Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's Your World. God's Just Living In It.

To review: the mature form of a thing discloses its reason for being, and for man this consists of theosis or deification or sanctification.

Indeed, this is axiomatic, for what could possibly be higher than these? It is probably for this reason that Leon Bloy made that crack about how “The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.”

Sure, it may be impossible for most people, but that's the point. Anything within reach won't really satisfy. What? Of course there's an Aphorism for that. More than one:

Any goal different from God dishonors us.

Christianity contradicts the trivial demands of man’s reason in order to better fulfill his essence’s deep desires.

Conversely, Hell is the place where man finds all his projects realized.

Hell was not invented by God. Rather, by man. It is simply a consequence of the gift of freedom misused.

The bottom line is that "Man is a finite being for whom God plans an infinite destiny. Consequently, man's existence was incomplete -- even in creation -- inasmuch as God intended for man a sharing in His own nature" (Reardon). Therefore, in order for human beings to share in this nature, God assumes "human nature and historical existence" (ibid.).

Note that God doesn't just assume a man, but human nature; and not just a personal history, but history as such: "The final transfiguration of the human race begins with the enfleshing of the Word," which is the only thing I can think of that could break through the walls erected by sin, by death, and even by existence itself.

Jesus is like man's window into God and God's window into man. Which is the purpose of an icon. Indeed, we could say that Jesus is the Icon of icons, a kind of two-way lens for the transmission of divine energies.

Somewhere in the distant past I wrote of These Things.

For example,

Among other things, Christianity "divinizes" both time and history. Indeed, it wouldn't be going too far to say that Christianity transforms mere time into real history, the latter of which is a movement toward something instead of just duration or decay. If time is not moving toward its own fulfillment, then it really is just a tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a lifetime gig and adoring coeds.

Darwinians unconsciously convert science into an exciting drama of "progress," when progress is precisely what Darwinism excludes. Rather, there is only change, and change is not drama. Imagine going to a movie in which the characters and action merely change, but for no reason. You know, like one of those foreign films.

In this regard, you can see that nihilism is a kind of "reverse mysticism." A Darwinian is not permitted to say that a man has more objective value than an amoeba. The "journey" from amoeba to man is just one inconceivably long string of accidents. Therefore, it is not really a journey at all. Rather, that's just a phony narrative we superimpose on the facts, because deep down -- and even on the surface -- we would all like for reality to mean something instead of nothing.

But from a naturalistic perspective it means nothing, which makes us wonder why Darwinians were so excited the other day about the discovery of a new fossil. Why joy? I don't get it. Who cares if there are eight wonders if the eighth wonder proves that wonder is completely pointless? Let's grant Darwinians their fantasy, and suppose that this fossil finally proves that human existence is meaningless. Why would that be a cause for glee instead of sadness?

Unless -- unless we are again dealing with an unconscious narrative that is an inversion of the Christian narrative. Could it be that metaphysical Darwinians are parasites on the history they wish to deny? Yes, of course.

Right. That was all very amusing, Bob, but here is what I was actually looking for. Read it in light of how the Incarnation ingeniously deals with each of these infirmities:

As we have discussed in the past, man is always limited by what Schuon calls four "infirmities." First, we are creatures and not Creator, which is to say, "manifestation and not Principle or Being." Or, just say we are contingent and not necessary or absolute. We might not have been, but here we are.

Second, we are men, and all this implies, situated somewhere between absolute and relative, God and animal -- somewhat like a terrestrial angel or a celestial ape.

Third, we are all different, which is to say, individuals, and there can be no science of the utterly unique and unrepeatable. (Which is why, by the way, there can be no science of the cosmos itself, since there's only one; for that you need to shift cognitive gears into metaphysics and theology.)

This is a critical point, because as far as science is concerned, our essential differences must be entirely contingent, just a result of nature tossing the genetic dice. Suffice it to say that this is not a sufficient reason to account for the miracle of individuality. Well, individual jerks, maybe. But not anyone you'd want to hang out with.

Lastly, there are human differences that are indeed contingent and not essential or providential. These include negative things such as mind parasites that result from the exigencies of childhood, but also the accidental aspects of culture, language, and history. In order to exist at all, we must surely exist in a particular time and a particular place.

Elsewhere Schuon summarizes the accidents of existence as world, life, body, and soul; or more abstractly, "space, time, matter, desire."

The purpose of metaphysics is to get beneath these accidents, precisely, and hence to a realm of true objectivity and therefore perennial truth (even though, at the same time, existence, life, and intelligence especially represent a continuous reminder, or breakthrough, of the miraculous).

So, Incarnation solves all of these "problems." In short, the Creator, via Incarnation, takes on world, life, body, and soul; or space, time, matter, and desire.

"The truth is that God is drawn to us by love, that He has forcefully thrown in His lot with us, to the point of becoming one of us.... Human theotropism and divine anthropotropism are both fulfilled" (ibid.).

The moment of the Incarnation was not static.... [for] to be a living human being is not a static thing. A human being -- any human being -- is a work in progress.... Strictly speaking, therefore, the doctrine of the Incarnation does not refer simply to a human state, but to a full human life.... [God makes] himself a subjective participant in human history, someone whose existence and experience were circumscribed by the limiting conditions of time and space. --Reardon


julie said...

Imagine going to a movie in which the characters and action merely change, but for no reason.

Seems there's a lot of that type of storytelling these days. I can't give an example from movies, particularly, but certainly in television and in written fiction, if you want to win acclaim your characters must learn absolutely nothing of value. Certainly nothing to draw them toward virtue, though no opportunity must be missed to ensnare the characters in vice.

“The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.”

Sure, it may be impossible for most people, but that's the point.

Speaking of Darwinism, I'm reminded of how common it is in nature for many organisms to produce a wanton excess of offspring, in the hope that a scant few of those will grow to maturity. The mature form of an acorn is a mighty oak tree; I wonder how many thousands of acorns are produced for every one that manages to take root, much less grow to completion?

John Lien said...

Heh. Just realized the Sinatra reference in the title...a day later.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob.

I agree with your assertion that deification is the purpose of man. You are a well-read, very informed, and take scripture and other literature very seriously. I would also be interested in your take on the situation, as you perceive it directly, without input from other minds.

For instance, Jesus is first encoutered by reading about him or hearing him discussed. Imagine you had never touched a book or discussed spirituality with anyone. You are clean of human influence. What were/are your self-discovered intuitions on the matter of God?

Thank you for your tireless labor of inquiry, as a sage and philosopher, from a fan.