Friday, October 30, 2015

Our Cosmic Drama: It's Weird, but is it Weird Enough?

The book we're discussing -- Ordering Love -- takes seriously the idea that love is the ultimate order of the cosmos. If God is a relation of love, then what sort of cosmos is necessary in order to reveal his nature?

Along these lines, Schindler quotes J Rat, who says that "the world is created in order to provide a setting for the covenant by which God binds himself to man."

A movie or play needs a backdrop or stage, but the story is not about the scenery. The identical story can be conveyed with a backdrop of the wild west of the 19th century or outer space of the next century. Which I suppose is one more reason why Jesus -- or the Divine Drama -- only has to happen once.

The nature of our divine drama, writes Schindler, "lies in the fruitful tension" between our freedom and our bond to God. It is a bond, but a bond that is orthoparadoxically composed of freedom -- like marriage.

Conversely, in Islam, just as there are arranged marriages into which freedom does not enter, its entire religious structure -- and by extension, culture, politics, and cosmos -- is characterized by compulsion and submission, not freedom and consent.

In Islam no one is permitted to say Yes to God. For if one is forbidden to say No, then Yes doesn't enter the equation.

The same applies to the totalitarian lusting left. If they had their way, no one could say Yes to the left because no one would be permitted to say No -- which is the purpose of college speech codes and the like. Saying No to the left renders you a non-person. I know this because I live in an extremely blue area, and they talk about us as if we don't exist.

Schindler's prose at times verges on the turgidity of the tenured, as in the following: "What we properly term drama, in a word, has its ontological origin in the abiding depth and fruitful tension presupposed in the simultaneous unity-within-duality of subject (self) and object (other) in the free act."

Why not just say that the ultimate drama is between man and God? All drama is a subset of this. Indeed, all history is its reflection and residue.

The tension between man and God is first vertical. But it is prolonged in time, and this is what we call history (or, on an individual basis, development).

Now, here is where things get interesting, because God, who is at the other end of that vertical tension, decides to enter the drama.

First of all, why doesn't this collapse the tension and resolve the drama? In other words, if the drama is a consequence of the polarity, doesn't the Incarnation de-polarize it?

Well, this would go to the importance of keeping our categories straight, as did the early Councils. The fact that Jesus is simultaneously all-God and all-man has the effect of maintaining the cosmic tension. Without this tension we couldn't have the dramatic arc of the Passion.

For example, the heresy of Docetism removes the tension by insisting that Jesus only appears to be human. Or in Monophysitism, the divine and human are collapsed into one nature. Various forms of Gnosticism basically reject the backdrop -- matter -- rendering the Incarnation pointless.

The upshot is that God is able to enter history without destroying the dramatic tension between man and God.

More to the point, he preserves freedom and therefore love. This is the very opposite of what one might expect, in that God does not come down like some totalitarian cosmic dictator, but rather, as an offering of love and relationship.

I have a feeling that I'm not doing justice to the weirdness of it all.

Remember, there is the vertical tension between man and God. God takes on this tension by "entering history himself and staying there all the way through to his suffering and forsakenness on the Cross" (ibid.). The drama appears to end in his death on the cross, but that turns out to be only a brief inter-mission.

In another obscure passage -- and maybe it's impossible to make a mystery this deep any clearer -- Schindler writes of a "passion so deep that it enables giving birth to God and thus as it were giving God himself in response to God." This is the "born again" God to whom we are free to say Yes -- a God fully involved in history, and with us to the end of days.

Mary's Yes allows for the birth of God in history (and in human development). But Jesus must also freely say Yes to his own divinity, right through the cross and beyond. In other words, it is a Yes in the context of a living faith that carries him through even the ultimate impasse of death.

And still the drama continues.

If he does not hide from his own self, he comes to the insight: this is the goal toward which my whole being tends, this is where I want to go.... my ego is the place where I must transcend myself most profoundly, the place where I am touched by my ultimate origin and goal. --Schindler


Magister said...

The older I get, the more all of this is true. The world so routinely, predictably, even obsessively, disappoints. We will all be Lear, after the storm, looking at flowers and dreaming of reunions to come.

julie said...

The nature of our divine drama, writes Schindler, "lies in the fruitful tension" between our freedom and our bond to God. It is a bond, but a bond that is orthoparadoxically composed of freedom -- like marriage.

If we have eyes to see, this is evident in the course of each life. I had occasion this morning to ponder the strangeness of the past few years, and how with the passing of time the purpose of many circumstances may be revealed as part of a whole which touches on not just one life, but many, in ways none of the participants could ever image or foresee. But when we give our yes, each in our way, all things do indeed work to the good, if we choose to accept it. With this, too came the certainty - or rather, the confirmation - that God allows hardship out of love, and for no other reason.

ted said...

Just came across that covers the drama best...

A monk was once asked: What do you do there in the
monastery? He replied: We fall and get up, fall and
get up, fall and get up again.
-- Tito Colliander