The Website of Unknowing: further thoughts

A while back, I wrote a post about a Christian blog.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/intelligent-christian-blog-the-website-of-unknowing/

And that blogger wrote a post about my post.

http://anamchara.com/2009/12/03/aslan-may-not-be-tame-but-what-are-we-to-be/

Here are my comments so far on that post:

My use of the word ‘tame’ certainly wasn’t an insult by any means. It might not have been the best word to describe the writings in this blog. Words such as ‘tame’ and ‘wild’ are relative.

My own sense of spirituality is informed by some more ‘wild’ thinkers: Carl Jung, Robert Anton Wilson, Terrence McKenna, William S. Burroughs, and Philip K. Dick. I’m also fond of many ‘tame’ thinkers, but it’s hard to say who is ‘tame’. Is Ken Wilber ‘tame’? Is Jiddu Krishnamurti ‘tame’? Certainly, Rumi isn’t ‘tame’.

Mysticism seems to be one of the most central themes of McColman’s blog. And an interest that I share. Any mystic worth their salt probably isn’t ‘tame’. But outwardly a mystic may appear ‘tame’.

Partly what I meant in labelling McColman as tame is more about the subject matter of this blog. This blog seems to have a very clearly defined focus and McColman doesn’t seem to stray from it. My own mind wanders far and wide. The difference maybe simply be a difference of personality.

Some people see the purpose of religion (specifically religious practice) as a way of taming the individual (taming the senses, the desires, the will, or the mind), a way of training, of elevating, of directing human aspiration towards lofty ideals.

I understand that perspective, but it doesn’t overly appeal to my own sensibility. I’m more of a “God in the gutter” kind of guy. I’d probably be happier if I were more tame (i.e., disciplined and focused), but as it is that isn’t the way my life is. To me, spirituality feels more like a hunger that can’t be sated.

I have little doubt that “Wicks’ mature, grounded spirituality is better suited for the long haul than Crowder’s colorful but miracle-hungry vision.” Even so, it’s just not my way to be cautiously concerned about the long haul. Not every path is easy, but every person has to follow their own path where ever it leads.

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By the way, my mentioning “God in the gutter” (or “God in the garbage”) is a reference to the writings of Philip K. Dick. I highly recommend Gabriel Mckee’s book ‘Pink Beams of Light from the God in the Gutter’. This idea of Philip K. Dick’s is essentially the same as the theology of a hidden God. I wrote about it in a couple of blog posts.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/burroughs-pkd-and-ligotti/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/448/

However, the “God in the gutter” isn’t simply the idea of a hidden God. There is also an element of the Gnostic/Kabbalah notion of the divine fallen into the world. The divine, in this sense, isn’t tame, isn’t controllable. The divine is loose in the world and it’s probably to be found where ever you’re least likely to look for it.

This view of the divine reminds me of a vision of God Jung had as a child. It involved God sitting on a throne above a cathedral.

http://www.woodka.com/2008/07/16/carl-jung-and-the-cathedral/

There is something about the interplay between destruction and creation that intrigues me. To Philip K. Dick, God has to fall into the world in order to remake the world. It’s a fecund vision of transformation.

There is a feeling of danger and forbidenness in this portrayal of God. This God isn’t just love and light. Maybe there is even a connection to the Hindu portrayal of Kali dancing on Shiva’s corpse. Anyways, it’s a view that doesn’t easily fit into traditional/mainstream Christian doctrine.

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As I was considering my second response, I did a few websearches.  Here are some interesting things I found:

A nice article by Gabriel McKee

http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10516

And a Wikipedia article that uses Philip K. Dick as an example

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophany

The Darkness of God

I came across the view of God as described by Pseudo-Dionysius (AKA Dionysios or Denys the Areopagite).  It reminded me of Thomas S. Hibbs use of Blaise Pascal’s theology to gain a deeper understanding of Noir.  Hibbs focuses on the idea of God as hidden.  This also connects to various other writers I enjoy who comment on Noir especially in terms of Gnosticism (to be specific Victoria Nelson and Eric G. Wilson).  Along with all of this is the ancient connection of the divine with fear and terror, the experience of God as an overwhelming force such as what Job faced.

However, trying to write in detail about all of that in a single post would be more effort than motivation and time at present allows.  So, I’ll just share the following passage from Denys Turner’s book The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism (pp. 24-25).

Denys is quite emphatic about this and he repeats the warning on several occasions, so fraught with dangers did he consider a limited theological vocabulary to be.  In a pioous vocabulary of unshocking, ‘appropriate’ names, lies the danger of the theologian’s being all the more tempted to suppose that our language about God has succeeded in capturing the divine reality in some ultimately adequate way.  Tactically preferable is the multiplicity of vulgar images which, because they lack any plausibility as comprehensive or appropriate names, paradoxically have a more uplifting efficacy: ‘Indeed the sheer crassness of the signs is a goad so that even the materially inclined cannot accept that it could be permitted or true that the celestial and divine sights could be conveyed by such shameful things’.

There is good practical sense in this.  A ‘golden and gleaing’ God is too like what we might choose to praise; a God ‘enraged’, ‘cursing’ and ‘drunk and hungover’ might have greater power to shock us into a sense of divine transcendence by magnitude of the metaphorical deficiency.