Lesson 98- Response to Upset Callers
Well, I knew it was going to happen. I sure stirred up a hornet’s nest with my last program. Dom tells me there were a number of phone calls from listeners who were upset about what I said. Since he didn’t give me any details, I am not sure what upset them. Was it just the topic of evolution that, as I said, is still a sore point with many Christians? Or was it that I had suggested that God, who created sex and all that is involved in it, might have patterned it on something that was part of His own nature. I knew that the moment you mentioned God and sex in the same breath, people were going to get upset because we have such a distorted view of it. Fr. O’Donnell, the director of Malvern Retreat House, says that most of us have been infected with an Irish heresy called Jansenism that, like the Calvinism of the Puritans, was very suspicious of anything connected to the flesh or sex. Being Irish myself, I shared in that Irish guilty conscience that feels that anything connected to pleasure must be a threat to one’s eternal salvation. On the other hand, suffering is an indication that we are on the right path.
Now I am not demeaning the value that suffering can bring to one’s life because, as the child of two alcoholic parents, I have had my share of it and I value all the lessons that it taught me. But it was the type of suffering that challenged me to struggle and go deep within myself in search of the answers to questions about life. Thus, through the years I have come to understand that there is nothing wrong with anything God created so long as we use it in the proper way. Sex, I often tell my students, is sacred because when seen in its proper context as a mechanism created by God for the creation of new life, it reflects the Trinitarian nature of God. Just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the interaction between the Father and the Son so the child proceeds from the interaction between its mother and father.
But, as I said, I don’t know whether it was evolution or the mixing of God and sex that caused the uproar. If it was evolution, I have already mentioned that our late Pope, John Paul II, said that it is possible that the theory of evolution is true and that Catholic could accept it so long as we saw the creation of the rational mind of humans as a special act of intervention by God. And, that is the theory, based on the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, that I am working towards. If it was the mixing of God and sex, then I must have failed to make it clear who God is or what sex is. So let my try to clear up any misunderstandings that I might have created.
First, let me review with you the introductory remarks from my last program that preceded my statements because I knew then that I would be “skating on thin ice” when I approached this topic. I began my last program by referring to the program that preceded it in which I told of two spiritual experiences: one by Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and one by myself, in which we both experienced God as an equal mixture of “joy and sorrow.” He saw it in an expression on the face of Jesus and I felt it following an encounter with God after I received the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” at a Catholic prayer meeting. Now you are free to doubt the validity of these experiences and whether either one was a true encounter with God but I am asking you to accept that I am telling you what I really experienced. I believe that Fr. Chardin really saw what he described and I am sure that I felt what I described.
After months of wondering where in human experience we could find this equal mixture of “joy and sorrow”, it dawned on me that it was in “childbirth.” A women in childbirth experiences great sorrow because of the struggle and danger she must go through and, at the same time, great joy because she is bringing a new life into the world. Then I recalled St. Paul’s statement that “the whole creation groans, like a woman in childbirth awaiting the revelation of the sons (and daughters) of God.” Obviously this suggests that there is a birth process that is going on in creation that involves a great struggle. What it is, how is it taking place and who is involved is what these talks are about.
You might remember that the philosopher Hegel had said that the law of life was struggle involving a dialectical process that through Thesis-Antithesis and Synthesis was working its way towards God or Ultimate Truth. His dialectic, in which the Thesis, representing our total theory of reality, is large, passive, holistic, and general, interacts or has intercourse with an Antithesis that is small, active, specific, and focused, resulting in a Synthesis that incorporates elements of both the Thesis and the Antithesis, much as a child incorporates the qualities of both parents. Thus the dialectic is a model for sexual reproduction and childbirth. And if this is the process that is leading us towards God or Ultimate Truth then it really is true “the whole creation is groaning like a woman in childbirth” as it struggles towards the Ultimate Truth and the fulfillment of the Creator’s plan. And, if the dialectic is also a model for logical, reflective thought,- and it is - in which and intuitive right lobe is reflected upon by a logical left lobe then it is logic that is purifying our knowledge as we move towards Ultimate Truth. That is why the physicists say that the universe operates more like and idea than like a mechanical clock because it is a self- correcting system that is responsive to the changes taking place. And, if the dialectic, which models rational thought, is also a model and for an evolutionary process –and it is -, then it follows that evolution is being guided by a Super Logical Being towards its ultimate end. And, since, according to St. John, Jesus is the Word, Logos, or Logic of God that was in the beginning who is responsible for all created things, then, from a Christian point of view, the evolutionary process is being directed by God’s Logos or Jesus who is the selective agent that is guiding the process towards its intended goal.. And, if, according to the scientists, the whole evolutionary process is the result of two sub-theories called Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest, then, from a Christian point of view, Jesus is the Natural Selector who selects what “is consistent” with His Father’s plan and what “is not”. Those who are have their names written in the “Book of Life” and those who are not end up either by being written out of the Book of Life by becoming extinct or else become dead ends in the general thrust of the process towards higher forms of life.
And, as rational beings who are familiar with logical thought, we know that it is hard and difficult and involves a great struggle as it tries to bring order out of chaos. If you doubt me, try organizing that mess in your garage or, even better, a giant corporation. Thus the Logos or Logic of God, who is Jesus, has been involved in a Cosmic struggle from the beginning of time to bring order out of the original chaos of the universe. Organization alone is difficult enough but to bring it about with free agents who are capable of following their own will is almost impossible. In a previous program I tried to illustrate this by describing a skit with children called the Rag Tag Army of God that involved a scout master trying to lead a group of youngster who kept getting out of line. Thus, is it any wonder that the Messiah in the Old Testament, who we believe to be Jesus, is called the Suffering Servant of the Almighty. He could just as easily been called the Struggling Servant whose struggle will not be over until His Father’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven.” Every deviation in the process, which is just another name for sin, delays the coming and every cooperative action, which is just another name for virtue, move it closer to its goal. Thus, both St. Paul and the Church use the imagery of us being the Body of Christ who through our virtuous efforts ease the burden and struggle of Christ and hasten the coming of His Kingdom. Otherwise, we delay its coming and extend His struggle. In other words, we are called to be part of this evolutionary process by becoming aware of its goal and the mechanism that is being used to reach it. Thus, songs like “The City of God” attempt to remind us of the role that we all play in this cosmic drama. The words say:
City of God
Awake from your slumber; Arise from your sleep.
A new day is dawning for all those who weep.
The people in Darkness have seen a great Light.
The Lord of our longing has conquered the night.
Let us build the city of God, may our tears be turned into dancing.
For the Lord, our Light and our Love
Has turned the night into day.
We are sons of the morning; we are daughters of day.
The one who has loved us has brightened our way.
The Lord of all kindness has called us to be
A light for His people to ser their hearts free. (Refrain)
God is Light, in Him there is no Darkness.
Let us walk in His light; his children, one and all...
O comfort my people ; make gentle your words;
Proclaim to my city.... the day of her birth...(Refrain)
O City of Gladness, now lift up your voice;
Proclaim the good tidings that all may rejoice. (Refrain).
The attitude expressed in this song is the “Judeo/Christian Linear Utopian Concept of History” and it means that we see history as a struggle moving from the Alpha to the Omega. It’s the same attitude that Hegel speaks of when he says that human history is being guided by a spirit through a dialectic process directed towards Ultimate Truth or God. And yet how many of us have ever heard of Hegel or his theory? We should have because, as a philosopher, he provides a non-religious base for arguing against those who would undermine the Judeo/Christian vision for the universe.
Hegel, I might add, who according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, was greatly influenced by his Christian beliefs, is one of our best allies in this debate on evolution because, as a philosopher rather than a theologian, he is an antidote to Jean Paul Sartre’s theory of Existentialism that claims that the universe is accidental and absurd. He is also well respected by the secular humanist because Karl Marx gave his dialectical theory a twist and made it the basis for the theory of Communism. Hegel called his theory Dialectical Idealism and saw history as a conflict between ideas resulting in a struggle towards Ultimate Truth or God while Marx called his theory Dialectical Materialism and saw history as a conflict between social classes resulting in a struggle towards a utopia called the “classless society.” Where Hegel saw his dialectic being directed by a “Spirit of History” that corresponded to the Christian idea of the Holy Spirit, Marx, being atheistic, saw it being directed by the “Spirit of Man” and, like other secular humanist, believed that “there is no God to save Mankind; Mankind must save itself.” Thus, if Marx could give Hegel’s theory a twist to make it serve the cause of atheism, Christian thinkers can twist it back to make it serve the cause of God.
According to Hegel the universe is the result of a rational process that is based on logic. In other words, there is a Logos directing the evolution of the universe that seems to be moving it from chaos to higher levels of order, from the non-conscious to the conscious, from the potential to the actual, from non-life to life, from other control to self-control, from mental darkness to mental light, from the Alpha to the Omega.
Since religion has been excluded from the debate on evolution and philosophy has not, then it is to philosophy and logic that we must go if we want to be part of the debate. Thus, I am asking you to think beyond our childhood conception of the universe that served us well when the world was simple and no one challenged our beliefs. But now we face a world that is becoming overtly more anti-Christian and our opponents have dominated the intellectual climate of the country simply because we have failed to respond to their philosophical and scientific arguments with counter argument and insights taken from the same disciplines.
In doing this it will force us to expand our understanding and challenge us to think of old concepts in new ways. But as our former Pope, John Paul II said, “Don’t be afraid! This is the springtime of the Church because God is pruning the Church by removing the dead wood in both the clergy and the laity and He is going to deepen our understanding and purify our spirits through the very struggle caused by the scandals and challenges we are facing. So long as we have the Magisterium of the Church consisting of the Pope, Cardinals, and bishops you don’t have to worry that I will lead you astray with my wild speculations. At the very beginning of my broadcasting I told you that they were the final word, not me and that I submit to their decisions. However, I believe that everything that I am saying is compatible with the Church’s teachings. The reason that some of us are not aware of this is because we are not as familiar with the treasury of Catholic philosophy as we ought to be. Anyway, let me return to my task of trying to address whatever it was that was so upsetting to some of my listeners in my last program.
I knew that when I started to talk about sex in philosophical terms rather than biological terms that some of you might find it upsetting and that no matter how much I tried to show sex in its broader context as principles of interaction, many would still continue to think of it exclusively as biological sex. So let me try again by quoting from my introductory remarks and expanding on them in an attempt to correct any misunderstanding. Thus I began my last program by saying:
“In my last program I introduced an idea that might have seemed shocking to some of you: the idea that God might be like a woman in childbirth. For some reason many of us seem to have trouble associating God with anything that has a sexual connotation and yet the Bible is full of references to God and sexual union. I have already mentioned the symbolism in the story of Hosea in which Hosea is a symbol for God and his unfaithful, prostitute wife, a symbol for us (suggesting that sin is a type of marital infidelity). (This theme is further supported when), in the Bible, idolatry, or the worship of false gods, is compared to fornication and adultery indicating (once again) that God views sin as a betrayal by His lover or wife. In the Song of Songs, God is portrayed as a stag yearning with sexual desire for His doe. In the New Testament, Jesus is conceived through a spiritual sexual union between Mary, a spiritual and biological virgin, and the Holy Spirit of Truth. (If sin in God’s view is a form of sexual betrayal either through fornication or adultery, then Mary’s virginity had to be two fold. First, she was a physical virgin because, as she told the angel, she had never had any physical relationship with a man. Second, and even more important from God’s point of view, she was a spiritual virgin because, according to the Church and its doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, she had never betrayed God by sinning. In fact, not only was she free of sin from her birth but the Church also proclaims that her virginity was perpetual. In other words, she never sinned throughout her life because to do so would have been, as the story of Hosea indicates, an act of adultery against God. We are told that she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit of Truth and since impregnation on the biological level occurs though the introduction of sperm, it would seem reasonable to assume that there is something that corresponds to it on the spiritual level. This would be an example of the Law of Correspondence that I mentioned in my last program that states that things that look different in their physical expression are often the same in principle. In other words, if God uses sperm as an agent for impregnation on the biological level, He would use something that corresponds to it for impregnation on the spiritual level. Like Einstein, we are simply trying to understand the “mind of God.,” That is “how and why He does things.
Thus, in my introductory remarks, I made this next observation. I said,) “In fact, we might even say that God’s sperm is Truth and that when we allow ourselves to be impregnated by it, we, like Mary, will give birth to Wisdom.” (I suspect that this must have caused the blood pressure of some of my listeners to “hit the ceiling.” “How dare he suggest that God has something akin to sperm. We all know that God doesn’t like sex or anything associated with it and He would never have anything to do with sperm. Of course, this raises the question “Then why did He create sex and everything associated with it and then declare everything that He created good?” We are told in the scriptures that once Mary agreed to God proposal that the Holy Spirit of Truth overshadowed her and she conceived and nine months later gave birth to Jesus, the Incarnate Wisdom of God. And this is why the Third Joyful Mystery of the Rosary is called the Incarnation. It means “made into flesh.”
So when the Church tells us that Mary is the model for all Christians, what does it mean? It means to copy what she did. And what did she do? She humbly opened herself to being impregnated by the Holy Spirit of Truth and she gave birth to Wisdom. And if we did the same thing, then we too would become instruments of God by bringing the light of Wisdom into this world of Darkness and sin. What this suggests is that God wants to have spiritual intercourse with us so that we will reproduce His qualities. If you doubt this consider my next observation in my introductory remarks.) “Throughout the New Testament, Jesus uses the imagery of a wedding feast to describe the Kingdom of God where God and Humankind will unite in marriage. He compares Himself to the bridegroom and the Church to His bride.” (Now the reason that people get married on the biological level is so that they can have intercourse and the reason they have intercourse is so that they can reproduce children who combine that qualities that attracted them to each other. However, biological intercourse is not the only type of intercourse. There is intellectual intercourse, social intercourse, economic intercourse and, spiritual intercourse. Since the word itself means “an interaction between persons or things” anytime two things interact they are experiencing a type of intercourse. In fact, right now we are involved in intellectual intercourse. And since any type of interaction produces an effect in those involved, there is always a third result . In other words, all types of intercourse are dialectical in nature because it is the dynamic interaction between two things that produces a third result. Thus what is reproduced in our reality depends upon with what we have intercourse. If we have intercourse with that which is lower, we reproduce what is lower; if we have intercourse with that which is higher, we will reproduce that which is higher. Thus, the world is a result and reflection of the type of intercourse we have been having. If we interact or have intercourse with evil, evilness will grow. If we interact or have intercourse with good, then goodness will grow. Take away one “o’ from “good” and you have God. Once we realize this then the idea of having spiritual intercourse with God starts to become clear and we begin to understand why He considers sins to be acts of fornication or adultery against Him. He, being the Highest Good in the universe, wants to reproduce His Goodness through us but we choose to have intercourse with things that are lower. That is why St. John says, “Why does God condemn Man? Because the Light came into the world and Men loved darkness.”
When we watch “Sex and the City” or “Desperate Housewives”, or pay to see movies loaded with sex and violence, through our interaction with them we make them popular shows that sponsors and investors want to support and once other producers see this they will multiply other shows with similar themes. When we watch educational programs or TV shows and movies that support family values, through our interaction with them we cause their numbers to multiply. In short, we will “reap what we sow” or reproduce what we value. Thus intercourse of any type is the method used to move anything from potential existence to actual existence and God has left us free to choose with whom or what we will have intercourse. His said to Moses, “Tell the people I put before them this day the blessing or the curse, life or death. Tell them to choose life.” Life is intercourse with that which is higher and it leads to integration and growth. Death is intercourse with that which is lower and it leads to disintegration and death. Unless we see this greater and broader application of the term “intercourse” and see that it is taking place on many levels, we will never see our own involvement in our own fate nor start to take responsibility for it.) Finally, to conclude my explanation of the opening remarks to my last program, I said,
“Thus, it appears, that God is not as skittish about sex as we are and maybe that is because He understands its true nature and purpose. After all, He created it and declared that everything that He created was “good!” A problem arises, however, when something that is sacred and good is transformed into something that is profane and bad and that occurs when we sin by “missing the mark.”
I have spent this time reviewing and commenting on concepts from my previous talk because of the negative response that I received from some listeners who were very upset about the program. Since I wasn’t told what the specific objections were, I have assumed that it probably had to do with the connection that I made between God and sex.
Perhaps I could have avoided this if I had used the term intercourse instead of sex since it is a broader and more encompassing term of which biological sex is just one example. I hope that I have cleared this up. However, I still believe that the universe began by some type of interaction or intercourse between the Father and the Son that resulted in an energy called the Holy Spirit that was used to build the universe. It was probably the same type of intercourse that takes place between the two lobes of our own rational brain in which the artistic, intuitive genius right lobe envisions an idea that is reflected upon by the scientific, logical, technological left lobe and the agreement between them results in an explosion of creative energy that provides the power to do it. We have this type of creative experience ourselves when our creative, artistic right lobe imagines a creative concept and our logical left lobe reflects on it to evaluate its feasibility. When there is disagreement, our energy level drops because we are, as the scriptures say, “a house divided against itself” that cannot stand because one part of us is saying “Go!” and another part is saying “Stop!” However, when there is agreement between our two lobes and all systems are “Go!”, there is a burst of creative energy that becomes the motivating force behind our efforts to enact our dream. In short, our imaginative right lobe thinks of “what to do.” Our logical left lobe, upon agreeing to its feasibility, thinks of “how to do it”, and our frontal lobe, which is where judgment takes place, says “Do it!” In like manner, the creative right lobe of God imagined a plan for the universe. His logical left lobe or Logos, fell in love with it, and began to plan how it could be accomplished. And the love and agreement flowing between the two resulted in a burst of Creative Energy called the Holy Spirit that provided and continues to provide the energy to bring it about.
The plan to accomplish this movement from the Idea to the Fact, or from the Alpha to the Omega, may have been evolution or it may not. As Christians there is only one thing that we are certain of: “whatever plan it was, it was developed by our God.” So let’s not be afraid to ask questions and explore whatever possible answers are suggested by the evidence. And let’s not be afraid to consider that “ a dialectical God, with a dialectical mind, created a dialectical universe, based on a dialectic form, using a dialectical process to develop towards a rational creature called Man with a dialectical mind made in the image and likeness of his Creator.” Let me restate that with some qualifying phrases. A dialectical God, is one composed of two persons that united into a third; with a dialectical mind, is one consisting of a creative artistic, intuitive right lobe genius called the Father and a scientific, logical, technological craftsman left lobe called the Son, that interacted to bring forth a creative energy or spirit called “enthusiasm” that, coming from two Greek word, “en theos”, means God within us”; “used to create a dialectical universe” would be one based on Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis; “based on a dialectical form” refers to the triangle that, according to Buckminster Fuller is the only form that can stand by itself because it is a “union of opposites; “using a dialectical process” refers to evolution which, as I have already explained is based on the Hegelian Dialectic; “ to develop towards a rational creature called Man with a a dialectical mind made in image and likeness of his Creator” refers to the fact that we possess an artistic, intuitive, creative right lobe and a scientific, logical , technological left lobe that interact to provide the material for the judgments made by our frontal lobe. In other words, we, like God, have a brain that interacts with itself because it is Trinitarian.
And if we remember that any type of interaction is a type of intercourse then it should not shock us that the universe may have been an “act of birth “ that resulted when the interaction between the Creator and His Logos or Wisdom sent forth His Spirit in an explosion of creative energy. Thus, we could right say that the universe began with a Cosmic Ecstasy called the Big Bang. Unfortunately I chose to call it Cosmic Orgasm in my last program in keeping with my theme of intercourse. I apologize if this scandalized you but the point that I was trying to make was that all creative acts involve an explosion of creative energy that reach the level of ecstasy. I hope that this program has helped to clear up any misunderstanding and that I can proceed with my analysis of the theory of evolution.
Well, I see that my time is up. Here’s Dom.