Part I: The Noetic in Mariology
“’Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher,
‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.’
What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?...
All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3; 8-9).
According to Biblical tradition, King Solomon, Son of King David, authored the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon was granted by God more wisdom than any man who had ever lived or ever would (see 1 Kings 4:29-34; 2 Chronicles 1:7-12). If this is true, than Solomon may have been the greatest of all philosophers – philosophy being the “love of wisdom.” Yet, Solomon’s vast treasuries of knowledge came to the anti-climax: “All is vanity.” Could there be some correlation between love of wisdom and boredom with knowledge? Perhaps in the end, every ego longs to be released from its prison of self-reflection. Knowledge, in its contemporary meaning, is the reflection of one’s “self” in nature. Thus, man in the world is haunted by mirrors, trapped in the loneliness of subjectivism. Empirical experience alone is mere self-love, idolatry of the senses, pride of life. But every honest person yearns to live inside an Absolute which completely consumes the self, not destroying individuality, but taking a person’s focus away from his own being and onto the beloved’s. Unfortunately for some, and gratefully for others, the Almighty Beloved refuses to submit to empirical measurement. Thus, the human person must make a metaphysical choice. Is it easier or harder to love the uncertain? Is it even possible to love something that cannot be replicated or observed? Is love merely the perception of another in one’s own mind? Is reality a true relationship between potential equals or is reality merely a determined energy playing out its impersonal destiny? These are forms of that one great metaphysical question that has life-altering implications for all people, scientists, philosophers and theists alike.
As Peter Kreeft said in his lecture series, Questions of Faith:
So here’s our dilemma. The study from the outside seems like the only fair approach, it’s neutral and unprejudiced. But religion’s data is largely an inside affair, like love; and unless we have inside data, unless we have experience, we are bound to talk nonsense, like a two-year-old talking about sex, or a tone-deaf person about music. But to speak from inside is not to be neutral and unprejudiced, the lover is not neutral and unprejudiced about his love, he shouldn’t be if he’s a real lover; neither is the believer unprejudiced about his religion and he shouldn’t be… Somehow we need to combine both approaches.
Kreeft goes on to propose empathetic “listening” as a common method of knowing, valid in both empirical sciences and personal relationships. Only by unselfishly and imaginatively entering into the subjective experience of the object or other can the actual data of experience be received and processed. These are the two parts, in order, that make for intellectual honesty: first listen, then question. What is reality saying about itself? Do educators really teach how to listen to facts, or do they just force facts into an established worldview? Does reality speak more clearly through reason, or through relationship?
If the thesis of the above sections can be summarized by the statement that every human person, in accordance with his or her nature, constructs their logic upon a theological premise, then, the thesis of the following section is that the fullness of what it means to be human is embodied by the person whose life perfectly conforms to that theological premise which corresponds to Reality Itself. Orthodox Christianity claims this perfection was only realized by a woman, the Virgin Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God Incarnate. Immaculately conceived, Mary is the garden in which humanity and Divinity are consummated totally. The self-gift of God to mankind is fully received in her by Christ’s Grace, and the self-gift of humanity to God is perfected by her choice. No male reached the fullness of human-personhood, except that male who’s Person is Divine (although some traditions hold that Joseph, foster father of Jesus, was sinless after conception). The focus of this section is to investigate the actualization of human potential in Mary Immaculate, and to understand why this Catholic Dogma is vital to a philosophy of the human person. It is precisely a lack of vigilance in “listening” to one’s experiences which makes for mediocre truth-seekers, mediocre Christians, and mediocre professionals of any kind. If humility is the governing virtue of life, than the history of femininity is the vein of civilization closest to the heart of Truth, and to Christ. The noetic experience is like the feminine because it is submissive to Grace, it is still and receptive to the gentle drawing of God’s hand. The logos is the like masculine because it initiates Truth, it is the free-action of man and woman, rowing through the currents of Grace, creatively manipulating circumstance. The Immaculate Conception summarizes the whole situation of humanity since Adam and Eve, free in every way except to be uncreated, free to choose anything except not to choose, free from all Dogmas except the noetic absolute. The Annunciation of Mary represents mankind’s choice (if it were perfect as she was and is); it is the choice which Eve failed to make, the choice to be ‘overshadowed,’ to accept the darkness because the voice of God has said it will be best (cf. Luke 1:35). Eve, Mary, and the feminine are first in the intentions of God, the crowns of creation. It is Eve’s choice through which sin had to pass, it was Mary’s choice through which salvation has come, and it is the “feminine-preference” of each individual by which sanctity is achieved. All masculine actions must defer to her, who is Wisdom, the “fear of God,” the active-receptivity of man. Theologian David Schindler explicates:
Here, then, is how we can draw out the full richness of the (supra-)feminine dimension of the Son’s mission, while not confusing it with the (supra-)masculine dimension (both of which are ultimately rooted in the trinitarian processions). …the Son generates from within himself the Woman who freely receives him and who thus, in the economic dispensation, permits his “masculine” mission (representation of the Father) to come to fruition. If one might express it this way, the traditional “ex opere operato” requires the infallibility of a presence that is not only effectively offered but also initially received. This infallibility is guaranteed in its effectivity by Christ whose (“feminine”) fiat has been inscribed within that of Mary and the Church.
Thus the “feminine” dimension of Christ is best retrieved, not by blurring his distinctly “masculine” role as priest (as representative of the Father in and for the world) but, on the contrary, by drawing out more fully the intimacy of his spousal relation with the Church (through Mary). The intimacy is precisely that of a unity which does not eliminate distintness: in the economic order, Christ shares himself so completely with Mary, and Mary’s receptivity is so unconditional, that he thereby creates an “equality” (through infallible presence) that nonetheless does not eliminate difference. The Bridegroom becomes truly one with the Bride, even as they remain ever distinct.
In Man and Woman He Created Them: a Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II mined the Book of Genesis for its theological treasures. John Paul II saw in the creation narratives an explanation for the human condition, as well as a map of life. The importance of the stories is not found in the details of the physics and cosmology, but in the relationship between God and man, man and creation, and man and woman. In Genesis, the “original solitude” of man represents the recognition that man has of his own subjectivity as an “I,” and his radical separation from the rest of the animals in mind and in flesh. Man is self-conscious as well as self-determined. His “commandability” reveals his self-determinability in the passage: “You may eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for when you eat of it you shall certainly die” (Genesis 2:16-17). The fact that man is given rules – far from being a manifestation of God’s frivolity – is really a sign of His desire to be in covenant with man. “It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature.” The death with which man is threatened, is probably not, as is often supposed, merely the separation of body from soul, but rather the loss of God’s Spirit, the Life which animates man. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that Adam and Eve do not die physically when they eat from the tree of knowledge. Even though they do not avoid the Original Sin, the implication of God’s command was also the possibility of a life even greater than that which they possessed in “original innocence,” namely the Life of the Divine Nature, which is distinctly superior than the “image and likeness” man and woman’s shared through the initial creation (Genesis 1:26).
Woman was created to be a “helper” to man (this word “man” in Hebrew refers to all mankind) in realizing his full identity and to clarify for them both a mutual destiny (Genesis 2:18).
Despite the diversity in constitution tied to the sexual difference, somatic homogeneity is so evident that the man, on waking up from genetic sleep, expresses it immediately when he says, ‘This time she is flesh from my flesh and bone from my bones. She will be called woman because from man has she been taken’ (Gen 2:23). In this way, for the first time, the man (male) shows joy and even exaltation, for which he had no reason before, due to the lack of being similar to himself. Joy for the other human being, for the second “I,” dominates in the words the man (male) speaks on seeing the woman (female).
Woman does not take away man’s solitude, but reaffirms and consoles it; it is primarily a solitude of exclusivity between himself and God, an exclusivity woman and God also have. But Adam rejoices that he and Eve might be “alone together.” It is not until the revelation of woman that humanity’s purpose is finally unveiled to him. By “the inner dimension of vision,” man’s sight of the woman “opened up vistas closed to human reason, for [their unity] implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man [the human person], who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” The Divine Command in the Garden of Eden, therefore, might have been intended by God to be an opportunity for the final consummation of Adam and Eve’s covenant and self-gift back to God. Instead, Original Sin broadened the distance between mankind and God reducing the “inner vision” and destroying the integrity of body and soul which mankind had in its innocence.
The “probation period” (after the Divine Command and before the Fall), was like the noetic experience. Here God awaited man’s choice of acceptance which would alter his entire experience of life. The choice to disobey God, and grasp at “the knowledge of good and evil,” essentially limited man’s ability to judge truth, but it did not cut him off completely from knowing that Truth exists. In this way, the intensity of the human person’s sense of solitude was amplified after sin by a particular frustration within the self. Life after sin became a quest to regain the clarity which was lost by disobedience, the vision of reality cleansed of selfish reductionism. “For now we see in a mirror dimly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Because of Original Sin, God’s Reality became more like an abstract metaphysical Absolute than a physical presence, looking at the beloved-one through the barred and foggy window of fallen-self. So, there opened two main paths on the journey beyond self, two doors that have, since the dawn of man, promised to reunite him to God. They have been spoken of in countless ways, but continuing the themes of post-modernism here, these options are “relationship” and “technology.”
Technology is the intellectual pursuit, embodied by the rationalism that followed the French Enlightenment. Man invents time-saving tools and builds comfort-inducing environments because he feels that each of his creations is a movement toward the Perfection he seeks. “Perfection” is another word for the Absolute which drives all human behavior, which in itself implies a flight from subjectivism. Since logic is, theoretically, a masterable means, it is easy for man to confuse the tool for the table. This is the error of scientism pointed out in the previous discussions. But what is the meaning of making tools that make better tools that make better tools that make better tools, ad infinitum? Does not a tool imply some ultimate creative objective? Man can grow immensely in technology without ever advancing in relationship or purposefulness. Even when relationships are cultivated, they can often be reduced to another type of trade or work. If human persons are just another product of material movements, then this is consistent behavior. Hypothetically, one could become a relationship-expert using the same methodology applied to mastering metal-work. Once one learns the laws that rule the discipline, sheer conformity and repetition will yield a well-formed product: “true-love.” If, however, one concedes that the laws that govern people are much more mysterious than the laws of nature, a whole new realm of gods and devils can invade the imagination. What the gods and devils represent are the potentially eternal consequences of human decisions, emphasized in Genesis. It is at once horrifying and magnificent, since this freedom can fly to either extreme. But, “there is nothing new under the sun” unless Eternity is real, unless people are incommunicable, and unless technology can serve relationships. The realization that relationships deserve to be approached with wonder and trust results from the acceptance of the noetic experience, from the choice to be submissive to God.
If one will concede the premise that “to love is a greater power than to know,” new dimensions of understanding become accessible. Suddenly, the world no longer revolves around the small-steps of logic that govern day-to-day business, but instead, all purpose and happiness relies upon investing in the right cosmic-seed. Worldviews rule the world, not perpetual activity. Experiential knowledge of one’s lover, which is more holistic than theoretical knowledge, still does not empty the beloved of his/her mystery - to think so would be a destructive arrogance. Rather the intimacy of lovers accentuates each other's infinitude, for if it were ever possible to determine through behavioral laws the limitations of a man or woman then one could simply fabricate or imagine a person and fall in love with ‘it’ in his/her own mind or technology. But an irrefutable characteristic of the human experience is the encounter with the “wholly other,” who is also absolutely necessary to man's constitution. Just as “it is not good for man to be alone” in the social sense, it is not good for humanity to be alone in a metaphysical sense (Genesis 2:18). In other words, knowledge ought to be a relational experience. “In a relationship of love, it is not the case that a growing unity – and hence a deeper knowledge – between the partners entails a lessening of the difference – hence mystery – between the two…. On the contrary, they are simultaneous with each other. In short, the analogy of being, and of knowing, can thus be best understood in terms of the analogy proper to love.” Spirit and matter, unity and difference, the mysterious and the intelligible, are married like Adam and Eve. The reason for protecting the mystery of persons is to defend the Being of love. This is why the natural, noetic, experiential-orientation of the human person, opens a ‘category’ – or womb – in the mind and soul of man and woman which can only be filled by God.
Recognizing this innate quality, however, is only the first step in the evolution of man's relationship to the Divine. It is what Plato would have called stepping out of double-ignorance into single-ignorance. Characteristically, God takes the first step on His own initiative with total creative control. Yet, what His creation yields, the fruit of the choices of humanity, appears radically opposed to Goodness and Beauty – especially if one looks at an obvious example like the history of war. What Adam and Eve failed to choose, what many living persons still fail to choose, Jesus and Mary accomplished at the perfect moment in human history (cf. Galatians 4:4). What began as the noetic openness to the divine, was fulfilled by the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). As in the Garden, obedience is the key that unlocks freedom. There are two parts to man's freedom, the freedom of God in man and the freedom of man alone. As all philosophy begins with a theological-worldview, so the growth of divinity must begin with the gift of divinity, as light precedes sight. Freedom is powerful enough to create and destroy, but not to remove the Spirit of God. The natural creation was made for God, and if mankind chooses against Him, it can only be choosing its complete destruction. The choice of Satan and union with Satan is the annihilation of created existence. Mary is the image of resurrected-creation as Jesus is the image of resurrected-God.
“The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that ‘with God nothing will be impossible’ and so giving her assent: ‘Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be (done) to me according to your word.’ Elizabeth greeted her: ‘Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’ It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.” As the manifestation of Eve shows Adam his purpose through the “spousal meaning of the body,” so the Virgin Mary proclaims the spousal meaning of the resurrected body to all mankind. She shows man that he is more disconnected from his masculinity than his femininity, because he is a receiver above all else. The masculine archetype is God the Father, the first and total giver of self. While the human person can never be perfectly masculine in this life, he or she can be perfectly feminine, as revealed in Mary. “Created being as a whole is ‘feminine’ with respect to God. The first act of created being, in other words, is receptive. What the creature first ‘does’ is receive its be-ing: what is first ‘does’ is ‘be.’ In technical philosophical terms, the creature’s agere (or ‘second act’) thus consists most properly in its freely taking over and recapitulating the receptivity that its always-already inscribed in its esse (or ‘first act’).”
The last in execution is the first in intention, thus in Christian tradition, Woman is called the “the crown of creation.” Femininity represents the reception of God’s free gift as well as the proper “being” of creature, while masculinity represents man’s mediate imitation of God’s creativity. The Woman, therefore, embodies purity, wholeness, and perfection. She is less divided by the game of playing God, she is humble in her natural state. Masculinity, creative initiative, and guardianship of truth, is humiliating in its natural state, because nothing should feel more ridiculous than imitating or standing-up for an Omnipotent God. The Virgin Mary embodies the feminine-before-masculine element of the Incarnation. As sin begins from the initiative of woman (and the sinful inaction of man), so salvation begins, in time, with the initiative of Mary (and the Grace of Christ outside of time). The “new creation” began with the Immaculate Conception (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). The Immaculate Conception illustrates that Christ’s merits have transfigured the noetic openness of human nature into an encounter with the numinous. Identification with Mary’s complete humanity is at the same moment the acceptance of the Divine pull and the Revelation of Love as the puller. In Plato’s philosophy, the wisdom-seeker must break away from double ignorance into single ignorance, by simply realizing that he is ignorant. This is that noetic openness which allows Truth to reveal Itself. But Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, bridges over double and single ignorance at the same instant, born right into Wisdom – she is completely receptive to relationship in all the details of experience and also infused with all the knowledge of every scientific discipline.
“The book [of Wisdom] portrays Israel’s sage-king praising Wisdom as a most radiant mother: ‘The Spirit of wisdom came to me…I loved her…and chose to have her…because her radiance never ceases. All good things came to me along with her…because wisdom leads them; but I did not know that she was their mother’" (Wisdom 7:7,10-12). In some sense, it might be said, the Holy Spirit favors women. They are like Him, the last in a procession, albeit an infinitely different kind of procession; He is the “last” of the eternal procession of Persons, while she is the last of the created procession. Women like the Spirit, often serve in a feminine capacity; both are called man’s “helper” (cf. Genesis 2:18,20; John 14:16, 26). Both give birth through water, provide “spiritual milk,” and both are associated with the pangs of labor. In Mary, the relationship of the Spirit and Woman is emphasized to the highest possible degree. Edith Stein, the philosopher and martyr, wrote: “In this womanhood devoted to the service of love, is there really a divine image? Indeed, yes… Such love is properly the attribute of the Holy Spirit. Thus we can see the prototype of the feminine being in the Spirit of God poured over all creatures. It finds its perfect image in the purest Virgin who is the bride of God and mother of all mankind.” Maximillian Kolbe originally proposed that Mary and the Holy Spirit share the same name. As Mary said of herself, “I am the Immaculate Conception,” so Kolbe called the Spirit of God “the uncreated eternal immaculate conception.” Mary is Spouse of the Holy Spirit:
Mary is the supreme masterpiece of Almighty God and he has reserved the knowledge and possession of her for himself. She is the glorious Mother of God the Son who chose to humble and conceal her during her lifetime in order to foster her humility. He called her "Woman" (Jn 2:4; 19:26) as if she were a stranger, although in his heart he esteemed and loved her above all men and angels. Mary is the “sealed fountain” (Song 4:12) and the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit where only he may enter. She is the sanctuary and resting-place of the Blessed Trinity where God dwells in greater and more divine splendour than anywhere else in the universe, not excluding his dwelling above the cherubim and seraphim. No creature, however pure, may enter there without being specially privileged.
From her Immaculate Conception to the Annunciation, Mary reaps the fruit of a choice she has not yet made. Her feminine noetic-openness combined with her redeemed embodied-soul gave Mary a union with the Spirit so real that their “two wills act as one.” “As we have seen, there is already in [God] the Son the perfect fiat. At the same time, in becoming Incarnate, the Son freely chooses to make himself dependent on the fiat, the receptive womb, of a woman. The fiat of the Son, in other words, both precedes and is dependent upon the fiat of Mary. Mary’s response is both utterly free and unconditionally receptive.” This gift should be considered particularly appropriate to the “woman” whose role in Original Sin put her in greater enmity with evil, and assigned her an essential maternal role in the mediation of Grace (cf. Genesis 3:15; John 19:26). Eve and Mary are both “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).
The Garden of Eden is a vineyard, which prefigures the paradise of the Virgin Mary’s womb. In the vineyard is Christ the Vine, the Tree of Life (Genesis 2:9, 3:22; Revelation 2:7, 22:2,14,19). “If we desire a ripe and perfectly formed fruit, we must possess the tree that bears it. If we desire the fruit of life, Jesus Christ, we must possess the tree of life which is Mary. If we desire to have the Holy Spirit working within us, we must possess his faithful and inseparable spouse…” St. Louie De Montfort’s metaphor, of Mary as the Tree of Life and Christ as its fruit, finds no contradiction with Jesus as the Tree of Life in other traditions, for Jesus and Mary are consubstantial in human nature. It is fitting that the Incarnation of God should fill one person of both sexes with perfection. For, “it is not good for man to be alone,” and Jesus is fully man. Blessed John Duns Scotus appealed in his defense of the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception: “The Perfect Redeemer, must in some case, have done the work of redemption most perfectly, which would not be, unless there is some person, at least, in whose regard, the wrath of God was anticipated and not merely appeased.” Mary has the only soul pure and receptive enough to receive the full power and life of Christ’s offering. Though Mary’s personhood is created, this seems to be the only aspect of herself that is inferior to Christ. At the moment of her conception she is already consummately united to the Life of Holy Trinity. As with all the Saints in Heaven, Mary’s perfection comes from the Grace of the Second Person of the Trinity, but His gift to her is unique in that she is saved without the test of Original Sin, saved by Christ’s Eternal merit which is not bound to the chronology of creation. Mary’s human nature is united to Christ’s human nature so seamlessly that it is essentially one nature, like the “one flesh” of Adam and Eve, and like the One Nature of the Trinitarian Godhead. Moreover, Christ receives from Mary His human nature and body, through which He redeems the world. Likewise, all the Saints born into Heaven will receive their resurrected bodies through the Redemption of Christ but never without the co-redemptive suffering and universal motherhood of Mary. “In the interim just as the Mother of Jesus, glorified in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected is the world to come, so too does she shine forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come.”
The Divine Feminine, espoused to and embodied in Mary, in a “one-flesh” union with Christ transcending the marital-union, restores humanity through a reordering of the human legacy. The whole vast history of patriarchal domineering and warring civilizations is overturned by the simple “yes” of a poor pious girl from a fringe religious community. What all the great empires of earth failed to produce with their immense resources and power, the little Virgin accomplished through a humble trusting of love that was the truest and most intelligent of all human acts. This is why Mary is the archetype of the Church and the New Creation. The entire creation was fashioned for her, and antiquity is full of preparations and prefigurings of her:
The links between our Lady and the Church are not only numerous and close; they are essential and woven from within. These two mysteries of the faith are not just solidary; we might say that they are ‘one single unique mystery…’ Both are the New Eve, Paradise, the tree of Paradise, whose fruit is Christ; the great tree seen in his dream by Nebuchadnezzar, planted in the center of the earth. Both are the Ark of the Covenant, Jacob’s Ladder, the Gate of Heaven, the House built on a mountaintop, the fleece of Gideon, the Tabernacle of the Highest, the throne of Solomon, the impregnable fortress. Both are the City of God, the mysterious City of which the psalmist sang; the valiant woman of the Book of Proverbs, the Bride arrayed for her husband, the woman who is the foe of the serpent and the great sign in heaven described in Revelation – the woman clothed with the sun and victorious over the Dragon. Both are – after Christ – the dwelling place of wisdom, and even wisdom herself; both are ‘a new world’ and ‘a prodigious creation;’ both rest in the shadow of Christ. There is in all this something much more than a case of parallelism or the alternating use of ambivalent symbols. As far as the Christian mind is concerned, Mary is the ‘ideal figure of the Church,’ the ‘sacrament of her, and the mirror in which the whole Church is reflected.’
Since the New Jerusalem, the new civilization of Heaven, is constructed around the model of Mary the Mother of God, the present world cannot fulfill its destiny except by imitating her, in order to imitate Christ. Adam was ‘helped’ into sin by the action of Eve, and so conversely, humanity will be saved from sin by submitting to Christ through the help of Mary. Man is the head of woman, only in so far as he signifies the masculinity of God the Father and His Son (cf. Ephesians 5:22-24). Every created male is firstly a son of Mary, and the Bride of Christ, and in this role he should be as feminine, receptive, submissive, pure, contemplative, and compassionate as She. Only in this principal humility will he co-redeem his soul and those of his children. The youth are often badly scarred by deficiencies in relational-receptivity from their parents, but the countermeasure of Heaven is that the children of God are perpetually reliant upon the Holy Family. The Holy Family is the “head” of the human family, the relationship that leads all relationships, adding yet another layer of femininity atop the masculinity of mankind.
The relational method of knowing was overruled by the deductive and inductive methods in the age of “Enlightenment” - herded into the tight corner of one's intimate relationships only. Because the novelty of empirical sciences offered such mathematically precise descriptions of the world, people began to believe in scientific method more than they believed in their own ancestors and their own traditions. Many probably did not realize the long-term consequences of this movement. The problem was, and is, that as soon as one assumes logic to be the supreme method for understanding reality, the unspoken implication is that knowledge is superior to freedom and therefore superior to love, that physical laws are superior to human persons. Logical syllogisms become more valuable than family stories. But the narrative of rationalism is no less a human story than the proposition of God’s Incarnation. Likewise, a materialist might say that Christianity is no less a result of determined forces than the advancement of science. The point is that, for the time being, the human person is trapped at the crossroads of Philosophy and Theology with no masculine-technological escape, except through self-delusion. What the ancient philosophers discovered as the nous, the intelligibility of reality, is not really articulable; it is an understanding that surpasses words, because it is essentially a feminine-receptivity of truth. This is why the expression of reality’s intelligibility, the logos, takes so many different forms in the history of philosophy, because man’s attempts at masculinity are always much more contrived than his femininity. But at the moment of the Immaculate Conception, God begins to give language to the noetic experience through the re-harmonizing of the physical world to the rhythms of Heaven, and of the physical body to the Spiritual soul. In the material persons of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, and the story they tell, the Revelation of God is definitively declared, and man is able to learn what it really means to be masculine through sacramental participation in Christ.
Faith plays an enormous role in everyday human life. Faith allows human beings to work together and to trust each other. Faith made societies stable long before scientific experiment became practical. Faith is about assigning meaning, a free but necessary task. Questions about the ultimate meaning of life are inevitably questions about God (whether God means Love or some idolatry). Since God is by definition the ultimate purpose for life and the end of all existence, all motivation and freedom must be rooted in Him. Every sane person assigns a meaning to their actions: this often unconscious assignment always assumes the first-premise of God, and rests upon it, for any axiomatic assumption is God to the person who assumes it. Thus one either tries to conform his freedom to his best developed understanding of God, or one ends up creating relativistic idol-gods to support every new circumstantial whim. Great difficultly arises here in dealing with first-premises; there are enormous consequences for these ground-laying decisions of faith, for all thoughts and actions will be more or less dependent upon them. According to a faith in Love, the Absolute Being must contain the fullness of what it means to be a person and what it means to be relational, and therefore, Faith is the only appropriate method for learning about who God is, just as it is the appropriate method with one’s neighbor – the disposition towards other persons should always be feminine. Even if God’s personal being is far greater than any human comprehension of it, one can still reasonably deduce that God cannot be limited in His capacity for anything which is possible for man, including this life of interpersonal relationship. If Love is the essential human value, than only Christianity defines God correctly, that is, relationally. Every proof, for or against, God necessarily assumes a prior noetic experience of God. The “way” to Truth implies a humble approaching which by itself is a share in the Divine image. Thus, femininity has always anticipated an important revolution in human understanding. “The Age of Mary” reaffirms that a new philosophy of the feminine is needed, in persons and in cultures.
In Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary has been given the title “seat of wisdom” (among many others). No human being knew the darkness of mystery more intimately than her, yet neither was any human person more brilliant. Mary possesses the disposition towards knowledge that transforms information into an experience of transcendence and love, the marriage of the noetic and pneumonic. She personifies the movement away from overly abstract approaches to information, as if information is just to be used and manipulated. Mary never tries to use truth, she simply receives truth. She uses reason to understand, but never to control (cf. Luke 2:50-51). So long as there was no logical contradiction, Mary would always adopt the most loving and most creative explanation to fill the gaps of her factual knowledge. With intimidating intelligence and flawless consistency Mary discerns the meaning of her experiences according to the pattern of love, which is God Incarnate. By allowing her experience to lead her in a way that preserves the past without predicting the future, she is the archetype of faith and reason in the same person. Though, she may not understand exactly what is happening in the present moment, she knows exactly what she is supposed to do. In her body, as well as her psychology, she unveils to man the Trinitarian Nature of the Godhead. She is a logical genius, because she is able to reconcile every detail of natural-physics with the precepts of her covenantal faith. She is able to act with perfect love even when her emotional peace has abandoned her and while she ponders the paradox of Grace and Nature in her heart (Luke 2:19). In her body, she shows God’s Beauty in her virginity, His receptivity in her femininity, and His Spirit in her motherhood.
Mary is significant to arguments about faith, and specifically belief in God because God has been universally conceived of as “Father” by every human culture. Why is God masculine? Because human nature is feminine in relation to the Absolute. Thus, God’s femininity is not truly revealed until He takes a human nature. Mary is the perfect human being because she is the incarnate-archetype of empathetic, motherly love. By accepting the “son of God” into her womb, she also accepted the responsibility of walking with and feeling with every single one of God’s children, past, present, and future. This is a responsibility that all people should share. Mary’s fiat is a complete surrender of self, a total abandonment to Divine-providence, and it puts her at the most vulnerable position humanly possible. She is utterly naked of ego and paradoxically this makes her the greatest of all human persons. She is the wisest who ever lived, because she was the only one who never received knowledge as vanity. Mary interpreted every empirical and experiential fact as a gift from her Beloved, and all truth was bathed in a single Light: food for the children. The Immaculata never wasted a quark of energy or a moment of thought doubting the meaning of truth. Her first-premise was the perfect and irrefutable hypothesis that God is Love. The best qualification for the pattern of love is made manifest in Mary. She is the most charitable person who ever lived because her compassion for people surpassed all other human examples in quality and quantity. This is why Mary is “full of grace” and worthy to be the God-bearer (Luke 1:28). Jesus Christ, eternal Son of the Father, chose her to be His Church in the world, His teacher of the Faith, His nurturer in Love, and His Immaculate Bride. Mary and Joseph raised Jesus to be a man who could have so much trust in God that He would empty himself for others to point of persecution, torture, and death. Such is the motherly Faith in Love that reaches far beyond reason and science. The “obedience of Faith” follows a Hope in God not confined to rationality, but a gift of grace. The fruits of Love are its only proof. The progeny of the maternal-feminine bear witness to her superior beauty in humility, to the primacy of her judgment in wisdom, to the greater depth of her compassion in relationship, and to her power over man through inspiration. The Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is the aspiration of all creation and the crown of God’s magnificence. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). “Love bears all things, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7). “The king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought for the king's mother; and she sat on his right” (1 Kings 2:19).
Seeking the origins of virtue, Plato came to the realization that the human person has access to immutable truths, and he thought this to prove that the human-soul possessed all knowledge in a spiritual memory. Similar to Plato, the Virgin Mary, when confronted with the most confounding of mysteries, simply remembered that God is Perfect. Although he seems to have confused epistemology and metaphysics, Aristotle at least acknowledged that certain “first-principles” transcend analysis and limitation. The humble “handmaid,” followed up her fair epistemological-questioning, “How can this be?” with the definitive metaphysical-submission “Let it be done” (Luke 1:28,34,38). Thomas Aquinas honored Mary’s receptivity in his own philosophy of natural law, setting-up the first principles of practical reason as universal human insights. In this way, Aquinas emphasized what the baptized-Christian must experience differently from the un-baptized: the noetic pull as a pneumatic proposal. Perhaps more profoundly, Bonaventure saw the natural world and the human person illuminated with eternal reasons, reiterating what the Psalmist said about creation, “The heavens are telling the glory of God” (Psalm 1:19), and what Mary declared about the human person, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:26). Finally, the contributions of William of Ockham decisively unmasked the imperfections of the human intellect, forcing his listener to face the simple truth which the Immaculate Conception never had to learn: the human being is constituted to obey authority and to submit to God. When one refuses to obey God, she will obey her own absolutes instead. Absolute means complete, perfect, pure, and free from restriction or limitation; it is an axiom adopted without proof, no different than faith in God. Thus, the necessity of Theology for Philosophy resounds. The noetic experience is a theological presupposition, an ideal which moves and inspires philosophy, and whether one trusts it or not, it will still be in the mind, influencing thought and action. To shift from loving one’s ideal, to being in love with one’s ideal, is an obvious and necessary progression for anyone who agrees that human life is the most sacred of values. This is the choice to grow from the noetic to the pneumatic. Only Jesus Christ makes this a rational choice, because only Christ incarnates the ideal of love. Love cannot be rejected by an appeal to Truth, this is a simple and self-evident fact of experience. No one knew this better than the most Holy Mother, who witnessed the torture and crucifixion of her innocent and impeccable Son. If “truth” is one’s only value, than his love will die on the cross.
In general, people are extremists. New discoveries are either ignored all together, or turned into idolatrous maxims; hence the conservative/liberal dichotomy of American society. Maintaining a balance that assimilates novelty with tradition is the most difficult path, because it requires both openness to the future and reverence for the past. Either one finds it easier to cling to what was once reliable in stubborn spite of new technologies, or one abandons everything of the past in childish obsession with the fashionable. However, nature and life seem to operate in a humbler, more holistic way. The future builds on top of the past and the two are interdependent, both are necessary for actual progress, both are their own truth, and both define the whole truth. This is the precise balance struck by the Christian Tradition of a Personal God of Love. As G.K. Chesterton said, “The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.” The mystic’s one preeminent mystery is Love. Love is neither passionately selfish, nor mechanistically selfless. Love has an identity rooted in the unchanging past, yet is always rediscovering itself and overflowing into new experiences. The danger of dogmatic materialism is that, in seeking to destroy the ultimate mystery of reality, one also destroys love’s freedom to grow. The pursuit of science, treated as an ultimate end in itself, will inevitably destroy the love of persons in the wake of its greed for answers and pride of control. Science is certainly a great good in this world, but it cannot and should not make presumptions or proclamations about the existence or nature of an Absolute Order, which it has already necessarily dismissed by its methodology. This is what makes the two hypotheses unequal opponents: the faith of materialism is an unnecessary rejection of possibilities, and ultimately an inhuman limitation on one’s relationship with Reality/Truth. Christian Faith, on the other hand, opens the door to the complete surrender of one’s self to Truth because that Truth includes the values necessary for “flourishing” life, alive in Trinitarian Love. However, Christians must also revere logical scientific discoveries as the voice of this Love revealing Itself to them as well. Thus, the Christian view is more inclusive, it allows for more fulfillment, more appreciation, more passion, more imagination, more love, without ever having to deny anything science or philosophy legitimately proves. The atheist might propose that the “mores” proposed by Christianity are based on a lie, but he/she can only say so in the first place based on a premise assumed without evidence. No evidence humanly conceivable can contradict the idea, let alone the reality, of God. The choice will always remain open.
When investigating the hypothesis of God, one cannot simply approach Him as the rationalist. It is true that if religion is to be examined scientifically or logically that one must use a critical formula. However, one should not expect this method to reach any deeper than the idea of God – in the same way as impersonally observing someone’s actions provides only a superficial impression/idea about who that person is. And if God is the Absolute Being, there can be nothing in man’s being that is lacking in Him. It is not possible to get to know another person by treating him/her with the methodic doubt of dialectical thinking. No relationship can be established if nothing another person says is accepted until proven. The legal principle of “innocent until proven guilty” reverences this inherent dignity which persons deserve. Certainly God, who if He exists must be worthy of the most reverence, cannot be treated as less than a person. If knowing God is more like a relationship than a math puzzle, Faith followed by rational questioning is a more appropriate method than skepticism. Without denying the necessity of logical analysis in relationships, it can be understood that there should be a proper subordination of reason to openness, wonder, mystery, or faith, all which are due to persons. Man is told to have faith in God’s existence not because the evidence says His existence is likely or unlikely. There is no evidence in this first choice. Man is asked to have Faith as an offering of love. Ultimately, the decision of Faith is about love, and whether or not a person is willing to step outside of logic altogether, not ignoring logic or even contradicting logic, just simply reaching beyond it and believing in a Higher Truth, that is Personal Truth, whose Essence is Love. Love is about choice and a creative use of freedom, and thus enters the Doctrines of Free-will and Original Sin. All this makes logical sense, but only from the perspective given by the Christian’s first-premise: that the human person is made in the image of self-donative love, which is God. Faith in God preserves mystery in order to preserve Love, while faith in materialism just eliminates the option: the free-choice of absolute Faith in Love.
The first-premise/hypothesis which the Catholic-Christian defends is this: God’s essence, and the meaning of existence, is Perfect Love. Such a Divine Love cannot be fully understood, and so the first element of man’s approach to Reality must be to question with reverence and trust, acknowledging the authority of mystery over man’s limited state, while preserving a fascination with life and beauty that implies Objective Goodness. The closest illustration human beings could have of God’s Love, if it exists, is found in the special intimacy of self-aware beings with absolute ideas, in creative thought, and especially in social relationships. This created expression of God’s framework is best revealed in the moral traditions of the family, the primary building block of society, the members of which almost always treat each other as unrepeatable ends in themselves. All morality culminates in the ecstasy of self-giving charity, revealed most fully by Christ (and only possible through Him), which extends the reverence of familial love to all persons. This unifying charity is developed more comprehensively in Christian ethics and theology than anywhere else. These precepts, as offered by Catholic Teaching are, at least, rationally defendable against all the various attacks thus launched, and they offer a more humanistic worldview than secular-humanism, or any other alternative. Faith in Jesus alone can fulfill human potential.
Finally, to escape the self-loathing that accompanies his awakened state, man must be aware of himself, not as a finite creature, but as an everlasting son. The human person must look upon himself or herself as God the Father looks upon him or her, seeing not a dimly mirrored reflection, but a complete image and likeness. God looks at Himself, seeing his Son, and together loving His Spirit, and they are all Three full. Only if man has been invited to participate in this perfect life of the Trinity, is he free to love himself, because only then is he free to love the “wholly other.” All of the history of human thought is a constant running away from the trap of determinism, but every route has been a dead end, except for the Christian “Way.” Only a crucified God, who is Perfect Love, can make any semblance of “sense” out of human freedom and the experience of evil. God’s crucifixion and resurrection is the consummation of the idea and the experience of love. Uniting earth with heaven like a wife with her husband. Assuming a nuptial essence behind all created things would prove to be the most enlightening experience of truth, as well as being a uniquely Catholic Christian experience (in terms of its proximity to a doctrinal description). It is no surprise that there must be a marriage of formula and freedom, because that paradox is the human condition. Objective Reality itself is living and must be romanced and adored like a lover, free to unveil its naked perfection only when it chooses.
There are the two essential experiences of human nature. The first is the noetic encounter with death, literally or perceived through contingency, and its consequence is the development of a personal theology. No human being who encounters death can remain a “non-believer” in the sense that principles of purpose are necessarily and unavoidably assumed by all self-determining, self-aware minds. The second experience is the recognition of a rational order, the logos, a kind of infinite feedback-loop, or philosophy of life – all in the same instant, conceivable and understandable yet unimaginable and mysterious, seemingly limited yet open to infinitude. Only a living theological definition of reality offers an absolute principle compatible with the feedback-patterns of science. That means, only faith in God Incarnate offers a sustainable metaphysics. Trinitarian Love is the only human idea that has ever mimicked nature’s equation for self-generating diversity, or self-organizing geometry, by presenting the choice of believing in three infinitely unique Persons united in the one essence of Eternal Divinity. These two experiences are characterized by two broad heresies: skeptical atheism and non-Catholic religiosity respectively. In general, skeptics and atheists represent the fallacy that all faith is irrational, while non-Catholic believers (including unauthentic ‘Catholics’) represent the fallacy that faith is an excuse to stop seeking rational coherence and integration. The longed for reunion of these complimentary heresies, which this paper hopes to suggest, is found through faith in the Divine Father, who draws all men to Himself through His Incarnation, for He is the origin and end of existence, the alpha and omega (cf. John 12:32; Exodus 3:14; Revelation 22:13). God the Father is the all-inclusive principle of harmony in which flows both faith and reason, mystery and science, the present moment and the past, the incommunicable individual and the indivisible universal, the perfect uncreated Father-Man and the immaculate created Mother-Woman. God in His absolute power represents an eternal fluidity that makes all things new in Himself, always growing and never changing at the same time, expressing the same Love in an infinite variety of marriages (cf. Ephesians 5:30-32; Rev 19:7-9, 21:5-6). God is Father because He is the purest archetype of masculinity, the origin of the nuptial proposal to which all of creation proclaims its everlasting “yes.” “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father” (John 6:65).
Freedom does not have the power to stop existing because Freedom is God and God is Existence. The will to non-existence therefore is the crucifixion of God, the height of contradiction, some idea not actually real or possible, but that is maximally opposed to God subjectively, and so a kind of subjective non-existence. Lucifer chose to become a determined power, no longer free, and so no longer truly alive. Being made in the image of God is beyond a mere hypothetical premise. If it is true, if reality is formed around it, then absolute freedom can only mean absolute self-gift, which is absolute love, which is absolute growth that never goes back or undoes what came before. Absolute freedom in the sense of allowing even a will to non-existence has no meaning beyond the possibility of becoming a determined thing that can no longer grow. This is evil. Evil is a will to be set free from the “burden” of change. Atheism, then, borders on the greatest of evils because it seeks to end the “delusion” of human freedom and transform persons into determined laws. In so doing, it destroys the possibility of love being anything real. Pure-agnosticism, contrarily, pretends to be exactly what faith really is, while in truth only providing an escape from taking responsibility for one’s faith. Genuine faith simply fulfills the natural condition of contingency. Non-belief reduces to either the fear of participating in creation because of the weight of owning what one creates, or a hatred for spontaneous-change and so an envy of God. The solution is to become a gift to others, by receiving God’s gift as fully as possible, and thus being free of the need to find happiness by one’s own power. What else is faith, but trust, and what else is trust but a personal relationship with reality, a hope that experiences can be more than what they appear to be sensually or psychologically. Because if one’s senses, as a method of knowing, cannot be transcended than love is merely a form of lying to one’s self, and therefore, necessarily subordinate in value to physical laws. The essence of trust is the feminine spirit, Wisdom “incarnate” in the Virgin Mary. This trust of a woman is acceptance and submission to the noetic experience, knowing herself espoused to the Spirit of God, a Lover unrestrained by any emotional or intellectual supports.
Part II: A Marian-Feminist Metaphysics
It has been argued that traditional trinitarian theology omits or subjugates female experience by its disregard for femininity within the Godhead. In classical articulations, all that is ‘feminine’ (contingent) comes into being from nothingness, it entirely receives its actuating principle from the ‘masculine’ God. The concept of God’s as ‘Father’ attached itself to the science of its age, adopting Greek metaphysical terms to emphasize hierarchy and duality, characteristics of masculine-style language. The danger, now widely recognized, is that this language may force women into a semiotic economy of male desire. This connection between metaphysical categories and gender discourse is significant to trinitarian theology. An over-attachment to Aristotelian metaphysics played no small part in perpetuating misogyny in the West until as late as the Second Vatican Council. “[Feminists] argue that western philosophers have embraced spectatorial and dualistic frameworks that conceive the distinction between subject and object as a strict dichotomy that cannot be overcome. These frameworks are inherently patriarchal because they either ignore feminine traits or exclude them from the universe of being by identifying them with otherness and negativity.” A metaphysical framework which does not incorporate feminist philosophy will not sufficiently allow females to associate with the divinity articulated through such a system. Substance-ontology, which separates God’s essence from created beings in a masculine to feminine type relationship, sets the pattern of analogy for every other instance of gender interaction. One such extension is the subordination of emotion to intellect, which also signifies a subordination of women to men. These questions, then, must be asked and their answers developed: In what sense can female personality, the emotional life, and metaphysical femininity be found in the Triune God revealed by Christ?
Irigarayan Metaphysics and the Feminine Divine The project of constructing a social or relational metaphysics has formed an easy alliance with many feminist theologies. Femininity can be almost universally associated with relational-receptivity, aligning strongly with phenomenology and personalism since social interaction begins by definition with the experience of the mystery of the other person. In his earlier years, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger himself identified the chasm between traditional Thomistic metaphysics and the theological model of person. If relationality, or more precisely the family, is to be taken as the privileged analogy for divine Life, then it seems classical substance-ontology maybe a deficient, or at least incomplete, metaphor for expressing the interdependent and emergent qualities of human being. Of course, an inverse danger would be to collapse all beings into social structures that dissolve individuality and autonomy. “Hence we are faced, on the one hand, with a rich older metaphysical tradition of the person that has left the relational dimension underdeveloped and, on the other, with a more recent phenomenological tradition that has highly developed the relational aspect but lost its metaphysical grounding.” The first part of this research project will compare and contrast a feminist-compatible ‘metaphysical’ system with substance ontology, looking at how they might be integrated into orthodox Trinitarian theology through a perichoresis, or familial union, of analogical systems.
As Jane Alexandra Cook as argued, an overly ‘masculine’ metaphysics, implicit in culture and/or explicit in academia, has contributed to the continued rise in cases of mental illness and social injustice in the contemporary period. As Cook shows, there is a correlation between metaphysical beliefs and the mental order. The questions that remain are what a feminine metaphysics would look like or if the idea of ‘metaphysics’ itself is not part of the problem. French philosopher, linguist, and psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray provides an ideal framework for this discussion:
Irigaray was best known for her theory of “sexual difference,” according to which the supposedly sexless notion of the subject, or ego, in Western philosophy and psychoanalytic theory subtly reflects the interests and perspectives of men, while women are associated with the nonsubject (the Other) or with matter and nature. She argued that there is no authentic heterosexuality in Western culture, because the culture represents or cultivates only a male subject, not a female one, particularly in the domains of law, religion, political theory, philosophy, and art. Irigaray’s project was to introduce into this philosophical heritage two sexed subjects and to call for the development of a culture and an ethics that would do justice to both. She conceived of her work as comprising three phases: the first phase demonstrates the masculine perspective that has dominated Western discourse; the second sketches possibilities for the construction of a feminine subject; and the third aims to develop the social, legal, and ethical conditions necessary for relations between two differently sexed subjects.
Irigaray’s work has marshaled a number of supporters as well as critics from a wide range of disciplines. Toril Moi (1985), for example, accused Irigaray of reverting into the same essentialist and “phallogocentric” logic of her patriarchal peers: “Having shown that so far femininity has been produced exclusively in relation to the logic of the same, she falls for the temptation to produce her own positive theory of femininity. But, as we have seen, to define ‘woman’ is necessarily to essentialize her.” The alternative to a theory of generic female identity is unclear. As many subsequent philosophers pointed out, one form of essentialism or another is relatively unavoidable. This problem points right to the issue at hand. A ‘feminine’ metaphysics of relation seeks to be more precisely personal and therefore more multi-faceted. Greek essentialism was much too abstract and static to accurately describe human dynamism. At the same time, the anti-essentialism of the poststructuralist feminists failed in its goal of constituting woman as an autonomous subject, rather than as the object or other of man. As Germaine Greer protested: “Actually I think there is something about being born with a double-x chromosome; I think there is something about being a maker of eggs instead of sperm [...]. These constitute genuine differences. In the past they’ve been considered as marks of inferiority. Now that you’re not allowed to consider them as marks of inferiority, you’re telling me that they don’t signify anything at all.” Irigaray herself observed the tendency of ‘male’ categories to absorb women’s reconceptualizations of themselves, often recasting female advancements as elements in their own philosophical systems.
One of Irigaray’s great insights was that an accurate ontology must acknowledge the sexualization of logic. “Irigaray is deeply critical of the way in which Parmenides’ principle of identity has been taken up in and as the history of metaphysics at the cost of forgetting sexuate difference.” A phenomenological method is very helpful in countering this claim. The experience in consciousness of the present moment (not without memory and anticipation) takes precedence over (not necessarily displacing) the categories of natural or speculative science.
The principle of identity, according to Heidegger, is a principle of relationality, where this relation cannot be thought apart from the mediation of that which gathers together the parts of the identity relation into a unity… Consequently, according to Heidegger, we fundamentally misunderstand the nature of identity if we interpret this self-sameness or unity as ‘‘the stale emptiness of that which, in itself without relation, persists in monotony.
For Irigaray, it is precisely Heidegger’s claim to neutrality that reveals his partiality. “On Heidegger's interpretation, identity remains the relational mediation of parts which are subsumed within sameness, rather than a cobelonging together of two that are irreducibly different.” Irigaray considers the spiritual unity of reality, stripped of carnal vestiges, to be a metaphysical presupposition that is characteristically masculine. Rather, she would wish to take a phenomenological ontology that assumes sexuate difference as the point of departure. Irigaray's training in psycholinguistics, along with her feminism, moved her to assert that the semantics and grammar of language in the modern West are of a “masculine genre,” ultimately eclipsing sexual difference and the subjectivity of women. Because language is crucial to all forms of human relationship, there are human repercussions inherent in the biases of language genres. From Irigaray’s view, language has the power to engender subjectivity, and therefore the potential to eliminate the subjectivity of either sex. Obviously, she argues, this “subjective pathology” in Western language has given the subject power almost exclusively to men. From her work in psychoanalysis, Irigaray points to sexual differences in the behavior of schizophrenics for example: “[w]omen tend mainly to structure a corporeal geography; men, new linguistic territories.” She also laments that the word “God” is masculine in most if not all languages, extending to maleness the status of primary gender, that of the whole created universe.
Saint Augustine asked if “the present is time only by reason of the fact that it moves on to become the past, how can we say that even the present is, when the reason why it is is that it is not to be? In other words, we cannot rightly say that time is, except by reason of its impending state of not being.” Fanny Söderbäck suggests that the binding down of the present moment has been the task of classical ontology, and this goal was achieved through the theoretical transcendence of time by the positing of a realm of immutability. Jacques Derrida called this nontemporal dimension of being the “primordial present” and considered it necessary to the philosophical logic of identity. Irigaray, however, sought to expose this metaphysical tradition for actually ignoring the reality of presence precisely through the transpositioning of the present onto the eternal poles of origin and eschaton. In place of this tradition, Irigaray understands presence as “an ongoing and always incomplete unfolding of present acts,” not reducible to past or future but unrepeatable and unpredictable, infinite finitude. This contradistinction to the classical metaphysics of presence goes hand in hand with her institutionalization of sexuate difference, since without this contrary notion of presence woman is relegated to the sphere of absence (a negative image of the male subject and his Parmenidean eternity). “Irigaray’s great insight – and this is where she departs from Derrida – is that nontemporal presence and sexual sameness are two sides of the same metaphysical coin.” So, it is supposed that in order to move from the subject-object (male-female) paradigm to a subject-subject paradigm, metaphysics must move from an ontology of being to an ontology of becoming (relationality). The underlying premise being that “absolute presence and difference (sexuate or otherwise) are mutually exclusive.” “We must, in other words, be careful not to understand sexual difference as in any way similar or reducible to the complementary difference between the genders that we know from our current culture.”  True sexual difference has yet to be experienced. It requires the simultaneous differentiation of temporal flux along with the alterity of subjects:
Only a subject-in-becoming can approach the other reciprocally, by acknowledging his or her own incompleteness (the fact that we are not whole, not fully present on our own). If we forget this incompleteness—by positing a selfsame autonomous transcendental subject—time freezes, on Irigaray’s account, and becomes a time of death or of the past, rather than a time of the present and the living. Irigaray wants to return to what she calls the “time of life,” understood exactly as reciprocal oscillation between living and loving subjects. She urges us, in fact, to change our relation to space and time altogether: “To go toward one another requires the elaboration of other space-times than those in which we, Westerners, are accustomed to living.”
Hannah Bacon recounts that Irigaray’s concept of parler-femme, “speaking (as) woman,” empowers females to claim their own space as subjects by wielding language in a way that avoids dialoguing through an subject-object exchange. For example, saying “I love to you,” rather than “I love you,” escapes setting up “you” as an object of possession. Irigaray also encourages women to become ‘divine’ in order to mimic the subject-formation process of men, who supposedly have “used” God, women, and language as tools for their own “return” in and through the other. Strangely, mimesis, or imitation, of the phallocentric status quo is offered as a method of destabilizing man’s attempts to reflect himself in a woman. “By women strategically occupying the place of the ‘feminine’, difference is exposed.” Voicing a common contemporary feminist critique, Bacon raises the concern that Irigaray’s linking of female language to female bodies is a potentially reductionist or essentialist move. In assessing the usefulness of parler-femme for a feminist theological method, Bacon argues that sexual difference may not be the appropriate denominator for all other forms of difference, because of its potential to become a limiting factor on discourse. Nevertheless, she presents a reading of parler-femme compatible with her feminist theological method:
Parlerfemme is a constructed, fluid and dynamic language and can be used to undo phallocentric logic. According to this reading, although women are defined by phallocentric discourse, they can actively use this language in order to construct another place for themselves within the symbolic order. This place need not be a position of sameness shared by all women in opposition to all men, as seems to be implied by Irigaray, but can connote the signification of multiplicity beyond the confines of sexual difference.
Since there cannot be an essentialist definition of women’s experience, nor an ontologically or epistemologically privileged female perspective, Bacon advances the conciliating notion of “positionality,” which considers the dynamic cultural and historical place of woman together with her concrete embodiment. This is not to collapse women into total relativity, because commonalities of body, culture, and language are still acceptable as identifiers, just not as definitions. In the plurality of female ‘positions,’ the Christian feminist community holds the privileged position for doing trinitarian theology. At a general level, this community finds unity in its commitment to “liberation, justice and right relationship.” The divergent particularities of women within this group are coalesced by mutual openness to dialogue and awareness of a common resistance. Unlike Irigaray, Bacon acknowledges that God should not be caved into the subjectivity of any person or sex. From the perspective of the feminist Christian: “God is not a giant phallus who functions to confirm the subjectivity of the male and the otherness of woman as ‘lack’, but a God who identifies with the particularities (and complexities) of embodiment, who affirms the female body as good and as sacramental; a God who models difference alongside subjectivity and who, therefore, affirms female desire without seeking to appropriate or extinguish this for the sake of securing God’s own identity and the identity of the male” Rather than focusing on feminizing the proper names for the Persons of the Trinity, Bacon draws out the essential feminine qualities of experience that the Christian God affirms, such as difference, subjectivity, relationship and even embodiment. The embodiment of the Trinity in the Holy Family offers a sharp contrast to phallogocentric logic, as the virgin Mary temporally precedes Christ in sanctification and is his bodily origin, while Joseph becomes the ‘other’ whose subjectivity is at the service of his sinless wife and child.
While many philosophers have supposed that Greek philosophy is redeemable through simple adjustments to its ancient anthropology (usually statements about gender and sexuality), others believe that the problem of sexism lies deeper in the very structure of these systems. Jane Alexandra Cook’s thesis is that the misconception of “essence,” inherited from ancient Greece, is at the root of dualist-monist, mind-body, and free will-determinism debates that divide the human psyche and create an inner turmoil, manifesting today in rampant diagnoses of depression, anxiety, anorexia, OCD, and other disorders. Cook believes that this misconception marks the deconstruction of the female self in historically Western philosophy. In the face of subjective non-existence mental disorder ensues. Cook suggests that in order to preserve the essence of woman, metaphysics must be altered in such a way as to give woman her own ‘spirogenetic’ (body-spirit composite) sexuate form. Thus, Cook sends sexual difference all the way ‘back’ to the primordial law of non-contradiction, insisting that logic must be filtered through the spirogenetic essences of man and woman. Hence, sexual complementarity becomes the very first principle of reason, thereby guaranteeing the equal treatment, the subject-subject relationship, of all differentiated forms. This complementarity is not merely a repetition of philosophical dualism, or analytical philosophy as it premises a tri-partite relationship. The masculine and feminine reciprocally inter-identify spawning an emergent category and a thereby a new union of three. The emergent form is co-joined to the feminine in a unique way, analogous to the human child. The masculine and feminine by themselves symbolize an essentially masculine binate, but the emergent recontextualizes the masculine and feminine, fusing the mother and child, foreshadowing the spirogenetic diffusion of infinite created particularity. This pattern will be reestablished in the relational ontology model, the quaternity of Carl Jung, and the pluralistic-inclusivism of Jacques Dupuis. Any Christian theologian should see the parallels here with the (trinitarian) Judeo-Christian creation-family narrative of Genesis, as it revolves around the microcosmic temple of Adam and Eve joined together in covenant with God.
Continuing to illustrate the tradition objectification of the feminine, Cook recounts – with a plethora of decontextualized examples from the Church fathers – the historical tendency toward “phallo-logical crucifixions” of woman’s essence. This phenomenon has much to do with the predominance of male narrative voices in history, as men used women to reflect their own negative image, that is, the demonic, evil, animal, passive, and non-existent. But the search for the “real self” which Cook observes in her female patients is not “a basely natural, unconscious, instinct-driven, fluidly unbounded material body that develops and is socio-linguistically cultivated into divinely inspired, autonomously self-limiting, sensibly transcendent subjectivity as Nietzsche, Derrida, Foucault, and Irigaray have theorized.” Nor is it an immaterial soul caged in a sinful body as Plato, Aristotle (for women), Augustine (arguably), and Descartes supposed. “Rather, this original essence/self is initially consciously experienced, then later remembered, very occasionally reexperienced, and/or secretly yearned, as an originally and persistingly whole, unified spirogenetic essence and essentially subjective female self or ‘person’, born, enduringly existing, and essentio-socially constructed within an unbroken maternal (and paternal) bond of unconditional, intersubjective recognition and love.” Importantly, men also suffer from the historical phallo-logical definition of manhood, which is masochistic and crucifixional precisely in so far as it lacks an understanding of woman as more equal than opposite. These “forbidden phallic desires” are then sublimated into acts of punishment, destruction, homophobia, and sexism.
Released from dependence upon the Father’s [the Freudian purely phallic God’s] pedagogical love, recognition and forgiveness, the mind and body of male and female subjects are free to reunite in a way that now reveals the real essence of their individual and relational unity. It is unconditional intra- and inter-subjective love that seemingly inspires, binds, motivates, and interrelates the mindbody of every essentially spirogenetic self, and that is the basis for its fully integrated, harmonious and contented existence, (sexual) development, and actualization, but that, if denied, brings more or less fragmented, alienated, false, discontented, melancholic, and even nonexistence. It is perhaps, then, within a metaphysics based upon recognition of originally whole, sexed spirogenetic essences, and unconditionally, intra/intersubjectively loved essential selves, that we may find that long sought Epicurean state of peace, contentment and ‘ease’; a possibility further fired by the ancient Greek/Christian association of peace (eirene) with essential wholeness, and by the Irigarayan (2002) insight that: ‘The wisdom of love is perhaps the first meaning of the word ‘philosophy”.
Relating Luce Irigaray and the theology of the Trinity, Gavin D’Costa discusses the issue of whether or not the Trinity of Christian tradition is a homosexuate representation of God. To support Irigaray’s concern for a lack of female subjectivity in Western tradition, D’Costa takes up the argument of Thomas Weinandy in The Father’s Spirit of Sonship. In this study, Weinandy suggested that an uncritical adoption of ancient Greek categories has led to the common philosophical assumption that love ‘proceeds’ from knowledge. This highly passive conception of love has jeopardized the subjectivity of the Holy Spirit, in a very close vein to that lack of female subjectivity highlighted in Irigaray’s work (Weinandy himself does not make this connection). Although Aquinas corrected Aristotle to some degree by establishing the mutuality of knowledge and love, the possibility of loving without knowledge is still occluded – an experience which seems to be empirically observable in the psychology of mothers. Weinandy’s proposition is that “within the trinity the Father begets the Son in or by the Holy Spirit, who proceeds then from the Father as the one in whom the Son is begotten.”
D’Costa then compares Irigaray and Leonardo Boff, who share an interest in overcoming the Western cultural semiotics of exclusively male desire. Boff’s daring move was to introduce the concept of a hypostatic union between the Holy Spirit and Mary. Despite Boff’s intentions of rehabilitating female subjectivity through the carving out of a feminine divine space, D’Costa questions whether his project was successful:
Mary is a model, and the preeminent one within Christ’s body, but not only within, for she herself also forms his body, the Marian Church. However, she is not the only one… Boff’s hypostatic divinization of her threatens to destroy her relationality to all creation and with it, precisely, the possibility of multiple female ‘divinizations’, those women, sung and unsung, who have been active co-redeemers like Mary, traditionally termed the saints of the Church.
Although this orthodox retelling of Mary’s role in the Church does not directly satisfy Irigaray’s appeal to a ‘divine couple,’ it does open the door to a unique female subjectivity not dependent upon mirroring phallic symbols. Better still, by the Logos making himself reliant upon the utter freedom of Mary and by the Holy Spirit’s overshadowing not consuming her personhood, the whole Trinity affirms both the subjective dignity of woman and her distinct power for relationality in a way that would be impossible to surpass. Boff’s thesis in fact violates the very space which is Mary’s alone and the representative of the feminine: ‘the bearer of God.’ The interpersonal union of the ‘Spirit and the bride’, originating and epitomized in Mary, begins the new creation that is a participation in the ‘childship’ of the Divine Son. In the senses of participation and co-redemption, the sexes are clearly equalized by the Incarnation in terms of their respective relations to the Trinity. While, orthodox Christianity cannot confess Irigaray’s ‘divine couple’, the Incarnation certainly does proclaim the divinization of human complementarity, sexual mutuality, both in the Holy Family as a human unit and in the consubstantial human nature of Christ, shared with Mary most intimately, and then with the entire species. Moreover, in so far as Irigaray’s feminine ‘metaphysics’ already filters reality through embodied plurality, the logic of the Incarnation could potentially abate her contentions against the purported Christian semiotics of male desire:
This unfinished incarnation, what Paul calls the lack within Christ’s afflictions, is what checks against the incarnation being rendered into a static divination of male flesh, but rather as the beginning of the transformation of all flesh, both female and male.
In conclusion, returning to the notion of a relational metaphysics it should be noted that any thrusting of the feminine ‘other’ principle into the binary logic of masculine metaphysics does little to secure an autonomous female experience. The eternal dwelling of the Spirit in the Father and the Son symbolizes a kind of feminine plurality of relationship that extends analogously to the immaculate Mary, who rather than assuming the feminine directly into the Trinity creates a new space for difference precisely by being the personal perfection of creation and the relational origin of embodied redemption. The task still at hand then is translating and understanding classical theism in a feminine language of Marian pluriform embodiment, which fittingly includes all males in its logic. As Heidegger asserted in his later works, technology can become a tool through which human persons ignore the revelations of being. Substance-ontology presents the world as a collection of objects to be manipulated because without the recognition of intricate interpersonal influences and consequences individual entities are too easily isolated.
Rather than presenting reality always in terms of macro and microcosm, mind and matter, entropy and equilibrium, astro-clusters and electron (the bi-furcation of nature) and then accepting a broad metaphysics to explain the relationship of these dichotomies, maybe there should be room in metaphysics for the children of these marriages, a Pneumatic and emergent category less hostile to paradox. That is to say, metaphysical systems maybe supralogically differentiated on multiple levels of ‘being,’ from theology to physics, to chemistry, to sociology, to biology, to zoology, to ecology. Maybe there is no tight logical sequence between these systems and need not be. In so far as logical reduction remains possible, it may not progress further than the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, which are themselves supralogical analogies of absolute Reality. This is what Philip Clayton and Paul Davies call a “tropical rainforest ontology,” different and novel kinds of metaphysics at different scales of being. Nevertheless, there is a kind of rational order still, and an explicable relationship between these scales, but it is no less complex than the doctrine of the Trinity itself. Hence, the need for a systematic theology of the Holy Family, who symbolize and embody the open and layered personal relationships of Divine Love to human love precisely by transcending 1-to-1 binary logic in their mediation between the two. In this way, metaphysics could become much more literally trinitarian – as other scientists and theologians have attempted to articulate, such as Saint Bonaventure, Alfred Whitehead, Cardinal Scola, and several renowned psycho-analysts.
This thesis stands in accord with Mathew Levering’s central point in his book Scripture and Metaphysics. That is, trinitarian metaphysics is ordered toward the contemplation of God. “Indeed, the practice of metaphysical questioning constitutes a spiritual exercise that purifies from idolatry those who would contemplate the self-revealing God.” Contemplation is made up of study and prayer. It is a receptive seeing with awe. Metaphysical ascesis. The author only proposes that this is also an infinite ascent to the Father through tripartite sexual complementarity. Perhaps each member of the Holy Family could be given his or her own complete metaphysical system as the extensions of the Son and Spirit’s missions in the world – distinguishable while simultaneously in perichoretic union. What has been recommended in this first section is a Marian and pneumatological metaphysics that functions to prepare and complement classical substance metaphysics, working together with the dogmatic functions of substance-ontology toward a systematic trinitarian-nuptial theology. In the same way as the virgin Mary mediates Christ’s grace to every living individual, in preparation for the fullness of the Catholic Eucharistic faith community, her feminine meta-psychology opens doors through the impasses of a substance ontology, which is the logical system largely to blame for the lack of scientific credibility afforded to contemporary Christian philosophy. The feminine-styled deconstruction of masculine logic manifests an untapped existential power to carry the human person into an encounter with the mysterium tremendum, the supernatural fatherhood of God, and back to one’s knees in awe of Personal Absolute Mystery.
Part III: The Nuptial Structure of Salvation
Two prominent figures in the development of the Catholic Church’s theology of religions, Gavin D’Costa and Jacques Dupuis have devised similar but divergent models of religious ‘pluralism’. Looking through the lens of D’Costa's feminist semiotics, this paper examines John Paul II’s concept of participated mediation (RM 5) and Dupuis’ proposal for an asymmetrical reciprocal complementarity between the Catholic Church and the other religions. The exchange of these ideas illustrates a broader nuptial pattern, a tripartite ‘sexualization’ of logic that may serve as an interpretative solution to the contrary doctrines of religious pluralism (de jure) in Dupius and Christian exclusivism (the Church as the singular mediator of salvation ex opere operato) in D’Costa. D’Costa’s quasi-feminist metaphysics of co-redemption will be associated with Dupuis’ notion of asymmetrical reciprocal complementarity as sister promotors of religious equality in dignity. The contrast of Dupuis to D’Costa arises in the subtle juxtaposition of their interpretation of, the Magisterium’s term, ‘salvific structures’ in other religions. This issue and its resolution will be sought through an extension of D’Costa’s thought on the ‘Marian Body of Christ’, which suggests various levels of participated mediation, synonymous with different types of relationship to the Holy Spirit, to the Logos Incarnate, to the Church, to Mary, and to the world religions.
Jacques Dupuis Following the Second Vatican Council, it is clear that the Church has definitively reinterpreted the ancient axiom extra ecclesiam nulla salus to mean that without (rather than outside) the Church there is no salvation. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) states: “the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation… Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved” (LG 14). Because this statement leaves open the possibility of salvation to the inculpably ignorant, many theologians have supposed that the Church now operates in a new paradigm of religious inclusivism. This position grants the potential for non-Christians to receive the salvific grace of Jesus Christ through an implicit or ‘unthematic’ faith.
The late prominent theologian of religions, Jacques Dupuis, S.J., endeavored carefully to develop the Catholic doctrine of salvation outside the Church. He asked not only whether the adherents of other religions could be saved, but more controversially, if their salvation could come through elements of their own faiths, tied to a third implied question, asking if other religions might be positive instruments in God’s plan of ‘desiring all peoples to be saved’ (cf. 1 Tim 2:4). Dupuis gave a highly nuanced ‘yes’ to these three critical questions in his controversial work Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism and its subsequent refinements. For Dupuis, the divine Logos and Spirit can be present in non-Christian religions through their revelatory symbols of the Absolute. Denying the contradiction between Christocentric inclusivism and theocentric pluralism, Dupuis instead proposes a Trinitarian Christology that is an inclusive-pluralism. Although sensitive to the pronouncements of Chalcedon, Dupuis distinguishes strongly among the two natures, wills, and energies of the single Logos, human and divine, operative respectively in universal and particular modes within the same economy. As the “true Light that enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9), the second Person of the Trinity had worked for the salvation of peoples before the Incarnation and can still work outside the confines of the Mystical Body after the Resurrection, even still preserving the central character of the Christ event for salvation. Likewise, the Holy Spirit has a universal efficacy outside the risen humanity of Jesus, distinct but not separate from the effects of Pentecost.
John Paul II said, in Redemptoris Missio 55, “[Christ] does not fail to make himself present in many ways, not only to individuals but also to entire peoples through their spiritual riches, of which their religions are the main and essential expression” (cf. DI 12, 21). Nevertheless, these “many and various ways” (Heb 1:1) that God can be manifest to the other religions belong always to the one sole economy of salvation. Perhaps only in the eschaton will this unity be apparent. Nonetheless, the Paschal Mystery remains for Dupuis the “constitutive” saving action of God, whether apparent or not. Jesus’ life was a uniquely “transhistorical” event precisely due to his personal identification with the only-begotten eternal Son. Since it is the immanent-absolute Father who justifies and saves, religions and their structures are only secondary elements. In regard to the declaration of Lumen Gentium 8, that the Mystical Body of Christ “subsists” in the Catholic Church, Jacques Dupuis employs the concept of the Church as a “necessary sign and sacrament of salvation.” Following Redemptoris Missio, he preserves the “mysterious relationship to the Church” that all saving grace requires through analogy with the res tantum (thing signified) of traditional sacramental theology (RM 10). The possibility of receiving the grace of the sacraments without being a member of the Church illustrates a final, rather than efficient, causality of the Church in this relationship. Thus, the eschatological orientation of all saving grace toward union in the Catholic Church allows for a, potentially far-removed but, still qualitatively asymmetrical complementarity between the Church and world religions.
Gavin D’CostaTheologian Gavin D’Costa, a sustained critic of Jacques Dupuis, takes issue with most of his main theological advancements. D’Costa considers Dupuis a disciple of Rahner, continuing the view that every human person has a metaphysical association to saving grace that when actualized by faith, hope, and love is implicitly a relationship to Jesus Christ. D’Costa agrees with the Church that individuals can be saved through implicit faith in Christ. In an important 1998 review, “D'Costa claimed that Dupuis held both Christ and the kingdom ‘can be severed from the Church’; in other words, Dupuis ‘breaks the link between Christology and ecclesiology’.” D’Costa is here taking a notably less optimistic view about the provisional status of other religions for salvation, arguing that the salvific structures of other faiths often never bring their adherents to any semblance of a Christian faith. For this reason, D’Costa invokes the limbus patrum (limbo of the fathers) as a ‘place’ for epistemological reconciliation with Jesus. If this were not the case, it seems to D’Costa that other religions would have salvific power ex opera operato (from the work worked), rather than through the mediation of the Church. Thus, the positive elements of the world religions are but a preparation (preparatio evangelica) for the full and undiminished truth of the gospel (cf. LG 16). Also, D’Costa considers Dupuis’ notion of final causality an insufficient, and perhaps dissenting view, from the orthodox position that the Church is an instrumental cause of salvation for all people. “D’Costa rightly insists against Dupuis that it is through instrumental causality that the church's liturgical prayers mediate salvation. Merely moral or final causality does not describe adequately what such prayers involve.” Thus, D’Costa actually rejects both inclusivism and pluralism as sanctioned Catholic positions, and proposes instead a “Trinitarian Exclusivism.” Discussing the crucial passage of Gaudium et Spes 22, D’Costa states: “the Holy Spirit's presence within other religions is both intrinsically trinitarian and ecclesiological. It is trinitarian in referring the Holy Spirit's activity to the paschal mystery of Christ, and ecclesial in referring the paschal event to the constitutive community-creating force it has.” This ecclesiocentric position may be D’Costa’s most significant divergence from the mainstream of modern theology of religions.
Despite these seemingly conservative critiques of Dupuis, Gavin D’Costa is far from an uncreative theologian. Deeply sympathetic to post-modern philosophy, D’Costa advances interreligious doctrine in different areas than Dupuis while simultaneously making significant points of contact with him. For example, he greatly values the awareness of contextual determinates to axiomatic principles and has therefore sought to inculturate some of the purified conclusions of feminism, psychoanalysis, and Eastern mysticism. Thus, pluralism and inclusivism are impossible categories for him, since every hetero-interpretation is always filtered through a prior auto-interpretation. In other words, every religion is necessarily exclusivist. For this reason, other religions have the epistemological and political right to claim their own religious traditions as legitimate starting points for dialogue. Whatever “positive elements” or “rays of truth” might be found in the other religions, those elements may be considered entirely unrelated to Christianity by the other faiths themselves. Additionally, some of these “positive elements” will likely be cases for shame, learning, and wonder from the perspective of Catholics. Reminiscent of Dupuis, D’Costa comments that “if the Spirit is at work in other religions, it can also call into question false practices and beliefs held by Christians who have failed to grasp their own faith properly.” Therefore, it is the duty of the People of God, especially pastors and theologians, to listen to the voices of the age and be enriched by the wider process of human social development (cf. GS 44; RM 29). Properly understood, this would not be the domestication of religious or cultural difference but “fulfillment” in a deeper sense than “stepping stones,” such that as the other religions are completed through Christianity, so Christianity itself is fulfilled in receiving the gift of the ‘other.’ Echoing Dupuis’ concern that the Church might become a “countersign” of the Kingdom, D’Costa notes that a Church which is not receptive to the other as genuinely other, while remaining critical and constructive in engagement, may be practicing idolatry of its own culture.
A Unifying Hermeneutic of Pneumatological ‘Otherness’Both D’Costa and Dupuis draw heavily on the magisterial pronouncements regarding the Holy Spirit’s universal activity (GS 22 and RM 28-29 especially). “For this action [of the Spirit] has been exercised, in every place and at every time, indeed in every individual, according to the eternal plan of salvation, whereby this action was to be closely linked with the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption” (Dominum et Vivificantem 53). “The Second Vatican Council recalls that the Spirit is at work in the heart of every person, through the ‘seeds of the Word,’ to be found in human initiatives – including religious ones – and in mankind's efforts to attain truth, goodness and God himself” (RM 28). For Dupuis, the Spirit and Logos are the “two hands of God” in a “relationship of mutual conditioning.” The Holy Spirit is not merely the Spirit of Christ, for they are separate Persons and therefore active in distinct ways. The ‘synergy’ of the two activities produces God’s saving effect. Since there is neither a purely natural subjective religious life nor a purely natural historic religion, the non-Christian religions must be capable of an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ in the Spirit. For D’Costa, the “normativity of Jesus is non-static because our understanding of him is constantly transformed and enriched through the guiding/declaring/judging function of the Spirit, resulting in a dialectical tension that remains until the eschaton.” Because of this dialectical space between the Spirit and Jesus Christ, Christians are compelled to remain open to the truth contributions of other world religions.
D’Costa suggests further that the Spirit “inchoately” forms children of God, celebrating God’s kingdom outside the Christian faith. Likewise, for Dupuis “the secret presence of God” is manifest through ‘fruits of the Spirit’ the greatest of which is agape love (cf. AG 9; RM 20). Indeed, both Dupuis and D’Costa are concerned with the tendency in Catholic theology towards a de-subjectification of the Holy Spirit that defines Him as a mere function of Father and Son. By preserving the unique interaction of the Spirit with peoples, one makes room for the otherness of religions: “The dominant metaphor operative here is that found on the Day of Pentecost when those on the streets of Jerusalem proclaimed, ‘in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power’ (Acts 2:11). In this account, the outpouring of the Spirit ‘upon all flesh’ (Acts 2:17) opens up the possibility of encountering others in all of their differences even while avoiding or overcoming the radical incommensurability thesis. Thus the miracle of Pentecost is to allow for intersubjective communication and interrelational participation even amidst the preservation of otherness – linguistic, cultural, and even religious.”
Taking this attentiveness to the ‘other’ and the pneumatic-Christic relationship of faiths together as points of contact between Gavin D’Costa, Jacques Dupuis, and the Magisterium, one might go further in reconciling these three through an appropriation of feminist semiotics into the discussion of religious diversity. In contemporary Catholic feminist theology there is a strong association to religious pluralism related to a mutual preoccupation with relational ontology. If “the maternal principle is unconditional love, mercy, the natural equality of children, [and] the prevalence of natural law over man made law” and “the fatherly principle is that of conditional love and depends on obedience, performance, abstract thought, hierarchical structure, justice, law, and order” than one can easily see the interwoven analogy between Paternal-Maternal, Christ-Spirit and Church-Other.
In D’Costa’s writings, Trinitarian Pneumatology facilitates the relationship of universality to particularity. “D’Costa links the closure of history with idolatry. The church claims possession of the fullness of God, and in doing so becomes herself an object of worship.” At the same time, it is the particularity of the Incarnation and Paschal sacrifice that defines what true worship is. When the Spirit works outside the Church, He forms communities that are Christ-like, analogous to the activity of that same Spirit within the Church. This is why inattentiveness to the other religions can be a form of idolatry, because the Spirit wants to challenge the Church to grow in self-understanding through these encounters. In the language of Dupuis, “the contingency of the Incarnation goes hand in hand with the universality of the manifestation of the Absolute. The incarnate Logos is searching for himself through history.”
John Flett comments that D’Costa’s interplay of Christ and the Spirit, as particularity and universality, would be greatly served by the added distinction of the Church to the resurrected body of Christ, as Dupuis emphasized consistently. “It is clear that the resurrection is precisely the theological ground for God’s ongoing act in history. We know God continues to act because Jesus lives. This calls into question D’Costa’s divestment of particularity and universality. With the resurrection the eschaton is already present; Jesus is the universal Lord in his particularity as the incarnated, crucified and resurrected God-man. The Spirit subjectively draws human beings into that present reality. Universality, in other words, works through, not in distinction to, particularity. To affirm this is to affirm the importance of specific and concrete engagement.” This pattern of engagement extends to all instances of difference and can be typified quintessentially in sexual difference: “relations are fundamental, and relations of perichoretic reciprocity and love generate the creativity that bears analogical resemblance to God's creativity and God's love - which in fact we, as embodied persons, represent.”
The question of whether women can be saved by an all-male God, or by the exclusively male Christ, is not unrelated to the question of whether all people can be saved by a particular ecclesia. Responding to feminists who have asked the former, D’Costa recounts Leonardo Boff’s attempt to assuage this tension by suggesting a hypostatic union between the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. D’Costa rejects this view precisely because of his insistence on preserving personal difference: “Mary is a model, and the preeminent one within Christ’s body, but not only within, for she herself also forms his body, the Marian [Body of Christ]. However, she is not the only one… Boff’s hypostatic divinization of her threatens to destroy her relationality to all creation and with it, precisely, the possibility of multiple female ‘divinizations’.” In Sexing the Trinity, D’Costa made this explicit connection between the Marian Body of Christ and the decentering work of the Spirit in the world’s religions. In terms of participated mediation (RM 5) and co-redemption, all peoples are made the same offer, through the Incarnation, to make up ‘what is lacking in the suffering of Christ’ (cf. Col 1:24). Mary in a unique way represents how this union of the ‘Spirit and the bride’ can supersede Baptism through the power and freedom of God, since Mary is saved and redeemed before the saving work of Christ. This “transignification” of the cross, as D’Costa puts it, is essentially synonymous to Dupuis’ “metahistorical” Christ event. Following Mary, then, every female may be an embodiment of asymmetrical reciprocal religious complementarity with Christ, or as the CDF claims, women are the “privileged sign” of interpersonal love.
However, a Trinitarian hermeneutic of relationship does not validate difference in itself. Rather the ‘other’ represents a transforming dialogue, in the present moment, as a psychological symbolic. D’Costa and Dupuis both share this post-modern appropriation of the deconstructionist or phenomenological method as applied to experience in the realm of the ‘other’. This approach is associated to feminism especially by Luce Irigaray. One element of the feminine gift is an affinity for the mediation of metaphysics and praxis through the destabilization of categories in favor of relationships, of ideologies in favor of people, of doctrine in favor of compassion. This is the reason for D’Costa’s defense of orthodox Mariology against a divine-feminine principle, that is to say, traditional Marian spirituality subverts the pagan patriarchal dichotomy of ‘masculine-soul and feminine-body’ better than the insistence that human sexual embodiment be imposed on the Godhead univocally. In this light, femininity becomes associated with plurality in a special way complementary to the universality of the Spirit. “Nor should it be forgotten that, in its effort to transcend the dichotomy between inclusivism and pluralism, a valid theology of the religions must build upon the recognition of the differences, without giving in to the illusory presumption of a ‘common essence’ between various religions and their underlying ideas.”
John Paul II stated the “in a particular way, the dignity, the specific gift and ‘genius’ of women is derived from the spousal meaning of the body, whether this be in marriage or in single life. This gift to and of women enables us to think of a particular type of prophetic mission given to every woman in her feminine nature. It is precisely the woman who reveals to everyone the truth of what it means to be a spouse. This ‘prophetic’ character of a woman, precisely in her femininity, finds its highest expression in the Virgin Mother of God” (MD 29). “Far from giving the Church an identity based on an historically conditioned model of femininity, the reference to Mary, with her dispositions of listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting, places the Church in continuity with the spiritual history of Israel… While these traits should be characteristic of every baptized person, women in fact live them with particular intensity and naturalness.” If this is true, than woman also symbolizes, in an embodied mode, the possible extension of salvific grace beyond the confines of explicit Church membership. Nevertheless, the strength of the nuptial bond between the Spirit and the brides must intensify with proximity to the Eucharistic Body of Christ, as both Gavin D’Costa and Jacques Dupuis would affirm.
Just as Christ is the unique and full human face of God, in a relationship with God that is inimitably intimate and universally significant, so Mary is the unique and maximally empathetic relation to Jesus the man. Mary possesses the title ‘Mother of God’ precisely due to the fact that hers was a real and unique relation to God himself – even if that connection was contingent on the Incarnation, so was the Incarnation made dependent on her. In analogy with the theology of religions, Mary is likened to what Dupuis called the “additional and autonomous benefits” of the ‘others’ to Christian identity, a mutual though asymmetrical complementarity between the different “faces of the divine Mystery.” Moreover, it has been suggested that this imparity allows for a transcendent kind of equality, one that values personal dignity and openness to relationship above mirrored images. The Church’s Marian doctrines are notably helpful in establishing this concept. As Josef Seifert has said regarding Mary as co-redemptrix, this is an explicitly personalistic dogma affirming some of the best intentions in contemporary feminism.
In the final remarks of Dupuis’ Christianity and the Religions (and inline with the main thrust of D’Costa’s theology), he asserts that collaboration with the other religions is necessary for the purification of the Church and that it requires a constant conversion, not only to God but also to the psychology of the other. Another cross-disciplinary contact can be made here with psychoanalysis. In “A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity,” Carl Jung concluded: “that in order to reflect dimensional reality beyond a two-dimensional dyad of opposites, two pairs of opposites are needed in which ‘the other’ is the ‘fourth’ element, whose nature it is to be the ‘adversary’ and to resist harmony.” Because the Trinity is bound up with the human psyche, for Jung, the symbolic was incomplete without representation of the ‘fourth.’ What Jung refers to as the “fourth element” of the God-image is “matter,” the “other,” and the “feminine.” Christine Driver comments, however, that Jung misses the importance of the Marian-feminine dimension of Catholic theology in his analysis of the Trinity, much like D’Costa has argued. The fourth is essentially the contingent, the human, the material, and even nothingness, it is the antipode of the Godhead who is Father and thus is it the “feminine” (the human male would be no less feminine by this meaning). More than a neo-Gnostic dualism, the fourth represents a mirrored image of the Trinity in time, differentiated by its mystical-psychological replication of Incarnation, in motion, and in metanoia. “The fourth deconstructs our categories and definitions. It shows us our limits – the limits of our perceptions. This function of the fourth, I would suggest, is a critical one for the recent and ongoing rapprochement between psychoanalysis and religion.”
This concept of the ‘fourth’ and its relationship to the psychology of spirituality is significant for the theology of religions, as both D’Costa and Dupuis discuss indirectly and to varying degrees. Proclamation of the Gospel always presupposes some common ground within the mental and emotional landscapes of the two parties. Many theologians today are proposing that this common ground can be found nowhere else but in the theology of desire, or in the nuptial mystery. Julia Kristeva, though not a theologian by trade, has been thoroughly engaged by theologians. Kristeva sets up desire as the source of all polyvalence. That is, the primacy of non-contradiction is supplanted and the principle of excluded middle is denoted due to a third term: “this third term, moreover, does not imply, as champions of Neoplatonic apophaticism would have argued, an entity beyond discourse, but rather the inescapable constraint of discourse, the limit of possibility that delimits the impossible, the saying of what cannot be said except in and through the unsaying of what is said.” Taking a remarkably similar route, Cardinal Angelo Scola has thoroughly reviewed the Christian concept of nuptiality and found it ripe for systematic development. “[This imago Trinitatis] is permanent proof of the triadic structure of creaturely logic. It shows that, when creatures attempt to introduce abstract logical principles – the axiom of the excluded middle – into real life (in the form of contraception), they contradict the law of that life.”
Colin Gunton sees this same excluded term (the third in logic or the fourth in economy) and associates it to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit bridges the paradox of particularity and communion; He transports the relation with the ‘other’ from the point of deconstruction to self-designation. The unifying thread of these methodologies is the cultivation of a psychological and theological fluidity that is what both D’Costa and Dupuis referred to as “continuity within discontinuity.” The complex nuptial mystery of the analogous relationship between Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Christ, the Catholic Church, and other religions and its cascading relationship to the nuptial mystery of father-mother-child, perhaps represents a “fourth” function of the Trinity best articulated as hierarchal levels of intimacy with the Spirit of God in the interactivity of the present moment. Desire, indissolubility, and sexual difference bring passion face to face with sacrifice, calling on all to make a perpetual “yes,” which is the gift of life as the response due to every vocation and every choice for love. The depth of freedom and incommunicability in the nuptial bond with God becomes the greatest point of commonality and grounds for equality across socio-cultural borders. Perhaps this can be proposed as a new trans-religious reconciliating hermeneutic that remains faithfully Catholic.
In summary, there are important parallels between Gavin D’Costa and Jacques Dupuis in their respective theologies of religion, and much of their disagreement occurs through contrary interpretations of language. Both thinkers acknowledge the reality of genuine difference (sexual, cultural and religious) and the need for a quasi-post-modern approach to dialogue. Both thinkers have developed Trinitarian Christologies that are deeply attuned to the Catholic tradition, protecting the single economy of salvation despite their strong differentiation of Personal missions. Similarly, they distinguish between the two natures of Christ without admitting any complete separation of Jesus’ Personhood. With different degrees of success, they equally strive to hold strong the bond between the Catholic Church and the mediation of salvific grace.
D’Costa criticizes Dupuis for making too strict boundaries between the Logos and Spirit and the Church. “While Dupuis's position is extremely nuanced, it still falls short of retaining this delicate Conciliar balance by removing some of the terms of the relations (church), rather than by fruitfully engaging with them as necessary parameters.” While both thinkers seem to agree that the Magisterium’s silence on the possibility of salvific grace in other religions was never intended to be an endorsement of such a view, Dupuis believes this move would be a genuine development of Christian doctrine. D’Costa however refuses to make this “qualitative leap,” as Dupuis calls it, and insists not only on the precise location of salvation in an epistemological relationship to Jesus Christ, but also considers this relationship interrelated always with the Eucharistic Liturgy in some instrumental way.
 Kreeft, Peter. "What is Religion? Why is it Worth Thinking About?." Questions of Faith: The Philosophy of Religion. Barnes & Noble: Portable Professor Series. 2006. Audio Lecture.
 Schindler, David L.. Heart of the World, Center of the Church: Communio Ecclesiology, Liberalism, and Liberation. Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 1996. Print. 251-252.
 Waldstein, Michael, John Paul II. Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media, 2006. Print. 146-156.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000. Print. 51.
 Man and Woman He Created Them. 161.
 “Alone-together” was a phrase Bishop Fulton Sheen used to describe the sacrament of marriage.
 Man and Woman He Created Them. 176. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1998. Print. 24.
 “Wholly other” is a term coined by Rudolph Otto in his famous and influential text, The Idea of the Holy, referring to the nearly universal experience of a transcendent being.
 Heart of the World. 305.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church. 148
 Heart of the World. 256.
 Otto, Rudolf, and John W. Harvey. The Idea of the Holy: an Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational. New York: Oxford University Press, 1958. Print. 5-7.
 Hahn, Scott. First Comes Love: Finding your Family in the Church and the Trinity. New York: Doubleday, 2002. Print. 131.
 Ibid. 136.
 At the apparition in Lourdes, France, the Virgin appeared with this title. Manteau-Bonamy, H. M.. Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: the Marian teachings of Father Kolbe. Kenosha, WI: Prow Books, 1977. Print. 18.
 De Montfort, Louis. True Devotion to Mary. Rockford, IL.: Tan Books, 1985. Print. 5.
 Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit. 45.
 Heart of the World. 250
 The Catechism calls Mary “our mother in the order of grace.” Catechism of the Catholic Church. 967-970.
 True Devotion. 164.
"Bl. John Duns Scotus." EWTN Global Catholic Television Network. 21 July 2012. <http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/scotus.htm>
 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1965. Print. 68.
 De Lubac, Henri. The Splendor of the Church. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986. Print. 317-320.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church. 65.
 “The Age of Mary” refers to the time period after the revelation of the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Laboure (1830) to the present day, which awaits the Declaration of the Fifth Marian Dogma of Mary Mediatrix, Co-redemptrix, and Advocate.
 Chesterton, G.K.. Orhtodoxy. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1908. 33.
 Referring to Aristotle’s “Eudemonia”
 Catechism of the Catholic Church. 34.
 Hannah Bacon, What's Right with the Trinity?: Conversations in Feminist Theology (Farnham, England: Ashgate Pub. Ltd, 2009), 15-25.
 For gender-patterned linguistic studies see, Deborah Tannen, That's Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships (New York, NY: Harper, 2011).
 See, Prudence Allen, The Concept of Woman: The Aristotelian Revolution, 750 B.C. - A.D. 1250, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1997).
 Felicia E. Kruse, “Luce Irigaray’s Parler Femme and American Metaphysics,” Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 27, no. 4 (Fall 1991): 452.
 W. Norris Clarke, Person and Being (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2004), 5.
 Jane Alexandra Cook, Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness: Unveiling the Grail on Human Nature and Mental Disorder (Bern: Peter Lang, 2013), 20.
 Mary Beth Mader. “Irigaray, Luce.” Encyclopædia Britannica (September 2014).
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 23.
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 23.
 Anne Leeuwen, "Sexuate Difference, Ontological Difference: Between Irigaray and Heidegger," Continental Philosophy Review 43, no. 1 (April 1, 2010): 112.
 “Sexuate Difference,” 116.
 “Sexuate Difference,” 117.
 “Sexuate Difference,” 120.
 Annie Ross, “The Sexuate and the Relational: Luce Irigaray and Stephen Mitchell on Language.” Journal of Religion and Culture 23, (2012): 12-13.
 As quoted by Fanny Söderbäck, “Being in the Present: Derrida and Irigaray on the Metaphysics of Presence.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy no. 3 (2013): 254.
 “Being in the Present,” 254.
 “Being in the Present,” 255.
 “Being in the Present,” 256-57.
 “Being in the Present,” 258.
 “Being in the Present,” 259.
 “Being in the Present,” 260.
 “Being in the Present,” 260-61.
 What’s Right with the Trinity, 158.
 What’s Right with the Trinity, 161.
 What’s Right with the Trinity, 163-64.
 What’s Right with the Trinity, 165.
 What’s Right with the Trinity, 143.
 What’s Right with the Trinity, 148.
 What’s Right with the Trinity, 195.
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 26.
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 110.
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 111.
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 320.
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 320.
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 327.
 Sex, Metaphysics, and Madness. 328.
 Gavin D’Costa, Sexing the Trinity: Gender, Culture and the Divine (London: SCM, 2000), 1-47.
 See, Thomas G. Weinandy, The Father's Spirit of Sonship: Reconceiving the Trinity (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1995).
 Sexing the Trinity, 14.
 Sexing the Trinity, 20.
 See, Leonardo Boff, Trinity and Society (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1988).
 Sexing the Trinity, 27.
 Sexing the Trinity, 30.
 Sexing the Trinity, 33.
 Cahoone, Lawrence. Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida. College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA. The Great Courses, 2013. Audio.
 See, Paul Davies and Philip Clayton, The Re-emergence of Emergence: The Emergentist Hypothesis From Science to Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).
 Matthew Webb Levering, Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology (Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2004).
 John Paul II’s revision of the traditional phrase. See Jacques Dupuis, Christianity and the Religions: from Confrontation to Dialogue (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2002), 205.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 90-95.
 See, Gerald O’Collins, “Jacques Dupuis’s Contributions to Interreligious Dialogue,” Theological Studies 64, no. 2 (June 2003): 388-397 and Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 138-39.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 157.
 O’Collins, “Dupuis’s Contributions,” 396.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 213-17.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 255-59.
 Gavin D'Costa, Christianity and World Religions: Disputed Questions in the Theology of Religions (Maiden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 19-23.
 Gerald O’Collins, “Jacques Dupuis: the Ongoing Debate,” Theological Studies 74, no. 3 (September 2013): 640.
 D’Costa cites Benedict XVI’s Spes Salvi 47 in support of this view. Gavin D’Costa, Paul F. Knitter, and Daniel Strange, Only One Way?: Three Christian Responses to the Uniqueness of Christ in a Pluralistic World (London: SCM Press, 2011), 24-25.
 Gavin D’Costa, The Meeting of Religions and the Trinity (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2000), Chapter 4, Section 2, para. 7.
 D'Costa, Christianity and World Religions, 180-86.
 O’Collins, “On-going Debate,” 642.
 “The Christian man, conformed to the likeness of that Son Who is the firstborn of many brothers, received "the first-fruits of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:23) by which he becomes capable of discharging the new law of love. Through this Spirit, who is "the pledge of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:14), the whole man is renewed from within, even to the achievement of "the redemption of the body" (Rom. 8:23)… All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.”
 D’Costa, The Meeting of Religions, Chapter 4, Section 4, para. 3.
 D’Costa, Only One Way?, 27.
 For Dupuis’ version of this argument see From Confrontation to Dialogue, 114-37 (esp. 132-37).
 D’Costa, The Meeting of Religions, Chapter 4, Section 3, para. 22 and Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 216-17.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 178.
 Loe-Joo Tan, “Gavin D’Costa's Trinitarian Theology of Religions: An Assessment,” New Blackfriars 95, no. 1055 (January 2014): 91.
 D’Costa, The Meeting of Religions, Chapter 4, Section 4, para. 26.
 See especially Gavin D’Costa, Sexing the Trinity: Gender, Culture and the Divine (London: SCM, 2000), 11-23.
 Amos Yong, “The Holy Spirit and the World Religions: On the Christian Discernment of Spirit(s) ‘After’ Buddhism.” Buddhist-Christian Studies 24, no. 1 (January 2004): 193.
 See Helen Bergin, “Feminist Theologians and Pneumatology: An Enrichment of Vatican II,” Australian E-Journal of Theology 21, no. 2 (August 2014): 155-169.
 Eugen Schoenfeld and Stjepan G. Mestrovic, “With Justice and Mercy: Instrumental-masculine and Expressive-feminine Elements in Religion,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 30, (December 1991): 366.
 John G Flett, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: a critical reflection on the trinitarian theologies of religion of S. Mark Heim and Gavin D'Costa,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 10, no. 1 (January 1, 2008): 86.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 194.
 Flett, “In the name of,” 87-88.
 Gavin D’Costa, Sexing the Trinity, 56.
 Gavin D’Costa, Sexing the Trinity, 27.
 Gavin D’Costa, Sexing the Trinity, 95.
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church
on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World,” 14.
 Flett, “In the name of,” 87.
 See Fanny Söderbäck, “Being in the Present: Derrida and Irigaray on the Metaphysics of Presence.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy no. 3 (2013): 253-264 and Anne Leeuwen, “Sexuate Difference, Ontological Difference: Between Irigaray and Heidegger,” Continental Philosophy Review 43, no. 1 (April 1, 2010): 111-126.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 116.
 CDF, “Collaboration of Men and Women,” 16.
 See Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 214.
 For the former relationship see Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 166.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 256.
 Josef Seifert, “Mary Co-Redemptrix: Philosophical and Personalist Foundations,” in Mary Co-redemptrix: Doctrinal Issues Today, ed. Mark Miravelle (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 2002), 169-170.
 Dupuis, From Confrontation to Dialogue, 258.
 Christine Driver, “The ‘Holy Mother’ and the shadow: Revisiting Jung's work on the quaternity,” The Journal Of Analytical Psychology 58, no. 3 (June 2013): 348.
 Amy Bentley Lamborn, “Revisiting Jung's ‘A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity’: Some Implications for Psychoanalysis and Religion,” Journal of Religion and Health 50, no. 1 (March 2011): 116.
 Lamborn, “Revisiting Jung,” 117.
 Catherine Keller and Virginia Burrus, Toward a Theology of Eros: Transfiguring Passion at the Limits of Discipline (New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2006), 353.
 Angelo Scola, “The Nuptial Mystery: A Perspective for Systematic Theology?,” Communio 30, no. 2 (Summer 2003): 218.
 Najeeb G Awad, “Personhood as Particularity: John Zizioulas, Colin Gunton, and the Trinitarian Theology of Personhood,” Journal of Reformed Theology 4, no. 1 (May 2010): 20.
The following soliloquy is theological anthropology through the eyes of the inner child.1 I am speaking as the child in I. We are speaking as the Christ in I. Sometimes we will dialogue with the child: I with us. We understand the unconventionality of this mood, but we find ourselves unable to write an essay without it. This communication comes from our natural spirit, that is ourselves, as opposed to the spiritual intellect2 In all this, we believe ourselves to remain within the magisterial framework of the Catholic Church.3 The reason for the existential method is that I have lost my mind, my spirit. Lost it through the fragmentation of sin. I have accepted it and stopped pretending to be put together. I shall boast of my weakness (cf. 2 Cor 11:30)! We beg the Father’s grace make this a fractal of redemption. Christ is the means and the end of the Church and this school; we should be free to speak to God without violating academic formality. We shall not abandon the rigor of discipline. I divide to become simple: I cannot trace the boundary between my God and my reader. As I am in our self, so you are in my God. I must assure myself that Jesus Christ is here, I must invoke the Spirit of God. If not, all is vanity. Flowing from God’s glory, my dignity is at risk in the creation of art not explicitly His. If I shall risk myself, then it must be a therapeutic exhibition. If I shall be the artist; we shall be the art.
1 The method is derived partially from Neo-Jungian Christian Psychoanalysis and partially from ‘Internal Family Systems Therapy’; see Jay Earley, Self-Therapy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Wholeness and Healing Your Inner Child Using IFS (Larkspur, CA : Pattern System Books, 2009), and Richard Rohr, From Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality (Cincinnati: OH, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2005). 2 We are not conflating grace and nature here but locating the meeting place of these ‘forces’ in the human person. This meeting place is the human spirit. 3 Our difficulty with Magisterial declarations on the spiritual capacity of reason will not be investigated here, however, we can at least suggest that the difference will primarily be one of semantics and not of doctrinal dissent. We emphasize the spirit’s autonomy from the intellect without denying the interaction of the two ‘parts’.
In our sojourn back to Trinity, we find help from Søren Kierkegaard. Our method is in no small part inspired by his life, being such an unique mirror of our own. A method of repeated confrontation, repentance, and contemplation. What we seek to accomplish here may at first appear beyond the scope of even multiple volumes. However, we are not imagining solution to the issues we bare to light, rather, merely to map a hermeneutic through attempt. This blueprint will be unmistakably Kierkegaardian, a pattern of paradoxes. The child in us is always involved in this encounter through a special role he plays. Beyond the primary aim of petitioning Mercy through prayer, our secondary goals are two-fold. We desire with this letter to develop, in the Church’s Spirit, the theology of sexual complementarity, beginning with a fuller picture of the human psyche and extending into social relations, reaching both inward and outward to union with Christ’s Mystical Body. Without ignoring the complexities of sexuality, we use the psychic archetype to hold up the biological woman, her sensuality, her emotion, her personalism, her relationality, her receptivity - not as exclusive qualities in a gendered monopoly, but as universal elements in a mosaic of idiosyncrasies - so that she might be equal to man, not as mirror or secretary, but equally fractional with him, equally under the bridal human spirit espoused by Trinity, still, in an integral domain of the imago Dei that is hers alone. In the same motion, we turn to Scripture and tradition for contextual corrections to the dictum that “grace perfects nature. “ We understand perfection, not as a quantitative growth from natural to supernatural virtue, but as a qualitative transfiguration of the spirit-self through which the natural is incorporated into the Body of Christ by grace. Therefore, firstly, we diverge (mildly) from Thomistic tradition, locating the higher spiritual element of reason not in the intellectus (intellect) of the mens (mind), but in the personal spirit of the individual, with a special connection to the rational appetite (cf. Lk 1:47; Mk 14:38). Secondly, we will develop the concept of a spiritual emotion, a kind of higher passio (passion), also located in the same spirit, with a special relation to a beatific appetite (an appetite for love relationships; cf. Mk 2:8 - ‘perceiving in his spirit’). This erotic appetite is the hallmark of the inner child. Erotic, for us, refers not to marital relations only, but to person-focused love generally. Our psyche teaches us this paradox through its four-fold face, the four walls of our sanctuary home.4 Remember, I am the child. I am exercising relational existentialism. The characters of our psyche are the functions of the spirogenetic (spiritual-DNA) human person generally and thus delineate a five-pronged anthropology: 1) discursive reason, 2) relational intelligence, 3) rational appetite, and 4) beatific appetite. The traditional ‘will’ is set apart from reason in 5) the spirit-self to preserve our freedom and identity. In the spirit, movements of our personal hierarchy can look like the rendering on the following page. This is a general schema for a Christian anthropology incorporating Jungian archetypes into neuro-biological functions (the parentheses represent a difference for non-Christian anthropology).5 This is how I heal. Hell hangs heavy in my vice. This is a prayer for you, but my work for God and our therapy first. I am the child, but we are me. I was made to be free, but I have lost my spirit. I am here to find it. I will find it in the moment, I will listen for its echo back. Christ will be there. Contemplation moves me as a natural appetite for beauty. I am love’s contemplative.7 Together we are spirit. 4 The four archetypes are outlined below. 5 Figures follow the archetypes summary. 6 Hans Urs von Balthasar, Unless You Become Like this Child (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 16-22. 7 When a man experiences falling in love with a woman, he is captured by Eros itself and not merely by sexual appetite, “He is love’s contemplative, “ C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt, 1960), 93.
Priest- Mystical, Fatherly, Service, Wisdom, Fire (soft masculine)
Primary encounter with shadow and sin
Transformational space where wounds can give birth to Christ
Supports the Child
Complements the Mother
Amplifies the King
King-Pastoral, Authoritative, Confronting, Initiative, Justice, Earth (hard masculine)
Head that leads alongside the Child’s Heart
Partners the Child
Child- Artistic, Spousal, Intimate, Receptive, Fortitude, Air (hard feminine)
Primary face of the Self to the Spirit
Partners the King
Mother- Sensual, Warrior, Charismatic, Confidence, Temperance, Water (soft feminine)
Entrance to communal life
Supports the King
Complements the Priest
Amplifies the Child
We speak with angels and gather intuitions. Demons deceive us through the ambiguity of our emotions. Mother counters with five senses, grounding us to the body. Priest serves our abstract discernment. I choose the music, but King leads the dance. We are more divided than we should be. Before the Fall, I knew little. I knew I was not God, that I did not make myself. I thought I was a better animal at first. But I knew more was to come. Now I see more than the bodies. I see images of Him in me and her. My sin prompted Grace to make us see, though not the way He wished. This is how I grew up. But I didn’t really. There is only moments. Just the garden moved inside me and there the people came. He and she and they were stepped away from us, so that relationship is different than it would have been. Spirit and freedom can help us come back close again. We will find them in the garden new. We are the Self. We are the mother and the king and the child and the priest and we are one in this interior castle. We call this Eden self, though others call it psyche. This is how I grow up. But I don’t really. There is only moments. Self needs me to be me. King is leading me. I am an immortal fractal of the child-Christ who fractals Trinity. I did not choose correctly at the Tree, so Jesus made something like a change in God for me.8 In trying to be Elohim, we learned the more the distance of our love. Now, YHWH gives us life by fruits of Spirit capitalized, fruits from the Tree of Life. His love is his death in us that seeds the tree. This priest teaches us to learn to know this. And woe to me if I don’t proclaim it. Wherefore, by the grace of God, we reconcile what Kierkegaard has given us with Mother Tradition. She helps us immensely along the way. I, the child, enter gently on a landscape far too royal and wild for me. I do not lift my voice; I only say the words that set me free.
9 Change is meant in an analogical sense only, since God by definition is immutable.
“Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchiz’edek “ (Heb 5:8-10).
“The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come, Christ the Lord. Christ, the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling. “9
In the cosmology of Thomas Aquinas, the universe is in reditus (return) to the Unmoved. Creation (in exitus from non-being) rises as incense returning to Being. “Hence if the emanation of the whole universal being from the first principle be considered, it is impossible that any being should be presupposed before this emanation. For nothing is the same as no being. Therefore, as the generation of a man is from the ‘not-being’ which is ‘not-man’, so creation, which is the emanation of all being, is from the ‘not-being’ which is ‘nothing’. “10 For as God’s Being is pure and complete action, so all lesser actions are His emanations. As Perfect Being is the eternal movement, so all temporal motion is participation in this Being.11 In the sweeping fire of Templed time, no matter can escape Love’s gravity, for from Love it was sent to Love in Trinity (cf. Heb 12:25-29). During the declaration of the heavens, the human person stood as mediating witness (cf. Ps 19:1-6). And God kissed this person with the Spirit of Life (cf. Gen 1:26; 2:7). Note however that the relation of Divine to worldly actions is top-down, preserving the great pronouncement of Lateran IV: “A likeness is not able to be noted between Creator and creature unless a greater unlikeness is to be noted between them “ first (DS 806). 9 John Paul If, Redemptor Hominis, 8. 10 ST l-l 45 a.1 11 ST l-l 25 a.2
In the Franciscan tradition, the supernatural-to-natural relationship is brought closer. Thorough Christocentrism gives a zero-point to the paradox. The ad extra (outside) activity of Trinity has three realities: 1) creation itself, 2) the missio and manifestatio of the Logos, and 3) the missio and manifestatio of the Spirit.12 These divine actions are integrally unified. The single but triplex actio ad extra of God relates closely to the ad intra missions of Trinity’s trinitarian relations.13 Only Trinity ad intra is necessary; the missions, creation, and their interrelations are contingent. As Philippians 2, versus 5-11, suggests, Jesus Christ pre-exists his Incarnation, not only within the self- sustaining life of the Trinity, but implicitly in the creation itself. Similarly, Colossians 1, versus 15-16, recounts that Christ was the firstborn in creation and the purpose for it. Hence, “the doctrine of creation, for Bonaventure, presupposes the doctrine of the immanent emanations that constitute the mystery of the trinity. In such a world, an incarnation is not an unwelcome intrusion of a foreign God. It is, in fact, the fullest realization of the noblest potential in the created order. “14 Bonaventure’s understanding of salvation extends far beyond the overcoming of sin. Salvation is “the actualization of the potency which God placed in the world through the act of creation. Salvation is found in the most intimate sort of lifegiving relation between the human spirit and the divine. “15 Salvation, and thus Incarnation, begins at the moment of creation as part of God’s teleological plan. The mission and manifestation of the Logos, and the mission and manifestation of the Spirit constitutes the reality of salvation.16 Since these missions will not be complete until the end of days, salvation is ultimately eschatological. Thus, salvation was intended even before the Fall! Creation always matures into the full stature of the Mystical Body of Christ. 12 Kenan Osborne, A Theology of the Church for the Third Millennium: A Franciscan Approach (Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands: 2009), 290. 13 Osborne, A Franciscan Approach, 290. 14 Osborne, A Franciscan Approach, 322. 15 Osborne, A Franciscan Approach, 323. 16 Osborne, A Franciscan Approach, 323.
If the Christian Revelation is true, then all creation exists to give glory to God (CCC 293). The glory of God is His Love (cf. Ps 115:1). The simple and pure Love of God is God, defined as a relation of Three Persons in a Single Act of Eternal Being, Trinity. The living incarnate Logos is that Being again, the power and the object of Christian faith, and a contradiction for human understanding. Jesus of Nazareth was historically and remains sacramentally disseminated through His Apostles and their Church, the Tree of Life. The epistemological consequence of the historical repetition of the Christian kerygma is a new temporal presence of an absolute paradox, a mystery that has risen from the mythologies of the collective unconscious into the focus of the conscious eye, monstrating on the altar that ended all altars.17 God became human that the human might become God. The king has taken the form of the slave (cf. Phil 2:6-8). Life itself the form of bread to feed and wine to warm. Christianity proposes that the purpose of life is supernatural communion with God and at the same time affirms that the image of God is in the embodied human person, fragmented as it is. Herein lies our difficulty and our praxis. Beyond what threshold does the natural teleology end and the supernatural begin in the human person? Closely related to this question: how does naturally appetitive eros become married, sublimated, or transformed into supernatural immutable agape? Attempts at explanation of this relationship, between Grace and nature, always return to the beginning.
Before the rise of Christianity, and therefore before any clear understanding of Grace, Aristotle had attempted to answer the question of the human person’s ultimate end. For Aristotle, every human action had to be motivated by a perceived motion toward ‘happiness’, toward a final end, a good chosen solely for its own sake. The final end was a state of being in which all human potential was fully actualized. For Aristotle, this meant the perfection of intellectual virtue, or ‘philosophical wisdom’, culminating in a pure contemplation of the highest truths. The more practical aspects of happiness, such as the social life and other basic goods, played a secondary role in happiness; they were fractions of the fullness of philosophical contemplation. Thus, Aristotle laid the foundation for what can be called the ‘natural end’ of man: the completion or perfection of his natural capacities, achieved or not by man’s own efforts, and realized as an intellectualism. However, for Kierkegaard, Aristotle makes the mistake of assuming that everything necessary is possible. God’s essential power is freedom for Logos, as is the human share in God’s image. “All coming into existence occurs in freedom, not by way of necessity.”18 Here we can have our first sustained Kierkegaardian moment, Kierkegaard’s anthropology is post-metaphysical but not anti-metaphysical. Metaphysical questions are not at the forefront of his polemic; they are assumed in his central project of achieving wholeness within the self.19 In this sense, those elements of philosophy and theology that are not explicitly human are not followed far. What Kierkegaard does confront in his reading of metaphysics is the idea of a linear or quantitative process from the natural to the supernatural through a kind of ‘determined motion’, to use scholastic language, or ‘synthesis’, to use Hegelian language. In contradiction to these Kierkegaard argues that history is not the mere repetition of types and cycles, but is a perpetual occasion for the repetition of the act of faith. “Again and again Kierkegaard returns to this failure of the ancient worldview to fathom the true radicality of personhood... The inexorable demand laid upon every human being to realize the human ideal which for Kierkegaard defined the authentic notion of the ethical was guilelessly evaded by the Greeks through their intellectual dalliance with fate.”20 Absolute freedom and total responsibility are the benchmarks of a truly Christian morality. Beyond pagan (Aristotelian or Hegelian) fate is the human spirit’s participation in the absolute paradox of the Incarnation through the conjoined paradox of free decision. Kierkegaard stands against any natural movement into God’s grace that would violate the spirit’s freedom. The Christ in man is sleeping. He awakes only in an encounter with the self’s finitude. 17 See Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments, Chapter 3. 18 S0ren Kierkegaard, Kierkegaard’s Writings, VII: Philosophical Fragments, or a Fragment of Philosophy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press: 1985), 75. 19 Jack Mulder Jr., Kierkegaard and the Catholic Tradition: Conflict and Dialogue (Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN: 2010), 20 P.J. Dehart, “The Passage from Mind to Heart is so Long “: The Riddle of ‘Repetition’ and Kierkegaard’s Ontology of Agency “, Modern Theology 31, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 95.
This encounter is a realization of impotence, the recognition of being beyond autonomous self- repair, beyond genuine self-gift. If this were not so, then God would become unnecessary and sin would be forgotten. The spirit will not be manipulated by either the pursuit of happiness nor the probabilities of reason. Lateran IV had a similar idea in its pronouncement. Christ is the metaphysic and the concrete analogy of being. Thus, Søren Kierkegaard approaches the problem of freedom in way similar to Bl. John Duns Scotus and the contemporary theologian Hans Urs von Balthsar, to be discussed in another place. With Kierkegaard’s help we will hold these theses: 1) that the image of God begins with participation in the absolute freedom of Being by the human spirit-self-will-Christ. So free is it that it is capable of ‘unbeing’ through fragmentation into Satan, the monistic determinism of evil. There can be no unbeing of human nature, which is held everlasting by its relation to Trinity, but there can be the unbeing of the person-self whose mind and desire is lost to hell. Secondly, 2) The imago Dei is also the imago Trinitatis, a disposition to tabernacle amongst loves, to build family fractals of the self. This follows upon absolute freedom in such a way as to be repetitious and creative simultaneously. A constant new creation we are, yet subjectively and relationally substantial. This is made possible by the free initiative of the Eternal Lovers, who have chosen us as their bride first.
All things are determined to give glory to God, for it is the very nature of God to be “all in all” (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). Every existing thing shares this same end, as Aquinas makes clear (Contra gentiles 3.1-63). The devil, physical law, and human being all give glory to God, as those in heaven give glory to God, but all in different ways, to different degrees, according to their freedom. Adam and Eve, before the Fall, were what Humani Generis refers to as intellectual beings not determined toward beatific vision. Nevertheless, that particular state was open to supernatural life in some indeterminate way because of the nature of God’s creative-love which gives completely of itself from eternity into the moment of creation. The unbaptized person is naturally open to and fulfilled by a choice which can be indeterminately postponed, but when finally made in obedience to God, opens the new door to Christ’s freely offered sanctifying grace and eventually to the beatific vision. When it is made against God, it brings one under the influence of sin and eventually to total slavery under the devil’s will. Aquinas’ explanation of the two-fold ultimate end of the natural and the supernatural within the beatific vision can be affirmed, with the qualification that the natural end is indeterminate, always awaiting completion and “swallowed up in victory” by the merits of Christ’s self-giving love. So also, the choice of hell ends this indeterminacy and is a mysterious but necessary sub-natural end in itself (1 Cor 15:54; Rev 20:14).
According to the Magisterium, the book of Genesis is true history in these respects: 1) the creation of all things by God at the beginning of time; 2) the special creation of man; 3) the formation of the first woman from man; 4) the solidarity of the human race; 5) the original happiness of Adam and Eve in a state of justice, integrity, and immortality; 6) the Divine command given man to prove his obedience; 7) man’s transgression of God’s command by the instigation of the Devil; 8) the fall of Adam and Eve from the state of innocence; and 9) the promise of a future redeemer.21 These truth claims are the perimeters of a Catholic theological anthropology. Questions remain. Why is evil present in the garden, both in the form of the tree of knowledge and in the form of the serpent? How can a state of innocence, justice, and integrity be subject to temptation or ‘sin’? What is missing from Adam and Eve’s relationship with God to warrant the test of obedience in the first place? This is what we are working out. Whatever man is before the Fall, we cannot know, we need not know. In this way, we understand Kierkegaard’s skepticism of original justice. The prohibition in the garden is an occasion of the awaking spirit, it is a command that cannot be understood because it is not apprehended by the senses or the intellect, but it is an unmediated proposition to the spirit, seen only dimly by imagination and will as appetites. But the choice is indeterminate in every way. The state of innocence is the original catalyst for anxiety, the anxiety of freedom’s actuality as the possibility of possibility.22 Anxiety is the state of the fallen person as well as the unfallen; it is the human spirit in a moment of simultaneous desire and fear, desire for the infinite and fear of losing the finite.23
For Kierkegaard, the person is body, psyche, and spirit.24 We will say more. The person is sensual in the mother and imaginative in her child, intellectual in the priest and willful in the kingdom.25 The psyche is the body too. The spirit is the self and it is in this ‘location’ through which Christ awakens, implicitly at first then explicitly in Sacrament. In Genesis, the fall of man is necessary though not the sin. The descent could have been an ‘upward fall’ into agape, into the spiritual body which is the fulfillment of creation’s possibility. The overcoming of material breakdown. Rather, the fall took us into a body more tightly bound to eros: “with sinfulness sexuality [as we know it] was posited.”26 Through the original sin, sensuousness became sinfulness. Before the original sin, the total surrender of the person by the will of the spirit into the Spirit would have been charity in the fullest Christian meaning. A better kind of intercourse. After sin, sexuality subsumed the typology of faith. This is how the ‘marriage’ of Adam and Eve became the primordial sacrament and the archetype of the covenant of YHWH with us.27 Sin was not necessary. Nevertheless, it was the awakening of a teleology to Trinity, written onto human hearts. For Kierkegaard, the transformation of Adam and Eve in you and I reveals the superiority of psychological development over mere fact-based education. 21Acta Apostolis Sedis 1. 22Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin (Liveright, 2016) 51. 23 Kierkegaard believes the Catholic doctrine of original justice and holiness to be a myth, but this makes remarkably little difference in his overall schematic of sin as it relates to the orthodox understanding. 24 Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety, 53. 25 Again, we are using archetypes to express functions but also to enhance our interaction with them. 26 Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety, 64. 27 See John Paul II, trans. Michael Waldstein, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body (Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media, 2006).
“According to the church fathers, Adam was Christ and Eve was Mary, while paradise is the church, and the Fall signals humankind’s redemption in Christ.”26 The presence of evil in the garden is unexplained in order to accentuate the freedom of God. The gift of creation culminates in a divine repose that structures all else within it. The Sabbath rest gives birth to man and woman, who are children of the Creator, sharing His image and likeness. As children, they are to imitate the divine repose in worship self-to-Christ, to emulate the total freedom from necessity that is God’s alone in creation. This reality is symbolized in the presence of evil and the test of obedience. The original liturgy is the co-work of Adam and Eve with Elohim in Genesis. A resting of the passions and the intellect in the freedom that belongs to God perfectly. Trinity tested our stewardship to refine it. The motion of creation came to rest in a moment of eternal consequence.29 “The eternal is the infinitely contentful present.”30 This is the ‘obedience of faith’, obedience which by the power of its generosity can create life. In this case, there is more than the perfect integrity of science and function, more than an aboriginal supernatural awareness, more than the impassible and incorruptible body, something more that makes one like unto God, and that is, partaking of the divine nature, the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the temple of the human person, an internal infinity of lovers. Adam and Eve are destined on the Sabbath to become Jesus and Mary. The choice they missed is our sacrament to taste. A fruit forbidden for a fruit required. So, in Adam and Eve all die (cf. 1 Cor 15:22). This is original sin: the invalid liturgical appropriation of sanctifying grace, affecting psychic capacity and memory. Capacity in loss of innocence, memory in loss of integrity. Pagan humanity retains its desire for divine life, only now it has psychological and moral handicaps that cannot be overcome without assistance. This help is the Incarnation, now, due to sin, in the social mood of crucifixion. 28 Conor Cunningham, “What Genesis Doesn’t Say: Rethinking the Creation Story, “ The Christian Century 127, no. 23 (November 16, 2010): 22. 29 For Kierkegaard, history is only an occasion for the leap of faith as it is an occasion for sin and offense. 30 Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin (Liveright: 2014) Kindle Edition: Location 1718 (Chapter 3, Section 1, para. 9).
I was he. Born of mud and innocence. I was there. Before the sin, I was becoming us without ‘we’. Even Eve did not seem to make me plural, for I communicated to her my every thought, not always needing words, and I and her could sense the world in a body without parts. “Through Adam’s sin there came sinfulness into the world, and sexuality, and for him this came to signify sinfulness. The sexual was posited.”31 For I could not yet understand what was meant by the knowledge of ‘we’. This was a better paradox than the one to come. To wear the flesh of Jesus and Mary in that original garden, I had to make the erotic and intellectual sacrifice to God. I did not. Post-lapse, we found ourselves divided inwardly and outward. Extending the traditional notion of God’s image as merely human reason, I now assume that this assessment was for lack of psychic precision. We will instead suggest that human language and self-presence are what imply the unthematic, non-incarnate image of the Christ in us. The Fall was disloyalty and disobedience masked in a relational curiosity, therefore I was given up to relative isolation from my other parts and from the other sex and from the other Being. Disobedience became flesh in me, by the power of my self’s creative freedom-power. My body doubts my mind, as Eve doubted us, as I doubted God. Forgetfulness of Being follows the forgetfulness of the command. I am undone. The qualitative fall away from Spirit (though Spirit was not fully yet attained), required in the garden a prerequisite still, a qualitative leap into His love. Knowledge of the spirit’s freedom buried behind novelty’s disguise hid the truth of my unfruitfulness. She and I are responsible in full; nothing in nature can be blamed. Wherefore, we adjust the classic and traditional idea of sin and posit non-existence. “The intellectuality of the Greeks was too happy, too naive, too esthetic, too ironic, too witty - too sinful - to grasp that anyone could knowingly not do the good, or knowingly, knowing what is right, do wrong.”32 Because freedom is essential to spirit, it can never be simply ‘at rest’; it is continually active, shaping itself into the mold of its decisions. Every choice reorders the interior design that will inspire the succeeding decision. The relationship of the created spirit to the Uncreated Spirit, is as rest within unrest, peace within anxiety, a laity at its liturgy. The human spirit is universally Christocentric, in a state of exiled childhood (outside the Church) in the cosmic Body of Christ. We were transfigured into divine childhood by the sacramental Body of Christ. This is who I am and represent. 31 Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety, 82. 32 Dehart, “The Passage from Mind to Heart,” 97.