Friday, October 23, 2015

The Liberal Triumph of Disease Over Health

As some commenters pointed out yesterday, type C theology -- which also predates types A and B -- has always been the emphasis in the Orthodox world. I remember reading this in Ware's classic The Orthodox Way, that "Christ's incarnation is already an act of salvation"(emphasis mine), prior to the crucifixion. In a perfect world this would have been sufficient, but think of what happens to, say, innocence, or truth, or sanctity, in this imperfect world!

The point of the resurrection is that "Nothing that was ultimately true or real about [Christ] was lost" -- lost to this imperfect world -- and that "He continues to live in a new and transfigured form" (Smoley). As Smoley points out, this isn't just true of Jesus, but is the "deep truth" of "ourselves in our most intimate essence." I suppose we could say that what is worthy of eternity survives the terrestrial ordeal.

Note that Jesus ultimately shatters what has apparently shattered him, i.e., Death. "This polarity -- the infinite bound in the finite, the absolute in the relative -- engenders a breaking point..." It "shatters in death, only to rise again in a transfigured state, its dissipated elements giving rise to new combinations and forms" (ibid.).

Dissipation. Reminds me of my doctoral dissertation, which proved once and for all that the mind is a dissipative structure, a self-organizing system characterized by openness, far from equilibrium conditions, and autocatalysis (AKA positive feedback loops).

Then I realized that the same idea applied to vertical reality: that man is an open system in relation to God, that there is an exchange of energies between the two, and that autocatalysis takes place under the rubric of cosmotheosis.

Thus, theosis (or divinization) -- which is the whole point of life -- is really a result of this open exchange with God, in which we literally metabolize the divine substance (in the form of love, truth, beauty, etc.). There is a vertical version of autopoiesis which we might call autotheoiesis.

Which will never catch on because it is too awkward.

Note that the "auto" does not imply that this is something the self is doing (or could ever do) for itself (for that is the way of the serpent, Icarus, the Tower of Babel, etc.). Rather, it is something that happens to the self under the proper conditions, which are again, vertical openness, far from equilibrium conditions (i.e., I am not God), and positive feedback.

The feedback part can of course be tricky because The World. Am I right or am I right? The world has its agenda, and spirit has its. You could even say that the world wants you to be a certain type of person. Ultimately it wants you to be its creation, a mere extension of its horizontal energies. Either way, we will worship that which creates us.

This reminds me of... the image comes to mind of a molar pregnancy, which results in a clump of disorganized fetal tissue which is more like a tumor than a baby. It has no coherent center, but is just an incoherent blob of disconnected features, like a liberal.

Which I mean literally. For example, the Washington Post says that Hillary Clinton "triumphed" yesterday merely by "not losing her cool." Her breathtaking dishonesty and criminality are of no consequence whatsoever.

Recall what was said above about the survival of that which is fit for eternity. In the inverted world of the left, only that which is unfit for eternity survives. Truth is crucified, only this time successfully.

"Hillary Clinton had one mission during her day-long testimony in front of a House select committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya: Don't get angry."

Excuse me, but WTF? As a commenter puts it, the Post "is rewriting the dictionary now. New definition of 'triumph' does NOT include truth, veracity, or honor." Besides, if you triumph over truth, isn't that a loss? It's like a person catching a horrible disease and triumphing over health.

Back to our topic. Let's see how type C theology lines up with the unpronounceable doctrine of autotheoiesis.

Regarding salvation, Gonzalez says that "The human predicament is not that we owe a debt because of sin [type A], nor that we stand in need of illumination from on high [type B]" -- although these things are of course not excluded -- "but rather that we are subject to Satan." Or, if you prefer, we are subject to the world, as described a few paragraphs above. We become analogous to spiritual molar pregnancies.

Indeed, it is as if "growth" still occurs, but without the proper center: "It is as if we had been children who, due to an unfortunate accident, had lost mental ability... but continued to grow. Growth itself is good; but the form it now takes due to that accident is twisted."

Therefore, "we need someone to overcome the tyrant who holds us under subjection, to allow us to become once again the creatures God intended." This is growth, only growth in Christ, whereby we are nourished as local members his nonlocal body.

Part of the great difference between the life of sin and the new creation is that the former is life in subjection, which does not allow us to develop fully, whereas the latter is a life of constant growth, in which our potential is increasingly brought to fruition. --Justo Gonzalez


Cond0011 said...

"There is a vertical version of autopoiesis which we might call autotheoiesis. "

A new word - and it makes sense, too.

In the ways of the world (The "I" focus of Survival of the self) you can only grow to the limited confines of the that self. There is only a limited amount of food you can eat, limited amounted of people you can dominate, limited amount of limosines, vacations, villas, (Extensions of the self), etc... before you use up your daily (and lifetime) supply of time to consume. But then thats it. Thats all there is. As a child, that framework is necessary for survival and earning the daily bread (though carefully monitored and mentored), but as an adult...

The Mature Soul would be constricted within the mental machinery of that enclosed framework and would become twisted if it did not burst out of that mental cocoon. This is a defining point between healthy adults and those who become Narcissists.

For the Soul, "Growing is Forever", and it would wither and sicken if life was all about self-survival.
vimeo . com/18305022

julie said...

You could even say that the world wants you to be a certain type of person. Ultimately it wants you to be its creation, a mere extension of its horizontal energies.

This is true not just with the broader culture, but even - or perhaps especially - within our own groups of family and friends. It's not always a bad thing, depending on circumstances (just as how there is a healthy narcissism necessary for proper development), but very often a source of conflict.

julie said...

Indeed, it is as if "growth" still occurs, but without the proper center: "It is as if we had been children who, due to an unfortunate accident, had lost mental ability... but continued to grow. Growth itself is good; but the form it now takes due to that accident is twisted."

Therefore, "we need someone to overcome the tyrant who holds us under subjection, to allow us to become once again the creatures God intended."

Reminded again of the Old Testament, particularly Judges, where a generation of good, healthy growth would progress, and then ineveitably the world - the worship of the Baals and Ashteroths (presumably with all the sexual malpractice and human sacrifice, etc.) - would creep back in until it became the norm, and they wondered why things had gotten so terrible. Then someone who was still driven vertically and not horizontally would receive a calling, and another generation of general health would go by, until the world crept again...

julie said...


mushroom said...

Either way, we will worship that which creates us.

How true.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again with a yoke of slavery.

popemobile said...

To paraphrase Stalin, "you can make hard-boiled eggs without cracking them, but not an omelette."

My priest he says that the very first atonement theory proposed by Early Church theologians was the “hook, line and sinker”—that Christ was bait for Satan. I like this theory, because it implies on one level that the whole problem with Judaism as an institution before Christianity was not that it could not develop into a higher theological synthesis, but rather, that the scribes and Pharisees had systematically condemned those who in some perhaps minute way could not fulfill the law, to being social and religious outcasts. But when such a manifestly good man as Jesus had fulfilled every letter of the law, and even exceeded in His own life the requirements of the law of Moses, He pushed them to reform until they had no choice but to sentence Him to death, or give up their prestige and power. In that sense, He was bait, because His death shocked finally caused a religious revolution among the common people. Interesting that, even if Christ had been able to reform the religion of His time, without dying, we would not have had a perfect example, either of laying down one’s life for a friend, or of turning the other cheek. Perhaps it was necessary to have such a perfect example?

BUT THEN, all of this has been prefatory to my real question (going against some of the implications of Bobus Angelicus’ argument), which becomes, “If sin were not a necessary part of the divine plan, neither would it have been possible for Christ to give a perfect example of love, right (unless He sacrificed Himself to avert some natural disaster or something)? But averting a disaster is not the same thing as looking a truly evil man in the eyes, and thinking, “I love this man.”

So it would seem that the modern little-o “orthodox” Catholic position does have some merit: that sin, although unnecessary, caused us to have a closer relationship with God, and therefore its not all bad. That is, now we know what it is like to love unconditionally in even more trying circumstances--which is a very important part of who we now are. Or, in other words, though sin was ontologically unnecessary, it was necessary for us to be ontologically what we are. Or, to paraphrase Stalin, you can make hard-boiled eggs without cracking them, but not an omelette.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann said...

In our perspective, however, the "original" sin is not primarily that man has "disobeyed" God; the sin is that he ceased to be hungry for Him and for Him alone, ceased to see his whole life depending on the whole world as a sacrament of communion with God. ... The only real fall of man is his noneucharistic life in a noneucharistic world. The fall is not that he preferred world to God, distorted the balance between the spiritual and material, but that he made the world material, whereas he was to have transformed it into "life in God," filled with meaning and spirit.

But it is the Christian gospel that God did not leave man in his exile, in the predicament of confused longing. He had created man "after his own heart" and for Himself, and man has struggled in his freedom to find the answer to the mysterious hunger in him. In this scene of radical unfulfillment God acted decisively: into the darkness where man was groping toward Paradise, He sent light. He did so not as a rescue operation, to recover lost man: it was rather the completing of what He had undertaken from the beginning. God acted so that man might understand who He really was and where his hunger had been driving him.

The light God sent was his Son: the same light that had been shining unextinguished in the world's darkness all along, seen now in full brightness.

popemobile said...


Thank you, Father. I believe you have emphasized to me a truth of which I was only vaguely aware. From my own experience, it does seem that the Catholic perspective does not intellectually recognize your absolutely essential point of view, and this fact was not apparent to me before.

Of course, doctrine is highly, highly influential--especially over anyone who has the tendency to be "imbalanced." Even I self-describe as a "recovering Catholic."

But it does seem to me that, while I was a child, and before I grew somewhat impulsive and "imbalanced," the Catholic ritual was in effect how you say the theology is.

Yet quite honestly, those Orthodox Christians who have been in my life, have given me the most wonderful example, not only of eleemosynary charity and love, but of a balanced and, might I say, above all else, deeply human way of living.

Perhaps this may be a specious distinction, or, worse yet, a truth that is not elevating--but is it possible that the Orthodox Church emphasizes more the Church triumphant, and the Catholic Church more the Church militant. That would explain the Catholic Church's temporal ascendancy.

The problem I have with this militarism, and I am sure you are not unsympathetic to my view, is that it seems the Catholic Church has been a "house divided against itself" since the death of Latin as a living language. That is to say, Catholics (those who are more intellectual, that is, and also without either the natural wisdom or the education to remember or believe what you preach as the Orthodox position [in other words, Catholics like I was when I was growing up]) are warring against themselves more than they are loving God and doing good works. (to be continued)

popemobile said...

Because, honestly, when the Latin of St. Jerome's Vulgate (which, although as a matter of unquestionable dogma, was the product of human reason and not divinely inspired, as were the "original" texts, as they came to be accepted by the Early Church) no longer made sense to anyone who could read it or hear it spoken, then there was a coup d'etat, so to speak, of neo-Pharisees and neo-scribes, who refused to translate it in accordance with Tradition and Magisterium (and natural reason). I am, of course, referring to the fact that according to the Roman Catholic Church, St. Jerome's Vulgate is the only version of the Bible ever to be "infallibly defined" (at least twice--at Florence and at Trent) as canonical, even though it was not inspired, but merely the product of human reasoning.

Thereupon we can understand the whole fundamentalist movement--they (or at least their spiritual and intellectual leaders) are scared that Tradition and Magisterium (and natural human reason), cannot possibly find a way to translate the Vulgate accurately (because the Vulgate intentionally uses rhetorical ambiguity, a la St. Augustine, in De Genesi ad Litteram, for reasons outlined in the Vulgate itself [but not in the Greek or English versions] in the first three chapters of the Book of Wisdom [Sapientia Salomonis]).

But, just as St. Augustine says in De Genesi, Scripture can never contradict the faith. So, with modern editorial techniques, it would be very possible to translate the true meaning as the primary one in the actual body of the text, and then put in a footnote, "A reading for one who shares our religion, but not our faith:" followed by the reading which is from rhetorical ambiguity.

Because, of course, conversion as Christ taught, is by actions (conversatio) and not by words dialogos), although I am not of that party which thinks that little-o orthodox (or whatever Gaghdad Bob teaches) is ever harmful. And, honestly, I am not even certain that we have been better off on the whole from the ambiguity of the Vulgate of St. Jerome, being as it was never translated in full into the vernacular, since the Orthodox who have been in my life have seemed to have such a solid understanding of Christ and how to be a real mensch.

But I have faith that God will work it all out in the end!

Thanks, Father. You did me a solid.

popemobile said...

And, Father, I am truly grateful and deeply appreciative for what you are doing in the world (and yes, I am fully aware that it is highly unlikely that this is actually the real Father Schmemann writing, but I take you to be the quasi-Father Schmemann that I trust you that you are).

Fr. Alexander Schmemann said...

It's true, these days I speak through emissaries. However, many of my writings are available online here, and I also have a number of published works available on Amazon. The passage quoted above is from For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy.

Cond0011 said...

Gee... nice you guys stopped on by...

Come again sometime, okay? :)

Cond0011 said...

(I would have hoped the 2 'brothers in Christ' would have addressed Bob's post directly and not merely 'talk in the hallway'. Further... you both appeared together and left together making that an interesting coincidence. Verrrry eeenteresting.)

Sorry Alex-The-Friendly-Ghost... Play-Mobile... though the words appear to 'say' something, the context in this comment section shows you had no intention to do anything but Troll; being that NOTHING was addressed the original post directly and the only mention of it was a snide comment towards B0b from Ghost-boy.

Clanging of cymbals comes to mind... (That's 1Corinthians13:1 in case your twice quoting of Stalin had exorcised it from your mind, Play-Mobile... )

Cond0011 said...

Being that your words are detached from day to day reality (reads like something out of a textbook and has the depth of an edict), my guess is that you are Seminary Students out for a joy ride trying to either impress or vilify B0b and his Raccoon Lodge.

My guess is a combination of both - which entirely contradicts the teachings of Christ and what you are supposed to be learning.

So come back again, sometime, boys, as Christianity is more than Pharisee-words full of vanity.

Just Sayin' said...

For clarity,

Father Schmemann was a protopresbyter (archpriest) in the Orthodox church, and is respected in many parts of the Christian world. The first passage attributed to him was a quote from one of his books (linked in both the first comment and in the 9:55 comment), which seemed relevant to the conversation as a whole and Popemobile's comment in particular because it touched on the Orthodox understanding of original sin. Quite possibly, given that it was 2 in the AM and I was very tired, it may not have been the best choice from that passage, but one does what one can with limited brain cells.

Certainly, Popemobile found it to be of value; I was glad to be able to offer something that someone found helpful.

In no way were the comments by "Father Alexander Schmemann" intended as trolling. I can't speak for the other guy, but didn't find his comments particularly odious, or I wouldn't have bothered giving him a response.

Cond0011 said...

"In no way were the comments by "Father Alexander Schmemann" intended as trolling."

As said by "Just Sayin' ".

Cond0011 said...

I wiki'ed Father Schmemann earlier before posting my harsh criticism, "Just Sayin".

I appreciate your sincerely explanation.

Thank you.

Perhaps I've fired off my salvos a bit early. Its not my nature to judge so quickly (Last Troll here took me 7 months before I started losing my patience. Even then, it was not a good idea to do so), yet I am doing it quite frequently these days. Thats not good. I've been under deformative pressure for the last ... coming on 4 years now and it is taking its toll, believe.

I will leave up the previous comments and offer my sincerest apologies to both you and Popemobile (How can he forgive that which he does not know?) and will erase them at the descretion of you both as it seems to me a blot on Bob's fine posting. From the contents of the comments, you may judge for yourself whether to forgive me or not.

I do enjoy being "Blog Defender", though I must say I probably am an embarrassment to those blog owners from time to time - this probably being one of them.
Sorry about this, B0b.
(I'm thinking I probably need to go even further remote so as to keep the damage to my friends out here in Cybersapce to a minimum - until my life gets back on track.)

julie said...

Hi Cond0011, hope you don't mind my jumping in,

I'm sorry to hear things aren't going well. You and yours will be in my prayers; I hope things get better for you very soon.

Cond0011 said...

Thank you, Julie.

popemobile said...

I'm deleting my previous comments. Sorry about that. Honestly--Gaghdad Bob, being a psychologist, would know that I have never developed beyond the level of parallel play. Feel free to delete this comment after its message has been registered.

popemobile said...

I have just realized that I cannot delete these things (or at least I do not know how...)