Thursday, May 20, 2010

Divine Pathos

"The human mind is the meeting point of mind and mystery, of reason and trascendence." --Between God and Man by A.J Heschel and F.A,. Rothchild

It has been written of the Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel that he is 'anti-rational' and 'mystical' owing to his origins as a child of Jewish Hasidism. He is indeed often 'guilty' of both. To the mind of Heshel the beauty and awe of the world is both dependent and the result of the unknowable, the mysterious reality that the Torah names as G-d. To biblical Man, the world appears not as an intellectual abstraction, a thought but as a total happening. It is the reality of the Jewish world that the Lord who creates the heaven and the earth and all contained within should also lend to his creation a sense of both historical and ultimate reality. This he does and also imparts free will to his creations. Thus the struggle between the Creator and creation is set.

Between G-d and Man, writes Heshel, is not a simple presumption of G-d's existence but a "going beyond self-consciousness and questioning of the self and all its congitive pretensions... the ultimate [dimension] comes first, and our reasoning about Him second... Just as there is no thinking about the world without the premise of  the reality of the world, there can be no thinking about G-d with out the premise of  the realness of G-d..."

In the conception of authors Heschel and Rothchild
there is in fact a 'Divine Pathos' in the relation between G-d and man. The book, Between G-d and Man, discusses the west, in religion and through cultures, that it is assumed  man is simply a subject and G-d is the object; that our spiritual search for Him, He Who Is, constitutes a means and an end. For Heshel, it is simply the opposite: it is G-d who seeks his Beloved, his own creation, who seeks to engage them in the work of creation. He covenants with them and calls them to the task. The pathos of G-d then in this way of thinking, is that He seeks, exhorts and cultivates holiness in the day to day lives of mankind. G-d cares ultimately.

This pathos does not arise out of nothingness. It is a reaction to the behavior of man which leads him fields away from the holiness of G-d, the ultimate unity, the one of all, which he intends. The divine intends action conceived in free will for the freedom of creation; from the slavery of self-centeredness and growth of the awareness that man while ineluctably placed within the view of of the divine, from which sight is inescapable. Creation  is also the object of unmeasured care and concern for its well being. Man may then experience a possibility of objective reality that is expressed in the unending joy of a co-creator. There creates the 'mystical union.'

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