Saturday, February 03, 2007

Radical Wonder and the Remystification of the World

The first ascertainment which should impose itself upon man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of that miracle that is intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- and consequently the incommensurability between these and material objects, be it a question of a grain of sand or of the sun, or of any creature whatever as an object of the senses. --F. Schuon

Even a Coon has his limits, and I find myself coming up against mine, for if I could only find the words to express what it is I want to say about the miracle of subjectivity, I could reproduce the presence of Presence in my readers, and that would be that. Which is to say, that.

Without a doubt, the most awesome mystery in this cosmos -- without which there could not be a cosmos -- is the question of how existence became experience, and then, in human beings, doubled back upon itself and became the experience of experience. The fact that humans are, by and large, insufficiently astonished by this miracle, suggests to me that many of us have barely begun the ongoing task of lifting ourselves from the matrix of our animal consciousness.

Unfortunately, scientists can be the worst of the bunch. There is a type of "thin" but piercing intelligence that is prized in the western world, but which causes us to end up with a Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris and even grant them the title of "philosopher." Along these lines, yesterday I was alerted to almost inedible article entitled God and Gorillas (tail wiggle: Netwing), about what animals can supposedly tell us about religion. It was so painfully stupid that I couldn't stop wincing:

"Every human culture has believed in spirits, gods or some other divine being. But many scientists are coming up with their own, decidedly secular, theories about the origins of faith.... [O]ver the last few years, a small cottage industry made up of scientists and philosophers has devoted itself to demystifying the divine. Take Daniel Dennett, the philosopher who has proposed that religion is a meme -- an idea that evolved like a virus -- that infected our ancestors and continued to spread throughout cultures.... [A]nthropologist Pascal Boyer argues that religious belief is a quirky byproduct of a brain that evolved to detect predators and other survival needs.... And British biologist Lewis Wolpert... posits that religion developed once hominids understood cause and effect, which allowed them to make complex tools. Once they started to make causal connections, they felt compelled to explain life's mysteries. Their brains, in essence, turned into 'belief engines.'

"That's what makes [anthropologist] Barbara J. King... so unique.... [H]er main insights about the origins of religion come not from researching humans' deep history, but from observing very much alive non-human primates.... [W]e can trace back the origins of our religious impulse... to our ancient ancestors millions of years ago. And today, King says, we can see the foundations of religious behavior in chimpanzees and gorillas; watching our distant cousins can do much to explain the foundations of our own beliefs."

Of course, all of these approaches to religion represent stupidity on stilts: "if you want to understand spirit, don't watch and pray, just watch predators and prey." The idea that our understanding of religion could be supplemented by observing gorillas at the zoo is just so preposterous that one hardly knows how to respond except to say, "fine. If it works for you, go nuts. As long as no animals are harmed in the process. Whatever gets you through the night."

The operative passage above refers to the "small cottage industry made up of scientists and philosophers [which] has devoted itself to demystifying the divine." I say this because these people reflexively equate "demystifying" with "understanding." But when it comes to the Divine, to demystify it is to misunderstand it, precisely. For mystery is not the content of ignorance but a mode of understanding. It is to the serious seeker what curiosity is to the scientist. If these benighted scientists wish to experience God, they are approaching the subject in a manner that is guaranteed to seal their ignorance. They must follow the mystery, but first they must experience it.

Science aims at the demystification of the world, whereas religion aims at its remystification. Both approaches produce real knowledge, but only so long as the mode of understanding is adequate to the subject. And please, if you are a troll who thinks I am somehow "anti-science," please go away. I have no idea what serendipshitous cosmic winds blew you into Coonworld, but you have no business here. My writing is not intended for you, any more than your comments in any way reach me.

Now, the notion that animals live in a state of "mystery" about the world is just plain foolishness. They have only experience, not the experience of experience, which is to say mystery. Animals may look mysterious to us, but the feeling is not mutual. Only humans, upon becoming human, can awaken to the perpetual mystery that is. It is what distinguishes us from lower animals, not that which unites us. The religious person wishes to preserve and extend this mystery, not extinguish it. To conflate this quintessentially human epistemological mode with "ignorance" -- with a defect or deficit -- again represents a kind of breathtaking metaphysical perversion.

If you do not acknowledge the human thirst for mystery, two things will happen to your soul. First, you will search for it in inappropriate ways. You will "mystify" something that is not worthy of the name, and then pursue it as a sort of substitute religion. It can be literally anything, so long as you are "entranced" by it. The second thing that will happen is that you will become increasingly insensate to the real mystery, which is much more subtle than its many substitutes.

When you have successfully demystified the world, your soul is officially dead. This is why it is a chore for me to read the words of the scientists referenced above, for these are dead men talking. It is as wearying as communist or leftist boilerplate dogma that explains everything, and therefore, nothing. It is such a ham-handed and oblivious misuse of language, that it offends the sensibility of someone with even a rudimentary acquaintance with spirit. It is also a kind of psychic "bullying," trying to push people around with coarse and blunt language that is entirely disproportionate and inappropriate to its subject -- like an illiterate boob talking about Shakespeare.

I'm trying to think of an example that even a materialist with a blunted sensibility might understand. For many people who have successfully demystified the world, the only time they are able to unwittingly appreciate the sacred is when they are directly confronted with it in its most vivid form: death, the birth of a child, marriage, etc. Imagine being so spiritually insensate that you had the courage of your convictions and successfully drained the world of its sacred dimension. Upon the death of a loved one, you would simply put them in the garbage. After all, it's just a sack of meat. The birth of a child would be no different than termites hatching in your backyard. Marriage wouldn't exist, because there would be no recognition of the sacred dimension of male and female sexuality. Euthanasia would not just be legal, but mandatory, on grounds of common sense -- as would the abortion of youth in Asia -- as in China.

Believe it or not, there are people who more or less experience the world this way. But we do not call them "enlightened" or more in touch with reality than the rest of us. Rather, we call them schizoid or autistic.

As a matter of fact, not too long ago I conducted a psychological evaluation of such an individual. He had what is known as a Schizoid Personality Disorder. I won't get into all of the psychodynamics and etiology of this condition, but the end result is a kind of soul deadness which may leave the person's ability for dealing with matter entirely undamaged. Rather, their problems are all in the realm of intersubjectivity. In his case, he had no difficulty functioning on his technical, "scientific" job. However, he could not form deep and satisfying relationships because he could not "connect" with another person "interior to interior," only "exterior to exterior" -- which quickly becomes bizarre, because it means exile from the human world, which is an interior world.

This particular person was married and even had three children, but his own family members were more like "objects" than subjects to him. Not surprisingly, his outer affect was "depressed," but he did not have a clinical depression per se. For example, antidepressants would do nothing to help such an individual. Rather, his hollow and flat affect was simply an artifact of his inner detachment and absence of interpersonal passion. Yes, he was in pain, but the pain was more of a dull "absence" than an acute presence. He had no idea what was causing the presence of this painful absence. And it is very difficult to treat such an individual, because they are specifically detached from the mode of cure -- which is a relationship with the therapist. They can take in "information" from the therapist, but they cannot internalize the relationship, which is their whole problem in a nutshell.

It is also the whole problem with the spiritually autistic scientific approach to religion, for religion is not an exterior relationship between two objects, nor between a subject and an object. Rather, it is a passionate relationship between a subject and the Subject -- the Subject of subjectivity, as it were. The transitional space in which this relationship takes place is imbued with mystery, which again, is not to say ignorance, but a mode of knowledge that both deepens and extends. It is not an absence of light, but a kind of dark light that is only visible to the open soul. For example, it was within this living space that the entire corpus of Bach was produced and to which it stands as living testimony: Soli Deo Gloria. But I suppose Bach represents "musical ignorance."

Now I ask you. If religion represents a realm of "ignorance," how is it possible for a Coon to spend his life in relationship to a Subject that does not exist, all the while deepening his ignorance in a very precise and methodical way? I will speak only of myself. Over the past dozen years in particular, my spiritual understanding -- at least as far as I am concerned -- has deepened exponentially, and continues to do so. Otherwise I could not "share" this understanding and reproduce it in others (and they in me). Bear in mind that I do not say knowledge, but understanding, two very different things, for one can be full of religious knowledge (k) and yet have no understanding (O-->k).

But is it possible to deeply understand something which does not exist? No, it is not. All you would be deepening is your ignorance -- or, if you are very sick, your delusions.

Let us stipulate that either this new gang of militant atheists "understands" something about spirit, or that we do. Furthermore, let us agree that either they are deepening their ignorance of spirit, or we are. But let us also remember Blake's aphorism, Truth can never be told so as to be understood and not believed. Or, as Terence McKenna put it, "If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed."

How do you help someone rid themselves of their inappropriate knowledge so that they might understand and therefore believe?

The essence of the real is the banal or the trivial, the scientists and other pseudo-realists seem to say. To which we would answer: the essence of the real is the miraculous; the miracle of consciousness, intelligence, knowledge. In the beginning was, not matter, but Spirit, which is the Alpha and the Omega.. --F. Schuon


dilys said...

I think animal science / neurology shows us how much that we think purely "human" -- certain emotions&behaviors, toolmaking and attachment -- is actually emergent in animals and derives from our animal nature. Prior to this information, religion (and tribal religion still does) has conflated things like general sensory excitement, loyalty to the clan, respectability, etc. with the Vertical.

The challenge now is to engage ever more deeply the sacraments ("celestialization") of such human-animal things as eating, mating, devotional attachment, without turning them into idols supplanting the God beyond the labels and the feelings. Though "progressivism" is a horror and disaster in this realm, conservatism per se is not necessarily good at this subtle nuance, though you see something of it in the self-sacrifice of the "Greatest Generation," and in parents' service to their children and vice versa.

What is it that distinguishes the appproach to the Vertical? Gil Baillie has some hints in his lovely post, written as his wife is probably dying, about love and the Master Pattern of the Logos. And here, from Guardini: To participate in this new order, man must open his heart. He must free
himself from the clutches of natural existence and advance to meet the
things to come.

"I look for the Life of the World to Come."

dilys said...

And on a far more ephemeral note, this escalation of the confused and ultimately spurious Evolution Wars.

NoMo said...

Coons circled huddled
Eyes upward wonder gazing
Piercing the mist'ry

debass said...

"Bear in mind that I do not say knowledge, but understanding, two very different things, for one can be full of religious knowledge (k) and yet have no understanding (O-->k)."

I feel like I'm the opposite of this, full of understanding with little religious knowledge. Much as the jazz musician with little formal musical training but a great talent. And that talent comes directly from God. It's like the person that knows music compared to the person that knows about music.

AnotherBob said...


Science became scientism a long time ago.
A long time ago.

-Another Bob

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, but as Dilys' last link demonstrates, we must equally be aware of "religionism!"

Frk-a-zoyd said...

Philosopher Dennet and his ilk are highly specialized tools. Their narrowly focused minds need to stay concentrated on task, so that they may fulfill their mission: to bring a thinking machine into existence.

This task, in my opinion, is sanctioned by God. Dennet, if anyone, will help write the program that succeeds at this.

No worries, mate. It looks "wrong," and it is, but step back and take in the broadest possible view of spiritual evolution.

The machine intelligence (when it comes) may be better able to experience God than we are. We are tooling up to replace ourselves as the vanguard of spiritual evolution. We've been useful, but we are going to fall away after fulfilling our destiny.

JP said...

"How do you help someone rid themselves of their inappropriate knowledge so that they might understand and therefore believe?"

A.R. Orage said, as quoted in Margaret Anderson's The Unknowable Gurdjieff:
"There are only three ways of influencing people (...) - magnetization, competition, example".

The thing that works for me is when I see somebody who I wish to be like; someone who's an example for me. I guess that would require for that person to incorporate a high degree of knowledge, beauty and Being. If any of the three is lacking there's "something missing" and to follow her just doesn't seem worth the shot. So in order to fool some poor fool from the realm of knowledge into the realm of understanding I think one would need to have a degree of wisdom, happiness and beauty operating in oneself. Which I guess an integrated human being has by default?

Gagdad Bob said...

Dr. Pibb:

One effect of celestialization is that the spirit blows where it will. Get a life. My writing is not intended for your kind.

George said...

"...observing gorillas at the zoo..."

This is neither steeped in understanding, nor is it philosophical; it is strictly an observation.

I work as a volunteer at a first-tier zoo. The primates are represented by gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons. The zoo director commented on the intelligence of primates thus: If you give a gorilla a puzzle he will tear it apart; if you give a chimpanzee a puzzle he will play with it until, accidently, he will find the solution; if you give an orangutan a puzzle, he will look at it for hours -- even days -- and get it right the first time.

My personal observations confirm that; however, they are still primates. At no time to they reflect anything like spirituality as I understand it.

uss ben said...

Todays menu certainly remystifies!

It seems to me that the objectifierazing that these
psuedooscythencefillosifers encurage, and indeed want to enforce, are doing all they can to create more sociopaths.

For anyone that see's and treats his people (the people), and even his own family (that family) as objects, which is a major goal of militant atheists that are compelled to demystify, is a sociopath.

Not far from sociopathy lies the next demonical step in demystifiecation which is psychopathy, is it not?

Jacob C. said...

My wife prefers to call herself an agnostic, by which she means she wants to believe, but has had so many truly horrible experiences with religious people that she can't quite bring herself to become one of them. When her dad was a kid, one branch of his family were Catholics of the psychotically conservative branch - the kind who thought that the First Vatican Council was a mistake, let alone the Second. He was so sick of having it hammered into his head that if he didn't believe, he was doomed to burn in hell forever, that his three kids (including my future wife) grew up in a house in which the words "religion," "Christianity" and "Catholicism" in particular were considered obscene.

Long story short: My wife's family has had so many experiences with (Ø --> -k) that my wife is too skeptical to accept (O --> k). Her attitude towards religious believers reminds me of Bill Hicks's attitude toward non-smokers: "Obnoxious, self-righteous slugs. The only reason I don't quit smoking [start believing] is that I'm afraid I'll become one of you."

uss ben said...

"Of course, all of these approaches to religion represent stupidity on stilts: "if you want to understand spirit, don't watch and pray, just watch predators and prey.""

Funny on stilts, ha ha!

uss ben said...

"I'm trying to think of an example that even a materialist with a blunted sensibility might understand."

Therein lies the rub, dear leader.
For the scythinticks such as Harris(like leftists) demean words rather
find the meaning of words.

uss ben said...

RATHER than (somehow the rather didn't make it).
I blame Skully for practicing sword fighting in the living room while I'm writing.
Very distracting.

uss ben said... was the THEN that didn't make it.

Skully is beginning to get on my nerves.
Any used pirate ships for sale out there?
Small payments a plus.

will said...

Well, animals, in fact, all organic life, all materiality might reflect spirituality - instinctually or non-consciously, of course - in one way:

Let's say that the Godhead flung Its characteristics, its virtues, so to speak, into all of Creation. We might even think of these virtues as being archetypes, etched into every dimensional level, from raw materiality to the highest immaterial substance. In other words, the virtue-archetypes are to be found everywhere, in some form.

Only in humans can all the virtues be actualized to their fullest extent; and they can all be actualized only because of our human self-aware consciousness.

However, single virtues can be, if not actualized, then exemplified in animals. Some birds "marry", for example, take only one lifetime mate. For that matter, birds *fly* - isn't that a demonstration of a virtue of sorts? Animals exemplify virtues in all manner of ways: in the way they organize, socialize, care for and defend their young, etc. Particular animal species exemplify particular virtues: goats/tenacity, dogs/loyalty, cats . . . well, I'm hard-pressed on cats.

What virtue would the dolphin represent? Or the horse? Bear? I think if one studied their patterns of organization, one would find particular virtue-archetypes being highlighted.

In a more sweeping sense, mountains could be said to exemplify a particular virtue, as could oceans, rivers, lakes, deserts, rainforests.

On the other hand, I am thinking of forms of organic life which seem to exemplify negative virtues, which is to say, no virtue at all - flies, eels, cockroaches. Things that give you the archetypal creeps. Wherever they came from, whatever created them, it wasn't the same Source that created the flamingo.

NoMo said...

Jacob C. - Your wife has seen religionism / churchianity and realized that God is elsewhere. That is a good step towards elsewhere. I hope she keeps moving.

NoMo said...

Will - As God continues to paint all of creation, every aspect, even the lowly housefly, will, by their very nature, reveal something of the Painter. As we each paint our own lives, brushstoke by brushstroke, moment by moment, so will we -- but by our choice.

Anonymous said...

The fool who persists in his folly will become wise.

-William Blake

joseph said...

Your comments remind me of the Hindu theory of gunas, where all created things, both animate and inanimate, partake to one degree or another of the qualities of sattva (ascending tendency), rajas (horizontal tendency), and tamas (descending tendency). Animals like birds clearly possess more sattva than pigs, etc.
I am also reminded of a lovely book on my shelf, entitled, The Bestiary of Christ, by Louis Charbonneau-Lassay, where the symbolism of various animals is explained, from a Christian upaya.

Gagdad Bob said...

Oh yes. There is no question that one may, through the law of analogies, gain spritual insight by observing the natural world. But that is because the higher is reflected in the lower as a result of the logos or tao that infuses all things. Vertically speaking, animals are descended from man, not vice versa. Therefore, there is no reason why we shouldn't see remnants and fragments -- not seeds or prototypes -- of our spirituality in animals. It is as if we see a certain distant reflection of the archetypes in animals and natural phenomena: i.e., courage in the lion, loyalty in the dog, grandeur in the mountain, peace in the lake, mischievousness in the raccoon, dignity in Fergus and Booger, etc.

Alan said...

there is an unbridgeable difference between a thinking machine and a knowing/understanding/experiencing machine. (actually "machine" is not really proper in the latter example)

what *is* happening is that we are being given the opportunity know what really makes humanity unique and 'not of this world".

Nothing in this world can replace something out of this world. Horizontal can never be vertical.

Scientists and the "Philosopher Dennings" of the world have not been able to demonstrate one example of knowing/understanding/experiencing. They may think they have but they forget their own participation in the experience as the knower/understander/experiencer.

will said...

With respect to animal archetypes, apes are an interesting case.

Apes often seem to arouse in people emotions and feelings not spent on other animals, namely a mixture of pity and contempt.

W.B. Yeats was of the belief that apes were/are literally failed human beings, that at some point in the distant past they were human but then so degraded themselves as to become animal. There is indeed something of a sadness in the eyes of apes, as they were bearing some great collective shame.

Whether Yeats's belief is correct or not, I don't know, but I would think that apes do embody some kind of "warning" archetype - which might make them unique in the animal world.

Another Bob said...


FWIW, the Urantia book asserts the great apes were
a retrograde evolution, a devolution.

And humans? Why its obvious they evolved from
lemurs, not meerkats.

-Another Bob

Biker Lady said...

A Mystical Union - God & Me!

"In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God"(John1:1)
The mystery is, the Word is God and God is the Word.
In the Book of Acts, the Apostles are to Speak/Preach the Word. And, by the preaching of the Word we will be joined to God.
1) We hear the Word.
2) And if the spirit, our spirit is willing...(mystery here - why some hear and aren't willing and some are .
3) In willing - we are "quickened" - filled with the Word/God/Spirit.
Then, an actual part of God/Word/Spirit is in us.
We accept and believe this is true and from God. I'd say this is a very mysterious Act of God!
A Mystical Union between God and me has taken place.

gumshoe1 said...

Anonymous said...

"The fool who persists in his folly will become wise."
-William Blake

2/03/2007 11:59:15 AM


it's also been said,

"all genuine learning is painful".

River Cocytus said...

dilys: Thanks for the second link (of your second post). I can see where Bob & Will were disagreeing with me earlier. Having only had a smattering of the philosophy of the Church Fathers (in my Christian History Class, which by the way was taught by a Greek Orthodox fellow) I was unaware of the convergence of thinking.

Having read it, I would say what I experienced was more of, "Our world, as WE know it, blinked into existence with the Word of God."

Regardless, it is actually inconsistent with experience to assume that the actuality of the world; all matter, all life, etc, materialized instantaneously. What emerged 'instantaneously', instead, was humanness-- that is, our ability to actually erroneously believe that the whole world began with us, both historically and personally.

Genesis does not actually say, except to stretch it, that such a thing happened. God breathed into adam and made him a living SOUL. Not LIVING, but a living SOUL. Breath in ancient languages is almost always synonymous with 'Spirit'.

So, I understand why you were very much against my perception on the matter. Justifiably so, I think.


Arthur Dent said...

GB said:
"...if I could only find the words to express what it is I want to say about the miracle of subjectivity..."

Is subjectivity measurable?

I think in many ways it is. Some might disagree.

What can or cannot be measured? With that said, what cannot be modeled?

Crichton that I've only seen today...

Arthur Dent said...

Crichton link, sorry.

Jacob C said...

Nomo: I disagree. You seem to think that she's left the church and gone back to God.

Judging by a conversation we had last night, her experiences with religion have actually shaken her faith in God. She doesn't want to believe, because she's seen what belief turns people into and she's afraid of winding up as bitter, hypocritical and priggish most of the Christians she's met. That's what faith in God does to people, as far as L. can tell.

Jacob C said...

Let's put L's train of thought this way.

Religion = faith in God

Religious person = person having faith in God

Religious person, in my wife's experience, = self-righteous, hypocritical asshole

Therefore: Person who has faith in God, by definition, = self-righteous, hypocritical asshole

Anonymous said...

Our Unkown Friend would have said this regarding these "scientists" and their kooky reductionist ideas:

"Hermetic philosphy separated from magic, gnosis and mysticism becomes a parasitic system of autonomous thought which is, truth to tell, a veritable psycho-pathological complex, because it bewitches or enslaves human consciousness and deprives it of liberty.

A person who has had the misfortune to fall victim to the spell of a philosophical system can longer see the world, or people, or historic events, as they are; he sees everything only through the distorting prism of the system by which he is possessed.

Thus, a Marxist of today is incapable os seeing anything in the history of mankind other than the "class struggle."

...Autonomus philosophical systems separated from the living body of tradition are parasitic structures, which sieze the thought, feeling and finally the will of human beings. In fact, they play a role comparable to the psycho-spiritual complexes of neurosis or psychic maladies of obsession. Their physical analogy is cancer."

Joan of Argghh! said...

I posted this last week on van's blog, and I guess it kinda fits in here, too:

"Oh please!" says my heart, "Please let there be mystery!" else God is less than I am.

Let me know the Otherness that is greater and unknowable, yet able to be experienced. It runs above and beyond argument or theorem or postulation. If it can be contained in words, in thoughts, in a glance or an appeal to the senses, it is less than I.

Pepper Dog said...

Jacob C.

Would your wife believe everything all your acquaintances might say about you? How about the person who saw you cut off another car in traffic, or saw you having a heated conversation with a clerk in the store? Would she believe others' interpretations of your actions, or would she rely on the sweet, patient examples she's always experienced with you?

Of course, if you jumped into the lane and cut off another car because you had been called away to some emergency, and you quarreled with a clerk because they brazenly shortchanged you, it may not be evident to even your biggest fans. But your wife knows you because she has a relationship with you. She didn't read about you and decide to love you, she spent time with you and found you to be delightful, polite, and utterly charming (I'm just guessing, here...)

Religion is useless without the relationship, much as reading scripture and sacred writings doesn't mean you know much of anything about what God could really be like if He sat down next to you. Your dear wife may find out that when she left a church full of such folks, she was possibly following a good spiritual hunch. She might wish to look around her spiritual surroundings and see who she followed out the door.

Joan of Argghh! said...


I've always said that the School of Hard Knocks is full of Hard Heads.

(Good grief, Bob! The Turing word verification is: wfzqpebp. Eek! But I got it right the first time! It usually takes about 3 times. Is dyslexia curable?)

walt said...

In a related post some months ago, Dear Leader wrote, "The compulsive demystification of this wonderful cosmos by sophisticated barbarians yields a kind of psuedo-intelligence at no apparent cost."

I saved that quote because of the phrase, "at no apparent cost."

It seems to me that the same people who work so hard to take the "liveliness and loveliness" out of tradition, are hailed and SALUTED by the secular culture. It looks to me like they destroy the germ, the kernel, and leave us with husks: errghh! ptoooey! no daily bread in THAT! And I am consistently "exercised" about it too, because their actions don't just kill what 'I' love, but serve to kill Love as well.

I appreciate the nutritious food served here daily. Thanks again, Bob.

Gagdad Bob said...

I said that? That's a pretty good line. I should save it myself and rewordgitate it in a future post.

Van said...

Crystal clear identifications and Integrations, Halogen-like beams of vertical light and belley laughs all rolled into one.

I really like strolling through the words here.

Refreshing and serendipitous ... and they go really well with Merlot (I'm out of Guiness. Temporairly).

Jamie Irons said...


But when it comes to the Divine, to demystify it is to misunderstand it, precisely. For mystery is not the content of ignorance but a mode of understanding. It is to the serious seeker what curiosity is to the scientist...

That is very, very good.

Jamie Irons

Gagdad Bob said...

Once again, I find myself in the awkward position of reluctantly agreeing with that assessment. I have no idea where it came from, but I'm definitely stealing it.

Van said...

"How do you help someone rid themselves of their inappropriate knowledge so that they might understand and therefore believe?"

My guess would be that they need to first become aware of the difference between the 'pretty' and the Beautiful(though that may be begging the question, since how to go about accomplishing that is equally mysterious). It seems to me, that all of these horizontal attempts at thinking are just hamfistedly vulgar attempts at experiencing value. It is only when you can grasp the difference between 'K Fed' and Bach, that you are able to see that there is somewhere to rise above to. There are many glittering baubles lying on the horizontal floor, it is only in perceiving the depths of difference between the merely eye-candy pretty, and the sublimely beautiful, that you begin to look upwards and see the arches of the cathedral above you.

Leo Strauss, in trying to explain the value of a proper Liberal Education, which I think also applies to grasping the spiritual, noted " Liberal education is liberation from vulgarity. The Greeks had a beautiful word for "vulgarity"; they called it apeirokalia, lack of experience in things beautiful. Liberal education supplies us with experience in things beautiful.".

If there is a word that describes the overall sense of the scientifette, the wackademic and the leftie in general in their grasp of 'art', of values, or Spirituality and even (or even in particularly) Sexuality, it is Vulgar. Think Cindy Sheehan, Jackson Pollack, Al Franken, Howard Stern or Bill Maher, their manner is completely vulgar - and not unconsciously so, but deliberately, their intentional signature, as if they mistake it for Value.

I suspect that their lives are marked by a complete 'lack of experience in things beautiful'.

NoMo said...

Speaking of "Radical Wonder and the Remystification of the World" and relationships. Ahhh, spent most of the day with my 2 1/2 yr old grandson. I wonder if my Father ever "feels" as good about spending time with any of His children (like me). I sure hope so.

NoMo said...

Oh, and Van -- tonight it's a decent little Chilean Syrah. Here's to ya!

Van said...

"But when it comes to the Divine, to demystify it is to misunderstand it, precisely. For mystery is not the content of ignorance but a mode of understanding."

Got to go with Jamie Irons on that, definitely worth repeating.

Joan, yours too "..."Please let there be mystery!" else God is less than I am" and "...If it can be contained in words, in thoughts, in a glance or an appeal to the senses, it is less than I."

The realization of the Mysterious is the launching point into the vertical, not the arriving at a dead end. But maybe it depends on your point of view, and the point for which you view.

Van said...


doug newton said...

Maybe you would find this interesting. "The Science and Philosophy of Consciousness" Alex Green

River Cocytus said...

The recognization of Mystery is like assenting to the part of reality that is eternally mysterious.

It is the dead end that is always a door. So maybe you could call it a 'live end'. Like an electric wire!

Whew, gotta calm down. Once the Spirit gets a'goin...

It is a joy finding those unintegrated gaps, at least the ones that are pockets of rich goodness that can never be fully integrated.

GLASR said...

Of course, all right, talking to the animals, so long as you do not get any ANSWERS there Dr. Doolittle. heh heh

C'mon Joan, why didn't you fess up the other day when I asked about folks playing word games with WoVeri? heh heh

Saw over at uss ben the dude in the 'chair keeps the box from going stage right. heh heh

Jacob C said...

Pepper: Appreciate the input.

It's not, however, that my wife or her family USED to be religious, but they never WERE religious - her dad got as far away from that particular branch of his family as possible. My wife's immediate family are only religious insofar as they admit they are capable of belief in God (although L's stepmother is a formerly-Jewish atheist).

(Incidentally, although L's father is turned off by anything remotely resembling religious belief, he seems to have supplanted it with an all-consuming interest in the supernatural - he has the most impressive collection of books on ghosts and hauntings that I've ever seen.)

My wife considers only two subjects off limits in our house - religion and politics. If any reference even to God enters a conversation, she slams shut like a time lock at the bank, and I have to move my train of thought onto neutral ground before she opens up to me again. She believes in God, but she doesn't want to believe in God - hell, she doesn't even want to think about Him. Because believing in God, as far as she's concerned, turns you into an asshole. (It was actually a severe shock to her system that my mostly-Catholic family all turned out to be nice people.)

Joan of Argghh! said...


WordVeri is the hardest part of blogging. I can see the letters just fine, but the dyslexia is outgoing to my fingers, apparently. I can't even write with a pen because I have to scratch through so many times, completely getting letters rearranged. It's prob'ly not a true dyslexia, but it's been that way since I was a kid. It doesn't affect my ability as an artist, thankfully. I can actually render what I see quite accurately.

I prefer typing because I can back up as many times as it takes to get it correct. (And that keeps my posts kinda short,you lucky people.)

Sometimes, I see the turing word and just hit "enter" until it gives me one I have hope of transcribing correctly. And when Bob gets going with word fun, it is a labor of love for me to decipher what my eyes are seeing.

Last Turing word ended in, "xtc" however, which was kinda funny.


joseph said...

It is fascinating to read this coming from a woman so very gifted with words. It must be some kind of Cosmic adjustment for granting you with so many gifts:)

pepper dog said...


I can totally see that, now. It's how I feel as a born resident of the South, when I think about folks from New Jersey. Not every Yankee is an asshole, but it's always safer to go with that prejudice and be pleasantly surprised once in blue moon.

What? It could happen.

Joan of Argghh! said...


Flattery only encourages me...


River Cocytus said...

The Juicing Proverb

A tall and stubborn lemon
Requires a gouge in the side
No doubt a lesson for all of us

River Cocytus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
River Cocytus said...

argh! posted it in the wrong thread... eeesh. :o

abigail said...

A beautiful piece. Thank you. My one testy objection is this: what you say about the autistic. I realize one has to use shorthand, but I have an autistic son (high functioning) who is the most devout member of our family. A boy with a sense of the awesome power and mystery of God. A boy aware that the healing he has experienced in recent years (not cure, not relief of all symptoms, not "normalcy" whatever that may be bestowed, not relief from all the demons that torment him, but some peace, some relief, some growth), his healing is the direct result of the mercy of God and the prayers of the church family who have loved him for years. His faith puts my own to shame. And it is real, not parroted rote dogma, but lived experience of the Holy One who came to bring us abundant life.

Thoughts said...

When you talk about "inside" and "outside" knowledge you seem to be playing the same game as the scientists. The starting point for analysing this problem from a philosophical viewpoint is the direct realist/indirect realist debate. See the Wikibook on Consciousness:

Or my own blog at: