Tuesday, April 21, 2015

the price of love

Think of Abraham and Isaac.

Abraham loves his son above all save God. God asks Abraham to trek the mountain Moriah with Isaac and then to murder him for love of God.

At the penultimate moment, Abraham, being a man of honor tells Isaac he will be killed. Abraham does not sell out God, he never tells the son of God's hand in this situation! Abraham couldn't allow God's image to be sullied in Isaac's eyes. Naturally, Isaac freaks out and begins frantically praying to God for mercy, forsaking Abraham.

Abraham and Isaac return home and live out their lives, with ...

Isaac believing profoundly in the father above, and spreading that faith.

Abraham has achieved his true goal of having a thriving, successful son, but with a price. The price being that Isaac will always believe his father to be a murderer, a craven.

I'm reading Soren Kierkegaard's essay on these two literary figures, Fear and Trembling, and the above is a very serious nutshell of his perspective on the story. To catch up on Kierkegaard, he's an existential christian. So, I immediately realize he must love paradox as I do. Soren says of Abraham that his very greatness stems from his dualities, his "...paradox. Strength is powerlessness, wisdom is folly, hope is insanity, love which is self-hate."

Abraham's love of God becomes self-hatred. Abraham knows he is either a murderer or a man of faith, and further knows that there is no heroic movement to be had from this sacrifice. That the real sacrifice was not avoided, Isaac thrived at the price of Abraham's eternal anguish.

Kierkegaard says, "to labor and be heavy laden" is good, that anguish is good, he claims that obligation elevates. That if we are not making passionate, life-long commitments to our personal ethics and arts, then we are just running errands. Soren calls anguish infinite regression. It is the realization that our freedom collapses, that our decisions have consequences, that every want can't be had, that the world is brutal, that the center cannot hold, that sometimes we must give up Isaac for God.

What makes Soren so interesting to me is that he claims an existential should. He says we should push through. He says "infinite resignation is the step before faith". Soren believes that the highest act of faith is Abraham walking down the mountain and returning to life. He also believes that this is absurd and a marvel. From the book, "Abraham's paradox is that murder is turned into a holy act, because faith begins precisely where thinking leaves off."

Well, well, well, really? Finally. A totally honest Christian.

Back to pushing through as a should. What is on one side of the aperture and what is on the other? What does that moment of being both at once look like?

The picture below is worth these words: B is the boundary between two opposites along a continuity (we'll call it a line), on the left the line is named IS, on the right the line is named IS NOT. [[could be positive - negative, white - black, lie - truth, velocity - position, ad infinitum]]

B is the intersection of IS and IS NOT, however briefly, therefore IS = IS NOT at point B. Point B is a paradox. A couple interesting ideas emerge from this ... first that every paradox exposes a duality which exists on a continuous line. And second, that the paradox is precisely where we push through from.

Or what i would call a dimension shift.

Or what Kierkegaard would call faith.

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