Guilt and Shame
The progressive movement of externalized Shame unto internalized Guilt was and is the primary means to rend the heart, of either man or god; the heart which is, of course, the metaphorical nexus from which all “true” revelations originate, and, if such is transmuted into an emotionally resonant work of art, alone has the power to communicate the sort of revelatory truth that might transcend mere empirical superficiality and thereby bind the heart of the sender and receiver so as to achieve at least of semblance of the kind of consensual communality which predominated man before the coming of consciousness, that communality which alone is the source of all meaning and purpose and results in the cessation of man’s subjective and self-defeating striving, all of which is, from a lofty historical vantage, the most prescient indicator of where on the endless back-and-forth continuum of “consciousal” development that consciousness at any one time can be located. For, no greater emotion might be evoked than those which stem from Shame and Guilt (aside from maybe Love, of course, though Love itself is typically realized – after the initial bevy of its accompanying sensations – because of and perhaps as a response to Guilt). As such, no other products – or consequences – of awareness have the power to spur a man to the sort of action that might lead him to a truer understanding of himself and, if possible, not merely his world at large but also perhaps the domain of Faith, if only by a perception of its negative relief, which is to say, “what it is not”.
Shame results when a man, who so associates himself with the collective to which he believes he belongs, does something which places deleterious emotional and social burdens on the collective to which he is associated; that burden which one must publicly atone for before both the accuser and his group which – in its entirety – becomes as if the single accused. If the atonement for one’s shame is accepted by all parties involved, the collective is bound more closely than it was previously and its collective heart is allowed to heal.
Guilt results when a man, who no longer thoughtlessly associates himself with any sort of collective, does something which places deleterious emotional – and usually “spiritual” (i.e., immaterial, emotional, introspective) – burdens upon oneself irrespective of any group he may be affiliated. His atonement is typically made before and to his god and must be accepted by that god in order for the unity between God and man to be driven closer than it was before such an act that produced the burden.
All men, especially those most “common” and otherwise dependent upon the so-called wisdom and insight of “great minds” and who desire, above all else, to be accepted by the group to which the great mind is associated, want to be at the forefront of what they believe to be the “bleeding edge” of whatever values the group they believe themselves associated uphold, which is to say, the “most sophisticated” conversational form that said group and by it, his greater culture and society, is able to produce. If such a group, therefore, satisfies itself with the notion that “God is dead” or more naively, that “God does not exist, nor ever has” the common group member, even if a far satellite of and to the group’s inner workings and motivations, will gleefully and without reservation adopt such a superficial position, giving little to no thought as to the overall efficacy of the claim in his hopes of mere group association.
In much the same way did the people of the medieval period embrace without hesitation the claims made by, if not the church, then at least its most esteemed theologians. Medievals who, likewise, gave little to no consideration as to the overall efficacy of the precepts of God that they merely assumed true and unerring simply because of their want and need of group association, never mind if the Medieval God was ultimately, over many long, meticulous centuries shown not to be the actual God who transcends Reason and language but the “European God” who, as an idol, was destined to be fashioned into some “thing” that He was not in the first place; an “idol” which was destined to be dispatched as soon as the original revelations through which He was confessed into the world of Reason became blurred and obfuscated by generations of perversions that the well-meaning minds of Reasonable men could not help themselves from fashioning this “God” into a “God of” Reason; that god made according to their own nature and likeness, theirs which was, of course, no God at all, at least not one with the staying power and ability to transcend time, space, and the language of man, no matter how sophisticated, nuanced, and lofty.
Artistic or Aesthetic “truth”, as opposed to Truth “as such”, or “Truth in itself” – the kind that might only be found in the transcendent domain of Faith – might be “true” for a time, even a inconceivably long time, but it can still only be “true” in a finite, changeable sense – not that the senses which inform and give life to such “true” proclamations are capable of changing (at least not in a way that might be perceivable over dozens of generations), but merely our interpretations of such sensory impressions.
That which is “merely true” and is typically found in our deliberate aesthetic and artistic creations, will always be subject to change, for nothing stops subsequent generations of thinkers, not content with the supposedly “true” proverbs and axioms they inherited from their forefathers, will always seek to challenge and hold up before the fire of scrutiny so as to see if their inherited axioms survive the flames.
What then are we to do with “the true”? Should so great an intellectual and artistic heritage bequeathed to our present generation be so readily disabused and disavowed simply because no “true” vestige of the past can ever stand up to the corrosive power of time and change?
By all means, no! — for as long as one is focused on the speck in the eyes of our fathers’ will he remain blind to the plank in his own eye. In such blindness will he erect his own idols upon and with the crumbled ashes of his fathers; his idols – our idols – which will no doubt be pulverized by subsequent generations of thinkers who will always think and act with the same gleeful ignorance as those who live in the present.
I, for one, am no revolutionary nor would I ever advocate the premeditated destruction of my inheritance simply for the sake of destruction. Though at one time was I prodigal, in my maturity I have never thought it prudent nor tasteful to disdain the works of my forefathers simply because it is not my own; nor have I ever thought I could outrun the relentless pace of the Father who will in every case chase down, like the Hound of Heaven that He is, any meager attempt to flee the calling of His great and unassailable Truths.
Though we do not have to accept the specific articles of the inheritance we have received, we should endeavor to ascertain how the process of idol-making unfolds in the intellectual life of man and how, therefore, those articles were “created” or “arrived at” and, once there, scorn not the articles themselves but endeavor to see them as failed attempts to view God with one’s own sight in a direct, affirmative way; such “direct sight” which I have repeatedly said is impossible to accomplish and yet still live but can only be “accomplished” by attempting it’s opposite – its “negative valuation”; all to say, “the kingdom of God is not like this or that”.
As stated, some articles of our inheritance, however “true” and thus subject to change they might be, are certainly still valid and applicable to us today. Perhaps not to those who live tomorrow, but indeed today insofar as it is still reckoned “today”. Even these, however, should not be treated as gospel, for there is only one gospel that the Spirit of God professes to man and that – of which I am only able to confess via the Spirit who has elected me for His good purpose – confesses that God emptied Himself and limited Himself as a man so as to die as a man but to be raised as God from death by virtue of a sinless life through the power of the Spirit, all of which had been planned outside and beyond time, and space; an act which, among much, also released the Spirit of God into the world of things and, as Faith itself, brought the irrationalities of Faith to the world of rational things so as to bring all men to the knowledge of Truth according to His own good pleasure, some to enjoy that Truth, others to be disabused of it according to their own preordained perdition which, even in their abuse, still confess the Truth as Truth, and perhaps even more so than those who have been chosen to enjoy it.
Devil walks into bar. Orders drink. Asks Philosopher sitting next to him: “And what do you do?”