Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Our Father Who Wert a Heathen

This next chapter is on Our Father Abraham, who begins the story of the explicit divine-human collaboration we call salvation history.

Bailie starts with an astute comment by Balthasar, which should be read in the context of our previous post touching on primitive man's systematic refusal of history, which was enforced and renewed via sacrificial rituals. Among other things, old father Abraham said Yes to one-way time, which of course vaulted us out of our ontological nul de slack:

"God does not so much lead Abraham back to the Alpha, the origin (re-ligio), as forward to the Omega, the future fulfillment." This is an alternative to primitive religion -- even its cure, so to speak (or at least treatment); for it is "the other side of mankind's religious experience, and there is no third."

As alluded to in the previous post, if you're not moving forward you're falling behind. But "forward" only has sense in the context of its future fulfillment; or better, horizontal is only meaningful in light of the nonlocal vertical structure of things.

Either way, give Abraham credit for rejoining Alpha and Omega. "To become Christian," says Ratzinger, "means entering into the history of faith that begins with Abraham and, thus, accepting him as father" (in Bailie).

Abraham is not so much the Alpha Male as the first Omega Man.

He becomes so by placing us squarely in the bewilderness; indeed, what is salvation history but the universal, meta-cosmic bewilderness adventure? Only instead of 40 years in the desert, the wanderment is forever.

Or it would be, except for the fact that the end went to the trouble of incarnating in the middle: whatever else the Incarnation is, it is a back- and downward projection (so to speak) of the Omega into time and history.

So, man's real situation involves being suspended between two nonlocal attractors. You can call them Alpha and Omega, but if you want to express the idea abstractly you can just say Ø and O.

Indeed, this is the very definition of man -- which is to say, the animal whose environment is in the transitional space between the absurcular goround and our inspiraling deustiny. Everything happens there; or here, rather.

Time out for an Aphorism: Truth is in history, but history is not the truth (NGD). Analogously, God is in history, but history is not God.

Oh, and Modern history is the dialogue between two men: one who believes in God, another who believes he is a god. If there is an Ultimate Principle that distinguishes left from right, it is this: that the former is oriented to the Alpha, the latter to the Omega.

A progressive who "believes in God" is oxymoronic, because progressivism is founded on the divinization of Man. What they call "secular humanism" is really just human sacralization, AKA political religion. As Voeglin darkened thousands of pages trying to explain, the leftist collapses the space between O and Ø, which is why it is always so cramped and stuffy under their rule.

Note that Islamists do the same thing: they not only want to abolish the calendar, but drag us with them back to the 7th century. There too it is such a tight space that there's no room for the intellect -- as is the case on our college campuses.

Bailie alludes to "the relationship between archaic society's sacrificial center and the cyclical and backward looking fixation of pre-historic thought." They were gripped by a "fear-ridden determination to re-create an imagined past and remain safely within the orbit of its protection" -- a safe space to protect them from the ravages of time and history.

Some things never change

And again, absent the Omega, time is indeed the Great Ravager; it is entirely entropic, with no vector toward the negentropic attractor at the other end.

But life itself is surely negentropic, as is the miracle of intelligence, so these are already hints of the end in the middle of things. Properly speaking, as soon as we know truth -- any truth -- we should realize that something -- or someOne -- is up.

As we have discussed in the past, Christianity is not so much a religion as the cure for primitive religiosity: "the purpose of archaic religion was to protect its participants from the exigencies of history," i.e., "to spare them the call of Abraham or the vicissitudes of the Exodus" (ibid.).

Exactly. We had to somehow leave the orbit of Ø in order to achieve vertical liftoff. Man had "to be coaxed out of the immediate sacrificial arena" and into the great outdoors.

Just as our most furaway furbears had to climb down from the trees in order to dwell on the ground and attain bipedalism, Abraham had to leave the safety of the sacrificial arena in order to begin the mad dash from Alpha toward Omega.

This is how we become cosmic drama queens and kings -- not so much via "the discovery of some truth," but rather, by becoming actors in divine history and realizing it (Ratzinger, ibid.). Or just say called and sent.

Sent where? I'll tell you, but you can't get there without faith, hope, and love. And then you're there. Or rather, it's here. Same. Difference.

The bottom line is that our father wert a heathen, but then he waren't no more, beginning with the non-sacrifice of Isaac.

It is not the origin of religions or their cause that requires explanation, but the cause and origin of their being dimmed and forgotten. --The Aphorist


julie said...

Sent where? I'll tell you, but you can't get there without faith, hope, and love. And then you're there. Or rather, it's here. Same. Difference.

Just so. It is possible to dwell in heaven right here on earth, even if only for a little while. And yet, how few people notice. And fewer still, upon discovering that it is so, can bear the ordinary goodness of it.

Gagdad Bob said...

I wonder what Bailie would say about this perverse combination of sadism and intimacy:

KSM beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl in 2002. What did he say about that?

He described cutting Daniel Pearl's head off and dismembering him and then burying him in a hole that's not much bigger than a post hole... The thing that made it creepy is that it was one of the ways these Islamists show they love their God and how powerful their God is by killing people who are helpless to stop it... Well, that's the way that KSM was talking about killing Daniel Pearl... And he would call him Daniel like they were intimate. Not like they were lovers, but like they shared an intimate moment.

Gagdad Bob said...

Recommended: interview with Leonard Cohen from when he lived in a Buddhist monastery. He's like some kind of Zen Rabbi -- always thoughtful answers, and incapable of speaking in cliches. I started with that one, but there are many other interesting interviews. I love the relaxed pace of his mind -- seems to come from a very deep and elemental place.

julie said...

That KSM quote sounds like a scene out of Silence of the Lambs. As to Bailie, pages 17-19 of God's Gamble seem fitting:

"The worshiper experiences the god most powerfully," writes Walter Burkert, "in the deadly blow of the axe, the gush of blood." The gods, from all appearances, demanded blood. Ritual sacrifice was clearly how the world worked.

Van Harvey said...

(Looks around)
"It's sure quiet in here"
"Too quiet"
(Looks around)
"Who you taking to?"
"Who's asking?"
"I Am"