Sunday, December 4, 2011

Reflections: Weblog Commentary

I have been meaning to launch this blog post for some days now, but I’ve kept putting it off because I couldn’t decide how to frame it. Rather than continue not to get the words online that I wanted to share, therefore, I’m just going to go ahead and post them unframed and let them stand (or fall) for themselves.
This material consists of a comment made by Ron King, a valued sometime visitor to this blog, followed by several comments made by me, elsewhere. I asked Ron’s permission to share this comment because it will be made available to my Facebook friends, as well as to readers of this blog. Ron made the comment in response to this post. I will edit Ron’s comment only to the extent that his very first sentence has been moved to the end of the comment. I do this in order that it may segué into the rest of the material, all of which consists of comments I made on a couple of different strings, to a couple of different people, following posts on one of my favorite blogs, Vox Nova. These I will simply clean up to stand alone, if any such polishing is necessary. I will offer them without comment, while inviting comment on them here. Without further ado, Ron King:

The problem for introverts is the early emotional conditioning of fear and rage due to the pain of being aware of not being validated by the primary caretakers and then the educational system. Consequently, the introvert is constantly under the intrusion of forces trying to make her/him into something she/he is not. This will cause a further retreat into self along with an ever increasing suffering.

Once the introvert has an awareness that being created in this way has a distinct spiritual purpose of exploring the dynamics of human suffering and the loss of love as the cause of suffering, then introverts can begin healing the false identity that has formed in reaction to a world that does not know how to love.

Loneliness begins to fade when the introvert begins to educate others about what it means to be an introvert. They can begin to teach extroverts what it means to be more sensitive. Every introvert I have known in my life has a passionate desire to be free to express their truth. The freedom is to be found internally and not externally. It is to be found face to face with extroverts, regardless of what they may say or do.

xxxxx[and now the sentence I've moved]

Jesus is an introvert.

Vox Nova: excerpt 1

Another commenter said of Jesus,

“…if he were conversant in Greek philosophy to any extent why did he not lay things out ever in a similar style.”

I replied,

Jesus perhaps did just that, when speaking to learned Pharisees; or, perhaps, to learned Romans. It is unfortunate that in the Gospels we are usually only given the punch-lines of his dialogues with his intellectual opposition. But, in most of what we are given, he is preaching to peasants and fishermen and shopkeepers, etc. There is nothing to be gained by speaking over the heads of one’s audience.

Any time I am arguing with a Catholic and I quote a Bible verse in support of my central thesis, and that Catholic then visibly pales, frantically starts making the sign of the cross and backs away from me screaming “Sola scriptura! Sola scriptura!” I am reminded that this once had some validity. Pre-Gutenberg, people didn’t own Bibles. Most people weren’t literate. What they knew about the Bible had to be spoon-fed to them by clerics. The priests don’t want to relinquish that power, so they preach still today against the “proof-text,” as though the text shouldn’t be a source of proof. I have to either spit on the floor, or chuckle. Hopefully, I usually choose the latter course of action. Luther, to his credit, not only translated the Bible into German, but preached that people had a duty to read it, and to interpret its meaning (with a little help from above), each according to his special spiritual need at any given time. This is not to use the Book as an oracle, but rather to use it as a learning tool; as a workbook for the student of the spiritual connection between heaven and earth.

To sum up: Jesus knew what he was doing.

Vox Nova: excerpt 2

I don’t know what “go to heaven” means, because I can’t conceive of heaven as a place. I can only understand heaven as a state of being. The upshot of that would be that only saints would “go to heaven.” One would need to be in a state of being compatible with heaven, i.e. “heavenly.” And by “saint” I don’t mean what the Church routinely means. What the Church means, in most cases, is something like “Employee of Decade” or “Distinguished Professor” or “Father of the Year.” So, what happens to the rest of us, I don’t know. That sad alternative may be what’s happening to us now. Being Christ-like does not mean being a really big fan of Jesus. It doesn’t mean liking Jesus, it means imitating Him.

Vox Nova: excerpt 3

I’m not so interested in the theories such as that Jesus went to India during “the lost years,” or that Jesus was the iniate of a Greek mystery cult, etc. I think it enough to speculate that Jesus was very probably literate; that he grew up in a Hellenistic milieu; and that he may very well have had some acquaintance with, and instruction in, both Greek (Platonic) and Roman (Stoic) ideas and used some of those, tailored to the levels of sophistication of his audiences, in his teaching.

I also think it very telling that Jesus was apparently not a Jewish nationalist. Reading the New Testament, one would get the idea that Jesus and his followers were wandering about in tranquil, almost sleepy countryside. In fact, of course, the area was crawling with insurgents and a constant thorn in the side of Rome. Jesus seems to have been totally aloof from all of this, which makes him somewhat less than ultra-Jewish in his thinking.

Moreover, if he had been nothing more than an unusually witty freelancing Jewish rabbi, I doubt that we would be talking about him today.

Finally, Socrates had Plato, and Jesus had Saul of Tarsus: the rest is history.

Vox Nova: excerpt 4

The difference, of course, is that Socrates and Jesus had visionary interpreters of real genius, both of whom offered a set of ideas too grand to ever be exhausted by subsequent speculation, or completely co-opted by "the world," and which, therefore, endlessly spark the imaginations of intelligent and creative persons who come in contact with them.

This is to take nothing away from the mediation of Socrates or Jesus. In both cases, their teachings were worthy of such interpreters. I assume that this was a necessary condition for the production of those interpretative bodies of thought.

I see the institutions--the Church, the Academy--to be like globs of semen; millions of sperm sent forth to produce one fertilized egg; millions of the "faithful" assembled to produce one true saint. And only the saint transcends.

Vox Nova: excerpt 5

The very last thing that a saint would want to be, I should think, is innovative or original. A saint is simple. There is nothing novel in the truth. The saint is proof that the truth can be received from its source and that life can be lived in accordance to it–not merely read about and acquired by rote for recitation on command. Man would get redemptive brownie points for the latter only if Kafka is G-d and the path to “heaven” really does lead one through the corridors and the various official stages and offices of some vast bureaucracy, beginning in the kindergarten of the parochial school and ending before the throne of judgment.
Your comments are welcome.