Friday, June 24, 2011

Further Cosmic Adventures with John Paul

Continuing with yesterday's loose associations on the subject of John Paul, his recent beatification has raised objections from the usual suspects, largely under the pretext that he's only been offstage for six years, but also for purely political reasons.

There is an obvious precedent for this, in that the NHL wisely bypassed the standard waiting period and canonized Wayne Gretzky into the hockey Hall of Fame immediately after his retirement. And as evidenced by the photo of John Paul depicted a few paragraphs down, Gretzky wasn't the only King with an effective slapshot.

I just googled the subject, and it brought out the predictable complaints from predictable coroners of the Culture of Death.

For example, one Joe Lynaugh, from a self-styled Catholic poutfit named "Call to Action," whined that "This will just go down as another disappointment from a church that is unfortunately filled with disappointments these days."

Before I look it up, let's take bets on whether "Call to Action" is actually a Catholic group or a neo-Marxist front in holy guise. If I am wrong, I am prepared to eat this post.

Here is their website. Its motto is "Catholics Working Together For Justice and Equality." Okay. The question is, how?

Let's see: mostly through an insistence that marriage should be redefined, that it makes no difference to children's development if they have a mother and father or two fathers, that the Church needs to have priestesses just like any other pagan fertility cult, and that transgendered people make fine parents.

As anyone with a shred of common sense knows, it is not at all confusing for a child to wake up one day and discover that his father chopped off his penis and is now his mother. Indeed, it undoubtedly frees the child from rigid gender stereotypes, and encourages him to explore his own sexually ambiguous nature. You know, liberal "open-mindedness" and all that.

Why these people imagine they are Catholic, and why they don't just join or invent another denomination, is not explained. This is like joining the Democratic party because one values liberty, limited government, and a functioning educational system, or joining the Boy Scouts in order to scout boys.

Here is a more detailed statement on their objection to John Paul's beatification: his papacy "was a divisive and often painful experience for millions of Catholics worldwide." Awww. That makes me sad. Can't we just believe anything we want? Why must there be rules? Why a Pope? A creed? Indeed, why must there be reality at all? Doesn't it just get in the way of our desires?

Apparently, growing up under communism and fascism taught John Paul nothing about the left, for he inexplicably had a problem with "liberation, feminist and other theologies that support the poor, women and other marginalized groups."

Indeed, his rejection of these thinly veiled Marxist theologies that warp femininity and demonstrably victimize the poor and oppressed, "left many Catholics shocked by a papacy that would withhold its support of theologies and spirituality that sustained poor and oppressed people." Shocked I tell you!

If you don't believe them, here is a photograph of John Paul administering a much-needed smackdown to a communist tool in Nicaragua. This priest was employed as Minister of Culture in the Sandinista regime. If this doesn't prove that John Paul was anti-culture, then nothing does.

John Paul also failed to have an "open discussion of sexuality in the modern world that compromised sexual health access and agency for millions globally" (sic), whatever that means. What, Catholics are not allowed to avoid dangerous sexual practices or treat venereal diseases? This is new to me.

In reality, as summarized by Weigel, here are some of the powers and principalities that John Paul was up against:

--a modern world "dominated by the pleasure principle"
--"an intellectual environment in which the human capacity to know anything with certainty is denied"
--a struggle to affirm that universal truths -- including moral truths -- exist, and that we have a duty to know and conform ourselves to them
--the secular fundamentalist dogma that the person has no essence, and is but an "infinitely plastic" cultural construct
--a Marxian belief system that defines the human spirit out of existence and reduces history to the mechanical play of economic and political forces
--and a debased culture that identifies happiness with a deeply narcissistic celebration of self (even though the self doesn't really exist, which, in our view, leads to the implicit belief that one is not real unless seen by others, i.e., the lust for celebrity)

As we have discussed before, there is always a temptation to regard the present day as uniquely catastrophic, or wavering on the knife-edge between survival and apocalypse. However, just because people habitually believe this, it doesn't mean that it isn't sometimes true.

Christianity has a view of time and history that situates them in a vast cosmic narrative that proceeds from cosmogenesis to cosmotheosis, or from creation to sanctification. It is principally a spiritual adventure, not a mere shadow of material forces; furthermore, there are "pulse points," as it were, when the Spirit is more frisky.

One such pulse point is the Incarnation, which John Paul properly regarded as the axis of history, that toward which it is ultimately ordered. In his view, the present crisis was fundamentally a "crisis of ideas," not of class warfare, sociobiology, or any other inhuman reductionism. Obviously, any humanism that regards man as anything less than human is a false humanism, of which their name is legion.

Now, the most important idea of culture is its idea of what a human being is. In other words, in a way, everything follows from one's anthropology. Get that wrong and your life is doomed, i.e., drained of its objective meaning (and if that is all that happens, consider yourself lucky).

If a culture's notion of man is flawed, then one of two things follows. Either the culture in question will "give birth to destructive aspirations," and/or it will become "incapable of realizing its fondest hopes," irrespective of how "nobly" and humanistically they are expressed (Weigel). Good intentions, road to hell, unintended consequences, Murphy's Law, New Deal, Great Society, Change You Can Believe In, blah blah.

For example, places such as Cuba, China, North Korea, and the vast majority of the Muslim world are laboring under a deeply false understanding of what man is. Likewise, we should all be able to agree, illiberal leftist and conservative liberal alike, that our battle for civilization -- the culture war -- may be reduced without oversimplification to a dispute over the nature of man.

Clearly, we are dealing with two anthropologies that are absolutely irreconcilable. One embodies the traditional American view that man's life and liberty are rooted in the Creator and all this implies.

Conversely, the secular leftist view insists that man is but the residue of random Darwinian accidents, with no essential being and therefore no intrinsic rights or duties but a whole lotta gimme. In this world view, everything is necessarily relative, which makes its adherents all the more dangerous, for their metaphysic prevents them from seeing how authoritarian dogma creeps in through the back door -- such as the absolute right to kill one's unborn child, or the absolute duty for you to pay for the healthcare of irresponsible slackers.

For John Paul, our freedom has to be grounded in something real, without which its security is jeopardized. Obviously, secular leftism has no such secure basis, and "a humanism that cannot give an adequate account of its most cherished value, freedom, becomes self-cannibalizing" (ibid.)

Indeed, many so-called liberals -- who are really crypto-authoritarian leftists -- will openly profess that there is no such thing as free will, a nihilistic doctrine that -- ironically -- absolutely undermines man's intrinsic dignity and invites a host of human disasters, all engineered for our benefit by the People who Know Better how to run your life.

But "to be human is to be a moral agent" (ibid.). In other words, freedom is ineluctably tied in with good and evil, otherwise it is a kind of blind nothing floating atop an absolutely opaque nothingness.

But for us, the cosmos has a moral structure that descends from the top, since it did not, and could not have, come "from the bottom" on pain of immediately denying its own reality.

For John Paul, this means that the cosmos, history, and the individual human life are all situated in a structure that is inherently dramatic, an idea that we have discussed in the past, in the context of Balthasar's Theo-Drama (a quick search of "Theo-Drama" on this site yields a number of posts which I don't have time to review, but may be helpful). Everyone's life is a kind of dramatic journey from the "person-I-am" to the "person-I-ought to be," which ultimately comes down to incarnating Truth in this world (ibid.). The alternative is anon's starter.

In order to get the puck to where one ought to be, the great ones recognize that the future is now:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Second Thoughts About John Paul II: There But For the Goad of Grace Grow I

Not a lot of time this morning, so I think I'll just just riff away on this massive 1,000 page biography of John Paul II, which I just finished reading. It's probably not for everyone, as it gives a virtual day-by-day account of his papacy, but I found it fascinating.

There's a second volume that takes the story from 1999 to 2005, providing additional information about his struggle against communism (because of the opening of the Soviet archives), and giving an overall summary and analysis of his meaning and significance. It might be the more sensible purchase for the buy-curious.

First of all, John Paul is another one of those people -- like Reagan and Thatcher -- to whom I didn't pay sufficient attention while they were alive, mainly because of my stifling moonbattery, but also because, sad to say, Catholicism was completely off my muleheaded braydar anyway. I might add that I had even been laboring under lingering delusions about Catholicism until reading this very book, persistent moron which below.

I am now resigned to the fact that it will take the rest of my life to eradicate the secular indoctrination I assimilated through osmosis just by virtue of living in this time and place, but greatly exacerbated by my passage through the upper reaches -- or darkest depths -- of academia. In another lifetime I could have been... fill in the blank with your least favorite idiotorialist. But I would have bent all my energies toward promoting the illiberal leftism I had confused with freedom and truth.

So much of my life has involved a new appreciation of precisely those things I had previously devalued and/or dismissed with deep contempt. When I say that I was exactly like our predictable hydraheaded troll, Willionymous, it is no exaggeration. My mind was a vast and specious warehouse of alreadymade cliches about God, politics, science, woman, gaia, and everything else the leftist Knows with dead certainty. Politically, all of them involved danger on the right!

On the one hand it makes one cringe with vicarious embarrassment for the poor sap, but it also reminds one of the power of grace, because as I look back, I see a pattern of coincidences that the cheesiest novelist wouldn't inflict upon his readers. There but for the goad of grace grow I.

As it so happens, John Paul regarded his own life in the same manner, and in considering its dramatic and unlikely plot line -- which reads as if it were written by the hand of anOther -- one is hard-pressed to disagree. This was a man of not only true world-historical significance, but of divine-historical significance.

What I mean by this is that his "horizontal" impact upon history is evident to even the most myopic secularist. But the source of this impact was clearly in the vertical, of which the circularist can recognize nothing but outward features cut off from their roots -- which are aloft, in the upper atmansphere, not below, amidst the deceptive mayaplicity.

John Paul's historical impact was ultimately a result of the prolongation of this vertical energy -- or light, or truth, or freedom -- into time and history. Absent this vertical source, he would have been just an oddly dressed man with a stick and funny hat and a lot of unlikely stories.

Also, the animus he generated in assouls such as myself was really a precise measure of the light and truth he embodied. I now see this with great clarity. Although I would have undoubtedly regarded him as a "reactionary," it was I who was reacting in a kneejerk manner to the blows of truth. When one is struck, the first reaction is to lash back at the perpetrator.

This is a fair description of my modus operandi, as is true of the left generally. They have such preemptive contempt, that they inevitably smear us in that endearingly predictable way by attacking our motives, without ever pondering the source of the energy provoked in themselves, i.e., their various derangements.

Just as there is a predictable "canon of dissent" against the Church -- e.g., abortion, celibacy, female priests -- there is a similarly reactionary loose canon on the left, e.g., "tax cuts for the rich," "income disparity," "attacking Medicare," "homophobia," "racism," and other sacred cowpies.

One of the major things I learned from this book is that I am actually -- surprise! -- a Vatican II guy. Prior to reading the book, I was an anti-Vatican II guy, oddly enough, because I knew literally nothing about it.

Rather, based upon rumors from trusted sources (mostly traditionalists such as Schuon), I assumed that it was some kind of modern aberration designed to pander to the needs of spiritually crippled modern folks. Instead of asking these people to rise up to truth, it was a watering down of truth in order to reach them. The reality could hardly be more different.

Come to find out that the real spiritual meaning of Vatican II is to open the church to everything, AKA to reality, not by altering its fundamentals, but by engaging and dialoguing with all sources of truth, whether from science, religion, or culture, in order to deepen and broaden the faith.

Most particularly -- and this is a central tenet of the Raccoon -- its purpose was in part to present the faith to modern men in such a way that they could see beyond the blinders of modernity and grasp it.

It is not that the Church was or is "medieval." Rather, it naturally developed in a manner that allowed it to transmit its truths to the medieval mind. For a host of reasons, this tended to settle into a kind of institutional inertia, which made the Church slow to react to the developments of modernity in philosophy, science, politics, and economics. (Indeed, there is still a struggle with the latter, for in many ways the Church still embraces the antiquated zero-sum economics of the left.)

This is what prompted my appreciation of the Orthodox east, in that I assumed they preserved the truth in all its premodern goodness. But these trappings are no more essential to the message than the trappings of Greek philosophy. Of necessity -- because there must always be cultural, historical, philosophical, and even personal vehicles and matrices of divine truth, there is always going to be a "human margin" where the essential truth shades off to the inessential.

Weigel notes that John Paul managed to change the world with what the world calls "power," but from his perspective it was a very different kind of power: the power "to be the truth that could set people free in the deepest sense of freedom: the truth about the dignity, vocation, and destiny of human beings..."

There is a certain cliche about the trajectory of his papacy, suggesting that he was a kind of progressive radical prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, becoming a more of a reactionary scold thereafter.

There is simply no truth in this, for John Paul never placed freedom above Truth -- as if freedom itself, absent any transcendent ground and vector, were some kind of unambiguous human good.

Rather, with the acquisition of freedom the battle is still half-fool -- perhaps even more than half if freedom is misunderstood, misused, and misoverestimated. Thus, the so-called "scolding" was no more than a reminder of the purpose of freedom, which no leftist wants to hear about, since it insults their self-centered lives and calls their manmade, and therefore relativistic, values into question.

Opponents of the Church often obsess over their own warped interpretation of its views on sexuality. Another major revelation to me was the extent to which John Paul was anything but a narrow-minded prude -- you know, one of those "celibate old men" who imagine they know so much more about human sexuality than Bill Maher or Anthony Weiner.

To the contrary, he explicated -- and you will forgive the analogy -- a virtual doctrine of Christian "tantric sex" in his "theology of the body." Not only did he regard sexuality as a divine gift, but he saw it as an icon of the trinity, a kind of terrestrial revelation of the trinitarian goings on that go on behind closed doors in the interior Godhead. I don't see how any soul-washed secularist could apprehend the truth and beauty of his writings in this area. I would call it a spiritual ménage à trois, but that would be utterly tasteless.

Further Cosmic Adventures with John Paul.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Building a Better Future through Coercion and Trauma

It is interesting that our familiar anonymous troll took exception yesterday to my assertion that cultures are spontaneous orders and not "built."

I have to concede his point, because I can indeed think of several historical instances in which elites have attempted to build cultures from the top-down and outside-in. Conspicuous examples would include revolutionary France, the Soviet Union, the Third Reich, and currently, Iran and North Korea. None of these were or are spontaneous orders.

In fact, leftism of any kind necessarily involves this type of top-down indoctrination under godlessness, since the bitterly clinging masses are always addicted to some opiate of annoying and irrational tradition that interferes with Progress.

In order to create the -- hello! -- NewMan of the left, it is necessary to uproot religion and culture and eliminate sentimental allegiances to anything other than the revolution. Their zeitgeist town is not big enough for God and the State.

Coincidentally, I have become more vividly aware of this reality in reading the fascinating biography of John Paul II, since this was one of his deep principles, both before and after becoming Pope.

For example, having grown up in Poland, he knew that the Soviet Union could not have vanquished the Polish spirit in so short a time, since it takes generations to destroy a culture. The seeds of spiritual renewal were there. Someone just had to Water them from above.

But once a culture gone -- once the string is broken and there are no living embodiments of it -- there's no going back to it. Culture can be revived, but not resurrected. For example, the federal government can pretend that American Indian culture still exists, but it is no more. Guilt, I suppose. But all the guilt in the world won't bring it back. Once awake, you cannot resume the dream.

Having lived through it, I and millions of other Americans have been witness to the left's war on American culture. And when I say this, I am not attempting to be inflammatory or insulting.

Rather, I assume that any self-aware and intellectually honest leftist (now, now, let's be charitable) will acknowledge that he is at war with traditional American values, just as I am at war with the value system of the left, e.g. collectivism, moral relativism, materialism, etc.

To cite just one example, the left wants to redefine marriage, an institution that is not only older than the state -- any state -- but in a certain way coterminous (in the spiritual sense) with the very emergence of man. Man has always acknowledged the spiritually luminous complementarity of Man and Woman, and attempted to formally recognize its sanctity (to be sure, often in garbled, unjust, and perverse ways, fallen Man being what he is).

What made the American "revolution" unique is that it was not a revolution. Revolution implies a sharp and discontinuous break with the past, but ours was anything but.

Rather, it actually sought a deep continuity with the past. Americans wanted to live as they had always lived, only independent of an increasingly meddlesome crown. Thus, in an oxymoronic orthoparadox, it was a "conservative revolution." Conversely, there was nothing whatsoever conservative in, say, a Hitler, who was as radical a revolutionary as one could imagine.

Similarly, in modern times, Martin Luther King was the very opposite of a revolutionary. Rather, his whole program -- at least publicly -- involved holding America to account in honoring its first principles, both political and religious. Clearly, he did not want new principles, just full recognition of the existing ones.

The frontal attack on our liberal principles only came with the next generation of racial careerists, whose bright idea it was to impose government mandated racial discrimination, to generally obsess over race in exchange for cash and other valuable prizes, and to cynically use it as a bludgeon in order to beat their leftist values into the citizenry.

Dennis Prager often speaks of the "American trinity" of liberty, e pluribus unum, and "in God we trust." Not surprisingly, the same troller trash who wants to build a better culture explicitly rejects the Greco-Judeo-Christian principles upon which ours was founded. In his opinion "This country was founded on the principle that people of differing metaphysical beliefs could manage to coexist."

If this merely means that the state should not get involved in the imposition of culture, then of course we agree with him. But this not only contradicts his prior statement that cultures are "built," but the principle to which he alludes is a distinctly Judeo-Christian one of liberal tolerance -- which is why it specifically blossomed in our culture and not elsewhere.

By a wide margin, the writings of the Founders cite the Bible more than any other source. Their ideas were not rooted in Islamic values, or Buddhist values, or atheist values, or Marxian values, although, because of their Judeo-Christian prejudice, they believed that the personal conscience represented a sacred and inviolable limit to governmental power, because it is given by God, not the state.

But it never occurred to the Founders that the system they devised could be sustained if not rooted in the abiding principles upon which it was founded. Even someone as erratic and confused as Jefferson -- not coincidentally, a big fan of the French Revolution -- recognized this, for his lame "Jefferson Bible" still privileges the values of Jesus, if not the person.

Again, the left, in order to succeed, must vanquish genuine culture, which is always organic and rooted in transcendent principles that are "before the beginning." Thus, instead of liberty they cherish equality -- which is why, for example, they are obsessed with the idea that some people earn more money than they do.

Likewise, instead of e pluribus unum -- from many, one -- their value system promotes the balkanizing ethic of "diversity" and multiculturalism: instead of a sober One, an inebriated few too many.

And instead of "in God we trust" -- well, let's not belabor the obvious. Look at the commissars of NBC, who, just last weekend, removed the offensive "under God" from a video of children reciting the Pledge. This is at once trivial and profound, in that the left's concern with such trivia is a profound commentary on where their interests lie and then lie about it.

A couple of years ago the county of Los Angeles saw fit to spend millions of dollars -- which they do not have, but priorities are priorities -- to remove a tiny cross from the state seal of California, even though it had always been there as a spontaneous reference to the historical fact of the Christian missionaries who founded the state.

Frankly, no one even noticed it before these petty paranoiacs of the left broke out their magnifying glasses. But in their minds, there must be a sharp separation between religion and the state, or history, or education, or culture, or anything else. Religion must be ghettoized in order to limit its influence.

Consider the obnoxious group we discussed in yesterday's post, Psychologists for Social Responsibility. In order to eliminate our traditional culture and build a better one, it is necessary to start with children, for if they adopt leftist values early enough, they will never know what hit them. (It's a strong field, but their crazed take on Climate Change and Mental Health may win the prize for purple prose).

Thus, under the transparent pretext of Protecting the Children, their true agenda is to traumatize them with hysterical fantasies of THE EARTH IS ON FIRE AND WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! Thanks to these abusive activists, children are "among the most severely psychologically affected in a world of climate change and environmental unsustainability."

Here's an idea: why not stop frightening the children to begin with? Even if these fevered fantasies had some prospect of being true, I wouldn't want my child to know about them, for the same reason I don't want him to know about the Holocaust, or about lynching, or that his best friend's skin color is of any relevance, or that millions of Muslims would like to murder him.

Nor do I have to traumatize him with horror stories about what will happen to him if he ignores, say, gravity, since gravity is real.

What these child abusers really want to do is -- in their own words -- create little "socially engaged community activists" and "effective peacebuilders and agents of positive social change," codewords for the golden rule of the left: indoctrinate others as ye have been indoctrinated. The most effective way to reprogram someone is to traumatize them, which creates a fertile ground for the importation of mind parasites.

Similar to Soviet psychology, these tools want to reprogram people by helping them to "identify their cognitive errors about climate change and environmental degradation that prevent pro-environmental action," and force them to "feel despair and grief about our environmentally harmful actions and harness those feelings to motivate behavior change."

Above all else, people must not be permitted to think about the subject on their own, because they might come under the influence of those counter-revolutionary scientists who are enemies of the proletariat.

So comrades, let us together build a new and shiny happy future!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cosmic Anthropology: True and False Humanisms

Well, this is good news. I just received a letter from my malpractice insurance carrier, letting me know that I can get a discount if I join a group called Psychologists for Social Responsibility, which is obviously a left wing cult of some kind. Imagine the outcry if they offered a discount, say, to people who complete the RCIA program and become baptized in an actual faith instead of being indoctrinated in a phony one?

In that case, you would actually take a solemn vow to absolutely avoid the sorts of activities that result in malpractice claims, such as bonking your patient. I mean client. No, consumer of mental health services. Wait, co-evolutionary partner.

But it seems to me that the type of gelatinous Joe who would join an outfit such as Psychologists for Social Responsibility has, by definition, a severely broken moral compass, since he systematically externalizes responsibility to the collective, thus robbing the individual of his moral agency, not to mention his human dignity.

That's a little unfair, isn't it? I don't even know anything about them. For all I know -- since they have the word "responsibility" in their name -- they could be a group that promotes personal responsibility, clean living, teenage abstinence, the cultivation of virtue, living by the Ten Commandments, shunning the self-defeating culture of victimhood, not whining, and generally acting like a man for once in your life.

Uh oh. According to the website, PsySR is an organization "that applies psychological knowledge and expertise to promote peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability. Our members are psychologists, students, and other advocates for social change in the United States and around the world."

"Advocates for change?" What the hell is that supposed to mean? Such gibberish. Now you know why I don't relate to my profession. "Promote peace?" Something tells me that "killing bad guys" or tossing them in the slammer is not on the agenda.

"We share a commitment to the application of psychological knowledge and expertise in addressing today's pressing societal challenges and in building cultures of peace with social justice."

Even if you wanted to, how do you "build" a culture? Much less one "of peace and social justice" -- especially when "social justice" is just a code word for a backward and justice-denying collectivism?

Ah. Under the rubric "Our History," it says that they fought against fascism before and during World War II. Oddly, I am quite sure this didn't involve killing nazis.

And to suggest that these people "fought fascism" prior to World War II is just an outright lie, since they were and are the fascists (the liberal fascists, as demonstrated in Jonah Goldberg's book of the same name).

Proving once again that the left is irony-proof, they brag that "during the height of the Cold War in the 1980’s," they promoted "the use of psychological skills and knowledge to push for nuclear disarmament and to reduce the threat of nuclear war." Thank God they didn't succeed, or the Cold War would still be be with us.

Nevertheless, after they ended the Cold War with psychological magic, "we expanded our mission to include broader issues of peacebuilding and social justice." One evil empire down, one to go: the United States.

Ack. Every click brings new horrors. Anti-Semitic? Naturally. They don't call on genocidal Islamists to end their siege of the Palestinian territories -- or to renounce terror and recognize Israel's right to exist -- but demand that Israel cease defending itself from these monsters. One can hardly be more morally confused than that.

And they are so concerned about abuse within the Catholic church that they cannot call it what it is: predatory homosexual abuse, since the vast majority of victims were adolescent boys. And I don't even have to check to see that there is no concern expressed for teacher abuse in the public schools, where the abuse is more prevalent.

Oh for the love of.... "Climate change" causes mental illness in children. Being that the climate has never not changed, I suppose this explains why humans are so crazy. I know my son suffers a psychotic break every time the weather changes from sunny to cloudy.

Look at how they just make shit up in that letter. There's not a word of truth, much less science. It's all hysteria. These people are the very sickness they presume to treat. I'm sure they don't want to know that the air and water are actually cleaner than they've ever been since we started measuring, or that there is no non-junk science linking the natural disasters they cite to carbon dioxide.

Social responsibility? Let's begin by undermining the unit of society, the traditional family! They are opposed to any legislation that "seeks to deny same-sex couples the right to marry."

But of course, no one is denying anyone the right to marry. Persons of the same sex just can't marry each other, since it is impossible for a man to be married to a man. We want the state to simply recognize "what is," not to impose a new and idiosyncratic definition of reality upon the rest of us, and to redefine an institution that is much older than the state. No state has any right whatsoever to usurp this power.


Enough of what isn't and can never be. Back to what Is.

I don't know if we can appreciate how radical it was in antiquity to announce that God is love; today its meaning has been largely drained, rendering it as biting as a Hallmark greeting card. Therefore, it requires some deprogramming in order to re-appreciate its world-altering consequences.

Consider how love spontaneously emerges in our free society. I would guess that the vast majority of popular songs are about love (I can't really speak for contemporary music, since I don't listen to it). Why should this be? It's quite odd when you think about it. But we don't think about it, because it is so pervasive.

Benedict notes that there is "a certain relationship between love and the divine," in that earthly love evokes our instinct for transcendence, and promises something far beyond the object of love.

Rather, love taps us into "a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence." And one of the problems affecting contemporary relationships is that they are asked to bear the weight of this "totally other" in a way that no human being can.

In other words, instead of looking toward that to which love points, or following it to its source, it becomes focussed solely on the (human) beloved, which cannot help but end in frustration and quite literal dis-illusionment.

But in Benedict's view, the very purpose of terrestrial love is to provide a kind of everyday ladder to the divine. A relationship is both a crucible and an escape (or rather, inscape) that can heal the wounds it makes through the unification of mind, body, and spirit, i.e., through the purification and divinization of man.

Man is a complementarity who is always fishing for his complement; he is a "unity in duality," both vertically, i.e., spirit + matter (or body), and horizontally, i.e., man + woman. Love is not only the basis of their unification, but oriented toward the telos which lights the path of ascent:

"It could hardly be otherwise, since [love's] promise looks toward its definitive goal: love looks to the eternal. Love is indeed 'ecstasy,' not in the sense of a moment of intoxication but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus from the closed, inward-looking self toward liberation through self-giving, and thus toward authentic self-discovery and indeed of God" (Benedict).

Benedict also explores one of our orthoparadoxical principles, (↓↑), i.e., eros and agape, or the "ascending and descending love" that "can never be completely separated" (ibid.).

Rather, "the more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized" (ibid.).

Only because God is a three-in-one is it possible for man to be a whole in oneness. The union that results "is no mere fusion, a sinking in the nameless ocean of the divine; it is a unity that creates love, a unity in which both God and man remain themselves and yet become fully as one" (ibid.).

This is the True humanism. Anything less is just zoology or economics.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Round One of the Culture War: Is vs. Isn't

This post is brought to me and you by a curmudgeonly passage linked at American Digest. It is what we call "self-evident," but no less profound for being so, for in the latter daze it is sufficient to utter truth with clarity to be regarded as intemperate.

In the words of the very private Don Colacho, "Intelligence, in certain ages, must dedicate itself merely to restoring definitions." To paraphrase another aphorism, while ideologies are surely "fictitious nautical charts," the reefs they shipwreck us upon are nonetheless real. Keynesian economics may be pure doo-doo economics, but that doesn't make the malodorous results an illusion. Some ideas really do stink.

Anyway, the passage: "At the very core of our national discombobulation, this very problem We no longer speak the same language. We don't recognize the same historical records. We don't share the same values, principles, hopes, dreams or morality. People like Maddow (as proxy for her ilk) are as fervent in their socialist dogma as we in our love of freedom. After years of agitprop by well placed activists, we're past any possible rapprochement."

"We no longer speak the same language." True, but it goes deeper than that, as implicitly recognized by the writer, for the failure to embrace the same values and principles is rooted in ontology, not mere linguistics or epistemology. To "recognize" a principle is not to invent one.

Rather, in our ontology, the principles are real and man is uniquely privileged to know and live in conformity to them.

Indeed, this is what we would regard as the central "drama" in the Adventure of Consciousness. In other words, our ontology automatically confers a meaning, and therefore purpose, both to history and to the individual life situated therein.

I hope this is clear. As always, we are not aiming at agreement, only clarity -- or clarification of differences.

I believe it is fair to see that the postmodern left is rooted in an entirely different ontology. It is admittedly a rather makeshift one, borrowing from here and there -- much of it, ironically, is purloined from ours -- in a manner that never adds up to "one," as any proper metaphysic should do.

In other words, in a functioning metaphysic, one = one; what this means is that there is an intelligible reconciliation between the many and the One, or between appearance and reality, time and eternity, vertical and horizontal, maya and brahman, etc.

Now, the postmodern left has fooled itself into believing that it has transcended metaphysics. This is a self-refuting claim, in that transcendence of any kind requires a metaphysic to account for it, for either the transcendent position is real -- or discloses reality -- or it is not.

The vulgar materialism of postmodern secularism insists that the transcendence is not real, which forecloses man's very ability to know reality. Therefore -- and this is a critical point -- secular fundamentalism necessarily forecloses reality-as-such, for there is no reality in a cosmos that cannot be known (truth and reality being synonymous).

Rather, existence would be "pure illusion," or "absolute relativity," both of which are intrinsic absurdities. These are analogous to an optical illusion, but with no reality underneath, or like a mirage floating over a desert of nothingness.

Which is why Don Colacho is correct in noting that "Revolutions have as their function the destruction of the illusions that cause them." For example, the real Obama has destroyed the illusion that was embodied in "Obama '08." He is a political suicide, as it were -- but unfortunately, he is taking a lot of people down with him.

What is the meaning of existence? What is Is?

First, I think we can all agree that what Is, is. What Is can appear to be what it isn't, but that's obviously just appearance, not reality. Man is the only being who is prone to systematic illusion and tenure, for the very reason that he is capable of adequation and truth. If the universe were not intelligible, man could never know it, for to know it is to at once render it intelligible.

So our dispute -- the "culture war" -- is not just about politics or values, but is ultimately rooted in competing visions of reality. It is actually an "ontology war," which, in the Judeo-Christian arc of history, has been going on since "the beginning."

Indeed, the ontology war is fully recognized and accounted for in the third chapter of Genesis. One might say that it is woven into our existence, or that history is constructed out of the warp and weft of truth and error.

Prior to man there is no error because there is no truth from which to deviate. There is no choice, which can only take place in the space of man's conscious being. Man is free to choose, which again opens the cosmic door to error -- not to mention ugliness and immorality.

Appropriately, in what I believe was his first encyclical, Pope Benedict speaks for us in making the bold ontological claim that God is love. In other words, love is ultimately what Is, and what Is is love. But how could this be? You've seen the world. What kind of ledbrained bag of hot air would suggest that it is really just a whole lotta' love?

First of all, this is not a "thought" about reality; rather, it is the reality itself. Embedded in it is a decision about the world, again, a free choice made in the transitional space of human consciousness.

To de-cide means to cut, to make a scission. In this case, it is that same cut referenced above, between the Trees of Life and Death. This fork in the ontological road is always before us, never behind us. One cannot choose not to choose.

Benedict says that the assertion that God is love is rooted in an encounter "which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." But unfortunately, due to the debasement of language, "the term love has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings."

Among the varieties of love, one particular type conspicuously stands out from the rest, the love between Man and Woman.

Now, "falling in love" cannot be willed, can it? Rather, it is to awaken to a kind of intimate knowledge of who and what the beloved Is. Absent the actual experience, it cannot be adequately conveyed to anyone else in such a way that it could reproduce the experience.

In a couple of ironic aphorisms, Don Colacho says that "We do not know anything perfectly except what we do not feel capable of teaching," and "Of anything important there are no proofs, only testimonies."

Reality surely qualifies as "important." That being the case, it cannot be communicated (without remainder) via language, mathematical equations, or empirical sensation. Rather, it can only be experienced and testified to.

Importantly, the testimony cannot be prior to its experience, but it can certainly be a signpost, or lamp, along the way. The saints, for example, are fleshlights who illuminate the path for us, but we still have to take the path. We can't just phoneme it in.

In a purely rational world view, falling in love must be a kind of inebriation, at least if we are to trust Mr. Spock.

Likewise, as Benedict notes, "The Greeks -- not unlike other cultures -- considered eros principally a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a 'divine madness' that tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience the supreme happiness" of knowing what it's like to be the volatile Captain Kirk.

And with that I must abruptly stop in my own treks, because I'm still overloaded with work.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Father

... laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us. --Meister Eckhart

My Lord told me a joke. And seeing Him laugh has done more for me than any scripture I will ever read. --Eckhart

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