Hey, Icarus, how high will you fly?
For DAY THIRTEEN, we turn to a fella named Pseudo-Dionysius, who lived in the late 5th or early 6th century and was apparently the first person to get mystical reflections into real philosophical discussion. I’ma call him Fake-Dio for short.
For AfL, we read an excerpt from Fake-Dio’s The Mystical Theology. In good apophatic tradition, he insists that every affirmation about God must be followed by a negation of that affirmation.
For instance, anytime someone says to you, “God loves you,” you must negate that statement: “you can’t really know who or what or how ‘God’ is; and how do you define love? what sort of love are you talking about? none of us really know how to love, so how would we know ‘God’s’ love if it hit us right between the eyes?” etc.
This a/theism is transrational: the reason and the emotion bowing to Something Greater Than that defies being put into words. “God” is:
- beyond our assertions and denials
- neither error nor truth
- unknown and unknowable
- neither being nor nonbeing.
In this a/theism, we move through three phases:
- the via positiva (nomination: making assertions about “God”)
- the via negativa (de-nomination: negating each assertion about “God”)
- the via eminentia (an enlightened affirmation freed from any attempt at comprehension).
The via eminentia acknowledges the Reality that stands beyond all affirmation or negation. “The religious individual is one who opens themselves up to this hyper-reality” (Rollins).
So, the person who claims be be religious and claims to know God, but refuses to abandon the via positiva
is less a theist
than the person who claims to be nonreligious and denies God’s existence, but maintains an openness toward Absolute Otherness.
A/theism is a process of purification.
In this a/theism, most uncomfortably for the theist, the “Lord’s Prayer” morphs into far more than praise and petition:
- “Our Father, who art in heaven,” –> the naming of God (nominating)
- “hallowed by thy name.”
“Hallowed.” Proclaimed sacred. The name of God, made holy.
The name of God…othered.
God, denominated by the very text that Christians point to in order to “prove” assertions about God and God’s name, in God’s name.
“The fact is that the more we take flight upward, the more our words are confined to the ideas we are capable of forming….”–Pseudo-Dionysius
Hello there, Icarus reading these words. How high shall you fly?
Will you fly high enough to relinquish your wings made of shackled words and embrace your freedom in the unnameable, unknowable, nonbeing Other?