"Because you can be sure, my dear Crito, that misuse of words is not only troublesome in itself, but actually has a bad effect on the soul." Phaedo

Analogy of Being: Consume at your own Risk.

Whenever I am down I refer to this short video. This innocent looking animal is captured here revealing that crucial moment between uncertainty and trust, and receives a nourishment beyond the body. It is a junction of great magnitude and though, from what I have researched online this animal in the wild is equipped with frightening attributes to defend itself from a threat, here the Slow Loris is seen with, to me, a rather worried expression. To me, his/her demeanor and timidity is thoroughly aware of his/hers limitations and that he/she stands before another animal equipped with greater potentially to incur a fatal blow. But since he/she hungers, he/she takes that risk, as he/she dons his/hers earnest expression, to asks please do not tempt me out of my safe walls only to hurt me. What he/she finds on the other side of that risk, to me, appears to be hope which was given before it was asked for. This type of gratitude can offer true affection and a grace like no other.

C.S. Lewis said there are two ways to transcend the flesh, 1. To make love [this does, and equally, does not mean to imply physical sexuality] 2. And, Eating. This transcendence is meant to imply that which is consuming as we consume, that in the midst of our hunger we long for nourishment and it seems that true nourishment [one that satisfies the body and soul] can be found by facing certain elements of a risk. Not a risk formulated in ‘thrill-seeking’ which re-fits a natural risk with man-made difficulties to increase the danger. A risk such as this, is only taken in honor of ego, and though it can provide a temporary high with which to feel alive, since the risk is man-made the thrill will fade in favor of a higher-high until it is an addition. Self-perpetuated, the addition, itself, is an endless cycle of the starvation enabling the need for a higher-high until the higher-higher-high reduces a person’s identity to a “burnt out”; consumed physically, emotionally and thereby spiritually. However, a natural risk, like one demonstrated in his little creature have the potentiality to test our sanity, identity and will, as we stand before something that clearly has more potentiality to incur a fatal blow and alternately reveals a hope that was given before we even ask for it. We can find a fullness and richness incomparable to any extreme that humanity can imagine as real because a risk found in nature is the closest we can approach something that is sacred without our sanity, identity, or will being consumed. Rather it reveals a consuming light which enriches in a way that ‘we can know more than we can tell’ where alternately the slavery of additions burn out/consume individuality; defined by the addition alone. Such repetitive thrills are only masks for an empty, shallow life.
But, in this small creature, it seems possible for us to extract an idea about faith, hope and love. I agree with Lewis, that there is perhaps nothing more communionially intimate and sacred then the act of taking food from the hand of someone with greater potentiality to do harm to you. The fear can create the holiness when it is revealed that this larger creature does not harm but rather nourishes, comforts your hunger and establishes trust with affection. Within the expression of this creature, I see, that he/she knows this other creature [the human being] can kill him/her, with no regrets and without fear of being held accountable. But he hungers, in the same way we all hunger to know something we can only say we know as expressing a longing to communion with something so beautiful it can harm body, mind and soul but alternately feeds, nourishes and bring joy. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” [Mat 25:40]

Let this be an open prayer, that I will always approach the Eucharist in the same humility this small animal respects the awesome hand and finds comfort. I ask this through our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, the host, the bread of life, the light for all nations, who is consuming as we consume.

8 responses

  1. veritasxlogos

    As much as I can appreciate Mr. Lewis he misses one distinctly human way of transcending flesh. Who has not been whisked away from their flesh by the mere appearance of something beautiful – be it human, be it nature, or be it art? I hardly know a person who has not escaped their flesh in a symphony, at the breadth of the Grand Canyon, the mastery of the Sistine Chapel, or at gazing at a yet unknown possible lover (note here the loving has not happened yet). This is, in fact, the history and heritage of two major Christian factions (admittedly neither of which counted C.S. Lewis among their congregations): Greek Orthodox and Catholicism.

    It strikes me as complicated to count eating as taking us away from flesh since its primary intent is to keep us embodied. It is us consuming the world of creation – whereas beauty pours us out – consumes us. It would seem that when intoxicated by beauty one immediately overcomes things like hunger. The adolescent in lust has no headaches, is not tired, does not care for bodily needs – though perhaps for bodily pleasures. This is the danger of inspiration – and the danger of being called out of our body for what good has ever come without a possible bad?

    This should not detract from the Eucharist – for the Eucharist is beautiful. The Eucharist is indeed art at its most fundamental level. The Eucharist is the body of Christ. Whether you are protestant or Catholic simply changes the level of metaphor you believe it to be. Catholics do not believe they are cannibals which belays a common sense understanding that when one says the Eucharist is the body of Christ what one is saying is that the “real” world is compose of representations rather than physical reality. The “real” world is beyond the senses but called forth BY the senses. It is a single act that stands as a reiteration in our faith that the world to come is the truest existence but also a reiteration that we are here on this earth only by the grace of God. It is a symbol that is more “real” than fact – if you get what I am saying.

    I respond, I guess, in confession. For I am one of the terrible breed who cares little for animals – a sin if you are to understand Genesis as it implies we are their masters and we should care for them. Yet, the amount of care a great majority of my fellow human beings put into these creatures brings them away from creating, away from their talents, away from caring for human misery that is right outside their door.We name them, cloth them, send them to school – we are anthropomorphizing them so that we can replace a humanity we assume is corrupt and hopeless with simple, cute, uncomplicated animals. Watch a prisoner eat, a homeless man eat, and you will see a difference. They are not removed for their bodily condition but reminded about what they don’t have all the more. But we ignore them and their plight largely as a human race. This is not to suggest that this is merely a pet owner problem of course, it just always sticks in my craw extra deep when I see a well fed dog proudly walk next to its owner as they pass a beggar on the street. Or when a child goes ignored because there parents are always fretting about the cats. This is not what your post suggests either! It is just something on my mind I suppose.

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    February 6, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    • Dear Vertas, I am concerned this small message has aroused a pit of resentment which is the complete opposite of my intent. But like Joseph facing his brothers said “it was not really you but God who had me come here” (Gen 45:8) I believe my appreciation for your passion for words, reveals (perhaps) that the entire intent of my message as a Lover of Words needs an intelligent challenger. A person, who can speak with sound reason and articulation so that I might be able to defend the love for words, and hopefully stay true to The Word, and I am glad this person is you.

      There can be so many conflicts here which would be entirely based on the idea that we have two different meanings to the same word; this is almost the entire purpose for which I write. These two meanings are both defendable but at some point we have to ask ourselves which meaning is part of my identity and therefore the one that is made real [actualized] through my action and, furthermore, for it to be true, ‘bears fruit’ or a meaning which adds to my life, perhaps also adds to my sphere of society and could offer the potentiality to resonate to humanity. That is the truth Pilate missed but acted as an agent much like the hardness in Pharaohs heart in Exodus 7:3. Firstly, if there was true appreciation for Lewis’ work, it would be obvious he does not miss much in the way of the human condition. I can agree with you that Lewis has not cornered the market on Christianity but that is only because ‘the mystery of God will always remain beyond our understanding.’ [Augustine] But in this discourse it is the word “transcendence” which needs clarification. The transcendence of God is nothing we can understand, or hold any comparison to in our finite existence, but the transcendence we can be privy to is one that broadens our awareness of another realm, without escaping our own reality. Transcendence is not meant to give the experience of being “whisked away from their flesh” or “taking us away from the flesh” because that is the very type of escapism that is part of the additions I deliberated within this piece.

      It is a physical impossibility to be taken from our flesh [conjures are rather icky image too] and remain human. While in a metaphysical sense, the attempt to be taken from our flesh is again the escapism which, at times people do need, but we should remain true to this reality because the modes of escapism have an additive value which have great potentiality to consume our identity. Now, all the things you mentioned in your first paragraph of the Sistine Chapel, Grand Canyon, and the like [well] that is IS ‘Making Love’. Anything that evokes the presence of God with a sense of awestruck beauty, that IS the only true definition of Making Love. Sex has nothing to do with making love. I know many use the term ‘making love’ to define sex but if it is merely a gratification of the body, it is not making love. I feel for those who define sex as making love and come away from the experience disillusioned because despite an orgasm, an emptiness and shame arises. This is due to a lack of nourishment which is vested in the idea that no love [no nourishment] is revealed despite their intimacy. Such matters become worse when we subscribe to the illusions on the TV and the movies, glorifying images of Love meaning sex, or that casual sex is not harmful. Film has a way of glorifying an concept that we already know is going to hurt us by presenting these behaviors as risky and fun from the risk. For the most part these images do the job they are projected for, to offer an image of fun without taking the risk. But then some might even get bored of watching and it is natural for a person to seek to emulate that which is glorified on film as good. But then, when that person emulates these behaviors, so as to find love and find, not only, that they do not have the same reactions as the characters on film but also are filled with regret, their perdition is doubled because to admit that in emulating these images they feel awful shame, means to admit to being out of the risk-takers club and to be ‘uncool.’ And make no mistake, I only know this because I am one of those people. Such was the inspiration for “Confessions of a Storyteller.” For me to believe I have completely escaped this behavior would be foolish when I have already demonstrated the propensity to accept such glorified images for fun, mostly because it is fun and life should not be so serious all the time. However, the real trouble is when a person begins to believe in these images beyond the mere entertainment value. And I know I almost followed this to dangerous limits.

      Love is only love, if the presence of God is evoked, that the magic everyone wants love to be, is not conjured by humanity, but by God. To continue to call sex, making love only enables the illusion and the attempt to believe humanity can make love all the restorative, mystical magic they want it to be, is not only a dangerous illusion, but our finite existence is the very element which takes the mystical element while humanity cannot manifest. And I dedicate this paragraph to a person of great value, beauty and love and I am grateful for his continued love and I am honored to be his wife.

      As to your second paragraph again the conflict arises from the idea that transcendence is a mindset that can achieve the dimension of ‘taking us away from the flesh.’ Once again, this is not the meaning of transcendence which most will associate to the high in consuming various type of sensory pleasures which in escapism, actually consumes them. The analogy here is like alcohol where in the consumption we can experience a refresh from our woes and celebrate with a mind that is given some freedom, but we achieve this element of freedom at the expense of our brains cells being burned, and if indulged, we eventually are identified by the one element of our lives; ‘the alcohol.’ A rather empty existence, and perhaps more closely related to the ideas surround the images of being ‘whisked away from their flesh.’

      As to your third paragraph, that is a matter of personal standing, and to be a true Christian [I believe] that means to see others’ stances and know we do not have to agree but we must respect each other. To a Catholic, the Eucharist is not a metaphor, a symbol or a representation, no more than it was to Jesus at the Last Supper. He did not say ‘this is a metaphor of my body….my blood,’ he did not say ‘this is a symbol of my body…my blood.’ He said “This is my body…This is my Blood, do this in remembrance of me.” This position becomes a matter of our individual faith, and I still remember the day, hour and second where I finally asked myself “I have been pantomiming this ritual for years, but ‘Do I really know what I am doing? Do I really believe this?’” That day I was filled with the fear that perhaps I was not part of the Catholic community, or not even Christian because I did not have an immediate response and felt I should. I could not say Yes or No, and I came to believe that is perhaps what our Lord wants, that we should not answer [like a knee-jerk reaction which does not show conviction but a conformity that is not free] until we can freely give a definitive Yes or No. To be sure of that answer with a reason why and that reason is not for God but for us to find a conviction of faith in the things unseen.

      As to your last paragraph, I wish we could help everyone and I hope that my compassion for animals does not imply a lack of compassion for my brothers and sisters. But I have been to enough Soup Kitchens to see that like the Healing of the 10 Lepers, [Luke 17:11] where only one returns with the full knowledge and gratitude for the miracle given him, many people in these soup kitchen are merely nourishing the body, and do not recognize the efforts, the time and energy and the funds volunteered to these people. These volunteers, who work unceasingly year after year, do not do this work to be thanked, but only to do the work of Christ, to do good for the good. But I have seen that very few in attendance say thank you, and even fewer say thank you with a sincerity that which is better illustrated in that sacred moment in “Les Miserable.” When the priest gives Jeane the candlesticks and says take these that have been offered in charity by God, repent and “Now do good with them.” For only in doing good [bearing fruit] in this charity will they actually find a nourishment that transcends the body, that offers a vision of another realm of love without escaping this world, for it does have much beauty to offer, a beauty that humanity did not create.

      I can see I labored on at great length, but I do pray you will find something to find peace with in this response.

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      February 7, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      • veritasxlogos

        Oh dear, I may have communicating something poorly. One of the many things I find difficult about online comment boxes. I will try to brief and less abrasive than I was in my previous comment, which I believe was unwarranted. I had not slept particularly well when posting that last one and I think it got away from me!

        Lets try this again! 🙂

        So, yes. I do get your point – even more so now. It just doesn’t reflect what I see in the world. Perhaps that is where my inner frustration comes from? It isn’t that you are wrong but that other people use the same messages to push agendas that are questionable at best. This should not be taken out on you. So I apologize – I just rarely get a person who I can actually meet on an intellectual level – so I pounce like a wolf!

        Here is what I will say about what I posted before. I do believe Catholics believe in metaphors – because I am one, and I believe that. In fact, I believe when the Church supposedly sticks firm to its assertion that it ISN’T a metaphor and that it IS reality – they are indulging in a belief that metaphors can’t be reality – which is just unfounded and perhaps even against Jesus’ own poetic form. No Catholic says they are a cannibal – yet they eat human flesh. Why? Because cannibals eat factual human flesh – we eat metaphorical human flesh. When Jesus says he has come to separate son from father although he speaks as if it were fact, he is talking about a larger metaphor regarding the Jewish Church. So I would never put it past Jesus to use language as if it were mere fact but be alluding to a deeper truth. I have told this to my priest, our bishop, and I would tell it to the Pope himself if he asked. I find nothing about it un-Catholic. I chose Catholicism, in fact, based on this principle and not a single clergyman has ever disagreed all that vehemently with me. It is, I would argue, the truest expression of a miracle on earth and that when we say miracles we really mean that meaning transcends the physical vessels that contain them. To continue to assert that the Eucharist becomes factual flesh only fuels the view that is incompatible with science – because I can assure you that scientifically it can never be seen as flesh of any kind. But we should, as members of faith, continue on untroubled by that. All of this is only to say, please understand it was not disrespect, I am very Catholic and very aware of what I say and why I say it.

        In regards to your understanding of making love – it is disembodied. Which I find interesting considering your assertion that removing the body from things makes things less human. That sense of making love (in so far as we are NOT talking about sex, a topic of which, frankly, I have nothing to say) has no passion – it isn’t directed toward anyone. At least from the perspective I have from being at the Sistine Chapel. Who exactly am I making love with? Michelangelo? God? The stones, paint, and plaster it took to make it? Making love with creation? Making love with myself? I guess I just don’t understand why “making love” is the most apt descriptor for the phenomenon that is occurring when I experience it. For me, making love is a two way prospect and to stretch its definition to include things that cannot love you back is a misuse of the word. I would point you the Phaedo quote you have on your website. When we use love to encapsulate every good phenomenon the world has we lose a fundamental aspect of our imagination. Some things are beautiful and not loved – they just are beautiful. Love implies intimate knowledge of, reciprocation in, and care for somethings well being and I do none of those things with the Grand Canyon, Sistine Chapel, or Mozart. I just stand in wonderment of them – which is a valuable experience and one that I truly believe removes me from my body in a literal sense. Normal markers of embodied consciousness such as pain, time, hunger, thirst, sore feet, feeling awkward about how I’m dressed in front of strangers all cease to exist when I look up. It is a wholly different type of experience that is befitting of another descriptor which I choose to be disembodied because it feels precisely like that.

        I find your last paragraph most human. I knew, as I would hope my first comment pointed out, that you argument is not one that even remotely suggested a lack of care for human and it seems as though you share many of the same frustration that I do. So I will leave it at that.

        Lastly, on your first point – that it is physically impossible to be taken away from your body. I would imagine that is precisely why I have no regard for the physical possibility of things. Hope that helps to clarify.

        I warned you at times I could be more abrasive than others – please don’t ever take something personal and please don’t assume that I am coming at you like others perhaps have on these grounds. I am very spiritual but that does not mean I am going to merely accept tenants of religious faith, actions of my fellow members, or dictates from the Church I love either. It is more important to a community of faith to challenge others who share your faith than it is to proselytizer non-believers. That act is a holy responsibility that I carry and one that I believe is also backed in the bible and although I should never come off as abrasive or combative (as my last post did) I still must find a way to be firm and communicative. I hope this post accomplished more of that.

        If you feel obligated to pray – do not do so for my peace but for my understanding and in gratitude for all the Lord has done.

        Like

        February 8, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      • Dearest VX, the fact is you have communicated yourself very succinctly and the very reason I will respond at length because your argument is fit with well drafted reasons and not empty bloviating. And please believe me I will consider it a sin to deflate the passion with which you express yourself, whether it comes out crisp, abrasive, full of verve or plan old frank, because the fact is, I am more attracted to your courage and eloquence then to assume some personal attack. I find it exquisitely beautiful mostly because your conviction does not suffer caprice.

        In rereading my last paragraph I can see where I might have posed a position of delicate reprimand but please understand that reprimand is a cautionary measure for myself, to respect the position others hold. I am aware that there is a distinction between defending what I know with faith and arguing from a position that seeks to devalue the truths another holds dear, which in the end essentially does no credit to my faith. I have come to see that I can only argue from the position of what I hold and why, and not seek to defend my position by devaluing opponents values. Because it has become clear, that the one who can fearlessly retain their beliefs in the midst of opposition [sometimes humiliation] is the one who exercises a conviction that needs no outside validation. This person is at peace, and therefore [perhaps] closest to the truth, while the one who opposes another treasured belief’s by attempting to remove their joy with ridicule is the one who relies on outside validation because they have no conviction. So, when I spoke of respect it was mostly a prelude to the idea that despite how we may disagree, I will still attempt to exercise a healthy respect to an artist I admire.

        As I am apt to repeat, my purpose for writing is almost entirely motivated by the idea that, though my Bachelor’s Degree is in Religious Studies, and I am currently pursuing a Masters in Theology at Seminary, the real education I believe I am receiving is the proper definition of words. My first philosophy class posed the Socratic mindset which states all argumentation must begin from the stand point that “I know nothing.” That all that I thought I knew actually traced its evidence to one source, Hollywood. This is a completely unreliable source of anything to be construed as real, because it is about how much is my life for sale? What bit of shock can they display on the screen so I would forfeit time of my life? These images do not need to be true only sensational and in want of believing in idealism. But over time the flaws, that skip over reality to entertain, revealed themselves, that in trying to emulate these images only lead to disillusionment that deflates life affirming values. But the mode with which these images are enabled, are in the context of words that have been filled with fabrications and redefined from a commununial meaning, a meaning that we need so to end conflict, whereas the fabrications are there to enable conflict. Which brings me to the point of what it means to be Catholic.
        In my last ‘rant’ I related the moment I realized that I had no clue what it meant to be Catholic mostly because my source material was a lukewarm Catholic Mother living under the veil of ‘love me or else,’ and an atheist/deist Father. [Meaning he said he was atheist but wrote a book that demonstrates deist values, there is a God but God doesn’t intervene or care.] To their credit they were both caring but that being said, I have no concerns, should another person want to believe the Eucharist is metaphor. I think whoever believes that has good reason to hold to that belief much like the reasons why my Dad called himself an atheist. I did not agree with him but it was important to respect his reasons and thereby give credit to my own beliefs. But what I found is, if I want to call myself Catholic that means to believe with my heart and soul what the Catholic Catechism states which was formed under the doctrines within the Council of Trent and Vatican Council II. That if I do not believe that “the Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (make present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit…The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice” then perhaps I am not Catholic and there is nothing to be ashamed of in admitting this. But, if I wish to be a disciple of the Catholic faith, I must ask myself do I believe this because in the end I don’t believe God differentiates based on man-made titles. I don’t believe any religion has cornered the market on God, or that God is going to separate the Hebrews from the Catholics and the Catholics from the Lutherans or from the Muslims; in the end it will be all about whether I sought to understand a truth worthy of God. That it matters less what I call myself, or whether I define my Being by a title, especially, if I find that the core values of that title are values I don’t agree with. What matter here is the exercise of faith and we have to ask ourselves, which though is active of faith? Is it to believe that the Eucharist is a metaphor or it is as Jesus Christ said it is, “This is my body, my blood.”? And I have to make the choice so that I give my heart and soul to the value I believe is true because it is not the name that defines my faith but the active use of that faith demonstrated in that name. And after a lengthy exploration in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Mahayana and Theravada, Shinto, Protestantism, and the Sufi tradition of Islam and Confucianism, I came to experience a realization on a dark, romantic Easter Vigil night. Soaked in pure mysticism I ‘knew more than I could tell,’ that yes, I believe the Eucharist is the presence of Christ. To me that experience was not a metaphor or symbol but Is the presence; which brings the point about love.

        There are three actions which is present in love, the love we give, the love we receive and the love active of itself and it is here that reveals the defining value of the ‘making’ of love which does not necessarily imply a ‘doing’ or an action. It is Pure Being which does not imply an action in the experience of pure beauty, truth and thereby love. As in Plato’s Symposium “Such is the right approach of induction to love matters. Beginning from obvious beauties he must for the sake of that highest beauty be ever climbing aloft…to beautiful observances…to beautiful learning, and from learning at last to that particular study which is concerned with the beautiful of itself and that alone; so that in the end he comes to know the very essence of beauty…as he sees the beautiful through that which makes it visible, to breed not illusions but true examples of virtue, since his contact is not with illusions but with truth.” This is also in the Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra, “Shriputra, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form, that which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form. The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness,” which is about pure Being, and doing this mantra amongst Buddhist masters reveals an understanding or another reality without escaping our own, which is the ‘doing’ without ‘doing’ in the Sufi tradition. This is also in the Kabbalah, “Arouse yourself to contemplate, to focus thought, for God is the annihilation of all thoughts, uncontainable by any concept…At times, a breeze blows by, delighting the heart and the mind. You do not know what it is or why; it cannot be grasped. Similarly, when this sefirah [emanations] is aroused, it radiates and sparkles and cannot be grasped at all.”
        Nothing is more beautiful than that, and while I also had two occasions to view the Sistine Chapel, all the crowds in the spring and the heat in the summer and all the attendants shouting “Silenco!” defused any value to experience anything other than that it is a remarkable work. I received more transcendence riding the awesome curves and height of Taormina and Sorrento, and the absolute thrilling fear in riding the Amalfi Coast. I found it more enriching of life in becoming baptized in mud while climbing the Manoa Falls in Hawaii, and my own baptism, naked in Lourdes, France. I had more joy white water rafting in Casa Rica and Austria and being part of the beauty not just observing it, which, like in my original message, involved an element of risk, being brought to a certain edge of life without escaping reality. I experience more beauty of God in holding my two beautiful girls who were granted life to me, and a transcendence that is unexplainable in holding my daughter who died. These experiences culminated in the beauty that can be observed, together with the beauty I received and made me aware that there is a beauty, purely of itself. This pure beauty is transcendent by the way that there is no ‘making’ no ‘doing’ on my part because this beauty was there before the human eye observed it and gave it words to describe it. But in acknowledging it we are becoming an example of love, we are ‘making love’ present in this world, or better said we are embodying love which can be observable by self, others and God.

        Please do not worry about how I might receive your way of communicating, I tell my daughters to express themselves as they see fit. To curse, yell, scream, or even ridicule [the highest insult to my mind, the work of the devil] because I believe holding it in is more dangerous than letting me hear it. And if my faith is strong, then I truly have nothing to worry about, what truly matters will already be there. That if my faith crumbles by the mere use of words, even harsh words, then it is better that it does sooner than later so that I might learn how to build a faith on stone not sand….
        “Snare reason; the soul prophet of a day’s wage.
        Feather the shattering paralysis we animate,
        Mill the stone, speak, and watch water vibrate,
        And detonate the variable of the Never Too Late.”

        Your friend, WL.

        Like

        February 10, 2015 at 11:34 am

  2. veritasxlogos

    This is so great! I’m so glad I have found someone who I can discuss things with openly and without fear of rebuke. Such things are rare this day in age.

    I appreciate the way you balance personal stories with thoughtful reflection. It can be so tempting to lean too heavily on one or the other – or to even diminish the other out of nothing but personal preference. Balance is noticed and appreciated.

    It is interesting that you quote the Symposium as well as Augustinian trinity in your response. These are two things that weigh heavily into my understanding of the metaphorical reality.

    Let me start with Socrates’ story in the symposium, which is a story of Diotima’s view that the best form of love is disembodied – a love of wisdom which impregnates our imaginations with pure forms. Which, I can wholeheartedly agree with, but does introduce some tension to the thought that disembodied thinking is not fully human. In fact, Socrates seems to imply that it is the only fully human love – one stripped of the anchoring of the bodily condition. This is not only one of the few times that Socrates overtly says he knows something about, but also is a story within a story which does not actually tell us about what Socrates even thinks on the topic. To boot, the whole thing is actually Plato’s story which he confesses he was not even there for. A story within a story within a story. And with three stories comes three authors and three audiences.

    The Augustinian trinity of the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love that they share is of great interest. It defines, in one sentence, God and also the act of love which itself is then defined as a trinity that exists only between a lover, a beloved, and the relationship they share. A trinity that is God’s nature and is the image we share in. God loves us – and as such humanity can be seen as a relationship between the Lover, the beloved, and the love that we share as an image of God. If God is defined as a relationship so too must we be a relationship.

    The Kabbalah defines the act of creation (tzimtzum) as God retreating from infinite vastness into infinite density in order to make room for the rest of creation to be shared with him. Love, in this way, is acknowledgment that it is not good to be alone and that one must retreat inward to create an emptiness that allows the other to fill it. Of course, God’s own love fills to the point of bursting and so the infinite expanse of the universe. God’s love gives birth to the physical realm – a realm of separation a realm of the other – the non-God.

    These relationships lead me to our cognitive understanding of metaphor. A metaphor is a juxtaposition between two unlike things whose relationship to each other uncover a new meaning. It forms the core of allegory which is, coincidentally, a favored rhetorical tool for both Socrates and Jesus. It is used when direct words do not fully convey the meaning of a phenomenon. It fills the gaps in the emptiness of our language – the synapses of sentences – and it has been traditionally seen as the favored way of provoking thought. Especially of topics too dense or complicated to be simply described.

    Metaphors then is the object, the image, and the relationship they share. The sun is a chariot riding across the sky. Object, image, and relationship between. It defines by way of relationship, as God defines by relationship as we define by relationship. Human is a relationship between body and soul. The meaning that comes from it is more than a soul without a body and more than a body without a soul. However, the human condition is one where a metaphor is seen from inside itself whereas the God condition would be a metaphor seen from outside itself as dictated by God’s all-knowing. Thus the need for continued juxtaposition of the two forms – the introduction and removal from the embodied form. A retreating to create empty space and a body to fill it.

    This is where I see love as a retreating space to create emptiness so that another person can fill it and create a relationship. A metaphor whereupon we construct a meaning greater than ourselves as a complete whole somehow composed of two parts that maintain their individuality – a contradiction that creates meaning.

    It is hard to see how God – being all good – should ever ethically retreat in order to create space for something outside of the all good. But he does. Because we can accomplish something he cannot – the creation of new meanings composed of flawed objects and images. The freedom of artistry to juxtapose the concreteness of creation. An overarching metaphor wherein God finds pleasure in a continuous creation. Life is the story of this and humans the pinnacle of the living creatures. Three authors, three stories, three audiences. God, man, and meaning. Each in relationship.

    Like

    February 12, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    • It is interesting, as you say, that there is a concentric pattern to Plato’s Symposium, and perhaps that lends a texture to the entire message for the reader to participate. In fact, it seems that that concentric pattern is still developing in our own exchanges that such a dense discourse has been prompted by a Slow Loris and the idea that consuming at some risk can provide a revelation. I agree with you, that since Socrates did not write his own accounts, we can never really say what he thinks. However, that Socrates is portrayed as repeating this revelation, gives witness to what he believes because it would have been easy enough for Plato to take the credit for such insights. These insights are still used today and therefore profound enough that no one would challenge Plato’s claim to being the author of this testimony. Also, that Socrates did not write this story actually does shows an element of what he believed, that writing itself runs the risk of losing the exercise of our minds and memory but it cannot be denied that in light of writing we still remember him as a primary source of human behavior these 2,000 years. Despite all this, the crux that arises here is a defining value on one central meaning, that to use the word ‘disembodied’ is perhaps a more critical determination, that could go so far as to imply the idea to shed one’s humanity. Again this becomes a matter of individual faith-bound choice. Personally when I hear the word ‘disembodied’ I hear implication of a rather aggressive context contrary to the main premise of this account, which I believe is embodiment. To me, the main premise is in want of relating symmetry, balance and harmony which is something that is not immediately registered in the word ‘disembodied.’ But then again, I would not want to speak for another and what they have come to understand within the connotation of ‘disembodied;’ personally, I hear a negative slant. This work relates to me embodiment, to know self more by freely relinquishing self to something far more wondrous in beauty and thereby understand a truth worth holding onto.

      Regarding the paragraph about love, I actually wish to extend something of an apology for writing under the presumption that you were unaware of these variables, when clearly you have a strong lock on these concepts. To this I can only say ‘well-said’ and thank you for giving me the motivation to reopen my Essential Kabbalah and re-familiarize myself with Tzimtzum. In fact I believe you explain it in better terms of vastness and density and for the most part I believe we agree. Perhaps in different terminologies, but the basic contention of God’s love being an overflow, appears to be the root. And how we can recognize it, is perhaps that when in the presence of love we relinquish identity without losing identity, in fact identity of the original being is enhanced, in fact we become free in the apprehending emotion. Again the root meaning of transcendence, to have sight of another reality without abandoning our reality. It reminds me of ‘The Eye of Power’ where you wrote “It was never a question of existence, I had seen it, it had seen me, but could I ever possess it?”

      The last piece with regard to metaphor, I agree with everything you say about the usefulness of a metaphor. As an aspiring author I believe you are ‘right on’ in how a metaphor is more telling then trying to relate a relationship through literal translations. But I believe the root to all this is does not necessarily come down to whether one will regard the Eucharist as a metaphor or, like I have already said to the point of being annoying, it is what Christ said it is. Rather, I believe the real issue becomes about mutual respect despite opposition. This is where I believe God will be and can bestow an honor and grace, and reveal God’s providence. I do not agree on this point, but you have beautifully articulated a firm and resounding position which shows a conviction worthy of respect, and I believe where God could take offense is if I presumed to be righteous. If I acted in a way as if I knew what God is, and attempt to diminish your good reasons, because for all I know I can be wrong. Based on the Socratic mindset I have to admit most of my evidence is subject to my personage and therefore only ‘my truth’ not ‘the truth’ and perhaps the only way ‘the truth’ can be revealed is when two opposing sides can exercise a healthy mutual respect.
      No one, who truly wanted peace, ever said for peace to prevail we all have to relinquish our diversity to conform to one conceptual meaning of a realm we cannot see, where for the most part we cannot come up with one conceptual meaning of the realm we can see. To even begin to define the spiritual realm when the material realm is still a mystery, is where red flags go up in my mind. I am rather content in trying to exercise the ‘narrow gate’ with believing that in every rational discourse [not to be confuse with an irrational discourse where one speaks of peace but means conformity] both sides are as equally correct as they are incorrect. From this point of view, what becomes clear is that what is truly relevant is not necessarily the positions either side holds but in the exercise of mutual respect is a fearless conviction. That perhaps the closest humanity can come to the real truth is when two opposing sides can fearlessly coexist without one side feeling, so threatened by their opponent, that they must remove their opponent’s beliefs and disregard the fact that those beliefs essentially took a lifetime to construct. In today’s society the methods of ridicule are diabolical ways to use words to strike which reflects John 18:23, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Ridicule distracts from the fact that if one cannot attack the truth, then attack the person and in this type of disrespect is a weak conviction, and harbors only conflict because it prevails under the idea that for one to have validation of their truth is to shatter another’s.
      No, I believe we, both, do a credit to our faith, that despite the fact that we disagree on this point, no offense has been taken and no offense is sent. I believe what is more important here, is how we can articulate our two diachronically different points of views and still respectfully agree to disagree. For my part, I think we are essentially defending values that neither of us can really say are absolute but can only say we believe with faith. And yet if we can disagree and still demonstrate a peace that neither seeks to validate our believes by trying to diminish the other’s, nor feel our belief’s weakened by cruel doubts, that is what matters above all that we hold. The exercise of mutual respect does more credit to both our faith values then choosing sides on something that has no empirical evidence. Metaphor or otherwise what is real has prevailed, mutual respect, and it seems as beautifully revealing as “What had ended as a game, had began as a puzzle” – Waiting for Reality. Whether God ‘ethically retreats’ or that humans can accomplish something God cannot, or that we can create new meaning, is again a matter of personal faith, and I believe somewhere down the middle of a truth on one side and a truth on the other side, equals ‘the truth’ worth holding on to.

      Like

      February 16, 2015 at 1:12 pm

  3. Wonderful, I needed that this morning!

    Like

    February 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    • I am glad to hear it. Hope your back is better. :)))

      Like

      February 25, 2015 at 12:11 pm

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