Friday, May 27, 2022

Vine, and Yourself?

The previous post left off with a wish and a gnotion: 

Sure would be nice to somehow be grafted onto this timeless [trinitarian] intersubjectivity. I have an idea -- it's crazy but it just might work!
The Incarnation -- and our participation in it -- is crazy from our perspective, as it's not something any merely sane human being would have come up with, nor ever did come up with. As Ratzinger observes in his Jesus of Nazareth,

The reaction of his hearers was clear: This teaching does not come from any school. It is radically different from what can be learned in schools. It is not the kind of explanation or interpretation that is taught there.

Got it: crazy.

Jesus' teaching is not the product of human learning, of whatever kind. It originates from immediate contact with the Father, from "face-to-face" dialogue... 

Okay. Crazier still. 

Perhaps we just need some additional groundwork in order to see that it's not crazy at all. After all, if you took Einstein and inserted him into Newton's time, his ideas would have seemed utterly crazy too. Come to think of it, it's hard not to sound crazy when you're not just trying to communicate a new idea, but a completely novel framework for interpreting everything.  

What is this new framework? Apparently, it is this notion that things are not substances and not processes, but rather, substance-in-relation. In an essay called Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology, Ratzinger writes that 

In God, person means relation. Relation, being related, is not something superadded to the person, but it is the person itself. In its nature, the person exists only as relation. 

As it pertains to the First Person of the Trinity, "the act of generating the son" is again not something added on, rather,

the person is the deed of generating.... The person is identical with this act of self-donation.

Ultimately, the Persons 

are nothing but the act of relativity or relationality toward each other. In God, person is the pure relativity of being turned toward the other; it does not lie on the level of substance -- the substance is one -- but on the level of dialogical reality, of relationality toward the other.

Crazy? Or just novel? Here again "we encounter the Christian newness of the personalistic idea in all its sharpness and clarity." For

Relation is here recognized as a third specific fundamental category between substance and accident....

And mere craziness would be in the realm of accident or contingency, not what we mean by the principle of God as an open system of relationality between persons. For "a profound illumination of God as well as man occurs here, the decisive illumination of what person must mean": that neither God nor man is

a substance that closes itself in itself, but the phenomenon of complete relativity, which is, of course, realized in its entirety only in the one who is God, but which indicates the direction of all personal being (emphasis mine).

That direction is again toward self-transcendence (in and toward God), as we've been saying, for it is the message that is Jesus himself: 

He is like the one who sent him precisely because he stands in complete relativity of existence toward the one who sent him.... The content of Jesus' existence is "being from someone and toward someone," the absolute openness of existence without any reservation of what is merely and properly one's own.

Crazy? Yes and no: "In important respects, what was decisive for him was not so much the idea of an eternal rationality." Instead, 

what was decisive was much rather the relativity of existence that lies in the concept of the Logos

For again, the point is that a word is essentially from someone else and toward someone else; word is existence that is completely path and openness. 

Bottom line for today:

Christ's doctrine is he himself, and he himself is not his own, because his "I" exists entirely from the "you." 

Applied to the restavus,

Your "I" is on the one hand what is most your own and at the same time what you have least of yourself; it is most of all not your own, because it is only from the "you" that it can exist as an "I" in the first place (Ratzinger).


jason said...

"Christ's doctrine is he himself, and he himself is not his own, because his 'I' exists entirely from the 'you.'"


Nicolás said...

Christian doctrines have the implausibility of objects that we do not construct, but that we stumble across.

jason said...


Nicolás said...

Christianity would scandalize the Christian if it stopped scandalizing the world.

Anonymous said...

Now we're speaking about what’s crazy. Right up my alley.

So Ken Ham and Bill Nye walked into a bar to have a debate about God. They were asked by an audience member: “What would it take for you to believe the other side?”

The (paraphrased) answers were thus: Bill Nye said “One solid piece of evidence”, and Ken Ham said “Absolutely nothing!”

Some might say that one was being rational, and the other heroic. Me I’ll admit, that when it comes to the metaphysical world, both answers make sense to me.

But I’ve seen this style of thinking extended to the material world. In that world, the rational thinker who tries to consider only facts and apply logic is at least trying to make sense. But the blind faither seems like he’s just being crazy.

I hope that we don't confuse each with the other, because that'd be crazy.

Nicolás said...

Nothing proves more the limits of science than the scientist’s opinions about any topic that is not strictly related to his profession.

Nicolás said...

The ontological proof does not demonstrate that God exists, but only that we necessarily have to affirm the existence of God.

Nicolás said...

Proofs for the existence of God abound for those who do not need them.

God exists for me in the same act in which I exist.

julie said...

That last bit by Nicolás being of course another way to express the last bit by Ratzinger...

Anonymous said...

“Divine love constantly aims to forge a partnership with us.” Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772)

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John Venlet said...

The reaction of his hearers was clear: This teaching does not come from any school. It is radically different from what can be learned in schools. It is not the kind of explanation or interpretation that is taught there.

Ratzinger could have just as well quoted Mark 1:22 - The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.