On the burning in the bosom

29 06 2011

When it is charged with the triviality of what it offers, it assures us, in reply, that the fullness and richness of its meaning lie deep down in its own heart, and that others must feel this too, since with such phrases as the “heart’s natural innocence”, “purity of conscience”, and so on, it supposes it has expressed things that are ultimate and final, to which no one can take exception, and about which nothing further can be required. But the very problem in hand was just that the best must not be left behind hidden away in secret, but be brought out of the depths and set forth in the light of day. It could quite well from the start have spared itself the trouble of bringing forward ultimate and final truths of that sort; they were long since to be found, say, in the Catechism, in popular proverbs, etc. It is an easy matter to grasp such truths in their indefinite and crooked inaccurate form, and in many cases to point out that the mind convinced of them is conscious of the very opposite truths. When it struggles to get itself out of the mental embarrassment thereby produced, it will tumble into further confusion, and possibly burst out with the assertion that in short and in fine the matter is settled, the truth is so and so, and anything else is mere “sophistry” – a password used by plain common sense against cultivated critical reason, like the phrase “visionary dreaming”, by which those ignorant of philosophy sum up its character once for all. Since the man of common sense appeals to his feeling, to an oracle within his breast, he is done with any one who does not agree. He has just to explain that he has no more to say to any one who does not find and feel the same as himself. In other words, he tramples the roots of humanity underfoot. For the nature of humanity is to impel men to agree with one another, and its very existence lies simply in the explicit realisation of a community of conscious life. What is anti-human, the condition of mere animals, consists in keeping within the sphere of feeling pure and simple, and in being able to communicate only by way of feeling-states.

-Hegel, from the Preface of the Phenomenology of Spirit



6 responses

29 06 2011

Ah, the burning bosom. Or as some Lutherans call it – The Liver Shiver. 🙂

29 06 2011


29 06 2011


Different Kinds of Freedom
By Richard Rohr, OFM

Of course this is the week that Americans naturally talk about freedom, because it is the anniversary of our Declaration of Independence from England on July 4, 1776. That is good, and yet we must also be aware we are not talking about Gospel freedom here, or the freedom offered us by our knowledge of God. It is quite common for most people, not just Americans, to confuse the two, and to worship mere political freedom in lieu of any real inner freedom offered by God and grace.

The first freedom is largely freedom from. It is the natural ego desire to be self-determining, self-directed, and self-promoting, and not to be “colonized” by others in any sense. This is good, but it does not mean you will use such freedom for the common good, for spiritual good, or for the good of others. It is ordinarily quite selfish and exclusionary, as our whole history has shown in both state and church. As long as you stay at the egocentric level, it is actually just freedom for me to do what I want, which cannot get you very far spiritually. In fact it is a blockage to the Big Mystery and to Truth.

Gospel freedom is freedom for! It is not just freedom to do what I want to do, but the inner freedom to do what I have to do. In fact, authentic God experience gives you such inner freedom that you can even find life and love and happiness when you lack the outer freedoms assured us by our Constitution (freedom of assembly, freedom of worship, to vote, and to live without discrimination because we are all “created equal,” and so forth). Many of our saints and martyrs have shown this to be true, as did Jesus on the cross.

People are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” as the Declaration of Independence had the wisdom to state. This is not given to us by any government, but given to us by God from the beginning, and by reason of our very existence. All people hold it equally: women, blacks, gays, non-Americans, immigrants, atheists, the handicapped in any way, the poor, all being equal children of God. Suddenly, we are not sure if we want in on this wonderful deal at all! Most groups, even after writing such inspired documents, “circle the wagons” around their own privilege, the rich, and those with access (Women, blacks, and unlanded men had no vote from the very beginning!). We did not know or mean what we had said.

But you must place your bet, men. Are you going to seek out Gospel freedom for yourself and our world, or merely wave a sentimental flag of another in-group that defines itself by exclusion—and calls that freedom? We are capable of so much more and we are ready for so much more. We are sons of God first, sons of humanity second, and sons of America third, which is a more or less nice third! This is the America that God surely blesses.

29 06 2011

Ah, yes the old Scylla and Charybdis thing.

Will we ever get beyond the dualistic thinking that Decartes formally expressed so well?

When we stopped teaching the contemplative mind in a systematic way about 400 to 500 years ago, we lost the capacity to deal with paradox, inconsistency, and human imperfection. Instead, it became “winners take all” and losers lose all. Despite all our universities and churches in Western Christianity, we learned to choose one side over the other and if possible, exclude, punish, or even kill the other side. That’s dualistic thinking at its worst; and it’s the normal mind that has taken over our world. It creates very angry and often, violent people. Peace and happiness are no longer possible, because there is always a crusade to be waged and won. That is ego at work and surely not soul.
~Richard Rohr

Nietzsche was right the god of dogmatic absolutism is dead. Fortunately the Pneuma God is alive and well and very active among us!

Now if we could only get rid of Calvin’s Cosmic Bully….

29 06 2011

If you’re going to quote Hegel, which is bad enough, at least spare us his hideous visage. Those jowls and drooping eye-bags give the impression that his face is melting right off, like Major Arnold Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I think as bad as Protestant emotionalism is, Hegel’s rationalism is no antidote. I would actually find it refreshing if Christians today were a little more secretive about their ultimate truths; if they handled God’s mysteries with a little more fear and ritual dread; if they actually observed Matthew 7:6 with any degree of seriousness.

Of course the problem with many pietists is that they are all too eager to dredge up ‘ultimate and final truths’ and display them, meretriciously, in the ‘light of day’ as spiritual wares to be sold and marketed in the great American religious bazaar. This marketing they term ‘outreach’, ‘witnessing’, ‘evangelicalism’, etc. Even worse, some of them have abandoned trying to communicate via feeling-states and have clumsily taken up analytic philosophy, a la William Lane Craig.

29 06 2011
Charles Curtis

Brings this to mind:

“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.” – Joseph Smith, Doctrine & Covenants 9:8-9

A Hegel quotation followed by “9 Dangerous mistakes that women make that men find totally unattractive..” Love it.

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