Friday, March 05, 2021

Only God Goes Up to 11

Often, after writing another perfect post, I will *randonly* bump into something that speaks to it -- like a NONLOCAL AUTHORITY confirming it with ABSOLUTE CERTITUDE.  

Well, yesterday the exact opposite occurred: after writing the post, the very first thing I read told me why I am so wrong. Not necessarily in the head. In the heart, rather. Whatever that's supposed to mean. 

It was in Fr. Garrigou's Three Ages of the Spiritual Life, chapter VIII, The True Nature of Christian Perfection. You'd think such a brilliant guy would be on my side, but no. 

Perfection. What is it? We all implicitly understand the term, but how and why? 

Lng stry shrt, because perfection is one of the principle attributes of the Absolute, such that we see its shadows in diverse modalities and dimensions down here. We all tap into this implicit standard, which is how and why we can rank things on a vertical scale. No dog says to itself, now this is the perfect bone, probably the best one conceivable! 

But it is routine for humans to recognize when they are in the presence of perfection. Perfect 10s are everywhere. But this can only be because God goes up to 11. 

Indeed, think of what befalls people who imagine they are the source of their own perfection -- "artists" and "intellectuals" of various kinds: it always ends in self-beclownment in one form or another.   

Schuon discusses this in an essay called Dimensions, Modes, and Degrees of the Divine Order: the Supreme Principle, or O, in addition to being Absolute Reality and Infinite Possibility, is Perfect Quality.

You could even say that this constitutes a -- or maybe the -- fundamental trinity, for it covers everything: everything that exists, can exist, and will exist.

Come to think of it, you can even see how the Trinity lines up with this more abstract conceptualization: if the Father is the Absolute, then the Son and Spirit must be Perfection and Radiation or something. We'll have to circle back to this subject in a later post, as it's only half-baked at the moment.

In any event, we can agree that not only is God perfect, but he alone is perfect, since he is outside manifestation. 

Or, to put it conversely, even the best things down here are slightly imperfect, not that we're complaining. However, if we fail to appreciate this, we may spend our lives in a vain pursuit of perfection on earth. This is how one ends up a leftoid cult member, and the result is a perfect hell.

What did Jesus say? Why do you call me perfect? This is actually an ambiguous question. I used to think it simply meant that Jesus was acknowledging that only God is perfect. 

More cleverly, it could be a rhetorical question meaning: how did you know I was perfect? It wasn't via your natural perception! In other words, it's a testimony of the Holy Sprit about the Holy Spirit -- or something proceeding from and returning to God, in a perfect circle. 

But let's get back to Garrigou's essay, because the clock is ticking down. In it he addresses the proper end of the Christian life, which is, of course,  perfection -- as in Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven. Never mind that this is impossible. It's the process that counts.

Now, in God, perfection is perfection, full stop. But down here we can appreciate several modalities, in particular, with regard to truth, beauty, and virtue. In yesterday's post we presented an argument for perfect truth. Apparently this is not enough for the Christian. And, when you think about it, it's not difficult to see why.

Think of the other virtues. One can be, say, courageous, but still rotten. Likewise, one can be brilliant, a genius even, but a sick lunatic. Chuck Schumer, for example, is said to have obtained a perfect score on his SAT, way back when it meant something. But whatever it means, it hardly means a perfect man, to put it mildly. A perfect RAT is more like it.

More generally, since Jesus did not leave us with a written doctrine, that's either inexcusably careless or maybe the whole point. He didn't speak much about intelligence, but about a whole lotta love on the stairway to heaven. Garrigou:

A philosopher with a powerful intellect, though he has a correct idea of God, First Cause of the universe and Last End, may not be a good man, a man of good will. At times he may even be a very bad man. That which is true is the good of the intellect, but it is not the good of the entire man, not the whole good of man (emphasis mine).

 Ouch. So close. Yet so far. 


Carmel caruana said...

"That which is true is the good of the intellect, but it is not the good of the entire man, not the whole good of man". That puts paid to the pretensions of the most brilliant esoteric sage, who cannot come up to the lowest rank of sanctity. Idealy of course, the combination of two would make for greater perfection, but their relative importance in the religion of Jesus should never be ignored.

julie said...

A philosopher with a powerful intellect, though he has a correct idea of God, First Cause of the universe and Last End, may not be a good man, a man of good will. At times he may even be a very bad man.

Reminds of how often it is that one who has all this knowledge uses it to excuse or even exalt the worst elements of his own nature. Once one makes himself God, he concludes that all things are permitted to him. Just as the serpent promised.

Gagdad Bob said...

I agree with Carmel, but a voice inside is demanding equal time.

Anonymous said...

An effective way to dismiss an uncomfortable truth is to label it a conspiracy theory as has happened with the Revelation in the biblical book of the same name. From it's inception the national TV channel here in Ireland RTE has tolled the Angelus bell at 6pm while displaying religious images or Icons which they have gradually being replacing with secular imagery until this evening those praying The Angelus did so while looking at Beasts.

Anonymous said...

Donald Hoffman. Conscious Realism. Seems like science might be catching up to the wisdom traditions...

Carmel caruana said...

"At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children"
When the great Aquinas through a graced vision became again a little child, he regarded all he had written as straw, and stopped writing forever.

Anonymous said...

I'd be careful when babbling like children. To the un-anointed it sounds a lot like Paula White's speaking in tongues then wanting to be paid handsomely for it.

I'm assuming it means the same open-minded wonderment we all felt with the world when we were kids, back then there was real magic in a firefly. Personally, I try the "there are probably more than five senses" play. A lot can go on which cannot be observed with the common senses which were made for our highly-limited material survival.

It loses a bit when I try to share extra-dimemenional wonderment and the faithful ask me what team I'm on, and if they're not satisfied, everything I say afterwards is discarded as impure. It's like embracing the concept that a stopped clock is always wrong, even twice a day, because it was made by "others".

John Rockwell said...

God alone is the eternal source of light. All of creation are prisms which bend the light into various colors but cannot originate light of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous 10:24:

I will validate your wonderment. I don't care what team you play on, and I do not consider you impure.

That being said, I sense you had some disappointing interactions with other people after sharing your spiritual experiences. As have I and I daresay so have we all.

My spirit mentor told me the following: "Do not speak of your spiritual experiences; talking will attenuate and dissipate the experiences and greatly lessen their power and vividness. Only after 10 years have passed is it advisable to describe an experience."

This mentor habitually spoke of past experiences and, while verifying experiences were still being had, would not divulge the recent ones.

Now, I happen to think that was sound advice and so I pass it along.

Now, I do not know to the last detail what is in your heart and soul, stranger. I do get a read on you, I see certain things, and I think I know where you are coming from.

You are nowhere near as lost as you think you are; now you travel on the correct road. One foot in front of the other, friend. All will be well.

Carmel caruana said...

Hello anonymous, you are right to distinguish Christ’s child’s analogy from babbling children. I subscribe almost entirely to your second paragraph with one proviso: wonder is just the beginning of the spiritual journey, shared with philosophy, but the more fundamental attitude is humility, upon which is built the whole long and sometime painful and sanctifying quest for ultimate union with the Divine, always aided by God’s grace mediated for us traditional Catholics by the Lord Jesus. And yes, when one descends to the spiritual center, the place of the heart, one can prove experimentally that there is far more than the play of the five senses, as you put it.

Anonymous said...

Hello Carmel:

I enjoyed your response comment, especially where you describe descending to a spiritual center in the place of the heart.

Others have described the center as both inwards and downwards in terms of where to place the awareness.

And your emphasis on humility I agree is paramount, and to that I would add sincerity.

Enjoy this fine day; peace and love to all.


Anonymous said...

I recall a spirited debate between creationist and intelligent design advocates. It dawned on me that only humans would prefer to do create everything sequentially, because that’s all they can do. Danged projection. The reality is that a supreme being who’s “everywhere all the time” has no need to linearly sequence his creation along any timelines. I’d think that the ability to structure physical laws in such a way that free-willed complex interactions will always achieve a desired end-result, would be well-within the skill set of a supreme being.

Which brings us to predestination. The great Kurt Cobain once stated that “Just because you're paranoid don't mean they're not after you.” Indeed. So I state that “Just because God knows the end result, don’t mean we humans shouldn’t be concerned about getting more people’s asses into Christianity.” Maybe that bit could be part of God's fun, but who's to say?

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous 12:33

Yes, I agree with you, pre-destination could be a thing. I use the movie analogy. Casablanca, for instance, was shot over a number of weeks on location and in the studio. A script was followed but was there was delightful riffing and spur-of-the-moment magic which deviated from script.

The end result is a classic movie which people enjoy over and over.

Now, from our perspective, we are possibly not on the original set filming "Reality: March 2021."

We could be, but not necessarily. Perhaps that is already in the can along with about 13 billion years of footage. A cinematic classic, the Cosmos, catch it streaming.

Somewhere, Someone could be enjoying a play-back viewing of March 2021 and this very moment. We have been trotted out to reprise our parts and here we are. It seems fresh. We don't know the script. We don't know the director. We don't know if we are making this up as we are going along, or not.

Be that as it may, we should assume existence is fresh and malleable just in case it is. We want to riff and make delightful cinematic magic.

Now you mentioned Christianity:

The trick is get oneself into Christianity if that is where one belongs. Actually converting another person to Christianity is difficult along the lines of making a million dollars; the best full-time Christian evangelists will rack up an average of 1.75 conversions over the course of a career. And call that good.

No, there are better ways to spend the time. We must keep up with the Chinese.

And I will leave you with this to ponder: "A book just fell on my head. I have only myshelf to blame."


Anonymous said...

"OK Fuze, you tryna be funny?

You like dirty jokes? I used to be addicted to soap. Now I'm clean. (*Rimshot*)

"Yeah I tell you, I get no respect. At my job no matter how much I try to push the envelope, the boss says it will always be stationary. (*Rimshot*)

"Yeah, women, I tell you. My cross-eyed wife and I just got a divorce. I found out she was seeing someone on the side. (*Rimshot*)

You've been a great crowd. Good night."

Anonymous said...


There was that woman who shot her husband after she found pictures of a much younger woman in his drawer. Turned out it was pictures of her, when she was much younger.

So I say unto you, please don't shoot any fellow Christians. Those may actually be caricatures of you, in a younger form. And do not try and bend the younger Christians. That’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth, that it is not the younger Christian that bends, it is only yourself.

Gagdad Bob said...

Didn't have time to finish the post this morning.

However, I think I'm going to officially retire soon, in which case I'll finally have nothing but time for timelessness....

Van Harvey said...

Wo... that's one small step for man, one giant step for slack'oon kind....

Gagdad Bob said...

It will be the the most liberating day since graduating high school. I'll have to wear weighted boots to keep from floating away entirely.

Peter Gibbons said...

I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.

Gagdad Bob said...

There's never enough time to do nothing.

julie said...

Agreed. Thank goodness for eternity!