Thursday, July 14, 2016

Up and Down in Divine Space

I don't think I'll continue with the discussion of Heather MacDonald's The War on Cops. I try not to duplicate what is widely available elsewhere on the internet, and there is so much solid information out there about the deadly lies of the left (e.g., here), that it's just piling on. Whether it is "racial profiling," "disparities in the criminal justice system," "hands up don't shoot," or police disproportionately targeting black people, it is all malicious flapdoodle.

Besides, more interesting -- and important -- is the machinery of the whole phenomenon. How does one manufacture a class of dupes to passionately believe easily disproved lies? And why? First and foremost, it doesn't begin with blacks, but with white liberals. They are the ones with the power to either propagate the lies or correct them at the root. They are the transmission belt of culpable ignorance and stupidity.

Do they know they are lying? And do they care? Is it really just a cynical attempt to agitate blacks to turn out to vote in November? Or do they actually convince themselves that the lie is true?

It's very hard if not impossible for someone who loves truth to relate to the latter. I would never knowingly propagate falsehood on this blog, and I want to be corrected when I am wrong. But leftists think you are lying to them when you simply tell them the truth. You will have noticed that whenever the left accuses conservatives of something, it is always a projection -- an unconscious revelation of what they actually believe.

For example, they accuse us of racism, when they are the ones who want to discriminate on the basis of race; they accuse us of being "anti-science," when they are the ones who pretend that climate science is settled, or that IQ has nothing to do with genetics, or that an unborn baby is just a random clump of cells, or that the minimum wage doesn't harm the most economically vulnerable, or that homosexuality isn't dangerous to one's health, both physical and psychological, or that the sexes aren't fundamentally different, etc. The list is endless.

So, we'll change subjects. To what? To whatever strikes my fancy, as usual. In this case, it is an appendix to Spitzer's God So Loved the World: Clues to Our Transcendent Destiny from the Revelation of Jesus, called Making Sense of the Trinity and Incarnation. I haven't yet thought it through -- that's the purpose of writing about it -- but while reading it, it triggered many psychic depth charges. When this occurs, it is a clue that there is more here than meets the I. In other words, it is fraught with implicate meaning.

Best of all, Spitzer seems to understand the Trinity in the same way I do, although coming at it from a different angle. Of which there must be countless, since it is analogous to coming at a three-dimensional space with two-dimemsionsl arrows.

Two questions: "How can God be three in one, and how can the Son of God become human?" The early councils were extremely careful in explicating the answers, since it is very easy to fall into misconceptions in attempting to resolve the mystery. Many heresies are simply false solutions to these conundrums, e.g., that Jesus is all God, or all man, or a spirit being, or an enlightened sage, etc.

I am reminded of a Jewish relative who says she could never accept Christianity due to the strict monotheism of Judaism. Does she have a point? Yes! Spitzer: "How can Jesus be divine in human form? Isn't that a contradiction? It would be if the early Church had claimed that Jesus' Incarnation was 'divinity becoming human,' or 'the divine taking human form,' or 'the Infinite taking finite form.'"

Being that they were mostly good Jews, they knew as well as anyone that God is one -- hence the development of the Trinity as the solution to a metaphysical problem of the first rank. The Church "declared early on that it was not 'the infinite God' who became 'man,' but the 'Son of God'" who did. It did not claim God's infinite nature became finite, because this "would have been an obvious contradiction."

This leads to the distinction between "nature" and "person." The divine nature is completely unrestricted: it "would have to be unique (one and only one), because two unrestricted acting powers is a contradiction." If there are two, then one has something the other lacks, and is therefore not unrestricted. And if there is no difference, then they are the same, i.e., one.

So, the divine nature is still one. In reality it is "beyond" or "before" or "above" one, for we are not talking about any mere quantitative one. This whole line of thought rang a bell in me, because it reminds me of Schuon's fundamental distinction between Being and Beyond-Being. To jump ahead a bit, the Divine Nature must be Beyond-Being, while the Divine Persons are Being (not our being, but rather, the being-ness "within" the Godhead -- in divinas, as the Latins say.

Schuon explains this quite clearly in chapter one of Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism, Summary of Integral Metaphysics. There he begins in the beginning -- or before the beginning, to be precise -- with the idea that "In metaphysics, it is necessary to start from the idea that the Supreme Reality is absolute, and that being absolute it is infinite." This Supreme Reality could never be incarnated without instantaneously shattering the world.

It is "at once solely itself and totally itself"; it "is not determined by any limiting factor and therefore does not end at any boundary..." And skin is bounded, so there you are. It cannot "contain" the one divine nature.

But again, within Divinity itself there is a kind of qualitative "distinction" that results from its own nature. For Schuon, there is a "pure Absolute" and a "relative Absolute," and although he doesn't say so, I would assign the Trinity to the latter.

Please bear in mind that we are deploying human categories to try to peer into the transhuman. In reality it is the other way around: relativity exists in the human plane as a kind of distant echo of what occurs in divinas, between Being and Beyond-Being. You might say that God manifests to himsoph as Trinity.

I can see that this is going to require a great deal of caution in order to say all of this correctly. In other words, it is probably easy to misunderstand what I'm saying, but be sure that I am doing my best to play within the boundaries of orthodoxy.

About Beyond-Being manifesting to itself as Being. Schuon notes that the Divine Principle "not only possesses 'dimensions' and 'modes,' it also has 'degrees,' by virtue of its very Infinitude which projects the Principles into Relativity..." Again, this is in God; you might say that creation partakes of the same extension, only "outside" God, i.e., ex divinas.

Back to Spitzer. Again, the early councils "were well aware that there could be only one unrestricted power, and therefore one nature in God, and so they knew that they would have to clarify how there could be three 'Persons' in that one unrestricted power and nature."

But since God cannot have "parts" per se, how are we to understand this? Well, what is a person? Spitzer suggests (following Jean Galot) that it is "the subject of consciousness and freedom." Person "signifies self-consciousness," such that the three persons "may be seen as 'distinct acts of self-consciousness making use of that one unrestricted power.'"

To be continued...


mushroom said...

This Supreme Reality could never be incarnated without instantaneously shattering the world.

As is frequently recorded in the Old Testament, to look upon the "face" of God would be instantly fatal. It's simply impossible. Even Moses was allowed to see the Lord only after He passed by (Exodus 33:17-23).

julie said...

Mushroom, I was thinking if the OT as well. Reading the laws re. the building and maintaining of the tabernacle came across, to my mind, as a set of instructions every bit as precise as those of, say, constructing and maintaining a nuclear reactor. Only moreso. For instance, the two who were incinerated for doing the incense wrong seemed more like a hapless pair touching live wires bare-handed than a nefarious duo being smited for dastardly deeds. That close to the Godhead, there was simply no room for error.

Anonymous said...

There is a magisterial discussion of the Trinity (and the Eucharist) in Schuon's 'Logic and Transcendence'. From memory, I think it's in the chapter 'Evidence and Mystery'.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. I'll review it for the next post.

William Wildblood said...

I may have misunderstood (like the last time I commented here!) but when you say, in line with Schuon, that “the Divine Nature must be Beyond-Being, while the Divine Persons are Being” and later that ” there is a "pure Absolute" and a "relative Absolute," and ….. I would assign the Trinity to the latter” isn’t that contrary to Christian doctrine? "Trinity higher than being" says Dionysius the Areopagite , and surely it is usually thought that the Trinity is not generated by the Godhead but exists at the highest level of reality. Schuon seems to take much of his metaphysics from advaita or maybe Plotinus who also spoke of the contrast between Being and Beyond Being, and that is because he (mistakenly I think) puts metaphysical logic above revelation.
To be honest this is way above my pay grade but I think the doctrine of the Trinity existing at the highest level, or before any idea of level, is the only one that can be squared with the idea that God is Love and that we have any reality ourselves other than as mere aspects of God. Indeed I don’t see how Beyond Being could ever become Being unless there was some sense of multiplicity right at the root of the Absolute. That is the Trinity.

Gagdad Bob said...

All good points, but I'm not done yet, so we'll have to see where this leads. However, the first thing I might say is that the being and beyond-being of the Godhead are "not two," so to speak; or, like the Persons, they are distinct without being separate.

ted said...

Great discussion William & Bob. For the longest time, I was so drawn to the impersonal nature of the Absolute from the Eastern traditions and it is only recently that I have begun to see God as person again. But as Bob is pointing at, it probably is two sides of the same such-ness.

Anonymous said...

There were probably very few Jews in the early church, by the way:

Joan of Argghh! said...

I stopped to smile at, "malicious flapdoodle."

Back to reading...