Credo, Part 2: Large Poems (S2E10)

Credo, Part 2: Large Poems (S2E10)

A meditation on the leap of faith as a poetic response to the ineffable ground of being. Faith relates to reason much as poetry to prose.

This episode is the second in what will be a three-part discussion on faith. The previous part is found here: Credo, Part 1: Small Answers (S2E9)

I begin with Les Murray’s poem, “Poetry and Religion.” After this I offer some personal reflections on faith and its relationship to reason. Murray’s insights on poetry and religion help one to see their common element: whole thinking.

From this point of view, I then discuss the notion that faith is more than with agreement with doctrine or dogma. This is not to dismiss doctrine or dogma at all. Rather it is to stress that faith is something that requires more than the assent of the head. It is, indeed, also a matter of the heart.

Then I speak more about “conversion” in light of the previous episode and listener comments. I link this to the poetic innocence that we discussed near the end of season one. In this context I also recall the words of Christ in Matthew 18:3:

“Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

I then discuss poetry and prose in terms of disposition.

When it comes to poetry and prose, we know implicitly that it’s more than a mechanical description that separates the two; it’s the relationship to reality itself that marks the difference. One can find poetic prose, and in the case of some bad poetry, encounter something utterly prosaic.

Moreover, with prose, one reads with a certain distance, with each sentence even rising and falling on its own merits, apart from all of the others. Prose often proceeds in linear fashion, in order to “make a point,” even quite literally as each sentence reaches its end with a period, whereas poetry’s meter, rhyme, internal coherence, and imagery permeate the work as a whole from the very beginning.

Indeed, the linear form of progress within prose is inherently bound up with the time needed for a movement from start to finish, whereas the internal universe of the poem is outside of such time. We don’t read to the end in order to understand poetry in the same way that we do with prose. Poetry is presence.

Similarly, we can choose to relate to religion or faith in a prosaic manner, or in a poetic manner. This is fundamentally a choice, an act of will, that reflects our disposition toward being itself.

Finally, if you have questions and/or comments, please use the Contact page or look up the Wholly Orders Twitter feed. If your preferred social media are not among the current sharing options atop the post, let me know. (In connection with questions, see also FAQ.)

Credo, Part 1: Small Answers (S2E9)

Credo, Part 1: Small Answers (S2E9)

The leap of faith as a disposition toward being, vs scientific or ideological reductionism. A meditation on “small answers,” wholeness, and the credo.

I Small Answers

Small answers are tied to questions that the large answers cannot see.

We begin with Elizabeth Jennings’ poem, “Answers.”

Dana Gioia’s article from First Things (May 2018) about Elizabeth Jennings, which I mention early in the episode.

Discussion excerpts:

We’ve often talked [previously, for instance,] about the importance of loving the questions. [We have furthermore stressed] staying away from flattened thinking in the form of the “large answers” offered by ideological and other systems of thought.

But what of the small answers? […] Elizabeth Jennings is drawing our attention to something important here.

For there is a certain obviousness to me […] of the importance of loving the questions while avoiding the traps offered by those large answers.

[…]

Many of us seem to know, implicitly, that the ideological, technocratic, or corporate solutions […] will not work when it comes to addressing problems that are spiritual in nature. [Indeed,] [t]he large answers offered by a world full of certainty and empty of faith will never amount to anything more than an adolescent way of relating to being.

II Wholeness relates to a Disposition, not an End Product

Discussion excerpts:

Our minds have been trained to grasp even for the ungraspable, and therefore, to search for the large answers that seek to quiet the questions. [Therefore], we tend to forget the ground of Being itself, ungraspable as it is.

And this is [also] one major reason why large answers of the kind that I have discussed, especially of the modern world, such as science in the form of scientism, for example, or ideology, are so incompatible with the search for wholeness.

(…)

[Indeed,] the wholeness that I describe is not an end-product, but in fact, a starting-point.

Wholeness, to my way of thinking, is [therefore] not a large answer or conclusion, not holism, not progress, not a gnostic pursuit devoid of the transcendent.

[Additionally,] [w]holeness, as I often like to say in agreement with Philip Sherrard, presupposes the sacred.

(…)

[Therefore,] [w]holeness is a starting-point, yet not as an initial stage from which to advance from Wholeness 1.0 to Wholeness 2.0. [Wholeness functions as] a small answer that helps us to dwell in something other than Newton’s single-vision.

III Credo

In the final part, I examine a passage from Introduction to Christianity by Benedict XVI / Joseph Ratzinger.

Above all, Benedict’s exploration the meaning of “credo” is a profound meditation upon one’s disposition vis-à-vis reality. We then explore this passage and its emphasis on the “leap of faith.”

In conclusion, we see how the “credo” relates as well to wholeness and to “small answers.”

Contact / Sharing

Finally, if you have questions and/or comments, please use the Contact page or look up the Wholly Orders Twitter feed. If your preferred social media are not among the current sharing options atop the post, let me know. (In connection with questions, see also FAQ.)

“Don’t talk about Catholicism”: Poetic Vision & Catholic Tradition (S2E8)

Catholicism

I respond to those who would like me to talk only about poetry and philosophy, not about Catholicism. References: Les Murray, T.S. Eliot, Christopher Dawson, Nicolás Gómez Dávila

I “Poetry is Catholic, Poetry is Presence” – Les Murray

I reflect on Les Murray’s poem, “Distinguo,” while addressing listener response to the more openly “Catholic turn” in my presentation in season two of the podcast.

This discussion serves in part as a general response to those who have written with doubts about the relevance of the Catholic sacred tradition to the idea of wholeness.

My approach to faith, the sacred, and wholeness is not one of argumentation, explanation, etc. It is, rather, of a direct showing. It is a poetic response that aims to make connection(s) present to the listener.

II Poetry and the Sacred: In the world, but not of it

There is much in common between the sacred tradition and poetry also in the way that the world of today understands them, or if we’re being honest, misunderstands them, or fails to understand them at all.

We live in a world, in which people are used to reason, explanation, definition, quantification of all things and experiences. More significantly, they see that way of describing the world as not merely necessary but also as sufficient for all understanding. Faith and poetry are out of step with such understanding in a similar manner.

Presence is something that resists such definition. And, as Les Murray put it so succinctly, poetry is Catholic, poetry is presence.

When one is talking about the presence in poetry and in the Catholic tradition, there is a different sense and relationship to time altogether than that of the everyday world. There is a connection to the eternal, a connection between the transcendent and the immanent — connections that our world today denies.

III Presence vs Worldliness, Faith vs Ideology

Presence is opposed to worldliness. Presence is not escapism.

Philosophy can be a form of escapism, especially when decoupled from the sacred.

Finally, I answer a question that I received about whether or not religious faith itself isn’t a form of ideology.

Contact / Sharing

Finally, if you have questions and/or comments, please use the Contact page or look up the Wholly Orders Twitter feed. If your preferred social media are not among the current sharing options atop the post, let me know. (In connection with questions, see also FAQ.)

Against Ideology, Part 2: My Personal Metanoia (S2E7)

Against Ideology: My Personal Metanoia

The second in a two-part discussion critical of ideology. I discuss a personal metanoia that helped me to overcome ideological thinking.

The first part of this discussion is here: Against Ideology, Part 1: Ideology vs Philosophy (S2E6)

How a personal metanoia informs my approach to ideology

This episode is much more highly personal than most. I have alluded in the past to the importance of a personal metanoia to my current way of thinking. A number of listeners have asked if I would share more details.

While I prefer to focus on philosophy as opposed to myself, this topic seems relevant and useful to address at this time.

This discussion of my personal experience comes with a twofold purpose. One of which is to clarify my position on ideology as we prepare to tackle topics that are fraught with the possibility of ideological misunderstanding. The other of which is to serve as an aid to anyone who is caught in the vicious circle of ideology and may need some help to free themselves from it.

This metanoia was really, for me, not an instance of philosophical argumentation in the way that I was accustomed. Yet at the same time, I do not regard it simply as some sort of private revelation, either. It was instead a philosophical insight that came to me, inspired by a contemplative turn that removed a blind spot in my perspective.

If you find this episode interesting, you may also enjoy:

Letting Go: Meister Eckhart & Overcoming Dualism (Episode 016)

Meister Eckhart & Detachment: Contemplative Knowledge (Episode 017)

Meister Eckhart & Chasing the Merchants from the Temple (Episode 018)

Contact / Sharing

Finally, if you have questions and/or comments, please use the Contact page or look up the Wholly Orders Twitter feed. If your preferred social media are not among the current sharing options atop the post, let me know. (In connection with questions, see also FAQ.)

Against Ideology, Part 1: Ideology vs Philosophy (S2E6)

Against Ideology: Ideology vs Philosophy

The first in a two-part discussion critical of ideology as inadequate to the tasks of philosophy. Ideology is a false substitute for philosophy.

The second part of this discussion is here: Against Ideology, Part 2: My Personal Metanoia (S2E7)

I Reasons for addressing ideology in general

I’ve realized that many are still interpreting my anti-ideology arguments in an ideological sense.

The problem has been possibly somewhat of my own making. My own explanation of ideology has perhaps been itself too rushed, too reduced, and too simplistic. To that end, I’d like to use this opportunity to give a fuller explanation. Maybe I’ve pushed too much of my own experience into these terms without thinking about how others will hear them.

Given some of the topics to come in this season, it might be best to address this now.

II Some possible misconceptions

It might be best to first address what I am not doing or saying when I talk about ideology.

I’d like to make it clear that I’m not trying to avoid offending anyone by “refusing” to take an ideological position.

What I am saying, instead, is that I long ago recognized ideology for what it is, a limited way of seeing the world, one that really flattens Being and thus tends to address reality in an inauthentic, and often times, immature way.

And even though I am claiming that all ideologies tend to reflect certain of these limited characteristics, in as much as they are often a reflection themselves of the flattened sense of the world in which they arose, I would never claim, either, that all ideologies are morally equivalent.

III Ideology is not the same thing as Philosophy

When I criticize ideology, I am actually pointing toward it as a prime example of calculative thinking.

Ideology functions in a way for many people that is not only not what I would call (contemplative) thinking, but is often, rather, an indication of when thinking has stopped.

One of the grave intellectual mistakes of our time for many to confuse the terms philosophy and ideology as being one and the same, as being somehow interchangeable.

When I use the term philosophy, I am speaking of the love of wisdom, and the search for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Ideology in general is not concerned with these eternal things, for it falls in the realm of opinion.

In the final segments I criticize the current ideological climate within academia.

If you find this episode interesting, you may also enjoy:

Keep Calm and Do Not Immanentize the Eschaton (Season 2, Episode 2)

Contact / Sharing

Finally, if you have questions and/or comments, please use the Contact page or look up the Wholly Orders Twitter feed. If your preferred social media are not among the current sharing options atop the post, let me know. (In connection with questions, see also FAQ.)

A World in a Grain of Sand: The Poetic & the Sacred, Part 2 (S2E5)

Blake's Jerusalem

Second in a two-part meditation on the relationship of the poetic, the sacred, & Enlightenment. References: Hopkins, Sherrard, Raine, and Blake.

The first part is here.

I A Meditation on Hell

We start with Hopkins’ “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves.” This poem presents the end of the world in a way that connotes fragmentation and the loss of a sacred center.

Moreover, I cite this poem as an example of Nicolás Gómez Dávila’s reflection that modern literature is in rebellion against the Enlightenment and its usurpation of the sacred.

II Critical Observations of the Enlightenment

Next I discuss what it is that many of the defenders of Enlightenment cannot see about the Enlightenment itself. I explain the attendant problems in this regard.

After this, I segue into Philip Sherrard’s characterization of a world without the sacred as a “torture-chamber.”

III Kathleen Raine on Blake and Religion

Finally, I take a look at a talk by Kathleen Raine on William Blake. The talk itself is not about religion per se. Nevertheless, she makes several relevant observations for our purposes about Blake and religion. Most important, perhaps, is her claim that for Blake, religion is the externalization of poetry.

After my remarks about the Gospel of John, we reconnect to the ‘grain of sand’ via Blake’s Jerusalem, The Emanation of the Giant Albion.

Links

Notes from the International Hopkins Association website, mentioned on the program.

Another good, succinct write-up of Hopkins’ Spelt from Sibyl’s leaves. (Poetry Society of America)

Kathleen Raine – William Blake and the City (YouTube Video)

Contact / Sharing

Finally, if you have questions and/or comments, please use the Contact page or look up the Wholly Orders Twitter feed. If your preferred social media are not among the current sharing options atop the post, let me know. (In connection with questions, see also FAQ.)

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