Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tiny Thinker Does it Again!

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My friend Tiny is at it again. On my message board he made a post attacking my argument on God as being itself. One thing he said which was especially gulling but also especially stimulating to thought is this:

I think you would do well to let the implications of the nature of the ground of Being govern your view of God rather than having your views of God govern your thinking about the ground of Being.

Consider, for example, that there is no static "ground" of Being, but rather that the "ground" or "foundation" is a perpetually occurring process by which the totality gives rise to the particular, which dissolves back into the totality, and so on, simulataneously.



This is a challenging statement because it immediately causes me to evaluate my beliefs to see if it might be true that I'm forcing the terminology on to preconceived theology rather than writing the theology as a result of the realizations of the phenomena. Of course it would be easy to say I am, I'm doing it all right, just follow me. But I suspect the truth is more of a mixed bag. I'm probably doing a bit of both,

I also have questions about Tine's understanding of the term "God." He's a pretty sophisticated fellow and he's read enough of my stuff that he knows better than to just equate the term "God" with big guy on throne, at least where my theology is concerned. Tine's own view point is somewhere between atheism and Buddhism. He was at one time a Christian fundamentalist so it's hard to say how he reacts to the term "God." But even though he knows my theology is far beyond that of the big guy in sky, he also knows my psyche may not be. So what is the nature of this truth?

One thing is certain, I do feel a dilemma because moving away from a presented model of God loses (1) divine command morality; (2) warm fuzzy of parental love. I dig that warm fuzzy parental love jazz, so that is one aspect I don't wish to lose. But on the other hand, that sense of being loved by God is certainly part and parcel of my religious experience. That was the major selling point in giving up atheism, not only was God real but he loved me. It's hard to think of some Helena dialectic or something on that order as being loving.

On the other hand, Tiny should understand with his Buddhist background, because it is the Buddhists themselves which say that the atom is neither a mind nor a non mind. So he should understand the paradox. I remind myself God is beyond understanding in words or images, and thus one can't rule out the parental thing either, even though one can't cast God exclusively that role. God is more than a big guy in the say, this doesn't' mean that God can't love. Love may be more ha we understand it to be. In modern America we tend to think that love is anything form sex to ice cream. We use the term "love" so easily and it usually means "desire" in some way or other. Love is more than just sentimental feeling, and it is more than just a reaction of brain chemicals. Wrapped up in the concept of Agope, Christian love, God's kind of love, is the Anton of according the other dignity he/she deserves as human, and the will the will to the good of the other.

To imagine that God has a will to the good of the others, is to set in motion a train of thought that classifies God among personages to begin with. Yet we need not understand "love" in a totally Provencal way. To will the good of the other, means that God has a will. I do not believe God is a mindless force like magnetism. I've never believed that. Is that "shoe horning" pre conceived theology? Of course it is, but it's also part of the basic reality of my conversion. It was not a magnetic force or a mindless essence of nothing that I encountered that night when I creed out for help when my broth was freaking out. It was the assumption I made inescapably that it had to have some form of will to even answer a plea. The sense of God's presence that I have always felt goes back to the core of the sensation of a presence. Presence meaning a will, not a mingles thing. I don't feel the presence of the wind, although linguistically we could say wind is present; we reserve the term "present" for people or for entities with awareness and volition. Yet love need not be sticky, drippy, sentimental, culturally bound or corny.Agope is basically giving. See my essay on "Love: the basis of everything." Love is the giving out of that which is essential for the basis of the good of the other. So there is a connection between being and love. I have developed a jargon about that. To think of God as the ground of being is a prior to think of God as having something to do with love.

This is not a mere shoehorning, although I admit I didn't think it all through like this until years later, but if love hadn't been at the core of those experiences I would have just dismissed them as stomach cakes or mental hastier. The fact that the presence I sensed had a sense of love is what made me think it had to be God, because no where else had I ever experienced such pure totally clean sense of absolute love. I knew love, my parents were very loving, but even they did have their desires and motivations; they were human. But this was different. this was amazing sense of absolute love. Whatever theological filter I've used to understand it, I was put along the path of choosing that filter by the sensation itself.

Now let's consider the other part of Tine's estaminet:



Consider, for example, that there is no static "ground" of Being, but rather that the "ground" or "foundation" is a perpetually occurring process by which the totality gives rise to the particular, which dissolves back into the totality, and so on, simulataneously


That of course is process theology, so Tiny chooses a theologically shoehorned answer to challenge my theological shoe horning. Why he thinks my concept of the ground of being is "static" I don't know. These are all process theology terms. "Static" is what process theologians really hate and want to avoid, and "process" defines God in their view. I like the process idea of God as dipolar. God is not static but neither is God merely constantly in flux. There is a potential pole that is always already there and always already potential. It never changes but it always affords the instance of change and the ability to change because it is potential. The unaccrued block is always unaccrued, but it could also always been carved and be the thing we carve it into. The other Pole, the consequent Pole, God is changing with the world, in flux but keeping pace with the connately changes of natural processes. Process theologians pride themselves in moving away from the Greek whom they see as static. They blame the Thomists and the medieval philosophers for imposing a static Greek View. But without knowing anything of process theology Underhill (Mysticism) said that the God of the mystics is active, and not static, and that mysticism itself is not the belief in a static God.

Process theology take its que from Heraclitus (talk about shorehoring--so even Tiny's process idea is static in that it comes to us from an already ancient tradition). He's the guy who said everything is totally in flux. He said you never put your foot in the same river twice. yet Heraclitus was also dipolar like a modern process theologian. He didn't see the static pole as potentiality necessarily, although I suppose one could, but he saw it as the permanence that comes form constant flux. So the flux was just one pole and it forms a constant because its constantly doing what it does. He thus saw a larger framework around the flux of this world which wrapped constraint change in eternal statuses and permanence. I kind of agree with Hericlitus more than with the process theologians of today (Hartshorne, Whitehead, Pittinger, Ogden) in that I don't see God's static pole as merely potentiality. I see it as more like the Platonic forms. There is a permanence that is always feeding into flux, the core of that permanence is the constituent giving out of love, or being, of will to the good, which forms the basis of a Heraclitian process theology.

Of course all of this is very much stringed through a filter of seminarian whoa. But I'm sure Tiny wants to just cut lose and experience the purse zenlike chan of not thinking anything Abu it. Perhaps I should take up zen. I can't think of that withoput wanting to do Chan, the Chinese forerunner of Zen. I want to do Chan because that's the basic philosophy behind Shaolin, and i want to learn Shaolin King fu and kick ass. Certain bloggers in Australia I need to visit when I learn Kung Fu.

In any case my question is since Zen and chan have such a history and are so wrapped up their traditions are they any less filtered than my thing? In the final analysis all we can do is have our mytiscal experiences and try to encode them into cultural constructs. A religious tradition is like a language in that it offers a vocabulary for this task of encoding such experiences. So this is what I'm doing

10 comments:

tinythinker said...

I am not sure why my thoughtful critiques always end up labeled as attacks :oP, but I think Meta might have misunderstood what I was trying to say in some places. It would be pointless and tiresome to give my whole rebuttal from the message board here, but FYI the thread which inspired this blog entry can be followed here if anyone is interested.

J.L. Hinman said...

I didn't see it as an attack. I really don't. that's just part of whimzical nature to speak that way; too many years in debate and all. I see you as a good dialogue partner not an attacker.

tinythinker said...

META: But even though he knows my theology is far beyond that of the big guy in sky, he also knows my psyche may not be. So what is the nature of this truth?

One thing is certain, I do feel a dilemma because moving away from a presented model of God loses (1) divine command morality; (2) warm fuzzy of parental love. I dig that warm fuzzy parental love jazz, so that is one aspect I don't wish to lose. But on the other hand, that sense of being loved by God is certainly part and parcel of my religious experience. That was the major selling point in giving up atheism, not only was God real but he loved me. It's hard to think of some Helena dialectic or something on that order as being loving


Well, I don’t see a need for divine "command" morality per se. Morality comes from seeing the other as ourselves (seeing others as persons). There are many ways we can define how or why we should see other as self. For example, I recently wrote elsewhere concerning the value of doing good:

“It is only when we can do such deeds unconditionally that we can give merit to others, or in Abrahamic terms blessings. How does this happen? When we see Buddha-nature, or in Abrahamic terms, Christ-nature or the spirit of God, within all beings and within ourselves, reflecting our common link through transcendence and imminence beyond a false static view of the world of form (which is where our heads and hearts often get stuck).”

As for number two, didn’t you also write...

META: Yet love need not be sticky, drippy, sentimental, culturally bound or corny.

So then doesn’t that include the “warm fuzzy of parental love”?

META: So there is a connection between being and love.

Now you are getting close to what I believe Ani was really saying about love and freedom being the two fundamental aspects of the Universe. Going back to the process view, the totality gives rise to the individual (freedom), and the individual dissolves back into the totality (love).

META: Of course all of this is very much stringed through a filter of seminarian whoa. But I'm sure Tiny wants to just cut lose and experience the purse zenlike chan of not thinking anything Abu it. Perhaps I should take up zen. I can't think of that withoput wanting to do Chan, the Chinese forerunner of Zen. I want to do Chan because that's the basic philosophy behind Shaolin, and i want to learn Shaolin King fu and kick ass.
Certain bloggers in Australia I need to visit when I learn Kung Fu.

In any case my question is since Zen and chan have such a history and are so wrapped up their traditions are they any less filtered than my thing?


Not thinking about it? For shame! Buddhist think about it a lot. But even Christian theology says it must be directly experienced, not just thought about as an academic exercise. By the way, didn’t you know that my teacher is ordained in the Chan tradition? But there’s more to Chan the Kung Fu :oP

tinythinker said...

Err, more THAN Kung Fu. Oops.

And I forgot to add the link I was going to share! So, since I can't edit, that last line should be like this:

"But there's more to Chan than Kung Fu :oP"

J.L. Hinman said...

I know there's more to Chan than Kung Fu, there's also Bejing oprea. He was trained in that as a child you know.

sorry, I couldn't resist.

J.L. Hinman said...

Love can be warm and feel good and be joyous without being corny or any of that. Parental love is a good thing. Love can't be without feelings. The will to the good of the other, giving nature of being has to embody some kind of good vibes it can't just impersonal magnatiism with cold no feeling.

that's what I'm saying is the fallacy in your thinking. I think you think that anything of the personal has to be less than the ocld impersonal unfeeling; so the realyl advanced sophisticated version has to be dumb dead magnatism. I'm saying it's all that; it's fleeing and good vies, its' cold manatism, it's the abstract Hegelian dialteic, it's personal caring and will nad moral nature.

It's niether a mind nor a non mind.

tinythinker said...

META: It's niether a mind nor a non mind.

But then it would also be neither personal nor impersonal, neither cold nor warm. Which is kind of the point. You keep saying that the alternative to not being a sappy paternal personality must be a cold drab void. But that isn't so.

J.L. Hinman said...

right. that's a good point. I'm just saying the alternative to being one seems that it would be other on the surface, unless you are willing to accept paradox. A lot of people are not. I told this to Hans he says well it's a contriadction, if you are not one you have to be the other.

Peter said...

Hi,

Am I right to summarise the basis of your disagreement as follows: Metacrock's position on the ground of being is "it is not `a person', but does possess personal characteristics like love, consciousness etc., hence can be called `God'", while Tiny Thinker's position is "it does not have any particular characteristics and is not any more specific than `totality'"?

Thanks,
Peter

J.L. Hinman said...

Well that doesnt' quite taek in all the nuances of the problem. First, being a person is not necessarily the basic requirement for God. There are impersnoal views of God. But neither am I saying that God is impersonal. I'm actually God includes but transcends things like personal awareness and conscousness. That God is bereft of these, but from God's infintie perspective, and from the standpoint of being ontologically necessary and basis of all being and all potential being, we can't really think of god in the say way that we think of a person.

I'm going to do this as a blog spot next, I don't want to say too much.

As for Tiny, we are not really saying different things.I'm ephaizing that we can still think of God as loving us, and he's ephasizing the new avaunt guard agnel of moving what we know and seeing see God some constantly unfolding into things we dont' understand.