Although I'm enjoying it, it's probably not worth the price for a used copy, especially if you haven't read other works of his such as The Four Cardinal Virtues, Guide to St. Thomas, the Anthology, etc.)

The reason I want to blog about it NOW is that it's provoking a lot of sparks that may not be recoverable when I return to it. You know how it is: Light from the past isn't the same as Light in the here and now. Sun and stars.

In fact, the book has triggered a lot of aphorisms that I've written to myself in the margins. I've no doubt mentioned a similar sentiment in the past, but it goes like this: Scientism is the religion of the part, while religion is the science of the whole.

I mean that quite literally. Scientism is science expanded to an ideology -- and idolatry -- via a false absolute, while the point of religion is to provide a way to understand and adapt ourselves to ultimate reality.

As we all know, profane science tends to conflate reality with its (properly) narrow method of studying it. This necessarily ends in the quantification of reality, and therefore the negation of qualities.

But qualities are the most important -- and certainly most interesting -- part of reality. In the absence of qualities we would not only be bored to death, but actually dead, being that life itself can't be reduced to numbers.

More gravely, to eliminate qualities is to inter man in a tomb of his own categories. Only man can distinguish good from bad, true from false, appearances from reality, beauty from ugliness, etc. This is why we are here. In other words, what is unique about human beings explains the purpose of human beings. Man's sufficient reason is conformity to reality, both horizontal and vertical.

Another note from mysoph says that Reality is the totality of our means of accessing and comprehending it.

This may sound Kantian, as if I am limiting reality to our categories, but that is not what I mean. Rather, it is a way of saying that reality is much wider, higher, and deeper than what can be accessed by the scientific method only. The beauty of nature, for example, provides real information about reality. More generally, qualities are windows into the Real.

Or put it this way: a decent map of the cosmos will take into account vertical perception. Science involves horizontal perception only. If elevated to a metaphysic it distorts the world beyond re-cognition; it banishes the very categories through which we may perceive and understand reality.

Schuon says something to the effect that the totality of the cosmos demands the unicity of man: the Everything of the World is mirrored in the All of Us. There are expansive visions of reality worthy of man, and pathetically narrow ones that hardly do justice to insects or even liberals.

Here is a pertinent pensée by Pascal: If you are not concerned to know the truth, then you have access to enough truth to to enable you to live in peace. BUT if you long with all your heart to know it, then what you have got is not enough.

Now, a Raccoon is in the latter category: what we have is never enough, even though -- orthoparadoxically -- it is more than enough.

What I mean is that God is the primordial More than Enough, ceaselessly flowing out of himself a la the Trinity. So long as we are oriented to and rooted in this reality... well, it's like Revelation says: the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

As Pieper puts it, we are interested in reality as a whole and in the totality of the world. By any means necessary. We are careful "to ensure that not one single element of reality is concealed, overlooked, forgotten or suppressed -- which could easily happen if the activity of the mind were to be restricted to what can be verified by the methods of exact science."

Atheistic science allows so much reality to evade detection that you might be tempted to believe it is a conspiracy against man. But just as there is a scientific method, there is a psychospiritual or pneumatic method, AKA verticalisthenic. This "critical posture" "implies the determination not to allow any element of the totality of truth to escape us."

Two attitudes are required, an "openness toward the reality of things" (o) and a kind of silence "at a level much more profound than so-called scientific objectivity" (---). This goes to Jesus' allusion to the "singleness of the eye which enables one's whole body to be filled with light."

Here again, the perception of an integrated cosmos is dependent upon a prior integration of the self. A psychotic or neurotic (or ideologically deranged) person perceives a fragmented cosmos because his own mind is fragmented. (Recall Schuon's comment about the relationship between totality and unicity.)

There are "an infinite number of ways in which we can close ourselves off from the world." In the book I used the pneumaticon (o) to symbolize the proper stance. This implies the existence of a counter-stance we might call (ø). Is there such a thing? Only since Genesis 3!

Often it consists of nothing more than "simple inattentiveness." Which implies that the loss of God often comes down to plain carelessness.

It is only too easy... to rest content with what we already know. But he who wishes to behold, and to continue to behold, the totality of things, lives in a perpetual expectation of new light. The truth is the whole, but we never see the whole of anything!

Nevertheless, we never stop trying, for we are open at the top.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Liberation (from reality) Theology

It's Friday, so time for... another rambling freeform post, I guess. Possibly very offensive material ahead, but it is what it is. I won't stop until I've offended and alienated every last reader!

Lest anyone think I'm bagging on Protestantism, first of all, I'm only bagging on Luther, who strikes me as a gold-plated madman. But let's give some equal time to Pope Francis, who, with all due respect, is some combination of crazy, stupid, ignorant, indifferent, and/or demonic.

I can say that because I'm not a formal member of the Church. Rather, I only love the Church -- especially the Nonlocal Church Triumphant, what with all those visible saints and hidden cluminaries who continue to enrich my life immeasurably, but also the true Church Militant consisting of local Christians "who struggle as soldiers of Christ against sin, the devil, and 'the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.'"

I can't help it. It's what I really think, especially after reading The Political Pope. Seriously: has there ever been a pope this loved by Christ's enemies and persecutors?

I can't vouch for the scholarship of the author, but he provides evidence that "liberation theology" was invented by the KGB, who even came up with the misleading name. It was an explicit attempt to infiltrate and influence the Church, to convert people to communism "through the judicious manipulation of religion," "the secret task of which was to incite Latin America's poor to rebel against the 'institutionalized violence of poverty' generated by the United States."

I still remember Pope John Paul confronting that Marxist priest on the tarmac in Nicaragua in 1983 and ripping him a new one: YOU MUST STRAIGHTEN OUT YOUR POSITION WITH THE CHURCH! Truly, the sainted Pope could hammer Francis with the identical words. Marxism or Christianity. It's one or the other, Padre.

For the record, I myself was probably at peak leftitude in 1983, so I very much sympathized with the chastened priest. I can't say I regarded John Paul the way I do Francis, because I wouldn't have thought of the former as demonic, just a reactionary malefactor steeped in magical thinking getting in the way of Progress.

Pope Benedict too "repeatedly warned the faithful to reject 'liberation theology,' a Marxist-inspired ideology disguised as concern for the poor..." But Francis is doing his best to rehabilitate this heresy, praising its "high concept of humanity," reinstating defrocked priests and condemned theologians, and appointing these purveyors of anti-Christian doctrine to important advisory positions.

Likewise, in reference to free market capitalism he tellingly deploys the left-wing smear of "trickle-down economics," and proclaims that "inequality is the root of all evil." He seems better suited to Occupy Wall Street than the Vatican.

Oh yeah, I remember. God punishes Adam and Eve because they trigger Him with loose talk about a natural right to private property. The snake puts it in Eve's ear that socialism is both false and unjust, and God responds by kicking them out of their Venezuelan paradise.

Beyond ironically, the actual origin of evil may be traced to "Satan's refusal to accept inequality." Satan rebels out of envy, as "he couldn't tolerate his lesser status." The mere existence of God is a wound to his narcissistic sense of entitlement.

There is nothing in the Commandments in praise of equality. Indeed, the first and fourth commandments mandate cosmic hierarchy and inequality (in reference to our local and nonlocal parents), while the ninth and tenth instruct the faithful to STRAIGHTEN OUT YOUR POSITION WITH ENVY! As in, STOP IT!

But as Churchill well knew, socialism is the ideology of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of ENVY. Gospel, mind you: ultimately the anti-gospel of the anti-Christ. And prior to its badness is its ignorance, in that "Being precedes Truth" and "Truth precedes the Good" (Pieper):

Truth, then, is the prerequisite of justice. Whoever rejects truth, whether natural or supernatural, is really 'wicked' and beyond conversion.... 'All laws and rules of conduct may ultimately be reduced to a single one: to truth.'

For the virtue of prudence resides in this: that the objective cognition of reality shall determine action; that the truth of real things shall become determinative.... This in turn necessitates that the egocentric 'interests' of man be silenced in order that he may perceive the truth of real things, and so that reality itself may guide him to the proper means for realizing his goal.

Oh, and covetousness "means more than the disorderly love of money and property." Rather, it includes "immoderate straining for all the possessions which man thinks are needed to assure his own importance and status," an "overriding concern for confirmation and security."

It reminds me of something Schuon says about how each assimilation of a truth results in a little death for the ego. Truth "is dependent upon the constant readiness to ignore the self," on "the limberness of real humility and objectivity" (Pieper).

The point is, moral action must be rooted in truth, i.e., an objective perception of reality. Now, socialism is very much a subjective perception of reality, which is to say, no reality at all. Look at Venezuela: it is what happens when passionately moral actions (giving those idiots the benefit of the doubt) are rooted in desire instead of truth. The roads built by the Good Intentions Paving Company travel in one direction only.

And if this book on Francis is correct, then he is one of them -- a member in good standing of the Socialist Church Militant. Fellow member Cornel West calls him "a gift from heaven." Talk about damning with fulsome praise.

Of course, I would love to be wrong. But it is difficult to conceive of a cosmos in which praise from the likes of Cornel West isn't a grave indictment.

The left claims that the guilty party in a conflict is not the one who covets another's goods but the one who defends his own.

Envy differs from the other vices by the ease with which it disguises itself as a virtue.

The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues.

There is no noble substitute for gratitude.

The error lies not in dreaming that secret gardens exist, but in dreaming they have doors. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Bad Religion Drives Out Good

Is that true?

In economics, Gresham's Law is the principle that bad money drives out good. This is because, as Prof. Wiki explains, "if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, which are accepted by law as having similar face value, the more valuable commodity will disappear from circulation." Human nature being what it is, people will hold on to the good stuff and pass along the bad.

Now, the ultimate purpose of religion is simply conformity with the nature of things, both horizontal and vertical. Or in other words, it is not only true, but the ground, substance, and telos of Truth. Obviously, religion speaks to "ultimate truth." But reality is easily displaced by a spectrum of alternatives, all the way down to the lie and beyond, to a hatred of truth itself.

It is one thing for anti-religious ideologies to reject truth. That is their purpose. But when religion does it, that, it seems to me, is taking the name of the Lord in vain.

Example

Okay, Douthat points out that the fundamentalist movement of the early 20th century was in reaction to certain scientific developments:

[T]he challenge of Darwinism and biblical criticism threw this style of faith into crisis. From the 1920s onward, American Evangelicals responded by retreating into the intellectual cul-de-sac of fundamentalism..." In so doing they "gradually embraced interpretations of the Bible that would have been foreign to earlier Christian authorities...

How foreign? Well, it's a bit like a parallel form of Marxism that provides "all the answers to anyone willing to embrace its self-enclosed system of interpretation." You have only to believe one falsehood, and the rest follows.

Marxism is not a philosophy in any meaningful sense of the word, but precisely the opposite, being that it isn't open to the world, but rather, a closed system superimposed upon the world. As such, it is a kind of omniscient methodological stupidity with no cure within its own resources. Still, it has probably been the most successful ideology ever at persecuting and banishing truth.

Every year the university cranks out thousands of young adolts in whom bad ideas have driven out the good.

Yesterday a friend mentioned that his niece recently graduated from one of these neo-Marxist seminaries with the sincere delusion that she is so stained by White Privilege that she is nearly paralyzed with guilt. She is actually considering giving away all her material possessions, which is a refreshing departure from the usual procedure of forcing the rest of us to give up ours in order to assuage their morally superior guilt: the statism of the left is virtue signaling by proxy.

Nor is fundamentalism a philosophy. And proud of it! From its standpoint, it is merely a case of driving out bad -- which is to say, satanic -- ideas. Again, Luther was of the belief that all ideas emanating from man are bad. For him the intellect is depraved along with everything else. He was trained at an institute that had

rejected the rationality of the Thomist tradition, teaching that human ideas have no real relation to things but are mere labels or symbols for what the mind perceives.... He resolved the dilemma by deciding that the crucial element in reconciling an individual to God was a spontaneous act of faith, in return for which God granted justification.

This leads directly to "the modern misconception of faith as an essentially irrational position, a sacrifice of reason to religious duty, as if there were some virtue in the suspension of the proper faculties of the intellect for God's sake" (Rao).

Boom. Bad religion drives out good. Which results in a defective map of the vertical. Meanwhile, the left's triumph over reason leads to a collapse of the horizontal. What is liberation theology but a lame attempt to resuscitate the vertical with a bad map of the horizontal? Conversely, what is Antifa style leftism but a sick attempt to enliven the horizontal with a bad internalized map of the vertical? (In other words, leftism is in the end a sick and deviant religion.)

For different reasons, both camps have forsaken the link to objective reality. No wonder they fight so! Is there a way out of this mess? Well, yeah. It's called Christianity.

In Thoughtful Theism, the author quotes one of his professors, who -- after rolling his eyes -- informed him that "The debate about evolution is not a debate between science and religion, and never has been. It is is a debate between atheists and Protestants." And Muslims, I suppose.

In any event, Boom. Both sides believe the existence of God is at stake, but they are wrong. And they are wrong because they have rejected a traditional metaphysics which easily accommodates evolution.

As per the title of this post, "Popular things aren't usually the best quality things. But they are popular, so they spread like wildfire" (ibid.). But as far as the Raccoon is concerned, no one will ever disprove the existence the Absolute, the disproof being proof of its existence.

Bottom line for today:

It seems to me that the heart of the cultural conflict we face today is not between religions, or between religion and irreligion. It seems that the heart of the conflict we have always faced as human beings is between rationality and irrationality.... rationality and theism go together hand in hand (ibid.).

Boom.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Rupture: God and Man, Intellect and Truth

Brief timeout for a reset: everything we've discussed in the last month or so has revolved around the question of how to distinguish between good and bad religion.

The new atheist crowd simplifies matters by insisting that all religion is bad religion because religion is bad. Why is it bad? In a word, because it is untrue, which is to say, because it fails to comport with reality, AKA the Nature of Things.

Similarly, the rank-and-file believer simplifies matters by maintaining that his religion is right, while all the others (including atheism) are wrong.

Can it really be this simple? First, what does the atheist mean by "reality"? This is actually a compound question, conflating reality with knowledge of it. In other words, 1) is there an ultimate reality, and 2) can we know it?

But that boat sailed long ago, when Cap'n Kant divided appearances from reality. We can never have real knowledge of things, only of our own categories. Reality is what it is, and we are what we are, and never the twain shall meet. Except maybe in a thoroughly irrational religiosity. But even if religion touches the noumenon, we could never know it. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but we can have only faith, not knowledge.

So: if you believe there is a reality and that man may know it, you are actually on our side, which is to say, the religious side, even -- or especially -- if you are a "scientist." Scientists are not philosophers, but a few of them are beginning to realize -- with great alarm -- that the practice of science is completely incompatible with a leftist metaphysic.

For example, you may pretend one sex is the other, but that's just fantasy, not science -- not reality. You may pretend that illegal immigrants don't suppress wages, or that an unborn human isn't a human, or that women are equivalent to men, or that a high tech civilization can run on solar energy, but these aren't even beliefs, since a belief requires some basis in reality.

I said above that a belief in reality places science on the religious side of the divide. Check me on that. It places science on the orthodox Christian side, as exemplified by Thomas Aquinas. Other religions -- including even post-orthodox versions of Christianity -- downplay or dismiss man's ability to know the truth of reality. And modern and postmodern philosophy are too sophisticated (in the original sense of the term, as in sophistry) to believe such a naive proposition. Deconstruction is simply the reductio ad absurdum of man's exile from an intelligible reality.

And, sorry to say, Protestantism is founded on the principle of man's total depravity, including depravity of the intellect. Just as there is a convergence between orthodox Christianity and science, there is a strange convergence between (original) Protestantism and deconstructionism, in that both would agree that knowledge of reality is an insane pretension.

The separation of intelligence from world results in the separation of truth from will. For Luther, "reason is the devil's harlot" and "can do nothing other than blaspheme and desecrate everything that God speaks and does." For Luther -- as for Islam -- a "rational theology" is an insult to God, since it presumes to enclose and limit his arbitrary will.

This is the original Rupture, and it probably goes back to Genesis 3. What, after all was that about? For Luther our primordial Rupture is complete and total, i.e., man from God and therefore intellect from truth. No longer are there degrees of sinfulness, rather, just Sin and unmerited Grace, either/or. And there's not a damn thing you can do about it, because anything you do is already drenched in sin.

Postmodern philosophy says something quite similar: for example, if you are white, then you are steeped in racism. Pretending otherwise is simply evidence of your bad faith. You are totally depraved by the original sin of racial animus (or sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc.).

By the way, none of this is to suggest that this or that modern-day Protestant rejects Thomist metaphysics and is on board with deconstruction. Nevertheless, the first Protestant not only sharply protested the rationality of the Thomist tradition, but insisted that the attempt to reconcile faith and reason was frankly demonic.

Bottom line: if someone claims that faith and reason are incompatible, don't look at me. That's Luther's claim, not mine. In protesting against reason, methinks he protested too much.

At any rate, Douthat begins with two important points, that "every human culture is religious -- defined by what its inhabitants believe about some ultimate reality, and what they think that reality demands of them"; and "American democracy, while formally secular, has always depended on religion to provide a moral framework for its citizens..." As such, "the eclipse of Christian belief has led, inevitably, to the eclipse of public morality and private virtue alike."

As history played out, mainstream American Christianity ended up deviating markedly from Luther. Most notably, the Founders posited truths that are self-evident and rights that are unalienable. Luther would not have been on board with either. Why would he, if man is totally depraved? As he charmingly put it,

Peasants are no better than straw. They will not hear the word and they are without sense.... Like the drivers of donkeys, who have to belabor the donkeys incessantly with rods and whips, or they will not obey, so must the ruler do with the people; they must drive, beat, throttle, hang, burn, behead, and torture, so as to make themselves feared and to keep the people in check.

These goads will continue until morale improves -- which is to say, until faith and will are in alignment. Don't pay attention to the intelligence, which is just a proud and rebellious usurper.

Not to belabor the point, but the mainstream American Christianity of the founders wasn't like that. But now we have the worst of both worlds: purely faith-based religiosity on the one hand, and the power-based metaphysic of the left on the other. Oddly, both are rooted in the will and estranged from the Intellect of the Founders.

Douthat quotes a passage by Auden, who poses the question: "If, as I am convinced, the Nazis are wrong and we are right, what is it that validates our values and invalidates theirs?"

Note that there is precisely nothing in contemporary leftism that can anchor any objection to Nazism. Multiculturalism and moral relativism specifically assert that there is no objective way to affirm that one culture is superior to another.

Ironically, Hitler believed that political conflict is a matter of the stronger will prevailing. Once you have jettisoned objective truth, all that's left is power and will. Which is why -- "ironically" -- the only organized form of fascism in America is the quintessentially leftist Antifa movement.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Omward Bound

In the previous post we veered into the question of predestination, which comes down to how we can reconcile our freedom and God's omniscience. There are any number of skillful ways to dodge the question, similar to the pretzel logic people deploy in order to deal with the existence of evil in light of God's omnipotence.

Eh. I have my own ways of circling that square. For example, the first thing the Bible tells us about God is that he creates. I would call this a Big Hint.

In fact, I seriously doubt that God cannot not create, meaning that he is an infinite and inexhaustible source of novelty and surprise, even -- or especially -- to himSelf. As I mentioned in a comment, some things are awesomer than omniscience, one of them being creativity. Frankly, omniscience would constitute a mega-life sentence of infinite and eternal boredom, of total stasis.

For Schuon, the existence of evil is at once unavoidable and impermissible. That is, the creation is necessarily more or less distant from the Creator, and this distance, you might say, is measured in degrees of evil. In other words, evil is a privation, a privation that is ultimately "necessary" if we are to be truly free.

It's like light and shadow. Light doesn't "create" shadow, but nevertheless, the privation of shadowhood occurs wherever there is light. Likewise necessity and accident. Contingency must be parasitic on necessity, because the converse is impossible.

Now, everything is ultimately the Divine Substance, or Godstuff. But if one looks at it the wrong way, this can be as intellectually barren as flatland materialism.

Rather, "If we compare the Divine Substance with water," writes Schuon, "accidents may be likened to waves, drops, snow, or ice..." From the standpoint of transcendence we're all wet, but from the perspective of immanence we are like snowflakes, each one a unique and unrepeatable instantiation of the Principle. Religion -- good religion, anyway -- respects this complementarity.

Predestination tries to deal with the complementarity by eliminating it and defaulting to transcendence. But it seems to me that the incarnation of the Word is the last word in this complementarity: it is as if the Sovereign Good -- AKA Love -- instead of abiding in his timelessness only at the top, prolongs itself all the way to the furthest reaches of manifestation, to hell even. For they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, 'God with us.'

Not only is Godwithus, but God is the very ground and possibility of withus, which is to say Trinity. For what is the Trinity but an eternal perichoresis of I AM He as You Are He as You Are Me and We Are all together?

The point is, otherness is built into God. That's what you call a profound metaphysical point, one full of implications.

Conversely, it is easy to reconcile omniscience with a theological monism, the one simply entailing the other. But how is a trinitarian God different from this tedious oneness? For starters, the Father doesn't "entail" the Son, as in some logical necessity. Rather, he begets him, which is another martyr entirely, for God is the ultimate Fertile Egghead, infertility and absence of creativity being a privation. And there are many ways to be fruitful!

Some if not most people will reject my approach as heterodox instead of orthoparadoxical. But what if creation isn't linear but circular -- as if God throws himself into being, and the spiritual journey involves the return adventure, which is ultimately God's return to himself? Is this a Permissible Thought?

I'll just quote this passage from one of our favorites, W. Norris Clarke, regarding the moment-to-moment structure of the Journey, which has two main phases. First, the Many are

projected outward from the One, their Infinite Source, by creation.... This can be called the Journey away from Home, where creatures actively unfold their diverse dynamic natures as finite participants in the divine perfection and as centers of self-expressive and self-communicating action and intention with each other, thus forming a universe (uni-versum in Latin = turned toward unity)...

This is (immediately!) followed by

The Journey of the Many back again towards reunion with the One, their Source, drawn by this same Source through the pull of the Good built in to the very nature of every being through the mediation of final causation [AKA the Great Attractor].

Thus God as the ultimate One now appears as both the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and End, at once the Source and Goal of the restless dynamism of all of nature, of all finite beings.... And since the journey Home, back toward the Source again, can never be the same as the journey away from Home, the structure of the total journey [is] aptly imaged in the form of a circle...

So, I guess you could say that God is omniscient with regard to Alpha and Omega. But in between, anything might happen!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Principles of Good Religion: 1) Free Will

We've been discussing the distinctions between theology and meta-theology and between good and bad religion. The question is: is this the same distinction? In other words, does Good Religion express the primordial meta-theological truth that is situated "above" this or that religion?

A passage caught my eye in this book on Luther: he was the first Christian "to devise an entire religion accommodated to his personal failings." Prior to him, it was for man to do the accommodating, not vice versa. This has redounded to "a plague of designer religions" numbering some 33,000.

Does every one of these constitute "bad religion"? I don't think so. Or, at the very least, there is a spectrum of wrongness. Nevertheless, I would guess that the vast majority of these -- from Jeremiah Wright to Fred Phelps -- are more human than divine, and that the choice of this or that version often comes down to the accommodation of personal failure, or inability to conform to the unvarnished doctrine.

Let's take an obvious example: the gay activist who nevertheless wants to call himself "Christian" will find that his failing is accommodated by Episcopalianism but not Catholicism (at least prior to Francis). Likewise the abortion advocate. At the far end of wrongness, heresy is elevated to sacred doctrine.

But still: how do we distinguish between good and bad religion, and is it even up to us to make this distinction? Here again, Luther's entire argument -- sola fide -- is that it is strictly impossible for man to make such a distinction. Rather, he is totally depraved, and pretending he isn't totally depraved is the worst form of depravity. All he can do is assent to the doctrine, so it is a matter of will, not intellect.

Eh, I don't like that idea. Yes, we must surely guard against intellectual pride and arrogance, but still. Doesn't Luther take it a bit far? Indeed, "the affirmation of the will over reason" might be thought of as a "renewed manifestation of the pride that characterizes Original Sin: the desire that the order of Creation bend itself to human will."

In other words, trying to make religion conform to the will is no better than making it conform to the intellect; both constitute manmade religiosity.

More to the point, just as we cannot separate thought from perception, we can only artificially sever intellect from will. Luther absolutely rejects free will, and with no freedom there can be no truth in any event. Frankly, his whole program is hopelessly incoherent and contradictory, and he spent much of his life trying to explain or paper over the inconsistencies and implications he didn't like.

It is also probably accurate to say that a majority of Protestants don't agree with the founder of Protestantism anyway, and don't really know (or care) what he believed. It is as if they spontaneously reject certain teachings that would constitute bad religion, such as the intrinsic heresy of predestination (AKA denial of free will).

So, right there we've identified a key meta-theological principle of Good Religion: recognition of free will in man. Any religion -- including of course secular religions -- that denies this freedom is a Bad Religion.

Of note, one of Islam's non-negotiable six articles of faith is predestination. Is there a way to purify such a doctrine of its badness and render it good? I think so, if it is deployed as a "skillful means" to cultivate such attitudes as peace, surrender, humility, and recognition of God's greatness. Still, this doesn't make it metaphysically true, just useful.

Running out of time, but I wonder what other aspects of Good Religion we could all agree upon, thus giving us a way to recognize bad religion?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Tying Together the Womb of Being

Warning: recklessly abstract and speculative vertical meandering below. Watch your step!

Commenter Commonsense Bob reminds us of the evergreen formula that summarizes the distinction we are making between the form and essence of religion, or between meta-theology and theology: as above, so below. Simple as.

Herebelow we are given analogues -- we call them revelations -- that assist us in navigating within the vertical; or in other words, the vertical as such is a kind of downward projection of itSoph, such that the things below remind us of the things above. This latter (and ladder) is what we call "vertical recollection."

And now that I think about it, this vertical projection must be analogous to what time is in the horizontal. Time is horizontal prolongation, or the "moving image of eternity" (or perhaps we might just say "infinitude," which is eternity playing hide & seek with itself, forever).

Conversely, vertical space is a kind of static image of eternity. Put them together and you have yourself a cosmos, an ordered carpetography or tapestry woven of time and space, form and essence, heaven and earth, etc.

Just as we remember the past in the present, we "re-remember" the Above in the Below. I say "re-member" because re-ligion is cognate with religare, "to bind." Religion binds that which is below with that which is above. Usually this binding takes place in time, e.g., ritual or morality, but it can also do so in atemporal space, e.g., mysticism and infused contemplation. In reality it's always a complementarity between the two.

Hmm. I wonder if forms are more temporal, while the essence is more spatial? Sources say Yes. For example, Schuon suggests that "The function of the historical Christ is to awaken and actualize the inward Christ."

Thus, we may say that eternity becomes time so that time may become eternity. Which is just a more abstract way of saying that the nonlocal Logos becomes locally enfleshed. And if it doesn't happen in us, well then what's the bloody point?

Verticality also tends toward inwardness and subjectivity where horizontal tends toward outwardness and objectivity. Upper case (R)eason "can receive its contents from the outside and the inside, from below and above: from the outside it obtains them either through the senses or through Revelation; from the inside, it obtains them either through the soul or through intellection" (ibid.).

Moreover, if we follow the implications, "This means that the higher and lower, or the supernatural and natural, intervene both inwardly and outwardly" and are "combined by virtue of the metaphysical transparency of things in conformity with the Platonic principle of 'remembrance.'" Which is just a more elegant way of saying what I just said a few paragraphs ago.

Enough about Good Religion. What about Bad Religion? It seems to me that Bad Religion dismembers the organic unity of the cosmos, either reducing the above to the below or vice versa. Typically it absolutizes the relative or relativizes the absolute, which leads to all sorts of mischief. And it does so in a way that manifests Pride.

Humility is not just a prerequisite for the spiritual adventure, but a direct consequence of vertical in-sight. I mean, seeing where one sits in the vertical scheme of things makes a man humble, doesn't it? Even Jesus himself asks "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."

It seems to me that this is a strong statement -- a metaphysical cluebat -- about vertical projection: at the top is the Abbasolute Sovereign Good in comparison to which everything below is at least a little imperfect. The further from the source, the more cosmically messed up.

Each of us, as Schuon puts it, "has limits if not defects," limits of time, space, culture, history, and development -- to say nothing of those mischievous mind parasites with anti-divine agendas all their own. At any rate, humility represents a kind of "objective and disinterested awareness" that functions to dissolve "ambition and vanity at their roots" -- roots which take root below, as it were.

It won't do -- for the Raccoon, anyway -- to merely flee from pride. Rather, the ideal -- perhaps unattainable, but whatever -- is to cultivate a profound awareness "of the nature of things," such that "there is nothing to flee" and errors do not exert their seductive influence. I mean, just because we are fallen, it doesn't mean that everyone is fallen to the same extent, nor that there is nothing we can do to remedy the situation. In a vertical world, there are degrees of wrongness.

Bad religion can take the form of an excess of humility that mirrors the excessive grandiosity of deepaking the chopra. I certainly don't mean to bag on Protestantism, but I happen to be reading a book on Luther, in whom an extraordinary level of pride operated through the vehicle of humility.

How so? Well, for starters, he felt that man was so thoroughly depraved by the fall that any effort at self-improvement was evidence of pridefulness and strictly impossible anyway. We are all at the bottom and can't get up. It seems to me that Luther engages in the ultimate humble brag, in that he personally knows there is nothing man can know, such that the only solution is the will to believe -- a will severed from its telos in truth.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Essence and Form of Political Truth

Yesterday while pondering this question of the form and essence of religious truth, it occurred to me that one can look upon the same distinction vis-a-vis politics, at least here in the U.S.

I don't know enough about other political systems to say whether the U.S. is the only one that draws this distinction between "political truth" and its formal expression. However, I do know that the entire project of the left is founded upon denying this distinction.

What I'm talking about is the distinction between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the former expressing universal truth -- the essence -- the latter defining its particular political expression. The essence goes to the nature of reality, AKA the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.

The essence of the Declaration is situated "above" the form of Constitution. It expresses the atemporal and universal truths "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

But these essential truths need a form, hence the Constitution. The Founders even say so: "to secure these [essential] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Which leads to the necessary corollary that when the form fails to uphold the essence, then the form is no longer binding, and we're outta here:

[W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these [essential] ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such [anterior and universal] principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The most articulate defender of this view was Abraham Lincoln (cf. the Koon Klassic A New Birth of Freedom). In this regard, you will notice that the civil war we are currently experiencing is the same old civil war that has been going on since the founding, and indeed, since the dawn of man. It is none other than the war between essence and form. It is Genesis 3 All Over Again.

The left of course wants to have its crock and force us to eat it too. Its guiding principle is that Truth Doesn't Exist and We are its Prophets. Or better, Enforcers.

For example, there is no such thing as human nature but women have an absolute right to a dead baby. Or, marriage is just a piece of paper but homosexuals are deprived of the dignity owed human beings without it. The list is pretty much endless. We're especially seeing the drama play out with regard to freedom of speech, about which the left is no longer even trying to conceal its deadly hostility.

Think of the Dred Scott decision: "the language used in the Declaration of Independence" demonstrates that blacks are not "intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument." Oh really? Tell us more: blacks don't even have so much as a single right to which "the white man [is] bound to respect."

Notice the sleight of hand, as Taney even attempts to root this lie in a universal truth that is above the Constitution: this notion of cosmic inequality is "fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race," "an axiom in morals as well as in politics" which no one would ever think of disputing. No one! Welcome to the oppressive world of Political Correctness, 19th century version.

The leftist error of a "living Constitution" isn't the only possible cosmic bainfart here. There are also good conservative judges who only consider the "four corners" of the Constitution, without reference to the Declaration. In other words, they reject the natural rights theory of the Founders, and regard the Constitution as self-sufficient.

But nothing outside God is self-sufficient, and any attempt to render it so will inevitably become brittle and sclerotic. Yes the Constitution is ALIVE!, but only so long as it is rooted in the deathless truths of the Declaration. If the Constitution empowers the hands of the state, it is only because there is a Mind posited in the Declaration. If there is no Mind anterior to them, then the hands just grab Power with no limiting principle.

We're only dealing with the Big Picture today, without getting down into the weeds. But it also occurs to me that the Declaration is about Absoluteness, while the Constitution is necessarily relative -- i.e., relative the absolute truth of the Declaration.

This leads to another trick of the left: deny the absoluteness of the Declaration in order to re-situate it in constitutional law. Indeed, all of their malign constitutional mischief takes this form.

Marriage, for example, is a natural right which is anterior to the state, and which the state can only defend, not create. Nevertheless, homosexual marriage was conjured by the state on June 26, 2015. Which means the state has brazenly undermined a natural right for which reason it exists to defend in the first place. In other words, the state loudly proclaimed a rejection of its reason for being.

More generally, the natural law traditionalist has no rights to which the liberal elitist is bound to respect.

Now, governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But the left's assault on the Laws of Nature and Nature's God isn't very light; pretty heavy-handed, rather. And if it is permanent, then we're outta here.

Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth.... The liberal project began to fail when it began to lie. That was the mid-sixties… the rot set in and has continued since. --Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cosmic Heresy and Intrinsic Orthodoxy

I have a surprise early appointment, so this post ended up raising more questions than it had the time to answer or properly dodge. We'll pick up the thread tomorrow...

Douthat's Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics very much dovetails with our recent posts on the subject of meta-theology. It too raises many more problems than it resolves. Moreover, the book is more sociological than theological, such that the author never even gets around to defining exactly what he means by heresy or bad religion. Rather, he just knows them when he sees them. But by what criteria?

Schuon, who is deeper and more subtle than any mere Timesman could ever be, notes that there are two forms of heresy, intrinsic and extrinsic. The latter applies only to this or that religion, while the former goes to religion as such.

For example, it would represent a Christian heresy to regard Mary as co-redemptrix. But is belief in salvation via the divine feminine intrinsically heretical?

Actually, it looks like the idea is only borderline heretical, at least for Catholics; or, it can be kosher so long as Mary isn't on the identical plane as Jesus. But for Protestants the whole idea would indeed be heretical. This only goes to the difficulty of nailing down heresy, both intrinsic and extrinsic.

Also, I have this idea that when a religion declares a cosmic orthodoxy to be heretical, the rejected truth will have a way of returning unbidden and unnoticed. The question of Mary is just one example: you can drive the divine feminine out with a pitchfork, but she always returns.

Furthermore -- and more problematically -- she can return in distorted, grotesque, and deviant ways, as in feminism, Gaia-ism, and the cult of global warming. It is very much as if the Church's focus on Mary allows for a healthy expression of a kind of intrinsic longing, for on the human plane it can't get any more primordial than the mamamatrix. It's gonna come out somehow.

The rock bottom question is how to determine when religion is bad and/or heretical. Again, by what criteria? By what right can a man who believes in the resurrection criticize the man who believes in reincarnation? Surely, he can't just call him irrational, let alone heretical, since reincarnation would be a Christian heresy but Hindu orthodoxy.

In a way, Schuon's entire oeuvre deals with this question from one angle or another "Exoterism," he writes, "puts the form -- the credo -- above the essence -- Universal Truth," while esoterism (or what we are calling meta-theology) regards the form (credo) as a function of the essence (Universal Truth). A deviation from this Universal Truth would represent an intrinsic heresy.

Let's take an obvious Universal Truth, that God is one. A religion that posits, say, two ultimate realities in eternal conflict would be intrinsically heretical. Even -- or especially -- the early fathers had to grapple with this one: how to reconcile God's threeness with his oneness without descending into intrinsic heresy.

Those early ecumenical councils testify to just how seriously they took the matter. Indeed, if the second commandment conveys an intrinsic orthodoxy -- don't worship idols and other false gods -- then everything was on the line in getting it right. Get it wrong and you end up with an intrinsically heretical religion such as Scientology or leftism.

In short, on the one hand they were obviously dealing with questions of extrinsic heresy, i.e., heresies unique to Christianity. But without stating it or even realizing it, they were also dealing with questions of intrinsic heresy, i.e., ruling out metaphysical ideas that are just plain wrong, everywhere and everywhen.

The question is, is the credo -- the particular form -- the criterion of the Universal Truth, or is there a Universal Truth that is the criterion of the particular form? It seems to me that asking this approaches a kind of vertical third-rail. Within a religion, one is discouraged from touching it.

Why is this? Because doing so might relativize the credo, such that it is no longer possible to believe it in good faith. Religions tend to absolutize themselves because failure to do so will result in failure to express and transmit absoluteness, at least to the average Joe.

Just thinking out loud here, but what if we cannot actually separate the form from the essence? This was the big divide between Plato and Aristotle -- that and the question of boxers vs. briefs -- i.e., whether the essence is in the form, or whether there is a "platonic" realm of pure essences above the individual expression. But it's not a crude either/or question, hence the breakthrough discovery of the boxer brief.

Seriously: what if there is no essence except in its expression? In our minds we can divide them, but they are really indivisible -- just as we can recognize a frog, but there is no nonlocal realm of frogginess that exists separately from the Frenchman in question.

"What characterizes esoterism" writes Schuon, is that "on contact with a dogmatic system, it universalizes the symbol or the religious concept..."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meta-Theology, Esoterism, and Sola Relatio

I don't even like the word "esoterism" because it sounds elitist and therefore Gnostic, the latter involving salvation via some special knowledge reserved for the Few.

Nevertheless, if the truth sets one free, then liberation and salvation obviously have some relation to knowledge. Lies set one free, but free from a proper relation to reality. At least for awhile. Reality can be an abusive partner if one persists in being unfaithful to her.

All religions speak of liberation and salvation, but usually emphasize one or the other. Where eastern religions generally speak of liberation, western ones preach salvation.

But one cannot be saved without truth, and to be liberated is to be rescued from the various lies and illusions that ensnare us.

In addition to truth and liberation, there is presence: God is truth, God is freedom, and God is here. Frankly, any one will do, and each entails the others.

Theology is always situated within this or that religion, but esoterism is meta-theological. This is essentially no different from how metaphysics is situated beyond every academic discipline. Now, metaphysics is not popular these days, and meta-theology has never been popular.

However, we know it isn't possible to make any meaningful statement about reality outside a metaphysical frame of reference (even the word "reality" is metaphysically loaded with assumptions). People who deny metaphysics -- or who pretend to do without it -- just end up being the worst and most naive of metaphysicians.

For example, science wedded to a bad metaphysic redounds to scientism. Psychology rooted in a naive or unreflective metapsychology devolves to an absurcular psychologism. Similarly, history can become a myopic historicism, logic a grandiose tautology, economics a presumption to knowledge that is impossible in principle.

There is one truth but an infinite number of deviations therefrom. Some people confuse the infinitude of the latter with "freedom." But relativism is just the world's biggest prison.

So: I wonder if there is a meta-theology that is to theology as metaphysics is to the world?

By the way, in using the word "metaphysics," I am partial to Whitehead's definition of the term -- which I don't precisely remember at the moment but has something to do with an overarching theory that encompasses Everything That is the Case. Anything that exists or happens is explained by it, and nothing can exist or happen outside its laws or principles or habits.

Everything written above was provoked by one little passage from Schuon, to the effect that it would be absurd to demand from theology what is perfectly acceptable to esoterism (or what we prefer to call meta-theology).

A central purpose of theology is to transmit the Absolute. However, it is generally conflated with the Absolute, which reduces to idolatry. This is precisely the plane where religious quarrels occur, especially the deadly ones. Being that there cannot be two Absolutes, one must go, absolutely. The jihad is on.

I wonder: is there a meta-theology that is built into Christianity, thus freeing it from the errors of "theologism" (the latter neologism being to theology what scientism is to metaphysics)? Does Christianity convey an intrinsic ironization of itself?

I believe so. In this respect -- and no disrespect is intended -- it is quite different from, say, Islam or Judaism, which are "religions of the book." Christianity is most definitely not a religion of the book. Rather, it is a religion of the person and of the relationship. This latter statement is, of course, filled with meta-theological implications.

A book is an object. A person is a subject, and indeed, the meta-cosmic person is the very source of subjectivity. And a relation is not a possession. Just what it "is" is quite mysterious, because it is not only the space between Things That Are, but makes them What They Are. Here we find ourselves outside the world of sola scriptura and inside the space of sola relatio.

In other words, there is This and there is That. But there is no ultimate This or That. Rather, what is ultimate is the relation between This and That, which, if I am not mistaken, goes to the centrality of Trinity: there is no Father save for in-relation-to the Son, and vice versa.

The relation is the thing, and this relation is Love, apparently. Everything herebelow is substance-in-relation. Which should be no surprise if everything above is also substance-in-relation.

A thought just popped into my head: remember Esperanto? It is a manmade meta-language that is supposed to transcend and harmonize the world's diverse tongues. Is that what we're doing here? I don't think so, because Esperanto is obviously not the Logos from which language flows (and languages flow). To imagine the Logos can be reduced to a human language is literally pre-posterous.

Now, the ultimate substance must be beyond-being. It is the Father of all. Ah ha! But there is no ultimate substance, or at least one that isn't in-relation. Therefore, beyond-being must be in relation to being, as Father is to Son. And again, this relation is love. So, there is indeed something beyond beyond-being, and it is the relation of love. It is the mysterious Third that haunts all things.

This pneumatic third spills over into everything. In my opinion it explains the intelligibility of the world, which is just the light of truth pouring forth and giving itself over to intelligence. Likewise beauty, which is just the divine glory in its metaphysical transparency. And what is virtue but man's participation in the sovereign good?

I guess that's about it for today. I would summarize by saying that meta-theology entails three human imperatives: know truth, love beauty, and do good. But knowing, loving, and doing are all relations.