Monday, June 06, 2016

Wise Men From the Yeast

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.

Jesus told the the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:

'I will open my mouth in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.'

The original prophecy occurs in Psalm 78: I shall open my mouth in parables; I shall speak of hidden things from of old.

Hidden since the foundation of the world. Three thoughts occur immediately: what is the foundation of the world?; what is hiding in it?; and how does Jesus know these two things?

As to the latter, either he was there or someone in a position to know told him. The Psalm goes on to say that What things we heard, these we also knew. And our fathers described them to us. It was not hidden from their children in a different generation, and will someday be known by children yet born.

So the Psalm is adverting to a lost spiritual heritage, but Jesus seems to speaking of an unknown knowledge that surpasses even this, and that no man has ever known. Rather, it has been hidden since the foundation of things.

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast. It seems that this yeast has been here since the foundation; it was mixed with the flour of creation, such that there is something in the cosmos -- something in the (supernatural) nature of things -- that causes it to "rise," so to speak.

What could it be? Now interestingly, there is no science that can function without reference to this yeast, although of course it is never acknowledged. Let us assign the variable y to this yeastly factor that pervades science, from physics to biology to interpersonal neurobiology and beyond.

Now, what do I mean that y pervades science? Well, let's begin at the bottom, with physics. For votaries of a scientistic metaphysic, physics is "the foundation of the world." There are surely things hidden there, but nothing mysterious (?!), rather, just mathematical equations and such.

For example, when Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, he discovered something that had presumably been there all along, hidden in plain sight, ever since the cosmos came into being.

The other day I was reading the original humanist manifesto, which also presumes to speak of things hidden since the dawn of existence, and to correct various misconceptions to which man is heir.

In its prelude it assures us that "The importance of the document is that more than thirty men" -- thirty men! -- "have come to general agreement on matters of final concern and that these men are undoubtedly representative of a large number who are forging a new philosophy out of the materials of the modern world."

So it's pretty important. Self-important, anyway.

Note that they are claiming to "forge a new philosophy out of the materials of the modern world," whereas Jesus claims to explicate an ancient wisdom that has been here forever. But the humanists assure us that religion has lost its significance and is "powerless to solve the problem of humans living in the Twentieth Century."

That's a bold statement. Let's examine their first point: "Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created."

Hmmm, how'd that work out? Turns out the universe is not self-existing; rather, it not only came into existence at a specific time, but time itself paradoxically came into existence with it. Furthermore, the universe is implicate with all sorts of mathematical codes, and no code can encode itself. Just ask Gödel.

"Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process." Well, yes. But the statement you just made -- that man is a part of nature -- transcends nature. If it doesn't, then no true statements are possible and you are speaking from faith, not knowledge.

I don't think I want to spend this post fisking the Humanist Manifesto, deserving though it might be. But to say that man emerges as a result of a continuous process is to acknowledge that he is somehow baked into the cosmic cake. A humanist can only pretend to understand how this is possible.

We say it is possible because of the y-factor. The latter is precisely what causes -- or better, permits -- life to emerge from matter, humanness to emerge from biology, and spirit to emerge from man. The invisible yeast is always at work, otherwise the process we call "evolution" could never occur, not on any plane of existence.

The parable, says Rutler, tells us how the Kingdom of Heaven develops: "the process is slow, but it is a procession with a purpose. Through the persuasive influence of personalities transformed by love, Christians will be the yeast that raises the culture through them" -- the Resurrection being the last Word in yeastly rising.

This implies that the Resurrection itself was and is not only hidden from the foundation, but is the foundation.

"Without the yeast of grace, the human race us stale and dying.... Christ alone can save culture. There will be dark ages and golden ages, but Christ is the Light through them all."

Or the yeast. Which is to say, y.

To quote MotT,

"In order to be a religious scientist or a scientific believer honestly..., it is necessary to add to the definite horizontal aspiration the definite vertical aspiration, i.e., to live under the sign of the cross...." You might say that the horizontal axis is the flour of matter and energy, while the vertical axis is the yeast of ascent.


mushroom said...

Yeast: It's Alive!

Gagdad Bob said...

I didn't even have time to get into that angle, but I recently read an interesting book on the science of booze that has a whole chapter on the wonders of yeast -- without which spirits would be strictly impossible

julie said...

Mmm... bread! Incidentally, this is why I view the fad of gluten hatred with a jaundiced eye, for what good is yeast if it has no glutenous flour to make rise?

I am currently reading through, at long last, the final book of Lewis' Space Trilogy. He knew the enemy all too well; large passages of the story could be mistaken for today's news instead of a work of fiction from 1945. Relevant to the post, though is the passage I just read this morning, where the end point of humanism - or more truly, inhumanism - is revealed: a pure "objectivity" untainted by any affinity for life, which is regarded, ultimately, as mere material to be shaped according to the will of the people in the know. Because only humanists can possibly imagine what's best for humanity, apparently.

Van Harvey said...

"In its prelude it assures us that "The importance of the document is that more than thirty men" -- thirty men! -- "have come to general agreement on matters of final concern and that these men are undoubtedly representative of a large number who are forging a new philosophy out of the materials of the modern world."

So it's pretty important. Self-important, anyway."

It's kinda fun (using the term rather loosely) to see how many of those promoters of humanity, were rather keen on various ways of ending human lives via final solutions as it were, through eugenics and euthanasia.

Julie, that last of Lewis's space trilogy really shows how well he understood his quarry, doesn't it? It's almost as if he had Screwtape advising him on the technical details.

Joan of Argghh! said...

The Last Battle has the same feel only in a more child-like form, appropriate for the series, but sobering for any adult reading it for the first time. The gasping at The Lie when first experienced, the tears at the deception and loss that the Lie is causing, the corruption of language as the anti-yeast, the deflation of meaning. It's all there, artfully tucked into a child's adventure. Lewis' audience was children who had lived through bombings and war so he did not hold back on the painful reality the adventurers were experiencing, he knew his audience could bear it. His description of the The End of Time still thrills my soul and I probably see it as some of the best end-time theology available (but I'm horribly biased!). After reading both series for the first time as a young Christian mother, nothing since that has happened in our culture has surprised me. Or worried me much.