Looking Inward

What if I were to stop reading voraciously, literally as if my life depended on it? What if I were to stop browsing the web constantly, craving it whenever I’m awake? What if I were to stop looking for the ideas or words of others to save me, to bring me solace, and instead simply looked inward?

Looking inward, can I find anything that is not just tropes recycled from everything I’ve taken in from the outside world? Can I find anything that exists prior to all that sensory input, rational processing, animal instinct, and social conditioning?

How would I distinguish the voice of my Self from all the other voices chattering inside my head?

I’m not quite sure, but I think it is at least time to start listening.

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Everyone’s been talking about how 
the universe will either expand 
indefinite cold star death
or collapse and then repeat itself

meanwhile i’m a slave proper
in every sense of the word physical
bound to the elements hunger
a criminal for speaking my thoughts aloud

a loud or a soft noise unheard
unseen and unknown and unthinkable
still I would try to define it
humanity, always effing the ineffable

i’m one and apart and the same all the same
the universe cloaked in name after name
every man and woman a star
in their own drama melodrama how dramatic

i am in a word addict
again you might say i’m back at it
rhyming with rhythm but static
sense or nonsense and i’ve had it 

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The Argument from Beauty: Another Defense of Christian Universalism ~ Section II

Two Kinds of Faith

The last section ended by stating that it may “take a bit of faith” to believe the message of universal salvation. However, I’ll argue now that is also takes faith–more faith, in fact–to believe that God will not eventually save all people. To see what I mean by this, begin by looking at the following quote from a different article I wrote:

“If God is Love, then surely he wants the best for every person. Many scriptures support this. 1 Timothy 2:4 says ‘God … wants all people to be saved’. He “does not want anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). I also believe God is powerful enough to accomplish whatever He wants. Isaiah 46:10 says ‘I (God) will accomplish all that I please’. When Christ’s disciples once asked him ‘Who can be saved?’, part of his response was, ‘With God, all things are possible’, by which we can infer: God can save anyone! If God desires that every person be saved, and he is able to bring about all that he desires, how can anyone not be saved? The doctrine of eternal damnation suggests that either God’s love or God’s power is deficient.”

From An Argument for Christian Universalism: Why I Don’t Believe in an Eternal Hell

In fact, there are many passages from the Christian Bible that indicate that God will save all people. Here are more examples.

Now, if you believe that the Christian scriptures were, in fact, inspired by God, all these scriptures should present you with a major problem if you also believe in an eternal hell. Setting aside, for the moment (I will return to the topic), the idea of free will, consider the faith now required to believe in eternal torment. You must now take it on faith that the statements from these scriptures, although inspired by God, are in some way not quite true.

Consider that the passage from Isaiah, quoted above, is not merely stating that God can accomplish whatever He desires, but that He will accomplish everything He desires. Then the other scriptures, quoted and linked to above, unequivocally state that He desires that no person “perish”, but that all people be saved. Therefore, from a scriptural standpoint, all people will be saved. To believe otherwise now requires a great deal of faith.

I’ll have more to say about “free will” later, but if one believes the passages quoted and linked to above, then one must conclude that no person will eternally and freely choose to not be saved, for God earnestly desires that all people be saved, and God will accomplish all He desires.

Again, the Christian scriptures say, “God is Agape (Love)” and “Agape never fails” (1 John 4:8, 1 Cor. 13:8). So, the “free will” of humans will not thwart God’s plans or wishes. Universalism is the only position that is in full harmony with the nature of God, as described by Christians and the Christian scriptures

So, if one believes that these scriptures were inspired by God, it should now take less faith to believe that God will save all people than it takes to believe that He will not. To believe that He will not save all people requires one to somehow believe that God’s nature is not what scripture says it is. One must believe that either He will not, in fact, accomplish all that He wishes to accomplish, or that He will accomplish all He wants, but He simply does not want to save everyone. If you believe the scriptures, you’ll realize that only Universalism causes no contradictions about the nature of God. So, to believe otherwise, I imagine, would take a lot of faith.

So, you must now choose between two beliefs. They both require faith. One of these beliefs, however, requires faith that contradicts both scripture and the Divine Nature. The other belief requires faith that agrees with scripture, and thus ascribes only the best attributes to the nature of God.

One of these beliefs is the belief that Being/Reality is beautiful. The other belief amounts to a perception of a Reality that is ultimately not beautiful at all.

If you must, by faith, choose between one idea that life is beautiful, and another idea that life is not beautiful, wouldn’t you rather believe in that which is beautiful?

Beauty is a Big Deal

As I began doing my research for this series, I became acutely aware that, until now, I had not given the concept of “Beauty” nearly the amount of thought that it merits. I further realized that I was not alone in this.

It turns out that Beauty is a central concept in sacred literature from all religious traditions. Moreover, it is a pervasive concept in science, mathematics, metaphysics, and mysticism. Indeed, for how central the concept is to the grander domains of human thought, it is given shockingly little popular attention. Or rather, the popular attention is directed mostly towards cheap social ideas of beauty, such as those that the magazine covers urge us to strive for. However, beauty, as a concept, is far more than skin-deep.

Here are just a few examples:

  • In the Genesis account of the creation, when God proclaims everything “good” over and over again, the word translated as “good” is the Hebrew word טוֹב, which also means “beautiful”.
  • In Jewish, Christian, and mystical traditions, the idea of “completion” is central. In Genesis, for example, God declares His work “finished”, and then rests on the seventh day due to that fact. Thus, the number seven is associated with completion. Also, just before Jesus died on the cross, He is said to have proclaimed, “It is finished”. This theme of completion is closely connected in religious and linguistic ways to both the concept of “perfection” and the concept of “beauty”.
  • Beauty has long been, and continues to be, a guiding principle in mathematics and science. This is related to the mathematical/scientific concept of “symmetry”, which has long been thought indicative of a theory’s likelihood to express something true. This emphasis on symmetry has come under attack in the last few years, but the likely result will not be that we jettison the idea of symmetry entirely, but rather, that we balance it more appropriately with other principles. This, I believe, will not amount to a rejection of beauty as a guiding principle. As explained below, it will more likely result in a more subtle definition of mathematical/scientific beauty.
  • While mathematics and science have long sought beauty in symmetry, Heraclitus proclaimed millenia ago that “the most beautiful arrangement is a pile of things poured out at random”. The word he used for “arrangement”, naturally, was the Greek word “κόσμος”, that is, “Kosmos”, from which we get the English word “Cosmos”.
  • If Heraclitus was correct, and if the contemporary scientific consensus about the general randomness of the universe is correct, then perhaps Leibniz, though ridiculed for supposing that we inhabit “the best of all possible worlds”, was also correct. I digress. However, my point is also that there are infinite such digressions, and so it turns out that “Beauty” will lead us on a very deep and wide journey.
  • Consider the common fact that the human perception of beauty in another human face is directly related to the symmetry of that face. However, upon second thought, this is only partly true, as the symmetry in question is entirely that of symmetry across the vertical axis. Were a human face to be also symmetrical across the horizontal axis, it would not look beautiful. It would look grotesque.
  • Perhaps then, beauty is actually a balanced juxtaposition of symmetry and non-symmetry. That is, perhaps it is equal parts Heraclitus and contemporary mathematics/science. After all, isn’t the beauty of life, in all its diversity, on planet earth, in some way the beauty of the juxtaposition of all that order against the background of apparent cosmic randomness and chaos?

I’ll conclude this line of thought for now, as I think I’ve sufficiently illustrated just how far the contemplation of Beauty can take us. This illustration doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface, as we will later see.

Shame is Also a Big Deal

What is shame?

May I propose that shame is nothing other than our perception of ourselves as being ugly in a deeper-than-cosmetic sense. We often feel shame when we commit deeds that we perceive as ugly deeds.

Note: this chapter on shame will not end here. It is presently unfinished, but will be completed shortly.

Much more to come very soon…

Here is a very rough, very early outline of future sections in The Argument from Beauty. These are personal notes made into a mindmap.

The author lovingly dedicates this article to the memory of two dear friends: Gary Amirault, who passed from this world on November 3rd, 2018, and his wife, Michelle Amirault, who preceded him in death on July 31st, 2018. Gary and Michelle lived their lives passionately in love with Love, and on behalf of Love. Indeed, this article would likely have never come to be, were it not for Gary and Michelle’s love. Gary and Michelle tirelessly promoted what they called the “Victorious Gospel”, otherwise known as Christian Universalism or Universal Reconciliation. In short, they proclaimed to the world that “Love Wins”. Tentmaker Ministries (https://tentmaker.org/) is just one of their enduring legacies.

Far more importantly, however, Gary and Michelle were both the embodiment of the kind of relentless love that they preached. They were the warmest, kindest, most hospitable people I have ever known. I believe that anyone who was graced with knowing them personally would say exactly the same thing.

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how can i afford the cure? 
the cure is my disease
how can i speak with words still pure? 
my doctor poisons me
yet will i laud
and make it
the words of the wise
are plainly lost 

Written ca. 2011

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like koans
halting in their tracks
your logical thought
processes like a train, black and long
when it runs in a padded room
small, silent, white

Written ca. 2006

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the angel called out to me
But I said, 
“what will I recite with these unclean lips? “

So the angel ripped my larynx
out of my throat
and set it on fire
until it burned to ashes

then I began to recite

ca. 2011

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Just More Nonsense From Within Our Captivity

i and i wept
by the waters of Knoxville
remembering Zion
repatriation, what a notion
slowly, we came to our senses

the brave new world
closing in around us
we sought our refuge
at the doors of perception

timothy leary and
Marcus Garvey
were on a bad trip
together one day
when it began to snow outside
like grace
from heaven, falling
i was there with them
the angel of death

my thanatalivity
is all i know now
i will make it
to the end

ca. 2012

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Very rough, very early outline of upcoming issues in the Argument from Beauty series (personal notes made via a mindmap)

  • Rational analysis allows for indifferent creators, but one way is driven by fear, and the other by courage to believe in the beautiful
  • No beauty without suffering
    • Micro suffering, like working in an office
      • Armchair philosophy or theology vs trench philosophy or theology
    • No empathy without suffering
  • What would Jung say about The Beautiful
    • The whole field of aesthetics
    • What did Plato say about the beautiful
      • Platonic aesthetics
  • Choosing what you believe
    • The ubermensch
    • Scripture as a divine evolutionary rorschach test
      • A lot of scripture and life to support this
    • Haireo heresy
  • The beautiful is also the good, the truth, the life, and Love itself
    • God is: the logos, Agape, a burning fire, what else? Also the many Jewish names for god
      • Fascinating that Bible doesn’t say Jesus is God. Back to the element of personal choice and haireo heresy
      • Burning fire as metaphor or as panentheistic. Cf gnostic gospels with Jesus saying panentheistic things about himself. Also eat my flesh and drink my blood
      • Does the Greek also say love is God?
    • Eternal life is a quality of life that transcends what we think of as life
    • Aletheia is unforgettable because it is beautiful
  • The fundamental problem of philosophy
    • The need for other sources of knowledge (emotion/intuition/BEAUTY)
    • In light of relativism, but distinguished from relativism
  • Mentions of beauty in scripture
  • The opposite of beautiful
    • Beauty wealth success
    • Our cultural obsession with beauty
    • So what is truly unbeautiful?
      • Indifference
        • Beauty is a passion
          • People seek meaning, experience of being alive, or is it all beauty we’re after?
          • Empiricism and rationalism take passion out of knowledge
          • Nihilism.. Removing the beauty from the cosmos
          • Christians take passion out of love
    • Humble
    • Jesus was not physically beautiful
    • Buddha is a shit stick
  • The philology of beauty
    • Whatever is lovely, think on these things
      • Corinthians love verse as meditation on the beautiful
      • How little we meditate on beauty that isn’t skin deep
    • Love as the glue of the universe
      • The unforgivable sin
        • Unforgiveness as unforgivable
          • On the surface, blasphemy seems less grave Than torturing someone to death, for example
          • Forgiveness comes from seeing the good
            • Love doesn’t take evil into account
      • Beauty as the connecting or ordering principle in cosmos
        • Logos as connecting ordering principle
          • When meaning becomes desire in the Buddhist sense
            • Our purpose driven life obsession doesn’t seem biblical
          • Meaning, beauty, suffering as ultimate subjectives
            • Subjective meaning as haireo
              • As many paths to God as there are subjective beings
          • Logos as story or meaning
        • Most beautiful arrangement per heraclitus
    • Idolatry
      • A life purpose
      • Everything Pursuit but perfect love/beauty
        • The beauty in the love of Mary magdelines TWO annointings
          • Jesus wagered his life on his conviction that love conquers death
        • Only those conquer death
        • Only those are separate from egoic construed self
      • Romantic love
      • Beauty you can see eidol
    • Beauty, like love, conquers the good/evil duality
      • God created, then “saw” that it was good
        • Goodness, beauty, completion, perfection, bride,
          • The finished work
            • The ache of the unfinished
              • Longing
              • Gestation
              • Labor pains
    • Eye of the beholder and:
      • beauty and suffering as most objective things there are
    • Biblical theology can go either way, but only one way is beautiful
    • Love is the only thing that makes things beautiful
      • If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me
      • Sans love, all is grotesque
      • The innocence and purity seen in pets/animals in contrast to humans (think sneebles and phoebe), combined with realization that it is because of love; otherwise, they are grotesque
    • Faith, the substance of things not seen. The evidence of things hoped for
    • God is the only thing there is… Thus, the restoration of all back into god
      • The passion of a God who:
        • Weeps because the people were like sheep without a Shephard
          • Pursues beings across eons to rescue them from samsara… Their eons of suffering… Of being alone
            • Death being mercy to beings who have no rest, who ruin their souls, who need a new start.. A new morning/day
              • Like sleep is mercy from the day’s weariness
            • Song of Solomon
          • Expedient/skillfull means. Upaya
          • Hangs naked on a cross asking only for the forgiveness of those who know not what they do (also, beautiful) … Perish lack of knowledge
          • The people perish for lack of knowledge
    • Upside Down
      • Spiritual economics of scarcity
        • Scarcity is manmade
          • Economics of scarcity is perpetuated by the economists of rational self interest
            • Self interest is death
          • Man is not rational
            • The.commodification of reason
            • The repression of depth psychology (yes, irony)
            • The pathologizing of emotion
            • Rational self interest and scarcity are like holding only to classical physics when we’re in the cusp of post quantum physics
          • Man is to blame for spiritual scarcity
          • Nature has scarcity, but man is made to conquer it
      • Twitter follow ratio (Twitter rewards people for having “followers” whom they do not follow back. In other words, it rewards the having of “followers”, rather than “friends” or “connections”)
    • Finished Work
    • ETTMT (Pragmatic, but:

    By their fruit you will know them) text the spirits.. You know not of what spirit you are

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    Hubris Geneseos

    Kerouac, if i share your life
    must i also share your death? 
    the inherent conflict lies in striving
    only to be laid to rest

    it weaves itself like black golden thread
    through our dreams before we were human
    collectively we are so much less
    so much more
    and soon

    then i was face to face 
    with the limits of love and grace
    and every word i said
    echoed back at me in the silence of my own mind

    there, no sorrow
    there, no regret
    there, only me
    and yet
    and yet…

    the hubris of giving birth
    is the prime mover of this universe
    and bearing the light, if i consume
    my body, my soul, inside this womb
    and draw all men into myself
    until i am a living, breathing, burning tomb

    until reality is compounded and condensed in me
    until i’m a light which cannot see 

    ca. 2011

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    it’s ready to happen
    hours count down to launch, but the burners hum already
    the structure is taken up
    siphons slowly into the bloodstream

    the catalyst, the moment
    the agonist, the imitator

    the perceptual set is set, and it’s famished
    not even lit, and it’s waiting for more- 
    the stimulant, the ignition
    the doctor, the system

    like inlets of blood, the freeways carry us to the city
    like carcinogens, like poison medication
    like aluminum, like exhaust

    i too am carried
    and when i reach that center
    i am deposited, and begin to take effect
    while i wait for my own poison to take hold of me
    blood within Blood
    poison in Poison
    medication in Medication in MEDICATION
    we make sure all of our cancers are medicated

    it has happened already
    but i am waiting for it to happen again
    the freeway now quiets itself in anticipation
    a new day to repeat
    the city is ready for more

    ca. 2006

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