The subject is Light, in particular, the intellectual and spiritual kind without which we are not human. This is one of those things that is impossible to not know but the work of a moment to deny.
To repeat what was said yesterday, if science is a laser beam precisely focused on this or that particular existent, and philosophy a floodlight illuminating the whole field of existence, then theology is an inquiry into the source of this Light.
It says so right here in this book I'm reading called The Shape of Catholic Theology, by Aidan Nichols, where he distinguishes between a sterile and merely "objective" theology and a properly subjective theology illuminated by this primordial light source:
subjective faith opens the mind to God's own truth, enabling objective faith to become the medium of direct contact with God himself. The light which [this] brings to the mind derives from God's radiant being and enables us to share here and now in the knowledge which the saints enjoy in heaven and which, more fundamentally, God has of himself.
Correct. But I'm only up to page 20, so we'll have to return to this book later. Meanwhile, note that subjective theology by no means negates or nullifies objective theology, since the latter is the very form that renders the substance accessible to us; it is the immanence in which transcendence is clothed.
We can tell this is true because objective theology, even though its form is finite, is nevertheless infinite. In other words, you will have noticed that no one can engage in theology and say "we're done here," as if it is analogous to solving a mathematical problem. One can never assert this of revelation, for
To be a theological student in the full sense of those words cannot be a temporary state or a preamble to something else.... Rather, it is a solemn engagement to developing over a lifetime the gift of Christian wonder or curiosity (ibid.).
By implication, if philosophy is totally useless, then theology isn't even useless.
Wait, what? Bob, show your work! No problem. In his so-called Defense of Philosophy, Pieper pulls a fast one by arguing that it is actually completely indefensible on any practical basis:
not only does it not serve any purpose, it even hampers the daily care for life's necessities. It is therefore nonsensical, and above all: counterproductive.
Indeed, I can offer firsthand testimony of this, since this blog serves no practical purpose whatsoever, and most certainly interferes with the pursuit of life's necessities. For example, back when I was gainfully employed I could only blog a few days a week, but now that I'm retired, we're back up to six or seven days a week in this pointless exercise, i.e., verticalisthenics and gymgnostics.
Does this mean I have attained perfect nonsense?
I'm flattered, but please. For if philosophy and objective theology are finite (which is to say, less than perfect) nonsense, then subjective theology is the impossible dream -- at least while we're above the sod -- of attaining perfect nonsense.
This nonsense will make more sense as we proceed, I promise. We'll start with an aphorism:
The greater the importance of an intellectual activity, the more ridiculous is the claim of certifying the competence of those who exercise it. A diploma of dentistry is respectable, but one of philosophy is grotesque.
"To philosophize and to 'study philosophy,'" writes Pieper, "are two different things," to such an extent that "one can possibly even hinder the other."
Now, to begin philosophizing requires a shock or a trigger "that reaches beyond the sphere of mere material needs," and which we symbolize (?!). Ontologically speaking, this latter is analogous to that feeling you get when you're leaning back in a chair and it's about to tip over, only on a permanent basis. Truly, it is the endless WTF?!
It reminds me of the time I asked an anxious patient what he did upon arising in the morning: I sit on the edge of the bed and try to unwind, was his response. Likewise, we sit on the edge of the cosmos and try to unravel its mystery. But to pretend it has any practical purpose is to defeat the purpose, precisely.
Why be happy?
What is truth good for?
Why love beauty?
Why have a meaningful life?
Why be wise?
Why root for the Dodgers?
Asked no cosmically sane person, ever. For none of these are "in order to," rather, they are for their own sake; they are the ends to which everything else is but a means. The most important things aren't good "for," rather, they are just good, period. Beginning and ending with God.
But why light a candle when you can light into and curse the dark MAGA extremists?
To be continued....