A Metaphysical “univocity of reality” in a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism – a Peircean Precis

Thinking in terms of Peirce’s

Being > Reality > Existence

Considering a Neo-Chalcedonian Christology

While we still refer to divine & determinate hypostases via semantic univocity & ontological analogy …

Can we say that the Logos-logoi identity that humanizes divine persons & deifies human persons

invokes a metaphysical “univocity of reality per a Peircean Thirdness of generals, including created logoi, teloi, nomicities, etc,

all “participating” in a creatio ex deo, the essentially divine person self-determinately so, the essentially human person determinately …

such determinate effects variously exemplifying or signifying their Cause per their unique tropoi …

 

human persons as vestigia, imagoes & similitudines Dei …

the divine person as Logos in hypostatic union?

This would distinguish Maximus, on his own terms, from Balthasar’s Maximus, who overapplied the analogia?

Analogia of an Aesthetic Teleology

1) analogy of aesthetic intensityfixed

a) God: intrinsic perfection

b) human: subjective beatitude, bliss of beatific vision

2) analogy of aesthetic scope – variable in terms of manifestation

a) creator, God: scope of manifestations increased thru ad extra “exemplifications” of Logos & Glory, i.e. of divine esse intentionale, more than mere Cambridge properties, thin passibility

b) co-creator, human: scope of manifestations increased thru “significations” of Logos & Glory, objective beatitude, AMDG

Analogia of Divine & Human Tropoi

1) tropos of divine person

   a) essential nature exemplifies Logos

   b) secondary nature, exemplifies humanity

2) tropos human person

   a) essential nature as vestigial & imaginal Dei signifies Logos, exemplifies evolving humanity

   b) secondary nature as similitudino Dei signifies Logos, exemplifies deified humanity

Universalist Implications

The Summer of Love: Feser-Hart Redux

I was initially disappointed with Feser’s lack of earnest engagement with _TASBS_ . At the same time, I do concede that he and DBH have previously gone back & forth rather extensively & substantively. In some sense, one might ask how much more can Feser really add by way of argumentation.

See, for example:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/01/a-hartless-god.html

Honestly, I really couldn’t stomach more of Feser’s revival of that ole time religion, i.e. a decadent neo-scholasticism. The disconnect for me & his ilk truly is visceral. I don’t necessarily reject Feser’s counterarguments because they aren’t logically consistent. What leaves me cold or, sometimes, even on the verge of wretching, is that such rationalistic takes as his are so existentially disappointing.

To proceed from Feser’s valid premises to check for soundness, one must also accept his terms, which, in my case, presuppose that I will have jettisoned all of my most deeply felt aesthetic sensibilities & moral intuitions.

Now, I fully expect that, post-mortem, we will all travel “beyond” those quotidian evaluative dispositions in various ways, but I certainly don’t expect we’ll travel “without” them, that any acceptable post-mortem anthropology should do such violence to my earthly experiences of all that’s been true, beautiful, good & unitive. For that matter, neither can I set aside my theophanic experiences of the here & now for the morally unintelligible theodicies on offer.

Rhetorically, I felt like DBH was interrogating me, asking how I really felt, what I most deeply valued, whom I most fervently cherished and how those relational dispositions imparted normative impetus to how I’d really respond to various thought experiments, whether now or post-mortem, whether regarding God or, let’s say, my precious children. And he was suggesting “Hold that thought! Cherish that feeling!” before engaging any syllogism!

Others, like Feser, assure me, rather, that … well, if that single damned soul is my son  … “Don’t worry. You’ll get over it.” And when we reflexively recoil & launch an invective, they complain of our harsh rhetoric.

That’s it. I’ve said much more about much else, elsewhere & here. Sometimes too much, to be sure. So, I apologize again. But these are reasons of my heart. I’m searching for arguments that are not just valid. The most taut tautologies for me will also be existentially satisfying.

In a more discursive vein, I realize that many have misinterpreted _TASBS_ as a theodicy.

What I have described above has more to do with its theophanic thrust. I eschew evidential theodicies. I resist them vehemently. But I do countenance logical defenses regarding the problem of evil. One of the bigger takeaways from DBH’s arguments, for me, was a deeper appreciation for the conception of evil as privation, which, as a concept over the years, wasn’t wholly compelling to me, although, in some ways, just sufficient. What infused that notion with more meaning was interpreting it (as  a corrollary to _TASBS_) as referring to an eschatological reality.

While I had previously bought into the idea that evil had no intrinsic existence, still, it most definitely was real and “existed” parasitically. To suggest that its parasitic existence wasn’t visible, real, etc always seemed to be wholly incoherent, lame, unpersuasive. One just could not convincingly say it was absolutely “no thing.”

Only per a universalist account can one affirm that, ultimately & eternally, evil will indeed enjoy no parasitic existence &, as a corrollary to all being realizing its Sophianic union with Being beyond being, evil will lapse into utter no-thing-ness, absolutely not existing, since no privations of the good, of being, shall perdure.

Evil may not be absolutely no thing “yet” but it is progressively “becoming” nonexistent, for we are poised to exist in fulfillment of the divine Logoi.

Anything less than the utter destruction of evil’s parasitic existence (hindering our telic realizations) will leave us with a Manichean residue and a “relatively good” God?

So, while _TASBS_ proffered no shallow evidential theodicy as misread by folks wearing the wrong hermeneutical lenses, it does seem to provide a theophany which has practical implications for grounding a modest logical defense – not Platinga’s or Stump’s, but – perhaps like M.M. Adams’?

To be clear regarding the normative role that our aesthetic sensibilities & moral intuitions play in how we judge competing theophanic accounts:

Our evaluative dispositions are integrally situated within an holistic hermeneutical spiral, which orients us to transcendental imperatives. They represent laws planted in our hearts, experienced by our consciences, which have been further informed by family life, friendships & loves, church fellowship, catechetical instruction, moral development, liturgical cultivation, formative spirituality, communal discernments & ongoing conversions, both secular & religious.

They are not to be cursorily dismissed, hastily set aside or cynically caricatured.

I personally subscribe to an axiological epistemology, as has been previously articulated by Amos Yong and I in conversation with CS Peirce, Lonergan & RC Neville.

This should be read in conjunction with:

A Collatio in Response to Edward Feser’s review of David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved

And with:

An Open Invitation to Universalism – no matter how you square divine-human agential interaction

A Collatio in Response to Edward Feser’s review of David Bentley Hart’s _That All Shall Be Saved_

A Collatio in Response to Edward Feser’s review of That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation By David Bentley Hart, Yale University Press (2019).

Feser recently published this review: David Bentley Hart’s attack on Christian tradition fails to convince

Precis of Feser’s Review

For Hart, at the end of the day it is not scripture, not the Fathers, not the councils, not the creeds, not Holy Tradition, that should determine what Christians believe.

The Fathers

Feser: The possibility of eternal damnation is taught in Scripture, by almost all the Church Fathers.

Why did Jesus not explicitly say that everyone will be saved, if that is what he meant? Why did it take centuries before any Christian even floated the idea?

Response:

Ambrose Andreano: Patristic universalism


The Councils

Feser: The Council of Trent rejected the view that a Christian can be certain of his salvation. As a non-Catholic, Hart would not be troubled by some of these facts, but his view is generally considered heterodox even in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Response:


Justin Coyle: May a Catholic faithful to the magisterium endorse universalism?


The Scriptures

Feser: Hart dismisses the traditional interpretation of the scriptural passages that teach the possibility of everlasting punishment. He claims that Christ’s words to this effect are either hyperbole of the kind typical of parables and apocalyptic literature, or have been mistranslated. When Christ speaks of punishment that is “everlasting”, he really means merely that it will last for an age.

Response:

Matthew Joss – Graduate Student of St. Mary’s College Logos Institute, University of St. Andrews writes:

DBH describes his hermeneutical method: obvious doctrinal statements (generally from the epistles) should be privileged over the figurative language of the Gospels and Revelation (93-94). There is an extended section dealing with the translation of aionios, which is quite helpful, although its actual application to texts is limited. He concludes, “The texts of the gospels simply make no obvious claim about a place or state of endless suffering”


Theological Anthropology

Feser: On the philosophical side, too, Hart’s book is a mess. A line of argument developed by Aquinas holds that it is impossible for the will to change its basic orientation after the death of the body. The reason is that the intellect’s attention can be pulled away from what it judges to be good and worth pursuing only by the senses and imagination, and these go when the body goes. The view has been spelled out and defended in detail within the Thomist tradition, but Hart has little to say about it other than to dismiss it with a few insults and cursory objections which Thomists have already answered.

Response:


Pastor Tom Belt:
Maximian irrevocability thesis


Moral Responsibility

Feser: Hart argues that since rational creatures are made to know and love God, any choice against God is irrational. If a choice is non-culpable because it is irrational, how can we be culpable for any bad thing that we do (given that bad actions are always contrary to reason)? How can we deserve even finite punishments? And if we can’t, then why do we need a saviour?

Response:

DBH: response to David W. Opderbeck, Ph.D.

Hart’s Rhetoric

Feser: DBH’s book freely indulges the boundless appetite for gratuitous invective and other ad hominem rhetoric for which he is famous.

Response:


John Sobert Sylvest:
re DBH’s harsh rhetoric

Hart’s Pantheism


Feser: Hart holds that all human beings are parts of Christ’s body in such a way that if even one person is damned forever, then Christ’s body is incomplete, and even his obedience to the Father is incomplete. Hart also holds that the individual self is destined to be “reduced to nothing” so that we can be “free of what separates us from God and neighbour.” What is left he compares to the Hindu notion of Atman. But all of this is hard to distinguish from a pantheism that blasphemously deifies human beings.

Response:


John Sobert Sylvest: That’s too facile a caricature to dignify with a response.


Divine & Human Agential Interaction

John Sobert Sylvest:
account of the noncompetitive nature of divine & human agencies

The Arguments of DBH Ed Feser Failed to Engage

Response 1

John Sobert Sylvest:
Essay Before Reading TASBS

Response 2

John Sobert Sylvest:
Essay After Reading TASBS

This should be read in conjunction with:

The Summer of Love: Feser-Hart Redux

And with:

An Open Invitation to Universalism – no matter how you square divine-human agential interaction

An Open Invitation to Universalism – no matter how you square divine-human agential interaction

Anyone Could Bust a Universalist Move!

Scholars divide when evaluating individual church fathers & scholastics in terms of their stances toward determinism & freedom, compatibilism & libertarianism, intellectualism & voluntarism, and other such categories as pertain both to philosophical anthropology and to the relationship between divine & human agencies.

Such confusion reigns because they ignore the noncompetitive nature of divine & human agencies, a theandric reality implicit in Chalcedonian Christology, & even more perfectly explicated in Neo-Chalcedonian distinctions.

As a theoretic upshot of this noncompetitive agential account, absolutist readings of classical theologians will amount to facile caricatures. Those can otherwise be avoided by an appropriations theory approach, wherein theologians are better distinguished merely in terms of notable emphases, e.g. soft determinism, weak compatibilism, moderate libertarianism, moderate voluntarism, moderate intellectualism, etc.

In human agency, for example, the intellect’s necessarily operative just not wholly determinative in volition. In divine agency, for example, creation ensues – not from an essential necessity, but – a volitional inevitability of divine hypostases that are – not quidditatively, relations, but – qualitatively, relational.

As a practical upshot, this noncompetitive agential account should suggest (to those acquainted with universalist-infernalist debates) that arguments, among classical theists, for & against apocatastasis, need not turn on premises grounded in alternative accounts of divine-human agential relations.

After all, per some narratives, we might characterize Isaac of Nineveh, Gregory of Nyssa & Aquinas as weak compatabilists, Maximus & Scotus as moderate libertarians.

Furthermore, Augustinian, even Calvinist accounts, which altogether circumvent such agential issues, can be formulated consistent with apocatastasis. Finally, Báñezian accounts are consistent with a hopeful universalism.

How, though, do we negotiate the logics that might implicate an essential vs hopeful (practical) universalism?

One way or the other, whichever stance one takes, even totally for or against, the trick is to make some type of theological assertions, to ground them exegetically & patristically, to articulate them in some metaphysical idiom, & then, finally, to (legitimately) run for the apophatic cover of a positive mysterianism, whenever one’s interlocutors point out the unavoidable antinomial residues.

Our search for our (anti)apocatastatic apologetic, then, not escaping Gödelian constraints, will force a choice between consistency and completeness. As Hawking said, the good money’s always on consistency, i.e. accepting the unavoidable incompleteness. More aptly, as the Nazianzen did, we’re really just looking for the least inadequate way to convey our faith.

In some respects, then, if we’re going to have to embrace an ineluctable agnosticism, we can focus our arguments on exhaustively explaining HOW volition works, putting an end to our curiosity regarding the precise nature of noncompetitive divine-human agential interactions, opting for Augustinian, Thomistic or Scotistic emphases, while leaving an antinomial theological residue regarding WHAT God wills.

Or, we can focus our arguments on exhaustively explaining WHO God is, putting an end to our curiosity regarding the precise nature of WHAT God wills, opting for the universalist “hints” gifted us by Origen, Isaac of Nineveh, Gregory of Nyssa, the Nazianzen, Athanasius, Maximus & others, while leaving an antinomial anthropological residue regarding HOW human volition works. The good money, seems to me, remains with cultivating an abiding aporetic sense regarding the precise nature of noncompetitive divine-human agential interactions. After all – not just theological, but – enduring metaphysical aporia also abound regarding the origins of – not just human language & sapience, but – even animal sentience.

Thanks to Chalcedon, at least, we know via participation what it’s like to imitate the divine & even to grow in likeness to Christ. We remain otherwise stumped regarding “what it’s like to be a bat.”

When it comes to choosing one anthropological tautology over the next vis a vis our noncompetitive divine-human agential interactions, the tie-breaker for otherwise logically consistent accounts, for me, remains anthropological congruity with our time-honored, shared moral & aesthetic sensibilities. Any account, including speculative post-mortem anthropologies, that does violence to our quotidian experiences of human belonging, desiring, behaving, believing & becoming, I reject.

As a theological corollary, since we are imagoes & similitudines Dei, incongruous images of God that do violence to our most deeply felt anthropological sensibilities, intuitions & discursive reasonings, I also reject.

Accordingly, I heartily commend DBH‘s TASBS and offer my own Systematic Apocatastasis:

A Gelpian-Lonerganian Architectonic – a Missiological Meta-Heuristic

Be attentive, orient, describe, truth, eschatological, protological, transjective necessity or Ens Necessarium – analog of paterological uniqueness

Be intelligent, empower, interpret, unity, ecclesiological, interpretive, intersubjective intimacy – analog of hypostatic unity

Be reasonable, sanctify & consecrate, evaluate, beauty, soteriological, evaluative, charismatic, harmonic, unified self as intrasubjective integrity – analog of mystical, creaturely-divine, sophianic union

Be responsible, sustain, nurture & heal, norm, goodness, sacramental, ethical, normative, interobjective indeterminacy – analog of essential unicity

Be in love, save, contemplate, freedom, synergy, sophiological, liberational, theotic, intraobjective Logos-logoi identity – analog of unitary energeia

The above meta-heuristic provides the hermeneutical key to my Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

https://www.academia.edu/42917078/Retreblement_-_a_Systematic_Apocatastasis_and_Pneumatological_Missiology_per_a_Neo-Chalcedonian_Cosmotheandrism

A Moderately Libertarian Approach to the Will – with Scotistic & Maximian influences

Both Duns Scotus & Maximus the Confessor sufficiently nuance their notions of the will in ways that sufficiently navigate past both voluntarist & intellectualist flaws.

The following strategies are influenced by but not developed solely from Scotistic & Maximian approaches.

relocate primary causation (as an immediate, continuously conserving cause) to the act of existence, which is in limited potency to an essential cause

recognize that secondary causality includes realities that vary in degrees of indeterminacy

relocate the will from a formal to an efficient causal act, which is in limited potency to a material cause

relocate the operation of grace from an efficient to a formal cause, which is in limited potency to a final cause

distinguish will (self-determination) from nature (hetero-determination)

distinguish an “assent to,” a “refusal of” & an “absence of refusal of” grace (as one can cease to refuse grace without assenting to it)

distinguish three logoi of being, well-being, and eternal being, God the sole cause of the first & third, while well-being’s intermediately caused by our sponaneous movement & gnomic willing (epistemic & axiological distancing), hence, intellect’s necessarily operative but not wholly determinative in volition

attribute gnomic will to evolution not a “fall”

distinguish freedoms to assent, refuse or permit (absence of refusal)

distinguish:

freedom from – an indeterminate willing w/o ratio (choosing among goods, including one’s choosing whether to will at all) from

freedom to – a determinate willing w/ratio (fallibly choosing between goods, per one’s constitutive desires & needs, and privations, iow, refusing grace) and

freedom for – a self-determined or self-limited willing (as in kenosis)

Helpful Resources:

The Subtle Doctor and Free Will, Part 1, Maximus Confesses

The Subtle Doctor and Free Will, Part 2, Duns Scotus on Freedom of the Will and Divine Foreknowledge

A paradox in Scotus account of freedom of the will by Gonzalez-Ayesta

Duns Scotus on the Natural Will by C. Gonzalez-Ayesta

Chapter 4, Duns Scotus on Freedom as a Pure Perfection – Necessity & Contingency by Gonzalez-Ayesta in
Margaret Cameron ed., Philosophy of Mind in the Early and High Middle Ages: The History of the Philosophy of Mind, Volume 2, Routledge, Jul 6, 2018

St. Maximus the Confessor on the Will—Natural and Gnomic by David Bradshaw, Ph.D.

But the Problem of Free Will by David W. Opderbeck, Ph.D.

Divine Freedom & Necessity (analogues & antinomies)


no best possible worlds but a pareto front of equipoised optimalities, choosing among the perfectly good – jssylvest

Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology, Oxford University Press, 2016

Brandon Gallaher shows that the classical Christian understanding of God having a non-necessary relationship to the world and divine freedom being a sheer assertion of God’s will must be completely rethought.

Review of Brandon Gallaher, Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology (Oxford: OUP, 2016), Reviews in Religion & Theology 24.4 (2017): 697-699–Justin Shaun Coyle.pdf by Justin Shaun Coyle

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

One can find further resources regarding Scotistic & Maximian libertarian conceptions of the will within these notes, above, especially by searching for Mary Beth Ingham, Marilyn McCord Adams & Eleonore Stump.

A Plea for a Rhetorical Ceasefire in the Politicization of the Covid19 Pandemic

When it comes to country (even state & county) comparisons of Covid19 data, it’s best to be suspicious of politicos, their ideologues & sensationalistic media, who, because of confirmation bias, have cherry-picked numbers to portray the pandemic as either more or less severe than it really is.

The reason they do this, of course, is to either scapegoat or exonerate government leaders for political purposes.

Such a politicization, typically, will cynically characterize those leaders’ responses in terms of – not just in/competency, but – moral turpitude and scientific illiteracy.

Too often, such politicizations will either over- or under-exaggerate the short & long term consequences of lockdowns (vis a vis their various durations & extents) in terms of economics, mental health and educational & career development, etc

Further, even the more nuanced comparisons of per capita mortality & case severity by country are seldom sufficiently nuanced. Specifically, they fail to adjust for salient demographics, like GDP,
population density, age, gender, life expectancy, prevalence of
obesity, diabetes & other comorbidities, quality of
health infrastructure – nurses, doctors, icu’s, etc

As a result, the nature & extent of government mandated measures, for better & for worse, get over-exaggerated, precisely because other salient factors get ignored. And those factors, in some early studies, were much better predictors of per capita mortality & case outcomes than variations in government mandates.

So, when it comes to finding the sweet spots between the flattening of covid case & economic recession curves (keeping in mind the drastic, multifarious consequences of both), toward such multiple ends as reducing both mortality & healthcare overcapacity, there need be no (can’t be a) one-size-fits-all lockdown percentage or duration in order to realize a given country, state or county’s goals, as aimed to fall within a generally acceptable sweet spot range.

For all sorts of eminently defensible reasons, Western democracies will have experienced higher per capita mortality rates by the time the pandemic has, hopefully, run its course or been otherwise thwarted by vaccines & treatments. And such differentials, I promise, will not be reflective of varying levels of enlightenment, whether of political, moral or scientific natures. Rather, as seen thus far, other demographic factors will more so account for them.

Such differentials as between, on one hand, the US & Western Europe, and, on the other, what are effectively totalitarian dictatorships, especially are not reflective of an enlightenment of any sort or suggestive of strategies I’d wish to emulate?

It is a strength – not a weakness – of our federalist system, the best governmental experiment in humankind’s history, that New York & California can adopt one strategy, Texas & Georgia – another.

Did some states reopen too soon? I think so. Does that mean, however, that I believe some governors operated wholly outside the bounds of what I would defend as politically, morally or scientifically defensible?

Not in my view.

I would only suggest some have, roughly seems to me, sub-optimized. Even then, for the most part, our leaders are, less often truly statesmen & stateswomen, most often followers, whose chosen strategies will reflect a given population’s most current political sensibilities (which can shift like hurricane winds). Necessarily, then, they must judiciously calibrate the degree of governmental coercivity that will be most effective & truly enforceable for their particular constituency, that is — without precipitating widespread revolt & noncompliance. That factor will differ from topic to topic, state to state, even county to county. Such subsidiarity & diversity reflect values we should not ridicule and dare not sacrifice.

Our democratic republic, as an experiment, has many laboratories, which, given time & experience (often painful), will gift ourselves & the world the Best Practices that – historically have & in this case will, again – serve humankind on manifold fronts & in multiform ways.

Often, a governor must calibrate & titrate executive responses to a constituency which is climbing what is a steep learning curve. Those, who pretend the answers & strategies are apparent & the learning curves shallow for human realities surrounding pandemics, lack – not only the right answers, but – even the right questions. This is true for the experts. How much more true it must be for Joe & Jane Citizen?


The way I feel about it, presently, is that all of the politicization of this pandemic, coming from all directions, is positively repugnant.

Still, I’m going to give all politicos, ideologues & sensationalistic journalists, as well as myself and other citizens, a pass.

This is a once in a century event. We’re relatively confused & understandably anxious.

Does this mean that I don’t think certain persons have given in to various kinds & degrees of confirmation bias?

No.

Does this mean that I don’t think many persons of all persuasions have taken positions out of pure political expedience & said things that are transparently & utterly laughable, even sad & hurtful?

No.

What I’m inviting others to join me in doing is to give everybody a Free Covid19 Pass.

It’s too important a reality to treat as facilely as it has been thus far. Let’s observe a rhetorical ceasefire & turn our focus to keeping safe, staying healthy & helping all in need.

After all, there’s no shortage of persons of all persuasions, who have taken all sorts of positions regarding all sorts of other things out of pure political expedience & who have said so many other things that are transparently & utterly laughable, even sad & hurtful!

So, let’s throw the rascals out & vote our heroes & heroines in for all those other reasons, which existed prior to the pandemic.

And, if one simply can’t resist covid19 sniping, please  let’s not demonize or valorize Texas vs New York. All of our states are going to come out of the crisis with differentials that will take years to properly analyze & sufficiently nuance in terms of curve-flattening effectiveness for both the viral &, the more elusive but eventually sufficiently quantifiable, recession-based consequences.

Let’s, instead, focus on why, for all intents & purposes, Covid or otherwise, we’d still rather live in our Western democracies (including Sweden) than China, N. Korea or Russia.

For now, I’m going to research further how the entire premise of this essay might collapse based on a drill down into the Covid19 data coming out of Germany. I may have to eat crow and suggest we’d all be better off emulating them? My guess is that’s not going to be the case, but … who knows?

Published earlier this year – a prologue to the above essay:

Desperately Searching for the Sweet Spot of Epidemic & Recession Curve-Flattening

The public polling seems to show that a significant minority thinks our pandemic-control measures have gone too far, even as a significant majority supports continued efforts at social distancing. ~ Michael Brendan Dougherty

Let these debates flourish as we pursue the truth together!

Let’s be humble enough to admit that the truths regarding pandemics can be incredibly elusive, even for the experts that model such realities, epidemiologically & economically.

There are some, however, who have suggested (with the most arrogant, ad hominem faux-erudition) that these truths are out there in plain sight, that the world’s governmental, epidemiological & economic experts are parading around naked and blind to such truths, all the while unwittingly foisting untold evils on the world, enabled by a complicit unthinking public.

Now, it’s one thing to make such sweeping charges in so facile a manner, but, per the time-honored wisdom practiced by most historians & sociologists, once one has analogically (not to mention with a callous insensitivity) invoked the spectre of various types of Nazi complicities to make one’s case, the audience can rest assured that the cards about to be played will reveal a losing hand.

To wit, consider Jack Kerwick’s diatribe:

After facilely psychoanalyzing the world in one fell, dismissive swoop, suggesting that the vast supermajorities of experts & their trusting followers, alike, have unthinkingly bought into their precautionary Covid19 strategies, Jack inventories the costs they somehow failed to consider:

“It can, and already has, led to incalculable pain and suffering. It is no stretch to call these evils. Consider all that has occurred over the last six or seven weeks or so, since the dawn of The Great UnReason.”

Regarding items 1-9, all I can ask of Jack is:

“Really? You believe that the world’s governments, public health experts, epidemiologists, economists, medical & hospital associations have been blind to these costs? And, thanks to the blog of a part-time philosophy teacher, they’re now going to gasp a collective ‘Oops!’?”

Seriously?

Even regarding item 10, the Third World consequences of food supply disruptions, those projections, themselves, come from Arif Husain, the chief economist at the World Food Program, a United Nations agency.

Regarding the Third World, as well as here in the states, for that matter, as better info emerges, strategies will get tailored to account for country to country & intra-country regional variations. We won’t be deploying such blunt instruments as we’re able to augment our tool chests. Consider this early April Foreign Policy article:
https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/10/poor-countries-social-distancing-coronavirus/

Kerwick goes on:

“The masses of Americans who have bought hook, line, and sinker, without a moment’s hesitation, the Zombie tale of an Apocalyptic Virus are as well responsible for the immense suffering that their endorsement has left in its wake.”

Of course, Jack’s not just talking about the average John & Mary Doe, but the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, Liz Cheney, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, Mitt Romney & Bill Cassidy, not to mention those who extend William F. Buckley’s legacy at the National Review.

There are more sober voices, thankfully:

From Michael Brendan Dougherty at the National Review:

If you judged by social media, you’d think that America in the coronavirus crisis had a pro-lockdown faction led by Dr. Anthony Fauci and a “let it rip” faction led by a handful of red-state governors and professional conservative saber-rattlers. This may be a useful narrative for people whose jobs thrive on controversy, myself included. It may even be helpful for organizing our thoughts on the virus. But mostly, it just isn’t true.

MBD continues:

There is a good reason to hesitate to judge, namely our ignorance. Plagues are a time for scapegoats and blame-shifting precisely because they deal out suffering such a seemingly unjust and random fashion. Our leaders say they will follow the science, but they can’t, really. With a heretofore-unseen virus such as this one, the science is more like inherited wisdom and intuition from previous, similar maladies, at least at the start. What follows is a confused rush to catch up through trial and error. The results are not always pretty, or immediately useful. And although those who stay with their own carefully constructed echo chambers might think otherwise, where COVID-19 is concerned the evidence has not come down decisively on one side or the other of the false lockdown/let-’er-rip dichotomy.

 

The point I’m arguing has nothing to do with who’ll ultimately be right in the curve-flattening cost-benefit calculations. I’m solely here to make the point that, whichever side turns out to be wrong, it won’t be because they weren’t thinking or unaware of the tragic tradeoffs articulated in “Jack’s” questions.

As it is, the more successful the interventions, the more likely they’re going to be later misinterpreted as overreactions.

Because there are both epidemiological & economic trade-offs & risks, medical scientists & economists should collaborate to approximate a range of data-driven strategic sweet-spots. And they have.

This Goldilocks calculus should get reapplied as new information becomes available & uncertainties recede. And it has.

So, the curve theories that policy-makers rely on, when devising strategies to confront the threats of epidemics, should involve the flattening of both epidemic & recession curves, and economic, social, political & medical scientists should all provide input. Such is the case.

The disease & economic models employed for policy responses can vary widely in their approaches and assumptions, giving widely divergent results. And, the modelers should be transparent about the variables and assumptions used. And they have been.

I seriously doubt, though, that those of us who grasp the norms, above, should be credited with articulating some original, novel, brilliant observation, when we suggest that policy-makers should strive to avoid costly precautionary overshoots?

And, as we observe that such costs should not be too narrowly conceived?

Soon enough, scientists & policymakers, over a period of years, through rigorous research & vigorous investigations, will be asking:

Did the precautionary mitigation strategies work?

Were they never needed in the first place?

For now, I really don’t know.

And, for sure, Jack Kerwick doesn’t!

We manifestly do not and cannot know enough, yet, to say whether the world’s experts, collectively & pervasively, miscalculated their epidemic-recession curves for this pandemic.

In this recent pandemic, did the world’s best epidemiologists, economists & governing machineries, as well as most of those who’ve placed their faith in these authorities, sadly but truly, display a “curious, but quite authentic, inability to think“?

Did they really ignore the above-stated, time-honored norms?

Did they really ignore the the kinds & depths of pain & suffering that have ensued in the wake of their mitigation strategies?

My guess is that, ultimately, a majority report will vindicate the world’s policy makers, finding that they took adequate measures based on sufficient information as available at the time. And that they indeed asked all the right questions. It will likely indicate, from the benefit of hindsight, that more optimal measures could’ve been taken based on better information, which didn’t surface for various reasons, some benign but unavoidable, some due to bad faith and indefensible.

There will always be minority reports, too. It’s important that their voices of dissent not be suppressed, scientifically or politically.

But let us not confuse the sane voices of legitimate dissent with the shrill ad hominems of echo chamber ideologues.

CyberBibliography:

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/a-covid-cost-benefit-analysis/

https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/04/the-value-of-lives-saved-by-social-distancing-outweighs-the-costs/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebanker/2020/04/08/social-distancing-are-the-costs-of-shutting-down-the-economy-worth-it/

Poor Countries Need to Think Twice About Social Distancing

https://www.cassidy.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cassidy-urges-people-to-listen-obey-cdc-state-government-coronavirus-guidance

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/from-our-experts/economists-and-epidemiologists-not-at-odds-but-in-agreement-we-need-a-broad-based-covid-19-testing-survey

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/flattening-the-covid-19-curves/

COVID-19 Models: Can They Tell Us What We Want to Know?

Flattening the Coronavirus Curve Is Not Enough

Social distancing, politicized: Trump allies are urging an end to isolation, worrying public health experts

Not thru Ontological Middling but thru Teleological Muddling do Sophia, Energies & Logoi Operate in a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

Sophia has been a challenge to map as revealed in historical treatments. Setting those descriptive accounts to the side, at least in part, below is my own normative formulation.

I like to conceive Sophia as an

attribute of the divine essence, belonging to the Trinity,

exemplified hypostatically by the Son as wisdom & Spirit as glory, &

manifested as uncreated Sophia thru such as divine energies (Palamite) & logoi (Maximian).

These uncreated logoi are manifested theophanically, as they terminate in effects on determinate being (as created logoi) in manifold & multiform participable ways, e.g. teloi, laws, nomicities, gifts, grace, signs & wonders.

Every creaturely cooperation with, hence participation in, the logoi constitutes a theotic, sophianic eternalization that incorporates us into created Sophia, Christ’s Bride or Mystical Body.

Thus we imitate the Bridal Fiat of the Theotokos & thereby participate in her incarnational synergism as it’s both eschatologically consummated in the divine nuptial union & protologically anticipated by  (contained in) the pre-existent logoi of Christ.

Creation happens.

To Be or Not, to Sophianize or Not our human secondary nature: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (eternally self-determined)

Divine Modes of Identity – Bulgakov, Balthasar & Bracken with Scotus & the Greek Fathers

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

Creativity would be the nature of God, pattern of existence & activity proper to God that God shares in varying degrees w/finite entities in an expression of divine empowering love. ~ Bracken

Thus I re-situate Bulgakov’s sophiology, Maximus’ Logos-logoi & Palamas’ energies.

re: use of Whitehead’s cosmology for Christian understanding of the God- world relationship risks misinterpretation of ANW: In my judgment, Aquinas made basically the same “mistake” in employing Aristotelian metaphysics to set forth his understanding in the ST. ~ Joe Bracken

Bulgakov claims Aquinas’s account is insufficiently Trinitarian, too influenced by pagan philosophy, & separates the divine will & intellect in such a way as to introduce arbitrariness into the relationship between the divine ideas & creation. ~ John Hughes

Here I am not endorsing the controversial thesis of creatio ex nihilo advocated by Irenaeus and others over the centuries, but instead proposing the notion of creatio ex deo. ~ Joseph Bracken

Bulgakov understood the doctrine of creation to be negatively defined as creatio ex nihilo and positively defined as creatio ex Deo. ~ Pavel L. Gavriljuk

Christian systematic theologians until quite recently grossly overemphasized the role of divine power and thereby significantly underestimated the role of divine love in their understanding of how God deals with the creatures of this world. ~ Joseph Bracken

For God to be the transcendent source of creativity within the cosmic process, God must be ontologically both the primordial source and ultimate goal of the cosmic process. ~ Joseph Bracken

A New Process-Oriented Approach to Theodicy Joseph Bracken, Process Studies, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Spring-Summer 2019), pp.105-120 https://jstor.org/stable/10.5406/processstudies.48.1.0105#metadata_info_tab_contents

The Problem of Pantheism in the Sophiology of Sergii Bulgakov: A Panentheistic Solution in the Process Trinitarianism of Joseph Bracken? by Brandon Gallaher

This essay explores Bulgakov’s thought as an alternative form of panentheism to Bracken’s

‘The Problem of Pantheism in the Sophiology of Sergii Bulgakov: A Panentheistic Solution in the…academia.edu

The God-World Relationship Between Joseph Bracken, Philip Clayton, and the Open Theism, by Dong-Sik Park, Claremont Graduate University

The God-World Relationship Between Joseph Bracken, Philip Clayton, and the Open Theismscholarship.claremont.edu

In Whom We Live & Move & Have Our Being, Panentheistic Reflections on God’s Presence in a Scientific World, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004 Below, I will list several chapters of this book, above, as are relevant to energies, logoi & sophia in a panentheism.

a) God immanent yet transcendent : the divine energies according to Saint Gregory Palamas, Kallistos Ware

b) The universe as hypostatic inherence in the logos of God : panentheism in the eastern orthodox perspective, Alexei V. Nesteruk

c) The cosmic vision of Saint Maximos the Confessor, Andrew Louth

d) Panentheism : a field-oriented approach, Joseph A. Bracken

e) The logos as wisdom : a starting point for a Sophianc theology of creation, Celia E. Deane-Drummond

Bulgakov’s Account of Creation: Neglected Aspects, Critics and Contemporary Relevance, Pavel L. Gavriljuk, International journal of systematic theology, 2015, Volume: 17, Issue: 4, Pages: 450-463

Creatio ex nihilo and the Divine Ideas in Aquinas: How fair is Bulgakov’s critique?, John Hughes, Modern Theology, Volume 29, Issue 2, 2013

“Words and phrases must be stretched towards a generality foreign to their ordinary usage; and, however such elements of language be stabilized as technicalities, they remain metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap” ~ Whitehead, Process and Reality

Implicit here is my long- standing conviction that every metaphysical system is inevitably provisional and thus in principle open to reform and revision. ~ Joseph Bracken

Notes regarding Divine-Human Interaction & Grace per Libertarian Free Will

My account, below, will not exhaust every manner of divine-human interaction & of grace, but will address one aspect that I find deeply consoling — that God infuses grace universally, superabundantly & even without our assent, ever respecting our libertarian free will.

In reconciling divine-human interactions via grace & libertarian freedom of the will, might we draw on diverse conceptions from Scotism, Neoplatonism & Thomism (analytical not Banezian)?

We could conceive of both Scotus & Maximus as libertarians for whom the intellect’s necessarily operative but not wholly determinative in volition, where self-determinative volitional acts remain limited in potency to the logoi of being, well-being & eternal being.

The divine & human wills are thus not connected by one’s choosing between “this or that” but in “why the will wills at all,” as it does remain free not to act (via a type of quiescence). Such a volition would entail a moderately libertarian & moderately voluntarist free will.

Scotus locates the will in efficient causation. For many, this represents a conceptual relocation from the formal.

Interestingly, this can be squared with Eleonore Stump’s relocation of the operation of grace from efficient to formal causality over against Banezian premotion.

Stump distinguishes between an “assent to,” a “refusal of” & an “absence of refusal of” grace, as, per Aquinas, one can cease to refuse grace without assenting to it.

God thus infuses grace in us all, even when we don’t assent, as long as we’re not refusing it, i.e. as long as our wills are “quiescent.”

Thereby He infuses the good will of our justifying faith.

Thereby we can abandon ourselves to Divine Providence through quiescence.

Thus, let us pray –

w/Ignatius: “Take, Lord, receive all my liberty.”

w/the Psalmist: “Be still & know that I am God.”

with Merton: “I know you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.”

May we both cooperate with the graces of today & be alert to divine infusions.

Divine Freedom & Necessity in a Cosmotheandrism

For Bulgakov: I”s are constituted by “Thou”s

In the semiotic approach to emergence, Terry Deacon has coined two terms:

1) an “ententional” phenomenon is characterized by

2) a specific reality that it lacks, i.e. an “absential

Those terms, for me, bring to mind what I would call “embodied antinomies” or dynamical ententional-absential aboutnesses.

If epistemology models ontology, then, not every mediation need dialectically express some accommodative middle, whether epistemologically &/or ontologically.

Rather, because some of reality’s deepest value-realizations are precisely generated by the antinomial embodiments of ententional phenomena in ontologically creative tensions with their absentials (i.e. via epistemic & axiological distancing), our languages can semiotically express such dynamics only through such non-accommodative mediations, as would nurture a healthy aporetic sense.

We might say, for example, that ententional “I”s are constituted by absential “Thou”s.

And we might even observe that certain forms of “freedom” are constituted by “necessity.”

We could even say that, we, as creatures, exist as absential “thou”s for the necessarily freely willing loving God, the supremely ententional “I am.”

Such a divine ententionality depends essentially on a supremely personal divine intentionality per a divine volition that’s, at once, in some sense groundless as well as grounded by a self-constituting love, beyond all of our meager voluntarist or libertarian conceptions.

What might the Trinity’s economic generation of our own antinomial embodiments, our own radically social natures, our own human ententional phenomena (logoi) & absentials (tropoi), reveal “about” the ad intra Trinitarian generations & taxis?

The economic can, in principle, reveal nothing ontologically quidditative about the immanent Trinity (ad intra aporia).

Semiotically, however, because the divine energies do, at once, connotatively signify the essence & denotatively indicate the hypostases, from the unitary nature of the divine energies, while epistemically constrained by sophianic aporia (e.g. un/created, in/determinate, non/necessitating, causal logoi & teloi?), we can nevertheless connotatively infer the ultimate unicity of the divine ousia, even though constrained by essential aporia (e.g. indivisible yet communicable?), and denotatively infer the unitive relations of the divine hypostases, i.e. Monarchy of the Father & divine taxis, although constrained by hypostatic aporia (e.g. how & which metaphysical idiomata are modeled by our epistemic gnorismata?).

Because human symbolic inference is irreducibly triadic, interpretively, it’s also inherently performative, which means such connotative & denotative inferences, above, flow from our efficacious participations in the divine logoi, i.e. concretely & experientially, hence, sacramentally. Only then can our participatory imaginations, next, lend themselves to the post-experiential abstractions & discursive formulations of our Eucharistic anamnesis.

So, this creation’s not born of any necessity as would in any measure negate the eternal freedoms (both with & without ratio, i.e. both groundless & of a self-constituted ground, e.g. love) of nondeterminate divine being. Rather, it would ensue from the radically free, kenotic self-limitation of the self-determined divine being.

The Logos thus freely & donatively gifts participable logoi.
And not just per those bilateral theandric logoi as are proportionally (asymmetrically) participated in via incarnational humanization & theotic divinization, such as when we live as we pray – Biblically, creedally & liturgically. The entire creation participates, cosmically, proportional to other ententional aboutnesses or teloi – all as existentially oriented in an emergent hierarchy of nested absentials:
• veldo-poietic (field-like) entities present as teleopotent or end-unbounded;
• cosmopoietic – teleomatic or end-stated;
• biopoietic – teleonomic or end-directed or end-coded;
• sentiopoietic – teleoqualic or end-purposed; and
• sapiopoietic – teleologic or end-intended.

As such, this account approaches being, apophatically, as radically discontinuous ontologically, with an aporetic approach to nondeterminate, self-determinate, indeterminate & determinate entities, which exhibit characteristic aboutnesses via manifold & multiform antinomial embodiments.

Kataphatically, reality’s cosmotheandric hierarchy of ententional-absential participations via the Maximian Logos-logoi identity affords us a profound degree of existential actionability as we proportionally imitate the Christ, analogically & ontologically – each per her unique embodied tropoi, and literally & teleologically – all via participation in identical logoi.

Antinomial embodiments thus constitutively relates all being, whether nondeterminate, self -determinate & in/determinate, in dynamical terms of essential unicity, hypostatic unity & unitary energeia.

The protological (paterology, christology & pneumatological) thus constitutes – not only the eschatological, but – the ecclesiological, soteriological, sacramental & sophiological.

See: https://sylvestjohn.org/2017/12/13/contemplative-being-behaving-believing-belonging-desiring-becoming-an-outline-of-foundations/

Liturgically, then, after our meditation on the Word, the Logos, through our Offertory, our own ecstasis & proodos of self-transcendence, we’ll enjoy Communion, our enstasis & mone in union, to then go forth empowered to love & serve via our Post Communion epecstasis & epistrophe or self-reception.

Notes regarding different forms of volition:

indetermined w/o ratio or with freedom from necessity, including one’s choosing whether to will at all, moderately voluntarist

in/determined w/ratio (desires or needs) or freedom to – assent, refuse or permit (absence of refusal), moderately libertarian

self-determined or self-limited or freedom for, as in kenosis, authentically sacrificial

These are imagoes Dei of the Divine Volition which is nondeterminate (both w/ & w/o ratio) & self-determinate via ad intra ur-kenosis & ad extra kenosis.

Neo-Chalcedonianism is Uncommonly Commonsensical

Cyril & Maximus ambitioned nothing robustly explanatory. Instead, they much more modestly established Christological grounds, which remain fertile for cultivating new meanings of the Incarnation, today. In our Trinitology & Christology, we can take a commonsensical approach to understanding the divine persons. We can fruitfully employ vague & general exploratory heuristics, using grammatical semantic references, in our ongoing probes of the meaning of our encounters of these persons in scripture & liturgy.

We similarly probe the meanings of methexis & theosis. Terms referring to essential propria, hypostatic idiomata & relational energeia & logoi, in principle, can’t be considered constitutive ontological definitions suitable for use in analytical, explanatory metaphysics.

The question of meaning put to us was – not WHAT, but – WHO do you say I am?

As we recognize & affirm the protological in the eschatological & vice versa, this needn’t entail a thoroughgoing theological determinism, not even for a universalist stance, at least, not if we properly distinguish & nuance determination, causation, necessitation & freedom.

Proportional participations in Maximian logoi, beyond being theandric realities, express universal cosmic realities?

This evokes for me Bulgakov’s seeing divine beauty in nature, God as indifferentia oppositorum & his embrace of Nicholas of Cusa’s coincidentia oppositorum.

Not thru an ontological “middling” but via a teleological “muddling” of antinomial realities do sophia, energeia & logoi reveal the unitary nature of the divine energies, ultimate unicity of the divine ousia & unitive relations of the divine hypostases.

Peirce’s semiotic realism well navigates past the existentially perilous shoals of an empty nominalism, vulgar pragmatism, idealist anti-realism, arbitrary voluntarism & corrosive relativism.

Insofar as life’s inescapably liturgical, we might more parsimoniously refer to that creedal collection of negations as the Litany of Nihilism.

To the extent that our creeds are inherently orthopraxic, we must all be on our guard to not celebrate this Litany of Nihilism, i.e. unawares & in the very manners that we move and live and have our being.

This is to observe that we all need to be more vigilant, as we will all on occasion entertain angels, unawares, and they best not be Screwtape or Wormwood.

While Peirce’s abduction of the reality of God does barely sneak by a naive fideism, any refusal to journey beyond his Ens Necessarium would implicitly entail a radically apophatic deism.

So, in the same way that Peirce went beyond both Scotism & German Idealism, influenced by & appropriating their best intuitions, setting aside any inadequacies, I’ve found a most profitable way to go beyond (not contrary to) Peirce is by turning to Булга́ков & Флоре́нский.

Of the Actus Purus, we may semantically predicate though not ontologically define essential, personal & energetic distinctions like being, willing & doing. If we attentively, concretely & experientially behold the Trinity’s universalized & particularized presences among & donative presents for us, we’ll be overwhelmed by the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. In our post-experiential processing, as our participatory imaginations yield to a cognitive map-making of discursive reasoning, an ineluctable antinomial residue will inevitably remain.

Our numinous experiences do not dialectically resolve the dynamical tensions that resist our fallible reasoning. We don’t know what to make of essences, persons & energies, which present, at once, groundless, grounded & self-grounded vis a vis our meager conceptions of necessity, freedom & kenosis. And this involves no mere Gödelian trade-off of consistent axioms for systematic incompleteness, such as we employ for determinate being. Rather, we’re confronted by an horizon where our logic’s unavoidably paraconsistent, at best, our systematics remain semi-formal, at best, the nature of our language, itself, antinomial, at best, our notions of identity alternately absolute, relative or nonstrict, at best.

But, wait!

For philosophers, who’ve paid any attention at all to the intractable aporia confronting our accounts regarding the origins of the quantum, of the cosmos, of life, of consciousness & of language, the above-listed epistemic constraints & antinomial residues yet pertain no less to the essences, persons & energies of determinate beings than they do to their divine analogates?

Just as with our failed theodicies, what will finally rescue our rationalistic theologies, will not be sylly syllogisms. What will finally satisfy our insatiable appetite for Goodness beyond all goodness, our admirable quest for Beauty beyond all beauty, our insatiable longing for Unity beyond all unity, our transformative realization of a Freedom beyond all freedom, need not require the elimination of reality’s antinomial residues but, instead, may be divinely provisioned by a ceremonial rescue of being by Being, itself, Who loves us with the same ur-kenotic Love of Our Father, Who eternally generates our Saviour & Advocate, the Son & Spirit. Having thus tasted & seen the Goodness of the Lord, we might even lose interest in His antinomies, or, at least, be no more concerned with them than we are with the axioms that ground 2+2=4, for which one would have to proceed halfway through the Principia to grasp their proof? It’ll finally be the participatory encounter with Love that calms our restless hearts.

Any idle curiosity regarding the biographical knowledge ABOUT our Divine Spouse will thus get eclipsed by the experiential knowledge OF Her via Mystical Union in a vision, most beatific.

The concept of ens is everywhere engulfed in antinomies. In fact ens seems to be subject to the most contrary dialectical passions: it is one but also many, necessary but also contingent, infinite & finite, immutable yet mutable … Rosmini

The Litany of Nihilism employs a vulgar pragmatism as a theory of knowledge, but, regarding a theory of truth, is eliminativist. Few journey that way, theoretically, b/c it’s just not sustainably actionable, existentially.

All of us do fall prey to lapsing into a practical nihilism, as we un/consciously opt, in any given moment, at this or that existential disjunction, to live as if there “really” is no truth, beauty, goodness, unity or freedom.

Our belief in Truth is a disposition & decision we make anew, in every moment, b/c, as God sustains our essential natures via creatio continua, as imagoes Dei, we volitionally sustain our virtuous (or vicious) secondary natures per our own co-creative creatio continua.

Whether historically justifiable or not, Bulgakov charitably interpreted Apollinaris as consistent w/Chalcedon. We might return the favor & tweak Bulgakov’s sophiology in doctrinally consistent ways?

Sophia may not be the only idiom but, for me, seems a felicitous one to collectively approach:

a) paterologically, the monarchia as principium of the hypostatic unity;

b) christologically, the eternal hypostatic union, Logos-logoi indentity, created & uncreated logoi;

c) pneumatologically, the eternal universal cosmic-indwelling presence;

d) trinitologically, the ad extra economic dynamics in relation to ad intra immanence;

e) theanthropically, androgyne, feminine & masculine realities;

f) scripturally, divine wisdom;

g) speculatively, antinomial (not dialectical) mediations & the essential unicity; h) eschatologically, the eternal protological ur-kenotic taxis, kenotic creatio continua & theotokos’ incarnational fiat;

i) soteriologically, an aesthetic teleology;

j-1) sacramentally, creaturely imitation & participation, and

j-2) sophiologically, theurgy & theosis – via the divine unitary energeia & logoi (at once humanizing & divinizing);

k) ecclesiologically, the Mystical Bride;

l) mystagogically, cosmotheandric intimacization;

m) theodicially, intertwined ontic & personal evils, as privative realities finally overcome by sacrificial love per

m-1) a primordially liminal, supra-temporal fall or

m-2) sophiology placed in non-nominalistic process theology.

n/ systematically, its anticipation of an open theist approach. In my view, it best be re-situated in a view more sympathetic to classical theist commitments, e.g. Norris Clarke’s personalist Thomism or Joe Bracken’s neo-Whiteheadian divine matrix.

Also see: Paul L. Gavrilyuk (2005). The kenotic theology of Sergius Bulgakov. Scottish Journal of Theology, 58, pp 25

http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0036930605001390

Bulgakov’s Sophiological Panentheism’, keynote address at the Fourth Annual Symposium in honor or Fr. Georges Florovsky, ‘Creation and Creaturehood: The Doctrine of Creation in the Patristic Tradition’, Princeton Theological Seminary, 14-15 February 2014

https://www.academia.edu/9802768/_Bulgakov_s_Sophiological_Panentheism_keynote_address_at_the_Fourth_Annual_Symposium_in_honor_or_Fr._Georges_Florovsky_Creation_and_Creaturehood_The_Doctrine_of_Creation_in_the_Patristic_Tradition_Princeton_Theological_Seminary_14-15_February_2014

‘Graced Creatureliness: Ontological Tension in the Uncreated/Created Distinction in the Sophiologies of Solov’ev, Bulgakov and Milbank’, Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, 47.1-2 (2006), 163-190.

https://academia.edu/220401/_Graced_Creatureliness_Ontological_Tension_in_the_Uncreated_Created_Distinction_in_the_Sophiologies_of_Solov_ev_Bulgakov_and_Milbank_Logos_A_Journal_of_Eastern_Christian_Studies_47.1-2_2006_163-190

Theology serves as Queen of the Sciences in an axiologically integral relationship to them but doesn’t deny their methodological autonomy. While it’s implicit metaphysica generalis rejects nonoverlapping magisteria, still, its role contributes – not explanatory, but – only heuristic value. And it can thus impart same even for those who receive its metaphysical presuppositions as mere methodological stipulations. As such, it should emulate the epistemic humility of a servant leader, eschewing any triumphalistic hubris. There’s no reason to believe that a robustly fecund theological heuristic can’t fruitfully proceed from a radically inclusivistic pneumatology (rather than imagining its success need require some militantly Christocentric account).

Bulgakov: Science is sophic: this is the answer we can give to skeptical pragmaticism & dogmatic positivism. It is removed from Truth, for it is a child of this world … but it’s also a child of Sophia, the organizing force that leads this world to Truth.

Sophiology, Science And Technology

Moderately Libertarian Approaches to the Will – with Scotistic & Maximian influences

Both Duns Scotus & Maximus the Confessor sufficiently nuance their notions of the will in ways that sufficiently navigate past both voluntarist & intellectualist flaws.

The following strategies are influenced by but not developed solely from Scotistic & Maximian approaches.

relocate primary causation (as an immediate, continuously conserving cause) to the act of existence, which is in limited potency to an essential cause

recognize that secondary causality includes realities that vary in degrees of indeterminacy

relocate the will from a formal to an efficient causal act, which is in limited potency to a material cause

relocate the operation of grace from an efficient to a formal cause, which is in limited potency to a final cause

distinguish will (self-determination) from nature (hetero-determination)

distinguish an “assent to,” a “refusal of” & an “absence of refusal of” grace (as one can cease to refuse grace without assenting to it)

distinguish three logoi of being, well-being, and eternal being, God the sole cause of the first & third, while well-being’s intermediately caused by our sponaneous movement & gnomic willing (epistemic & axiological distancing), hence, intellect’s necessarily operative but not wholly determinative in volition

attribute gnomic will to evolution not a “fall”

distinguish freedoms to assent, refuse or permit (absence of refusal)

distinguish:

freedom from – an indeterminate willing w/o ratio (choosing among goods, including one’s choosing whether to will at all) from

freedom to – a determinate willing w/ratio (fallibly choosing between goods, per one’s constitutive desires & needs, and privations, iow, refusing grace) and

freedom for – a self-determined or self-limited willing (as in kenosis)

Helpful Resources:

The Subtle Doctor and Free Will, Part 1, Maximus Confesses

The Subtle Doctor and Free Will, Part 2, Duns Scotus on Freedom of the Will and Divine Foreknowledge

A paradox in Scotus account of freedom of the will by Gonzalez-Ayesta

Duns Scotus on the Natural Will by C. Gonzalez-Ayesta

Chapter 4, Duns Scotus on Freedom as a Pure Perfection – Necessity & Contingency by Gonzalez-Ayesta in
Margaret Cameron ed., Philosophy of Mind in the Early and High Middle Ages: The History of the Philosophy of Mind, Volume 2, Routledge, Jul 6, 2018

St. Maximus the Confessor on the Will—Natural and Gnomic by David Bradshaw, Ph.D.

But the Problem of Free Will by David W. Opderbeck, Ph.D.

Divine Freedom & Necessity (analogues & antinomies)


no best possible worlds but a pareto front of equipoised optimalities, choosing among the perfectly good – jssylvest

Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology, Oxford University Press, 2016

Brandon Gallaher shows that the classical Christian understanding of God having a non-necessary relationship to the world and divine freedom being a sheer assertion of God’s will must be completely rethought.

Review of Brandon Gallaher, Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology (Oxford: OUP, 2016), Reviews in Religion & Theology 24.4 (2017): 697-699–Justin Shaun Coyle.pdf by Justin Shaun Coyle

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

One can find further resources regarding Scotistic & Maximian libertarian conceptions of the will within these notes, above, especially by searching for Mary Beth Ingham, Marilyn McCord Adams & Eleonore Stump.

Nature & Grace, Natural & Supernatural, Primary & Secondary Causality, Volitional Aspects With & Without “Ratio

Ordinarily & universally, primary causality operates via existential & formal acts of secondary causation per their essential & final potencies, i.e. in the gratuity of creation or naturally.

Extraordinarily & particularly, primary causality operates – not only via those existential & formal secondary causes, but – via efficient causes, i.e. gratuities of grace & miracles or supernaturally.

Only, per the divine kenotic condescension, grace does not act via the efficient cause of human volition (teleological intention, which includes the proto-rationality* normally designated as w/o ratio). This does not preclude divine activity via other human efficient causes per hierarchically nested (embedded) emergent, ententional (& absential) phenomena (teleoqualic, teleonomic, teleomatic & teleopotent).

*The proto-rationality of connaturality, abductive inference, illative sense, tacit dimensionality, etc apprehends the beauty of universal harmonic orders, both implicate & explicate.

When talking about the divine being or essence, aseity means “not made.” When talking about divine persons or hypostases, aseity has a different meaning – “not from.” All of the persons are “not made,” but only the Father is “not from” God.

To what might such an eternal (not temporal) cause, origin or principle (aitia, arche or principium) refer? Communication. The Father freely & willingly communicates Love, eternally loving (begetting) the Son, loving (spirating) the Holy Spirit & loving (exnihilating) creation.

All persons then participate in the Logoi proportionate to the nature of their being, e. g. God “from” God, “made” by God, hypostatic union, etc
#

While neither Maximus nor Scotus viewed the Incarnation as a result of some felix culpa, that conclusion was a response to different questions posed by each. There’s little doubt that they would’ve very much agreed with each other.
Oversimplifying, but – Maximus inquired after the purpose of creation, concluding it was the means toward the end of the Incarnation. Scotus inquired after the purpose of the Incarnation, concluding it was to communicate divine love & Ad majórem Dei glóriam.
When we conceive of divine freedom (e.g. creative) in terms of w/& w/o ratio, as variously ungrounded, constitutively-grounded &/or self-grounded, what’s “constitutively grounded” would refer to – not an essential necessity, but – a volitional inevitability.
All is distant from God, and is remote from Him not by place but by nature— ou tôpo alla physei— as St. John Damascene explains. And this distance is never removed, but is only, as it were, overlapped by immeasurable Divine love. ~ Archpriest Georges Florovsky

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian and Byzantine Writers ~ Bogdan G. Bucur https://academia.edu/4996258/Foreordained_from_All_Eternity_The_Mystery_of_the_Incarnation_According_to_Some_Early_Christian_and_Byzantine_Writers

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian…

academia.edu
#

While recognizing that “dance” clearly lacks philological warrant, LaCugna valued dance because of its metaphorical effectiveness. Still, what justifies a metaphor that portrays such a human participation in divine operations?

Well, even if not ad intra trinitarian taxis, certainly the hypostatic union. The perichoretic concept was used in late Patristic Trinitology to convey – not circle dance, but – mutual interpenetration or permeation without merging or mixing (Maximus & the Damascene).
But, such a concept was first employed in early Patristic Christology by the Cappadocians (Nyssen & Nazianzen). While the Trinitarian perichoresis refers to homogenous, consubstantial realities, the Christological refers heterogenously & heterosubstantially.

The practical upshot?
There’s no reason it can’t refer cosmotheandrically!

Beyond Christological perichoresis, the Logos-logoi identity of Maximus further emphasizes how we as creatures participate, albeit proportional to our being, in divinity, for the very same logoi that humanize the divine also divinize the human.

Dance thus remains a great metaphor, even if much of Western theology stumbled upon it accidentally!

cf. Stamatović, Slobodan. (2016). The Meaning of Perichoresis. Open Theology. 2. 10.1515/opth-2016-0026.
#
As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus is more felicitous w/Capps is all.

More Notes re Theological Anthropology of this project


Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautiful.

Since the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi
#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological
& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
#
Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the divine logoi, Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).
#
Another нет (nyet) to Aquinas’ irreversibility thesis & да to Maximian irrevocability! “Scotus is particularly dismissive of the view (held by others besides Thomas) that angels, once they choose, choose irrevocably (ibid. d.7 esp. nn.9–26).
The possibility is expressly left open by Scotus that some angels sinned but repented (ibid. d.6 q.2 n.78).” So, not all medieval speculative angelology supports Feser’s post-mortem anthropology & related infernalistic premises.
I’d continue to insist that “habitus,” whether as one’s virtuous &/or vicious secondary nature, remains always situated between formal acts & final potencies, facilitating or crippling but never “killing” those potentialities, which remain eternally immersed in Divine Logoi.
#
Yes. Scotus holds the keys to any coherent angelology: All finite causes must be together, spatially, to produce an effect. I’d made up a little heuristic to navigate such distinctions but, instead, relied on the term “embodied.” Scotus departs from TA in many regards.
1) in/communicable essence? all essences, divine & creaturely are communicable 2) dis/embodied? all creaturely entities are naturally embodied (communicatability & spatial extendability) 3) in/animate? some entities are animate & some animate entities are agential 4) in/corporeal agents? angels & contingently dis/carnate souls are incorporeal 5) im/material? agential formal causes are immaterial 6) presence spatially located operationally (Aquinas) or per se (Scotus)?
#

When talking about the divine being or essence, aseity means “not made.” When talking about divine persons or hypostases, aseity has a different meaning – “not from.” All of the persons are “not made,” but only the Father is “not from” God.

To what might such an eternal (not temporal) cause, origin or principle (aitia, arche or principium) refer? Communication. The Father freely & willingly communicates Love, eternally loving (begetting) the Son, loving (spirating) the Holy Spirit & loving (exnihilating) creation.

All persons then participate in the Logoi proportionate to the nature of their being, e. g. God “from” God, “made” by God, hypostatic union, etc
#

While neither Maximus nor Scotus viewed the Incarnation as a result of some felix culpa, that conclusion was a response to different questions posed by each. There’s little doubt that they would’ve very much agreed with each other.
Oversimplifying, but – Maximus inquired after the purpose of creation, concluding it was the means toward the end of the Incarnation. Scotus inquired after the purpose of the Incarnation, concluding it was to communicate divine love & Ad majórem Dei glóriam.
When we conceive of divine freedom (e.g. creative) in terms of w/& w/o ratio, as variously ungrounded, constitutively-grounded &/or self-grounded, what’s “constitutively grounded” would refer to – not an essential necessity, but – a volitional inevitability.
All is distant from God, and is remote from Him not by place but by nature— ou tôpo alla physei— as St. John Damascene explains. And this distance is never removed, but is only, as it were, overlapped by immeasurable Divine love. ~ Archpriest Georges Florovsky

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian and Byzantine Writers ~ Bogdan G. Bucur https://academia.edu/4996258/Foreordained_from_All_Eternity_The_Mystery_of_the_Incarnation_According_to_Some_Early_Christian_and_Byzantine_Writers

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian…

academia.edu
#

While recognizing that “dance” clearly lacks philological warrant, LaCugna valued dance because of its metaphorical effectiveness. Still, what justifies a metaphor that portrays such a human participation in divine operations?
Well, even if not ad intra trinitarian taxis, certainly the hypostatic union. The perichoretic concept was used in late Patristic Trinitology to convey – not circle dance, but – mutual interpenetration or permeation without merging or mixing (Maximus & the Damascene).
But, such a concept was first employed in early Patristic Christology by the Cappadocians (Nyssen & Nazianzen). While the Trinitarian perichoresis refers to homogenous, consubstantial realities, the Christological refers heterogenously & heterosubstantially.
The practical upshot?
There’s no reason it can’t refer cosmotheandrically!
Beyond Christological perichoresis, the Logos-logoi identity of Maximus further emphasizes how we as creatures participate, albeit proportional to our being, in divinity, for the very same logoi that humanize the divine also divinize the human.
Dance thus remains a great metaphor, even if much of Western theology stumbled upon it accidentally!
cf. Stamatović, Slobodan. (2016). The Meaning of Perichoresis. Open Theology. 2. 10.1515/opth-2016-0026.
#
As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus is more felicitous w/Capps is all.
#
Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautiful.

Since the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi
#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological
& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
#
Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the divine logoi, Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).
#
Another нет (nyet) to Aquinas’ irreversibility thesis & да to Maximian irrevocability! “Scotus is particularly dismissive of the view (held by others besides Thomas) that angels, once they choose, choose irrevocably (ibid. d.7 esp. nn.9–26).
The possibility is expressly left open by Scotus that some angels sinned but repented (ibid. d.6 q.2 n.78).” So, not all medieval speculative angelology supports Feser’s post-mortem anthropology & related infernalistic premises.
I’d continue to insist that “habitus,” whether as one’s virtuous &/or vicious secondary nature, remains always situated between formal acts & final potencies, facilitating or crippling but never “killing” those potentialities, which remain eternally immersed in Divine Logoi.
#
Yes. Scotus holds the keys to any coherent angelology: All finite causes must be together, spatially, to produce an effect. I’d made up a little heuristic to navigate such distinctions but, instead, relied on the term “embodied.” Scotus departs from TA in many regards.
1) in/communicable essence? all essences, divine & creaturely are communicable 2) dis/embodied? all creaturely entities are naturally embodied (communicatability & spatial extendability) 3) in/animate? some entities are animate & some animate entities are agential 4) in/corporeal agents? angels & contingently dis/carnate souls are incorporeal 5) im/material? agential formal causes are immaterial 6) presence spatially located operationally (Aquinas) or per se (Scotus)?
#

How might our experience of God serve as an authoritative source of theology? Peter Neumann employs the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to engage the projects of 3 contemporary Pentecostal theologians: D. Macchia, Simon K.H. Chan & Amos Yong …
placing them in dialogue w/Catholic, Orthodox & Protestant streams: Congar, E Johnson & D Gelpi; Lossky & Bulgakov; & Moltmann, J Cone & Jenson. Pentecostal Experience: An Ecumenical Encounter, Pickwick Publications 2012 I resonate most w/ Yong, Gelpi, Bulgakov & Moltmann.
Yong echoes the “warning of Robert Jenson that the tension in pneumatology between the particularity of the Spirit in Jesus & in the Church & the universality of the Spirit as a cosmic reality ‘strains Western intellectual tradition to breaking . . .

To identify in other religious traditions elements of grace capable of sustaining the positive response of their members to God’s invitation is much more difficult. It requires a discernment for which criteria have to be established. ~ Giovanni Cereti http://vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01091997_p-56_en.html

cf Discerning the Spirit in World Religions: The Search for Criteria by Benno van den Toren in The Spirit Is Moving: New Pathways in Pneumatology, Studies in Reformed Theology, V 38 pp 215–231, Ed: Gijsbert van den Brink, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman & Maarten Wisse

cf KirsteenKim, The Holy Spirit in the world: a global conversation

The Holy Spirit in the world: a global conversation

Because experiential discernment criteria (Kirsteen Kim) will have ecclesial (confess Jesus is Lord), ethical (fruits), charismatic (gifts) & liberational aspects , we have to go beyond a mere hierarchical episcopal magisterium (vis a vis Scripture & tradition)

to include other magisteria. Theologians, laity, the poor & marginalized & believers of non-Christian religions must also be considered to achieve authoritative teaching (Peter Phan). I would add criteria related to a growth in intimacy, i.e. devotional, theotic, etc

As we go forward to better establish pneumatological discernment criteria in a global context – not just theistic, but – Christic criteria remain essential, because Christ remains – not just our norm, but – our Goal.
#
If not for a healthy aporetic sense, paraconsistent logic, dialethism, antinomism, semiformal systems, gödelian axiomatic constraints, our speculative approaches to quantum, cosmic, life, sentience & language origins would explode. The Trinity? Got a sylly syllogism for that!
#

The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus more felicitous w/Capps is all. As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
#
Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautifulSince the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi identity?

#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological

& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
It’s necessary to inhabit the proper historical thought patterns, as they emerged from post-experiential encounters (exegetical & liturgical) of Christ. Such a successful inhabitation (existential) presupposes our own holistic encounters of Christ in Scripture,
worship & theosis — encounters that must be adequately ortho-communal, ortho-pathic, ortho-praxic & ortho-theotic if our thought patterns are ever to be sufficiently ortho-doxic. Translated, right belonging, right desiring, right behaving & right becoming
will best foster right believing. Only then can we optimally engage, historically, the proper thought patterns (patristic &/or scholastic) & go beyond mere recitations of true statements & mere rehearsals of proper grammars to authentically encounter Christ &
will best foster right believing. Only then can we optimally engage, historically, the proper thought patterns (patristic &/or scholastic) & go beyond mere recitations of true statements & mere rehearsals of proper grammars to authentically encounter Christ &
to truthfully bear witness to Him in our thoughts, words & deeds. Otherwise, we’ll talk the talk, creedally, but may inadvertently find ourselves in material heresies, not just christological or trinitological (as in the example above), but walking the walks of gnosticism,
historicism, manichaeism, antinomianism, donatism, iconoclasm, pelagianism, jansenism, or worst of all, a practical nihilism.
#

Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the logoi.

Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).

When talking about the divine being or essence, aseity means “not made.” When talking about divine persons or hypostases, aseity has a different meaning – “not from.” All of the persons are “not made,” but only the Father is “not from” God.

To what might such an eternal (not temporal) cause, origin or principle (aitia, arche or principium) refer? Communication. The Father freely & willingly communicates Love, eternally loving (begetting) the Son, loving (spirating) the Holy Spirit & loving (exnihilating) creation.

All persons then participate in the Logoi proportionate to the nature of their being, e. g. God “from” God, “made” by God, hypostatic union, etc
#

While neither Maximus nor Scotus viewed the Incarnation as a result of some felix culpa, that conclusion was a response to different questions posed by each. There’s little doubt that they would’ve very much agreed with each other.
Oversimplifying, but – Maximus inquired after the purpose of creation, concluding it was the means toward the end of the Incarnation. Scotus inquired after the purpose of the Incarnation, concluding it was to communicate divine love & Ad majórem Dei glóriam.
When we conceive of divine freedom (e.g. creative) in terms of w/& w/o ratio, as variously ungrounded, constitutively-grounded &/or self-grounded, what’s “constitutively grounded” would refer to – not an essential necessity, but – a volitional inevitability.
All is distant from God, and is remote from Him not by place but by nature— ou tôpo alla physei— as St. John Damascene explains. And this distance is never removed, but is only, as it were, overlapped by immeasurable Divine love. ~ Archpriest Georges Florovsky

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian and Byzantine Writers ~ Bogdan G. Bucur https://academia.edu/4996258/Foreordained_from_All_Eternity_The_Mystery_of_the_Incarnation_According_to_Some_Early_Christian_and_Byzantine_Writers

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian…

academia.edu
#

While recognizing that “dance” clearly lacks philological warrant, LaCugna valued dance because of its metaphorical effectiveness. Still, what justifies a metaphor that portrays such a human participation in divine operations?
Well, even if not ad intra trinitarian taxis, certainly the hypostatic union. The perichoretic concept was used in late Patristic Trinitology to convey – not circle dance, but – mutual interpenetration or permeation without merging or mixing (Maximus & the Damascene).
But, such a concept was first employed in early Patristic Christology by the Cappadocians (Nyssen & Nazianzen). While the Trinitarian perichoresis refers to homogenous, consubstantial realities, the Christological refers heterogenously & heterosubstantially.
The practical upshot?
There’s no reason it can’t refer cosmotheandrically!
Beyond Christological perichoresis, the Logos-logoi identity of Maximus further emphasizes how we as creatures participate, albeit proportional to our being, in divinity, for the very same logoi that humanize the divine also divinize the human.
Dance thus remains a great metaphor, even if much of Western theology stumbled upon it accidentally!
cf. Stamatović, Slobodan. (2016). The Meaning of Perichoresis. Open Theology. 2. 10.1515/opth-2016-0026.
#
As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus is more felicitous w/Capps is all.
#
Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautiful.

Since the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi
#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological
& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
#
Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the divine logoi, Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).
#
Another нет (nyet) to Aquinas’ irreversibility thesis & да to Maximian irrevocability! “Scotus is particularly dismissive of the view (held by others besides Thomas) that angels, once they choose, choose irrevocably (ibid. d.7 esp. nn.9–26).
The possibility is expressly left open by Scotus that some angels sinned but repented (ibid. d.6 q.2 n.78).” So, not all medieval speculative angelology supports Feser’s post-mortem anthropology & related infernalistic premises.
I’d continue to insist that “habitus,” whether as one’s virtuous &/or vicious secondary nature, remains always situated between formal acts & final potencies, facilitating or crippling but never “killing” those potentialities, which remain eternally immersed in Divine Logoi.
#
Yes. Scotus holds the keys to any coherent angelology: All finite causes must be together, spatially, to produce an effect. I’d made up a little heuristic to navigate such distinctions but, instead, relied on the term “embodied.” Scotus departs from TA in many regards.
1) in/communicable essence? all essences, divine & creaturely are communicable 2) dis/embodied? all creaturely entities are naturally embodied (communicatability & spatial extendability) 3) in/animate? some entities are animate & some animate entities are agential 4) in/corporeal agents? angels & contingently dis/carnate souls are incorporeal 5) im/material? agential formal causes are immaterial 6) presence spatially located operationally (Aquinas) or per se (Scotus)?
#

How might our experience of God serve as an authoritative source of theology? Peter Neumann employs the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to engage the projects of 3 contemporary Pentecostal theologians: D. Macchia, Simon K.H. Chan & Amos Yong …
placing them in dialogue w/Catholic, Orthodox & Protestant streams: Congar, E Johnson & D Gelpi; Lossky & Bulgakov; & Moltmann, J Cone & Jenson. Pentecostal Experience: An Ecumenical Encounter, Pickwick Publications 2012 I resonate most w/ Yong, Gelpi, Bulgakov & Moltmann.
Yong echoes the “warning of Robert Jenson that the tension in pneumatology between the particularity of the Spirit in Jesus & in the Church & the universality of the Spirit as a cosmic reality ‘strains Western intellectual tradition to breaking . . .

To identify in other religious traditions elements of grace capable of sustaining the positive response of their members to God’s invitation is much more difficult. It requires a discernment for which criteria have to be established. ~ Giovanni Cereti http://vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01091997_p-56_en.html

cf Discerning the Spirit in World Religions: The Search for Criteria by Benno van den Toren in The Spirit Is Moving: New Pathways in Pneumatology, Studies in Reformed Theology, V 38 pp 215–231, Ed: Gijsbert van den Brink, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman & Maarten Wisse

cf KirsteenKim, The Holy Spirit in the world: a global conversation

The Holy Spirit in the world: a global conversation

Because experiential discernment criteria (Kirsteen Kim) will have ecclesial (confess Jesus is Lord), ethical (fruits), charismatic (gifts) & liberational aspects , we have to go beyond a mere hierarchical episcopal magisterium (vis a vis Scripture & tradition)

to include other magisteria. Theologians, laity, the poor & marginalized & believers of non-Christian religions must also be considered to achieve authoritative teaching (Peter Phan). I would add criteria related to a growth in intimacy, i.e. devotional, theotic, etc

As we go forward to better establish pneumatological discernment criteria in a global context – not just theistic, but – Christic criteria remain essential, because Christ remains – not just our norm, but – our Goal.
#
If not for a healthy aporetic sense, paraconsistent logic, dialethism, antinomism, semiformal systems, gödelian axiomatic constraints, our speculative approaches to quantum, cosmic, life, sentience & language origins would explode. The Trinity? Got a sylly syllogism for that!
#

The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus more felicitous w/Capps is all. As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
#
Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautifulSince the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi identity?

#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological

& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
It’s necessary to inhabit the proper historical thought patterns, as they emerged from post-experiential encounters (exegetical & liturgical) of Christ. Such a successful inhabitation (existential) presupposes our own holistic encounters of Christ in Scripture,
worship & theosis — encounters that must be adequately ortho-communal, ortho-pathic, ortho-praxic & ortho-theotic if our thought patterns are ever to be sufficiently ortho-doxic. Translated, right belonging, right desiring, right behaving & right becoming
will best foster right believing. Only then can we optimally engage, historically, the proper thought patterns (patristic &/or scholastic) & go beyond mere recitations of true statements & mere rehearsals of proper grammars to authentically encounter Christ &
will best foster right believing. Only then can we optimally engage, historically, the proper thought patterns (patristic &/or scholastic) & go beyond mere recitations of true statements & mere rehearsals of proper grammars to authentically encounter Christ &
to truthfully bear witness to Him in our thoughts, words & deeds. Otherwise, we’ll talk the talk, creedally, but may inadvertently find ourselves in material heresies, not just christological or trinitological (as in the example above), but walking the walks of gnosticism,
historicism, manichaeism, antinomianism, donatism, iconoclasm, pelagianism, jansenism, or worst of all, a practical nihilism.
#

Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the logoi.

Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

The Neo-Chalcedonian, Cosmotheandric Turn

The hypostatic union of Px = an eternal protological, incarnatonal reality = an eschatological blueprint
re how uncreated & created hypostases proportonally participate, each per their particular ranges of tropoi, in the very same uncreated logoi (incl all creaturely teloi).

My late friend Jim Arraj a Maritain scholar in conversatons w/Norris Clarke deciphered the Thomist conception of forms (as distinct from Aristotles’s) in terms of a participation in limitation motif tracing it in part to Plotinus & neo-Platonic sources.

A formal cause exists in a much more dynamic way in St. Thomas than it could in Aristotle. Arraj would go on to reconceive same in terms of deep & dynamic formal fields (like Joseph Bracken’s neo-
Whiteheadian use of field as a root metaphor).

Bracken’s field conception of the Divine Matrix b/c of its affinity to Classical Theism & Trinitarian doctrine seems a fruitful way to imagine how Maximian logoi interplay among uncreated & created hypostatic tropoi as interpenetrating fields humanize &/or divinize them.

A mutual interpenetration of deep & dynamic formal fields an account for an exnihilating dynamic that creates novel creaturely teloi.

Such a creatio ex amore ex nihilo would be consistent even w/any incipiently telic fields of eternal prevenient chaos (Griffin) or of a tehomic profundis (Keller).

As divine hypostatic realities, the logoi of all finite, determinate creaturely becoming proceed from the infinite, nondeterminate Logos-Spirit hypostases-exemplifications,

pneumato-christologically in the gratuity of creation,
christo-pneumatologically in the gratuity of grace,
incarnationally in both, per the divine esse naturale.

The logoi (hows) carry the divine esse intentionale (will & intentions), both freely affecting creatures & freely affected (per energeia) by the aesthetic scope of all telic creaturely becoming, although divine realities are never affected in aesthetic intensity.

The divine esse naturale-intentionale is thus affected by more than mere Cambridge properties, but without any change in intrinsic perfection. Does this weaken DDS? Yes. Trivially, so.

As it is, since we neither reify the essence (natures aren’t “existing things,” whether divine or created) nor hypostasize energeia, why ontologize the intentionale, inquiring about its mode of being, determinatively –what, rather than of identity, denominatively –how?

Finite creatures proportionally participate (through a univocity of loving determinate effects or synergy) in the Logos-logoi identity, which, itself, grounds the differences of in/finite natures (through an analogia entis).

This in/finite disjunction doesn’t quantitatively differentiate Being & beings through a multiplication of quiddities (determinative nouns, genera, species, i.e. whats) by infinity. Instead, it multiplies qualia (denominative modifiers & participles, hows, etc.) by infinity, recognizing the qualitative differentiation of divine & determinate hypostases, i.e. via propria-idiomata-relata vs essentially-existentially-relationally.

Such a differentiation, then, entails no alienation from some Wholly Other, but, instead, fosters otherness & intimacy,
participation via donativity-receptivity, & immanence in transcendence, all theotically.

Cosmotheandric participation entails more than the mere growth in resemblances of vestigia & imagoes Dei into similitudines Dei, from image to likeness.

Generally, participation further requires a participant to freely choose to (in various ways to various extents) “take possession” of WHAT the participated, as a whole, “IS.”

Specifically, regarding God as Actus Purus, as participants, we, the Many, must freely choose, therefore, to “take possession” of HOW the Participated One, as the Whole, “DOES.”

If we don’t go beyond an analogy of being, ontologically & determinatively, to a univocity of doing, semantically & denominatively, we can’t bust the Maximian move, theologically or anthropologically or cosmogonically, in an authentically Neo-Chalcedonian fashion.

Cosmotheandric participation entails more than the mere growth in resemblances of vestigia & imagoes Dei into similitudines Dei, from image to likeness. It entails each participant’s progressive realization of facility in freely choosing to kenotically participate … in how the ur-kenotic Participated One Acts, which is, naturally, Purely Loving.

There can be no Shakespearean soliloquy: “To Be or Not to Be,” for that remains decidedly decided for every intrinsically valuable imago Dei, ensuing from its essential nature. Rather, the transcendental imperatives in-form-ing our existential orientations include both “To Be Like God or not?” and “To Do How God Does or Not?”.

All of this is articulated in Lonergan’s imperatives, the Degrees of Humility of Ignatius, & Therese’s Little Way.

A proper interpretation of the Capps Bros, Cyril, Maximus & Severus, et al, helped along by idioms like those of Scotus, Palamas & Peirce, et al, might say it the best?

So, finally, re the Logos-logoi identity, while it’s “just” a semantic predication, the reference remains eminently realist. Still, in the same way we eschew any overapplications of an analogia entis, we’d desist, here, from any over-specifications of peircean generals, whether created or uncreated, nomicities or probabilities, etc b/c, for DBHartians, if there’s anything more frightening than an unwitting infernalism, that would be – not a spinozan modal collapse, but – an accidental baroque thomism via a báñezian praemotiophysica! (just kidding)

This universalist vision is systematically argued in the monograph below:

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

A note regarding Personalism:

The personalist approach with which I most resonate can be found in what’s been called cosmotheandrism.

While I find the “cosmo-theo” part of Raimon Panikkar’s cosmotheandrism very
inspirational, for the “theandric” part, there’s a very old Eastern Orthodox account that, in my view, can hardly be improved upon, i.e. Maximian Logos &
logoi.

These would both seem consistent with DBH’s intuitions as were articulated during his back & forth with Ed Feser re animals in heaven.


On page 172 of An Emerging Cosmotheandric Religion?: Raimon Panikkar’s Pluralistic Theology Of Religions, Brill, 2005, Jyri Komulainene discusses the “personalism” in Panikkar’s “ecosophy.”

I’ll paraphrase & summarize the highlights here.

Per Komulainene, while Panikkar’s personalist idiom does convey his intent to avoid a “sheer monism,” he also approaches all of being in terms of communicatio, communio & communality.

The Divine donates via “pure communication.”

All creatures thus engage dialogically. While, per Panikkar, human persons do communicate per a particular interiority & consciousness, we best dialogue (dia-logos, thru the logos) with all of reality without losing sight of its “thou
dimension” or else we’ll “excommunicate” ourselves from nature, God & each other, i.e. cosmotheandrically.

The old EO approach with which I most resonate is Dionysius’ account of “theandric activity” as spoken of by Severus and as interpreted by Maximus
per a Cyrillian Christology.

At the link below, Rebekah Earnshaw summarizes a theology seminar presentation by Dr Brandon Gallaher entitled “The Word, the Words and the
Trinity: A Preliminary Exploration of the Relationship of Eastern Orthodoxy to
World Religions.” It touches on both Panikkar & Maximus.

The Word, the Words and the Trinity

A Note on Terminology

Understanding the historical account & development of the terminology employed in Trinitology & Christology remains crucial for tge proper interpretation of Severus.

I find the concept of the immanent universal [IU] to be very interesting, e.g. C. Kappes has a take re IU of Damacene & Nazianzen; Zachhuber & Cross differ on IU of Nyssan; IU of Scotus.

We might ask why that distinction between the divine IU, as a primary substance, & the universals of determinate beings, as secondary substances, did not leave questions begging for many re, e.g. how “consubstantial” must refer differently in the hypostatic union to the divine vs human natures?

If one allows Severus to define his own terms & properly reads him as a thoroughgoing Cyrillian, then he goes beyond not w/o Chalcedon. Christ remains consubstantial, divinely & humanly, respectively, via immanent & shared universals.

Cyril, ergo Severus, applied the Cappadocian trintological distinction, ousia vs hypostasis, to Christology.

Christ’s divine ousia = immanent universal (an extreme realism) & created ousia = shared universal (a moderate realism). For Cyril & Severus, one nature referred to – not ousia, but – hypostasis.

A Note on my reconceptions of Logoi, Tropoi & Teloi

Operating inseparably but distinctly

uncreated logoi: what, essential nature, act of existence, imago Dei, wholly determinate

un/created tropoi: how, actual secondary nature, virtues & vices, freedom/liberty, habits halfway between act & potency, variously in/determinate & self-determinate

created teloi: why, potential secondary nature, formal act & final potencies, intimacization, authenticity, variously in/determinate & self-determinate

A Note on Grace as Transmuted Experience in my Retreblement

“God not only gives things their form, but He also preserves them in existence, and applies them to act, and is moreover the end of every action.” (ST 1.105.5 ad 3)

Does determinism follow from immediate causality, whether divine or created?

Below is my paraphrased summary of William A. Frank’s “Duns Scotus on Autonomous Freedom & Divine Co-Causality,” Medieval Philosophy & Theology, Volume 2, 1992, Pages 142-164

Determinism doesn’t follow from immediate causality, whether divine or created.

Concurrent co-causes are necessary but not sufficient to bring about a given effect.

Concurrent co-causes can be
a) accidentally ordered, as in the case of needing two mules to pull a wagon, or
b) essentially ordered, as in needing a male & female to produce offspring.

When essentially ordered, even if one co-cause gives more toward an effect than another, the lesser cause can still be the total immediate cause of an effect, e.g. creatio continua vs creaturely volitional acts.

Scotus further distinguishes essentially ordered partial co-causes as

1) participative, requiring a sharing of power, &

2) autonomous, requiring inter-dependent cooperation thru coordinated, complementary lines of efficient causality e.g. how the will & intellect co-cause volition, how divine & created wills co-cause created volitions.

God’s immediate, efficient causality (uncreated) suffices for God’s knowledge in an extensional sense, as knowledge of His own act suffices for knowledge of the effect.

Here, one might remain content to establish the fact of God’s role as a partial co-cause without delving into the mysteries of God’s inner life.

Others aspire to travel further, explanatorily, with Suarez & Molina (middle knowledge), Baήez (premotion) or Scotus (attendant decision).

My thoughts:

The account above squares with how an Aristotelian God creates, conserves & knows.

Beyond that, though, what manner of divine “dialogue” (dia-logos) with the world would implicate a more providential relation between God & creatures, beyond a divine general or universal concurrence,

1) accounting for more of a theandric, even cosmotheandric, intimacy? via
2) a more personalist conception of divine & creaturely inter-relationality? or
3) a more robust account of participation in uncreated divine energeia, logoi & tropoi by creaturely teloi?

See:

https://www.academia.edu/42998704/The_Personalism_in_my_Retreblement

Speculating further, the accounts of Thomistic physical premotion, Jesuit middle knowledge & Scotistic attendant decision aspire to explain more than just how it is that God creates, conserves & knows, as they even explore beyond how it is the divine influences creatures via uncreated logoi & tropoi & created teloi. That’s to say they go beyond the divine-created concurrent, co-causal account, as elaborated above, to propose yet other distinct aspects of divine immediate causation.

For example, divine premotion would act “within” secondary causes, reducing material potencies to efficient acts, elevating instrumental causes to produce agapic (self-transcendent, loving, theotic, etc) effects proper to no known causes, so due to actual grace. God would thus act, however, without violating an agent’s causal integrity, still allowing those operations to be contingent & free, for God created not only necessary but contingent realities, including personal freedom. God moves (applies to act) necessary causes to cause necessarily & contingent causes to cause contingently according to their created natures. So, even if every reduction of material potencies to efficient causes should properly be interpreted as divinely caused & determined, that wouldn’t entail divine necessitation, except in the case of miracles.

Still, must a divine reduction of material potencies to efficient causes necessarily be interpreted as a bridging of physical causes & effects such that, if God wasn’t as such always determining, He’d otherwise have to be considered always determined?

I don’t see why that must necessarily be so. There’s nothing, in principle, to suggest that, to whatever extent that God might ever be variously determined by creatures, His intrinsic perfection would necessarily thereby be diminished (due to some divine impoverishment). Rather, such a divine affectivity might simply reflect a divine condescension (via a weakened DDS) that reflects divine changes in – neither aesthetic intensity nor intrinsic perfection, but – only aesthetic scope & kenotic relationality.

Furthermore, the will, itself, should be located, at least in part, in efficient causation. Scotus would have us recognize a form of volition that determines whether one exercises one’s will (or refrains therefrom). It’s the volitional question that asks why the will wills at all, because it does remain free not to act, notwithstanding all logoi, tropoi & physical premotions.

Proposed solution:
If we relocate grace to an uncreated formal cause (like E. Stump), it could still be effected through the uncreated physical premotion of efficient causes that will have brought about circumstances that, after creaturely semiotic interpretation, will necessitate certain dispositions of a given person’s will, inviting (even urging but not compelling) it to participate in a divine effecting of various agapic & theotic realizations .

I develop my semiotic approach to grace as transmuted experience, inspired by (but not developed from) James Dominic Rooney’s Stumping Freedom: Divine Causality and the Will, New Blackfriars (Volume 96, Issue 1066, November 2015, Pages 711–722)

See also:
http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/freedom and God.pdf

Note: Situating Zizioulas Systematically in Tillich per My Retreblement

I don’t interpret Zizioulas’ existentialist & personalist approaches as developed out of classical existentialisms & personalisms, which are individualistic philosophies, b/c Z’s personalist conception is intrinsically relational, as difference in communion.

We’d need to distinguish aspects of Z’s philosophical anthropology, which might be implicit & inchoate, from those of his theological anthropology.

ISTM doubtful that the former could do anything other than to establish the reality of a person, that the “meaning” of a person must be imported from one’s worldview. There’s no doubt where Z’s concept of person gets its meaning & that freedom in the context of communion necessarily plays a constitutive role in person for him (think MOF).

One might also appropriate everything that’s useful in Tillich (e.g. Biblical personalism, pneumatology par excellence, ground of being), while correcting his insufficiencies (e.g. Christology) in order to bolster Z’s personalist hermeneutic. While Z pursued a similar project to Tillich, substituting neo-Patristic for Biblical sources, his patristic interpretations have been harshly criticized.

I don’t interpret Z’s thrust as anti-essential but as non-essential, so, retrieving Scotistic substance-talk into his hermeneutic needn’t explode it, but could, instead, better equip it to block unacceptable trinitological inferences. Also, Scotus’ eschewal of secondary substance-talk, trinitologically, would give Z an ontological idiom a tad more compatible with his preferred vocabulary vis a vis ousia, substance, hypostasis, person, etc

So, to best advance a systematic project sympathetic to Zizioulas’ concerns, I’d retrieve Tillich’s Christian existentialism & Biblical personalism, with the added bonus being that their dialectical character is very reminiscent of Panikkar’s cosmo-the-andrism. And I’d retrieve a Scotistic ontology (at least to articulate trinitological grammatical contours).

Finally, consistent with my triadic, axiological epistemology, as developed from Neville’s Peircean systematics, I’d turn to Peirce, Neville & Tillich for their conceptions regarding impersonal accounts of the Ground of Being to systematically situate Zizioulas’ causal-relational personalist interpretation of MOF.

Because Z asserts that the personal existence of the Father constitutes his own existence, the F thus causes not only the Trinitarian unity but the divine ousia, so, not only imparts His being but causes it, characteristics like divinity derived from, because identical to, His personhood.

In my own approach, I have not adopted but have adapted conceptions of the One & the many from Peirce, Tillich & Neville, often referred to with impersonal terms like Ens Necessarium and Ground of Being.

I employ distinct categories like nondeterminate emptiness (analogous to ground of Tillich & Neville, Ens Necessarium of Peirce), nondeterminate nothingness (real but not existing) and indeterminate being (existing).

There’s a certain paradoxical feel to juxtaposing Zizioulas’ MOF personalist approach with such impersonalist conceptions as Tillich’s Ground of Being, Infinite Abyss & Being-Itself?

But, following the Tillichian dialectical methodology, orienting our existential orientations to ultimate concerns, coloring our anthropology theologically, we can theologically gift meaning to what are otherwise bare philosophical conceptions. For me, & why not for Zizioulas, why couldn’t “freely relating” constitute the Ground of Being, Who is the Freely Willing Loving One God, the Father?

Note on Situating Zizioulas Systematically in Bracken in my Retreblement

Pannenberg moved away from just a “relations of origin” MOF interpretation to include a “diversity of relations” dimension, e.g. handing over of Lordship. Even then, some conception of the Father as “unoriginate originator” remains intact, istm.

B/c there’s so much affinity between Pannenberg’s & Joseph Bracken’s metaphysical approaches, appropriating such a modified MOF element in a Bracken-like approach seems a fruitful path forward.

The reason I adapted rather than adopted the Ground of Being conceptions of Tillich & Neville is that it’s important for my systematic consistency to remain faithful to Peirce, e.g. Ens Necessarium abduction.

Toward that end, the last element in my situating of Zizioulas, systematically, involves going beyond, but not without, Scotus, in a more robustly Peircean direction that’s also explicitly Trinitarian.

That is why I turn to the metaphysic of Joseph Bracken, a Peirce scholar and neo-Whiteheadian. What makes Bracken further amenable to this project is his faithful retrieval of Classical Theism and his conscious Peircean avoidance of nominalistic tendencies, such as in Whitehead’s process approach, or, to some extent, adumbrations in Hartshorne’s neo-Classical theism.

My favorite Bracken book remains God: Three Who Are One, 2008, Liturgical Press.

I also commend 1) The Divine Matrix: Creativity as Link between East and West, 1995, Orbis Books; 2) The One in the Many: A Contemporary Reconstruction of the God-World Relationship, 2001, Eerdmans; and 3) Does God Roll Dice? Divine Providence for a World in the Making, 2012, Liturgical Press.

For a great overview that shows how these approaches can fruitfully be placed in dialogue, see the dissertation of Dong-Sik Park: The God-World Relationship Between Joseph Bracken, Philip Clayton, & Open Theism.

The above thread contextualizes how I situate Scotus, Peirce & Bracken with a sympathetic eye toward Zizioulas in my own Pan-SEMIO-entheism.

Notes re Predications of Ousia, Hypostatic Idiomata & Energeia in my Retreblement

There are different theories of idiomata. And different idioms for substance talk. As long as one is consistent, such different types of God-talk needn’t separate us.

Do they merely secure the reference of proper names?

Do they just identify things, epistemologically, or describe their properties, constitutively, defining them essentially? or both?

When idiomata individuate numerically distinct hypostases, do they refer to properties that are:
1) simple, non-shareable & non-coinstantiable; or
2) shareable in-principle but a uniquely combined bundle of idiomata?

How might we distinguish between metaphysically individuating idiomata & epistemic gnorismata, which epistemolsecure references through names?

How might we best distinguish between the semantic “signification” of the common nouns & natures of the ousia & semantic “indications” of the proper nouns & peculiar qualities of hypostases?

Does “God” predicate any subject which shares divine nature?

Does “God” signify the divine ousia in particular, as a kind or nature?

Does “God” signify certain types of energeia or activities?

Is the word “God” a substance-sortal at all, a special predicate expressing the divine nature itself? Is the word “God” just another predicate among predicates, attribute among attributes?
Are natures or ousiai otherwise individuated by energeiai?

Whether the word “God” signifies the divine nature or not (per Cross, yes; per Branson, no),

if one employs an idiom wherein the ousia’s a secondary substance, the word “God” most certainly can be predicated of all the hypostases; and

if one eschews substance-talk & denominatively (connotatively) names the Father, “the One God” – not just as an epistemic gnorismata securing one’s reference via signification, but determinatively (denotatively) – as a metaphysically individuating idioma that differentiates the Father via some robustly personalistic, causal-relational indication, still, “the One God” as arche & aitia, would ontologically subordinate neither God the Son nor God the Holy Spirit.

This is precisely because, even if the sole arche & aitia entails some type of analogous aseity, whether via such a God-conception as would be signified either thru
1) predication & instantiation; or
2) attribution & exemplification; or
3) a supremely personal causal-relational activity —

such an imparting of divine nature is shared as “God from God” and ergo must be clearly & emphatically distinguished from creation’s reception of “finite determinate being from God,” Who is Being Beyond being.

Historically speaking, I take no position re how the Nyssan best be interpreted re God signifying the ousia (Cross) or not (Branson) and, similarly, no position re the basis of divine unity per the Nazianzen, the ousia (Cross) or the MOF (Beeley).

Normatively, my own approach coheres with the views that “God” does not signify ousia & the MOF does secure divine unity.

So, if Branson & Beeley are correct in their respective interpretations of the Nyssan & Nazianzen, then my position thus coheres with the Capps.

Accordingly, “is God”
predicates – not the divine nature (ousia), but – engagements in a certain type of activity (energeia), not in terms of quiddity or “what,” but in terms of doing or “how.”

Hence “God” refers as is defined not in terms
of the divine nature, but as a doer of a certain kind of energeia. In other words, “God” refers as an agent noun (like butcher or baker or candlestick maker).

Although some approaches are nominalist re both ousia & idiomata, my own is realist re both idiomata & ousia.

Re: how idiomata individuate numerically distinct hypostases, in my approach, they refer to properties that are shareable in-principle but in a uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

If one’s idiom refers to ousia as a secondary substance, God can thus be predicated of each divine hypostasis, as a property that’s shareable in-principle but within an otherwise uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

If one’s idiom refers to ousia as a primary substance, i.e. an indivisible immanent universal, the attribute, God, can thus be exemplified by each divine hypostasis, as a property that’s shareable in-principle but within an otherwise uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

In my approach, wherein ousia’s a primary substance & hypostases are exemplifications, I distinguish between semantic “significations” of the common nouns & natures of the ousia & the semantic “indications” of the proper nouns & peculiar qualities of hypostases. And “God” can signify certain types of energeia or activities. So, the word “God” is not a substance-sortal at all, i.e. not a special predicate expressing the divine nature, itself, but is just another predicate among predicates, attribute among attributes.

Because natures, or ousiai, are individuated by energeiai as shared by all the hypostases, we can infer that they all share the same nature & that “God” can be predicated of each hypostasis even as “God” doesn’t otherwise signify the divine nature per se.

The stances articulated above represent phraseology & paraphrases from Beau Branson’s LPT.

A 12 Step Contemplative Spirituality

Dedicated to Father Richard Rohr

1) The paths of love and suffering both transform us. On both paths we journey both in authenticity and toward authenticity, humbly increasing our humility, authentically growing our authenticity. We recognize our radical finitude and get radically in touch with our need for outside assists or grace.

2) In touch, somehow and in some way, with this reality of grace, with the fact that manifold and multiform outside assists brought us into existence, itself, have nurtured and sustained us thus far and, reportedly …

per credible witnesses … can

re­orient,

re­dedicate,

re­new,

re­empower and

re­lease us …

3) We thus surrender to Outside Assists and yield to their gifts of

truth, via Right Believing,

beauty, via Right Desiring,

goodness via Right Behaving,

unity, via Right Belonging and

freedom, via Right Being­in­Love, as one Be­loved.

4) Working honestly and diligently to raise our awareness of how we’ve been wholly and miserably …

dis­oriented, acting both in and on un­truth;

dis­affected, aspiring, inordinately, toward lesser goods;

dis­possessed, acting willfully and not willingly;

dis­empowered, playing on the wrong playgrounds and with the wrong playmates, selfishly at work on our own agenda rather than at play in the fields of the Lord, where we cooperate with genuine outside assists or Grace;

dis­integrated, literally losing our freedom (always inner but, too often, also our outer liberty, too) and diminishing our capacity to receive and return genuine love (as distinguished from our enslavement to persons, processes and substances, which masquerade as counterfeit love objects rather than authentic love subjects).

The disengagement of playgrounds and playmates does not represent an abandonment of other souls or disregard of their intrinsic value as beloved persons but involves, rather, the establishment of healthy relationship boundaries, lovingly entrusting others to providence, while walking the path to freedom in a way that, one prays, others may choose to follow of their own accord, some day.

5) Re­connecting and reconciling ourselves to community ensues in the wake of sharing our stories of dis­orientation, dis­affection, dis­possession, dis­empowerment and dis­integration ­­­ not only with our own conscious awareness and our God, but ­­­

with another person who positively affirms us, who

re­possesses us from our possessed existence,

re­empowers us by reintegrating us into a wholesome, loving community, which, through

right belonging, can

re­instill right desiring, which will naturally encourage

right behaving, thereby reorienting us through right believing.

6) The contemplative stance goes beyond any problem-­solving or propositional concerns.

Far more than propositions for solving our problems in reality, the contemplative stance engages dispositions for evolving our probes of reality.

Beyond a mere nonreflective awareness, which doesn’t judge reality from our willful self­-perspective, propositionally, the contemplative stance does also adopt, dispositionally, a willing trustful surrender to a friendly ultimate reality, trading a specific set of anxious expectations for a more general and vague but peaceful hope in providence.

To the extent the contemplative stance pauses between reality’s stimuli and our responses, withholding judgments regarding precisely how we might think, feel, norm or interpret this or that reality, that pause, then, very much has a valence as a pregnant pause, as we dispose ourselves in a manner that reflects a surrender, to wit:

7) Take, Lord, receive, my …

memory,

understanding,

my entire will …

Gift me, new …

beliefs, a vibrant faith beyond my weak grasp of truth; to think again!

desires, a fervent hope beyond my feeble sense of beauty; to feel again!

behaviors, a willing love beyond my willful approach of goodness; to norm anew!

belonging, an authentic fellowship beyond my impoverished notion of community; to re-interpret it all together with others of goodwill!

beatitudes, a beatific vision that grows my experience of freedom beyond the mere license to do as I want to the clear liberty to do as I must; to liberate one to live & love again!

8) As a major hallmark of the contemplative stance, we re­cognize our radical solidarity and connected­ness to others, the cosmos, God and even our selves.

Out of this solidarity, compassion necessarily ensues, beginning with those to whom we, ourselves, have brought suffering.

The contemplative stance, then, pursues Enlightenment, much less so as any self­improvement or personal growth project.

Indeed, such spiritual masters as Gerald May, Abraham Maslow, Viktor Frankl and Bernard Lonergan instruct us that self-­actualization properly ensues as a by­product of self­-transcendence, that, pursued for its own sake, self­actualization even frustrates true transformation.

Hence, the Angelus and fiat: Be it done unto me according to Thy Word. And the Magnificat: For He looked on His servant’s lowliness …

Hence the real­ization that one seeks Enlightenment more so out of compassion for all those who have suffered our unenlightened selves!

Thus moved to sorrow, repentance and compassion via our contemplation attaining to love:

9) We move beyond any abstract, self assessment and willingly surrender to the concrete, practical response of re­constructing our broken relationships with others, seeking forgiveness, offering reparations, making amends from the standpoint of what’s truly helpful to them and not what’s needed by us.

10) The contemplative stance becomes ­­­ not a new way of thinking about reality, but ­­­ a new way of seeing reality.

We cultivate a practice of daily examen and daily sitting, a habit of pausing awhile, a commitment to timely and heartfelt reconciliations, knowing we’ll fall, again and again, from our inescapable finitude and fail, again and again, from our willful refusals to cooperate with outside assists or surrender to grace.

11) On the road of transformation, the quest , itself, becomes our grail; the journey , itself, becomes our destination.

Our growth in truth will commit us to accurate historical accounts and successful scientific ventures, beyond which we develop an eschatological vision, which means an enduring commitment to a better future. We seek and provide outside assists to orient us to truth.

Our growth in beauty will commit us to wholesome cultural engagements, beyond which we embrace an essential soteriological trajectory, which means we cultivate through time-­honored practices and rituals, our growth in authenticity and humility and recognition of solidarity with all other sojourners. We seek and provide outside assists to sanctify and dedicate us to beauty.

Our growth in goodness will commit us to enlightened philosophical and economic approaches, which inform all of our moral and practical norms, beyond which we engage a truly sacramental economy, which receives all as pure gift and which inventories both daily and lifetime moments of gratitude, voicing this gratitude to self, God and others. We seek and provide outside assists to nurture, sustain and heal us in goodness.

Our growth in unity will commit us to wholesome social realities, beyond which we participate in an ecclesiological reality, which fellowships in community. We seek and provide outside assists toward unity.

Our growth in freedom will commit us to political action and apolitical contemplation, beyond which we embrace diverse sophiological trajectories, which means we sustain our authenticity by different ways of being-­in-­love with others, God, cosmos and even self. There are many ministries but one mission.

Beyond a universal and essential soteriological trajectory, which gifts our authenticity, there are poly­doxic (many­gloried) ways of sustaining authenticity through loving and being loved. We seek and provide outside assists toward that freedom and relationality which foster reality’s deepest loves.

All spiritualities, whether the great traditions or indigenous religions, whether contemplative practices or 12 Step Programs, have elements of

eschatology vis a vis truth and right believing, historically and scientifically;

soteriology vis a vis beauty and right desiring, culturally;

sacramentology vis a vis goodness and right behaving, philosophically and economically;

ecclesiology vis a vis unity and right belonging, socially; and

sophiology vis a vis relationality and freedom, right beatitude, politically and contemplatively.

12) What return shall we make? That’s the urgent but peaceful imperative of all who’ve come into awareness of reality’s radically giving (donative) nature as we minister every consolation we’ve received to others. When we awaken to our solidarity, whether through the path of suffering or of love, which intertwine inextricably, compassion will inevitably and naturally ensue.

How can we keep from singing?

“For every poet it is always morning in the world; history a forgotten, insomniac night. The fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world in spite of history.” ~ Derek Wallcott

A 12 Step Contemplative Spirituality is not a life event but a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle of gathering frequently with others to remember, to not forget!

Anamnesis (from the Greek word meaning “reminiscence”) is a liturgical statement in which the Church refers to the memorial character of the Eucharist (thanks-giving). It has its origin in Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me.”

In a wider sense, Anamnesis is a key concept in the liturgical theology: in worship the faithful recall God’s saving deeds. This memorial aspect is not simply a passive process but one by which the Christian can actually enter into the Paschal mystery.

So, if amnesia means “to forget,” then an-amnesis means “not to forget.”

We recall, then, why we simply must be thankful. And we do so prayerfully.
As they say, a family that prays together, stays together.

So, too, psychologically, modern medicine has discovered that “neurons that fire together, wire together.”

Religion means to re-ligate or “tie back together.”

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All of this taken together suggests that our spiritual survival requires a vigorous hygiene and rigorous practice of “not forgetting to give thanks.”

Phillipians 4:8 reminds us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about
these things.”

From a properly holistic perspective, this spiritual hygiene of anamnesis thus plays an indispensable role in maintaining one’s emotional equilibrium.

The more seriously compromised one’s emotional homeostasis has been, especially over protracted periods of time, the more vigilant one must be to stand guard over one’s thoughts, the more rigorous must be the practice of anamnesis and the more integral must be one’s assault against any and all threats posed to one’s psychological defenses.

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Anamnesis – a suggestion
Inventory:

1) 5 most stimulating intellectual curiosities that once captured your imagination

2) 5 most wholesome and emotionally satisfying moments that you can still recall with great relish

3) 5 most morally courageous commitments you undertook together with others

4) 5 most satisying practical accomplishments from your academic, athletic or work life

5) 5 most wholesome and rewarding social engagements you’ve enjoyed

6) 10 most wholesome and grace-filled familial memories, persons, events

7) 5 most spiritually rewarding divine encounters and the persons who shared or mediated them, whether personally, through books or media, etc and 5 holy places where such encounters were gifted

Commit the above inventory to memory and recite it daily. Recite it once. Or recite it 70 times. Recite it in the place of other tapes that have been playing in your head, perhaps for decades.

Go to this place of gratitude.

It will become your sacred, safe place. It not only represents but constitutes your reality.

It WILL rewire your brain.

Neurons that fire together will wire together. Others that cease firing will eventually lose their wiring.

I did this over 30 years ago and it rescued me.

Later, I listened to a Melody Beattie audiobook and she prescribed a similar daily inventory of gratitude and I better understood how and why my old spiritual hygiene had worked. Finally, my spouse came into this type of practice from yet another spiritual resource group and I witnessed its transformative influence on her, too.

In January 2003, I published the following: “How Wide Is Your Moat? – our holistic moat”

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The mutual fund industry has popularized the moat metaphor, a moat being that deep and wide trench around the rampart of a castle, that is usually filled with water. There are even pinball games, like Medieval Madness , in which players use different strategies to breach the castle’s defenses, such as the moat, the drawbridge, the gate, the wall. Sometimes the madness is not so medieval but very much contemporary, within our own psychological castle walls.

I have often thought of the analogy of the moat in other than economic terms. It might also be a useful image in considering a person’s general well being.

Like a castle with its multiple layers of defenses, one’s general well being is also bolstered by its own moats and walls and gatekeepers and can be breached by many different types of attacks.

There are times in our lives when we know our well being will have to do battle, when we need to both widen and deepen our psychological moats and pull up the drawbridges of our physical ramparts. The size of such bulwarks must be determined by many factors.
Let’s consider some examples of the types of battles we must all fight and of the kinds of defenses we might need to put in place to fortify our general well being.

When we are healthy, physically, emotionally and mentally, and under no significant stress, in other words are not under attack physically or psychologically, the size of our holistic moat doesn’t matter much, seemingly. I’m going to call this moat the holistic moat because its depth and width is determined by many factors which, I will argue, all need to be considered as a whole. Ignore any given factor and our defenses will be breached , which is to suggest that sometimes we don’t have a very wide margin of error to work with because our moat is both shallow and narrow.

What are some of the things that fill up our moat and seriously jeopardize our castle of well being?

Well, certainly anything which can affect us emotionally, such as trauma due to grief, terror or physical injury, such as chronic or acute illness, addictions, broken relationships, financial difficulty, employment and career setbacks, academic and professional failure, damage to one’s reputation whether unjust or from a personal failure, and so forth. The effects of aging or of a chronic debilitating illness, the propensity toward chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters, and other insults to our general well being, all of these things and more, can lower our defenses and increase our vulnerabilities to where we spiral down into near or total dysfunction and immobilization.

The return to any normalcy and full functionality can be difficult, near impossible. In such desperation, we can approach the point where we even lose the will to go on, despite our loved ones, and, assuredly, when the blessings of those relationships no longer weigh heavily enough in the balance against the pain of a truly tormented existence, the castle has been most seriously breached; our physical well being drawbridge is down; our emotional gate has been battered; our mental gatekeeper defeated. Our spirit has thus retreated to the most inner recesses of our being and, though still sharing immanently with its Beloved in these innermost chambers, there is no felt sense of communion, neither with God nor with the castle cohort, that indwelling and abiding relating to family and friends, and most definitely not with the outer world of strangers.
What are some of the kinds of defenses we might need to put in place to fortify our general well being?

When our moat is narrowed and shallowed by any of the insults to our well being we have considered, we have no room to maneuver and have little margin of error. We cannot afford any mistakes and must move aggressively on all fronts. If one’s castle is especially vulnerable, either chronically or acutely, one cannot take a casual approach to defending the castle. One must proactively work to widen the moat! Like the Corps of Engineers on the Mississippi River, one must continuously dredge because the silt is being deposited 24/365 when we suffer from chemical imbalances or are otherwise in the midst of trauma, grief, anxiety or depression.

Physically, we cannot afford to miss out on proper diet, sufficient rest and good exercise.

Our diet must be substantial and routine and not made up of the four mainstays of the 4 Cajun Foodgroups , which are sugar, salt, fat and alcohol .

Rest and exercise are essential, too, for manifold reasons documented elsewhere.

Medically , we must seek out pharmaceutical aids to help us through the acute phase of any substantial psychological crises with antidepressants or antianxiety prescriptions and maybe even sleep-aids or other therapeutic regimens.

Emotionally , we must force ourselves to interact with family and friends, with outdoors and nature, acting ourselves into a new way of thinking , unable to think ourseleves into a new way of acting.

Mentally , we may need ongoing psychological counseling and, perhaps, even that in combination with specialized trauma counseling or social welfare assistance and counseling.

Specialized support groups can be most efficacious in assisting and advising on all of the fronts under consideration here and can be an emotional lifeline. They can also make us feel a little less alone by being in the empathetic company of others who don’t know and will never know your tears but who have cried tears for similar reasons.

We should seek to stimulate and enrich our minds with good reading materials, uplifting movies and music, and engaging hobbies.

Spiritually , we may need spiritual direction, either formally or informally, with a director-directee relationship, or in a spiritual companioning mode with a fellow pilgrim with whom we may share a special spiritual kinship.

The life of prayer, no matter how arid or desolate, must be maintained with perseverance and discipline, privately and communally, perhaps augmented by small group participation but most definitely sharing as well in at-large community worship services.

Ideally, one can likely not implement the entire holistic regimen because the very exigencies and contingencies of life, which press in on us and lower our defenses, such as employment and parenting responsibilities, such as financial and physical constraints, also get in our way during the rebuilding efforts. However, one must aggressively and vigilantly attend to all of the factors within one’s means and to the fullest extent possible, notwithstanding constraints on one’s time and resources, and make these efforts a priority, because spiralling down to the lowest ebb of life will most assuredly defeat everything else one is trying to accomplish and deprive one of the vibrancy in one’s relationships, with God and others, that makes anything else worthwhile.

Our road to healing must be holistic and I emphasize this multifaceted approach because I have seen healing stratgeies sabotaged by approaches that don’t take the whole castle into account.

What good is it to deepen or widen a moat if one leaves the drawbridge down?

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The attempt to make it through significant crises only pharmaceutically can backfire and bring on even more substance abuse. The temptation to self-medicate with over the counter stimulants or sedatives can simiarly cause problems. To take pills but not eat and rest properly is self-defeating.

Confusing psychological counseling and spiritual direction can be a problem; they are distinctly different enterprises, however related.

If one’s castle is especially vulnerable, either chronically or acutely, one cannot take a casual approach to defending the castle. One must proactively widen the moat!

Neglect of one’s spiritual life, in my opinion, represents the first shallowing of the holistic moat because the spiritual life, a life of prayer, is the climbing into the watchtower of our castle, lifting our hearts and minds to God, aligning our wills with His, and, whereby through ongoing self-examen and discernment, we can vigilantly gaze out over all of our defenses and remain on guard for those attacks that no castle avoids. All of this we do as we await that Kingdom which is to come while living as safely as we can within that one which is already within us but constantly under siege.

It may be, that what I have outlined above can be viewed not merely as a defensive maneuver against life, but rather as one’s offensive strategy for looking to make one’s mark on the world. These are the very same things I’d suggest as New Year’s Resolutions, to anyone serious about deepening their relationship with God or their relationships with loved ones, to anyone interested in advancing on one’s academic or career path, etc There is a great unity of purpose in the spiritual life, to a holistically informed lifestyle.

When God is first in our lives, everything else falls into place and we will be about the same tasks in life whether our castle is under siege or not. Mark my words, however, it is best not to wait.

So, while you see a chance — take it.

While You See a Chance (for Asceticism) Take It! – forsaking all for the sake of Love

Viktor Frankl taught that a person with a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW.

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He should know; he learned that in a Nazi concentration camp.

That’s why renunciation, self-denial & ascetical exercises – not for their own sake, but – for the sake of a Loved One can also liberate us, ourselves.

We thus all should aspire to be strong-willed persons, but, as Gerald May distinguished, not willful but willing.

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How might we strengthen our will to grown in love, willingness & freedom?

How might we weaken our willfulness & break those bondages which separate us from those whom we love?

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How can we transform our “bondage to” into – not only a “freedom from,” but – a “freedom for” the sake of whom we love?

Where might we find a “technology of liberation” that frees us to aspire to a higher love, to life’s finer things, to get us back in the high life again, where all the doors we’ve closed at times might open up again?

Growing one’s freedom to love requires dwelling in – neither the past nor the future, but – the now.

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No need to get preoccupied with either the past (as “Jesus paid it all”) or the future (as the Spirit eternalizes all traces of human goodness, every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities).

Nothing to fill in the blank with regarding “I’ll be okay when _______.”

Seriously, to grow my own freedom to love, I constantly sing in my head or even mouth the lyrics: “While you see a chance, take it!”

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In each now moment, while I see a chance to strengthen my willingness to love, I have better learned to take it, with increasingly few exceptions …
because my WHY to live has become way more important to me than any HOW.

Here, I am less focused on loving, personal interactions, although that remains the end. I refer, instead, to gratuitous self-denials, ordered to what Cynthia Bourgeault describes in terms of exercising & strengthening our “letting go muscle.” She’s talking within the context of distractions in Centering Prayer, but the same dynamic operates here.

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While I see a chance for denial, whether regarding something as simple as –

Googling or not to satisfy some seemingly pressing but genuinely idle curiosity,

consuming or not some morsel (digital or vittles),

replacing or not otherwise intrusive worries with psalms,

foregoing or not an indulgence of drama (news-cycles or soapy series), or, more proactively,

climbing out of a chair or not to go walk or

dedicating my time or not to spiritual writing —

while I see a chance for denial, I take it.

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And I’m talking about gratuitous self-denials regarding anything & everything, including wholly innocent self-indulgences, which, in and of themselves would be rather insignificant & morally neutral.

Because this exercising & strengthening of my “letting go muscle” has formed an increasingly strong habit in me of turning my attention to and caring ever more deeply about life’s higher loves & finer things, I’ve slowly found myself back in the truly high life, again.

Beginners on the spiritual path get scandalized at first regarding John of the Cross’ severe asceticism or Francis of Assisi’s betrothal to poverty.

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Later, they learn to quit beating their heads against life’s walls just because it feels so good when they stop. They better realize that our saints & mystics didn’t forsake all just for kicks, but, instead, for the sake of One, Whom they loved above all. Romance fueled desires inspired their renunciations, released them from bondages to _______ & freed them for the Most High.

The spiritual practices & ascetic disciplines of every great tradition will eventually come to the fore in every life, as each finds the mystical path out of either great love or great suffering, usually some of both.

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There may be some biochemistry in the admonition given to addicts – not to smoke as it makes relapses more likely. Beyond that, whether a substance or process addict (and we all have some degree of both, just varying by degrees of dys/functionality), I see the clear psychological & spiritual benefits that would accrue in strengthening one’s “letting go muscle.”

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So, in addition to the psalms & hymns of old time religion, I commend Disney’s “Let It Go” and Steve Winwood’s “Finer Things,” “Higher Love,” “Back In the High Life” and, most of all, “While You See a Chance.”

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From “Finer Things”
And come morning
There’s a good wind to blow me home
So time be a river rolling into nowhere
I will live while I can
I will have my ever after
The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be

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From “Higher Love”
Think about it, there must be higher love
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above
Bring me a higher love
Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?
I will wait for it
I’m not too late for it
Until then, I’ll sing my song
To cheer the night along
I could light the night up with my soul on fire
I could make the sun shine from pure desire
Let me feel that love come over me
Let me feel how strong it could be
Bring me a higher love

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From “Back in the High Life”
We’ll have ourselves a time
And we’ll dance ’til the morning sun
And we’ll let the good times come in
And we won’t stop ’til we’re done
We’ll be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
We’ll be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched us once will smile and take us in

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From “While You See a Chance”
Stand up in a clear blue morning
Until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning
Are you still free? Can you be?
When some cold tomorrow finds you
When some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you
While you see a chance take it
Find romance, fake it
Because its all on you

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Regarding the realities of Sacrifice as well as Detachment

Sacrifice requires the surrender of something good for the sake of something better. It’s an indispensable part of our human condition because we are radically finite. Values will inevitably compete, forcing often difficult choices.

When we do sacrifice one value or good for the sake of another, we do best to distinguish the higher from the lesser goods, the eternal from the merely temporal.

Sacrificial choices won’t always involve such a revaluing, devaluing or disvaluing. They can involve a Sophie’s Choice dilemma, which allows us to only suboptimally realize one of several otherwise vitally significant & deep values.

Often, sacrifices will take the forms of detachment (enjoyment in moderation) or dispossession (all or nothing abandonment). Neither is necessarily more effective or virtuous. That will depend on unique individuals and particular circumstances.

This is all to recognize, for example, that some persons might remain largely functional as social drinkers or recreational weed smokers (where that’s legal!) while others might be rather exceptionally susceptible to a downward spiraling into an inordinately dysfunctional tailspin. In such cases, an all or nothing dispossession or abandonment of such substances would be essential. Any notion that mere detachment or simple moderation would suffice is a dangerous rationalization, often unconsciously motivated by intractably ingrained habits.

So, too, for example, while loyalty is indeed a genuine good and high virtue, still, without disvaluing friends or loyalty, we might nevertheless need to reorder relationships & set boundaries by, as they say, changing our playgrounds and playmates. The changing of playgrounds & playmates must often be more than literal. Metaphorically, it can include the playgrounds & playmates in our minds & imagination, for example, the memories & recalls triggered by certain musical playlists & artists or by mere daydreaming & fantasizing. New approaches to leisure & entertainment can be life-saving.

Indeed, there is no measure of vice even in abandoning certain friends and absolutely no virtue in losing irreplaceable family time, employment, much less one’s very life.

This is a more extreme example but it applies to most sacrifices related to physical, emotional, mental, moral & spiritual hygienes.

As I wrote in my tribute to James Taylor, Ode to Stringbean, it’s place in time not a place in space, where a person’s home is found. That place in time is the eternal now. The entire journey is taken in each next good step. It’s about going home.

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Ode to Stringbean

the true handy man doesn’t work on a house

with a pencil and a rule

what he’s handy with are his people you see

love is jt’s tool

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most songs that are sung are about going home

according to his school

when life’s skies grow dark and full of clouds

and the world turns down right cruel

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when ole stringbean sang about carolina

he sang about a woman not a state

about a holy host of others

loved ones his truest fate

he had no need for sad salvation army sisters

singing nearer my god to thee

or moonlight ladies in the canyon

up on the roof went ole jt

he was going home you see

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what a fool I was to leave the only happiness i’ve ever know

where the seeds of faith were planted

and the fruits of love were grown

where seldom was heard a discouraging word

only rockabye sweet grady james

where I always thought I could see you again

e’r my flying machine went up in flames
when ole stringbean sang about carolina

he sang about a woman not a state

about a holy host of others

loved ones his truest fate

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he had no need for sad salvation army sisters

singing nearer my god to thee

or moonlight ladies in the canyon

shower the people sang jt

walking man walks like ole jt
in every life there are sacred places

where sweet memories abound

but it’s a place in time not a place in space

where a person’s home is found

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when life’s cold winds blow and your back’s to the sun

what’ll turn your head around

are those precious sacred faces

whose voices make such precious sacred sounds
when ole stringbean sang about carolina

he sang about a woman not a state

about a holy host of others

loved ones his truest fate

he had no need for sad salvation army sisters

singing nearer my god to thee

or moonlight ladies in the canyon

b s u r like ole jt

he was going home you see

Dealing with Intractable Emotional Turmoil

Anyone, Lord, whom I (or we) may have ever harmed and anyone, Lord, who may ever have harmed me (or us), whether by a thought, word or deed, or the absence of a thought, word or deed, whether through a sin or an error of omission or commission, whether intentionally or unintentionally, aware or unawares, whether justly or unjustly, politely or impolitely, charitably or uncharitably, Lord, I pray that You reach out and touch and heal us. I pray that you enable us to forgive one another and to accept one another’s forgiveness in order that we might receive your perfect healing. Amen.

I composed this prayer decades ago, but don’t recall why. Likely, it was a source of consolation to me in the face of a series of injustices I’d endured, aware that I’d offended, too, in my own way and to varying degrees. It supplemented any Act of Contrition.

Once, when visiting a family friend in hospice (a doctor whose end was to be a few days away), he asked me to pray aloud. That, above, is what I prayed, even as our parish priest stood by.
Closely tied to the Gospel imperative to forgive is the injunction not to judge. We are just never in a position to know when another’s failure to cooperate with grace is due to a sinful refusal or to an exculpating inability. We can’t even know this when another confesses to a crime or a sin.
So many failures to cooperate with grace are indeed due to various exculpating degrees of emotional duress, mental illness, deformative influences or lack of proper formation. God, alone, therefore, has such full knowledge.
In my experience, presuming another’s innocence rather than their guilt (often our own projection!), beyond merely obeying a Gospel command, can serve to tame our own wrathful imaginations (which too often can continuously replay the painful injury) and can thereby ameliorate our own suffering (as we reimagine ourselves merely unfortunate rather than as clearly & soberly attacked). This comprises a good first step in the cultivation of compassion for – not only others, but – ourselves.
How terribly wounded another must have been to carry on like that toward me, we imagine — instead of attributing to them straightforward malice or outright hatred. How often we rationalize and excuse our own dysfunctional behaviors and interpersonal offenses (and I’m not suggesting necessarily wrongfully so). We might best afford others the same benefit of the doubt.
Thus we can see how it’s very true that those who are the hardest & the harshest on others are also very likely similarly disposed toward themselves and their own failures to cooperate with grace. Thus the wisdom of the Desiderata — beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. Then, copiously extend that compassion!
All of this transcends other questions regarding how to deal with our emotional pain & spiritual suffering, as well as how to interdict failures to cooperate with grace in order to advance peace among peoples and maintain a modicum of public order.
Practicing forgiveness, not judging and liberally extending compassion toward oneself and others, makes for an indispensable start toward – not only healing, but – preventing much emotional turmoil. It’s really an implicit cognitive-affective behavioral approach as most spiritual disciplines are. While necessary, it’s not always sufficient, however. Our emotions are a gift of information regarding our internal milieu and external environs. While it’s true that bad cognitive and behavioral habits can make us guilty for certain degrees of emotional turmoil, generally, we should avoid judging ourselves and others for how we or they feel. At bottom, those feelings are a gift, part of our humanity.
For the most part, then, we are susceptible to judgment – not for how we feel, but – for how we behave. And this includes behaviors we engage to relieve our pain as well as those we undertake to interdict and remedy perceived and/or real injustices. Society sanctions such interdictions, from parenting to policing to military interventions, prescribing & proscribing various approaches to keep them proportional and to foster their efficacies.
In our radical finitude, even in our various authoritative capacities, our interdictions, themselves, can become sources of injustice — failures to cooperate with grace, though, again – not necessarily refusals, but – representing various inabilities in varying degrees. All sorts of rubrics are prescribed to define un/just interdictions and acceptable remedies for what ails a person, family or society. I’ve addressed those elsewhere in depth but, the preeminent rule is to always employ the least coercive means practicable as that’s most consistent with our unalienable human dignity. It’s consonant, too, with the time-honored wisdom of defaulting to a nonviolent resistance of evil, all other things being equal (not to suggest that they thus are!). That wisdom’s been demonstrated as true both through its manifold efficacies as well as the inefficacies ensuing from violence (physical, verbal, passive-aggressive, etc) both in the lives of victims and perpetrators of same throughout the ages. Alas, most know this intuitively and, thankfully, most do practice it in sufficient degrees.
What is equally maddening and befuddling, then, is how to handle the residual emotional distress — those feelings left over even after we’ve cognitively & behaviorally exhibited compassion, understanding & forgiveness of ourselves and others, even though we’ve prudently practiced or instigated the most efficacious interdictive remedies toward offending individuals or even institutions (for much dysfunction is institutionalized & intergenerationally intractable).
Any such residual emotional disturbances require holistic healing approaches such as outlined in my 12 Step Contemplative Spirituality, above.
As a pastor, counselor or significant other, as a suffering individual’s spiritual kin, we instinctively know that a compassionate, listening presence is paramount. A mere affirmation of the sufferer’s humanity and recognition of their pain combined with an unconditional acceptance of their very personhood is our first, best response. This passive response is a metaphorical, if not also a physical, HUG!
Responding with spiritual platitudes, psychological theorizing or superficial situational analyses is unkind because it risks trivializing what are often complex intra-personal dynamics, which have unfolded over long periods of time in a hypercomplex inter-personal milieu. Worse, we end up virtually dismissing the enormity of all human suffering, the immensity of all human pain, for, in our suffering, we simply are in solidarity. When we awaken to our human solidarity, compassion just naturally ensues.
Sometimes, that initial experience of acceptance and understanding and recognition can be so validating that a healing is experienced right then and there as a suffering person overcomes loneliness, alienation and misunderstanding. God becoming man is the paramount example of that simple efficacy. Our Mother Mary, as a Lady of Sorrows, similarly consoles us as we prayerfully reflect with loving intentionality on everything in her life that was joyful, luminous, sorrowful & glorious, in so many ways like our own lives.
Because not all of us are similarly situated in a precise manner (only generally so), it’s best to recognize that, while we all know tears, still, we can’t ever exactly understand another individual’s tears. We can only sit with them and try to variously dry a few at a time.
Beyond, then, seeking out those compassionate fellow sojourners, personal, pastoral & professional, there can remain lingering emotional disturbances, which, often, can indicate spiritual emergence opportunities. We can approach them, then, as spiritual emergencies.
Spiritual emergencies require, again, a holistic birthing process as the labor pains associated with our arrival as a truly new person in Christ will involve every aspect of our human giftedness – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. In my experience, some lingering emotional pain requires spiritual discernment regarding why God may have chosen to cry this or that particular set of tears through you, why God has placed His voice of prophetic protest in you, perhaps anointed you with a particular calling to remedy this or that injustice, heal this or that situation, minister in this or that way in this or that place to this or that person or persons.
What form your ministry of healing may take on should be guided by an honest inventory of your own internal strengths & weaknesses coupled with a clear, sober assessment of any external opportunities & threats. Perhaps you are rhetorically gifted and can minister spoken and/or written words to small and/or large audiences. Perhaps you are inclined to minister less so such spiritual works of mercy and more so in corporal works of mercy. Perhaps you are called to a new vocation or, more likely, an avocation. Whatever the case, your own healing may be further fostered by your ministry to others. Your lingering pain may be a calling to some spiritual emergence of a new part of you, even a relinquishment of an old part.
They say that any pain, which we don’t allow to somehow transform us, will otherwise become a suffering we continue to transmit to – not only others, but – ourselves.
Being validated in one’s suffering does not mean that everyone similarly situated in a given affliction will have experienced it in the same way or to the same degree. It only means they know tears and trust the authenticity of your own.
There are far too many forms and occasions of injustice in our world for us to imagine that our discerned response should, of a sudden, become some general norm for all others to follow in their prescribed responses. This is true with respect to both our particular feelings and to our chosen method of remedy. The norms that do generally apply, though, are employing the least coercive (most nonviolent) means practicable, discerning the most constructive response conceivable and engaging in a most compassionate & forgiving manner — all toward the end of that response being the most efficacious, spiritually, physically, emotionally and otherwise.

Importantly, though, when we are at play in the fields of the Lord rather than at work on our own selfish agenda, we are to gain our consolation & rest content with the process, with the sowing of the seed, and to absolutely refrain from getting preoccupied or emotionally overinvested with the product, the harvesting of the fruits of our labors. We are to — Let It Go.

As one discerns one’s calling as to whether or not to intervene or interdict in cases of injustice, consider:

Not every battle is mine to fight

Not every wrong is mine to right

Only with Godly counsel will I make my war

Not every issue requires my view

Not every task is mine to do

But in prayer I can abide

To be

engaged but not obsessed

inspired but not driven

spontaneous but not compulsive

at play in the fields of the Lord

not at work on my own agenda

This is much too brief a treatment of a very complex set of human realities. In that regard it could come across as superficial, even naïve or Pollyannaish. I promise you, though, it’s deeper than many ever go in either diagnosing what ails them and our world or in prescribing remedies therefor.
Pax dominus sit semper vobiscum.

The the above approach has its anthropological foundations explicated here:

Contemplative Being, Believing, Belonging, Desiring, Behaving & Becoming – an outline of foundations