Friday, August 15, 2008

Pope B16 + René Girard > A Searching for the Luminous Arc Between Reason & Faith - Truth & Beauty

Matthew 22:37,40 -- And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

(above photo from Chronicles of Atlantis)

Pope Benedict XVI answering question 8/6/08, link here for full article.

Yes, I think that the two things go together: reason, precision, honesty in the reflection on truth, and beauty. A form of reason that in any way wanted to strip itself of beauty would be depleted, it would be blind...

And in the same way, if we contemplate the created beauties of the faith, these simply are, I would say, the living proof of faith. Take this beautiful cathedral: it is a living proclamation!

Without an intuition capable of discovering the true creative center of the world, this beauty cannot be created. For this reason, I think that we must always act in such a way that these two things go together, we must present them together. When, in our own time, we discuss the reasonableness of the faith, we are discussing precisely the fact that reason does not end where experimental discoveries end, it does not end in positivism; the theory of evolution sees the truth, but sees only half of it: it does not see that behind this is the Spirit of creation. We are fighting for the expansion of reason, and therefore for a form of reason that, exactly to the point, is open to beauty as well, and does not have to leave it aside as something completely different and irrational.

Gil Bailie "Let This Mind Be in You" tape 2

We have heard Matt 22:37,40 a million times, but I don’t think we have heard it enough, particularly the first commandment. He did not say to believe in God and love humanity. He did not say be nice and love others. He said these two go together and the first is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul. And the second is to love others as yourself.

Partly due to the romantic view of basic human benevolence, which was retailed by Rousseau, and partly due to the rationalistic, ‘where there is a will there is a way’ spirit of the Enlightenment, the modern world came to believe that it could obey the second commandment without bothering with the first. …

(T)he modern world enshrined only the second of the two great commandments, the one Jesus said was the lesser of the two and the one that was dependent upon the first one. The modern world has assumed that the two commandments could be separated. The creaking and groaning, indeed the shouting and the shooting that you hear outside, is coming from the collapse of that assumption. …

Girard, in Things Hidden, says:
"In reality, no purely intellectual process and no experience of a purely philosophical nature can secure the individual the slightest victory over mimetic desire and its victimage delusions."
… There is so much territory covered in this statement. It is precisely that arc between mimetic desire and the victimage delusion which Girard has made it his business to delineate…

He goes on:

"Intellection can achieve only displacement and substitution, though these may give individuals the sense of having achieved a victory."
What he means with displacement and substitution – when we try to explicate ourselves from the mimetic desire and the victimage delusion we do so by being morally offended by the effects of someone’s victimage delusion and so we crank our own victimage operation in order to direct it toward the victimizer that we have just been scandalized by. So we have substituted or displaced the object of the victimage delusion, but we haven’t broken the spirit of the prince of this world (to speak in Biblical terms).

Going on to the last sentence of this Girard quote from Things Hidden:
"For there to be even the slightest degree of progress, the victimage delusion must be vanquished on the most intimate level of experience."

This is where Christian conversion comes in. And that is where the first commandment comes in. ...


Our Faith tells us that if we try to separate reason from faith - truth from beauty we inevitably fall into violence. How is that so? Pope Benedict XVI has been cautioning the modern world about its deadly march into a "dictatorship of relativism" that results in an expulsion of faith, beauty and the family. René Girard insists that our only hope out of our violence rests in the imitation of Christ. René ends his book, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning by quoting St. Paul, 1 Cor. 1:18-25:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (Girard's emphasis)

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