Saturday, October 28, 2006

Does It Get Any Better?

From my niece,


Friday, October 20, 2006

You Got Me Hans!

The quote below in my post "The Sixth Sense" is from Hans Urs von Balthasar's The Glory of the Lord. Given the context of my post I came across another section that hit below the belt.

In order to read even a form within the world (in comparison to divine revelation), we must see something invisible as well, and we do in fact see it. In a flower, a certain interior reality opens its eye and reveals something beyond and more profound than a form which delights us by its proportion and colour. In the rhythm of the form of plants - from seed to full growth, from bud to fruit - there is manifested an essence, and to reduce the laws of this essence to mere utilitarian principles would be blasphemous.

Nice burn Hans! Ouch.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Marrying my Cousin!?

For those of you who didn't know I married, okay officiated, at my cousin's wedding this summer. Hopefully there will be a reflection on this at some point in the future. Here's a picture.

Photo Gallery


Friday, October 06, 2006

The Sixth Sense

In his extensive exploration of theological aesthetics Hans Urs von Balthasar (yes it is the most awesome name a theologian could have) attempts to outline an understanding of spiritual perception. In one section of this investigation he quotes Romano Guardini who writes that,

The purely material thing does not exist; the body is from the outset determined spiritually. And this spiritual element is not subsequently added to the sensory datum, for instance by the work of the intellect; it is grasped by the eye at once, even if indeterminately and imperfectly at first . . . Seeing is an encounter with reality.

There are many things that could be commented on here however I wish to focus on the first line. "The purely material thing does not exist." What I am curious about is whether all reality shares equally in its participation in the spiritual or whether there are aspects of reality that are more "poor in spirit"? I ask this because I wonder why it is so difficult to work at a factory. What I keep coming to is that a fully industrialized factory is determined primarily (if not exclusively) on the manipulation of material elements.

- what is the most efficient means of transferring pots of flowers into transport containers?
- what is the most efficient configuration of transport containers which will both maximize quantity of shipments while maintaining a bare minimum of quality?
- how can growing time be minimized?
- what is the minimum human input required to run the packing line smoothly?

The factory is based on the efficient movement of materials. If "the purely material thing does not exist" then how am I to spiritually perceive my factory setting? Even the roses I see everyday are subordinated to material movement. I rarely find them beautiful. Do we play a role in how life participates in the spiritual?

I think I will leave it there for now, but I would love some feedback and I will try to explore this further in the future. Most people have difficulty finding fulfillment in their job. I think there is something here worth exploring in response to that.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dostoevsky's Demons

I have greatly anticipated the opportunity to begin reading Dostoevsky's Demons. It usually takes D. a few hundred pages to establish the basic setting and character relations and now after 250 pages I am beginning to come across the type of dialogue I was waiting for. Nikolai, having been gone for a number of years, returns to his home village where is confronted with Shatov an ardent admirer of Nikolai's ideology. Shatov experiences something which begins to shake his view of Nikolai. In a "feverish" rant Shatov confronts Nikolai with how he understood Nikolai's own teaching. I have little commentary on the following quote but it seemed to relate to some of the thoughts being expressed in Jason's Notes on the Future

Its a little long but I think it flows well.

"Do you remember your expression:'An atheist cannot be Russian, an atheist immediately ceases to be Russian' - remember that?"
"Really?" Nikolai Vsevolodovich seemed to want the question repeated.
"You ask? You've forgotten? And yet this one of the most precise indications of one of the main peculiarities of the Russian spirit, which you figured out. You can't have forgotten it? I'll remind you of more - you said at the same time: 'He who is not Orthodox cannot be Russian.'"
"A Slavophil notion, I suppose."
"No, the Slavophils nowadays disavow it. People have grown smarter nowadays. But you went even further: you believed that Roman Catholicism was no longer Christianity; you affirmed that Rome proclaimed a Christ who had succumbed to the third temptation of the devil, and that, having announced to the whole world that Christ cannot stand on earth without an earthly kingdom, Catholicism thereby proclaimed the Antichrist, thus ruining the whole Western world. You precisely pointed out that if France is suffering, Catholicism alone is to blame, for she rejected the foul Roman God but has found a new one. That is what you were able to say then! I remember our conversations."
"If I had belief, I would no doubt repeat it now as well; I wasn't lying, speaking as a believer," Nikolai said very seriously. "But I assure you that this repetition of my past thoughts produces an all too unpleasant impression on me. Couldn't you stop?"
"If you had belief?" Shatov cried, paying not the slightest attention to the request. "But wasn't it you who told me that if someone proved mathematically that the truth is outside Christ, you would better agree to stay with Christ than with the truth? Did you say that? Did you?"
"But allow me also to ask, finally, " Nikolai raised his voice, "what this whole impatient and . . . spiteful examination is leading to?"
"This examination will end forever and you will never be reminded of it."
"You keep insisting that we are outside space and time . . ."
"Be silent!" Shatov suddenly shouted. "I'm stupid and clumsy, but let my name perish in ridiculousness! Will you permit me to repeat before you your main thought of that time . . . Oh, only ten lines, just the conclusion . . ."
Shatov again leaned forward a little on his chair, and even raised his finger again for a moment.
"Not one nation," he began, as if reciting line by line, and at the same still looking menacingly at Nikolai, "not one nation has ever set itself up on the principles of science and reason; there has never been an example of it, unless perhaps only for a moment, out of foolishness. Socialism by its very essence must be atheism, because it has precisely declared, from the very first line, that it is an atheistic order, and intends to set itself up on the principles of science and reason exclusively. Reason and science always, now, and from the beginning of the ages, have performed only a secondary and auxiliary task in the life of nations; and so they will to the end of the ages. Nations are formed and moved by another ruling and dominating force, whose origin is unknown and inexplicable. This force is the force of unquenchable desire to get to the end, while at the same time denying the end. It is the force of a ceaseless and tireless confirmation of its own being and a denial of death.

I will end this quote here but I will likely add at least two others of similar length that continue and conclude this "feverish" rant. I know this is so grossly out of context and may make no impact on you. But I am a convert and I am seeking others to join. I find that making significant social and philosophical commentary in a narrative context so powerful. I will save my own commentary for now.