De nada. You are welcome.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
r --> f <-- v
In this schematic r stands for Reason, f for feeling, and v for value: "The object of knowledge, in so much as it interests us (v), evokes a state of feeling (f) that conditions the capacity for knowledge (r)." (I prefer 'sensibility' to feeling.)
With all due respect, I think we can do a little better than this, although I don't know whether I will be able to depict it in a single cosmograph.
First of all, we need to start with O. From O there is a series of declensions (↓) leading to ʘ, (¶), (+), (•), •••(•)•••, (ø), and the outskirts of Ø. Thus, at one end we have the Absoute, the One, the plenum of goodness, O, while at the other end we have the absolutely relative, the løgøs, the nihil of nihilism, Ø. Man is capable of inhabiting any station between these poles.
(That was rude. It just occurred to me that people who have never read the manifestivus will have no idea what those pneumaticons refer to; let's just say the beatific vision, or atman; the intellect, or nous; the vertically and horizontally integrated self; the ego; the fragmented ego riddled with mind parasites; and MSNBC.)
We would then need a hierarchy of horizontal arrows between world ( ) and man (•), signifying the spectrum of -ologies that spreads out from the Logos, as when light hits a prism: physics, biology, neurology, psychology, etc.
There is also a paradigmatic science appropriate to each level, for example, metaphysics vis-a-vis O and physics vis-a-vis ( ).
Extending further down, we could say that contemporary liberalism is the science of Ø. It draws out all the nasty implications and consequences of living in an absolutely relativistic and therefore meaningless world, where essences (including the human individual) are impossible. In the end, their imperfect nonsense always adds up to ‰, or the "bad infinite."
As we've said before, a communist or fascist is just a leftist with the absolute courage of his convictions, willing to go all the way down the infrahuman heilhole without pulling any punches, and dragging everyone else along with him.
Coincidentally, I read something along these lines just yesterday in Pieper's book on The Concept of Sin. You could say that mortal sin (the unforgivable kind) involves willfully turning from O and instead being oriented to Ø
(And if a certain reader's understandable confusion is an indication, Pieper means "unforgivable" in the normal course of events, absent a rather extreme and unprecedented intervention on the part of the Creator combined with the appropriate response on the part of the mortal sinner, which will naturally involve a great deal of pain followed by a lifetime of efforts at re-conciliation toward a hoped-for absolution; this effort does not imply justification by man, but rather, is a spontaneous reflection of a true con-version, re-pentance, and metanoia; but to simply assume forgiveness is itself a kind of unforgivable hubris).
Thus, we cannot necessarily judge individual sins in a kind of hierarchy of severity, as does the positive law, because the identical act takes on a very different meaning if committed with full consciousness of rejecting O and embracing Ø.
For Pieper, this is why we must withhold ultimate judgment, because we simply do not have access to the state of the person's soul when committing this or that sin.
Nietzsche was the most articulate spokes(ø) for Ø, but in the end, he was just a big talker, and there is no evidence that he actually embodied the principles he espoused. He said, for example, "I rejoice in great sin as my great consolation!," but all evidence suggests that his personal life was rather dull and uneventful.
Nietzsche just got a pneumatic kick out of stirring things up via projection into his readers, and was therefore a kind of prototype of today's academics who are so adept at tearing down what it took centuries to build, and then watching as others suffer the consequences of their follies.
For example, black culture lies in ruins because of the toxic ideas of leftist pinheads with lifetime employment. The left couldn't care less about its millions of victims.
O is the ultimate nonlocal Order of things, and is the Reason why we have a cosmos to begin with (i.e., a local order). Pieper notes that the soul falls into disorder as a consequence of sin, which again comes down to turning away from O, which is the nonlocal source and goal (alpha and omega) of the soul's order.
Therefore, sin "establishes itself as pointless, literally relationless activity... sin lacks the element of being ordered to a goal."
But the person, in essence, is always in relationship, as a terrestrial consequence of the Trinity. Therefore, that other great spokes(ø) for Ø, Sartre, claims that "hell is other people" -- which you might say is a consequence of a loveless (because radically monadic) cosmos.
The opposite -- and correct -- sentiment is related in The Brothers Karamazov, when a character asks, "what is hell? I think it is the pain of no longer being able to love."
Pieper might well be describing our orientation to O, the Great Attractor, when he observes that "the inclination of nature is the hidden gravitational pull that is active in each individual regulation of the will. It is the fundamental energy by virtue of which human existence presses toward its intended goal."
Thus it also accounts for evolution, meaning that "we are born not as static entities but as unfinished products, a 'rough draft' whose realization is demanded by that same nature 'by virtue of creation.'" (As we've said before, metaphysical Darwinism is the very opposite of evolution, since it denies any telos to account for meaningful or progressive change.)
Pieper raises the subtle point that "whoever does wrong can never be completely at one with himself." This is perfectly clear if O is the source of oneness, and if sin involves turning from O.
Therefore, sin always redounds to a condition of •••(•)•••, of a self riven by fragmentation.
Conversely, peace and tranquility are subjective byproducts of at-one-ment. This also explains why we can never match the tireless but empty "activism" of the unhappy left. The evil is in their principles, and therefore poisons any consequences a priori.
To put it colloquially: no, we don't actually have to pass the bill to find out what's in it, so long as we know it was made by the skeevy hands of the left. Or in other words, it's pointless to wash your hands in a muddy river.
So -- speaking of Obamacare -- sin is "a kind of disorder... that brings disorder in its wake."
Pieper is careful to avoid the existentialist's error of equating our freedom with the nothingness of Ø. Nor is evil simply an inevitable consequence of our freedom, or we couldn't say that God is the God of liberty.
Rather, for Pieper, it has to do with the residue of nothingness, so to speak, that characterizes our ontological situation. That is to say, "descent from nothing is inherent in every creature," and this is "the deepest ground for man's capacity for sin." Nothing is as nothing does, I guess.
Ironically, this very much comports with Freud's postulate of a death instinct, thanatos, in dialectic with the life instinct, eros. But it also reminds me of that crack about the Father of Lies. When he lies, he speaks his native language, i.e., the language of Ø. Therefore, only satan can be the perfectly consistent liar, one who is even "at one with himself" as a result of turning from O.
Conversely, "whoever reflects on the phenomenon of human failing, keeping his mind open to all its aspects, can expect that the suprarational dimension of the object will finally emerge onto view." O is always situated just over this suprarational horizon, so be good and know that I AM.
Not sure whether I'll be posting in the next couple of weeks. Only if I feel like it, I guess.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
In one of his snippy moods -- like Jefferson, he was intellectually labile -- Wittgenstein said "whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." But different people are qualified to speak of different things, based upon their sensitivity to them.
This is what Giussani means by genius, which refers to the "knack" we have for certain subjects. Genius "needs only a clue to intuit the solution to the problem, while everyone else has to work laboriously through every step."
So we should declare -- for example, to the loudmouthed atheist -- "whereof you cannot speak, you should really just shutup. Believe it or not, no living person cares about what you haven't experienced, nor about the limits of your sensibilities."
There are a multitude of things about which I express no opinion, because it's none of my isness. It takes all kinds to make a cosmos, and we are all built to respond to different frequencies and vibrations.
One of the great tragedies in life is never discovering the Thing that speaks to us in this cosmically intimate way -- that for which we are gifted. But my thing isn't necessarily anyone else's thing. Here you no doubt detect the strands of my neohippie DNA: do your own thing, which is to say, become who you are, an individual.
The educational establishment, the media, the state -- the purpose of each is to drive a wedge between you and your Thing, because it is impossible to control 300 million individuals. It's much easier if everyone is the same, or is at least easily sorted into racial, sexual, and socioeconomic categories.
This is why it's so much easier for a Democrat to design a campaign. For the left, if you're black, or female, or hispanic, that's all you are, so that's all they need to know about you. "Your skin color, your failure to master english, your naughty bits, that's your Thing. And we respect that."
Importantly, this gift we have for intuiting an aspect of reality in a flash is not "unreasonable." The genius of which Giussani speaks bypasses linear reasoning and cannot necessarily articulate the steps it took to reach a conclusion. It sees the totality in an instant, and is thereby transrational, not irrational.
Yesterday we spoke of the space that opens out between human energy and a presence. This human energy is what we call the soul, while the presence can be anything from physical sensations, to interpersonal cues, to humor and wit, to aesthetic sensibility, to religious insights (and much more besides).
"[S]omething always has an impact on the individual's sphere of experience." The presence from whatever dimension "penetrates one's personal experience," which creates a certain creative response in us (I won't say "reaction," because that is too mechanical).
Now, different presences are of different magnitudes. I'm thinking, for example, of the first time I "fell in love" -- or whatever it was. The point is, whatever it was, it was an incredibly powerful presence.
Really, it was like being inundated in an emotional runaround tsunami. I was clearly in the presence of this Other, and yet, how could this Other be anything other than me? (I'm not referring here to the other person, but the Other state of being into which I found myself plunged.)
Now, the same thing routinely occurs with regard to the spiritual dimension. That is to say, we respond to the presence of this ultimate Other with a jarring (?!) or sacred WTF. We then give it a name -- God, for example -- but just like the teenage experience alluded to above, it takes two to Tonga -- in this case, the simultaneous presence of the Presence and of the Religious Sense.
I might add that to be repelled by religion is equally a state of the soul, except a reactionary one. It is always a secondary, not primary, experience. If they just cut out the middle man, they could be religious, like everyone else.
We are all familiar with Blake's wise crack about seeing God in a grain of sand or some blades of grass we'd like to buy from him. "Depending upon the measure of the individual's human vivacity, anything whatsoever that enters his personal horizon... moves him, touches him, provokes a reaction."
What is especially shocking is how specific the feeling can be. I would guess that english words haven't yet been invented for most of these -- for example, l'esprit d'escalier.
I'm just free associating here, as usual, but it occurs to me that a Christian would posit Jesus as having possessed the maximum "human energy" alluded to above. If we are correct, then he should reflect a maximum degree of sensitivity to every degree and dimension of existence. In any event, it's good to have an ideal, an archetype to shoot for -- if not Jesus, then at least someone more alive than you.
In contrast to Jesus, "If someone has a narrow mind and a small, mean heart, he will find much less value in the world around him than a person who has a great soul, who is vivacious." These people are boring in the extreme.
The reason they are boring is that they are less "alive." That is to say, aliveness is precisely this openness to everything. Therefore, when Jesus speaks of a more abundant life, I'm pretty sure this is what he's talking about.
An equivalent word would be passion -- or let us say "passionate engagement," to distinguish it from mere ungoverned life force.
As Giussani writes, "the more nature arouses my interest in something, the more it makes me curious, gives me the need and passion to know that thing.... Indeed, as soon as nature endows me with an interest in an object, it conditions my capacity to know it by the feeling that is produced." To love it is to know it (although the knowledge will increase as a result of the passionate engagement).
To summarize the nub of the gist of the upshot of the bottom line of the whole existentialada: "if a certain thing does not interest me, then I do not look at it; if I do not look at it, then I cannot know it. In order to know it, I need to give my attention to it."
So "the centre of the problem is really a proper position of the heart, a correct attitude, a feeling in its place, a morality."
And let the dead bury the tenured.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
This is one of the tasks Giussani sets for himself. While the problem has become more visible in the post-WW2 cultural climate, and more generally with modernity, it has actually been an issue from the start, one that Jesus was clearly aware of (more on which as we proceed).
One reason it's an issue is that it applies to any discipline I can think of, in which the living, uncontainable truth is eventually contained and cut down to size. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since we do need a paradigm in order to situate any fact we encounter, whether scientific, psychological, or religious. In a way, a fact is already a theory.
But paradigms can quickly become procrustean beds, cutting off inconvenient facts in order to preserve the theory, so that what is seen is ideology, not reality.
In the secular west ideology has replaced the Reason (as discussed in yesterday's post), so that "instead of learning from reality and all its aspects and building on it, man seeks to manipulate reality according to coherent schemes fabricated by the intellect" (LG).
Thus, instead of reality speaking to man, man just yells at reality, like a crazy street person bellowing at a shop window. It reminds me of those union thugs who refuse to accept the principle of supply and demand, and therefore want to beat up those who do.
But when has the left been any different? The left cannot exist without the threat of violence, either explicit or implicit. In contrast, no one has to force me to be free.
Ideology quickly devolves -- or mutates -- into ideolatry, a word I apparently just coined, combining ideology and idolatry. Ideology is the new graven image, and like all graven images, it is full of magic. There are magical incantations for cleansing sin and eliminating guilt (e.g., "diversity"), for denying sexual conflict while unconsciously acting it out ("feminism"), for maintaining intellectual sanctity ("global warming"), and countless others.
Really, like carbon emission trading, it's one big racket of psychic transactions between victims and bullies, which results in the self-styled victims becoming bullies, as in Michigan.
But in reality, the modern left revolves around an inversion of the Christian idea of poverty of spirit, so that instead of the meek inheriting the earth, the left grants itself permission to steal the earth on behalf of its meek victims du jour. Which is why Obama -- a deeply Christian man who learned his theology at the knee of the Rrrrrrrrreverend Wright -- refuses to condemn those poor and meek union goons.
In the foreword, the author writes of how Giussani is concerned with "the risks of slipping into merely formal adhesion" to Christianity, reducing it to a "merely practical and exterior practice," no longer responding to and engaging with the deepest foundation of the human person, i.e., the religious sense and all it implies.
The central problematic for Giussani is one we have discussed on many occasions, i.e., the diminution of the human spirit to fit the ideology, rather than expanding it in order to conform to reality: the "modern mentality reduces reason to a series of categories into which reality is forced to enter. What cannot be forced into these categories is defined as irrrational."
But Reason, properly understood, is simply open engagement with O, on every level: "If reason is faithful to its original dynamism of openness to the totality of reality, it recognizes the existence of this ultimate, mysterious level of reality. But it cannot pretend with its own forces to know 'Who' the Mystery may be" (Stafford).
Exactly. Ironically -- or orthoparadoxically -- the unambiguous affirmation of the existence -- or presence -- of O is as precise a truth as it is possible for the human being to know. Indeed, there is nothing we can know with more certainty than that O is. It is where we must start our adventure of consciousness, because it is where our Reason begins and where it ends.
In other words, O is the first principle which we are always moving from and moving toward. It is to the human mind what light is to the eyes. Light doesn't show us anything in particular, nor is it even visible. Rather, it just illuminates everything else.
As we said, we cannot directly know the Who or what of this ultimate Mystery. Unless the Mystery takes it upon itSelf to not just anonymously enter the stream of time, but to involve itself in human history.
Again, what we call salvation history is this leap of faith -- not just ours, but the prior leap of O, if it can be expressed in this way. It reminds me of a parent who leaps into a burning building to save his child. And God so loved the world...
In this context, all the talk of sin and ransom and justification is quite secondary. Rather, I've got to do something, now! There are seven billion children in that house! You pinheads can argue about the theology later!
So God "responds to a human need" (LG), even if so many of us are so beside ourselves in ideology that we are no longer aware of the need.
What I would like to propose is that, just as there is O, there is a human capacity to perceive, intuit, apprehend, or "receive" it. Giussani calls it the "religious sense," but I just call it (¶). This way you don't have to get into religious debates with the narrowsouled bigot who regards religion as toxic.
Just as one cannot not know of the presence of O, the fact that we know of O implies a Knower. This Knower we call (¶).
So the human journey may ultimately be reduced -- or expanded -- to the endless dynamic of O <--> (¶). This will be obvious except to those for whom it isn't at all obvious. But once they think about it, they'll see that I'm right.
Just as in any other human endeavor, the object determines the method of research. Realism dictates that our knowledge "be imposed by the object." I mean, obvious, right?
For example, if you're going to buy a present for the wife, you get her what she wants, not what you want. So you have to be open to the hints and clues being transmitted by the object:
"[K]nowledge is the encounter between human energy and a presence. It is an event where the energy of human knowledge is assimilated to the object" (LG).
Say it again: an encounter between Human Energy and a Presence. This Presence is O. The Human Energy is you.
There is another way. Or, I would say that there is One Way but a multitude of alternatives. This multitude comes under the heading of Ø. It stands for the infinite variety of ways man can be fundamentally wrong.
Even so, it is a valid point of view if there is no Truth and therefore no Way, i.e., for the true relativist who has the courage of his absence of convictions -- not the mealy mouthed modern leftist who just wants your stuff without having to pay for it, but the real deal who wouldn't waste a moment trying to make the world "better" by ridding it of religion. Rather, a genuine anarchist -- or philosophical sociopath -- proceeds straight to hedonism and the will to power.
Ø equates to cosmic anarchy, and Giussani concedes that it "constitutes one of the great and fascinating temptations of human thought. As I see it, only two types of men capture entirely the grandeur of the human being: the anarchist and the authentically religious man" -- although the former "is as deceitful as it is attractive."
In short, we are either oriented to the Infinite and Absolute; or we can pretend to be it. We can never be O (while always becoming it). We can, however, be Ø. But it's not even a real Ø, since Ø is what we were before God brought us out of Ø. Therefore, the anarchist is really just a poseur, a cosmic reactionary, an anti-O.
To be continued....
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Spiritual development is coterminous with the heightening or deepening or perfecting of this sensibility.
I prefer the word "sensibility," because it has broader connotations; to merely sense something doesn't necessarily imply understanding. We share the same senses as any rank and foul person, but we do not share the same sensibilities, to put it mildly.
Sensibility is "acuteness of feeling" or "responsive feeling toward something." Not only is it a "refined sensitiveness," but it is reciprocal, involving both perceiving and responding to the more subtle dimension it discloses.
As our senses relate to material phenomena of varying degrees of subtlety, our spiritual sensibility relates to O (which, like the natural world, also manifests in a hierarchy of intelligibile degrees).
As the foreword to the book makes clear, in order to understand anything, man is drawn out of himself. This is summarized in Giussani's reminder that the method of research is imposed by the object.
All ideologues forget this dictum, and end up superimposing their own ideas, theories, and sensibilities over the object -- and ultimately over man and the world. Which only results in the impossibility of discovering either man or world (both of which emanate from O).
We agree with the better sort of scholastic of the High Middle Ages that: all that exists is true. Sounds uncontroversial, but in this post-Kantian world it is considered flatly false, not because it is a tautology but because this thing called "reality" is not reachable by human beings.
Note that with this first Big Lie under our belt, we can safely ignore the notion that the method of research must be imposed by the object, because there are no objects, only the projection of subjective human constructs. Reality has been reduced to perception. Thus, "the opposite of transcendental truth" is "a dream mistaken for reality." Except it quickly turns into a nightmare.
To paraphrase the perspicacious Pieper, the Way of the Tenured doesn't even succeed in opening up any interesting dead ends, for which reason we call it a blind nul de slack.
Yesterday we had a commenter with a radically different sensibility to ours, so perhaps be can teach us something about what has gone so dreadfully wrong in such a person. He begins with the observation that "Christianity is based on the presumption that human beings are inherently separate from the Living Divine Reality, from the World Process, and from each other."
Now, I do not call this a "presumption." If it is a presumption, then we are doing exactly what the ideologue does in projecting his thoughts onto the world.
In my case, I do not presume that I am inherently separate from the Divine Living Reality.
No, I rechecked this morning and discovered once again that there is a... call it an orthoparadoxical intimate-distance between us, and that I am not He (even though his simultaneous immanence implies that I can be nothing but).
I also rediscovered -- to my great relief -- that I was separate from my wife and child, because I had to roust both from bed, and each of them was "resistant," so to speak, as if they were independent objects beyond my direct control.
To put it another way, if they weren't independent from me, my life would be, yes, easier, but definitely poorer, because there would be no one to love but me, and that gets old pretty fast.
(Relative) separation is precisely what creates the possibility of love; except I would put it inversely and say that since love Is, distinction must Be. The alternative is a florid case of pathological cosmic narcissism.
Besides, I personally like the male-female and adult-child polarities. I find them more interesting than the leftist alternative looniverse of adultolescent shemales and femen.
Mr. Froth continues: "The fiction of separateness, and the denial of the universal characteristic of prior unity, is a mind-based illusion, a lie, a terribly deluding force, and a profoundly and darkly negative act."
Where have we heard this before? Yes, National Socialism. Communism. We also heard it at the DNC, i.e., "the State is the ONLY thing to which we all belong. Or else."
To say that something exists is to say that it is "something apart." After all, if it were not apart, then we couldn't know of its existence. If there are no separate things, then there is no possibility of knowledge or the Truth upon which it is dependent.
Mr. Froth's sub-infantile version of omniscience is actually Absolute Stupidity -- literally, not just as insultainment. A thing is only knowable because it exists, and it can only exist if it is "separate."
Let's move on. But not without a wise crack from Pieper that might well apply to the above Chopraesque pneumababble: it derives its clarity "from nothing else than its lack of depth." In short, nothing is that superficial, let alone everything!
Again, we can know the world because 1) it exists, and 2) because we are attracted to it, and thereby drawn out of our frothing little private idahos.
And this ontological openness goes directly to Giussani's more expansive understanding of Reason. The tenured essentially reduce thought to (lower case r) reason, but as we have discussed in the past, a thing isn't true because it is rational but rational because it is true.
For the G-man, Reason "is opened wide to reality, it takes it all in, noting its connections and implications. Reason discourses about reality, seeks to get inside its perceived meaning, moving from one angle to the next, storing everything in its memory and tending to embrace it all."
We must indeed open wide in order to take in the whole existentialada and become sensible to the one cosmos under O.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Is it possible for man to be at home in the Cosmos?
Yes and no.
First of all, think of how that question doesn't arise for other animals, which cannot transcend their immediate environment.
A dog knows nothing whatsoever of a cosmos; or, its cosmos consists of nothing beyond the orderly succession of meals, walks, naps, and the like.
And so long as that pleasurable order is maintained, the dog will have no complaints -- similar to how the grazing 47% have no complaints about Obama.
But a man who is adapted only to his immediate surroundings is hardly a man. Rather, in a very important sense, man is never adapted to the environment, and is constantly trying to break out of it with questions, abstractions, theories, myths, rituals, drugs, etc.
Think of how slaveowners didn't want their slaves to learn how to read, because they didn't want them to even conceive of the wider psychospiritual world beyond the plantation.
Same with the slaves of North Korea, and, to an increasingly shocking extent, the passive American humanoids whose mental horizons don't extend beyond the academic rantations of the left.
No wonder Obama wants to drive literature from the classroom, as it has always been one of the great windows on the wider world.
Then again, if students are just going to be exposed to leftist subhumanities anyway for the sake of "diversity," it hardly matters if they read that kind of wet excrement or Obama's dry executive orders.
Now, sanity, according to Sheed, "involves seeing what is."
That is a fine definition, but the first question a dishonest man -- or the aspiring sophist -- will ask is: is, in relation to what?
And this innocent sounding question is the loophole that has been discovered by the secular left, which allows them to affirm that nobody is insane except for those who believe somebody is.
In other words, the left, in their denial of God as the source and vector of transcendence, has devolved to the infrahuman notion of sanity as nothing more than conformity to the environment (e.g., "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter").
There is no privileged perspective outside this or that environment that permits one to make any objective judgments about sanity as such, because any such judgment will just be another conditioned perspective, undoubtedly rooted in power or self-justification.
Ultimately, we can say that in the absence of God, there can be no such thing as sanity -- including moral sanity. There can be no answers to our incessant "why" questions, and the sooner you stop asking them, the saner you will be. From a Darwinian standpoint, such ultimate questions are pure noise, with no possible answers.
Here is a perfect aphorism by Goethe: "Every epoch which is in the process of retrogression and disintegration is subjective, but all progressive epochs have an objective trend."
Which is why we can state with certainty that self-styled "progressives" are objectively disordered -- or insane if you like.
I don't want to pretend I spent the weekend hanging out with the venerable Goethe. Rather, that quote is from a typically lucid little book by Pieper called Living the Truth.
The book actually consists of two separate works, one on Truth, the other on the Good. But he links the two in such a way that one can see how human goodness is entirely dependent upon truth: ought must be rooted in is, or you will inevitably end up doing what you oughtn't.
As soon as you think about it, it's a little obvious, isn't it? Obama, for example, has done all sorts of things he oughtn't have done. Why? Because he has never been exposed to any Is other than that which he assimilated from his leftist professors in college.
Thus, like so many others who have spent too much time in the looniversity bin, "everything President Obama 'knows' about American history comes from left-wing academics like American University professor Peter Kuznick."
In short, Obama's Is isn't. Not even close.
Pieper sums it up very neatly: "All obligation is based upon being. Reality is the foundation of ethics. The good is that which is in accord with reality."
As such, "he who wishes to know and do the good must turn his gaze upon the objective world of being. Not upon his own 'ideas,' not upon his 'conscience,' not upon 'values,' not upon arbitrarily established 'ideals' and 'models.' He must turn away from [these] and fix his eyes upon reality."
Or, as my good friend Goethe once quipped, "All laws and moral principles may be reduced to one -- the truth."
Friday, December 07, 2012
But this hardly means the infinite is completely unthinkable. Rather, the interpenetration of finite and infinite "accounts for the existence of what we call Mysteries in religion." Mystery is a term of art, not an evasion, much less an unseemly case of furiously deepaking one's chopra in public.
The Raccoon Glishary defines mystery as an orthoparadox, which, translated literally, means "straight-up freaky."
It is analogous to the complementarity principle in quantum physics. When the human mind attempts to visualize the quantum world, an irreducible paradox results in the form of a wave of vacuous new age books that nevertheless sell much better than mine.
Now, just because the quantum world is paradoxical, it doesn't mean you can't know anything about it. To put it inversely, if there is no Absolute, then man's stupidity is infinite, and I couldn't have sold even one copy.
A Mystery is not like "a high wall that we can neither see over nor get around," but rather, more like "a gallery into which we can progress deeper and deeper, though we can never reach the end -- yet every step of our progress is immeasurably satisfying."
Can we get an I-witness?
A Mystery is not a Keep Out! sign but "an invitation to the mind." There is an intrinsic attraction to them -- a subjective correlate to our being in the presence of the Great Attractor -- signaling our proximity to "an inexhaustible well of Truth from which the mind may drink and drink again in the certainty that the well will never run dry, that there will always be water for the mind's thirst."
(This goes directly to the transfinite and hyperdimensional "religious sense" we will soon be discussing, I'll bet.)
You know the wise crack, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink," and then "out of your heart will flow rivers of living water." Can we get a wetness? You bet! Especially those of you in the first few rows.
Again, as with the complementarity principle -- which is much more generalized than the average person realizes -- "any given Mystery resolves itself (for our minds, of course, not in its own reality) into two truths which which we cannot see how to reconcile."
Oh, I can think of any number of orthoparadoxes that arise just from the human condition, in which we are material animals with immaterial spirits.
Well, which one is it then? Animal or spirit? Christianity has always insisted that it is both. Indeed, this may be traced all the way back to Genesis, in which man is a lump of clay in-spired by the Breath of Life.
Any attempt to resolve this orthoparadox -- say, by insisting that man is fundamentally no different from any other animal -- results in a spiritual catastrophe.
At the other extreme is the attempt to "be as God," but the result is the same because the one reduces to the other. In other words, if there is no God, then man is Him, and vice versa.
Or think of how we have an essence that is nevertheless deployed in time, so that our being paradoxically "becomes," and the point of life is to become who you already are.
More generally, I think a bonedry conundrum can be elevated to a thirst-quenching Mystery if we merely invert the cosmos, and put it back right-side up.
If we truly understand that the cosmos is a tree with its nonlocal roots aloft and convenient local branches down below, we suddenly find ourselves "inside" the mystery, instead of being on the outside looking in, or just another prick in the wall.
Sheed mentions several religious mysteries, such as how it is that One can be Three, and vice versa; how Christ can have two natures in one person, or be all God and all man; or how we can possess free will in the face of divine omniscience. One could cite countless others.
I remember a discussion with a distant family member when I was working on my book. Now that I think about it, this was almost exactly eleven years ago, in early 2001. Seems like another lifetome!
Although he was a good-natured, rank-and-file flatlander with no religious instruction, he surprised me, in that he immediately "got" some of the more esoteric and orthoparadoxical elements of the book, and why they had to be that way -- for example, the continuity/discontinuity of the chapters, the inspiraling circularity, and most especially the inability of normal cutandry & wideawake language to contain the Mystery.
I remember explaining to him that the "ultimate answer" was analogous to pi, which he again fully appreciated (probably because he was unburdened by preconceptions, whether scientistic or religious).
Pi is quite definitely and unambiguously the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. And yet, it is irreducibly ambiguous and "transmeasurable," so to speak. It's not that you can't measure it, rather, that you can measure it forever without ever reaching
(all quoted material from Theology and Sanity)
Thursday, December 06, 2012
When an irrepressible force such as his meets an implacable heart such as ours, the result is what we call a mystery.
And what is a mystery? It is a necessary consequence of the finite's inexorable attempts to contain the infinite. The infinite is the container, the matrix, the womb, symbolized ♀. Obviously, the contained (symbolized ♂) can never contain that which contains it, although Mary came the closest.
But still we try. Which leads to two big mistakes, the first of which is imagining one has succeeded. This obviously occurs in such anti-intellectual doctrines as atheism, metaphysical Darwinism, and scientism, but also in any ideology more generally. An ideologue always imagines his little ♂ can fill the big mamamatrix of ♀.
In the above case, ♀ (the infinite container) is reduced to ♂ (the finite). The opposite error is to elevate ♂ to ♀, which is what many unreflective and unphilosophical religious types do. It's not nearly as damaging as the first error, unless it is backed by state violence, as in the Islamic world. To paraphrase Sheed, it is always possible to be ignorant and virtuous, even if ignorance is not a virtue.
But in either case, whenever ♂ is divorced from ♀ and then assumes state power, the result is hell on earth, whether in the Islamic world or in the atheistic paradises of communism and National Socialism. Obama's form of socialism is just a slow-motion version of the same psychopneumatic pathology.
Speaking of which, I want to call on Sheed's Theology and Sanity to further explicate this felicitous conjunction of finite, infinite, and mystery. I don't remember what he said about it, but I remember being impressed with his clarity. And sanity.
First of all, it is a matter of intellect and the proper functioning thereof (or again, of sanity). It is the task of intellect "to explore Reality and make its home in it." And we all want a happy home.
But I can't think of a time in history when there has been such a disparity in spiritual wealth, with so many Americans living in the undignified hovels constructed in the public education system prick by prick, others living in grand mansions not built by hands over the centuries. This should be intolerable in a democracy.
The problem begins with a deeply anti-intellectual school system that, instead of nurturing the intellect, denies and extinguishes it. Afterwards, upon attaining chronological adulthood, the only task that remains is getting these ciphers to their polling places in order to ratify their masters and wait for their goody bag from the state.
"The result is that when any matter arises which is properly the job of the intellect, then either nothing gets done at all, or else the imagination leaps in and does it instead." This latter is the province of academia and journalism, when these two have devolved to being tools of the state.
Imagination is fine, so long as it knows its subordinate place in the psyche. But if it doesn't know its place, then it easily dominates the intellect. When this occurs, the imagination puffs itself up with an unearned and worthless intellectual pride. You know the type. It's one of the reasons leftists are so annoying.
So, "imagination plays a part in the mind's affairs totally out of proportion to its merits, so out of proportion to its merits... as to suggest some long-standing derangement in man's nature" (Sheed).
One is tempted here to agree with the left that this is a malady that is especially virulent in females, who are so captive to their imaginations that they will fall for the first politician who offers them sex without consequences, whereas white males are somehow immune to their frivolous and imagination-infused appeals to "free" contraception and the like. But this is not what we believe.
Rather, the Fall is general, and there is no exemption for race or gender or class. Furthermore, the temptation is always there, and we must resist imagination's constant attempts to saturate our psychopneumatic space with some kind of finite formula. The "eleventh commandment" of Raccoons is that we are forbidden under any circumstance to deepak the chopra.
Now, God, the infinite, is unimaginable. This is axiomatic, and if people could just remember it (i.e., the Second Commandment), it would keep them out of a lot of trouble. This includes atheists, who, when they "disprove" their idea of God, imagine they have disproved the unimaginable. But this is impossible, obviously.
However, to say that God is unimaginable is not to say he is inconceivable.
Here again is where the intellect comes in, because the intellect routinely deals with unimaginable realities that are nevertheless conceivable, such as the square root of negative one, or the unvisualizable world of quantum physics, or the big bang. If these evoke a picture in your head, the picture is wrong, just a displacement from the ponderable world of matter.
Thus, "to complain that a spiritual thing is unimaginable would be like complaining that the air is invisible." Air is merely "beyond the reach of one particular sense, namely sight, because it lacks color." And "Spirit is beyond the reach of all the senses (and so of imagination) because it lacks all material qualities" (Sheed).
However, like the wind, you can certainly see, or feel, or hear, the effects of the spirit, i.e., the windy siddhis.
So: "the reality of any spiritual statement must be tested by the intellect, not by the imagination." Yes: test those spirits! For many of them are just demons, zombies, wannabes, professors, etc.
Sheed makes an important point about faith, that it essentially asks us to accept certain saving truths that an intellect "grown flabby with disuse" might be inclined to reject: "Thinking is very hard, and imagining is very easy, and we are very lazy. We have fallen into the habit of using imagination as a crutch, and our intellects have almost lost the habit of walking" (Sheed).
But once you begin engaging in your daily verticalesthenics and gymnostics, you start to lose the flab. And "once the intellect is doing its own work properly, it can use the imagination most fruitfully; and the imagination will find new joy in the service of a vital intellect" (ibid.).
Then, brother, you've got a happy home in your head, with a harmonious and swingin' relationship between ♂ to ♀.
Fight fight fight it with all of your might / Chances are that some heavenly star-spangled night / We'll find out just as sure as we live / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Hmm. How about Adam?
To paraphrase Rahner, this is a dynamic transcendentality which doesn't merely exist but takes place. Thus, the God <--> man encounter is an event; this event not only requires history to play out, but ultimately is what we call history.
This is an important consideration if we are to exercise due diligence and examine Christianity all the way down to the foundations, because "something historical" -- since it is relative and fleeting -- "seems by definition incapable of making absolute claims of any kind" (ibid.).
Furthermore, "if the whole history of creation is already borne by God's self-communication in this very creation, then there does not seem to be anything else which can take place on God's part" (ibid.).
You know, I created this endlessly fascinating cosmos, I brought you into existence from nothing, I gave you a mind and a conscience and women and grog. What else do you want from me? Immortality?
Well, now that you mention it...
Clearly, history itself is the history of transcendentality, which is why animals have no history. Rather, they have only genes. Which is what evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists would like us to believe about man.
But in reality, man's discovery of evolution is a part of, and embedded in, his prior transcendentality.
To put it in plain english, our transcendence contains Darwinism. The converse is impossible and quite literally unthinkable, for if we are contained by Darwinism, there is no conceivable exit from that closed løøp, nor would we have any understanding whatsoever of what contains Darwinism, i.e. Spirit. As Petey says, if Truth doesn't exist, man could never know it.
The bottom line is that "wherever we really find a being of absolute transcendence... there we find a man with freedom, with self-determination, and with an immediate boundary with absolute mystery," with O. If you know about O, then you're a man. And if you don't know, or have forgotten or denied O, then you've only sawed off the branch that connects you to reality. Nice work, assoul.
It reminds me a little of being an American citizen. America is the only nation defined by a transcendental ideal, so we don't care if you're black, white, male, female, rich, poor, whatever. If you believe the ideal, then you're in: congratulations, you've exited the wilderness of nature. Let us be the first to welcome you to your bewilderness adventure in history!
(Suffice it to say we're speaking of the ideal here, not the primitive rebarbarization of the reactionary left.)
This is such an important point, because it again goes to the whole project of the left, which cuts at the very root of what man is. It goes lightyears beyond the noisy buzz of politics, all the way down to ʘntology, and beyond!
But at any rate, wherever this transcendentality is absent, "what we call 'man' in a philosophical and Christian and theological sense did not exist, however similar this being may have been in other respects."
Thus, if you're an animal who penetrates into the transcendent -- and so long as you can afford the $1.50 initiation fee -- then we don't care if you have a tusk, a tail, a trunk, or a tree for a house, you're a Raccoon, so you're in. Of course, thus far only a Homo sapiens with a public school diploma fulfills the criteria, but you never know.
To paraphorize G.C. Lichtenberg, the cosmos is a mirror. Therefore, when an ape looks in, no apostle looks out. In fact, trolls who are on the threshold of consciousness will dimly recognize that the same holds true of these posts: when a such a prehuman looks in, no Raccoon looks out. Your inane comments can only confirm this deeper truth.
So, we have a history. And so too does God. We call it "salvation history." Salvation history is the chronicle -- chronos meaning time -- of the ahistorical object (or subject) as it relates to time and history. From our side, it manifests in encounters with the self-revealing God; you could even say that history as such is a necessary artifact of God-consciousness.
In this way -- and only in this way -- history becomes the cure for the problems created by history. At the same time, man attempts to cure the problems created by man in history, but it seems that the only final solution is for God himself to "become the problem," i.e., to incarnate.
Of the latter, Rahner writes that "Not until the full and unsurpassable event of the historical self-objectification of God's self-communication to the world in Jesus Christ do we have an event which... fundamentally and absolutely precludes any historical corruption or any distorted interpretation in the further history of categorical revelation and of false religion."
Theoretically, of course. Man is still free to mess things up.
A housekeeping gnote: our next topic of discussion will be the writings of Luigi Giussani, beginning with The Religious Sense. I mention this because there may be some of you out there who want to participate in a readalong on the cosmic bus. This is one of those rare books which I wanted to reread immediately, which is what I'm now doing, so I probably won't begin posting on it until some time next week.
Monday, December 03, 2012
However, I don't want to just leave it at that, as if we'd never met. I need some closure. Therefore, a brief wrap-up of Foundations of Christian Faith, if I can manage it. I'll just flip through and hone in on some of the things I highlighted.
"But in reality freedom is first of all the subject's being responsible for himself.... Ultimately he [the subject] does not do something, but does himself."
Freedom is selfhood lived, just as selfhood is freedom lived.
Painful, I know, but imagine an alternate universe with an educational system in which such spiritually healthy attitudes were inculcated from kindergarten on. That's how they do it at my son's private religious school: he knows that every moment confronts him with choices.
As things stand, the left employs a bait-and-switch tactic to rob people of their freedom-slack. For when the state bestows its free stuff upon the grazing 47%, it absolves them of responsibility and thereby disenfreedoms them.
Such a strategy also destroys religion at the root, for "freedom is the capacity for the eternal." In a horizontalized world there is no finality and therefore no meaningful freedom.
In fact, just this weekend I read a quote along these lines by the father of the moonbat educational establishment, John Dewey. For those with ears to hear, his advice is truly demonic:
"To abandon the pursuit of reality and the search for absolute and immutable value can seem like a sacrifice. But this renunciation is the condition for entering upon a vocation of greater vitality," i.e., social control engineered by the benevolent and all-wise state.
This is the very opposite of freedom, and it is why we dread the left. For "Freedom is the event of something eternal," and we are perpetually "forming the eternity which we ourselves are and are becoming."
Nor is freedom conceivable in the absence of God, for to understand freedom is to realize the absolute:
"For wherever there is no such infinite horizon, such an existent is locked up within itself in a definite and intrinsic limitation... and for this reason it is not free either."
No God, no freedom. Simple as. The left doesn't have to murder God directly. Rather, they accomplish the identical goal through the backdoor by simply eroding our freedom.
The leftist lives in hell and naturally wants you to live there as well. What do we mean by this stinkbombast?
Since a "free" rejection of God is nevertheless "based on a transcendental and necessary 'yes' to God in transcendence, and otherwise could not take place," it "entails a free self-destruction of the subject."
In other words, the leftist freely chooses hell for himself, but then imposes it on everyone else. Only he is free to choose, which ultimately results in only the man at the top being truly free.
I'm sure Obama has no idea that the exercise of his fake freedom redounds to the loss of your real freedoms.
This is all strictly orthoparadoxical: "For every 'no' always derives the life which it has from a 'yes,' because the 'no' always becomes intelligible only in light of the 'yes.'" In short, no Yes, no No.
Obviously, an explicit No to God requires an implicit Yes. Same with freedom, truth, and any other transcendental reality: no doesn't really mean no.
Rahner's whole discussion of freedom is in the context of capital G Guilt, and I found it to be quite helpful in that regard.
As it so happens, my study of Rahner was partly motivated by a desire to more deeply understand this whole question of guilt and redemption, for redemption is unnecessary if man isn't Guilty.
But it seems that Guilt and Freedom are necessary partners so long as we exist "outside" paradise, so to speak. We are condemned to freedom, as the existentialists say, and we are bound to misuse it, as Genesis says.
As Rahner expresses it, "a free subject continues to be threatened by himself," and there is no way we can eliminate this permanent threat with some sort of ultimate act, short of suicide.
Which again goes to the left's perversion of this principle: "the Utopian idea that a world functioning in perfect harmony can be created by man himself only leads inevitably to still greater violence and greater cruelty..."
You might say that original sin results in the left's extremely unoriginal solution to it. It works, of course, at the cost of killing the host. You know the old wise crack: "the operation was a success, but the patient died."
Friday, November 30, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
In other words, he has freedom and he has intelligence, but these two would be literally meaningless in the absence of an object or end. Without an end, knowledge redounds to mere opinion, while freedom reduces to drifting, loitering, or tenure. Instead of a Rational Animal, man devolves to an Opinionated Ape.
Thus Sheed's reminder that, "just as loving what is good is sanctity, or the health of the will, so seeing what is there is sanity, or the health of the intellect."
My father wasn't a churchgoing man, but he would have agreed with the foregoing principles, although he might have formulated them as:
"Do you really expect me to believe that? And don't tell me you didn't know it was wrong." In other words, he put a premium on man's innate capacity to distinguish right from wrong, with no lame excuses.
But as we have discussed in the past, it is man's very capacity for truth that renders him capable of issuing lame excuses. Look at Obama. He, of all people, knows exactly what went down in Benghazi -- just as I, as a six year-old, knew exactly what had gone down with the paint brush and motor oil. The ridiculous lies are a reflection of that simple fact.
Of course, if he were candid, Obama would tell you that he couldn't disclose the truth about Benghazi because it would have threatened his candidacy and therefore placed his entire agenda in jeopardy. The problem there is that his agenda is an even bigger Lie. The biggest, even.
To paraphrase Churchill, truth is sometimes so precious that it requires a bodyguard of lies. More frequently, the Lie is so precious to the liar that it requires a bodyguard of more trivial lies. These are like the flying monkeys that protect the witch.
I just read a book, Stalin's Secret Agents, that documents the shocking extent of Soviet penetration into the Roosevelt government. His administration was full of liars who were able to affect policy in a way favorable to the Soviet Union, most conspicuously at Yalta.
Perhaps even more sinister is when the Lie is accompanied by a bodyguard of trivial truths. This kind of misdirection is another of the left's specialties, and they rely upon it to distract us from what they're actually doing to us behind the curtain.
Speaking of massive lies, I've been receiving a lot of vertical memos lately about the need to confront these in a systematic way. Religion is supposed to do this, but often fails for precisely the reasons articulated by Sheed: it doesn't adequately address climate change -- i.e., the disastrous spiritual cooling of modern man.
But if you have a spiritually infused intellect, you shouldn't see the world the way the flatlanders do -- and not just because you superimpose some byte of dogma over it. In the end, that's hardly better than superimposing any other ideology over reality, as does the left.
Sheed writes that it is not sufficient to simply see "what other people see, plus certain features taught us by our religion." We can't just see the same meaningless world with a few religious patches here and there. This approach is very easy to lampoon. I used to do it myself.
Sheed uses the example of a person with beautiful eyes. Remove one of them and serve it on a plate, and it's no longer beautiful. It's the same eye. What gives?
"The eye needs to be seen in the face; its beauty, its meaning, its usefulness all come from its position in the face; and one who had seen eyes only on plates would never really have known them at all, however minutely he might have examined the eye thus unhappily removed from its living context."
Now, religion is here to provide the ultimate context within which everything is situated. That context is, in a word, God. Science, of course, rips things out of their context in order to analyze and study them. Which is generally fine, so long as one doesn't forget the ripping part.
The lower something is on the scale of being, the less we care about the ripping. For example, no harm is done by studying bacteria in a petrie dish.
But imagine a study in which we ripped children from their mothers in order to investigate the effects of broken attachment. What repels us about Soviet or Nazi science is precisely this ripping of humans from their human context. One could say the same of abortion.
In order to engage in the ripping without guilt, the contextual support of a bigger Lie is necessary, e.g., Marxism or anti-Semitism or scientism. It was the same with American slavery, which wasn't originally racist in character. Rather, like all slavery everywhere, it just was, i.e., a sad fact of life.
Only when slavery came under attack in the 19th century did the slaveholders need to come up with a bodyguard of racist lies in order to protect the institution. It reminds me of how no one ever heard of the "war on women" until it became necessary for Obama to protect an even bigger Lie. Likewise, the doctrine of "diversity" wasn't invented until leftists needed a smokescreen for state-mandated racial discrimination.
Is the person who falls for the Lie culpable? Of course, unless he is literally mentally incapacitated. Intelligence has responsibilities, obviously. More on this later.
So: "Nothing is rightly seen save in the totality to which it belongs; no part of the Universe is rightly seen save in relation to the whole" (ibid).
Which is why it must be One Cosmos Under O, because "the Universe cannot be seen as whole unless one sees God as the Source of the existence of every part of it and the center by relation to which every other part is related to every other."
In other words, only verticality accounts for a coherent, spatially and temporally articulated horizontality; or hierarchy and purpose.
The alternative to this is the pneumapathological condition of spiritual autism, in which nothing is seen in its proper relation to anything else: God to man, man to woman, individual to collective, human to animal, adult to child, etc., etc., etc.
Here is a perfect description of spiritual autism: "The man who does not see God may have vast knowledge of this or that section of being, but he is like a man who should know all about the eye, having never seen a face.... He sees nothing quite right because he sees nothing in its context" (ibid).
This is literally the case in psychological autism, in which the face is not "seen," only its unrelated parts. And since it is not seen, the autistic person is barred from the interior life of the person behind the face.
In an analogous way, the spiritual autistic is exiled from the interior reality of things, the "inscapes" of being. He can know nothing of the phase before he was bearthed and begaialed.
Having said that, it is actually quite rare to find an individual so spiritually impaired that he cannot experience the withinness of things.
It's just that in the absence of proper education and refinement, he descends into various idolatries such as radical environmentalism, "art for art's sake," or some other sentimentalized faux religion. He gets a bit of the warmth (without which life would be unlivable) but none of the Light.
Therefore, he has access to the within, but doesn't get anywhere with it. Without a map -- not to mention the winds of grace -- he just randomly floats around the ocean bewilderness.
When you spend your time just floating, you shouldn't be surprised that your nonlocal muscles atrophy and you fall victim to vertical gravity.
But just like its terrestrial analogue, the gravity is there to help you. It provides the resistance needed in order to engage in your daily gymgnostics and verticalisthenic exorcise of mind parasites, with the longterm fitness goal of increasing your cosmic levity.
But right now I gotta float off to work. To be continued....
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
It's a little like that distant-but-close boundary of death -- and why we can't find out something only dead men know, or buy back the beat of a heart grown cold (referring again to the Prophet Bob -- no, not me, the one with all the honors).
The infinite "presents itself to us in the mode of withdrawal, of silence, of distance, of being always inexpressible, so that speaking of it, if it is to make sense, always requires listening to its silence" (Rahner).
It is what the rabbis mean when they refer to the Torah as words of black fire written on pages of white fire, i.e., finitude on infinitude -- or perhaps relatively-absolute on absolutely-absolute.
Also, note that as we expand, the wild frontier of the godhead recedes but doesn't shrink or contract. Which is why the cosmic bus has a "way" but no end. The map is straight but the roads are crooked.
In euclidean space the expansion of one sector comes at the expense of the one adjacent.
But in this higher-dimensional non-euclidean space, as we expand, so too does God. This is why atheists have such a tiny godling, and why it is so easy for them to understand and reject their imaginary fiend.
This whole approach ensures that God is always our measure, not vice versa. If we are God's measure, then God is not God. We are.
In reality, we exist by way of analogy to God, not the converse. But for this very reason, you can learn a lot about God by studying his highest and most complete creature.
Speaking of which, the Bible is much more interested in vertical than horizontal creation, an area of confusion for both believers and infidels.
When it comes to horizontal creation, we're happy to accept whatever tentative conclusions science comes up with -- so long as they don't take the word "creation" literally, since nothing can't actually create anything but more nothing. Obviously, only someOne can make something of nothing.
But vertical creation takes place not once upon a time, but always upin a timeless. It doesn't "point back to an earlier moment in time at which the creation of the creature in question took place" (Rahner).
Rather, it is "an ongoing and always actual process which for every existent is taking place now just as much as at an earlier point of time," although "extended in time" (ibid.).
If you need a visual, imagine a sort of (↳) movement. A universe of pure (→) is a metaphysical absurdity. Understand this, and you have sufficient proof of the Creator.
When we say we have a "relationship" to God, we need to look a little closer at this word, relationship. For it is easy enough to understand how we have relations with our equals (other humans) and lesser beings (animals, liberals, and material objects). But how do we relate to that which infinitely transcends us?
By way of analogy, how does a circle relate to a sphere? The circle can think to himself, "I understand the sphere. It's a humongous circle, the biggest one we can imagine!" Or, "it's like the giant circle that surrounds us!" Or, "it's like a circle, only with no outer boundary."
This is an example of how imagination can betray us when try to use it to think of higher things. Just like the subphysical world, the supraphysical world is intelligible but not imaginable.
Intellect and the imagination are very different faculties. Imagination can of course aid intellect, but for most people in the modern world -- especially the educated -- imagination has displaced intellect (for example, via ideology, idiolatry, and plain idiocy).
I recently read a book by an author who is so clear, he could be the anti-Rahner. He's a bit like Josef Pieper, who wrote with such clarity but without sacrificing depth or subtlety or giving me a headache.
I'm referring to Theology and Sanity, by F.J. Sheed.
The author shares the laughty goal of this blog, which you might call Sanity with a capital S. In other words, not the contingent and ultimately meaningless sanity of anthropologists, psychologists, and historians, but the true sanity of the coonical pslackologist, which connotes radical adjustment to WHAT IS. Cosmic sanity, baby.
Funny that sanity and sanctity are only one letter apart. Or that insane and in sin are so close.
"Just as loving what is good is sanctity, or the health of the will, so seeing what is there is sanity, or the health of the intellect" (Sheed).
In the introduction, Sheed is almost apologetic for focusing on the intellect instead of the will, but he has actually hit on the main stumbling block for most people in the modern west (and this was some 65 years ago): that they genuinely cannot wrap their minds around religion but can only submit to what they don't really understand.
In a way, it's like the difference between children and adults. In the formation of a child's soul, you first have to work on the will, because they don't understand enough to reach them through the intellect. But as they grow, it becomes increasingly possible to speak to them of principles and abstract truths.
Milk and meat.
Not much time this morning. To be continued.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I don't have time to track them down, but I've read any number of comments of prominent atheists to the effect that this would be an unalloyed Good Thing, both for individuals and for mankind at large.
For example, Richard Dawkins has said that exposing children to religion is a form of child abuse. And if you accept his premises, you can see his point. It is indeed abusive to inculcate a massive lie in a developing soul. And I will stipulate that one of us is indeed a child abuser.
Back to our gedankenexperiment. We have removed the word God from the human vocabulary. Now what?
"Then man would no longer be brought face to face with the single whole of reality, nor with the single whole of his own existence" (Rahner).
That much goes without saying. Man would be condemned to absurdity and to fruitless searching for an understanding of himself and his existence. Sisyphus would displace Jesus as our archetypal man.
For if we no longer have access to that to which God refers, then we are also exiled from "the single whole of reality as such and the single whole of human existence in the mutual penetration of both aspects" (Rahner).
In other words, liberal fascists can't just get rid of that one offensive word without it dragging down a lot of other things with it. To us this looks bad, but to the leftist it is a good thing. They know better than we do that if you can destroy the keystone, then the rest of the building will topple on its own.
This is why the left also goes after private property with such disgusto. For if you can delegitimize that, then everything else -- life, speech, religion, the rule of law, self-defense, the pursuit of happiness -- comes crashing down as well.
The great liberal fascists -- the cursed FDR, LBJ, and BHO -- all begin with the premise that what's yours is mine; or that the wealth you have created belongs to the state. Nothing about Democrats has changed since Lincoln summarized their philosophy as: you work, I eat.
Actually, that's not quite fair to 19th century Democrats. Now it's you work, I get food stamps.
It all goes together, of course, because the very keystone of our Constitution is the Creator who gives us the rights which the Constitution exists to protect. Remove the keystone, and the document loses all defenses against the predatory state. It loses its very reason for being.
So it is no surprise that the left is always on offense against God and against private property. These are the Twin Towers of the cultural terrorists of the left.
Let's get back to the point of our post, which is the effect upon man's soul when he loses the principle of God. Let's just try to describe the effect like a dispassionate scientists, without getting into whether it is good or bad.
Man "would not notice anymore," observes Rahner, "that he is only an individual existent, and not being as such." He couldn't notice this, for God is the name we customarily give to being as such. Or, as soon as man rediscovers being as such, God will sneak its way back into the human vocabulary.
Since man would be reduced to a mere object in an objective world, "he would remain mired in the world and in himself, and no longer go through the mysterious process which he is" (ibid).
In other words, it would no longer make any sense for man to engage in the business of isness, because our isness would no longer be related to the isness of the whole.
And my isness would be none of your business, so this would also be a loveless world. Oh sure, we'd still have friction between bodies and all that, but to call it "love" would be an abuse of the term.
A godless universe is a loveless universe, for the same reason it is a truthless and amoral universe. Frankly, it's not even a cosmos anymore, i.e., an order, because we'd know that any order we encounter is just a human projection, no more meaningful than the projection of a "Big Dipper" on a bunch of random stars.
We can summarize man's existential situation by saying that he will have lost all notions of his Center, his Origin, and his Destiny (which, in a created universe, are all necessary reflections of one another).
In Rahner's formulation, "man would have forgotten the totality and the ground," which amounts to the same thing, for there is no spatial or temporal wholeness and no privileged cosmic position from which to access and experience them anyway.
The irony here is that the Jews of antiquity were way ahead of the curve when they came up with the idea of forbidding the naming of God. Because as soon as you have reduced God to some human category, then you can toss it out. But God is the uncontainable vector and object of our own undefinable transcendence.
There are two alternatives to this strict kosher orthoparadox, both resulting in false gods: "Both atheism and a more naive form of theism labor under the same false notion of God, only the former denies it while the latter believes that it can make sense out of it" (ibid).
Which is why orthoparadox and perfect nonsense always go hand-in-hand, without any hands.
What do I mean by this? What I mean is that when a hyperdimensional object crashes through four-dimensional history, we shouldn't bloody well expect to be able to capture it in our finite categories, should we? The very nature of the event is going to generate paradox, and indeed, paradox is the only proper way of discussing the situation.
What do I mean by this? "The term of transcendence [that would be God] is indefinable because the horizon itself cannot be present within the horizon."
Obviously, transcendence cannot be dragged back down into radical immanence without destroying it. It is always one step beyond, just over the subjective horizon, thank God.
What do I mean by this? Well, for starters, if this weren't the case, then the world would be flat boring. You know the type, right? What can you say? For them the gedankenexperiment is all too real, and they are the guinea pigs that have been sacrificed.
I prefer the real world of God-infused hyperdimensional evolution, because this way it's a nonstop adventure of consciousness. I know there's a bottom and a top, because I can't reach them.
Monday, November 26, 2012
For the intrinsic relation between man and mystery is not "prepositional" but essential. This relation is deeper than language, as language too is predicated upon it. If there were no mystery, then there would be absolutely nothing to talk about and no one to hear it. You know the type.
Today we want to get into man's experience of the ultimate Mystery customarily called God, but referred to here as O in order to preserve the Mystery.
As Rahner points out, the experience of this Mystery "is more primary than reflection and cannot be captured by reflection."
Indeed, man himself is the mirrorculous reflection of this prior Mystery, and the mysterious experience of oneself is also obviously deeper than reflection. It is the unfathomable Ocean upon which we float, AKA the Great Sea of the UnThought Known.
Man is always Oriented to the Absolute Mystery. Here again you may need to respectfully forget about your seenill grammar and gravidad, because this is like no other familiar relation. "For we do not have an experience of God as we have of a tree, another person and other external realities," all of which "appear within the realm of our experience at a definite point in time and space" (Rahner).
Rahner makes the provocative point that it is impossible to imagine a future in which the human race could exist without the word "God."
In order for this to occur, man would have to lose all contact with the experience that gives rise to the word; and to deprive ourselves of this experience is to annul our manhood and cash in our chimps, precisely.
Man's consciousness comes into being in the space between Mystery and mystery, O and ʘ, so the elimination of God would necessitate paving the space over with contingency and turning it a big barking lot.
Among other things, it would imply a complete eradication of our inborn bullshit detector. The whole world would be reduced to those 59 precincts of Philadelphia, where 100% (at least) of the people voted for Obama. All zzzombies all the time.
As such, our atheist friends, by incessantly using the word for what they haven't experienced, halfwittingly keep the experience alive.
The only alternative for the genuine øtheist is to not just feebly hope the word will someday disappear from the human vocabulary, but "to contribute to its disappearance by keeping dead silence about it himself and not declaring himself an atheist." You know, don't just stand there doing something, but sit down and shutup.
In order to achieve this, the atheists will need to be more like their fellow liberals, who are always trying to ban words in order to pretend that the unpleasant realities to which the words attach do not exist.
But in an evolutionary cosmos, words -- to say nothing of Word -- will always find a way. As they say, supernature abhors a vacuum. Banishing the word "retard" doesn't mean you aren't one, only that you're the last to know.
So "The mere fact that this word exists is worth thinking about," to put it mildly. For starters, as alluded to above, it's not like any other word, and yet, we still understand it, if "understand" isn't too misleading a term.
Which it no doubt is, because to understand God would be to be God. In other words, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it. And if he does exist, only a retard could not know it.
Even if we deicide that God is dead, we still need to reserve the name for what has died. But as soon as we do that, some mischievous rascal is going to start nosing around and redeuscover the empty tomb where the body is supposed to be buried. Game over. Or resumed, rather.
Nevertheless, if man were to effectively banish the word God from his vOcabulary, he would obviously still be immersed in mystery, except the mystery would "rot," so to speak, being deprived of all light and oxygen, i.e., its proper gnourishment.
What I think I mean by this is that man would have to regress to a time when he was plunged into the body and immersed in the senses, with no hope of an inscape or help of a teloscope. He would have to forget all vertical memories of higher things, and then forget he had forgotten, i.e., double I-AMnesia.
"The absolute death of the word 'God,'" writes Rahner, "would be the signal, no longer heard, by anyone, that man himself had died." Call it a signul.
Last night I was listening to the prophet Bob on my walk -- yes, in mOnʘ, as God intended -- and he reminded me of a number of plain facts that only the cosmically lost can never know, for example, that there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden -- whether Eden is understood in its proper sense or as some kind of statist utopia that denies all truth outside it.
But we won't press the point, for we know too much to argue or to judge.
With a time-rusted compass blade / Aladdin and his lamp / Sits with Utopian hermit monks / Sidesaddle on the Golden Calf / And on their promises of paradise / You will not hear a laugh / All except inside the Gates of Eden
The kingdoms of Experience / In the precious wind they rot / While paupers change possessions / Each one wishing for what the other has got / And the princess and the prince / Discuss what’s real and what is not / It doesn’t matter inside the Gates of Eden
The foreign sun, it squints upon / A bed that is never mine / As friends and other strangers / From their fates try to resign / Leaving men wholly, totally free / To do anything they wish to do but die / And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden --Bob Dylan, Gates of Eden
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
You see? We are always standing "outside and above the system of empirical, individual and specifiable data." And this is not just one element to be placed aside the others that constitute man, but is again always above them. If I say "you are a bepedal ape" and you say "um hmm," you've just transcended apehood, however tenuously.
Which makes one wonder: why can't leftists see this? The whole enlightenment project of classical liberalism culminated in the notion that we are unique persons, not races, genders, classes, ethnicities, and all those other lucrative accidents of existence.
But no. Progressives want to turn back the world historical clock and devolve to a time when man identified with his contingencies. Which, among other problems, always leads to increased civil strife.
If you wanted to come up with a malign doctrine of unregenerate hatred and resentment, you could hardly do better than multiculturalism and "diversity" (in the diabolical leftist sense of the term, i.e., neo-Marxist materialists of different colors and sexual preferences). Obama and the left might not know much, but they certainly understand the principle of "divide and conquer."
People talk about Obama's failure to "heal" the polarization in the country. Well, doy.
When we say Obama is a wicked man who is unfit for the office he holds, this is what we mean -- that he not only stands by silently while his allies engage in the most slanderous racial and sexual demagoguery, but that he himself instinctively engages in it. Instead of healing it, he fuels it: the police acted stupidly, my son the thug, Trayvon Martin, incompetence is beyond the reach of blacks, etc. If Obama doesn't make you want to vomit, you may be morally retarded.
But more to the point, he participates in and even leads the campaign to render man a shadow of what he actually is and can be. Yes, these mephistofeel-your-painian statists will give you losers lots of stuff. And all they ask in return is your soul. It's that sucking sound you hear at the core of your desiccated being.
Remember, leftism doesn't explain man. Rather, it explains him away. It does this in a multitude of ways, for example, with respect to crime.
In a free society, man is responsible for his acts. I mean, I realized this by the age of six or so. But in the 1960s the left finally had the power to actually implement their crackpot ideas about crime and justice. In this view, people were simply creatures of their environment, lacking the ability to distinguish between good and evil that I, as a six year old, understood.
So, what happened with that experiment? As we all know, crime rates increased exponentially, most especially among the supposed beneficiaries of the new approach, e.g., blacks. Which is my point: if your philosophy regards people as animals, you shouldn't be surprised if they behave like animals.
You can also point to the economic crisis of 2008, which resulted from the state deciding that some people are just too stupid and helpless to develop the traits consistent with homeownership. How'd that work out?
Note also that such an infrahuman animal is no longer in need of redemption from above. Rather, he can get it from some quack psychologist who pardons him because -- well, in the words of West Side Story, because he's depraved on accounta' he's deprived!
"Being a person," writes Rahner, "means self-possession of a subject as such in a conscious free relationship to the totality of itself."
You must understand that this peculiar way of being is the prerequisite of little things like truth, freedom, and virtue. It is the antecedent "space" out of which we all operate, and the point is to expand this subjective horizon, not to shrink or negate it!
Oh peoples, I gots the anointin' this mornin'! Listen to what the almighty is tellin' you in yo' soul! And lord, help me shut my big mouth at tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner with the liberal relatives!
In contrast to the free person, the left offers us this... this bigbrained cosmic freak who is "totally determined from without," even if this is impossible, because a person who believes this nonsense has nevertheless chosen to do so. There is no escape from your freedom and responsibility, leftist assoul!
To say that man is a Person "means first of all that man is someone who cannot be derived, who cannot be produced completely from other elements at our disposal."
Yes, you can say that only God can create such a singular being. Or, if that makes you uncomfortable, just render it in the form of an algebraic equation: only X can produce such a being. But don't pretend you understand the nature of the variable before investigating it. In other words, don't be a jackass.
"Man shows himself to be a being with an infinite horizon." It's not just that in America you can "be what you want." Rather, the point is that you already are (as being), and because you are, you can make the choices you want, i.e., drive the cosmic bus over the subjective horizon:
"When freedom is really understood, it is not the power to be able to do this or that, but the power to decide about oneself and to actualize oneself."
And since the space is infinite, there is no end to the expansion: "The infinite horizon of human questioning is experienced as a horizon which recedes further and further the more answers man can discover."
Elsewhere Rahner writes that "A person is always a Christian in order to be one." But this is because a person is always a person in order to become one.
Conversely, a leftist is always a leftist in order to become less than a person in the full sense of the word. And yes, we mean that literally. Because we are trying to help.
But unlike the left, we only offer the help. It would frankly never occur to us to force it on you, backed by the threat of state violence.
If the more radical empirical psychology is, the less freedom it is able to find, that is perfectly consistent with its method... --Karl Rahner
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
For example, good news for a Palestinian would be the murder of every Israeli man, woman, and child. But that would be bad news for the sane, decent, and civilized remnant of the world.
Likewise, the re-election of Obama is good news for parasitic public employee unions, for crony capitalists, for those thousands of soulless petty tyrants who get a thrill out of bossing others around, but bad news for the poor, the unemployed, the maleducated, the recently college educated (but I repeat myself).
So when Christians say their news is objectively and absolutely good, that's saying a lot -- again, not just about the news, but about the recipient.
The word "gospel" -- which means good news -- appears close to a hundred times in the New Testament. A quick etymological check reveals that gospel is a translation from the Greek for evangelize, and both ultimately derive from angelos, or “messenger.” Obviously, in this case we're dealing with vertical messages and messengers.
In the spirit of Rahner, let's just call it "news," so as to avoid too many presuppositions. This news, in order to be effective, must be analogous to the key discussed in yesterday's post. When the person hears it, it must be different from hearing other types of more mundane news, say, about the weather, or about those damn Romans and their high taxes.
Rahner asks the question, "What kind of hearer does Christianity anticipate so that its real and ultimate message can even be heard?" And this is indeed "the first question we have to ask," because it reaches all the way past our existence, down to our very being.
Or to put it inversely, if it doesn't so reach, then the message will be no more efficacious than any other so-called news. It certainly won't have the power to transform its hearer.
When a bird sings a particular song, it is heard in a particular way by other members of its species. The rest of us hear the same thing, but not really, since we can't unpack the message. Bearing this in mind, Rahner observes that
"When the reality of man is understood correctly, there exists an inescapable circle between his horizons of understanding and what is said, heard and understood." And "ultimately the two" -- what is said and what is heard -- "mutually presuppose each other."
As such, the Christian message assumes it is already somehow "present in the ultimate depths of human existence," again, on pain of only understanding the message superficially or not at all. The message not only "summons man before the real truth of his being," but does so in such a way that the person is "caught" by it. Or, to extend yesterday's analogy, the key fits all the way in, to "the infinite expanse of the incomprehensible mystery of God."
Wo, wo, wo, slow down partner. Didn't you just pull a fast one? First you're talking about a key that opens the door of understanding, but then you tell us that behind the door is an "incomprehensible mystery." How is that supposed to be helpful? Doesn't that mean we're no better off than we were when we started this whole human thing, which is to say, mysteriously engulfed in depthless layers of WTF?!
We'll get there. But let's finish our discussion of just what kind of a being man is. Rahner makes the subtle point that we only really discover what -- or even that -- we are via encounters with who and what we are not.
This reminds me of Bion's wise crack to the effect that the first thought is No Breast. From the infant's standpoint, there is no need for thinking until this unpleasantly novel thing called "hunger" occurs, which gives rise to something along the lines of: What happened to that infinite source of all warmth and goodness that was just here a moment ago!
We all like to think of ourselves as individuals, and we are; but imagine all the things that make individualism possible, which precede our presence and are not us: language, culture, history, and family, for starters.
However, as alluded to in yesterday's post, man is ultimately a (?) to himself, which very much parallels what was said above about the Incomprehensible Mystery behind the big door. It seems that if the key is to fit into our lock, it must reach all the way down to the mystery of ourselves.
Think about the many alternatives to this view. Let's begin with the most ready to hand, since it is so... ready to hand. Actually, most of the alternatives come down to leftism and scientism in their many dreary varieties, but these two may be unified by the principle that they both try to derive man from something else, something less than man.
Which immediately brings to mind a perfect aphorism by Don Colacho: The permanent possibility of initiating causal series is what we call a person.
How we initiate a causal series goes to the whole mystery of man, which in turn converges upon the mystery of God, for we take seriously the statement that where the Spirit of the lord is, there is liberty (2 Co 3:17), and vice versa.
Man's free will is full of implications, for which reason its denial is equally full of implications. As Rahner points out, all of the sciences (and the pseudo-philosophy of leftism, which may be traced to the pseudo-science of Marxian thought) regard man "as a result of and as the point of intersection between realities which on the one hand exist within the realm of empirical experience, but which on the other hand are not man himself, and yet establish and determine him in his reality and hence also explain him."
This in itself isn't problematic, so long as we don't confuse the map with the territory, and suppose that these partial explanations reach down to man's essential being. Such an approach -- and this is where scientism meets the left -- is usually "motivated by the secret desire not only to understand man... but also to control him thereby."
But the truth sets you free, which is why tyranny is always rooted in lies about man. There are political, economic, spiritual, intellectual, and other types of tyranny, but all are unified at their rotten core.
Hey, I think I'm really becoming like Rahner, because I'm not sure this post went anywhere, and now it's time for me to check out!