Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Arc (and Arc) of History

Continuing with the theme of principles of history, it seems that history can have no meaning if it has no end. In this sense, "end" has two connotations, i.e., conclusion and purpose.

Obviously we can't know what something is for until we see what it is. Thus, until we've seen all of history, we can't know what any of it was for.

As Balthasar observes, "until the last of us has lived, the significance of the first cannot finally be clear" (in Dawson). I am reminded of, say, a British soldier who dies during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. In all likelihood he died thinking the Nazis won World War II.

Has anyone seen all of history? Supposedly yes. For example, "Before Abraham was, I am," or "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." These are statements that can only be made from a perspective beyond history.

Time is an expression of the timeless; or at least the two are in a ceaseless dialectic. Everyone knows there is eternity in time, but I believe there must be something analogous to time in eternity. It is a Greek prejudice that time = ungood and timeless = doubleplus good.

In any event, Dawson writes that "It is through Christianity above all that man first acquired that sense of unity and purpose in history without which the spectacle of... unending change becomes meaningless and oppressive." To be sure, Jews had the idea, but Christians claim to have its fulfillment.

Er, we're just winging it this morning, as usual, hoping that this post -- like history -- will reveal its own point at some point.

Quinn (in Dawson) makes reference to the "Augustinian sense of the past as both timebound and timeless; as action humanly complete yet still striving for greater completion, towards fulfillment beyond time."

Exactly. As Dávila says, "The real history exceeds what merely happened." Thus, -- in a point we've belabored before -- a photograph of Christ on the cross would not better inform us what the event was all about than scripture, and better yet, scripture illuminated by the Spirit.

Note that in one sense there can be no general principles in history, in that every event is unique and unrepeatable. It "cannot be made intelligible unless bound into some larger scheme of order, predictability, recurrence," for "randomness has no meaning" (ibid.).

How do we reconcile the radically individual and the metacosmic universal? Perhaps you have a better idea, but I can't imagine anything other than Incarnation, which is precisely the universal-become-individual. The particular on its own can never become universal; the part cannot be the whole. But the whole can be in the part, and in a sense must be in the part in order for it to be a part and not an atomistic monad.

You might say that Christ is the incarnation of this very principle -- for something cannot happen unless it is possible in principle. Think again of the Jews, who had the principle but not (from the Christian perspective) its instantiation.

Hegelians and Marxists claim to have disclosed the principle of history, which reaches us in its most vulgarized form in the likes of Obama and the progressive left. For example, as Obama likes to say, "the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice."

Well, as Dávila reminds us in his pointed way, "Our last hope is in God's injustice." Obama had better hope he doesn't get what he deserves! Likewise Black Lives Matter and the whole no-justice-no-peace crowd. In a just world, Hillary would be behind bars and the IRS would be shut down.

The progressive merely denies divinity and replaces it with his own pseudo-absolute. He calls it "social justice," which in one sense -- as Hayek has explained -- is not even meaningless, just nonsense. But it's worse than nonsense, for it is "the term used to claim anything to which we do not have a right" (Dávila).

Or in other words, "social justice" is founded upon injustice -- just as leftist dreams of "equality" can only be achieved via grotesque inequalities (e.g., state enforced discrimination). In short, the primary cause of inequality is liberty and equality, just as the inequality between two pitchers is due to the equality of the strike zone. The umpire doesn't make the bad pitcher's strike zone bigger in order to equalize the two.

I'll conclude with Quinn's observation that Christ is "Lord of History. He is the moment from which all moments derive their meaning. He is the norm by which all moments derive their meaning. Christ entered History. He enters it still. He is History."

So the arc of history bends toward its Omega point, which we can see always from Here. And if the Cubs should win the World Series, their fans will not see the eschaton through a glass, darkly, but face to face.


Magister said...

Beautiful post.

"Everyone knows there is eternity in time, but I believe there must be something analogous to time in eternity."

i.e. ( (eternity) time ) :: ( eternity (time) )?

What happens if we replace terms, like this: ( time (non-time) ) :: ( non-time (time) )? Prose version: is non-time 'in' time the same way time is 'in' non-time?

In Aquinas speak, is 'infinite existence' in time the same way time is 'in' infinite existence? This is a question about the analogy of being. I'm going to have a look to see how Erich Pzywara goes about answering that question.

julie said...

Well, as Dávila reminds us in his pointed way, "Our last hope is in God's injustice." Obama had better hope he doesn't get what he deserves!


I really do pray that all of these people will see the light before their end is up; if not, their reward will be exactly what they have earned. Can you imagine, if Hillary or Obama were to suddenly come clean? If that happened the enormity of their own pasts would probably be too much to bear. Even so, it would be more merciful than the alternative.

BZ said...

Thanks for the "doubleplusgood" reference: I credit that book for partially inoculating me against much of the madness. Thank you for this blog; it is a must-read.

Ann Kellett said...

Magister, perhaps there is a corollary in the notion in physics of existence in space (particle) and time (wave).

mushroom said...

I'm usually NL all the way, but I'm hoping the Indians can say, "You shall not pass."

Gagdad Bob said...

I'm rooting for the Indians because of their offensive logo, the great Chief Wahoo.