In rereading Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity I've been re-reminded of something Schuon said to the effect that Christianity is an esoterism masquerading as an exoterism. However, now I'm not so sure he said that, since I've spent the last couple of hours unsuccessfully looking for the exact quote.
Which doesn't mean the search was fruitless; to the contrary, I ended up gathering way more fruit than my head can possible contain or fingers can transmit in the allotted time. It just wan't the fruit I was looking for.
A reminder that a form can never be the only possible form of what it expresses; in other words, there are always other words available to express the same principle, concept, idea, archetype, etc. You could call Bruce "Caitlin" but he's still a man. The substance doesn't change.
Looked at from this perspective, we understand that God is the only possible uniqueness-as-such. One might also say that he is thereby the source and ground of the relatively unique, in particular, of the human individual. The human individual is, as it were, God's uniqueness reflected in us (assuming we choose to actualize this potential and not sink into the progressive blob).
But no human is utterly unique, if only because we would no longer be an instantiation of the species "human." To say human is to advert to what we share with other humans; orthoparadoxically, one of the most important qualities we share is none other than our uniqueness!
But again, by definition only God is unique. For similar reasons, only God can truly create. Man too -- since he is again the image of the Creator -- can "create," but not from nothing. We can write a poem, but no poet has invented language. Rather, it was here when the poet arrived on the scene. Moreover, the principle of language is the eternal Logos, and it was (is) here before the beginning, AKA always.
My point is that fruit is a species, and I was looking for a particular one. Instead, I gathered lots of other fruit, but what is fruit, anyway? And why is it one of those words that pops up everywhere in scripture, not just ours, but everyone's?
Moreover, fruit can be both good and bad, so much so that it plays a central role in everything from our primordial catastrophe (the fruit of which is fatal upon ingestion or even touch) to our salvation ("blessed the fruit of your womb," "I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit"). Some fruits are forbidden, while others are praised and highly recommended for a healthy vertical diet.
Which reminds me. Analysis and synthesis are the metabolism of being. Eating the fruit is one thing, but weaving it into one's substance another. Letter and spirit; geometry and music; essence and form.
As I mentioned in a comment or maybe it was a post, Ratzinger's "Introduction" to Christianity is more of a meditation on how to reintroduce Christianity to a world that no longer speaks its language. But this goes to what was said above about how the same concept can always be expressed in different word-forms.
Some people -- atheists at one end, "fundamentalists" at the other -- get hung up on the words and thereby lose what they're referring to. Then again, not exactly, because God knows his own, and there is still something of the essence in the revealed forms the fundamentalist takes overly literally, while for the atheist there are only the meaningless words.
In this morning's search, I found a passage by Schuon that parallels Ratzinger's point about how to convey the Christian message to today's mentality -- a mentality that is materialistic, scientistic, ideological, anti-intellectual, and deeply superstitious. Ratzinger:
belief appears on the scene in the garb of days gone by and, indeed, seems itself to be something old-fashioned, the mode of life and existence current a long time ago....it looks much like a demand to bind oneself to yesterday and to affirm itself as eternally valid.
Anyone who tries today to talk about the question of Christian faith in the presence of people who are not thoroughly at home with ecclesiastical language and thought... soon comes to sense the alien -- and alienating -- nature of such an enterprise.
Frankly, it is precisely this alienation that is one of my motivations in blogging -- specifically, to make the faith less alienating to myself. If it also helps others, there's nothing I can do about that. I'm a lapsed unbeliever who shares the doubt of the unbeliever, just not his faith in his doubt.
For Schuon's part, he points out that the problem isn't so much one of modern/premodern but of exoteric/esoteric. In short, most of the problems of language can be resolved with a simple shift of planes, from the form (the words) to the substance:
The exoteric viewpoint is, in fact, doomed to end by negating itself once it is no longer vivified by the presence within it of the esoterism of which it is both the outward radiation and the veil.... the atrophy that overtakes dogmas when they are deprived of their internal dimension recoils upon them from the outside, in the form of heretical and atheistic negations.
The Passion of Marx and the stupidity of the New Age.