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An Argument for the Incarnation

The argument against incarnation is pretty clear.  Let’s say you believe in some ultimate reality — a transcendental source of creation, being of all beings and perfection of all perfections.  How could that being be a particular person?  How could it be born, die, go to the bathroom?  What does that even mean?

An argument for incarnation is that if we think about such a Being of All beings, it is already incarnating in us, as we are thinking that thought.  And we are born, die, and go to the bathroom.

So, everybody believes in incarnation.  The only questions that are left (and they’re important) are how, why, and who?  For a long time the last question was answered “my guy (or lady) and definitely not yours.”  But now that the human race has invented WMD that answer is too dangerous for anybody of good will to maintain seriously. It’s also, once you get to know something about how these ideas pop up all over the place, pretty unsupportable.

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Barack-Benedict-Baruch on Nachman, Bach, and Philip K. Dick

After an honorable stint in public service Barack changed his name to first Benedict and then Baruch, and devoted himself to using words to bless.

I was puzzled by Rebbe Nachman (Hasidic sage and short story writer, Ukraine b.1772 d. 1810) because he extolled simplicity — he used to say “Ay! Prustik!” to his followers and “Prustik” really means simplicity in the sense in which say of somebody that he is “simple” — i.e. it is a hair’s breadth from “stupid” — but himself was smart and convoluted as a ram’s horn, a proto-post-modern Kafka weaving self-referential kabbalistic novellas in the shtetl.

How?  Why?  Why would somebody so complicated be so in favor of simplicity?  And it has, you know as the kids like to say, a political dimension.  Because he founded a little guru cult which believes all sorts of simple stuff — that Nachman himself is the Messiah, basically magic, that he had secret books with secret messages.  No better than Dan Brown fascist-traditionalist hoo-ha.  So it’s, so to speak, a bummer.  All that intelligence just to start another dopey cult.  What good is it?

Baruch said: Do you think he was just a sad tormented guy, that his intelligence brought him no comfort, so out of kindness he advocated stupidity.

No, I don’t think that.  I said to Baruch. That’s a soap opera. That’s boring. That’s stupid. I don’t believe life is so boring.

Barack smiled — a winning smile!  Right.  So then we have to say that he bound the wing of the bird in order to make the bird enjoy it even more when it flew free!

Oh!

Like Bach, he said.  At his best Bach gets more and more dissonant and you can’t wait for it to resolve.   But get this.  The old Lutheran maestro never resolves, or at his best he does not resolve in rest.  He resolves in motion.  As if an airplane plummeting to earth pulls out of a dive but doesn’t land, but just lands on top of a much bigger, faster airplane.

I get it.

What do you think of Philip K. Dick he asked me later that evening, after coffee?

Great science fiction writer, great gnostic.  He took the cheesey stage machinery of pulp science fiction and used it in the service of deep ideas about reality and man’s place in an absurd universe.

You’re being a little simple said Benedictus.  Maybe he was able to do that because those Gnostic Heresiarchs were doing cheesey science fiction all along.

I don’t agree!  I said. I think those heresiarchs were bending the wing, and Philip K. Dick let that wing finally fly free!

I loved my idea!  I loved my President!

You got it he said as he helped me into my car.  I was really drunk.  I had had interesting conversations, met a major celebrity, and drunk martinis, wine, and port.  Do you know what you call that?

I did not.

A Philip K-Denza.

 

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Analogy of Being

God exists but not like a tack exists

Not exactly, but by analogy.

And so I asked my friend, my teacher Dreyfus

Who knew many of the old songs that nobody remembered any longer how to sing

(Although we would also ask each other — if there is something everyone could do —

but chooses not to do — and don’t their whole life long — do they remember it — or do they not?)

What does that mean?  Because I understand the analogy between, say, a frog and a man —

here are the legs, there are the legs, here are the eyes, there are the eyes, but one is small and soft and lives in water, the other big and tough and lives in a house —

But what is the analogy between how something could be and something else could be?  Where are the parts to tick off — this one the same, this one different?

And he said chuckling “Maybe the Being of God is only spoken of as being analogical

By analogy.”

Everything passes away, especially teachers, either because we choose not to learn from them anymore, because it is time, or for the usual reasons.

Nevertheless I can’t help but notice things, or maybe I can help but notice things, but choose not to (better than to have them notice me first and get the jump on me, right?  Right?)

I’ll tell you another thing he taught me.  When we turn eternity into a castle and pull up the ladder and stay there during the earthquake

The earthquake and the riots that follow claim our family. Not just our family, our hearts, our bodies, our pain, our pleasure, our everything, and we trapped up in the castle’s attic are left with nothing at all.

Til like Dorothy we fly away.

 

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