The Fall

Chaitanya Jyothi Museum Opening, 2000

RAMANAM
In the Name of The Father, and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit, Amen.

Countrymen,

ORBIS NON SUFFICIT
SOLUS DEUS SUFFICIT

Before Jeanne led her Soldiers into battle, she led them into the confessional.  Life is personal before it is social.  A clean heart produces clean results. Keep your hearts and houses clean.

After LTC Henry Mucci selected C Company and one platoon of F Company, Sixth United States Ranger Battalion, and after he selected CPT Robert Prince, commanding C Company, to lead the assault and rescue at Cabanatuan POW camp, and after he briefed the mission to those Rangers and gave them an opt-out (all stayed), he ordered all to church to swear before God they would die fighting rather than let harm come to the POWs at Cabanatuan.

Americans have not won a war since 1945. Their civilian leadership has prevented them doing so in each and every case where that same leadership has thrown Americans into combat.

Missions have been accomplished.  Enemies have been stopped in their tracks. But victory, the only reason to enter combat, has been kept away from Americans, artificially, since 1945, by their civilian leaders.  Every enemy engaged by Americans since 1945 has resumed their tracks against Americans by let and leave of American civilian leadership.

Sacro Monte di Domodossola, Piedmont, Italy
Sacro Monte di Domodossola, Piedmont, Italy

Americans are taught to win.  They are used to winning.  They are used to being magnanimous in victory, but they are used to victory as the basis of magnanimity.

Americans resent being used as doormats, whether by foreign or domestic powers.  They dismiss obsequiousness and hate special pleading.  Americans are accustomed to their own legs and generally like and rely on them.  And they justifiably expect others to be alike at least in that regard.

Americans’ victory in 1945 marked the beginning of an unbroken string of Americans’ defeats for, so far, sixty eight years.  Americans today are sneered at, mocked and killed with impunity.  Their civilian leaders gloat over Americans’ world-wide humiliation, engineering it in fact.  The list of Americans’ defeats is not written by chance.  It is planned and executed by Americans’ own civilian leadership.

Why is victory at arms so important?  Is it important?  Why do many in America consider it unimportant and even undesirable, especially the civilian leadership?

Victory at arms is important because expansion is life, war is expansion in every sense and apart from war there is no expansion/life (Heraclitus). War (struggle) is man’s essential expansive activity. Non-expansion is death. You want to shrivel and die? Lose your wars, abandon your struggles. You think you won’t have wars and don’t need to respond to attack, or preempt it? Look around you. Want to pretend you are not involved, not at war, require no striving? Look around you. Think you can lose a battle here and there, refuse activity and maintain yourself? Look around you.

So why does Americans’ civilian leadership and why do many in America want Americans dead and America disgraced? Why do these want to lose America’s wars so that America dies? Why do they believe defeat or default is OK?

Answer: they reject the Christian myth of the Fall while covertly appropriating (and deforming) other religious symbols to propel creepy, unitarian, universalist fantasies they embrace with idolatrous fervor.

The Christian myth of the Fall discusses human existence as fallen away from, down from its divine origin and essence. Man’s experience in life is a let down from who he really is, a less than his real depth and source. Man lives in a sea of troubles, a field of toil and sorrow, far, far outside paradise. Separation from himself and his home is man’s condition in life. He is a fallen creature. His life is not as who he really is.

Christian tradition calls this condition Sin and says that man is not that. Man is not Sin, not essentially, though he exists in a condition of Sin. Christian tradition recognizes mundane acts of sin which we call sins, but distinguishes between those and the condition of Sin wherein man’s existential experience is smaller than his essential divinity.

 

Fushimi-Inari Railway Station, Kyoto, Japan
Fushimi-Inari Railway Station, Kyoto, Japan

 

The bumptious Caliphist element gnawing the United States – by let and leave of Americans’ defeat-aiming civilian leadership – rejects the Christian myth of the Fall on pseudo-theological grounds: Caliphists accept sins as particular acts of disobedience against mullahs’ diktats but rejects Sin as a condition of existence; for example, as estrangement from God and oneself.

Starting in the Renaissance and completing in the Enlightenment, Euro-American moral and intellectual leadership rejected the Christian myth of the Fall from essential nature into existential nature. In its place was substituted a concept that man’s existence is his essence and must be progressively actualized through education, government, science, arts, etc., or compelled by government fiat. Essence and existence are one and the same. Man as met through the senses, to include the brain, is all he is and can be. Man’s existence is not a falling away from his essence. Man’s existential nature is his essential nature. There’s only one. No split, no fall. The world is enough. It is as good as it gets.

This concept is known as humanism. It brings some religious elements through the back door, mainly to assert moral imperatives, and refuses to acknowledge doing so. Humanism is an irrational exuberance.

There are two types of humanism, one idealistic and revolutionary, one naturalistic and conservative. Idealistic humanism posits that man’s existence, though identical with his essence, must progressively confirm that essence through his thoughts and actions, especially in social and political affairs. Covertly, idealistic humanism introduces a moral imperative. Naturalistic humanism posits that man’s existence already fully confirms his essence and he must compel himself and his neighbors to accept that fact while rejecting cross-examination of it. Covertly, naturalistic humanism also introduces a moral imperative.

Humanism rejects expansion as life while relishing the deployment of imported moral imperatives to get its way in the world. It rejects war as an expression of life. Effort aims only to implement some tactical moral imperative or proximate social-empirical gratification, not to loose the swelling beauty, skills and crafts of the human spirit. Humanism is deeply regressive, fundamentally divisive, deliberately unfair, congenitally solipsistic, grimly suppressive and insufferably moralistic.

The apogee of humanism’s intellectual development is the essentialist philosophy of Hegel, who employed classical philosophical idealism for a base and was no fool regarding the hardships, cruelties and tragedies of human existence. While accepting the estrangement (Hegel coined the concept) of existential man from his essential nature, Hegel asserted that man’s estrangement has been overcome by reconciliation in all aspects of culture. His examples of reconciliation are in contemporary Prussia, who paid his bills.

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome, Italy
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican, Rome, Italy

 

Between 1830 and 1850 a decisive reaction set in against Hegelian essentialism, and not against parts, against all of it, as a system. Some were his students, some were not. Some came from a theological direction, some from a humanist one. Kierkegaard and Marx were among the former, Schelling and Schopenhauer the latter. All are existentialists. All asserted that man and his essential nature most assuredly are not reconciled and that Hegel’s huge and powerful system most assuredly is not realistic. Later came more existentialists, again from theological and humanist sources. These made the 20th Century what it was.

Not one of them, however, could answer the existential question from within itself. The existential question is: what to do about the unavoidable predicament of man, his experience of a split between his existential life and his essential depth. There is not a “theistic” existentialism and an “atheistic” existentialism. There is but one existentialism and it cannot answer its own question.

Hegel, by contrast, had answered his structural, idealist question from within itself. He also answered from within itself the existential question which idealism, too, especially in its epistemological depth, arouses. The answer may be facile but it is present in Hegel’s system.

When existentialists sought answers to the existential question, they drew from their own religious or quasi-religious (humanist) traditions rather than from their existential analysis: Pascal from Augustine, Kierkegaard from Luther, Marcel from Thomas, Dostoevsky from Greek Orthodoxy, Tillich from Origen and Augustine and Marx, Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Dewey, James and Jaspers from one or the other type of humanism.

The numerous personalities and “movements” shooting around the Frankfurt School are last rockets of the existentialists who derived their answers, such as they were, from the quasi-religion of humanism. We see today their academic and political heirs mucking up human affairs in high glee and grim hubris. Fag enders all.

Humanism has not answered the existential question. Neither education (equipment) nor government (compulsion) has reunited man with his essential nature. His experience of himself remains split. Man remains estranged from himself and from his world. War (struggle) remains his avenue of fulfillment, of expansion, his road not to life but of it.

Humpty Dumpty lay in a beck.
With all his sinews around his neck;
Forty Doctors and forty wrights
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty to rights!

The Christian myth of the Fall remains Euro-American civilization’s richest and profoundest expression of man’s awareness of his existential predicament. Caliphist and Asian civilizations have nothing comparable. Vedic civilization does. The Christian myth of the Fall is a decisive part of the Christian tradition and of Euro-American civilization.

Christian literalists harm Christianity, subvert the Christian apologetic mission and, unintentionally perhaps, support both types of humanism and the political front of idealistic humanism – progressivism – by identifying the myth of the Fall with a literal reading of the Genesis stories. Doctrine can be made from a myth but a myth cannot be made a doctrine.

The myth of the Fall, as found in Genesis, discusses the transition from man’s essential state to his existential state, from God to world, from innocence to guilt, from divinity to humanity, from pre-dialectics to the subject-object split. We focus here on that transition and not other aspects of the story.

Only the language of myth can make this discussion because the subject is that which precedes and precipitates language and discussion. Literal language cannot make this discussion, it cannot address that subject. Mythological language can and in Genesis does.

Petropavlovskaya Krepost, St. Petersburg, Russia
Petropavlovskaya Krepost, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

A myth is a theological thought that can be made explicit through interpretation, but not by taking the myth itself literally. Myths may comprise theological speculation, meditative elevation and/or theological penetration. They discuss theological depth, not data sets. Their importance is that depth, not the details of the story they employ to discuss it.

The discussion in Genesis is about universal experience. It is not about a man, a woman, a snake, a tree and God some long time ago. Those are elements of a story used to discuss a theological insight into universal experience. Nor is the discussion in Genesis an aetiology of an “original sin” of ancestors transmitted to all succeeding generations as a curse. That nonsense is an eisegesis of the discussion in Genesis. The discussion is about universal experience, not a line of inheritance.

The discussion in Genesis also is about the absolutely particular. It delves into universal experience through a theological penetration of its personal roots. An eminently legitimate discussion. What is and whence comes this predicament of estrangement experienced by every human particular? The story, a myth, discusses that subject.

The critical element of the discussion is the proscription of eating fruit of a certain tree. The proscription itself is the critical element, not the fruit or its nature, not the tree, not concepts of good and evil.

An order is not given unless there is potential to disobey it. The story is saying that even before he is thrown into existence – that is, while he is in a state some have called utopia (ou topos, literally “no place”) and others dreaming innocence, paradise or Eden – man already is endowed by his Creator with freedom to choose against his best interests, against himself … and against his Creator.

This freedom is finite because man, including in the state of dreaming innocence, is a creature. Man’s finite freedom is part of his original creature-hood. And, unlike other creatures, man is aware of the finitude of his freedom.

Using Kierkegaard’s concept of anxiety (German Angst, Latin augustiae, literally “narrows,” as in angina) – a concept Kierkegaard made central in existentialism – Tillich calls man’s finite freedom while still in dreaming innocence anxious freedom (sich ängstigende Freiheit).

A proscription of a certain fruit is made in advance of that proscription’s being abridged. It is made while man’s existence, though not his creature-hood, is potential, not actual. The proscription arrives inside man’s state of dreaming innocence, seemingly before it is required.

The proscription implies separation between a giver and a receiver even while both are inside utopia, where, one would think, proscriptions are unnecessary because giver and receiver are united. The command presupposes a sin which is not yet a sin but which is also no longer innocence, says Tillich. A split is implied even in paradise.

The command arouses in man’s potentiality, in the anxious freedom of his dreaming innocence, a desire to test the command and its implied separation between an essential and an existential nature and between potentiality and actuality. The desire actualizes man’s finite freedom and the command is abridged. Faced with the choice, from his finite but anxious freedom, of remaining in dreaming innocence or actualizing his potential, man chooses actualization. His freedom remains finite but is now aroused as well as anxious.

The result is immediate and catastrophic. He falls. Suddenly man’s freedom and his destiny dis-unite. Struggle ensues … and disharmony … and war … and the shame of experiencing good and evil. Dreaming innocence is over. In its place, separation, distance, split. Actuality – what we call existence or world – and its terrors and travails overtake man on the instant. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity hold man in their grip.

The proscription has confronted man with a double threat: he becomes anxious about losing himself by actualizing his potentiality and by not actualizing it. On the horns of this dilemma, man chooses to actualize … and loses himself.

Humanism is born, vainly to hope away or not face facts.

And all of this potens conjuncts at a command and a finite freedom in a state of dreaming innocence. The very terms of his creation predispose man to actualize himself and that self-actualization, in his finite freedom, disrupts his connection to his origin. Behind the Fall is the exercise of a freedom of will which, while devastating in its consequences, is the Creator’s good pleasure to occur.

And that makes war (struggle) man’s return road to paradise. War is man’s essential nature expanding towards reunion with his source. Struggle in self-confidence, self-satisfaction and self-sacrifice is man’s way home to God. The second movie titled Lost Horizon, produced by Ross Hunter in 1973 to near unanimous contempt, discusses this phenomenon with grace and perspicacity.

The snake, who in the story represents nature in the sense of delusion, is neither an efficient nor a subtle cause of the Fall. He participates in man’s destiny, always, but does not cause it. Delusion plays to man’s anxiety, tempting him to choose against himself. Yet, the possibility of self-harm is already given in the implication of the command occurring in paradise, namely, that there is a split. And the command precedes the snake. The command, not the snake, is the first disruption in the equanimity of paradise. The snake merely plays on the anxiety inside man’s creaturely freedom while hung on the question of which loss to take, the loss of actualizing or the loss of not actualizing.

Man in his own finite freedom causes his own destiny. His own will, not delusion, drives the Fall of man down and away from his essential nature, the utopia of unity with his depth and source, his Ground of Being.

Paloma Olocau del Rey, Chile
Paloma Olocau del Rey, Chile

At this point one could speculate that, from God’s point of view, it is best for man’s personhood, for his character development, that he undergo Creation, Fall, Travail, Redemption and Restoration as new, bigger, brighter, calmer, maturer … God-like, indeed. One also could speculate that God enjoys to pass his time enacting this absolutely particular and absolutely universal drama. Or, one could speculate that God is a sadistic bastard, incompetent, impotent and cruel. I choose not to actualize those potential speculations.

Jeanne d’Arc took her Soldiers into the confessional and LTC Mucci took his Rangers into church for a solemn oath because of the fallen nature of man’s existential condition and the desirability of mitigating that condition as a prelude to victory in combat. A pure and single heart is the sine qua non of a successful life, which, for man, because he chooses self-actualization, is expansion through the dialectic of conflict.

If you self-actualize, you fight until you drop.

The foregoing aims to describe. It does not aim to explain or to exhort.

Existence cannot be derived from within existence. It cannot be traced to an individual event in time and space. Existence is at once universal and grounded. And time and space are creatures along with causality and substance. … all are punish’d.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

God can.

Update 1: 2nd Rangers at Pointe du Hoc

AUM NAMAH SHIVAYA

Sarva Dharma Symbol
Sarva Dharma Symbol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *