I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lateral and Mystical Narrative Encounter and Sharing


In his article "Theology and Narration: Reflections on the 'Narrative Theology'- Debate and Beyond", Andreas Mauz, discusses the role of argumentative theology and narrative theology. Mauz holds that each of these approaches has its appropriate place in theological discussion and development. However it is often frustrating in the world of academic studies for those who are more lateral and mystical in their way of thinking and writing. Those who are more inclined to be systematic, argumentative and vertical in their thinking do not 'get' those who are lateral and mystical.

Pope John Paul II's writings are often disparaged by many Western academics because he writes and thinks in a more lateral and mystical way. Rather than an argumentative monologue or dialogue this 'other' (alterity) approach is a sharing of wisdom where everything is connected to everything else and needs to be encountered rather than debated. It is more of a theological and philosophical storytelling or narrative approach that draws on many sources. This approach Liesbeth Korthals Altes in “A Theory of Ethical Reading” calls "post-structuralist bricolage". For the argumentative and systematic person (who is more sensing than intuitive) this seems confusing and jumbled.

Unless the more lateral and mystical person can find a teacher of a similar outlook they will not perform well in the present peer-reviewed world of academia. Those of the systematic and argumentative school consistently misunderstand mystical writings even when they specialise in these areas. A good example is Gershom Scholem, who while very erudite from a structuralist perspective, totally misunderstands Kabbalah and mysticism, as do many of his academic disciples. 

This is also true of those erudite priests and scholars (such as Jesuits etc) who misinterpret the writings of mystics because they interpret the words of a mystic with an ontological approach rather than a mystical approach. This was the case of those holy but ontologically focused priests who criticised the writings of Luisa Piccarreta because they could not discern the difference between the ontological use of a term from a mystical use of the same term but having a different emphasis and meaning in mystical theology.

Fortunately in the world of post-modernist philosophy and theology we have the ideas of Levinas who challenges us to move away from ontological focused philosophy and theology into a transcendent ethical focus or paradigm. Unfortunately Levinas is often interpreted incorrectly by those coming from the systematic and vertical approach as they seek to understand his concepts from an approach centred in ontology.  

These 'ontological structuralists' dominate in both the worlds of liberal/ modernist theology and orthodox/conservative theology. They turn everything into an argument or debate in which one must take sides and demonise everything the other side holds dear. They both found Pope John Paul II an enigma, that one side demonised and the other idolised, while misunderstanding most of what he wrote. I fear that they may do the same with Pope Francis. 

The world of the spiritual and mystical is beyond human comprehension and systemising (totalising) and can only be glimpsed in the beauty and inner truth/message of an icon. The created world itself is an icon in which we can glimpse the "beyond" just as we can in a painted or artistic icon or in a literary icon. However those of a limited vertical structuralist mentality can only see a superficial aesthetic and /or ideological meaning to such icons of the "beyond". 

The 'vertical structuralist' needs to climb a vertical ladder and tread on every step. Each connecting link must be marked out with clear, blatant and logical information and instructions. They are on a set journey following a seemingly clear, marked out route. Whereas the 'lateral mystics' ascend on a spiral ladder or staircase in which they leap like a stag or deer from level to level. Those who follow these 'leapers' follow their lateral leaps, through mystical intuition, preserving the mystery or enigma of the whole adventure into the mystical depths of the Heart. To mark out the detail between leaps is to destroy the adventure and to pervert the ascent.

Often the 'lateralists' are forced (in a sense) into the straight-jackets of the 'verticalists' in order to succeed in a 'verticalist' environment. Sometimes these 'crosses of the spirit' are a necessary discipline for a short period of time (a time of ethical melancholy), before the 'lateralist' can be set loose to bound over the mountains with joy once again. We all have the potential to be a  free and creative 'leaper' and we all have the perversion to become a verticalist 'enforcer' of totalities. 

I hope and pray that Pope Francis will be the anti-enforcer (the humble shepherd) who frees us from all catholic 'totalities' whether on the right or left. That he will be the one that opens the doors of the Church to the 'fullness' of a time of free, simple, creative and holy leaping in mystic delight at the approach of the coming eschatological kingdom (present sacramentally already in the Eucharist). The culmination of this Eucharistic kingdom and reign will be when the Divine Will is done on earth as it is in Heaven.

For a bit of mystical leaping see The Church as Sophia

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Great Rebbe Nachman Song

I love these songs by Itzik Dadya.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Religion without Mystics is a Philosophy.

Pope Francis recently said in an interview that the role of mystics in the church is fundamental and that a religion without mystics is a philosophy.

He also said in the same interview:

"I love the mystics; Saint Francis also was in many aspects of his life, but I do not think I have the vocation and then we must understand the deep meaning of that word. The mystic manages to strip himself of action, of facts, objectives and even the pastoral mission and rises until he reaches communion with the Beatitudes. Brief moments but which fill an entire life. 

"When the conclave elected me Pope: Before I accepted I asked if I could spend a few minutes in the room next to the one with the balcony overlooking the square. My head was completely empty and I was seized by a great anxiety. To make it go way and relax I closed my eyes and made every thought disappear, even the thought of refusing to accept the position, as the liturgical procedure allows. I closed my eyes and I no longer had any anxiety or emotion. At a certain point I was filled with a great light. It lasted a moment, but to me it seemed very long. Then the light faded, I got up suddenly and walked into the room where the cardinals were waiting and the table on which was the act of acceptance. I signed it, the Cardinal Camerlengo countersigned it and then on the balcony there was the Habemus Papam."

Pope Francis also recently warned about a Church of efficiency and functionalism:

“The disciples wanted efficiency; they wanted the Church to go forward without problems and this can become a temptation for the Church: the Church of functionalism! The well-organized Church! Everything in its place, but without memory and without promise! This Church, in this way, cannot move ahead. It will be the Church of the fight for power; it will be the Church of jealousies between the baptized and many other things that occur when there is no memory and no promise.”
The “vitality of the Church,” then, does not come through documents and planning meetings - these are necessary, yes, but they are not “the sign of God’s presence.” (From the Record 2 October 2013 "Beware the Church of Efficiency")

Unfortunately many of our Bishops are administrators and bureaucrats and part of the new clericalism in the church. Many of these Bishops speak publicly in an orthodox manner while in their diocese they set about quenching all the new movements of the Holy Spirit and new spiritually orthodox endeavours. They continue to allow and appoint modernists to run the liturgy and the seminaries and the Catholic universities while outwardly wearing an orthodox mask.  A culture of intimidation descends on the diocese or archdiocese and people are afraid to speak out openly in fear of being disloyal or of their movements being penalised by these same merciless Bishops. People speak of a 'stable' from which these wolves dressed as shepherds come but a 'lair' or 'den' may be more appropriate.