Monday, January 06, 2014

Go Out of Your Mind and Come Back to Your Senses

Chaos this morning. Grumpy boy back to school + painters and tilers, the latter making big noise with their angry saw. We'll do what we can, but don't expect much. That's right: the usual, only more so.

I used to think that mysticism is to the cosmic interior as science is to its exterior: two methods for two modes of reality. Is this too fossile a banalogy? And do I still fall for it?

"Through all human history," writes Berdyaev, "mysticism has revealed the world of the inner man in contrast to the world of the outward man."

And when we say "world," we mean the whole world, inside and out, upside and down, not just, say, an experience of one's own neurology. No mystic interprets the mystical experience as nothing more than a transient and idiosyncratic episode, but rather, an insight into the whole of reality. This doesn't mean it's true, but it is interesting that the experience is accompanied by certainty of its truth content, as opposed to, say, daydreaming, or hypnosis, or imagination.

Thus, "mystical revelations of the inward man have always taught of man's microcosmic quality," for mystical experience reveals "the cosmos within man, the whole immense universe."

You could even go all Kant and say that this whole I-AMmense universe is just a form of our sensibility. Except that little word: just? The soul of man just happens to conform to the whole of intelligible reality, easily containing everything within its boundaries? This is not a demotion. It's a miracle.

Which is certainly how the most illustrious early scientists understood this freakish ability. We won't rehearse that whole argument, but look at Zack Newton, the icon of genius prior to Einstein. Although materialists naturally want to claim such a singular genius as one of their own (since by definition, geniuses cannot be religious), Newton's ultimate goal was to explicate "such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity."

And according to Professor Wiki, Newton "saw God as the master creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation." In short, one might say that he was an early advocate of the One Cosmos approach of regarding spirit and matter as complementary, but seeing spirit as the more encompassing of the two. Which it obviously must be, since spirit may contain matter, but not vice versa.

However, one can well understand how Newton's ideas were easily co-opted by atheistic types, essentially due to the Unintended Consequences of his Protestantism. That is, the Newtonian system eventually reinforced "the deist position advocated by Leibniz. The understanding of the world was now brought down to the level of simple human reason..."

Which wouldn't necessarily be a disaster, except that -- and we'll have to save this argument for another day -- Protestantism inevitably redounds to scientism, since the latter is simply a more parsimonious version of the former. Once you become your own priest, it's a simple step to being one's own god, and then chucking the ladder entirely.

This is why so many liberals mistakenly regard the American founders as somehow irreligious, since they simply project backward their own infertile sensibilities into the more deistic among them, such as Jefferson. So scientism is deism minus deity, i.e., a completely rationalized world without Reason(er).

And I'm not suggesting that Protestantism is necessarily a "bad thing." As you know, I am not a formal member of any church except for this one. Being deusluxic, I don't have a God in this fight. But it's like any knowledge: once you understand the secrets of the atom, you end up with the atom bomb. Mankind cannot unknow or cover up what it dis-covers. Knowledge has its own momentum, its own necessary implications.

So, the -- or one -- question is, how do we unbreak the eggistenshell after it has suffered its great fall? I don't know. What would Joyce say? Let's see: The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice... that the humptyhillhead of himself sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes.

Wha'? Big help.

Let's just say that for Joyce, Humpty's fall is built into the cosmic system. Youfall, Ifall, we allfall from the ovary tower, which results in some awful offal. Thus, the broken fragments were there in what Protestantism hoped to put back together, just as they are present in Protestantism. The crackup cannot be avoided, for the Fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all Christian minstrelsy.

Back to this morning's mynstrelcism. It seems to me that the mystical experience represents one type of treatment for the wounds inflicted by existence, for it "is in profound contrast to every kind of closed-in individualism, isolated from cosmic life."

In other words, as we have been saying, individualism is, or can be, interpreted as a rebellion against the group, so here again there is built-in fragmentation. So, how do we restore our oneness?

Well, I give up. Too noisy in here. Eck! I'll leave you with this bit of healthy meistercism:

Mystical submersion... always means going out of oneself, a breaking-through beyond the boundaries. All mysticism teaches that the depths of man are more than human, that in them lurks a mysterious contact with God and with the world. --Berdyaev


mushroom said...

Yes, as a protestant, I agree we are likely to become zombies and infect everybody. I don't know if it so much being one's own priest as it is the loss of the mystical that is the problem. I used to make fun of transubstantiation happening when the little bell rang. I was wrong -- though now I tend to think I was wrong in a different way than the priest might think me wrong.

Gagdad Bob said...

I agree with the idea that it is a Scandal that there isn't one church for the one body of Christ. But how to put Humpty back together post-Enlightenment, post-Reformation, and post-modernity? It seems that a "break" was inevitable -- or perhaps unity <--> fragmentation is one of those unavoidable complementarities.

Christina M said...

I'm only just getting to this subject, but I am beginning to suspect that the Founding Fathers, specifically Washington and Jefferson, were Protestants who had or were in the process of rejecting Protestantism as untenable, but who could not turn to Catholicism because of recent history and the deadliness of the battle between Protestantism and Catholicism. Washington was Catholic-friendly and Jefferson was definitely influenced by St. Robert Bellarmine. Their religious belief resembles, to me, George MacDonald's in his writings. He'd rejected Calvinism, but couldn't bring himself to turn to Catholicism. A lot of his belief looked like almost Catholicism to me. Just speculation at the moment. husband noticed something recently that I think is BRILLIANT: The Spanish priests who brought Catholicism to the New World of the Caribbean, South and Central America had not yet undergone the Counter-Reformation, while the French and English Catholics who colonized the New World of North America came later and had undergone the Counter-Reformation.

Just some trivia to throw into the mix. It's what I'm working on the moment. Also reading about the Catholic Founding Father. Apparently he was more influential, than I had been led to believe.

Gagdad Bob said...

A while back reader Van recommended a book on the influence of Thomism on the Founders. Just as Thomism promotes clear thinking, it is possible for a clear thinker to discover the same principles. At any rate, the founders were exceptionally clear thinkers. Most of them, most to the time, anyway ***cough*** Jefferson.

Christina M said...

St. Robert Bellarmine's Influence on the Writing of the Declaration of Independence & the Virginia Declaration of Rights

ge said...

it's the going away & arriving
that lets you know youre thriving
when the moment before you were dying
to life as its worth should be lived
Formember & reget
completely forgotten time & place you occupy
perfectly remembered peaceful heaven you wake in


here i am me again
feeling [being]
this joy thats been mine for a millions of years

Christina M said...

I thank God for our Founders and the founding of this country everyday. This country really is a miracle.

Gagdad Bob said...

The other day I recommended the Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton to a friend. The friend agrees that the appearance of Hamilton at that time and place might as well be a miracle, since he was just about the only man in the world who could have done what he did, and his life was as improbable as can be.

Van Harvey said...

"Being deusluxic, I don't have a God in this fight. But it's like any knowledge: once you understand the secrets of the atom, you end up with the atom bomb. Mankind cannot unknow or cover up what it dis-covers. Knowledge has its own momentum, its own necessary implications."

Yep. There is an... Intellectual Gravity (which is not the same thing as a slippery slope), and unless conceptions are properly supported, integrated and their weight well distributed, those flying buttresses transform thinkers into falling assouls, really damn fast.

mushroom said...

Their religious belief resembles, to me, George MacDonald's in his writings.

Yes, Jefferson expressed to Adams (I think) some sympathy and enthusiasm for Unitarianism, and, by extension, Universalism. MacDonald, like Hannah Whitall Smith, found Universalism an acceptable alternative to Calvinism.

mushroom said...

Hey, look what Father Stephen is talking about today:

The realism of St. Paul’s teaching on Baptism is mystical realism (to coin a phrase). These waters become those waters. This event becomes that event. This time is now that time. Christ’s death now becomes my death. Christ’s resurrection now becomes my resurrection.

How utterly and uselessly weak is the thought that Baptism is merely an obedience to a command given by Christ! The idea that nothing happens in Baptism is both contrary to Scripture and a denial of the very nature of our salvation.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "A while back reader Van recommended a book on the influence of Thomism on the Founders. Just as Thomism promotes clear thinking, it is possible for a clear thinker to discover the same principles."

Probably “Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic:SCHOLASTICISM IN THE COLONIAL COLLEGES” by James J. Walsh, 1933 (available online, free, several formats), and along those lines, coughing around Big J,

"At the time of his graduation from William and Mary, Jefferson was eighteen. During the two preceding impressionable years he had been under the tutelage of Professor Small and had been well grounded in the ethics, commonly taught at the colleges in those days. We have no theses from William and Mary because of the fire but the ethical theses that are available from the four colleges, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown, are all sufficiently alike to make it clear that they represent the moral philosophy teaching of the time. Under ethics or politics at most of the colleges they defended the proposition that authority for government devolved originally on the people, and was by them transferred to the ruler. If he did not rule for the benefit of his people they had a right to remove him and substitute another. This is the teaching that was in many minds at that time as the result of their college theses and it was this that was incorporated in the Declaration of Independence, the source of whose theory of government must be found in this ethical philosophy that was the common teaching of all the colonial colleges, and had for centuries been the teaching of the universities generally unless they were under royal influence.”

He gives examples of debates and lesson plans form the colonial colleges of their day, which is not only interesting, but puts in sharp relief why, as long as our schools today, teach what they do, and how they teach it, we will never rediscover what they handed down to us. Their view of Education had nothing to do with testing, or class size, or even curriculum (as presented in the malicious 'common core' of tripe today), but with their full view of the nature of man and the nature of thought.

As long as the quality of a child's 'education' is determined mostly by:

"The year of 1776 is most notable for:
a) The Boston Tea Party
b) When Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" was published.
c) Jefferson wrote a declaration on independence"

, We The People will have no clue what Liberty is or why it's worth pursuing.

(Yeah, I know, not a fair representation of a test, they'd never note what Smith wrote without denigrating it)

Gagdad Bob said...

The left had to eradicate the idea of tradition handing down a priceless inheritance for us to hand on in return, in order to grease the skids for the self-serving rascals who force their ideas upon us.

julie said...

Yes, just so. People had to swallow the idea that history was worthless. Otherwise, how could we be "the ones we have been waiting for"?

I know a young lady whose life has been characterized by instability. She is trying desperately to join the military now, mainly (I think) to find the structure - the family tradition - she's been missing. Even in this, she is thwarted; it's like she's trying to launch in quicksand. I believe she'll figure it out eventually, but in a sense her story serves as a template for today's culture, writ small.

When the past is unrealiable and unintelligible, the present is incomprehensible and the future, no matter how sensible and realistic it may be envisioned, becomes a utopic dream that can never be realized because it has no foundation upon which to be built.

julie said...

Back to the post, I like the idea of esotericism as a cure for individualism. From personal experience, I think there's a great deal of truth to that.

Gagdad Bob said...

I always go back to the idea of jazz: spontaneous freedom within learned constraint = creativity. Tradition = restraint.

Van Harvey said...

Julie said "Yes, just so. People had to swallow the idea that history was worthless. Otherwise, how could we be "the ones we have been waiting for"?"

Yep. I just finished a book, which I highly recommend, by Terrence O. Moore (an ex-Marine who founded and served for a number of years as headmaster of a classical grade school in Colorado, and is currently a Prof. of History at Hillsdale College), which clarifies and fortifies a point I've long tried to make, that before History and Education could be successfully transformed, the ProRegressives first found it necessary to kill our stories: "
The Story-Killers: A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core"
. From the blurb:

"What is the Common Core? How will the Common Core English Standards affect the teaching of great stories in our schools? Will there be any great stories left in the minds of our children when the Common Core has controlled the curriculum and testing of both public and private schools for a few years? What are the real purposes behind the educational coup that has taken place with very little public debate and even less understanding?
In this book, school reformer and professor Dr. Terrence Moore carefully examines both the claims made by the architects of the Common Core and the hidden agenda behind the so-called reforms that have been adopted by over forty states in the nation, with very few people understanding what is really going on. Moore not only challenges the illiberal aims of this educational regime, but actually analyzes lessons recommended in the Common Core English Standards and in the new textbooks bearing the Common Core logo. Such a thorough review exposes the absurdity, superficiality, and political bias that can only serve to dumb down the nation's schools. Worse, the means that the Common Core uses is a deliberate undermining of the great stories of our tradition, the stories that in former times trained the minds and ennobled the souls of young people. Those stories are now under attack, and the minds and souls of the nation's children are in peril.

julie said...

Here's a fitting image for today's post: The Universe Is In Us

NoMo said...

My new daily calendar today says:

"My greatest weakness is that I'm weak."

Ha! My greatest strength is knowing I'm weak.

GB said "I agree with the idea that it is a Scandal that there isn't one church for the one body of Christ".

I don't know. It seems like the whole thing is still under construction.

"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:11 ff)

Gagdad Bob said...

Well, it's a scandal then that things on earth aren't yet as they are in heaven!

Gagdad Bob said...

Schuon wasn't one for colloquial expressions, but more than once he has cracked that it takes all kinds to make a world.

ge said...

You-u-u-u ....are the clown of creation

Christina M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina M said...

At the time that the Founders arrive on the scene, they are not only turning away from or have already broken with Protestantism, they are now considering going against the divine right of kings and breaking with the king. If most of the Founders had been Catholic, they would not have considered breaking with a king. The Founders had to Protestants who were Catholic friendly in order for the country to allow Catholic thought into the writing of the Constitution. For that kind of people to show up at that particular time and place is what looks like a miracle to me. And yes, I agree with you about Hamilton.

The reason I have come to this thinking is that I have run into Catholics who insist that the founding of this country is illegitimate, as it was founded by Protestants, and I vehemently disagree with them. I think of them as fat cows who stand in their own water pond and poop and drink.

America is the one and only place where a human being is free to be a fully developed individual as God intended and at the same time, united to the community he lives in by way of his Christian belief and practice. And on the mystical level, that human being is a part of the Body of Christ.

Christina M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
julie said...

Re. cows pooping where they drink, I had a similar thought this morning about various other "religious" groups, after reading that satanists want to have a monument put up at the Oklahoma State Capitol, right next to the Ten Commandments (naturally).

It just made me think of how the satanists must necessarily be parasitic on Christianity, and more broadly of how all the "religious" groups demanding equal attention are using the Christian ideals that founded this nation as a way to trash Christianity in general.

mushroom said...

... And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
(Esther 4:14, ESV)

Doesn't just apply to God's Chosen People. It happens, I think, all the time. The often unknown individual who just "happens" to be in the right place at the right time is the tiny hinge on which history pivots.

I have heard some say that there is no such thing as coincidence. There's no such thing as chance, maybe.

Peyton said...


Along that vein,

"Daughter," said the Hermit, "I have now lived a hundred and nine winters in this world and have never yet met any such thing as Luck."

C. S. Lewis, The Horse and his Boy, Chronicles of Narnia, Book 5