Thursday, April 21, 2011

On Other-than Divine Authorship
I was just thinking of IMing a friend of mine, asking for prayer due to the profoundly dark mood I've found myself/put myself in - in part the sense that all I have left is hope, sensing no other connection to God, Who at times seems like an abusive father; thus far, emunah, "trust" in Him only applies to certain norms held by society (that he sustains his dependents, etc), while privately (within the confines of the home, i.e., Creation), horrible things and emotional neglect can be the norm. In that sense, in the home of Creation - a meek, whimpering pleading "hope" is all the abused can have, since in 'dealing' with God, He "is not a man that he should change", etc, etc. The Father, in this case, does not cease his sustaining/neglecting ways, the abused can't look forward to some other way He could be.

But Scripture, as His defenders swiftly point out, promises all kinds of goodies and goodness, so obviously I and my mood (which I admit it to be), are wrong, and it's just a matter of perception, not reality, since "Scripture" accounts reality from Him one way or another Who is the Author of reality one way or another. So...the One that one finds to be the abuser and Negligent in a relationship, is the very person responsible for the stories and songs and whatnot we tell ourselves about how, despite the reality of our experiences, He's actually got goodies and niceness in store for us - as long as WE behave and show obeisance to the [Abusive, Neglectful] Father alone, etc...I've asked before; how is this not the lowest, deepest masochism?

so as Satan's Advocate, I suggest that if one asks from the theodicy/unanswered prayer side of the God debates - it would almost seem better if the evidencing texts (Tanach, whathaveyou), brought in defense of His existence or relevance were ultimately authored by life-experiencing humans, were the ones "ultimately responsible for the stories and song and whatnot", who pleaded His case and wax His deeds with consistency by quantified assessment and experience of all the goodies and niceness.

Monday, April 11, 2011

" is objected that the ultimate loss of a single soul means the defeat of omnipotence. And so it does. In creating beings with free will, omnipotence from the outset submits to the possibility of such defeat. What you call defeat, I call miracle: for to make things which are not Itself, and thus to become, in a sense, capable of being resisted by its own handiwork, is the most astonishing and unimaginable of all the feats we attribute to the Deity. I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of Hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man 'wishes' to be happy; but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stage of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, are are thefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free...
All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened." C.S. Lewis, "The Problem of Pain"

...It begins with a grumbling mood, and you yourself distinct from it; perhaps criticize it. And in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. You can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine...It is not a question of God sending us to Hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will be Hell unless it is nipped in the bud." "The Great Divorce"

There will be "no you left" because we are made up of more than just ourselves - we are comprised of portions of self completed and built up, sustained, stained or infected by those whom we let within us, in ways differing in degree and kind, for good and bad.

But for all the indulgence we partake with friends and lovers, Hell is seemingly Hell alone - not the "other people" of Sartre. So in the worst sense imaginable, Hell really doesn't exist, really isn't a place where an "everyone" could potentially go. It exists only for anyone who has worn down to the least possible self that could still be, existing alone.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Lewis on Reality; Suggestions for Regnant "rationalisms" in Modern Orthodoxy
"[T]he mere idea of a new reality, a New Nature, a nature beyond nature, a systematic and diversified reality which is “supernatural”
in relation to the world of our five present senses but “natural” from [within] its own point of view, is profoundly shocking to a certain philosophical preconception from which we all may be expressed by saying that we are prepared to believe either in a reality with one floor or a reality with two floors, but not in a reality like a skyscraper with several floors. We are prepared on the one hand, for a reality that naturalists believe in; that is a one-floor reality. That is the sort of reality which naturalists believe in; this present nature is all there is. We are also prepared for reality as ["rationalist"?] 'religion' sees it; a reality with a ground floor (Nature), and then above that one other floor and one only - an eternal, spaceless, timeless Something, of which we can have no images and which, if it presents itself to human consciousness at all, does so in a mystical experience which shatters all our [inherited, intuited or contrived] categories of thought. What we are not prepared for is anything in between. We feel quite sure that the first step beyond the world of our present experience must lead either nowhere at all [what naturalism believes] or else into the blinding abyss of undifferentiated spirituality, the unconditioned, the [philosophical/religious "rationalist"] Absolute. That is why many believe in God who cannot believe in angels and an angelic world…I cannot now understand, but I well remember, the passionate conviction with which I myself once defended this prejudice. Any rumour of floors or levels intermediate between the Unconditioned and the world revealed by our present senses I rejected without trial as 'mythology' [no casual "turn of phrase" for an Oxford professor THOROUGHLY schooled in comparative study of mythologies as well as study of "myth" as such]. Yet it is very difficult to see any rational grounds for the dogma that reality must have no more than two levels. There cannot, from the nature of the case, be evidence that God never created and will never create, more than one system."
Miracles, pp. 153-55.

Regarding the mentioned "categories of thought", perhaps inherited from philosophy, pagan angelologies concurrent with Israel's neighbors ("Zoroastrian influence") or inherited from forebearers - which in the "rationalist" (oh, sorry - pashut), reading of words of prophets are merely "turns of phrase", spoken "loshon b'nei Adam"? Sources here and more recently here and here by R. Marc Shapiro on other, but general matters of "what was believed at the time of authorship/Revelation"). Why not admit certain of pagan views of reality and thought are 'true' (maxims of Divine similar to Rambam's "Yesod ha yesodei", etc), and certain acts mandated (as Rambam notes about sacrifices), as we do so often with other matters; why do we deny such a view here, regarding a complex reality, as science helps us see it (though even there not exhaustively), that appears simple, as our sense help us see it - though even there not exhaustively...)?;

…Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect…Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed.
Mere Christianity, p. 42

Given my comment and last quote from Lewis, I think it ironic that science as we know and do it is wed to religion in the West in origin and soil - both have origin in Biblically-transformed view of the senses, of reality. I also can't help but note that so often, traditional Jewish authors of the modern era accuse Christianity of Manicheanisms and dualisms of flesh and spirit. Yet it is the milieu of culture steeped in the Christian Bible (Septuagint and other sources), that gave rise to science and Western Culture - not Tanach, not Talmud. Even Greek and economic sources claimed for influence of science were the result of a Latin and Greek-reading (and ultimately vernacular-reading) Biblical and Christian Europe that - within monasteries (just one example) - reproduced Classics and spread certain economic concepts and practices wherever they were built - not a Hebrew-reading, Aramaic-reading, Talmud-learning Rabbinic culture.

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