Monday, March 09, 2009

Who Will Dream of God and Beauty, If Not Man?

Before we wrap up with DeKoninck's Cosmos and return to Balthasar's Theo-Logic, I suppose I should relate this little big dream I had last Friday, since it's on my mind and I want to write about it while it's still fresh. It's probably the most intense spiritual dream I've ever had. I suppose I should be more fired up about it, and yet, if it hadn't come true, I would have been surprised.

I'll be brief. It takes place in a cathedral or monastery. It was me, Mrs. G., an older man (someone above a priest), and a younger priest, probably in his 30s. Mrs. G. is in the process of being initiated into the mystery of Christianity. The older official is standing in the background. The younger priest places his hands around her head, not quite touching it, and transmits the Force. All around her head, the space becomes like -- I don't quite know how to describe it -- but like golden liquid plasma, as in a science fiction movie, as if the very space is being distorted as a result of the infusion of energy.

Meanwhile, I'm standing a few feet away, and I feel the most intensely blissful energy go into my heart. In fact, it's so intense, that I'm not sure I can stay with it. I know from experience that if I don't relax into it, it will be repelled. Surrender first, bobble about it later. I also remember thinking to myself something along the lines of "Wo. Make mental note. This really is the One True Living God." (This was not the first time, mind you. But these (n)ergetic reflesher coursings are helpful.)

I wouldn't go so far as to say that this type of experience makes me say that all my posts are so much straw. But it does remind me that I must always try to infuse my words with this force -- or, one must allow oneself to be infused by it, is more like it -- otherwise, what's the point? Just more empty shunyada yada yada pneumababble. Just another "religious blog," of which there are already far too many.

Frankly, I try to do this anyway, but occasionally one has these gratuitous experiences that bring one back to the center and origin in the most forceful and dramatic way imaginable. At that point, you've left theory far behind, and need to drop the words. You need to become plastic to the force, not impose your own manmode language upon it.

And yet, you still need words to try to memorialize and convey the experience. But the trick is not just to use words as signifiers for the signified, but to use them as Containers of Spirit, or ♀ of (n), (?!), or (↓). Know what I mean? This is obviously something that great poets routinely do, but it seems that most contemporary poets simply open themselves to lower vertical energies, not to the upper vertical.

Now, back to our wideawake & cutandry world. As you know, Mrs. G. has been going through the RCIA process for the past year. She's now on the last leg of the round trip, leading up to her baptism on Easter Sunday. This weekend was a big one -- something about becoming a member of the elect and being accepted into the community. On Sunday she had to report to the Mothership, the Big Cathedral in downtown LA.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. What about you, Bob? How come you're not going through the program and becoming an honest man? What religion do you profess, anyway, preacher? To which I respond with a vaguely sinister air of defensiveness, let's just say the religion the Almighty and me worked out betwixt us, and leave it at that.

So anyway, I purposely didn't tell her about the dream, because I wanted to wait and see what would happen this weekend, although I was thinking that the dream might have actually been about the baptism, which comes later. But I was wrong.

When she got home on Saturday, I asked her if she had any interesting experiences to relate, and while she did feel the Force, it was in a more generic way. But when she returned on Sunday, bingo. I asked her to describe what happened in great detail. (By the way, just so you know I'm not making this up, I revealed the specifics of the dream to two people on Saturday and Sunday.)

First of all, part of the ritual was presided over by the odious Cardinal Mahoney. In order to prevent him from spoiling the party, she decided to close her eyes and imagine that it was actually Christ speaking. While he was speaking, the sponsors were directed to raise their hands and pray for their coondidates.

I sez, yes, yes, what happened next? She said it was the most overwhelming experience. As she closed her eyes, she felt hands actually touching her head. At first, she was startled, and thought they were the hands of her sponsor, but she peeked out the corner of her eye, and saw that her sponsor's hands were outstretched, not touching her.

So she went back inward, and as the hands touched her head, she knew them to be the hands of Christ. She felt the most powerful force enter her head and go down into her heart. I should probably let her describe it later, because I'm probably getting some of the details wrong. But she did say that it was as if there were a golden light all around her head. And her heart was about to burst. Only then did I reveal my dream to her, and then peel her off the kitchen ceiling.

So, there you are. I've tried to relate this in the most detached way, because I think it's a "wrong movement" to get all excited about these things, which you have to simultaneously remember but also "let go" of. You can't try to repeat them or hold on to them, but instead, must work at being open to the force at all times.

Because you just never know when the signal will suddenly amp up and fry your circuits. As I mentioned in the book, it reminds me of when I was a kid, when I used to listen to the AM radio at night, picking up distant stations from halfway across the country. For whatever reason, the signal would seem to come in a rhythm, strong, weak, strong, weak. But I suppose that's the nature of waves, in that there are crests and troughs.


Hmm. I also wanted to try to find a way to work this in, because it is directly relevant. For "art" can open itself up and become a servant to the lower or higher, thus proving that the vertical surely exists. As Vanderleun writes,

"It is a commonplace that overwhelming mass of our contemporary art that is 'exhibited' has devolved into mere 'exhibitionism.' Vapid, disposable and preening, the works are doomed to be buried in the gaping garbage pits of marketing-driven museums, and crapulous galleries that hold most contemporary American and European art. Still, great souls persist among us and great art, though it is often obscured by poseurs and perverts and pallid imitators of all stripes, can still emerge when talent and skill are wedded to inspiration and belief."

The point is, the artist -- or anyone else, for that matter -- can serve as a channel for forces and energies that have no proper right to exist, or be a vehicle for true (vertical) inspiration and belief. In the case of the works discussed by Vanderleun, think of how the original (↓) entered from the timeless vertical into the horizontal stream of time, and then re-enters us in the now.

In this case, you might say: Word --> Flesh --> transcendent and overpowering love, purity and chastity --> de Zurbarán --> Still Life With Lemons, Oranges and a Rose --> Morten Lauridsen --> O Magnum Mysterium --> Vanderleun --> beautiful essay --> Gagdad --> you folks.

Do you see the point? It all begins with the original (↓), which is precisely why "great art can still arise in our time" (↑), and can in turn nourish the soul, O-->(n). This energy -- which is quite real -- ricochets around the corridors of history, but unless people are open to it, it is as if it does not exist. Somewhere in the book, I mentioned this -- here it is, pp. 209- 210:

"Although the activation of a neural network is a local phenomenon, it resonates with nonlocal dimensions, as can be seen in the creation of great art.... Apparently this is possible because O 'requires' some nonlocal frame of reference or system of symbols in order to realize itself in the world, be it through painting, music, or ecstatic poetry. Evidently, the universe is filled with such 'empty' fields of pure logos awaiting a nervous system sophisticated enough to evoke them. In other words, O, which exists outside time and space, may actually require a time-bound nervous system to manifest locally."

Or, to quote Joseph Chilton Pearce -- who, by the way, was going to write an enthusiastic blurb for me, but I guess forgot, but then again, he's like 90 years old, so I forgive him -- "we must allow our heart and spirit to build the neural machinery necessary to translate and display" what I call O.

I have so much more to say today, but I'd better stop. Lot's of work to do.

And you went into a trance
Your childlike vision became so fine
And we heard the bells within the church
We loved so much
And felt the presence of the youth of eternal summers
In the garden

And as it touched your cheeks so lightly
Born again you were and blushed
And we touched each other lightly
And we felt the presence of the Christ within our hearts
In the garden
--Van Morrison, In the Garden


Gagdad Bob said...

As Hot Air puts it, "irony alert": the hateful Deepak actually calls out conservatives for "ugly, incendiary speech." The man is quite literally deranged, if not psychotic. His projections are breathtaking, are they not?

Gagdad Bob said...

And the funniest thing is that Deepak is being contemptuously used and manipulated by his Messiah in order to pour his hatred upon Rush!

Gagdad Bob said...

Good example of a kind of satanic double of Ø --> (↓) --> •••(•)••• --> (H), i.e., the propagation of unbound mind parasites.

walt said...

Sounds like you and Mrs. G had a wonderful weekend! May God bless your family!

One of these days, it would be interesting to hear your opinions and speculations about Mr. Pearce. I noticed his earlier book in the bibliography of your book, and recently finished reading the one you linked.

Van said...

Don't miss the Chorale vid at the bottom of Vanderleun's post - beautiful.

julie said...

Van, my choir sang that one a couple of years back. Beautiful to listen to, marvelous to be inside of it, helping to create that sound.

Alan Baldwin M.S. said...

Walt - see my review of The Biology of Transcendence

Nick said...

Slightly tangential but does anyone else here get the feeling the vertical energies have recently increased their broadcasting intensities?

Personally I've noted that if I weren't so blind the light would actually hurt me. So I've been slowly and steadily cracking open my tiny peep hole. Friends and Family have also left clues that some sort of new insight may be revealing itself to them.

I have been thinking too over the possibility of divergence if this energy is increased further. Seems to make those who are opposed to it do some very crazy things.

QP said...

[You] must work at being open to the force at all times. Because you just never know when the signal will suddenly amp up and fry your circuits.

Bob, folks may accuse you of being many things, but never sappy.

Some days I like sappy:

Some days my thoughts are just cocoons --
all cold, and dull, and blind,
They hang from dripping branches in the grey woods of my mind;

And other days they drift and shine -- such free and flying things.
I find the gold dust in my hair, left by their brushing wings.

Petey said...


In a word, yes. Will?

julie said...

Nick, yes. Without a doubt.

Gagdad Bob said...

I note that Mrs. G. slept 12 hours last night, so there may be an enervating effect as well.

Van said...

"First of all, part of the ritual was presided over by the odious Cardinal Mahoney. In order to prevent him from spoiling the party, she decided to close her eyes and imagine that it was actually Christ speaking."

Pardon the self-ref, but this strikes me as an interesting instance of something that set me off (though this is on a much lower level than Leslie's) in my latest post, where a relative in the same breath was complaining about kids playing their GameBoy's and grudgingly sparing only the briefest glance at something like the Lincoln Memorial, and then advised against taking a trip to see Plymouth Rock, 'it's just a little stone... so disappointing'.

"... I’ll put it to you this way, that students who have been trained to be effective in tasks, rather than learning the meaning and principles of what is Good, Beautiful and True, will not only regard the Lincoln Memorial and Plymouth Rock as uninteresting distractions from the engaging tasks compelling them in their GameBoy, they will also regard the reverence of Justice as pretentious distractions and obstructions in the way of just making effective laws to get things done...
Unless that carved stone is filled with meaning, and meaning simply can’t be contained in stone, it must exist within their own minds, meaning which they deeply feel to be interconnected with all that they fully value, which they know to deeply affect their dreams, their very worlds and their futures within it… why, without that meaning being built layer upon layer within their mind, heart and soul, why would they have even the slightest more interest in that cold, unmoving, white stone… than the glistening, moving, urging, GameBoy video game, calling to them as it is, to pursue a task and a score, right there within their hands?
What calls to them?
Which call will they heed?
Where will that call lead them to… within and without?"

Instead of using the objet d’art of the ritual (Mahoney, etc) to enter (or divert) the meaning, Leslie brought the meaning into the Ritual, which I think makes the point even further,

"The point is, the artist -- or anyone else, for that matter -- can serve as a channel for forces and energies that have no proper right to exist, or be a vehicle for true (vertical) inspiration and belief. "

the object serves the Art, but the Art is more than its instantiation, and without someone regularly ready, willing and able to open themselves to being filled by it... you might be left with nothing but a Mahoney.

"... for when properly taught, the value and fascination of Plymouth Rock exists within the child, and any material item you offer up to serve as anchor for those ideals, will serve just as well as any other factoid..."

The interesting thing is that an object which an artist has created, that IS beautiful, even though most who may be closed to it and perhaps its original meaning has been long forgotten, that rare one who is open to the Good, Beautiful and True, has an entrance to explore and discover all that that Art originally sought to convey.

(Coongratulations Leslie!)

Mrs. G said...

Thank you for posting about this. Here's a clarification of my experiences yesterday. Your dream was truly an amazing reflection of two separate experiences I had on Sunday.

Re. the sleep: FL had me up twice for long periods of time. Then the time change was a factor. So it wasn't really 12 hours, unfortunately. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.


OK, Sunday morning was a very profound experience at Our Lady of Malibu during Mass. We were called to the altar and at a certain point sign the book of the Elect, which are the chosen of God. (The idea is that God has chosen us to come to the Church, which has definitely been my experience.) We are blessed by the priest when we kneel and he puts his hands over our heads to bring down the Holy Spirit to bless us. (Like in Bob's dream.)

After dismissal (right after the above) we meet as a group of Elect with Sister Brigid who is now preparing us for our baptism and the other sacraments. She led us in a guided meditation that morning, which is unusual. She told us to picture a ball of golden light surrounding us, and it was very vivid to me. I also pictured my thoughts trying to interrupt my meditation as being deflected by the ball of light. (So this again resonates with Bob's dream and is something we haven't done before in the RCIA program.)


At the Rite of Election in the Cathedral of the Angels, Cardinal Mahoney was saying a blessing over us. Like Bob said, I was creeped out by him so I decided to feel that it was Jesus blessing me. I felt this very deeply and I felt His hand touching the right side of the top of my head. I was pretty sure it was Jesus blessing me, but it felt so real that I peeked to see if it was actually my sponsor touching me, because they had their hands outstretched in a blessing for us.

Otherwise, the experience in the Cathedral was quite a bit like being in a Moonie wedding where thousands were married at once. But overall, the RCIA experience has been one of spiritual growth and making my life more sacred in so many ways.

Your comments and interest mean so much to me,
Mrs. G

julie said...

Leslie, thank you for sharing this with us. There are great and deep mysteries at play right now.

O Magnum Mysterium, indeed. In my heart, I've been singing Magnificat all weekend.

Robin Starfish said...

A pow!erful post and evidence that dreams are more than we think, Time notwithstanding.

And Mrs. G, thanks for sharing the 'other side of the mirror' as well. Wonderful, and Real.

My wife and I have had numerous 'dream / reality' exchanges over the years. The first was dreaming about her symbolically the night before we met - a crane lifting me out of the ocean and onto a pier. And she has an unusual name, to say the least. To add to the spooky factor, todays wv is crene. Cue X-Files music bed.

Van said...

Robin said "Cue X-Files music bed"

Um... I wouldn't recommend googling that phrase... not sayin', just sayin'.


julie said...

Nick said,
I have been thinking too over the possibility of divergence if this energy is increased further. Seems to make those who are opposed to it do some very crazy things.

Today's examples:

Birth control pills for wildlife (what could possibly go wrong?)

"Scientific integrity" restored.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob, a beautiful post, indeed.
For us to only read of it, and be moved enough to recognize, in a sense similar as you, that there are no words for it even from our second-hand position (or is it third?)– now that is one thing. But to have experienced it? That must be another much more precious thing altogether. We can only imagine the purity. And yet some how we know it. How is this possible.
You were right to share it here and can imagine how difficult it might have been not to. Thank you, Bob. Well done describing it. Blessings to you and Mrs. G.

Martin said...

I was listening to Peter Kreeft's "podcast" of "Shocking Beauty" this weekend. No time to reach for the link but go to his page and look for the mp3 and listen. One small part, he called modern art an attack on beauty itself. There's more.

Gagdad Bob said...

Absolutely. The postmodern secular left has done its best to systematically undermine the very possibility of love, truth, and beauty. I'll be posting more on that subject when we return to Balthasar's Theo-Logic.

Ricky Raccoon said...

A few years before my son was born I had a vivid 5-second dream of him. I’m “one of those people” who usually don’t remember my dreams. In the dream my wife and I are in the car and he is in the middle of the back seat. We were laughing and he was leaning forward on the edge of his seat so that his head was between ours, pulling our seat backs with his hands, all excited about something. And we were all laughing. And he was this very skinny little dark skinned kid, with dark brown hair of about 8 or 9 years old. That was it. I remember telling my wife and some close friends about it the next day. They were convinced it would come true. Now…we were newly weds and you know, its hard to put yourself, myself, back then looking ahead and having no clue as to what your life may be like next week, never mind if you will have kids -- when you have no frame of reference for any of it. Do you remember? And of course it did come true. He looks and acts exactly like he did in the 5 second dream. In fact I can’t tell you how much our little family is just like that 5-second dream all the time. In other words, at the time of the dream, the dream was the strangest thing. Now it’s the other way around.

Ricky Raccoon said...

We watched “The Night of the Hunter” Friday night. We’d never seen it. Of course the whole thing gives the deep creeps – but when he is shot and howls, running off like he does. He seems to be something besides a really bad guy at that point. Didn’t expect that.

Interesting too how the movie sort of looked like a play…like they wanted it to look like a stage, the 2 dimensional props like the farm house and barn in silhouette…and the floating down the river scenes were more like a dream.

Van said...

I did a search on Night of the Hunter, and this link came up on Hulu, but then as it loads, I got a "Unfortunately this is no longer available" aw shucks, ok... but then see if you get the "but here are some related videos to watch".

The links are Gare-wrong-teed to draw out a "uh...!" and a head shake.

Gagdad Bob said...


You reminded me. I had that same dream. More or less.


Yes, you could say that the whole of Night of the Hunter is a dream -- specifically, a children's nightmare. It's filmed in such a beautifully expressionistic manner, especially the river scene, which is like a descent into the unconscious. It was the only film ever directed by Charles Laughton.

mushroom said...

Being detached is fine, but that's really impressive. Congratulations, Mrs. G.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.

julie said...

I had that dream once, too, though in my case it was a little girl with blonde hair and pigtails. Still waiting for it to come true, though.

Ricky Raccoon said...

There are some clips on youtube.

will said...

Nick -


Expect scattered revelations in the coming months, followed by a shower of initiations. Long-range forecasting includes the certainty of Parousia after the storm front has passed.

Ricky Raccoon said...

You know, it’s not so strange to think that the way our “little family is now”, how it is like this everyday, that a little of it might have uncovered for 5 seconds back then and it only seemed like a dream.

will said...

But you don't really need a weatherman . . .

Ricky Raccoon said...

Will, have you wondered that the second coming might happen on an individual basis? -- as individual visits or awakenings. After the resurrection Jesus visits people individually and they don’t recognize him at first, which in some paradoxical way seems to suggest “individually” in that He won’t look the same to all of us "at the same time" as he did before the resurrection…

will said...

Ricky -

I have to think that's true in a sense. Each of us reflects divinity in our own unique way, so I suppose each of us would perceive divinity in our own unique way.

Of course, by this reckoning, the spiritually atrophied wouldn't see Him at all - however,as the book says, " . . every eye shall see him". I don't know - we may be in line for something a lot more "palpable" than what we generally expect.

Gagdad Bob said...

If in the Age of the Father the covenant was with a people, and in Age of the Son it is with a church -- or let us say the body of Christ -- perhaps the Age of the Holy Spirit will indeed involve a kind of covenant with individuals.

Just speculation.... although I think Guenon said something similar, in the sense that the world has become so dense, quantified, and materialized, that there is a sort of compensatory divine energy that goes out to serious seekers. I know I'm not explaining it well. Oh well. Sleepy time...

will said...

Re: the coming age as a covenant with individuals -

I would think definitely so in the sense that we are to directly manifest Christ's Light and love, not merely exercise devotion to Christian ideals and images.

As some Christians say, we must have a *personal* relationship with Jesus. I think they speak truer than they know. There is nothing more personal than the presence of the Spirit within - as Eckhart said, "He is closer to me than I am to myself."

Paradoxically, at the same time there is nothing more *impersonal* than the Spirit within, though by *impersonal* I don't mean cold or heartless. Hard to explain.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks for sharing that, Bob n' Mrs. G!
That experience you both had is very humbling and uplifting at the same time, and that's just reading about it.
Congratulations Mrs. G! That is indeed Good News. What a blessing! :^)

That intensely blissful energy...I smile now when I think of all the times I used to try to look for it or "make" it happen through some ritual or prayer or any number of means.

As you mention, Bob, it's best simply to be open to it, to O.
And I just erased a bunch of stuff I wrote tryin' to explain what you better explained (you're right, the symbols are easier to use than words, however the experiences we have within O, and O within, may occur).

And art, of course is always the language of choice. :^)

maineman said...

Thank you, Bob and Mrs. G. That was very meaningful on many levels. My wife experienced the Divine heat many years ago, quite by surprise, but I have yet to myself.(cured her Rheumatoid Arthritis, by the way)

On the matter of the next evolutionary stage, I have been thinking for about the past 6 to 12 months that we are probably/hopefully experiencing another of the Great Awakenings that have tended to happen to us in this country. If true, the question that raises is whether it's a global phenomenon or not.

I suppose I'm guilty of American exceptionalism, but it's hard to see the next move in the ascent occurring if not led by us.

And Van, do you think the best hope for reversing the two-dimensionalization of our youth might be to build up the church schools? The infrastructure is there, and the public schools seem too far gone and likely to remain that way for a generation.

ge said...

"But first a hush of peace, a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends;
Mute music soothes my breast-unuttered harmony
That I could never dream till earth was lost to me.

"Then dawns the Invisible, the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels
Its wings are almost free, its home, its harbour found;
Measuring the gulf it stoops and dares the final bound!

-Emily Jane Brontë

Van said...

Maineman said "And Van, do you think the best hope for reversing the two-dimensionalization of our youth might be to build up the church schools?"

I think the ideal would be homeschooling, but a lot of changes needed in the laws and culture before that becomes more than an oddity though. Next best is the neighborhood or church school overseen by parent representatives from the neighborhood.

The real issues, IMHO, are not whether the schooling comes from family, public, private or church schools, but the acknowledged purpose and goal of that education pursued on the part of the educators, which at the moment is socialization and fitting them for the workplace, instead of educating students to be individuals worthy of liberty and all that implies. If the goal of the educators, parent or otherwise, is not a Liberal Education (Liberal Arts Education in a Free Society JAMES V. SCHALL:"...The terms “liberal” education and “free” society arise out of the same source, out of the classic notion that we could and should first rule ourselves, that such rule is in our personal power..."), then the children still won't receive an education, no matter who is giving it.

Almost as important, for whichever institution is delivering the education, is 'Educating Students' the goal of the institution? The best that can be hoped for is of course from the parents, the next best being parent representatives from the neighborhood(s), the next as the goal of a business which has close oversight and involvement from parents. The worst possible institutional structure, which is what we have, is bureaucratic, where the chief clear goal of those giving orders to teachers, directing what they will teach, how they will teach it, and what materials they will use to teach it, is the political power and its expansion and the advancement of the bureaucrats, all of which being driven by political & ideological goals - and none of which is concerned with the actual capital "E" Education of the student.

Until that is taken care of, all other changes in law, Gov't, etc, will be only stop-gap measures, at best.