Friday, March 09, 2007

Wriggling

As Dionysius says, (Coel. Hier. i) it is more fitting that divine truths should be expounded under the figure of less noble than of nobler bodies, and this for three reasons. Firstly, because thereby men's minds are the better preserved from error. For then it is clear that these things are not literal descriptions of divine truths, which might have been open to doubt had they been expressed under the figure of nobler bodies, especially for those who could think of nothing nobler than bodies. Secondly, because this is more befitting the knowledge of God that we have in this life. For what He is not is clearer to us than what He is. Therefore similitudes drawn from things farthest away from God form within us a truer estimate that God is above whatsoever we may say or think of Him. Thirdly, because thereby divine truths are the better hidden from the unworthy.

I thought of this (Aquinas, ST 1.1.9 ad 3) on reading this. Of course, Aquinas means that it's better to use terms like 'rock' or 'river' than, say, 'man' to describe God, because it's less likely to confuse people, is more modest about what we can actually know (rather than merely suggest), and require more careful reflection to understand. So it's a rather different thing. But some of the argument carries over; God wants a relationship, while Sarah just wants a one-night stand in which God just quietly slips away and leaves her life exactly like it was before. It's a twisted, blasphemous scenario; but when I look out on the world, it seems to me that the common attitude is exactly that twisted and blasphemous. People do usually want just to have a one-night stand with God, no promises and no demands, and make up all sorts of excuses about how it's better that way. But the problem is that God always makes promises and demands, so they have to wriggle out of everything it commits them to, even to the point of baldfaced lying. (The best part of the video clip was when she became very indignant at the suggestion that she might be dishonest and then immediately moves into shameless lying. That's pretty much the way it really goes when people are dealing with God.)

Of course, Silverman's humor tends to be a bit asinine; but we have it on a good source that even an ass can speak the truth on occasion. It's nowhere close to Till We Have Faces in quality, nuance, class, and context, but the picture of the world is much the same.

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