Friday, March 2, 2012

As far as the East is from the West...

so Westians will divide eros and agape.

There is much written into that one choice of word, faces, in the phrase, the two faces of love; a major implication being they are two faces of one body. For the phrase goes, "the two faces of love", and not "the two faces of the two bodies of love". The love is one.

Kevin O'Brien brings this to light in his substantive, clarifying post, The Unity of Love; and the subject has me thinking.

In a manner of speaking, they are two faces not beside each other or one facing the other, so much as one behind the other, both alternately and simultaneously; either one of them at times becoming more prominent through the other, but with the other face still being read through the more prominent one, and because of it, the more prominent becomes more beautiful.

This happens at its foremost when seeing the person of Christ in another person.

No wonder that Fr. Cantalamessa ends his homily with these words:

I want to share with you, with simplicity, what I think he would say to us; it will serve to make our examination of conscience on love:

Ardent love:

Is to put Me always in the first place;
Is to seek to please Me at every moment;
Is to live before Me as friend, confidant, spouse and to be happy;

Is to be troubled if you think you are far from Me;
Is to be full of happiness when I am with you;
Is to be willing to undergo great sacrifices so as not to lose Me;

Is to prefer to live poor and unknown with Me, rather than rich and famous without Me;
Is to speak to Me as your dearest friend in every possible moment;
Is to entrust yourself to Me in regard to your future;
Is to desire to lose yourself in Me as end of your existence.

If it seems to you, as it does to me, that you are very far from this aim, we must not be discouraged. We have one who can help us reach it if we ask him. Let us repeat with faith to the Holy Spirit: "Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium et tui amoris in eis ignem accende" (Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love).

You would not gather as much by reading West's chapter in which he uses Cantalamessa's homily and - to borrow O'Brien's words - drives it into the ground.

West does not seem to see that in their separation, eros and agape cease to resemble themselves (cease to be themselves), and thus trying to bring them together according to the terms that the world gives them to us as, is perilous; that finally, in the end result of "eros without agape", you will not have eros. And in the end result of "agape without eros", you will not have agape. The person will find that even that which he had will be taken away from him.

For, again, Cantalamessa speaks of the dangers of the final results of persisting in agape without eros. That is, there is the danger of one's love becoming mere "imposition of the will" without "participation of the whole being", but that would not be the final result. Because we are human persons - or as the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum - man finally turns to something else. As Cantalamessa says, it could result in a case in which "more or less licit compensations are sought, to the point of the very painful cases that are afflicting the Church".

But what of this final turning to something else, this final end result, for those prone to eros without agape?

Would it not be true to say they would pervert the component linked to the religious sense, to transcendence? And what is truly religious but the Revelation of Christianity? They go to paganism like it was second-nature. But not paganism that never knew of Revelation before; that's impossible to go back to. Paganism today is pretty well defined by its very turning away from Revelation and by that very process, corrupting its symbology. It defines itself through its inversion of Christianity. To take Gill's "I was Catholic but I just didn't know it" bullcrap statement, and make a few adjustments: I found a thing in my mind and I opened my eyes and found it in front of me. You don't become a New Pagan by joining the Church of Latter Day Sex Magicians; you join the Church of Latter Day Sex Magicians because you are a New Pagan.

In other words, what is found at the heart of Revelation which is Jesus Christ, in whose flesh is the true unveiling, and in whom is found the perfect unity of agape and eros - this is assimilated, and West teaches it is found revealed within our own bodies - the key to our sexual redemption is in our bodies as they are reduced to their sexuality.

Taken to it's utter extremity, I'm reminded of something that an exorcist said in an article. I can't remember who it was or his exact words (I do remember the article was not hysterical but sensible in tone), but he warned that it wasn't just those who dabble in the explicit occult (or other worse forms) who are at risk of demonic infestation, but also those who fornicate: they can open themselves to it, and indeed, do so, perhaps in increments of which they are not aware.

The gist was, that at its darkest, two people having exhausted the carnal dimensions of the flesh, their sexual act, in opening themselves to the ever more degrading forms of carnality, becomes a sort of demonic ritual, in which they open themselves to portals by which evil spirits may infest them. They're taking it to a new level. It becomes "religious" after its own form of mutual objectification.

(But behind everything there is something that is good, right? Yes, Christopher West, behold, it is very good! By the way, what of the sudden phenomenon of torture porn, and the more recent and more disturbing phenomenon of what are termed "haunted houses" in which people pay to be abused and tortured in psycho-sexual fashion - what say you about those Christopher West? Tragic, but good to be found in it?)

What is the point? Only this: both extremes of both deprivations, that is, the extremes of agape without eros and the extremes of eros without agape, end up in the same place.

But not so with Christopher West. No, sexuality has become the great incorruptible, the Christ that cannot be defeated by Puritanism the Devil, though Puritanism the Devil may distort it. It rises again from ashes to create itself anew. Our sexuality holds the "key" to our redemption, so no matter about reducing a person to it then. So likewise in his treatment of the "two faces of love".

He is redefining them (eros and agape) by dint of their separation, even as he advocates their coming together. You want to see a prime example of eros without agape, and agape without eros? Just read Christopher West's reduction of them to "sexuality" and "spirituality". And then he uses his you're-just-a-hypocritical-body-hater cudgel, what he terms "the Puritanical BS that passes for Christianity."

I mean, here he is saying it:

That's why he reduces them to those things which they are not - because he separates them.

In talking about bringing them together, he is dividing them. Just like when he talks about "enfleshing", he is being Manichean.

Isn't that the weirdest thing?

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