Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Echo of Original Experience

As we continue this journey into the Theology of the Body, we come to see something that is quite essential to the entire human experience, the fact that there is still an echo in our innermost being of man's original experience before the fall.

JP II says that there is an essential continuity and link between the pre-hisotoric (pre-fall) and historic (post-fall) man. This link is essential to JP II and, in a certain sense, this is of little surprise, for JP II is a Thomist to the core, and all Thomist's believe in the natural inclination towards the good. This is speculation on my part, but I do believe that for JP II, this natural inclination is that continuity between the pre-historic and historic man. All people are ordered towards the good, however, sin now has distorted that reality, though it has not taken it away. Sin has muddied our entire perception of the world, Christ wipes away that dirt so that we can more clearly see that good which we are to pursue.

So, JP II says that the imprint, the negative (as in a photo negative) is still imprinted in man. In order to have a fuller understanding of that state of Original Innocence we must flip that negative in order to see that positive which was there at the beginning. We can look at our human experiences and see what it is, to a certain extent, that we are no longer experiencing. Sin is only definable by the fact that it has disrupted that Original Innocence. Sin misses the mark, but it also reveals to us that mark we have missed, since we cannot miss a mark without knowing it.

The redemption of the body for us has been won by Christ. Through His Incarnation and thus through His death, our bodies have been redeemed by His death on the cross. It is because of Christ's redeeming act on the cross that man is able to have that continuity within himself. Without Christ, there is no ability to overcome our sinful nature, it is only through Him that we are able to grow closer to the way it used to be, to the way of Original Innocence.

Man does indeed participate in the history of human sinfulness, but even more importantly, he participates in and are thus co-creators of the history of salvation. By claiming faith in Christ, we automatically take part and help form that history of salvation for the glory of God through His grace. Faith means being open to the gift. By having faith in Christ, we are thus open to His gift. By being open to His gift, we become subjects and co-creators in salvation history. It is through viewing himself this way that man is able to see the "beginning" as his true fullness. We are aiming for our eschatological end through the fact that we are coming to aim for a fuller living out of that original state.

Here we run into a need for clarity. How is it that we are able to use subjective human experience to discuss the objective truth of revelation? JP II answers that if we do not apply subjective experience together with that objective truth of revelation, then these revelations become merely abstract thoughts that have no import on our lives. JP II states that both are important, and indeed revelation is of the utmost importance. We must, however, discuss revelation by applying it to our experiences and seeing how it affects each and every one of us, seeing how our own experiences cry loud and proud that we truly yearn for that truth about our human existance. Therefore, through looking at our own human experiences to their very depths, JP II is able to abstract from them those common experiences which speak true and reveal to us a deeper meaning about man in the beginning.

JP II sees it as very necessary of looking deep within the human experience, because the human experience speaks of truths which resound perfectly with revelation. The human desire to love, to be affirmed, to be loved, this is all true within the Church's teachings on marriage and sexuality and the very heart of the human person. JP II attempts to extract this and apply it in a more deeper way so that the Church can have a fuller understanding of the mystery of God's plan and of God. The reason for this is because, prior to the fall, there was no tension between man's subjective experience and the objective truth. They were in perfect harmony, in which man's experience coincided and revealed in the most intimate way those universal and immutable truths. However, with the entrace of sin into the world, everything is distorted. Because man grasps instead of freely receives, the interaction which was once mutually important to each other because their differences brought that perfect harmony to the world, there is now a perceived tension because sin has distorted our view. Instead of man freely receiving God's gift, he now tries to take it. God freely gives Himself in the fullest way through Christ, and man can again begin to have that harmony between subjective experience and objective truth by man freely accepting and nurturing the gift that God has given us.

Next time we will discuss the idea of Original Solitude. I could continue in more depth on the objective truth and subjective experience, but that could go on forever. It is important to have that basic idea of it, and to understand fundamentally that they are not at tension with each other, but are there to compliment each other. Christ expresses this perfectly in Himself. He IS the universal truths, yet He is also a person who has experiences and relations. Christ is the point in which the universal and subjective are re-orientated back to their original harmony.


No comments: