Thursday, September 9, 2004

The joy of being an old guy

I try to avoid discussion boards (just like I try to avoid anonymous verbal pissing contests in quicksand offline, as a matter of fact). But I do enjoy getting occasional (and easily deletable) emails from one board, I only divert a few of the topics my way, usually Church history, theology, and miscellaneous. There are some regulars I enjoy, particularly an older fellow I'll call Norman. I may be wrong about his age, but I recall Norman mentioning being an octogenarian; even if he didn't, two things about him lead me to believe he's "up there."

First, Norman is unbelievably well read, mostly evident, paradoxically, from the fact that he rarely cites specific works; he simply exudes wisdom. The man has waded into the depths and such patent profundity is the labor of decades. Second, Norman has the pithy assurance of a man that has thought long and hard about what he writes on these little message boards -- a virtue which is too often mistaken for arrogance or vague nonchalance. I like Norman's appraoch because he helps, me a young man, lift my eyes, at least in glimpses, to the longer range of life and thought.

Take a recent discussion thread started by a young university student about a seventh-century (?) refutation of the Trinity by a Muslim thinker named al-Warraq (discussion posts typically cry to the heavens for sic's but I won't add them):

You see this "refutation" of the Trinity by al-warraq is remarkeable in the sense he is the first and probably only Muslim to attempt to counter the Trinity using the same vocabulary it was established upon. The article tries to emphasise that although al-warraq had the voabulary, he lacked understanding of that vocab. in its metaphysical context. ...

Id like someone to address the problems which ive picked out above, as this is actually directly relevant to a presentation i have to do for university in about 1 and a half weeks time from now. ...

i am focusing on specific points on the model!

From those passages ive quoted:

a) do they present Augustinian Trinitarinism accurately, and if no why not? and

b) does the model presented in those quotations imply that God can have more than 3 hypostasis (such as power as a fourth for example), yet only 3 persons (due to the intellectual aspect of ego, love, knowledge)? If yes, than why, and if no, why not?

c) Out of the following three "The knower, the knowledge and the known", which ones are hypostasis, are any of them? all of them? And how about "The lover, love, and the beloved"? whats the relationship between set 1) and set 2)? Whats the relationship between the persons of the Trinity and these "attributes"?

Heady stuff, ain't it? All the more compelling given the week-plus deadline! Darn it all, why won't somebody answer these riddles! The future is now!

And then in steps Norman:

Again, this is a monumentally vast and complicated issue and task that cannot be accomplished in a week and a half. It will, of course, never have a resolution, but to even adequately understand the issue requires a vast amount of reading, studying, questioning, praying and meditating on the subject. I would suggest five years minimum.

That tickles so pink I'm red. That's a pure shade of the sublime, I do say. "Give it at least five years, sport." I've heard it said that the (Catholic) Church thinks in centuries, and I catch an aroma of that regal antiquity in Norman's reply. Unfortunately, the media think in hours and the rest of us -- especially students -- generally think, at the upper limit, in months. Fortunately, this young man, yours truly, is learning, fitfully, haltingly, to think with the eternal mind.

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