On universalism again

13 09 2019

The summer has been busy so keeping up with blog posts has been difficult. In June, the Church Life Journal published Taylor Ross’s reflection on Origen’s doctrine of salvation in The Severity of Universal Salvation. Here the premise is that the doctrine of universal salvation is far from a “walk in the park,” that the process of purification by which a soul is ready to go back to God is difficult and, more often than not, very long. Ross writes:

It should not require a theological treatise, much less the anxious methods of psychoanalysis, to recognize that the human will is capable of a seemingly endless charade of avoidance. Origen infamously entertained a seemingly endless proliferation of ages because he knew, presumably firsthand, that very often the soul would rather journey on with its false attachments than be transfigured. So, if he countenanced the idea of a God patient enough to make time for fallen creatures to willingly repent, it is because Origen knew, presumably firsthand, that there is no shortcut to reformed desire. Read the rest of this entry »

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A crisis of presence

4 09 2019

I had this odd dream where I was in the parking lot of the Catholic church in my hometown lecturing a couple of women about Origen and the Real Presence. I think the gist of what I was saying is that Origen perceived the presence of the Lord more in the Word than in the species of the Eucharist. As I was fast asleep, I don’t quite grasp the logic here. But I did read recently Jean Danielou’s book on Origen where Danielou states how Origen wanted to remove his listener from the carnal understanding of the Word of God and focus him more on the spiritual understanding. In that context, the traditional (modern?) understanding concerning Catholic piety of the Eucharist being the sole or only important presence of God would be something that Origen would object to. Read the rest of this entry »





Escaping the material world

28 08 2019

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Materialism is mistaking your own limited ideas of reality gathered from the senses for reality itself. In reading the Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada comments the following concerning contemplating the Universal Form of the Lord (virat rupa):

Some of them think that to hear about the pastimes of the Lord means to hear about His activities with the gopīs or about His pastimes like lifting the Govardhana Hill, and they have nothing to do with the Lord’s plenary expansions as the puruṣāvatāras and Their pastimes of the creation, maintenance or annihilation of the material worlds. But a pure devotee knows that there is no difference between the pastimes of the Lord, either in rāsa-līlā or in creation, maintenance or destruction of the material world. Rather, the descriptions of such activities of the Lord as the puruṣāvatāras are specifically meant for persons who are in the clutches of the external energy. Topics like the rāsa-līlā are meant for the liberated souls and not for the conditioned souls. The conditioned souls, therefore, must hear with appreciation and devotion the Lord’s pastimes in relationship with the external energy, and such acts are as good as the hearing of rāsa-līlā in the liberated stage. A conditioned soul should not imitate the activities of liberated souls. Lord Śrī Caitanya never indulged in hearing the rāsa-līlā with ordinary men.

In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the science of God, the first nine cantos prepare the ground for hearing the Tenth Canto. This will be further explained in the last chapter of this canto. In the Third Canto it will be more explicit. A pure devotee of the Lord, therefore, must begin reading or hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the very beginning, and not from the Tenth Canto. We have several times been requested by some so-called devotees to take up the Tenth Canto immediately, but we have refrained from such an action because we wish to present Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the science of Godhead and not as a sensuous understanding for the conditioned souls. This is forbidden by such authorities as Śrī Brahmājī. By reading and hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as a scientific presentation, the conditioned souls will gradually be promoted to the higher status of transcendental knowledge after being freed from the illusory energy based on sense enjoyment. Read the rest of this entry »





Poor people’s religion

7 08 2019

There is a difference especially in the First World between religion as concern for the poor and religion of the poor. In my experience, especially in Mexican-American barrios in the United States, when people get religion or return to religion, they often never stray back into Catholicism but instead go to evangelical churches in storefronts or megachurches. These churches often lack a “social conscience”. Though most of the people who attend them are poor or working class, that’s not the focus of their identity or mission. While they are often built on social aide or prison outreach, the focus isn’t on the societal causes of their condition (think Archbishop Camara’s idea of helping the poor vs. asking why there are poor people), but rather on how Jesus can help people out of their condition, how their condition was caused by bad or sinful decisions, and so forth. Read the rest of this entry »





On Pascal

13 07 2019

Again, the problem is not simply things as they are but, unlike the body/matter-loving Christians of the 20th/21st century, things are bad. For God had created this age to be an imperfect one of growth and transfiguration. There’s a typological parallel between Eve birthed from sleeping Adam’s side and the dead Christ’s pierced side pouring out blood and water, the elements of His bride, the Church. The difference in types truly shows how horrifying sin truly is, and what the curse had contained through a brutal regime of hard-work, suffering in life-giving, and mortality cut off from immortality. But more importantly, God had chosen to hide Himself in a peculiar form. Why not simply make things perfect? And once fallen, why not just fix it? Christ created rational creatures that He draws into the most peculiar relationship. All of heaven and earth sing of their Creator, but the Creator shrouds Himself in darkness. He speaks, but in riddles. The creation bears this mark, the sign of wisdom, but wisdom now crucified. There is a difference between programming and self-discovery. The latter does not mean, or require, a human autonomy in contrast or in differentiation from divine providence. Man plans in his heart, but God directs his footsteps. Advocates of free-will like to contrast God’s creation of humans, as rational and willful creatures, not robots. So far, that’s basically true, but that is totally irrelevant if God is accountable for the salvation of these creatures. Those who use these arguments to argue for a powerless God who can’t stop or intervene in affairs know nothing of the Bible. In Scripture, humans are simultaneously open and free, while never outside God’s will. Luther’s deterministic pessimism, bordering on the manichean, is as equally delusional as the Jesuit’s Molinistic optimism in Human rationality and the integrity of creation.

The rest here.





Arguments Against Universalism: A Personal Encounter — The Chequer-board of Nights and Days

20 06 2019

Back here I discussed two forms of argument against universalism, both of which I considered to be red herrings–that is, arguments that don’t actually address the issue at hand. The first argument boiled down to saying, “Don’t worry about the fate of others–worry about yourself. Your main goal is to keep yourself from going to […]

via Arguments Against Universalism: A Personal Encounter — The Chequer-board of Nights and Days





On Kołakowski and the Neoplatonic Pre-History of Marxism — Daniel Tutt

12 06 2019

With increasing interest in new forms of Marxism, the philosophical origins of Marx’s thought have been a topic of important debate with many studies locating Marx’s early thought in Christian theology. The early Marx often reads like a quasi-theologian when he discusses ideas of universality and the emancipation of the proletariat. But does Marx’s early […]

via On Kołakowski and the Neoplatonic Pre-History of Marxism — Daniel Tutt





Hellish thoughts – Part II

4 06 2019

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The Srimad Bhagavatam is the 18,000 verse story of Krishna, or rather, the story of all reality in relation to Krishna. The fifth of the twelve cantos is noted for its mathematical outline of the material universe, and the last part of that canto describes the lower planets, or what would be considered Hell in the Western monotheistic religions. Here is an example of the punishments described in this canto:

By the arrangement of the Supreme Lord, low-grade living beings like bugs and mosquitoes suck the blood of human beings and other animals. Such insignificant creatures are unaware that their bites are painful to the human being. However, first-class human beings — brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas — are developed in consciousness, and therefore they know how painful it is to be killed. A human being endowed with knowledge certainly commits sin if he kills or torments insignificant creatures, who have no discrimination. The Supreme Lord punishes such a man by putting him into the hell known as Andhakūpa, where he is attacked by all the birds and beasts, reptiles, mosquitoes, lice, worms, flies, and any other creatures he tormented during his life. They attack him from all sides, robbing him of the pleasure of sleep. Unable to rest, he constantly wanders about in the darkness. Thus in Andhakūpa his suffering is just like that of a creature in the lower species. Read the rest of this entry »





Līlā; or, It’s Just a Ride

29 05 2019

The Chequer-board of Nights and Days

One of the perennial questions of religion is raised by the existence of evil.  The world, as anyone with eyes to see, is a rough-and-tumble place, a place where huge amounts of extremely nasty things occur.  In and of itself, this obvious fact is, while unpleasant, also unremarkable.  For a non-believer, the evil in the cosmos just is.  There’s  no particular reason for it, any more than there is for any other observed phenomenon.  The universe is a quirk of random chance, and it is as it is, a mixture of good and bad.  Much of the badness, in fact, is a function not of any cosmic principle, but of our perspective as humans.  Disease, suffering, and death are very much meaningful–and unpleasant–to us, since they affect us in ways we don’t at all like.  For the disease-causing pathogens that live on us, though, we’re a veritable smorgasbord…

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More from the Mailbox

22 05 2019

I was re-reading this the other day and thought I would share it again.

Reditus

A continuation of a previous conversation:

Of course the liturgy of the Byzantine Church is infinitely better than the Latin Church. Why do you think I had anything to do with it? Just because I “liked it” or that it made me “feel closer to God!” There are many reasons for why it is better.

The Latin Church has always been rather primitive. It tends far more towards the “mystical” and direct “feeling” approach because it is so far behind the eight ball when it comes to brains. They (Latins) never really got into the big theological debates of the first 7 councils. They have always promoted a Jesus-centric, (not even Christo-centric) spirituality. They have never really come to terms with the role of the Mother of God. All the major liturgical feasts of the BVM were imported from the East and the Reformation never had a clue what it…

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