Tag Archives: philosophy

I Want to See Jesus – Part 1

If we are honest with ourselves, it is a complaint that is often on our hearts: Jesus, if you exist, let me see you.  We are creatures of the senses.  We salivate with delight at the smell of fresh turkey roasting in the oven.  Our being wants to burst with solemnity when we hear a beautiful piece of music.  To be simply touched by someone we love stirs in us a veritable cornucopia of emotions, sentiments, thoughts, desires, etc.  The first sip and scent of a full bodied St Bernardus Abt 12 will sometimes immediately give us a foretaste of heavenly realities with the faint voice of angelic chanting in the background.  The senses are essential to being human, and we are right to emphasize their importance in our lives.

Yet they seem to be a hindrance to our life of faith.  The Father is invisible.  Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father.  The Spirit is among us, but we do not see Him either.  The angels themselves, too, are invisible since they are without bodies.  All that we are told is real cannot be apprehended through our senses.  Thus we believe faith is in some great unknown, we believe it is present to us, but we have never truly experienced it, we simply trust that this invisible and insensible reality is there and attempt to act on the probability that this reality actually exists.  In the end, we customarily see that faith is in something unobservable and thus, thanks to the Kantian overtones of our contemporary world, irrational.  Our hearts cry out to see God, but, deep down, we find Him to be absent, unobservable, and thus unreal.  The desire to see, experience, hear, and encounter God seems to run up against our day to day experience and life.  And we are more apt to trust our senses than some pie in the sky idea like God.  So we go to Church, we say devotions, but, in the end, we don’t truly believe in the reality of God.  Many of us, in the end, are practical atheists.

Yet, there is hope!  If God is real, if we have a desire to see this reality, and, finally, if God created us, then it must mean that if He is real, there must be a way to see Him, for, if our understanding of God is true, then He the desire to see him must be given to us by Him to be truly fulfilled in our lives.  How, then, do we overcome this modern view of faith as something in the invisible and, therefore, unreal?  How is it that God is able to be seen and experienced if He is non-corporeal?  The contemporary demand to see God is one that screams forth from the depths of our being, and thus must be answered in a convincing manner.

The first element that must be proposed – for it is the total basis for everything else we are to say on the matter – is the reality of God’s interaction with the world.  When one studies the Old Testament, especially the Pentateuch, one is able to observe the sensible way God manifests Himself to the people of Israel.  He is manifested through a pillar of fire, the wind, lightning and thunder, booming trumpets, etc.  Even the word for God’s glory – kabod – has a sense that God is sensible: His glory has weight, measure, dimension, visibleness.  The glory of God, the manifestness of God, the visibleness and sensibleness of God culminates when He sends His Son into the world.  Jesus Christ is the Image and Face of the Father.  He who sees Jesus sees the Father.  We have seen His glory (cf: Jn 1:14).  The first letter of John makes this abundantly clear: what we have seen, what we have touched, what we have witnessed, etc.  There is an emphasis that God has manifested Himself fully to us in the Person of His Son, and that we know this through our sensible encounter with Him.  In fact, all of Scripture is a witness to the historical fact that God has manifested Himself through the created realm and that, in fact, the created realm is made for God for when God comes, He does no act of violence over the world, but instead is the One in whom the whole natural realm is fulfilled.  In short: creation is good and God uses it to encounter us, for we are creatures with soul and body and thus, in order to know the truth of things, we must observe it through the sensibleness of our bodies.

“This is all well and good, but that is in the past.  My question still remains: how do I see God now?  Why doesn’t He manifest Himself like He once did?  Jesus may have been visible to his disciples, but if He exists, why doesn’t He make Himself present to us now?”  Thus sayeth the objector.  And it is a strong objection, one we all struggle to give an answer to, because, as we stated at the beginning, a part of us finds such a point to not only be valid, but true.

Having heard the objection and seeing the persuasiveness about it, it is time to begin (and we will continue to investigate this in a future post) our understanding of what faith is.  In order for faith to be in something real and is the response of one’s whole being to a Person Who is real and alive in our lives, we must first shake off the Kantian lens by which we approach the world, for God can only be encountered when we first and foremost understand the sacramental structure of reality, a structure that, when we apply our minds to daily experience, we see to be true and correct.

The first act of developing a new optics, a new vision of the world, is to ask yourself the question: what happens when I see a thing.  If I were to ask any contemporary person “what is a tree”, they would almost instinctively say that a tree is a wooded structure with leaves, bark, that grows vertically, etc.  They would not be entirely wrong in such a description, for these are all aspects of a tree.  But a tree need not be growing, it need not have leaves, etc.  A descriptive view of the tree is insufficient.  Furthermore, each aspect does not account for the totality of the tree itself.  The tree is not its wood – despite the fact that woodiness is so very essential to a tree being a tree.  Nor is the tree its branches, its leaves, its height, depth, weight, etc.  When it comes down to it, we discover that descriptive definitions are good and true, but they are insufficient for accounting for the total reality of the thing.  A tree is more than its branches, leaves, weight, height, etc.  In the end, the sum is always greater than the total of its parts.  Our experience affirms this and, when given sufficient thought, we know this to be true as well: the totality of the thing we call “tree” is greater than all its aspects combined.

The next question then arises: how do we define the nature of a thing?  If it is not descriptive, then what means do we have for defining the nature of a tree when we are so asked to define it?  This we shall answer in our next post in the following day or two.  You may think me crazy for asking such blatantly philosophical questions; what has Athens to do with Jerusalem anyways?  But these are very important for answering that desire of our heart to see Jesus.  The method to my madness is simple: if God has taken on our humanity, He has also taken on the totality of creation to dwell in the infinite exchange of love that is Trinitarian life.  Thus, in order to ascend to the heights of God’s life, we must start from the bottom wrung of the latter of divine ascent.  We must ask these fundamental questions because it is only by answering them that we will see not only that the created realm is made for God Himself, but that the Catholic vision of things will open us up to really see God, to taste, touch, and hear Him.  But this is only possible if we understand the fundamental way we relate to the world and that all things, ultimately, are signs and that we see the world in a mediated way.  All this is important and, when properly unpacked, can help us answer the desirous cry of our heart: “I want to see Jesus!”.

in Christ

-Harrison

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I Don’t Believe in God Either – Part II

Well, I must admit: I am a little overwhelmed by the sudden overflow of traffic to my post “I Don’t Believe in God Either“.  It brought a lot of comments, as I expected, because a 1000 word post is insufficient to deal with such a large topic with all the necessary nuances needed.  I would like to engage with some of the comments on the blog and on Facebook so as to further engage and continue the conversation.

The first is the misrepresentation of my appeal to Pascal.  I appealed to him as a sort of “rebuff” to dilettantism: the idea that “you have to try everything once.”  First, I don’t agree with dilettantism: it has all sorts of internal inconsistencies both logically and ethically.  All I was doing in appealing to Pascal was his idea of “living as if God existed” as important for the dilettante to take seriously if they are going to live by such a standard.  I agree with one friend – to an extent – that Pascal ought not to be used apologetically for the existence of God. I would put forth, however, that Pascal has been grossly misrepresented in his wager as being an argument purely for the assent of the mind.  If one wants a strong critique of that interpretation, read Blondel’s “L’Action”.

In reference to Tom’s comment, I would put forth that really this is a misunderstanding of what I was putting forth.  He is treating the transcendental as part of this world alone still.  I am arguing differently: man’s experience of the transcendent is one aspect, but my argument is that God is not only experienced as transcendent, but that He is, by nature, transcendent to ALL nature.  This is not the nature of the Norse gods or the Flying Spaghetti Monster: their natures are by definition non-transcendent to the natural realm.  By definition the Norse gods etc do not fulfill the demands of the experience of transcendence.  Here is a diagram to emphasize my point:

Tom’s version of reality could be described as this:

________________________

Transcendental Being(s)  \
|                                          \ -> The one reality
\/                                       /
The universe                        /

 

OR another way:

God->Universe->Human Beings

My claim:

God (Total Transcendence)

_____________________________  > Infinite gulf between God and created realm

{The created realm (including angels, demons, etc. according to a Catholic cosmology).}

 

In short, for Thor to be Thor, he cannot be equated to the God of Christianity.  By definition the transcendence is of an infinite stature.  It is also, by virtue of the utter transcendence that God can be entirely present to the world He created: because He is completely Other and completely Greater.  He cannot do this if He is equated to the gods of Norse Mythology.  We are talking about two different orders.  The categories used by the former diagram are the god that I don’t believe in either.  But the issue of my article – and this is where I find that it was either ignored or that I, at least, didn’t make myself sufficiently clear – is that the Norse gods cannot be equated to the transcendent mystery of Christian theism.  If an atheist is attempting to debunk the very mystery of the Christian God, they need to start speaking the theistic terms that we are speaking, but they are consistently being ignored.  This is why the discussion is always at a stop: we are speaking of two entirely different realities.  Until the atheist is willing to speak of the realm of completely other, there is no discussion happening.  In short: what I wrote was not a polemic against atheists, but an invitation to dialogue about the reality as it is believed by Christians and other theists.  People like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc. are attacking a straw man: the god that they define is not the God of Christianity (or Israel: Islam, it is a little different).  Until they are willing to accept the Christian claim as it stands for the Christian, then no conversation will actually happen.  I cannot remember where I read it, but I recall Hitchens once saying that the problem of transcendence is the greatest issue for the atheist to reconcile with his position.

This brings me to another comment on the blog found here.  I would first like to say that to an extent, every debate will have an “us vs. them” mentality.  I have one position, another side has another position.  By the fact of the nature of dialogue and debate, polemics are a necessary element.  It is not necessarily to be taken as an all out war, but we must acknowledge that for debate/dialogue to occur, we must necessarily have differing positions.  And again, I do not find the claim that an atheist ought to take a life of theism seriously to be  unrealistic if they are of the opinion that “you need to try something before you decide for or against it.”  If they don’t hold that position about life, then yes, we ought to be going another direction.  It is simply a statement, as I said above, that there is an inconsistency that I find disconcerting.  If you expect something of others, you ought to live it yourself.

This brings me to my final point with regards to this.  I did not write the article as an apologetic against the atheist, nor did I write it as an argument for theism.  I wrote it simply as an appeal to dialogue: an appeal to the clarification of terms which I find so very lacking in the discussion/debate of God’s existence.  I actually do not think that logical argumentation is the absolute way to go for a variety of reasons.  Ultimately, for the Christian, joy and holiness are the ultimate apologetic for the existence of God and the saving power of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is there that Christians should be beginning.  The initial post was simply to be a reflection on what I found lacking in the discussion about God between theists and atheists.  However, I must admit, it has spurred me on to want to write more articles about it as a series.  That way I can have the nuances I need.  I especially desire to speak about this in regards to Pascal’s Wager.  Though it ought not to be, per se, used as an apologetic, I think it is far too often misunderstood in the contemporary discussions.  I think Pascal is offering something far more challenging than what is presented in most intro to Philosophy classes, or most people’s interpretations of it.  So keep your eyes open.

in Christ

-Harrison

 

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How to Pray in a Distracted World – The Philosophy of Maurice Blondel as an Aid in the Spiritual Life

Maurice Blondel

In yesterday’s post, I spoke about the importance of prayer in order to become a saint, and I spoke especially about listening in prayer.  I would like to develop that thought a bit more with the help of a recently acquired new friend: Maurice Blondel.

Let me, first, tell you a little bit about Blondel.  He was born in France in the area of Dijon in 1861.  He is a philosopher who’s most popular work “L’Action” was defended at the Sorbonne in 1893.  Blondel was a devout Catholic and felt that philosophy gave way too much to positive science: philosophy was only being based on the quantifiable.  Blondel was not pleased with this and developed a philosophy of action.  It is in this philosophy of action that he demonstrates that philosophy cannot avoid the religious problem, though it also cannot answer it.  He was a major influence on many of the theologians who would give shape to the Second Vatican Council.  As Bishop Peter Henrici states: “Blondel is the philosopher of Vatican II”.

So, why am I speaking about a philosopher with regards to prayer and the spiritual life?  It is because in his philosophy of action – which, admittedly, I have yet to finish – I have had  a spiritual encounter, all due to the fact that Blondel is an astute observer of human nature.  So, before I go into why he is important for prayer, I want to speak, in as simple a way as I can, about his philosophy of action.

Blondel argues that if we look into the life of our mind, we see a limitless number of choices.  Our reason goes through these tendencies and desires and we make a judgment: “This is the good thing to do.”  Yet, it is not enough to will to do a good thing.  Let us use a consistent example.  We are in the Church about to start praying a rosary.  Yet, just as we are about to begin, we find ourselves seemingly overwhelmed and outnumbered by many other desires and tendencies.  Perhaps we feel like going out for a coffee instead, making a phone call, checking our e-mail, talking to a friend, etc.  The other possible choices seem endless and the choice to just say the rosary seems overwhelmed by these other desires.  Blondel goes into some fine tuning with regards to this, but that is generally the point.  So we are faced with a choice: do we will to do the rosary or allow the variety of other tendencies and desires to overwhelm us?  Where does our true desire lie?  Before I go on, Blondel makes an interesting point: if we choose not to act, then we submit our self and our will to our tendencies, giving them more power over us.  We have a choice: to act or not to act (though to not act is itself an act, though not in the positive sense)

Let us presume we are holy people – or at least attempting to be – and thus say we see, in this moment, the greatest value to be the rosary.  But it is not enough to intend to say the rosary: one must say it.  Blondel states that the will is perfected in its choice only when it is acted upon.  Furthermore, action is a synthesis for the entire person: it “sums up” the person as both body and soul.  When an action happens – in this case saying the rosary – we become aware in a deeper way that this is our true value because it is the choice we have acted upon.  The action also sums up all our other desires and tendencies: they are given a new life in the action that has been chosen.  In short: action reveals our self to ourselves.  We see – either good or bad – what we are really like, what is really what we value, etc.  Thus, even bad actions have a positive end: if we choose them (and we do: we’re sinners!) then we are aware of what needs to be worked on in our life.  Furthermore, every time we act, we hone our will, especially when it is towards the same desire.  By constantly acting on the same desire over and over again – in this case prayer and love of God – then that virtue becomes habituated in us and the other tendencies, though present, lose their power over us.  In short: Blondel is promoting fasting, penance, asceticism: by saying yes to one thing, we are saying no to a seeming infinite.

This may seem a bit dense – I am still unpacking this myself – but the principle is really simple: action has consequences, both positive and negative for the spiritual life.  When we are praying, many thoughts enter our minds.  We often give too much credence to these distractions.  What Blondel has been helping me with in my spiritual life is to see that a) the spiritual life is a battle and b) that I have a freedom over what I act on with the grace of God as my help.

The Spiritual Life is a Battle

The fact that there is one thing I can only choose against an infinite number of other choices seems daunting, but my experience is in accord with that truth.  Thus, I allow myself to be overwhelmed with the infinite and do not see the power of the choice.  The choice for that deeper value, that truth – God’s love and grace present in my life – has a power over my other tendencies and desires.  In short, when I am praying or choosing to pray, I have a choice: I can listen to those distractions or I can shut them up.  Yet the only way I can begin to shut-up the distractions is by acting on the good grace that has been given me by God.  Action is the only means to experiencing the freedom of God’s love.  If I stand around and allow the distractions to overwhelm me, then I allow the distractions to take hold and either do nothing or allow the distractions to become habituated in my life through action.  We act no matter what: what will we do with this necessary action: that is up to us with God’s help.

So, it is a battle, a fight against concupiscable desires.  It means it will not be easy, but it means, in each moment, saying “YES” to the Lord and no to the other desires that hinder us from following Him.  As we continue the battle, we will find ourselves more attuned to the grace given then the possible sins.  Yes is the means to freedom.

Freedom to Act on God’s Grace

When we are praying, many distractions come up.  When we desire to pray many distractions come up.  Distractions are a natural part of life; they are the unfortunate adversary of our spiritual life.  When we are in prayer though, we may be praying the rosary when suddenly the idea pops in our head: “oh yeah, I need to get that organized for tomorrow.”  We cannot, per se, control that: distractions will lessen the more we choose in our actions the Lord.  However, when the distraction arises, we act on it: “I have a choice in front of me: I can either give into the distraction and listen to it while I say my rosary or I can concentrate on the mystery I am praying.”  It really is that simple!  Do you choose Jesus or the distraction?  This is difficult at first – unfortunately most of us are habituated to letting the infinite desires take a reign in our life – and thus it causes suffering, pain, and effort.  But the freedom that comes from it is worth it and we experience the joy of that when we make that firm choice in our action for the Lord: “I will focus on that mystery”.

These, in the end, are just preliminary thoughts I have had about Blondel and the prayer life.  I have found it helpful, and I know I have to “unpack” a lot more of his thought (I am only half-way through L’Action) in order to see how much benefit it has.  I have a feeling it will only get better.

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The Gnosticism of the Atheists

I invite you to watch this first:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2011/oct/24/richard-dawkins-video-interview

 

The Dawkins interview begins at 1:50.  The funny thing, everything he describes religion to be can be attributed to atheism, demonstrating it to be just as religious as any religion.

But that is not the point of this post (though I find it funny that he says he never said that religion is pernicious, though he thinks it is…the illogicality of his arguments are not worth the time here.  Though his criticisms of the business element of religion in America is, I think, spot on).

The audio interview (which is 30 minutes long) is here where he made is famous statement:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/audio/2011/oct/24/john-harris-national-conversations-podcast-richard-dawkins

My point is the comment he makes about the fact that Jesus would have been an atheist.  Here is the excerpt:

“I wrote an article called ‘Atheists for Jesus,’ I think it was… Somebody gave me a t-shirt: ‘Atheists for Jesus.’ Well, the point was that Jesus was a great moral teacher and I was suggesting that somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.”

It is this comment that I have a beef with, but not the fact that it has anything to do with Jesus.  Silly remarks like that are not worth anyone’s time and are non-offensive to me.  The interesting comment, rather, is the idea that Jesus was “too intelligent” to be a theist.  In other words: only smart people are atheists, anyone who believes in God is stupid, irrational, and not part of the special “intelligentsia”.

When I heard this, the first thought that popped into my mind was the ever-ancient (and therefore ever-present!) heresy of Gnosticism.  What is Gnosticism?  Gnosticism is, in a certain sense, a difficult heresy to pin down.  A common overarching feature of many Gnostic movements, however, was the concept of a secret knowledge.  If you were one of the select few to have access to that secret knowledge, then you would be among the “saved” and “enlightened ones”.  In short, many atheists (though not all) fall into this category: if you were just smart enough, you would be an atheist too.  In short, only smart people are “the saved” of the world according to the new atheists, while the rest of us are still “ignorant and in our sin” of theism.  I don’t have much more to say about it, except for the utter arrogance of such a position.  It also demonstrates how evolution is no longer simply a science for them, but a way of life with the Origin of Species as their bible.  I am not contra evolution as a science, but I am contra evolution as a philosophy.  In short, they are the dominant ones, the ones who have the surest hope of salvation.  And what is their salvation?  The enlightened position of knowing the truth.  That is all.  There is nothing more afterwards, no immortality.  In fact, there is no meaning, no purpose and, therefore, no rationality and reasonableness to the world.  Their salvation is nihilism, though most refuse to admit this aspect because the dreadedness of nihilism is too much for most people to bear, save people like Nietzsche.

My point is simply that the arrogance of some atheists as enlightened and smarter than all the rest who are not enlightened because they aren’t smart enough is really just a logical conclusion of evolution as a philosophy (NOT a science: I am not arguing against the scientific merits of evolution, and need to state that again to ensure no one misunderstands me).  It is they who are the new breed of humans, the next stage in the evolutionary ladder, and we are the ones who will eventually be kicked off and into the past to be forgotten.  It is arrogant in so many ways, and most of all because it has no basis in reality. Man is religious by nature and looks for religious expression.  The New Atheists are no different: their’s is a religion with no god or gods, yet it is a religion in every way many other religions are religion: it is a submission of self to a system of beliefs that require faith in something ultimately and purely unproveable by reason alone.  You cannot argue for the non-existence of God: it is logically impossible.  Dawkins is one to equate God with faeries, goblins, unicorns, etc.  However, this is a non-starter and really quite silly since the concept of God – just as a concept, not necessarily as a reality – is of a totally other order than faeries and unicorns.  The fact that he equates the concepts of God and faeries demonstrates his inability to think subtly and logically about logically different things.  So, as I was saying, it is logically impossible to argue the non-existence of God and, I would say, it requires just as much belief, if not more, to believe in the non-existence of God than His existence.  (And note, I used the term belief there, not faith, for they are different things, something for another post).  The atheists are religious and their religion is gnostic atheism.  They will shout and scream and tell everyone to be enlightened like they are, but one day their light will dim and will be a blip on the screen of history, while faith in God manifested in Christ Jesus will reign on in the world.

On a final note, I want to take one more point to task against Dawkins and the New Atheists.  Many of them – and Dawkins does in the interview – mistake religion to be a moral enterprise.  They think that religion is only about morality, that people become or stay religious because of its moral principles.  I have heard many people say that they appreciate Christianity for that reason, but nothing more.  However – and I can only speak for Christianity here and am about to be hyperbolic to prove a point – Christianity has nothing to do with morality.  Obviously, morality is a part of the Christian life, but people do not become Christians to be moral people.  That is, actually, quite a boring reason and will ultimately not hold up.  People become Christians because they believe that Jesus is Who He says He is.  Moral actions follow, but they are not the raison d’etre of Christianity.  They are secondary (and important) and not primary.  Thus when he talks about morality and religion, he misunderstands Christianity at the very least and other religions as well I am quite sure.  It plays into a common misconception of religion, and it is partly the fault of people who used religion to promote their own moral values.  Moral values are important and essential, but they are not the basis of religious life.  This is why I must admit frustration when people say “I’m a good person, isn’t that enough?”  It is not enough because it is not what religion and especially what Christianity is about in the first place.  It is about falling in love with Jesus Christ and encountering and loving Him in others.  Jesus doesn’t care if you are a good person (though, obviously, he does to an extent): He cares about you loving His Father and serving Him in others because we are made for Him.

I also think, as a sidenote, that he completely misunderstands faith.  I have not had a chance to read it, but I recommend Avery Dulles’ book “The Assurance of Things Hoped For: A Theology of Faith” where he demonstrates the Christian concept of faith as being very different from the atheistic perspective of Christian Faith.

http://www.amazon.ca/Assurance-Things-Hoped-Theology-Christian/dp/0195109732/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1319906605&sr=8-3

 

in Christ

-Harrison

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A Philosophical Aside

I have been giving a lot of thought to the realm of ontology as of late, especially with regards to the nature of concepts as they dwell in the mind and how being plays a role in that.

This has been initiated in me by virtue of a book I am reading by the name of Medieval Philosophy Redefined: The Development of Cenoscopic Science, AD354 to 1644 (From the Birth of Augustine to the Death of Poinsot).  Not the catchiest of titles, I know.  But it constantly brings up the idea of conceptualism.  This has been built on in my thinking by a series of lectures I have been listening to as of late by Hans Boersma, an excellent theologian who teaches at Regent College in Vancouver.  One of his talks brought up the topic of nominalism, terminalism, and conceptualism, that things exist in the mind independent of the reality which they signify.

Anyways, because of all this, I have begun to wonder that perhaps concepts are not so abstract and independent as we like to think.  What I am about to say is based in what I find to be in North American culture at least to be a very strong anti-intellectualism.  We see ideas as abstract, not based in reality, having no basis in the real world.  Ideas, for most people, are seperate.  They live in their own world of the mind and have no real connection to the reality of life.  We can thank Kant for that, as well as people such as William of Ockham.  This view proposes that thinking about things is a pointless exercise because thinking and ideas are not practical.  When people say this, you can replace the word “practical” with the word “real” because that is the meaning they intend.  Ideas are not really real, they are only things that float in the mind independent of reality.  People see the external world and the internal mind as totally and completely separate from each other.  Of course I am universalizing here, but I think it is a fair view of our cultural attitude in North America.

So, what does this all have to do with ontology?  First, for those who do not know what ontology is, it is simply a fancy term to talk about the study of being, the study of things as they are, the study of things in their essence.  People tend to see beings as autonomous atoms.  This person is different from that person and thus there is no real union or participation between these two people.  The same is said with regards to inanimate objects, such as rocks, or chairs (chairs are a favourite example of philosophers 🙂 ).  There is no real relation between one being and another, only a perceived relation which occurs through an interaction through the senses.  Thus, when I sit in the chair, there is a relation that is perceived, but in the end that which I am sitting on has no real connection with me because it is different and autonomous from me.

But what I am getting at with this is the concept of…concepts!  If we look at a chair, then we have an idea of a chair in our minds, and we can even have an idea of this particular chair.  The issue is that we see the concept in our mind as totally and completely detached from the real object in reality.  We see this chair as a chair, but my thought about the chair has no real bearing on me or on the world.  It is in most of our eyes an abstraction and thus not truly real.

I wish to challenge this notion by proposing a more traditional ontology, and that is an ontology that is both relational and participatory (ie: sacramental).  A sacramental ontology presupposes both relations and participation.  It sees a real connection between what is in the mind and what is in reality.  There are intermediaries (hence why it is a sacramental ontology) because we cannot have the chair actually in our mind, for example.  But when we look at a chair, we have an image of that chair in our mind and it evokes the sense of chairness in our mind.  We cannot deny the real relation; our mind is participating in the reality of this chair as it is and in the essence of chairness.  Our mind is fundamentally changed by virtue that our person has interacted with a being in a new way.

This is all rather scattered, overly universal, and does not have the sufficient nuances yet.  It is simply an idea I am toying around with, but wanted to get on paper.  But if we see the world and ideas as intimately related instead of violently divorced, then we come to see that, truly and really, ideas have consequences and that ideas are not abstractions but are practical in every sense of the word because they are real for they are a mental representation of the reality in which we interact in.

in Christ

-Harrison

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