Participation and Poetry in the New Testament

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Part of "Spirituality in a Secular World: Poetry and Wisdom"

3. Participation and Poetry in the New Testament

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They talk by the lobby fire, but no one hears for the thrum of the rain, and the dim and sounding halls din at the ears, dark at the eyes, well in the head, and the ping-pong bowls scatter their hollow knocks like crazy clocks. But up in his room by artificial light my father paints the summer, and his brush tricks into sight the prosperous sleep, the girdling stir and clear steep hush of a summer never seen or granted green. Summer, luxuriant Sahara, the orchard spray gales in the Eden trees, a knight again can cast away his burning mail, Rome is an Anzio, but the rain for the ping-pong's optative bop will never stop. Caught summer is always an imagined time, time, David, yes, but time out of any mind. There must be prime in the heart to beget that season, to reach past rain and find, riding the palest haze, its perfect blaze. It's a poem that grows on me. A little more in keeping with what I'd like to talk about this afternoon, there are a couple


by Wallace Stevens next to the last page, one that's got the number 39 on it. And that is part of a long poem called The Man with the Blue Guitar, a wild, marvelous poem that Stevens wrote a long time ago. This is towards the end, The Man with the Blue Guitar, and everything through the whole long poem is in these couplets, which change size a little bit, but then go back to the same rhythm, just keep plugging along, strumming the guitar. Throw away the lights, the definitions, and say of what you see in the dark, that it is this or that it is that, but do not use the rotted names. How should you walk in that space and know nothing of the madness of space, nothing of its jocular procreations? Throw the lights away. Nothing must stand between you and the shapes you take, when the crust of shape has been destroyed. You as you are, you are yourself. The blue guitar surprises you. And then, another one on the same page, of which I only hit the general drift, but it's


a delightful little thing, there's another poem which is a little more obscure that matches it, that's number one, the first part of this. The crosses on the convent roofs gleam sharply as the sun comes up. What's down below is in the past, like last night's crickets far below, and what's above is in the past, as sure as all the angels are. Why should the future leap the clouds, the bays of heaven, bright and blue? Chant, O ye faithful, in your path, the poem of long celestial death. For who could tolerate the earth without that poem, or without an earthier one? Tum, tum-ti-tum, as of those crosses glittering, and merely of their glittering, a mirror of a mere delight. That's the... Stephen's bringing it all down to earth, sort of pushing away heaven and hell, and the tradition and the past and religion and everything else, and bringing it back to that moment of the cross glittering in the rising sun. To which he's so faithful that he breaks through, actually, to the more transcendent dimensions


in the end. I wanted this afternoon to talk mostly about the New Testament, and about participation in the unitive and new creation in the New Testament, but there are a few other things that we should perhaps touch on the side. So I'll kind of zigzag a little bit. One of those things is the fear of God. Father Hale wrote that question up this morning, and I didn't answer it completely enough, I think, because it dawned on me afterwards, we were talking a little bit later, what he was really driving at, I think. He asked, how does the fear of God relate to this whole picture? And that means the picture of the history from original participation through the disappearance of participation, where we're in a very dualistic world, to the final participation that Barfield speaks about through imagination. And I think we have to understand the fear of God at a distance from the words. And as I look back, I realize that the fear of God is very much present in original participation,


because what it really means is not being afraid of God, or afraid of anything. What it really means is acknowledging the more, is acknowledging the transcendent. Therefore it is the very soul, as it were, of that original participation. If you read about primitive peoples, Native Americans for example, someone who will stand before a tree and apologize to it before cutting it down, or will pray to the animal before hunting and killing it, the respect for those cosmic manifestations, you see, for those things in the world, is the expression of the respect for the transcendent, which in this original participation is seen as part of the cosmos, not off somewhere else, as with a creator God, but right in and behind, manifest in these things somehow. You can talk about that as animism and so on, but it's quite a noble, quite a high actually form of human development, that respect, respect also for the other person, respect for parents. It can be exaggerated, so the person who is tied hand and foot becomes a slave, but it's


also a very beautiful thing, and a thing that must in some way represent justification for people in that situation. In other words, how can God be displeased with people that are like that, with people that simply acknowledge all they can find, every bit of the supernatural they can find, they acknowledge it, respect it, bow to it, and live with it, with that sensitivity. Now what happens when that original participation disappears? I think that respect tends to disappear too, because what you get very often is a kind of arrogant omnipotence, or omniscience, on the part of those who have broken through the original participation. Francis Bacon, somebody like that, you get a very hard-headed kind of reductionism which refuses to acknowledge anything beyond what you can grip in your hands, what you can see, what you can define, and what you can think through with your mind. A kind of reductive science which can be quite vicious, and which, as we have seen, can create monsters in our time, science and technology, which says, okay, well, it's man, that's all,


it's humanity, it's up to us, and there's nothing that we have to recognize, nothing beyond this really, that we have to acknowledge, respect, bow to, there are no limits, we can do whatever we want to do, and we know where that can go, with the world wars and dictatorships and things of that kind. Final participation, also, I think with some of the creative art, some of the creative genius of the modern period too, has had to have such a tussle in throwing off tradition that it's had to do that, it's had to break through, and pretend that there's nothing else except myself and my genius, which is a pitiful situation to be in, but it's happened to a lot of 19th and 20th century artists. Somebody like James Joyce, also, who had such a tussle with his Catholic upbringing that he really had to do violence to push it away. And then one is condemned to be some kind of a lone genius in the universe, you know, as if you had to create it all over again, which is kind of pathetic. If it goes well, however, then somehow that respect would go along with the creativity,


there would be a creativity which doesn't have to push away the transcendent, but which has a sensitivity and goes along with it, walks along the road with the more. It doesn't have to be the more itself, it doesn't have to be the more, the most, and the everything itself, it doesn't have to be that kind of original genius. It's able to walk along, somehow knowing that it's feeding from this other reality which is greater than itself. There's some beautiful things in the Tao Te Ching, I think, I don't know if I've got them right here, I don't think so, about the powerful, and then the poor benighted guy who just goes along, who doesn't know anything, but knows how to feed from his mother. He says, all men are bright, bright, and I'm dim, dim, you know, everybody's strong, strong, and I'm weak, weak, everybody's clear, clear, and I'm muddled, muddled, but I know how to feed from my mother, I know how to feed from the all, I know somehow that other presence, which somehow they don't know, which somehow power doesn't know, power doesn't need to know it.


Let me read another sort of Barfield thing here, it's a kind of recapitulation. This is from the same book, Saving the Appearances, towards the end. Original participation fires the heart from a source outside itself. The images enliven the heart, but in final participation, since the death and resurrection, the heart is fired from within by Christ, and it is for the heart to enliven the images. That would be the meaning, from this angle, of Jesus saying, I came to bring fire to the earth. In final participation, the heart is fired from within by the Christ, and it is for the heart to enliven the images. And of course, then the images become conductors of fire, then the images themselves become the mediation, become the way of communicating, of transmitting that same flame. Because they come from that, because they come from that imagination, because they come from that life, that intense life, they take it with them, and other people can be touched


by that life through them. Another thing is that, I was going to talk about this and forgot to, and that's this business of the eclipse of mystery. We talked about the disappearance of a wisdom tradition in the West, and with that goes the disappearance of mystery, which was kind of assassinated in various stages. And mystery tends to be assassinated by control. Darkness or shadow tends to be assassinated or exiled by light. Light takes stage and there's no room for the darkness, you don't see the darkness any longer. It's pushed out to the edges, and in fact you forget it's there, and you forget that there may be something hidden in it. And there's a peculiar thing that happens also in the New Testament as a matter of fact, because the Old Testament is full of poetry, it's full of narrative poetry, and beautiful stories, and things that are very deep and that all connect with one another underground. And then you come along and Christ comes, and if you read the Fathers, you'll find them saying that, well, there was the story of Abraham, the story of David, the story of


Isaac, of Jacob, of Moses. Now, all of this was sort of presenting a question. All of this was set in mystery, but now Christ has come and clarified it all. Christ has come and answered the question. What we had before was intimations and shadows. Now we have the substance and the fullness and the total answer. And for a while we go along really very content with that. But in the long run we may get discontented again. We may say, well, we want the mystery back. Did it really do that? See, Christianity can get very complacent in that way. If we have the final revelation, which is shining there like the noonday sun in the sky, we don't have to listen to anybody else. We've got it all. And since we have it, we can sort of dispense it from a very secure position. We're no longer learners or anything. We're no longer in the dialogue. We're just teachers. But is it really so? The longer we live in the church, the more we become convinced it's not so at all.


Christ didn't come to clear up all the questions. Christ came to deepen the questions. Christ didn't come to wipe out all the mystery. What he did was to plant a new mystery, a new intensity of mystery in the heart of things. If we're talking about his bringing this quantum of fire, of energy and of light into the world, he doesn't leave it on the surface. He doesn't put it on a pole as one of those great powerful electric lights that illuminates everything within hundreds of yards. He doesn't do that. He buries it in the earth. And he buries it in our hearts. So what he does is to disappear and put mystery at the heart of everything, but a mystery now which has some kind of a central meaning of which we're aware. We're aware in faith that we touch the center of that mystery. But that faith is darkness. We're aware in contemplative experience that somehow we're in touch with the totality of that mystery. We're participating in that. But it still remains in darkness.


It's not unraveled for us. It's not answered as a question is answered. And there's a big difference between a question and a mystery. And notice how Jesus, when people ask him questions in the gospel, he usually answers with another question. Or he usually makes it worse. They're almost always sorry they asked the question, because they don't get what they wanted. Like when they come and say, Well, by what authority did you do this? You know, when he had faith cleansed the temple. And he says, Well, did the baptism of John come from then or from heaven? And they say, Uh-oh. Because they don't want to answer. Because if they do, they'll get in trouble. And there's a hidden relation between those two things and so on. So he just makes it worse. And he puts it inside of us. He puts both the question and the answer somehow inside of us. But you know, the question is us and the answer is us too. As a matter of fact. I mean, we are the question. Our life is the question. But what he tells us is, Well, you feed them. You give them something to eat. That means that we are also the answer. Insofar as there is an answer, we don't get the answer, we become the answer. And that's through faith.


And it's through a kind of creative faith. That's this new creation business. Becoming the answer, the living answer, which doesn't even see itself as an answer. And the answer doesn't stop the question. The answer lives with the question. It's like a marriage. It's that kind of thing. Rather than the answer that kills the question, it's the answer that wins the question. And in a sense lives happily ever after. But not in this way. The eclipse of mystery. It happens with a church which becomes too complacent. Which becomes too powerful. Which has all the truth. And you better believe it and don't forget it. And when dogma becomes a kind of controlled faith. In a sense that you assent to this thing and you don't consider it further. You don't get into the depths of it. But truth becomes law in some way. Truth becomes law. And that's too bad. Because truth is meant to be something that opens up. Something living and something which opens up to reveal what's within it.


And what's within it you participate with. Truth is supposed to be that way. But when it becomes law it becomes hard. And a kind of fear enters in. A kind of sense of obligation. I suppose that can happen with relationship too. Where relationship has been fascinating. And all of a sudden it's a burden. All of a sudden it's obligation instead. So that's one step in the extinction of mystery. The banishment of mystery. The other step I think is completed by science. By the rational, we can say masculine, kind of thinking that becomes so successful afterwards. On one side you've got the complacency of a church that's got it all together. For instance in the High Middle Ages. Or things that had that kind of pyramidal monarchical power. Which can legislate everybody's faith and everybody's life. Then as that kind of goes into the shadows something else comes up which is similarly powerful and complacent. And that's science. The same kind of assurance.


The same kind of absolute certainty. You don't question it. If you want to find out about something Like in the newspapers, if you want to find out about something you call an expert and he tells you. That the experts have the answers. And the experts presumably are in universities or something like that. Or in a think tank somewhere and they've got the answers. And after you get their word then you stop. There's no more questions. And I'm afraid that's the kind of box we've gotten into in the modern age. Where somehow we think that science has got the answers. But science itself can be pretty confused. And simply it doesn't approach the levels of reality on which the real questions and the real answers are. Okay. Now, what I wanted to say, the other side of this is so mystery goes into eclipse. Mystery goes into exile. So the light has become so strong it becomes a fluorescent light now with science. So strong that it drives mystery out into the woods. What happens? Something else begins to take the part of mystery.


Begins to become the advocate for mystery. And that is poetry for one thing. The obscurity of modern poetry corresponds in some way to the banishment of mystery from the scene. From the scene of religion. There's a miserable verse to summarize there. When harlot history flatters with mastery, then virgin mystery flees into poetry. And that's why poetry becomes a religion for one thing. It's connected with that reason why poetry becomes a religion. Because of that numinous. Because that participative infinite reality, which before somehow you could live with in religion. Religion has let the wine turn back into water and lost that. So it comes back somewhere else. It comes up from the bottom. It comes in from the sides. It comes in from the outside or something like that. And it comes in especially, I think, from poetry. The poets just revel in obscurity, the modern poets. That's one reason. I'm sure there are other reasons. Part of it is just


to balance a kind of banal reality, which we have, a banal truth. When the everyday consciousness has become unutterably dull because of its kind of linearity, because of its flatness, because of its lack of a sense of mystery, its lack of a depth dimension, then something else has to be invented to bring that back in, to make that available once again. And one of the chief things that comes up to do that is poetry. Poetry has been able to take that over in some way. And that's why poetry is so hard to understand in our time. It's supposed to be. It's supposed, in some way, to break the neck of our assured rational progression, you know. So for that reason, a lot of people can't stand modern poetry. You know. Stevens is one of the most luxuriantly obscure people around. It's almost like that's his language. He's like somebody talking in another room, saying very intelligent things that you don't understand. It's like being in an insane asylum full of philosophers, you know.


We're all talking Bulgarian, too. But in a very convincing way, you know, impressively. He defends that, too, sometimes. I've got a couple of poems of his here. It wasn't something that he just did instinctively, but he thought about it. One was that part of The Man from the Blue Guitar that we just read. Here's another one, called The Creations of Sound. Now here, the commentators tell us that he's talking about T.S. Eliot, who he thinks is too clear, in a way. A lot of people have complained about Eliot being too clear, but Stevens thinks he is. Or at least too sure of himself. You know, he's got too many clear, sharp convictions, especially religious convictions. So Stevens calls him X. He says, If the poetry of X was music, so that it came to him


of its own... I think he feels that Eliot has planned his poetry too much. You know, he's designed it. He's constructed it. And it ought to be coming out of the wall. If the poetry of X was music, so that it came to him of its own, without understanding, without understanding, out of the wall or in the ceiling, in sounds not chosen or chosen quickly, in a freedom that was their element, we should not know that X is an obstruction, a man too exactly himself, and that there are words better without an author, without a poet, or having a separate author, a different poet, an accretion from ourselves, intelligent beyond intelligence, an artificial man at a distance, a secondary expositor, a being of sound whom one does not approach through any exaggeration. From him we collect. Tell X that speech is not dirty silence clarified, it is silence made still dirtier. It is more than an imitation for the ear. He lacks this venerable complication. His poems are not of the second part of life. They do not


make the visible a little hard to see, make the visible a little hard to see, nor, reverberating, eke out the mind on peculiar horns, themselves eked out by the spontaneous particulars of sound. We do not say ourselves like that in poems. We say ourselves in syllables that rise from the floor, rising in speech we do not speak. That's kind of hard to throw that at you all at once, because it's a thing that gradually kind of opens up to you after a while. But that's the kind of communion with something else that is involved in this participation we're talking about, this imaginative participation. It's a kind of conversation, a kind of, anyhow. And that business of reverberating, eke out the mind on peculiar horns, themselves eked out by the spontaneous particulars of sound, the accidents of sound, the accidents of the sound of a word, which becomes


part of the conversation. Sounds accidental, and sometimes it is. He's got another thing where he talks about the lean cats of the arches of the churches. Here he's talking about Elliot and Company too, I remember. The lean cats of the arches of the churches bask in the sun in which they feel transparent. They bear brightly the little beyond themselves, the slightly unjust drawing that is their genius, the exquisite errors of time. ... [...]


Well, that's part of it, because it goes beyond inherited forms. I think it's the way that Elliot relates to his own poetry, because Elliot was a smasher of forms, and a creator of new forms. He was a real innovator in that sense. But his poetry is very carefully planned, and has a structure and also has underneath it a kind of theological conviction, at least in his later poetry, and I think Stevens is reacting to that. When he says the lean cats of the arches of the churches bask in the sun, I think he means they bask in the sun of faith in the Christian God, for one thing. That's what Bloom says. So, he's taking a pretty far-out stance there. But, he's consistent, you see, with this idea of the new creation, which makes it new, basically, where things come out from a different center, and where they do arise with complete newness and spontaneity and freedom, rather than coming rather logically from a preconceived conviction, you know, from what you believe, then kind of filtering itself through


various layers of your psyche, and then coming out to create a poem. He wants it to come up from the floor and out of the wall, and from this poet beyond the poet, in some way, this invisible speaker. So, he's pretty far out. That's the defense of absolute imagination. At one point, he says, God and the imagination are one. How high that highest candle lights the dark, that's later on. So, he's God with imagination. And finally, he comes to be able to see that God, which is imagination, to be the same as the Christian God, at the end of the day. Okay, I wanted to say something about parallels to that model of Barthia that we were talking about. Remember the progression from original participation to no participation, and to this final participation through imagination. You can find a lot of other models


for the same history, and especially in the Bible, I think. But before getting to the Bible, I wanted to give you one that comes, once again, from Richard Tarnas. This is the epilogue of his book. And he likes astronomy, and so his model of the same process is the Copernican Revolution. Where no longer do we see the sun rotating, revolving around the earth, but the earth revolves around the sun. So we're flung out into space in some way, and we are no longer at the center of the universe. We're no longer at the center of reality. The translation you have to make, I think, there, is to be at the center of reality is to be in a unitive or participative relationship with reality. Which you were in the old Ptolemaic scheme, because you had these circles of the heavens around you, and they even related with your life, through astrology and so on. There's a kind of cosmic homogeneity, an interrelationship by which


everything related with everything else. Therefore, you were thoroughly participating. But when you're flung out into space with this Copernican model, you discover that it's cold out there, and that you're not any longer at the center. You're not any longer within reach. You don't have the center of reality, and the key to the meaning of reality in your hands any longer. You've lost the key. So that image of the concentric circles, for instance, and their meaning, circles of meaning, actually, circles of wisdom around you, a kind of cosmos of wisdom around you, that's gone completely into the darkness. And you're flung out there, and you're alone. So that's his first model, the Copernican revolution, which is an astronomical, scientific thing. But he relates that to several other things. It's quite brilliant, actually. Here's Copernicus now. The Copernican shift of perspective can be seen as a fundamental metaphor for the entire modern worldview, the profound deconstruction of the naive understanding. The critical recognition of the apparent


condition of the objective world was unconsciously determined by the condition of the subject. Maybe you can already hear Kant in that, because that's where he's going. He's saying that from this proceeds Descartes, Newton, and finally Kant, and the being locked into a kind of relativism, a kind of relativity by which all you know is what you project on the universe, is what you project on reality. And you can't know anything outside, necessarily, at all. And from that comes the absolutizing of interpretation, you know, and deconstruction, and so on. We're really separated from any absolute reality, from anything that really stands, because we're separated from the center. The consequent liberation from the ancient and medieval cosmic womb, the radical displacement of the human being to a relative and peripheral position in a vast and impersonal universe, the ensuing disenchantment of the natural world. You see, that's the death of participation. The natural world is what we know, it's the ground


we walk upon, and no more. There's no other level of reality up there superior to it. There's no transcendent light shining through the planet's tubes and the stars. In the broadest sense, as an event that took place not only in astronomy and the sciences, but in philosophy and in religion, and in the collective human psyche, the Copernican Revolution can be seen as constituting the ethical shift of the modern age. It was a primordial event, world-destroying and world-constituting. In philosophy and epistemology, this larger Copernican Revolution took place in the dramatic series of intellectual advances that began with Descartes and culminated in Kant. It was Descartes who first fully grasped and articulated the experience of the emerging autonomous modern self as being fundamentally distinct and separate from an objective external world that it seeks to understand and master. See, there's a further dying of participation. You've got subject and object, and that's it. And he goes on.


I just wanted to extract a line that shows how Kant fits into this. Descartes was, in this sense, the crucial midpoint between Copernicus and Kant, between a Copernican Revolution in cosmology and a Copernican Revolution in epistemology, which means that you can't any longer be in touch with the noumenon, with absolute truth, with central truth, with reality. For if the human mind was in some sense fundamentally distinct and different from the external world, that's Descartes, and if the only reality that the human mind had direct access to was its own experience, then the world apprehended by the mind was ultimately only the mind's interpretation of the world. So there we are. Now, that's a progression which is proceeding outwards, and the other side of it, the kind of return, has not yet dawned


in that account. And what is the return? The return is the discovery of the ultimate reality within the individual, within, at the core of the individual person. And we've seen that as a creative reality. Not just truth, but luminous truth, and powerful truth, but light and fire, in which the creation of the world somehow is centered. So we're each a microcosm of that cosmos being created from within itself. Okay, that sounds a little complicated, but the biblical analogies actually are not quite so complicated. There's a consistent, repeated pattern of going out in the Old Testament. Remember Abraham had to go out from his parents and his tribe and his relatives into the unknown. And then you've got Moses, and what does he do? He has to bring the people out from Egypt, from the comforter, under the flesh pots, and so on. Egypt was also the land of images, the land of idolatry. One of those solid ancient cultures which had its divinities,


had its temples and all that. And you've got to go out of there, and you go out into the desert where there's nothing. Now that's the extinction of participation. And so you've got this continual pattern of going out and leaving behind not only the images but everything else in the Old Testament. And then you've got the coming of the kingdom, and what happens after that? You've got the exodus, you've got another exodus. When the Jews are taken off into captivity, first the Northern Kingdom, then the Southern Kingdom, the temple is destroyed and the people are carried off into captivity, and carried off into this wild, alien world. They had been able to build up a new center, and a new symbolic universe there, with the temple and the priesthood and the sacrifices and everything along with it, and it's all detailed there in the Old Testament. And then it's all smashed to the ground, and they're sent out into exile. And that's the point at which they have to discover it within themselves. Walter Brueggemann has an e-book called The Creative Word, in which he talks about three phases of


Old Testament revelation. At the risk of distorting that a little, I'd like to apply those to this. He talks about Torah, and then prophecy, and then wisdom. In Torah, which is like the five books of Moses, you get a revelation which binds people together, and of which there is no question. This is the word of God, and just hear it and obey it, and that's it, and the people do. And that pulls together a people, it creates a people, and it also creates a kind of symbolic universe, and a center of certainty, and all of that. And a kind of new participation, after being called out of Egypt, they're given something to participate in, which is this new people of God, and through which, and mediations through which God is contacted, and known, related to. Then comes prophecy. The consensus which has been established by the Torah, with that word of God through Moses, begins to turn a little rotten, especially with the kingship, and so on.


There begins to be a shadow side, which is getting very heavy, and so individuals rise up, who begin to assert the truth from within their personal center, being touched individually and personally by God, and sometimes out in the desert, but always detached from the royal establishment. They begin to come back and confront the official version of the word of God. They confront the priests, they confront the kings, they confront the whole religious establishment, the prophets. So, something's happening there, you see. There's been a withdrawal from the common consensus, because something's turned bad in this common consensus. It's gotten worldly in some way. It's settled down into the old ways of idolatry, in one or another way. So the individual is drawn out, and then God communicates himself to the individual from the center of that individual, and the voice comes back and puts the consensus on trial. The third stage is wisdom.


Now, what happens in the wisdom stage? Grubman doesn't bring this up, we'll talk about it tomorrow. There, not only is there a voice that comes up and accuses the, what would you call it, degenerate, the decadent consensus, the establishment, the participation, that world of participation, but a new participation, a new, unitive experience somehow, is experienced, is perceived. And now, in some way, is general, is universal, because there's a new contact with nature. There's a new reconciliation which is on a larger basis, a broader and deeper basis, than the first one. Typically speaking, the first revelation was to a closed people, drawing them out and building a wall around themselves, in separation from nature and from everybody else. That necessarily turns corrupt, as it were, the child is ejected from the womb. And then, a new participation, a new unity


rises from within the individual and which is unlimited in some way, because it relates to nature and to all of humankind. And this typically happens in exile, when the Jews are in a situation far from their old center and their old structure, and among all human beings with whom they have to relate. The further biblical analogy to this process is the one of moving from the Old Testament to the New Testament. I'd like to go into that a little more, a little more deeply. When Jesus comes into that religious establishment, he comes in, of Judaism at that time, into Jerusalem typically. In the New Testament, what you find in those Gospels, is Jesus coming into Jerusalem, and then he comes into the temple, and he looks around, and then he cleanses the temple, he throws out the moneylenders and everything. And pretty soon he predicts that this temple is going to be destroyed, and I'm going to replace it in three days with another temple. And what's the other temple? It's himself, it's his own body. But it's a body now,


which is not just an individual body, but somehow it's corporate, somehow it's communal. So, the old participation is going to be destroyed. That religious solidarity, that mediation of God, which was exterior, an exterior law, an exterior worship, an exterior temple of stone. A nation, and a city, and a priesthood, and all the paraphernalia of the Old Testament. That's going to be destroyed, and a new participation is going to take place, which is completely in the human person. Now, this is the way it appears. I'm not talking about cosmos right now, I'm talking about the human person, but it's within the human body. Now, the human body is cosmos, of course, the human body is nature, the human body is earth. But the new worship is no longer that external shell, but it's something that awakens within the individual heart, fills the individual body, and by means of it, the individual is one with the larger body. The participation of the individual body, soul, and spirit with the bigger one, which is the body of Christ.


And they're somehow one. So that, I think, is the same process. Theologically speaking, that's the center of it, I believe, of the movement from the old participation to the new participation. And here, I'm talking about the previous participation, which was pre- Israel, that is, in paganism. Okay, maybe I should stop at this point, see if there are any questions or clarifications needed, and then go on a little bit more to talk about the New Testament itself. Yes? This deliberate obscurity in modern poetry, do you recognize that as the same trend in other modern art as well? I think so, yeah. It seems to me. Part of it is the... to detach it a little bit from the kind of explanations I was going to give, part of it is the recognition of the breakdown of an order, and the freedom that results before a new


order has settled into place. But, at the same time, it's the recognition, at its best, that the breakdown of order and that freedom that you get at that point is not temporary, but permanent, and somehow the essence is there. It's the grasping of that freedom of the human person with respect to the cosmos, with respect to every image and structure. A fiercer, deeper grasping of the essence of the freedom of creativity than has been before, perhaps. I don't know. But at least it insists on that absoluteness of that. Therefore, some of the more observed-seeming movements in modern art, like Dadaism and Surrealism and so on, are expressions of that freedom. Somehow that word, in a complacent bourgeois world, the word has to be spoken with that kind of hard edge, it seems, at that time. Do you see that they can become their own they can become their own dogma and tyranny, too, though? Oh, yes. Because the trouble is, see,


the individual is taking a very risky step in cutting off all tradition and all root. So you're left just with what's inside yourself and your buddies, you know, in a sense. In your particular café. So to reconstruct reality out of that can be quite a... So easily it can turn back and become something pretty pitiful. But at the same time, it's an important witness to that. Oh, yes. It's kind of... The history of art and poetry in our century is quite tragic in that way. Because of that witness and what it's really saying, and then how the lives of people end very often. Yes, I guess I'm sensing that it's a dangerous anarchy when it becomes replaced by some kind of other dogmatic tyranny. You know, whether it's a hard liberal tyranny or a dogmatic tyranny. And sooner or later, it's got to find something beyond itself. It's got to look into some kind of participation. It's got to find some kind of coherence in the world.


Because a lot of that energy is expended in breaking up the patterns. But something then has to reconstruct. And that freedom is that freedom, that unitive freedom from which this emerges is a momentary glimpse, like the momentary glimpses we get of the kingdom, too. It could never be a movement. No, it can't really be a movement. Because as soon as it's exteriorized, it's in some way misinterpreted, because you're going to try to imitate the exterior. And that's not the point at all. To communicate the spark is maybe a rare event. Like the Zen thing or something like that. Go back to the fear of the light. Isn't there somewhere in the Revelation something saying that Christ will lead the world with a lot of iron? It's not like Christ. It might be frightening. How do you comment on it? There's a lot of that in the Old Testament.


And also there's some of it in the New Testament. Sometimes I don't know what to do with it. Sometimes I just have to file it, you know, until, file it for further enlightenment. The book might be a lot of iron sometimes in some generations. The book? Yes. I don't know. But how can you be intimate with the Christ? Well, fortunately we have more than one image. And I think that there are a lot of things in the New Testament that could be scandalous. Even when Jesus says, like, to the canine and woman, well, it's not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to the dogs, you know. But then we have to come back and interpret it all from the center, which we know is that God is a God of love. And the whole New Testament, the parables and the teachings of Jesus are all about that love, are all about that way of relating, and that way of conceiving God. And so, when we interpret those things


somehow in terms of that center of the gospel, either it just sort of shrouds them and says, well, don't worry about it. You don't understand it, but you don't have to. Meanwhile, this is the truth. Or, sometimes it unlocks them. For instance, with some of the parables, some of the parables have this ferocity about them, you know, like the servant who at the end is handed over to the torturer until he pays the last penny. I think that's supposed to be a joke. Yeah. Because, see, the parable is made in order to address us in our state of paranoia. So the comedy is in the exaggeration of the parable, and the fact that it's really talking about a God who is nothing but love. But where that appears is in the story of the two servants. Remember the first one who's been forgiven this enormous debt, and the second, then he goes and somebody owes him 50 cents, you know, so he goes and chokes him and puts him in jail until he pays him. So the master is indignant and turns him over to the


torturers and so on. Do you see how it has to turn inside out? Because the whole thing is about mercy, the whole thing is about forgiveness, the whole thing is about something else besides torture and punishment and all that. Therefore, it's a kind of koan which has to flip inside out so that we discover that inside of it is a revelation of unlimited forgiveness. Okay? Which is also why it's dangerous to forget the fear of God, because what's wrong with man who thought of the other man is he had no fear of God. He had no fear of God, yeah. And that's really what the Continent is. And the fear of God... The fear of God in that case was the memory of what he had been forgiven, because God was manifest in that, in his own boss, you know, in his own master. That image of God. It could be that the torture is to have in your love what it was torn. Yeah. And then to stay with that memory is quite a good thing.


Torturing could be that rather than the devil with the forks and the flames. Yeah. Well, the torture is to resist love in that way. The torture is to fight that, to be opposed to that, which is trying to open me to infinite, as it were, enjoyment, you know, or infinite fullness. To have all my energies involved in resisting that is the torture, I believe. But this idea that somehow you have to surrender, somehow you have to open and then that can fill you. But unless you're coherent with what you're given, it's like the thing about the wedding garment, you know, throw him out, he hasn't got any wedding garment. What does that mean? It means you can't have it unless you want to be it. You can't have it unless you agree to be it. You can't receive it unless you take it. You can't have it unless you want to have it. If you really want to have it, then it's going to demand all that you are. You know, you have to turn into that if you want to have it. What about that poor guy today with the two talents? I mean, he didn't do anything and then Jesus says, those who have little, that little they have will be taken away. I know, it's terrible. It's awful, yeah.


I was trying to interpret it from your perspective and I couldn't get anywhere. No, I think it fits in neatly with his new creation. In this sense. It's another one of these paranoid things. What does this guy say to the Master when he comes back? He says, I knew you were a demanding man, a hard man who reaps where he did not sow, and takes back what he did not give, and so on. How do you translate that? In a sense, because it's got to be translated. It's got to be popped out of that harshness into something else. It's got to be reversed. It has to break open. Now, I think it means that the gift that you are given, if you understand it, you will, if you understand that fire, you've been given fire, if you understand that it's fire, you're going to set something on fire with it. If you don't, you're going to lose even the fire that you have. The understanding is the understanding, as it were, the infinite creativity of what's given to you, the gift that's given to you. You can call it love, you can call it grace,


you can call it the creative gift, or whatever, okay? But the basic understanding is that this thing is infinitely fertile, that this gift is actually God himself that's been given to me in some way. And if I understand it as that, then I will behave accordingly, and I'll begin to transform the world. If I don't, if I think it's something, I don't know, something just dead or inert, or I think it's no bigger than I am in some way, then that's the equivalent of burying it. So I think that's one that flips around very clearly to the kind of creative expansiveness of the gift that we've been given. Whether you interpret it as love, or whether you interpret it as that fire of creativity. From the one that has, more will be given. Because what he has is fire, and that's going to set fire to something else, okay? The investing, the parallel image to that is being given a match, and the Master tells you, go and set fire to things, you know? And then you set fire to a hundred acres, and he comes back and says, here's your hundred acres on fire, and he says, great. But if you bury it in the ground,


and it goes out, the little that you had is taken away, because you didn't know what it was. So the parable has this wisdom twist to it, that you have to pop through to a kind of enlightenment, and the enlightenment is in an imaginative breakthrough, it's a breakthrough in imagination, whereby you actually conquer the images that have been given to you in the parable, and they break open, and the thing liberates like that, the thing explodes like that. The tussle of imagination, the power of imagination, until the nut cracks and opens, and then it's not one image, then it's this thing beyond images, which is the creative fire. Fire is, I think, somehow the right interpretive image for that parable, of the talents. To the one that has, more will be given, because what he has is God's energy, okay? To the one that does not have, he was given it, but he didn't understand it, therefore he doesn't have it. You don't have what you don't understand, okay? If you understand what it is, that it's fire, you can put it to work as fire. If you don't understand it, then you might as well not have it.


Okay? So... Well, there's another saying which says you shouldn't give choice if not. Not to think that way. Well, I think that... I've understood that parable in the same way, that have you ever given a gift to someone and they resent it? Because in effect, you've given them something that they feel maybe obligated to return, or that they feel like you have ulterior motives or something like that. And so it's actually a misperception of the nature of the giver that prompts that resentment, and so in the same way, I think, I don't know, there's a lyric that pops into my head about how freedom of choice is a modern pop song, freedom of choice is what you've got, freedom from choice is what you want, that some people resent the fact that God gives them freedom. You know? They want uncertainty, they want all their questions answered, they don't want to live in an uncertainty world, or they don't want


to live with mystery. And they resent the fact that God sometimes breaks into their world in that way, and says, this is really, where is that? And they don't want to be given a baby elephant that's going to grow up and break their house down, you know, which is, in a sense, in a sense what we're given. I think it is also an underline that you said, it was just about presenting the Protistic period in the monolithic way it is, which was in fact, the interesting thing, I haven't written about the book yet, but the earliest people distinctly go on saying that there are strangers in the world. And that means that they know the mystery. That's right, that's right. Oh, I certainly didn't mean to indicate that the Protistic period is closing it all up, you know, or anything like that. But, in some way, I think what happens, at a certain point the door of the Protistic age becomes closed. And we have to go on from that point. Also, I think there's something that hasn't been revealed yet. It was revealed in seed, and then sort of is obscured and forgotten.


Something about the dynamism. After even theology gets institutionalized, and the church becomes institutionalized, and the liturgy becomes set and everything, the dynamism somehow goes out of the gift, it seems to me. But some of the fathers are just marvelous, because they have the fresh contact in the seed with the ground, you know, and so it's spreading in every direction. And they're discovering all these things brand new. So, the experience that we have of newness is right, directly connected to the experience of newness they have. In contact, the gospel in contact with a new culture, for instance. With a fresher, fresh seed and fresher... And I think it seems to me a lot of people don't seem to have noticed Anna Arendt in her book called The Unity of Nations, she has a very, I think, a very shrewd thing to say about the modern world, where she says because the thing is it's through the events of Tennessee that we're actually going to a state of illusion because we can look at the world as though we didn't actually belong to it.


Not from our side. I'm pretty a bit bad at that. As if we didn't belong to it. Well, that's easy to forget once you know that you're actually here in the situation here. So, it's a non-participative vision. It's like when you first look at a body as a corpse through a microscope and you hope the world has totally changed. Yes. Because you distance it from the water in the body. So, you see, that's why the human situation they become nothing but work. They become objects and tools. There's a whole discussion about that about the invention of the camera. I think Mark mentioned that. When you have the camera, you can capture the image. That's real monitor vision. Yes. You feel subject. That's why some


primitive people are very careful with cameras. You feel if you steal an image and the image and the name are connected. It's a participative thing. Okay. It's about five o'clock. I don't want to keep you much longer. I did want to say one thing about the relationship between contemplation and imagination, which we might spend a minute on. Because we talked about the unitive experience and the imaginative experience, the creative experience. I was contending that the two are intimately related. That somehow one is rooted in the other. If you take the image of a light, think of yourself as being a light. All right? This light may, as it were, live in two ways. It can live within itself. This would be the contemplative experience. The contemplative side, the unitive experience, would be


if this light, think of a candle flame, and you are the flame of that candle. Think of that candle flame as having a life within itself. That light somehow, that chemistry that's going on in the candle flame, that interaction with itself is a kind of externalized metaphor for something else, which is life itself, simply life, simply the imminent, should we say, activity, or ferment, or what, of life. So the light in itself is living. The light is living in itself. Think of intelligence, think of it as being a light, a light which is living in itself. Now it may shine out at something else and illuminate that, and then it may come back and it may digest that. Or it may simply shine within itself. Could you think of God as being a light shining within itself? I think that's often been thought of. It's not a completely satisfactory image, but it tells you somewhere. Now, suppose that this light, just in, Rana talked about the luminosity of being,


the luminosity of being, a marvelous expression. As if you could enter into that luminosity and just go into deeper and deeper and deeper levels of pure luminosity, which would be pure light. Pure light. As if light would open up and take you into itself. Okay? And you go down and down and down. It became more and more and more intense. But you couldn't say a word about it. As if you were simply into a dream and threw the dream into something deeper. And you wouldn't have a word to bring back up to the surface about that. Only the light had opened up. And as it opened up, your own being somehow had opened up within itself. And just life living within itself and light being light within itself. And sort of reflecting within itself. See, all our words are externalized and they're all interactive and they're all mechanical. They're all things relating with one another. They're all dualistic. And there's no way of talking about this which is non-dualistic. This light which discovers itself to be light, and that's enough. That's sufficiency. And within itself is a more intense light which is itself and beyond itself. So it's the I am


discovering the I am within itself. Deeper and deeper and deeper and simply expanding. Like a stone that drops into the water and goes to the bottom. But as it sinks into the water, more and more intense intense light until it's just carried beyond itself in the intensity of that light. And forgets everything else. That might be the contemplative side of the experience. But suppose that light then is shining outward and is shining out towards something else. Suppose you're just out in the woods and this light is shining over a tree and bringing somehow the tree back to itself. Bringing the image of the tree back to itself. But it goes out of this tree and suppose that that light now is imagination. And that it shines out of the tree and as it goes out of the tree it brings something with it. It's not only light but it's also freedom. Suppose it has a peculiar character of its own. Suppose this is the human light and now this has got something of God's freedom, something of God's creativity


within it. And so it carries that out to the tree and takes the tree up into that creativity and into that freedom and then brings the tree back to itself in some way. Suppose it's going out and it's going out and it's taking this freedom and this creativity, this whatever it is, this spirit of God out into the world and somehow merging with the world, merging with nature, merging with the tree out there so that it produces something as it were in the middle. So that there's a kind of a marriage and a child is produced and the child let us say is a poem or something like that or the child is simply an imaginative experience, a creative experience. Okay, that would be the second orientation of the light. It's the same light but it's in two different postures as it were, two different phases of its life. It's turned inward to itself in the unitive experience or it's moving out into the created world, out into the visible world, interacting with that and somehow begetting something, producing something. Now that which it produces is a bit, is just a little glimpse, just a little sliver of the new creation.


It's like the reflection of the new creation just on a piece of glass or something like that. A momentary reflection, a momentary sample of that new creation which however is infinitely precious because it contains not just the freedom, the creativity of the human person but the very somehow creativity and light of God within it. The very creative energy of God, the very divinity is in it. We're talking about participation. So that it really brings forth a beginning somehow or a reflection of new creation which may be very weak, be very momentary, be very fragile. And poems for instance are very weak and momentary and fragile things. They're like bubbles very often. You wonder why anybody would mess with them. But that's the reason for messing with them. Because somehow there, there's a glimpse of what's happening. And so we can talk about that as being final participation in Barfield's language. I don't much like that expression, final participation, because it suggests something which is too final, you know, and it were


closed or had no further stages whereas this is just a glimpse, just a vestige, just a beginning. But what I'm proposing is that those two functions are actually just two faces of the same light. That life of light which is within us. A light which is also freedom. Saint Paul says that the Lord is the Spirit. And he says that the Lord is the Spirit, the Word is the Spirit. Between the Word and the Spirit there's a communication and there's a death and a rebirth as there is with Jesus. We'll go a little more into the question of the Trinity tomorrow and how that enters into all of this. But much of what I've been talking about has a kind of pattern behind it which would be the invariance of the Father, Word, and Spirit. And we've got four points. What's the fourth one? The fourth one is the cosmos, but ourselves.


So the cosmos for a world. So this is kind of the ultimate basis or the ultimate archetype for these various quaternary or mandalic things that I've talked about and will still talk about. The Father as being the invisible God, the absolute immanent, corresponding to the immanent center in ourselves. We don't represent it as centered, we represent it as three. But that is the God who is only known through mediations. But these mediations are imminent mediations, they're participative mediations, they're unitive mediations, and they're true. One is the Word, which is the visibility of the invisible God. That which, as Jan said, that which we have seen and heard and touched with our hands. That's that manifestation, that revelation. The other, Spirit, is the imminent, still invisible, interior, and unitive manifestation


of that God. Now, you only know it by being it. You only know it by having it within you. You only know it by being inside it. It has no outside, only an inside. No outside, just inside. It's as if the outside of that Word, the Word itself, and the inside of the Word, the Word of the Spirit itself. And tomorrow we'll talk about these more in terms of masculine and feminine and speak of this as Sophia and Mrs. Bogos of Word. Those two mediations of the invisible God. Often in the West we thought of Father and then not so much Word, but Son and then Spirit. And the Eastern Christians use the word name Spirit too much for the Word. But the Word tends, or the Son tends to connect with structure


and with establishment and with institution. Where the Spirit is the spontaneity and the freedom and the eminence and the interiority and that which works invisibly within all things and within ourselves. Characterized by freedom rather than, as it were, consistency or continuity, solidity, structure. We'll talk more about that later. But this I find very helpful for getting things together. And if quaternity is the shape and the number of completeness, then this is in a sense our completeness. So often we've talked about trinity in isolation from the cosmos. But as far as we're concerned, it's a quaternity because we can't abstract ourselves from the picture. It's participative as has been mentioned. We can't take ourselves out of the picture and talk just about trinity. The incarnation has happened, and therefore this has brought into itself this point as well. And we are this one. In some way we are an image of the whole thing, but...


Okay, I think that's enough for this afternoon unless somebody would like to to raise some funds. to raise some funds.