Saturday, September 24, 2022

Original Sin for Thee, Progressive Sanctity for Me

This will be a short post, or rather, one that lasts as long as this here cup of coffee, then it's off to the land of errands. Lucky -- or unlucky, depending -- for you, it's a pretty big cup. 

One of the problems of living in Christendom -- AKA western civilization -- is that its underlying concepts and principles are so pervasive that they either become saturated with meaning (thereby losing their capacity to shock) or are unconsciously assimilated and taken for granted. 

This results in even the enemies of civilization arguing from ideas appropriated from Christianity (e.g., freedom, transcendent and pre-poltical human rights, anti-racism, etc.) and which their own metaphysic can in no way support or defend. Hence the intrinsic absurdity of the left.

But absurdity isn't just absurdity, rather, it's diabolical. This is because absurdity is a sundering and scattering of the links of intelligibility; it is an attack on meaning that pretends to be meaningful. 

The other day we mentioned one such example, the use of the word "progress" for its systematic undermining. You tell me: how can progress exist in a universe drained of its transcendent absolute? Absent the latter, there can be only random agitation, fluctuation, and repulsion, in a kind of ontological Brownian motion.  

A Thought of the Day from Chesterton, by way of PowerLine:

When a religious scheme is shattered... it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. 

Note the themes of dismemberment and scattering: again, diabolical. Dávila makes the same point with the usual brevity and flair:

The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues.

Oopsie! Sorry about all the broken eggs.  

About their intrinsic absurdity, you will have noticed that the left is incredibly adept at slamming on the brakes just sort of the reductio ad absurdum:

The theses of the left are rationalizations that are carefully suspended before reaching the argument that dissolves them.

Now in reality, everything is connected: after all, it's why we call our home a universe. And the universe is not merely an "object," nor the sum of all objects. 

Rather -- and this should be self-evident -- a kind of symphony with both interior unity and exterior order. Analogously, there is the melody which can only reveal itself in time, and a chordal structure that is hierarchical and present in every moment.  

Truth Itself is indeed symphonic, and in addition to the more complex chordal structure, there's a kind of immediately present timbral structure that is accessible to even the musically unschooled: bass, drums, and cello down there, flutes and violins up there, piano holding things together in the middle of it all, etc. Principles above, facts below, and a mind in between linking the two.

Speaking of which, what or who is it that holds everything together? Where or what is the Unity? It is present, there's no doubt about that (barring psychosis). But what is it, and by virtue of what principle? This has been a long strange argument: water? Fire? Air? Many? One? Geometry? Math? Clock? Machine? Matter? Idea? Organism? Reason? The dialectic of class? 

How about all of the above. Except for the last, which is too stupid for anyone short of tenure:

Two contradictory philosophical theses complete each other, but only God knows how.

Among race realists there's a saying that evolution doesn't stop above the neck. Nor does ontology. For there are plenty of real things in this universe, and not all of them are material, that's for sure.

About the left stealing their ideas from superior minds. One of them is the notion of "original sin." For

Socialism is the philosophy of the guilt of others.

In other words, everyone is born into sin -- sins of whiteness, private property, masculinity, heteronormativity, etc. -- except for the leftist. Therefore, the goal is always to reform everyone else. The leftist is not in need of reform, which is why whole categories of humanness are off limits to critique: women, blacks, homosexuals and perverts of various kinds, but only so long as they are creatures of the left. Absurd but effective.

Also, regarding metaphysics more generally, if you think there are no absolutes on the left, you've never spoken to a leftist. Not only are they everywhere, but if you find yourself on the wrong side of one, you are committing idolatry and taking the name of the Lord in vain. For

The progressive believes that everything soon turns obsolete except his ideas.
Which means that their metaphysic is necessarily relative and yet magically elevated to absoluteness, such that (paraphrasing Dávila) they defend their convictions by accusing those who challenge them to be out of date. Or -- bringing it back to Chesterton -- as if truth can be discerned with reference to clock or calendar. Nevertheless, this is the original meaning of political correctness: today's truth, or else!

Which makes "truth" a function of force, and therefore no truth at all. But you knew that already.

Friday, September 23, 2022

The Endless Beginning

The usual Friday free association. Or at least it always seems to happen at the end of the week. 

Back to the questions at hand: 

Should we suppose that God accepted some limit on his freedom when he created man, by whom his world could be brought either to perfection or destruction? Is he powerless in the face of autonomous man's "No"?

And how is this divine powerlessness related to the Godforsakenness of his Son on the Cross?

Revelation only gives us what happened, and it is up to us -- if we are so inclined -- to puzzle out the hows & whys of it, that is, to deepen our understanding and to seek the principles by which it is both possible and necessary. In so doing, there are clearly a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, and certainly a lotta strands.

To be perfectly accurate, Christ founds a church and promises it a means of assistance -- a power from on high -- to both guide us to all truth and to pass it along. This is just my opinion, but I suspect this friendly vertical helper is given corporately, not individually per se; or rather, individually to the extent that the individual is part of the body.

Now, before modern science elbowed itself above the epistemological pack and elevated itself to the now discredited metaphysic of atheistic scientism, theology was considered a science. Back in the day, science referred to any organized body of knowledge, with its conclusions susceptible to demonstration via causes and principles. 

Indeed, principles themselves are causes, in that they are that from which other things come to be. In the Catholic philosophical view, this is how God is to be regarded: as the first principle from which creation -- AKA everything -- flows. This principle is, among others, first cause, unmoved mover, necessary being, the Intelligence of intelligibility, the Person of personhood, the Giver of law, the Reason of reasons. Logos for short.  

But this understanding has an objective and a subjective side. Knowing it is not the same as assimilating and understanding it, which of course takes a lifetime & thensome. Knowing is comparatively rapid and easy, while understanding is -- curiously-- a never-ending & ever-deepening process. 

This is because the Absolute Principle is of necessity Infinite (you could say that Infinitude is the first entailment of Absoluteness, even though they are only separable in the abstract). While we can conform ourselves to the latter, we can never do so completely, since we are finite.

Somewhere Schuon reflects upon the above in terms of a or the Trinity; can't remember the details, but let's say the Absolute is Father. If so, then Infinitude is the Son. In between is Perfection of every kind. Whatever the case may be, I don't think the Creator goes to all the trouble of revealing himself as Trinity, only to leave it as his own Personal Mystery completely inaccessible to us.

Again, from our side of manifestation, it isn't all that difficult to reason ourselves up to the First Principle. But it is very much as if this Principle comes down to correct us and let us know that He is actually a Three. (I want to say that God's pronouns are I, Thou, and Perfection.)

That's not something we could have worked out on our own, at least with certitude, but once given, not only does it make more sense than the alternatives, but it resolves a lot of absurdities and enigmas that arise if we regard the Principle of principles as an absolute monad. 

Among other things, if that is the case, then it is very difficult to figure out where we fit into the cosmic picture. My son and I enjoy watching Cops on TV. Whenever the Cops roll up on some crazy situation, they separate the parties and question them. Inevitably the question arises: Okay, who is he/she to you? 

In the ultimate cosmic context, I suppose this is the Question of questions, or certainty one of them: Okay, who are you to God? Now, every philosophy or theology or science asks precisely this question, and probably even exists to answer this question, whether explicitly or implicitly. 

For example, the village atheist will say, There is no principle and I mean nothing to it. But without nonlocal principles, nothing means anything to anybody, nor can there be anybody to know it. 

However, it is self-evident to me that everything means something, and I mean this literally. Some things admittedly don't mean a lot, but they are certainly not without meaning, because otherwise we couldn't even know of their existence. In other words, an "unknowable object" is strictly unthinkable -- which shows the close relationship between being and knowing.

This is one of the first things that will strike the curious primate: whence this infinite intelligibility? By virtue of what principle is it entailed?   

To be continued... because there can be no end. For

Religious thought does not go forward like scientific thought does, but rather goes deeper.


Every beginning is an image of the Beginning; every end is an image of the End (Dávila).

Thursday, September 22, 2022

What's Your Superpower?

We're still on the subject of relationship between divine and human freedom. We've dismissed the easy answers (no God / all God), so now we'll widen our scope and consider some other possibilities.

Here's a question: what is your superpower? If you're reading this -- let alone understanding it -- you no doubt have more than one. But let's just suppose you are an animal endowed with reason. This being the case, then your superpower is rationality.

But even such a seemingly modest claim involves a host of presuppositions and entailments. It's not at all obvious how it got here -- that is, by virtue of what principle(s). Things have their reasons, and we are owed a rational explanation for our rationality.

Owed? How did this verb find its way into the cosmos? For it is an obvious departure from the natural world of mere isness, and implies the complementarity of freedom <---> obligation, in short, the supernatural world of ought. Thus, supposing you are a moral agent, then that is another literal superpower. 

Backing up for just a moment, this line of thought was provoked by a passage I read about Tolkien, to the effect that The Lord of the Rings involves a "triple conflict" of "grace against nature and nature against anti-nature" -- or "between the supernatural, natural, and unnatural." 

So, three levels. Everything that defines man qua man is supernatural, although obviously not "outside" nature. We're still animals, but not only animals, or we could never know it. There is no merely scientific explanation for how this can be the case, because the very conduct of science presupposes what is in need of explanation: the rational, truth-seeking scientist. The practice of natural science is already supernatural.

But for this very reason it can also be subnatural -- for example, the Nazi physician Josef Mengele, or the diabolical surgeons who are at this veery moment castrating and mutilating children a result of their own perverse ideology.

Say what you want about gender ideology, it isn't remotely natural but explicitly anti-natural, a clear example of the vertical realm that bisects the horizontal: it has an up and a down, not only vis-a-vis truth, but beauty and goodness as well. 

And the superpower of freedom is precisely what allows us to ascend or descend on this scale. It is the ground of the very notion of "progress," for if one denies supernature, then progress reduces to will. Which reminds me of a tweet at Happy Acres:

How can there even exist judgmental relativists, e.g. progressives?

This is not a trivial question but a deeply metaphysical one, for it goes to the heart of progressive ideology. It is the first principle they need to defend: if there is no supernature, then why are you so agitated, insistent, and authoritarian about your imaginary "ought"? By virtue of what principle is one ought distinct from another? Supposing I am a fascist, or racist, or homophobe, why are these bad, if there is no objective truth or morality?

Me? I think racism is immoral because I believe in an objective morality that transcends nature. It's also why I know it is wrong to cut off a man's -- let alone child's -- johnson. I'm not a nihilist. 

Now, way back at the top of this post we alluded to the definition of man as an animal endowed with reason. Not only does this make man supernatural, but it presupposes the supernatural ability to know abstract and immaterial essences. To put it conversely, the world is not intelligible, nor are we intelligent, if we can't know essences. But we can, and now we have to explain how this can be so.

Let's say, for example, "natural selection" is true. What is natural selection? It is essentially

Bing! Stop right there: get your own essences, because no naturalistic or materialistic metaphysic can account for them. 

Once again you are presupposing what is at issue. You're begging the question. You need to demonstrate how demonstration is possible, and then how a chance animal can know necessary truth. In short, how on earth are you able to transcend natural selection and discern its essence from above? Magic?   

This whole discussion is very much tied into our first -- and essential -- definition of man, that he is an animal endowed with reason. We know what animals are. What is reason? 

I don't know how it happens, but the right book is always falling into my hands, in this case one called The Yves Simon Reader: The Philosopher's Calling.    

We all know what "responsibility" is. Animals, for example, are not responsible for their actions, which is why we don't put them on trial for pooping on the rug. Conversely, everyone knows man is responsible for his actions, unless he is asleep or insane. But if man is responsible, it presupposes that he is free to choose between alternatives. 

Now, reason as such is always tautological: premises in, conclusions out. Therefore, man is not "merely" or only rational, if only because he is free to be irrational. Which again points to the verticality of human transcendence: we can only choose rationally if we are free to do so, and we are only free to the extent that we can choose the true and good. 

About this superpower of freedom. Again, what exactly is it, and how does it get here?

I have to run, so we'll continue this tomorrow, but here are a few helpful aphoristic hints. Although Dávila came up with them, credit Bob for putting them in an ascending order that even tells a kind of story (and implies the ideological anti-story):

If determinism is real, if only that can happen which must happen, then error does not exist. Error supposes that something happened that should not have.

The stone is right, wherever it falls. Whoever speaks of error postulates free actions.

To admit the existence of errors is to confess the reality of free will.

In any proposition about man its paradoxical fusion of determinism and freedom must emerge.

Determinism is ideology; freedom is experience.

The permanent possibility of initiating causal series is what we call a person.

Freedom is not the goal of history but the material that it works with.

The free act is only conceivable in a created universe. In the universe that results from a free act.

The prestige of freedom in a society that professes scientific determinism is a Christian holdover.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Little Big Metaphysic

I was just now flipping through the Theo-Drama, trying to decide if I need to read the whole thing again, when I was arrested by the following passage on p. 50:

What is the relationship between divine and human freedom? Should we suppose that God accepted some limit on his freedom when he created man, by whom his world could be brought either to perfection or destruction? Is he powerless in the face of autonomous man's "No"?

Awkward questions without facile answers. Or rather, I can think of at least two very easy answers: 1) It's not even a meaningful question, just silly; and 2) God is by definition omnipotent, so our so-called freedom doesn't enter into it. 

Wait, there's more:

And how is this divine powerlessness related to the Godforsakenness of his Son on the Cross?

Again, two easy answers, 1) What Godforsakenness? It's just an executed criminal, and 2) What powerlessness? It was the plan all along!

Now, exactly no one up to the moment of the Resurrection -- and even for some time thereafter -- would have called this a great plan, ingenious, a Swiss freakin' watch, because, for one thing, no one understood the plan. 

Rather, the narrative is simply given to us raw and undigested, at least in the first three Gospels, where the facts are seemingly less conditioned by theological reflection than in John, where the relation is clearly reversed. Still, the synoptics do not pretend to be biography in the modern sense. Rather, they convey an understanding that only occurs later, and is retroactively poured back into them, so to speak. 

As a matter of fact, I was just reading about this in a personally helpful book called The Shape of Catholic Theology. It was helpful to me for reasons mentioned the other day -- that I am hardly a trained philosopher or theologian, rather, just a lapsed psychologist with too much time and too many tomes in his hands. 

No one would ever think of just diving into, say, physics, without a guide or textbook to narrow the search, define terms, differentiate the settled from unsettled, mark out fruitful from unfruitful paths, etc. 

Come to think of it, there's a paradox at work, in that I never stop learning, but know far less than when I began blogging 17 years ago. I know all the hard stuff. It's the basics I keep learning.

You could say I jumped into post-graduate work before mastering the fundamentals, or really, even graduating from elementary school, so there's been a lot of remedial work along the way: bonehead theology, so to speak. 

On the other hand, sometimes it takes an idiot. In other words, there are times that fresh and untrained eyes can see a problem from a perspective the expert can't. Aphorisms:

Philosophy gives up when one stops asking simple questions.

Or sometimes just one:

In philosophy a single naïve question is sometimes enough to make an entire system come tumbling down.

Thaaat's right, reader. The beauty is its simplicity. If your philosophy gets too complex, something always goes wrong. Therefore,

Common sense is the father’s house to which philosophy returns, every so often, feeble and emaciated.

Back for a moment to the "simple" narrative of the Gospels. Obviously, they embody both a letter and a spirit. If there is only the former, then the first question that arises is, Nice story, but what does any of it have to do with me? And if only the latter, the question is Why not just give it to me straight instead of clothing it in a fairy tale?  

But it turns out there are more than just two meanings, for there is the literal, the allegorical, the moral, the anagogical, the metaphysical, the mystical, etc., all at once

But enough about The Big Lebowski. Let's get back to those two tricky questions raised at the outset. Now, what I would say is that if a simple question is enough to blow up your metaphysic, then either metaphysics is impossible, or you need a bigger metaphysic. The modern belief is that grand philosophical narratives are strictly impossible, and are just the superstitious residue of a less enlightened age. 

Actually, these narratives are worse than that, for they are just an oppressive tool of some power-wielding minority. So long as this minority is white, male, and Christian. All others may control the Ring, e.g., women, blacks, homosexuals, etc. So long as they're leftists. In other words, just hand the Ring over to the progressive Orcs, or else!

This hypocrisy reminds me of an aphorism, that

Philosophers often start from their conclusions in order to invent their principles.

Now, no one would accuse the left of engaging in serious philosophy as opposed to spinning out fairy tale narratives for the most childish among us. 

As it applies to the question of whether God is powerless in the face of autonomous man's refusal, one approach begins with the conclusion that God does not exist, therefore it's a silly question. 

The other side begins with the conclusion that God is omnipotent, therefore, of course our No! doesn't enter into it, and is part of the plan.

But I say, get a bigger metaphysic, one that can reconcile divine and human freedom. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

On the Eighth Day, Man Derailed the Train

The following post is what we call a Train Wreck. It is borrowed from the band King Crimson, whose intricate compositions sometimes fall apart in mid-performance. Such occasional fails are inevitable if the band is to be on the knife-edge between memory and improvisation, lending a kind of drama to the proceedings. Apparently, playing in 17/14 time isn't as easy as it looks. Will the center hold, or will it fly apart? 

Likewise, this post was begun yesterday but ended in a train wreck. This morning I tried to get it back on the tracks, but it derailed again. Still, I don't think it's totally worthless. However, it's better to treat each paragraph as a separate unit, rather seeing it as a unified post. 

We've been meditating on the subject of Truth per se, which is transcendent, eternal, outside of time, yada yada, and about what happens to it when it takes the plunge into history. This plunge takes the form of a pilgrimage or journey -- the Creator's own journey in his own creation -- which must one of the weirdest stories ever told, hence its appeal for metaphysical tree-dwellers such as ourselves. 

For Balthasar, "it is a basic Christian requirement that existence should represent itself dramatically." Moreover,

the libretto of God's saving drama which we call Holy Scripture is worthless in itself unless, in the Holy Spirit, it is constantly mediating between the drama beyond and the drama here.

There is God's narrative and our narrative, and how do the two relate? Both play out in freedom, except the former can never be detached from its telos, whereas ours cuts both ways. I want to say that our engagement with God-in-time ends in the train wreck of the Crucifixion. But God's narrative ends -- so to speak -- in the Resurrection, which comes as a total surprise to our narrative. Didn't see that coming!

Again, as mentioned a post or two ago, the human drama begins with a frank refusal that sets us on a narrative (crash!) course divergent from the divine will. In one sense, the temporal form of revelation -- salvation history -- is the story of the attempt to realign the two: of thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

There's no drama without an antagonist. This shapeshifter takes diverse forms, beginning with the Serpent in the Garden. His motto is always Thy willfulness be done on earth as it is in hell (willfulness defined here as the severing of freedom from the true and good).  

Balthasar points out that "the theatrical is a primitive human instinct"; as there are cathedrals in space, he alludes to "cathedrals in dramatic form," which is to say, extended in time. Some drama is merely escapist, drawing man out of himself. But the divine drama is clearly inscapist, in that reveals man to himself and draws him toward his transcendent end.

As we know, "person" is etymologically related to persona, which alludes to the mask used by actors on stage. What with the three persons of the Trinity, Christianity and drama are related at the very foundation.

Revelation cannot be a "subset" of history, rather, vice versa: for it reveals what history and man are about, i.e. their principle and telos. 

Balthasar makes an important point about the dialogue of the players in the drama, that

the action is not reducible to dialogue; not every plot is unravelled in speech and counter-speech. Something that is beyond the speakers and governs them can make itself known, whether they are aware of it or not.

For example, one of my Bibles has Christ's words in red. Obviously the words are important, but, taken out of context, they can be reduced to a kind of self-contained doctrine that obscures the importance of the narrative form, which is to say, Christ himself as he undergoes time. I would say that this latter is the ultimate context in which to comprehend the words (AKA the passion play).   

The divine drama cannot be exhaustively expressed in or contained by a doctrine from our side, because there's simply not enough room in human language. In other words, eternity cannot fit into time -- nor the Absolute into the relative, the Infinite into the finite, the Word into words.

Therefore, this Truth is "stretched out" in time, so to speak, meaning that it has a coherence -- the coherence being discerned in the connecting thread -- but not "complete," in the sense that it is and must be an ongoing unveiling: a narrative.

What's the word, Jeeves? Asymptomatic? No sir: asymptotic. Yes, that's the one: forever approaching but never reaching its telos, or Omega point, because the latter is outside time. As is the Alpha. History is what happens in between these two, but again, it's not a random walk through 4D. We are ordered to our end, even of we diverge from it. Train wrecks are the price of freedom.

Speaking of which, slow down, Bob! Sharp turn ahead!

There is an "infinite" distance between the states of IT IS and I AM. And I put "infinite" in quotes, because there isn't even a way to conceptualize the distinction between objects and subjects, at least if we limit ourselves to the tools of the tenured. 

Our ancient furbears, Homo erectus, arrived on the scene about two million years ago and exited the stage some 100,000 years back, around the same time we got here. If you're looking for a literal Genesis, this is the place to begin.

Credit where it is due: Homo erectus invented "the Acheulean stone tool industry, succeeding the Oldowan industry" (Wiki), which sounds impressive until you realize that this pretty much consisted of Sharpened Rock version 2.0. 

Now, this is interesting, for it confirms a suspicion laid out in the bʘʘk: the recent discovery of a one year old Homo erectus lad showing that "this species lacked an extended childhood required for greater brain development, indicating lower cognitive capabilities." Man cannot enter the human narrative -- or any narrative -- without this extended neoteny. 

Specifically, what I suspected was that no amount of raw intelligence could have resulted in the genesis of our humanness (AKA Homo sapiens sapiens), because what was required was the emergence of intersubjectivity, and with it, the possibility of vertical ensoulment, which is when the real human story gets underway.

It seems there is a convergence between Homo erectus and Homo pomo, because neither possess the cognitive tools necessary to get the job done.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Theo-Drama and Atheo-Farce

I don't want to dive all the way back into the Theo-Drama, because even flipping through its 2,600 pages would take all day. Best I can do is check out the highlights and notes to myself. The post may come together, or it may be a bunch of scattered fragments, any one of which might have been the basis for a decent post if Bob weren't so lazy.

First, to set the stage, the aim of Balthasar's work is to approach revelation from the standpoint of a dramatic encounter between God and man -- or, an encounter that takes on the form of a dramatic unfolding. How could it not? The entire thread from Genesis to right now may be be regarded as a cosmo-anthropic divine drama. How did you get here? Where are you situated in the plot? Who's your costar, and what's the conflict?

A note at the beginning says "Graft oneself onto the endless adventure of the incarnate God." Sounds like good advice. Or possibly insane. 

Elsewhere it says "God comes into the world with a mission: to change man and alter history." Mission accomplished! Or rather, mission being accomplished, since the adventure did not end at Calvary or with the Ascension. Rather, that's when act three really gets underway:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

This is just me talking, but if act one is the drama of the encounter between God and Israel, and act two the drama of the Godman here on earth, then act three is the prolongation of the latter via the Church, or the Body of Christ. 

There is a horizontal aspect to this, i.e., the unfolding story which may be plotted along the temporal line, and a vertical aspect which fructifies time from above via a mysterious character called the Holy Spirit.

Here's an intriguing note: Jesus is God's "anthropology" and our "theology," since he is their intersection, precisely. Which reminds me of an aphorism about scripture, which is also a kind of controlled intersection:

The Bible is not the voice of God but that of the man who encounters Him.

It occurs to me that the narrative cannot be a drama at all if it comes only from one side or the other. If it is all rigidly scripted by God, then we have no role to play. And if it is just us writing on the walls of our prison, then it is but a random walk through the corridor of time, with no telos. Aphorism:

History would be an abominable farce if it were to have a worldly culmination.

This doesn't mean it isn't an abominable farce. But it does mean it must be either a Theo-Drama or an Atheo-Absurdity. Clearly, those are the only two options on the menu. 

But ironically, picking one or the other takes on its own dramatic structure, which comes down to the structure of man's encounter with Truth. So you can pretend to jettison the true and the good, but not the drama of doing so. And what a lousy ending! To paraphrase Marx, history repeats itself, the first time as farce, and then every time as farce. 

I think we can all agree that, absent any transcendent telos, "history" not only makes no sense, it cannot possibly make sense, and besides, it's not even history, just a bunch of tenured primates taking random snapshots of a river with no beginning or end. 

Attention, primates!

If history made sense, the Crucifixion would be superfluous.

And if the Crucifixion is the end, then history is superfluous. But again, history is this ongoing drama of the Incarnation prolonged in time. And if existence really were meaningless, then man could never know it.

Another note: the aim is to make the individual's short and finite span of life co-extensive with the life of the cosmos and beyond. Again, we are playing a role in a drama that began long before our birth and continues long after. And yet, in another sense the drama has been "resolved," in that we know its telos via faith and hope, which are like nonlocal tentacles that "touch" their object.

Here's a question: How does God overcome man's No without depriving him of his freedom?

Note that one of the dramatic devices of the narrative is an ongoing series of Yeses without which the drama would have ended (or at least God would have had to find other takers). Come to think of it, we might also say that the whole drama is triggered by that primordial NO in Genesis 3. Eve is the original Drama Queen.

The subsequent drama is enabled and moved along by the varied Yeses of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Mary, Jesus, the original twelve, Paul, and everyone since then who responds in the affirmative. 

Looked at one way, we could even say that history is a dialectic of Yes and No! There's an aphorism for that, for what is history but "the dialogue between two men: one who believes in God and another who believes he is a god"? For that matter,

Men are divided into two camps: those who believe in original sin and those who are idiots.

In case you were wondering why life itself is a dramatic struggle against these idiots. 

We'll close this out with another aphorism:

For history to be of concern to us, there must be something in it that transcends it: There must be something in history more than history.

Which means that progressives are half-right but totally wrong, in that there is a "right side of history," but only because it has a transcendent end.