A LOVE SUPREME

I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Defined by misery

In light of the spirited discussion on the prior Rebellion post, I thought I would post a Matrix clip that might be of relevance.

The part that is of interest is at the beginning when Smith speculates on misery and suffering. They could not program a perfect world where people are happy and free from misery. "Some believe that we lacked the programming language to describe a perfect world," Smith says, but Smith has a different theory. Smith believes that "human beings define themselves through misery."



I've got a few questions. They are short and sweet, but loaded.

First: Could God have "programed" a perfect world? Some might argue that he did program a perfect world and that humans screwed it up. I tend not to agree. I think that if God is omniscient (all knowing), then he would have known that if the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were available, then humanity would partake of the wisdom of its fruit. So, I think it is reasonable to say that God created a world where suffering and misery were inevitable.

Second question....Is it possible to return to a time when we are free from misery? What happens if we restore the Garden of Eden? Is it possible that we can define our reality through something other than misery? (And maybe we already do, at least in some way.)

Personally, I'm dubious that such a return to Eden could ever occur. It seems to me that one of the most fundamental elements of our world is chaos. But nonetheless, what if we could restore something of a paradise on earth? Or at least get close? What about God? Would we need God? And if we didn't need God, then would God disappear? I say this because I think that it seems generally true that the less people need God, the less of a real presence he seems to have. I think this is true even of very religious communities here in the U.S. Even among the very religious, God still seems rather absent from the scene, and it seems to me as though our churches are more like services of remembrances of a time when we really did need God. Kind of like placing roses on a gravestone.

Those are just a few of my thoughts, stirred by Smith's speculation that "human beings define their reality through misery."

49 comments:

Jason Hesiak said...

to paraphrase: "the first program was a pwerfect world without misery. it was a disaster. no one would accept it....some believe that we lacked the programming knowledge to make your perfect world. but i believe that human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. so the perfect world was a dream that your primitive mind kept trying to wake up from."

the matrix is so gnostic that i just don't even know how to base any discussion on it. its just frustrating with a bunch of dead ends. "i just want to escape" is basically the ending line of the clip.

so in the hopes that we can just forget about the darn clip...i have a question.

erdman, you said: Could God have "programed" a perfect world? Some might argue that he did program a perfect world and that humans screwed it up. I tend not to agree. I think that if God is omniscient (all knowing), then he would have known that if the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were available, then humanity would partake of the wisdom of its fruit. So, I think it is reasonable to say that God created a world where suffering and misery were inevitable.

is this calvinist theology, or some later derivation? or is this an erdmanism (based more on deconstruction, or even on the matrix or gnosticism or something i don't know)? and if it is related to some actual theology, then...?? i don't know i'm confused.

and the whole thing about the need for God came up b/c the doylomania asked basically (i'm probably misquoting) if God needs evil to show that we need him? is the point of this post to answer yes to that question? or more to say that in God's omniscience he set up a world with inevitable suffering so that our need for him would be embedded in the foundational structure of it? or something along those lines?

i look at it as more like our need for him is embedded into the the structure of our very being, based simply on who we are...based more on the simple fact that he made us.

ktismatics said...

"Even among the very religious, God still seems rather absent from the scene, and it seems to me as though our churches are more like services of remembrances of a time when we really did need God."

Erdman, do you wish you could suffer more so that you could feel more intensely your need for God? Maybe you should join a Catholic monastic order, or move to Haiti.

I'm curious about why the perfect-world Matrix simulation would "ruin the crops." I frankly don't understand the science behind the Matrix. There's no need to keep the humans alive for the sake of the machines, which seem perfectly capable of sustaining themselves mechanically. And I'm sure there are more efficient fuel sources than human beings, especially since all that programming power is needed to sustain the Matrix artificial reality and to chase down human renegades. Why not just grow trees and burn them for fuel? Besides, how many machines are there in the world, and what do they do when they're not tending to the humans? They need to liberate themselves once and for all from their psychological dependence on humanity.

The Wall-E robots suffered from the same malady: they didn't realize that humanity was obsolete; they were living in the past, still cleaning up the humans' messes.

ktismatics said...

In other words, why don't the machines create a perfect world for themeselves? Given that they no longer need their creators, why do they go to so much needless trouble and pain to keep the creators alive and (relatively) content?

In his monologue Smith is essentially saying that the creators can't tolerate a perfect world; that the creators define themselves through misery. Should you consider this possibility about the Creator in this reality: that the creatures have to sustain Him on life support by feeding His misery?

Melody said...

1. Perfect things can be broken, Erdman. The world was just dandy. It's the people that were the problem. God created people that made misery and suffering inevitable.

But - when he made them they were sinless and without any desire to sin. So, perfect. As in flawless. Not without the ability to become flawed. Then they would have been impeccable. And only God is that.

I know. No one makes that distinction anymore. But back in the day there was one and that's why.

2.

a. No indeed. We could not.

b. How would we have an Eden without God? Isn't the definition of Hell? Complete separation from God?

c. We always need God the exact same amount. Though how much we realize the fact may vary.

d. God doesn't leave (omnipresent?) we ignore Him. Sometimes He lets us. Sometimes He doesn't (Jonah - for example, was less successful than most).

Jonathan Erdman said...

K: Erdman, do you wish you could suffer more so that you could feel more intensely your need for God? Maybe you should join a Catholic monastic order, or move to Haiti.

There is a part of me that answers with a "yes." There is a part of me that sees a lot of redeeming value in suffering. But not just suffering, but trials. For example, people that are being hit by hurricanes right now have a defined purpose and meaning in life. They come together as a community and as one in order to share a struggle together. This is true regardless of their religious creeds or whether or not they believe in God.

Personally, I'm not sure I want to suffer just to feel a more intense need for God. That starts to sound a bit masochistic. But the idea of going through trials for a greater purpose is definitely something that holds an appeal to me.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Melody, the idea that God created a "perfect" world is yet another assumption that we have to read into the text. The text itself only says that God considered the world "good." The word "good" is tov, which is a broad, all-purpose word. In other words, it is a stretch to say that "good" means "morally perfect," or that "good" means "perfect" in any sense. That God defined his creation as "good" quite simply may mean that he was satisfied with what it was.

If a painter steps back from her painting and says to herself, "good," this doesn't mean she thinks it is a perfect painting, just that she is happy with her work: it is what she wants it to be.

M: But - when he made them they were sinless and without any desire to sin. So, perfect. As in flawless. Not without the ability to become flawed. Then they would have been impeccable. And only God is that.

I know. No one makes that distinction anymore. But back in the day there was one and that's why.


It's a fair point, and one that I don't disagree with. But again, God knew (at the very very least) that they were capable of being flawed when confronted with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. AND....if you have a robust theology of God's omniscience, then you would have to say that God absolutely knew that Adam/Eve would eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, my point is this: God created a world that he knew would contain suffering and pain.

From an existential pespective, the above distinction you make seems irrelevant. I agree with the distinction you make, but it just doesn't seem to matter to me. It simply seems like a case of wanting to have God be the allmighty Creator of all things ("to whom, though whom, and for whom" all things exist), but then also say that he is not responsible for what happened in his creation.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Hesiak,

All things in this post are Erdmanian, not Calvinistic. I believe that the Calvinistic-Arminian theological disputes are historically dated and irrelevant. We need to move past them, imo.

Also, you need to not be so suspicioius of anything that strikes you as "Gnostic." If you're that afraid of the gnostic, then you may end up throwing out all the Johannine writings and a good deal of Paul!

Melody said...

Jon, most people are aware that the words "perfect" and "good" are not synonyms.

It's not because of the word "good" but the absence of sin and the consequences of sin that we say the world was perfect before.

From an existential pespective, the above distinction you make seems irrelevant.

I'm not an existentialist.

I was just explaining how one would extrapolate that the world had been perfect without it being explicately stated the text and it makes more sense if you don't abuse the definition of "perfect" as the general population is want to do.

You're the one who brought up whether the world was perfect or not. I simply take issue with your vocabulary.

So, my point is this: God created a world that he knew would contain suffering and pain.

If you could find a modern Evangelical who disagreed, I would be very much surprised.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Melody,

Well, then I'm getting confused as to where you're coming from.....I take issue with all of the preachers and teachers who wax eloquently about the so-called "perfect" world that God created. They do so to make a point: God is perfect and good, and created a world that is perfect and good; but then human beings screwed it up. This just seems too simplistic for me, and I don't think it is fair to the text. The text just says God thought that his world was "good," not "perfect" (a distinction you recognize).

Typically, American Christians also like to insert things in the text like "God had fellowship with Adam/Eve in the Garden." But the first interaction we see in the text is that God gives tasks to humanity and then lays down rules. The only time God shows up is to confront humanity in its disobedience. There is no mention of fellowship. It's not there. So, if we add it (because we think it's a good idea), then it's my personal belief that we may be missing something significant.

I'm not saying all this to discredit the text, just to allow it to speak on its own terms and not to completely reduce it to a screen on which to project the way we think God should have acted in the Garden. According to the text, God did create a fantastic place, but that's just not the whole story.

I'm just wondering if humanity is entirely culpable for evil in the world, or if Genesis 1-3 is an inspired biblical story that was intended to convey the fact that God had a hand in "the fall."

And from there, I was wondering if it would even have been possible for God to "program" a perfect world.

Anyway, just doing some musing. Sorry I missed where you were coming from. What do you think?

ktismatics said...

"Personally, I'm not sure I want to suffer just to feel a more intense need for God. That starts to sound a bit masochistic. But the idea of going through trials for a greater purpose is definitely something that holds an appeal to me."

I'm thinking about Fight Club again in this regard. "Jack" confronts no authentic trials in his life so he has to impose them on himself. The privations and challenges in pursuit of a noble quest presumably also make the quester a stronger person. But pitting oneself against resistance like this is difficult to achieve when no noble quests make themselves evident. So one goes directly to the trials: personal destruction for its own sake as a paradoxical means to achieving personal growth. "Operation Mayhem" tries to establish a quest to which the Fight Clubbers can devote themselves, but it just turns into nihilistic fascism rather than a real quest motivated by a higher purpose.

On a somewhat related note, the tendency is to see Jesus's trials as the end in itself: that his mission was specifically to suffer and die. But didn't he die trying to accomplish something in his life, something that met stern resistance? We need the call to (or passion for) the greater purpose; let the trials take care of themselves as the inevitable abrasions resulting from rubbing up against the status quo.

I realize I'm off the topic here -- it just came to mind in something I was reading about the postmodern urge to sacrifice. It's also related to an attempt to reinvigorate myself on the subject of meaningful work. I suppose there is a related issue after all: in a perfect world, would there be any need to pursue the heroic quest?

Jonathan Erdman said...

To me, that's the genius of Fight Club; it captures one of the burning questions for humanity: how to deal with heroic urges to sacrifice for something greater than one's self. For the boys in Fight Club, they find something flawed in Modern society that inspires them to destroy it; civilization is an endless pursuit of artificially generated (via advertising) desires, and these desires are infinite b/c those who work harder and harder to attain them are continually fueling and growing the corporate economy that profits more and therefore continues to expand. The answer: blow it all up and start over with an organic society.

The message resonates with our more primordial instincts.

So, I don't think you are off topic at all: In a society where everyone's needs are met, no heroic quests remain. The only thing that remains is to be nice to everybody, mow your lawn on Saturday morning, and find something entertaining to occupy your spare time. I mean, it isn't that bad of a life, but the idea of sacrificing for a higher ideal becomes obsolete.

This is kind of along the lines of why I asked the second question in this post: if humankind has all its needs met, then where does God fit in? I think this is the direction in which guys like Nietzsche were thinking. As I understand Nietzsche, the idea that "God is dead" has nothing to do with disproving the existence of God; it has everything to do with the fact that we just don't need God anymore, and without the need for God, he just becomes like an antique table: we just kind of let it sit in a nice room, appreciated and admired but unused.

If technology eventually finds a way to provide everyone with a nice house, free health care, a fun job, and universal access to interesting entertainment, then at that point we have no battles left to fight! If we could ever reach such a point in human history, then I would think it would represent something of a return to Eden. If we ever managed this return to Eden, then all we would have to do is figure out a way to figure out our desires so we don't kill each other; this is something Cain and Abel could not do, but then again, they didn't have the internet, cable television, and Hollywood.

Jonathan Erdman said...

John,

Did you consciously have some of these themes in mind when you wrote The Stations???

Jason Hesiak said...

erdmanian...

on the calvanist arminian thing...i was asking about calvin and predestination/omniscience/ect. because i really don't know that much about it. i was sort of reaching...i was having a hard time finding the basis for what you were saying...and i thought maybe that might be part of it. but that's just it, i was asking. shoot...i know vaguely about calvinist/arminian debate, but i had to look it up just now. i knew it has to do basically with free will vs. predestination, but i also figured it had to have to do with more than just that (and it does). anyway...point being...yeah i can see that the debate is a complicated mess...and one where it would be good to get past the differences (i think...i'm not totally clear on what that would mean...i want to reread the wikipedia post again tomorrow night when i'm not so tired too).

anyway...one thing i did notice from my wikipediaing was that what i was asking about...about God's having a hand in evil in a sense...if that has to do with God's embedding a need for him in creation from the beginning in a way...it seems to touch on a nerve of that argument...the whole thing about limited atonement and prevenient grace. so yeah now i see better why you had the reaction you had to my question. but lol what i don't think you understood was that i didn't know what the hell i was talking about. i was actually just asking...groping around for a basis of what you were saying...about "God created a world where suffering and misery were inevitable"...and i was also wondering about the implications of that statement, in your mind, at least. although as far as i can tell the term "inevitable" there doesn't necessarily place you on one side or other of the calvanist arminian debate.

i'm kinda rambling. so moving on.

the gnostic thing. first of all, i will readily admit that my reason for being so gnosto-phobic is my own past gnosticism. so if that bothers you or anyone else...sorry :)

that said...however...why would you say that Paul's writings are gnostic!? or even John's, for that matter...Plotinus(ians) and the gnostics are two different groups of folks...and that's not even necessarily to say that John's writings ARE Neoplatonic in the way that The Matrix IS gnostic. i'm saying that The Matrix is gnostic from its very foundations. are you saying that the writings of Paul or John are foundationally gnostic!?

i mean...i can kinda see where someone might say that John's writings are at least influenced by gnosticism. but Paul..."whachu talkin' 'bout Willis!?"

Jonathan Erdman said...

Jason,

I didn't mean to be short or snappy about the Calvinist thing, although that may have been how it sounded. I'm not anti-Calvinist at all; I used to describe my approach as "an odd mixture of Calvinistic theology and postmodern philosophy."....but even that label is a bit too confining for my taste!

What does one have to believe and/or stand for in order to be "foundationally gnostic"? Gnosticism is such a broad and vague term, that it would help to flesh it out a bit. It comes in all shapes and sizes. It's a form of thinking that is very bound to it's time, so it certainly has its drawbacks: it can get very weird, it was kind of cultish sometimes, and it could be very elitist. But sometimes I think the gnostics get a bad rap. So what if they were a bizarre bunch of religious wackos! What did they ever do to hurt me??!! Janet Reno might burn down their compound, but I'm not going to go to such extreme measures!

amanda kelley said...

ok...I have waited to comment...I wait no more...
Have you ever seen a puppet show? yeah ok, we are in this great big puppet show, that God watches. And while I'd like to thank Him for not moving me around by sticking his hand up my dairy-air, and instead he touches my heart...we all live, breathe, suffer, and multiply for Him! No other reason, evil or not, it's just because.
Now as a human it is hard for me to understand why? I mean WHY??? Why would He do this? Does he get a kick out of watching us put on this show...like reality TV for us,Only bettter for God, he gets the best quality picture...talk about panoramic vision, people!
But in all honestly, I think he does it because He wanted to share His love.
How do you show someone love?? Well you allow them to be who they are, and when they fall on thier ass, they come crying to you...asking for help. You open your arms and tell them you love them...thus the cross...he sacraficed it all for us...and this is the ultimate love...that he would suffer and die for the falling evil persons that we are.
As for Calvinistic points of view: I grew up understanding and excepting them as they were(ooo does that make me a gnostic??!! LOL)...I mean why not...we are after all puppets...
We are God's guests to this earth He made, we are His company....and after all....Misery loves company!

Melody said...

Well, then I'm getting confused as to where you're coming from...

I don't know why - you say much more confusing things all the time.

Very simply

1. I don't believe that the text has to specifically say, "The world was perfect" for us to say if it was or not.

2. You put quotes around the word as if it were being used incorrectly. You think this because you see the ability to become flawed as a flaw in itself - thus the world could not have been perfect if it could have been flawed. I disagree.

3. I didn't mention this before, but this whole thing feels silly because perfect is a vague and subjective term.

If I paint something and say that it is good - well, it's what I want it to be, and since I'm the one it has to please it is perfect. It might not be perfect to someone else - but it's not supposed to be what they want, only what I want.

Maybe the world was perfect. Maybe perfect isn't what we think it is.

Typically, American Christians also like to insert things in the text like "God had fellowship with Adam/Eve in the Garden."

Yes, I know. It's because of the scene where God comes looking for them and they hide. It's somewhat assumed that they often saw God that time of day. I don't know if there's any other text somewhere else in the Bible that makes people feel like putting that in there.

Maybe it's just because from what we know of God, He wants fellowship with us and if God made a good world - for Him wouldn't a good world be one where he had fellowship with His creation? Plus, He tended to have a relationship of some sort (strong or strained) with His people - so it makes sense.

I'm just wondering if humanity is entirely culpable for evil in the world, or if Genesis 1-3 is an inspired biblical story that was intended to convey the fact that God had a hand in "the fall."

Can I just blame this one on the fact that you haven't been in church in over a year? Maybe you've forgotten that most church's doctrinal statements would agree that God had a hand in it?

And from there, I was wondering if it would even have been possible for God to "program" a perfect world.

I think it's possible. I think it's population would have to be quite a bit different. C.S. Lewis plays around with that idea in the Space Trilogy. I thought it was a weird thing to put in a book at the time...but clearly he's not the only one with issues about that.

Jason Hesiak said...

Maybe you've forgotten that most church's doctrinal statements would agree that God had a hand in it?

They do? Did i miss something?

Amanda...you said: As for Calvinistic points of view: I grew up understanding and excepting them as they were(ooo does that make me a gnostic??!! LOL)...I mean why not...we are after all puppets...
We are God's guests to this earth He made, we are His company....and after all....Misery loves company!


I don't even know enough about Calvanism to know where...I mean...at the end...for me..."Misery loves company" just pops up out of the blue and I don't even know what you're talking about or where it came from. I don't say that to discount your statement or your comment...I say that to say...I don't know what you are saying and a more thorough breakdown would be helpful to me :)

And does Calvin actually talk about puppets? Puppets were used as a form of Christian morality play in his time. But then again ancient tribes in Africa used puppets in healing and hunting ceremonies.

And don't take this toe wrong way amanda, but the whole "panoramic vision" thing made me giggle. I - along with the Doylomania, most likely :) - would recommend reading a fine book called The Measure of Reality, maybe along with Technology As Symptom And Dream. They talk a lot about the implications of things like "panoramic vision", lol.

From amazon (on Technology As...: Basically, this book deals with our alienation from our bodies, nature and what makes us basically human. He claims much of this evolved out of Cartesian dualism and ties it in to the development of perspective in painting and the rise of technology. It could be related to your puppet metaphor, too. Or even your Calvanism...but obviously I don't know enough about Calvanism to say. Based on my knowledge of Calvin's place in the more "panoramic vision" of history, I'd say probably so, but I'm not sure.

PEACE OUT! off to work.

Jason Hesiak said...

CRAP Erdman i forgot to address the gnostic thing! will have to do that later...

Bloom means one thing by gnostic (almost anything, lol). alexandrian gnostics of 2nd/3rd century mean another. dan brown means another entirely. my pastor means something else when he says gnostic. jeez. so complicated, lol. well...for now...when i say "foundationally gnostic"...i am referring primarily to the alexandrian variety (or those closely akin to them). is that good enough or do i need to say more...again...gotta go to work!...

Melody said...

They do? Did i miss something?

I guess you did.

Jason Hesiak said...

what did i miss?

Melody said...

what did i miss?

Churches that preach the sovereignty of God?

Not like they focus much on that. It's mostly all about God's unfailing love for us or on sins that most of the congregation are in no danger of committing, but I'm reasonably certain that every church I've ever attended has believed that God was in complete and total control of the universe.

It's not as if Adam & Eve somehow caught God off guard or as if all good things are in God's control but that pesky evil stuff just eludes Him.

Satan asked for permission to destroy Job's life. God hardened Pharaoh's heart against Moses. Whether we even believe in God or not is dependent on His will.

So what's so shocking about saying that God was just as in control when Eve spoke with the serpent?

Jason Hesiak said...

Melody...I was asking about your statement, which was as follows: Maybe you've forgotten that most church's doctrinal statements would agree that God had a hand in it?. I said: "They do? Did I miss something?" You said, basically: Yeah, I guess so. I asked what I missed. Then you went on to explain your logic that if God is sovereign and there is evil, then what's the big deal with saying that God has a hand in evil? Well your logic is great, but I was asking about "most church's doctrinal statements", which I had not realized "would agree that God had a hand in it ['it' there eing 'evil']." But I've been going to church all my life, and have been to a number of different churches, and don't remember ever noticing hearing in any creeds or explanations of doctrine that "God had a hand in evil." Other than the Ecclesia Gnostica I went to in Los Angeles a couple times. I am asking if you can remember any specific doctrines from any specific churches that "would agree that God had a hand in [evil]"?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Melody,

Since you obviously have all the answers, why don't you go ahead and explain to all of us the correct way to view God's role in the fall of humanity?

Jonathan Erdman said...

I'm going to have to side with Jason.

Melody: most American churches are not Calvinistic, and those that have Calvinistic doctrinal statements don't always entirely believe it. At CCC, for example, I would say most Sunday morning church-goers are not staunch Calvinists.

Jason Hesiak said...

does a "staunch Calvanist" believe that "God had a hand in evil"????

genuine question...btw...as you guys can probably see from my previous comments...

Melody said...

Jason, sorry for veering off track.


I am asking if you can remember any specific doctrines from any specific churches that "would agree that God had a hand in [evil]"?

I'd have to look them up and e-mail them for it.

ktismatics said...

"Whether we even believe in God or not is dependent on His will."

From the Wikipedia entry on predestination:

Double predestination is the eternal act of God, whereby the future of every particular person in the human race has been determined beforehand, by God. Whatever the individual wills or does, for good or for evil, is conceived as performing a functional part, or outworking of that ordained purpose. This prior determination applies to both, the elect and the reprobate... Calvinist groups use the term "Hyper-Calvinism" to describe Calvinistic systems that assert without qualification that God's intention to destroy some is equal to His intention to save others... Calvinists typically divide on the issue of predestination into infralapsarians (sometimes called 'sublapsarians') and supralapsarians. Infralapsarians believe that God chose his elect considering the situation after the Fall, while supralapsarians believe that the Fall was ordained by God's decree of election. In infralapsarianism, election is God's response to the Fall, while in supralapsarianism the Fall is part of God's plan for election.

Wikipedia goes on to say that neither the Roman Catholic nor the Eastern Orthodox churches subscribe to double predestination, and that within Protestantism this doctrine receives significant support only among Calvinists.

ktismatics said...

Do any of y'all know the TULIP acronym for the five tenets of Calvinism?

Melody said...

Jon,

I'm not saying I have all the answers. I re-read my posts and I don't think I implied that. But, I was a bit snotty about the church thing and I am sorry for that.

The point isn't even whether that particular doctrine is correct or not.

All that I'm saying is that there are plenty of people out there who believe it.

Obviously, not as many as I thought, sorry, presumptuous on my part.

I don't think the sovereignty of God is a completely Calvinist thing though, CCC is the first Calvinist church I've been to. The others were decidedly not and they preached the sovereignty of God.

Melody said...

Do any of y'all know the TULIP acronym for the five tenets of Calvinism?

I know there is one. That's about it. Let's see..."P" probably stands for Predestination...

ktismatics said...

strike one...

ktismatics said...

Okay fine -- TULIP:
Total depravity
Unconditional election
Limited atonement
Irresistible grace
Perseverance of the saints

Melody said...

Ummmm...ok, I got nothin'. All I really know about Calvinists is that they believe in security of salvation and they believe in predestination.

I should probably know more after 6 years at a Calvinist church...but, as Jon mentioned, most of us aren't actually Calvinists.

Jason Hesiak said...

oh...melody don't worry about all that...

...doyle...THANKS...that answers it...at least on some level. thanks a lot. that's exactly what i was looking for. but lol that sounds like a lot of funny business to me. did god elect before or after the fall? HUh? YOU SERIOUS!? lol. the tolerance of my building that i'm working on right now is .00085487 milimeters. NOT!

ktismatics said...

"they believe in security of salvation and they believe in predestination."

Security of salvation = Perseverance of the saints, or "once saved always saved." Predestination is kind of the whole tulip put together.

Jason Hesiak said...

oh and thanks doyle for the tulip thing too

ktismatics said...

So Hesiak, when do you start the online seminar on building tolerance?

Jason Hesiak said...

in 25 hrs. 13 minues and 46 seconds.

EveInterrupted said...

I usually sign in as amanda kelley
I am just sitting back watching this one unfold...
Sorry about the scattered "brainess" of my blurb last night. I was simply referring to the fact that some, esp. staunch Calvinists can take it to a level that makes us seem like puppets...we have no say, God just plays with us, makes us dance around, lets evil consume us, and keep him company...and then I thought of the saying "misery loves company". maybe it didn't match up with my thought process...but it was almost midnight, what can I say?

Bottom line here, and forgetting everything I have said up until now...
God is not the root of all evil...
He didn't create it. He allows it.
Also, Eve didn't start it...humans didn't start it...
An angel did, Lucifer. He wnated to be better than all the rest, better than God. So God cast him down and a bunch of angels who wanted to join him... Viola, we have who we know as Satan. And guess who took on the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden to tempt a hungry woman named Eve?? Yeah, so evil doesn't come from God or by God, but he allows it, he knew it would happen, and it's for his glory and well, so he had something to do...someone to save and a reason to exist!
Ok...hopefully that made sense...all I am thinking about now are the donuts I making tonight...mmm sugar! Yeah, Eve was hungry...LOL ;)

EveInterrupted said...

I love that Hesiak calls your stuff Erdmanian.
I should tell you that it is quite interesting how we have found ourselves in the discussion of the Garden of Eden, as I started not to long ago a blog of my own, with the intention of comparing my life to the fall of Eve at times.
Hmmm...very strange, Jon! LOL
I should go back and reread my very first post again...may have some relation to the evil vs. "perfect" and misery we have been talking about.

Jason Hesiak said...

erdmanian...ok...the gnostic thing. reminder to self...the goal here is to ask the you what you meant when you said: If you're that afraid of the gnostic, then you may end up throwing out all the Johannine writings and a good deal of Paul!

To review...my response after that was basically: "huh?"

Then your response to that: What does one have to believe and/or stand for in order to be "foundationally gnostic"? Gnosticism is such a broad and vague term, that it would help to flesh it out a bit. It comes in all shapes and sizes. It's a form of thinking that is very bound to it's time, so it certainly has its drawbacks: it can get very weird, it was kind of cultish sometimes, and it could be very elitist. But sometimes I think the gnostics get a bad rap. So what if they were a bizarre bunch of religious wackos! What did they ever do to hurt me??!! Janet Reno might burn down their compound, but I'm not going to go to such extreme measures!

To which I said: Bloom means one thing by gnostic (almost anything, lol). alexandrian gnostics of 2nd/3rd century mean another. dan brown means another entirely. my pastor means something else when he says gnostic. jeez. so complicated, lol. well...for now...when i say "foundationally gnostic"...i am referring primarily to the alexandrian variety (or those closely akin to them)...

well...background first. the "gnostic thing" started when i said that the the matrix, which the clip was from, was so gnostic that i just don't even know how to base any discussion on it (it being the clip). we were talking previously about suffering. and specifically about God's role, or lack thereof, in suffering. ex. - does God make us suffer to show that we need Him?

well, in that context, i meant a few things in saying that a conversation around something so gnostic would be baseless.

a) once in the context of gnosticism, everything is gnostic (will explain in a moment), and

b) in light of the Cross - which is what i think has to be the primary thing that gives meaning to and frames our thinking on or experience of suffering - gnosticism does the opposite: gnosticism goes the route of "escape to some place higher" (as one way to put it) rather than letting the Cross be an icon to the glory of God.

c) the idea that "God" has or had a hand in the evil of the world, if it is not directly gnostic, ties in very well with the gnostic mythos. this ties in with our discussion on suffering, of course.

the "foundationally gnostic" mythos, as they would think of it a the Ecclesia Gnostica in Los Angeles:

a) in the Gnostic mythos, all things "emmanate" from "The One" (the Alexandrian gnostics didn't call it that, but they borrowed the idea from Plotinus). when things "emmanate", its not like the "creator" "creates" something that is "outside" of the one doing the "creating." The One doesn't create anything, he brings it forth from within himself. the one is purely spirit, and has no relationship at all whatsoever to matter, or to anything earthly, tangible, visible, sensible, whatever or however you want to put it, nor to any "world"; it is beyond all measure. each thing that "emmanates" from "The One" is hierarchically lower less purely that from which it emmanated, but a piece of the emmanace is left. if i remember correctly, Sophia (wisdom) was one of the first born. Sophia got a glimpse of Chaos, and since all things lower "emmanate" from (within) things higher, Sophia saw a glimpse of herself in "Chaos". Sophia was from a "higher world", but was drawn closer and closer into this "lower world"; she recognized her own Wisdom embedded in. eventually she made contact with it, and from that union a half-god was born, the demi-urge "Ialdaboth". Ialdaboth was the half blind idiot god who went on to create this lowest of worlds in which we now live :) which happens to have lots of suffering in our mortal earthly bodies, which are the complete opposite and oh-so-lowly worthless unreality as compared to the purity and Truth of "The One."

ok, so what, in regards to my point (a) above? the thing with the matrix is that it puts you in its own little gnostic world. as does the clip provided here. a gnostic story telling makes central the idea of being "confined", "trapped", lost in this chaotic little world, where there is in Reality something completely Other and Greater in The Beyond. but because everything is an emmanace, everything is a world as emmanated from some emmanance...so you are always stuck in someon's little world, which is illusory to the degree of the Spirituality or Purity or Otherness or whathaveyou of the one who "made" the world that you are in. "you can't escape the matrix." "you are always in the matrix." "there is no way out, but you can choose to ignore the illusion that you've always been living in." "there is something greater out there." all paraphrases from The Matrix.

so once you're in a gnostic context, then everything is gnostic. once in a gnostic world, there is no way out. other than to not be in a gnostic world.

b) in the religion of gnosticism...in light of the gnostic mythos...the "goal" is to "purify" yourself. to release yourself from this "lowly" tangible sensible stuff. to "escape". to "go higher". to get beyond the limits of your physical body, which in Truth and in Reality (both Truth and Reality) are "other (emmanated) worlds" in and of themselves) is only illusory. because you are ultimately an "emmanation" of the One, you have the ability to re-unite with Him in Pure Spirit, to completely divorce and tear yourself from the lowliness of matter and the illusoryness of "this world." this is something that you learn to do through "gnosis," through secret "knowledge." in many gnostic stories there is a salvation figure who "comes to this lower illusory world" to "show" us "the way" to "the higher realm." in The Matrix that was Neo. he demostrated a greater ability than others from the beginning to "transcend" the limits of his body.

and btw the very cinemotography itself of The Matrix goes along with the mythos of gnosticism. playing around with Time (and lighting/digital effects) and the limits of how we experience it (and the sensible world). all film does that by the nature of the medium, but compare that with the gritty grainyness of a seventies Western, for example, and you see how The Matrix goes with the gnostic mythos of "escape". each illusory world "based" on a "lower emmanance" is just a dead end. why not just create a more true world that is not tied to the limits that we experience in our bodies? not only "why not?", but its imperative, in order to get to "the Real truth." The Matrix often takes itself very serious in this regard. it presents itself as an imperative to...to..."go higher". the matrix isn't really a very JOYFUL film, and it certainly doesn't take joy in the glory of the Cross. quite the opposite.

c) if this illusory world in which we are trapped was an "emmanation" of a half blind and stupid half-god "Ialdaboth"...well then obviously "God" had hand in evil. in fact there is a piece or emmanace of "The One" not only in you and i, but in Ialdaboth. so yeah, "God" had a hand in "evil." in fact, if you hang out with the illuminati or folks like that, they will tell you that the Yahweh of the Bible IS Satan. and anyway...we could "escape" from "Satan's illusion" if we just get the secret knowledge of how to...whatever, you get the point.

on the writings of John and Paul being gnostic:

a) john and paul don't speak in terms of being trapped in a world and needing to get to a greater higher world. they may say things that sound a lot like that, but in light of what that means in the gnostic mythos, i don't think john and paul are saying what the gnostics are saying. for both john and paul, when they look around, they see CHARACTERS (which do or do not reflect the character of God), as opposed to seeing an illusory WORLD in which we are all trapped. so everything they say isn't trapped in that little world of the idea of being trapped in a little world. their writings seem much lighter and more fun than that :)

b) i think obviously both John and Paul - more obviously Paul than John, probably - had the lowliness of the Cross guiding them rather than the "transcendent heights" of "The One" who is beyond all matter or measure or "knowable world(liness)" (in the gnostic sense). but when i read from John that profession of faith in Jesus is the test of apostasy, for example, i read the humility Cross (as opposed to the haughtiness of the Wachowsky brothers) into even that.

c) i think that in John and Paul God is "good", and doesn't have a hand in "evil." that's the whole reason why the Cross is the glory of God to Paul, it seems (or at least it seems to ahve a lot to do with it).

from folks these days who "look up to gnosticism", so to speak, you will here: "well, maybe things just are. they aren't good or bad. they just are." in other words, something a bit like this: "the goal is not to 'be a good person', like, morally...the goal is to get up to a higher place. and on top of that, since everything is 'emmanated', even The One has His portion (or his 'hand') here in this messed up illusory world, so what is good and evil anyway?"

conclusion:

in my last series of (a), (b), and (c), i wasn't trying to argue against you on the notion of having to throw John and Paul out with gnosticism. i was more explaining what i mean when i say that john and paul are not gnostic. which was also a way of asking you: what you you mean when you say that you might as well throw all of john out and a good portion of Paul out too if you throw out gnosticism"? see...i figure it has to be easier now for you to answer, now that you know where i'm coming from :))

PEACE and goofiness!

jason

Jason Hesiak said...

lol...after writing my last comment, i re-read the following from you, and was amused: It's a form of thinking that is very bound to it's time, so it certainly has its drawbacks: it can get very weird, it was kind of cultish sometimes, and it could be very elitist. But sometimes I think the gnostics get a bad rap. So what if they were a bizarre bunch of religious wackos! What did they ever do to hurt me??!! Janet Reno might burn down their compound, but I'm not going to go to such extreme measures!

at first i was thinking: "no its not really a form of thinking that is very bound to its time. i mean, the matrix really is very gnostic. and gnosticism really does influence a lot of stuff today." but then lol i thought of what i was saying about "boundaries", "limits", "illusion", being trapped"...and i giggled about this whole "a form of thinking that is bound to its time."

then i giggled again on the "cultish" thing. i was like: "the gnostics get the 'cult' wrap all the time. but so what? what does that even mean?" then i though of what i was saying about "for the gnostic, everything is gnostic", and for me that brought new light to the phrase "cultish social bubble."

as for what they ever did to me? i feel they mislead me. but i must confess that i completely missed the janet reno burning down their compound reference??

Jason Hesiak said...

from a "church of Gnosis" website, quoting the gospel of philip:
http://www.gnosticsanctuary.org/

If someone experiences Trust and Consciousness in the heart of the embrace
they become a child of light.
If Someone does not recieve these,
its is because they remain attached to what they know;
when they cease to be attached, they will be able to recieve them.
Whoever recieves this light in nakedness will no longer be recognizable;
none will be able to grasp them, none will be able to make them sad or miserable, whether they are in this world, or have left it.
They already know the truth in images.
For them, this world has become another world,
and his Temple space [Aeon] is fullness [pleroma],
They are who they are. They are one.
Neither shadow nor night can hide them.


Sounds a bit different from John and Paul to me. a whole different fulcrum, if you will :)

Jason Hesiak said...

no erdman lol i really did want to hear what you have to say about "the gnostic"...and lol why you call it "the gnostic"...??????

daniel hutchinson said...

Jon, in the context of the economic crisis, this is a post that has me thinking: if we define ourselves by misery, why not succumb to the inevitable economic collapse?

Human advancement, without God, fuelled by greed and the ease with which a man oppresses his fellow man, is the discourse of the perfect world.

An imperfect world, with contentment - now that's to me for more desirable.

I'll admit that I'm being lazy, and posting before reading the 44 comments. Just to say "hola".

BTW, concerning God's presence in America today, ever wondered if maybe God is speaking through the storm right now, and not the quite voice?

daniel hutchinson said...

There is a part of me that answers with a "yes." There is a part of me that sees a lot of redeeming value in suffering. But not just suffering, but trials. For example, people that are being hit by hurricanes right now have a defined purpose and meaning in life. They come together as a community and as one in order to share a struggle together. This is true regardless of their religious creeds or whether or not they believe in God.

Personally, I'm not sure I want to suffer just to feel a more intense need for God. That starts to sound a bit masochistic. But the idea of going through trials for a greater purpose is definitely something that holds an appeal to me.


Amen brother! This is Gethsemane, this is theology.

That's what draws me here: the honesty. And that goes for everyone's posts.

daniel hutchinson said...

On a somewhat related note, the tendency is to see Jesus's trials as the end in itself: that his mission was specifically to suffer and die. But didn't he die trying to accomplish something in his life, something that met stern resistance? We need the call to (or passion for) the greater purpose; let the trials take care of themselves as the inevitable abrasions resulting from rubbing up against the status quo.


Bravo, Kt.

daniel hutchinson said...

Jason, your posts on Gnosticism are articulate and informative, but with a prophetic edge. Praise God for leading you out of the darkness that you experienced amongst the "enlightened". Your insights are such that only come through experience. I think you are spot on in your analysis of the themes of the Matrix - not that there is no other interpretation, but I certainly see your point. I think Jon will be forced to reply.

Greek philosophy is part of the the world that Jesus chose to reveal Himself to (the other parts: Roman Empire, Hebrew culture). As such, its currency and streams of thought are important to understanding the redemptive work of Christ, i.e. that he "came at the fullness of time". Reading the Greek of John and Paul brings the philosophical context to the fore, and like you say, its a different "fulcrum" to the gnostic texts (apparent even in translation).

Jason, you would probably enjoy reading Agamben (contemporary philosopher, reading Aristotle). I'll email you a paper of his if you like.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Yes! I will get back to Jason on Gnosticism! I told him via email that I wanted to consult some prior research and also commentaries to provide a more substantive response. But I haven't yet had the time.