Author Topic: The Humiliated Church or The Consequences of the Loss of Christian Symbolism  (Read 915 times)

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Offline Fabio Leite

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The Humiliated Church (Part 01)
or The Consequences of the Loss of Christian Symbolism

July 24th, by Olavo de Carvalho in Diário do Comércio
Source: http://www.dcomercio.com.br/categoria/opiniao/a_igreja_humilhada_1

Translation by Fabio L. Leite

Why did Pope Francis, when talking about the sacred symbolism of nature, chose to quote a Muslim mystic instead of choosing any sentence from the vast Christiam literature about the subject?

Enlightened brains from national and international media saw in it all sorts of diplomatic and ecumenical intentions, but I do not believe that this simple detail of papal speech can be understood without going back many centuries in history.

“We speak with words, but God speaks with words and things”, said St. Thomas Aquinas. In his time, and indeed since the beginning of Christianity, this so obvious it was common sense.

Far ahead of dictating to the prophets the words of the Bible, God had created the universe, being unconceivable that He had not left in it marks of His Intelligence, of the divine Logos which contains in Him the key of all things, facts and knowledge.

Nothing more logical, therefore – thus thought the saints and the mystics – than searching in the forms and appearances of the physical universe the signs of the divine intention that had created everything.

The very text of the Bible is filled with references to animals, plants, minerals, parts of the human body, landforms, celestial and climate phenomena, etc. that, without some knowledge of their physical nature, understanding it becomes completely opaque. There was and there is not how to escape this elementary conclusion: the universe was the first of the Revelations.

This intuition had not fallen flat to the pagan peoples of Antiquity, whose cultures had been raised entirely on the amazing efforts to apprehend some divine message behind the phenomena of earthly and celestial natures and of making the whole society a miniature cosmic model (bibliography on this is so abundant that I will not even begin to quote it).

Despite the enormous variety of symbolic languages that developed in many times and places, all of them obey a set of principles that allows us to establish correspondences between the cosmological and anthropological conceptions of these civilizations.

These conceptions were absorbed and just slightly remodeled by Christian Europe to become the vehicle of a biblical worldview.

The most important modification was a more accurate sense of the dialectic character of natural symbolism, where the facts of physical nature were no longer seen as direct expressions of divine presence,  as in the old cults of stars, bus as analogical evidences which at the same time revealed and hid this presence (I explained part of this in my book “A Dialética Simbólica” (Symbolic Dialectics”, São Paulo, É-Realizações, 2007).

Medieval cosmology incorporated the old ptolomaic planetary map, with Earth at the center and the many planetary spheres  - corresponding to distinct dimensions of existence – and reaching as far as the last heaven, the dwelling of God. That this map was not to be interpreted as a simple material photograph of the celestial world is proved by the fact it was dialectically complemented by an opposing conception, in which God was at the center and Earth in the extreme margin.

The tension between the two spheres summarized in a very in-depth way the paradoxes of human existence in a natural environment which was at the same time a temple and a prison.  The medieval view of heaven was not a cosmography, but a cosmology – a science that was whole and about the meaning of the existence of men in the cosmos.

The rise of the debate between heliocentrism and geocentrism lowered down the level of public imagination to a confrontation between merely material concepts, breaking the dialectic tension between the two spheres and dumbing down cosmology to mere cosmography.

The extraordinary progress of the latter served to mask the fact that modernity, thus inaugurated entirely lacked a symbolic cosmology, and even today there is no way of articulating the scientific-material view of the universe with knowledge of its spiritual aspects: these two dimensions hover over each other without ever overlapping,  like water and oil in a glass, and causing the old “science and religion” or “faith and reason” conflict to reemerge from time to time. In such terms, the conflict can only be mitigated through arbitrary border agreements, as artificial and instable as any diplomatic treaty.

What had been a dialectic tension became a static dualism, as in a positions war where non-moving armies remain in their trenches.  The most characteristic trait of modernity is, maybe, precisely the irritating coexistence of a science without spirituality and a spirituality without a natural basis.

To worsen things even more, the rupture between these two dimensions did not occur only in the domain of cosmology, but also in metaphysics and in gnoseology, where René Descartes, breaking with the ancient scholastic-aristotelic vision of the the human being as an insoluble synthesis of body and soul, built a wall of separation between matter and spirit, making the heterogenous and incommunicable substances.

Despite the uncountable corrections and impugnments it suffered, Cartesian dualism ended up laying roots so deep in the Western mind, that its nefarious consequences are still felt even in the domain of physical sciences (Smith, Wolfgang, The Quantum Enigma, 2011).

In the cultural arena, it resulted in dividing all forms of experience into two categories: real objects, i.e. measurable and material, known by physical sciences, and those purely thought of, if not actually imaginary – laws, institutions, values, works of art, everything properly human.

Of the former, all we could know was their measurable properties, being prohibited to want to find out in them any meaning or intention. The latter were filled with meaning, but only existed as thoughts, as “cultural constructions” with no ground on reality.

Although clearly harmful to the Christian worldview, they were quickly assimilated by the Catholic intellectuals. During all the 18th century, Cartesianism was the prevailing doctrine in the seminaries in France. The so-called “modernist heresies” had not been born yet, but the Christian intellectual hegemony was already lost, surrended without a fight.

It was the beginning of an era in which a Christian soul would be given no alternative except to shape itself into the form of modern mentality or to rampage in vain against something it could not win – precisely the two attitudes that characterize today the “modernists” and the “traditionalists”.

The last coffin nail was put in place by Immanuel Kant, when he digged an uncrossable abyss between “knowledge and faith”, highlighting the universal authority of the former and locking the latter in the closed cage of mere preferences and private fantasies – a doctrine that has become the foundation not only of scientific positivism, still reigning in most universities, but also of all the concept of the modern “secular state” , where there is no legal difference between believing in God, gnomes, extraterrestrials, spiritual virtues of hallucinogens or in the goodness of Satan.

(To Be Continued in Part 02)
Many Energies, 3 Persons, 2 Natures, 1 God, 1 Church, 1 Baptism, and 1 Cup. The Son begotten only from the Father, the Spirit proceeding only from the Father, Each glorifying the Other. The Son sends the Spirit, the Spirit Reveals the Son, the Father is seen in the Son. The Spirit spoke through the Prophets and Fathers and does so even today.

Offline Minnesotan

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Great, an article by a Muslim astrologer presenting himself as an authority on Christianity. Whatever....
I'm not going to be posting as much on OC.Net as before. I might stop in once in a while though. But I've come to realize that real life is more important.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Wait a minute, now. I'm intrigued.
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline LenInSebastopol

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Great, an article by a Muslim astrologer presenting himself as an authority on Christianity. Whatever....

A scholarly work indeed, however at one point I thought "Old Calendar".
God is The Creator of All Free Beings

Offline Fabio Leite

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Great, an article by a Muslim astrologer presenting himself as an authority on Christianity. Whatever....

Olavo is a devout Roman Catholic, who ceased working with astrology 35 years ago. How long ago have you stopped practicing your sins?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2015, 01:34:09 PM by Fabio Leite »
Many Energies, 3 Persons, 2 Natures, 1 God, 1 Church, 1 Baptism, and 1 Cup. The Son begotten only from the Father, the Spirit proceeding only from the Father, Each glorifying the Other. The Son sends the Spirit, the Spirit Reveals the Son, the Father is seen in the Son. The Spirit spoke through the Prophets and Fathers and does so even today.

Offline LenInSebastopol

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Great, an article by a Muslim astrologer presenting himself as an authority on Christianity. Whatever....

Olavo is a devout Roman Catholic, who ceased working with astrology 35 years ago. How long ago have you stopped practicing your sins?

This day is not over yet.
God is The Creator of All Free Beings