Saturday, January 23, 2010

" Heart and reason can no longer be kept in their separate places. The daring heart must invade reason with its own living warmth, even if the symmetry of reason must give way to admit love and the pulsation of life. "
___________Bruno Bettleheim, The Informed Heart

I might say that this is the "winter of my discontent", but it is much more accurately described as the "winter of my elevated foot ". Yes, last Fall was just that....a fall, indeed. On November 17th, I fell down my stairs, breaking my left foot, arm and wrist. After surgery (pins and plates inserted), rehab ( an adventure in itself ), I am happily back to my own "garden-room" and my things, including my truly heavenly Bed, beside which sits a table full of equally heavenly books. I am gifted now with the time to read to my heart's content, sometimes languishing over a single sentence such as : "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. " I learn that "in the beginning" in Hebrew means something slightly different than "in the beginning" means in Greek. Ah, the meaning of words, and the study of delicious to my mind ! John, who wrote so eloquently in Greek, with full understanding of the subtleties of that rich language, wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. " So...logos out of chaos. The outward form expressing the inward thought. "Christ was the dynamic expression of the Father's inner being and nature". Christ not only partook of the passover, He WAS the Passover. And for the Hebrews, God did not have to slay the dragons, nor overcome the evil gods to gain His omnipotent power. As the One God, Yahweh, (" Hear, O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One " ), He alone possessed the complete divine nature, including the perfect heart, the perfect intellect, and the perfect balance between the two; and thus was able, by the power of His Word, to create not only heaven and earth, but also mankind, including the apex of His creation, the Son of Man. The balance of love and reason is the true power in the universe, and is self-perpetuating.

In Bettleheim's book (which I am only just perhaps one-third into), he explores the question of whether man, by perfecting his nature, can perfect society, or if, by creating the perfect environment or society, man can thus be perfected. As a brilliant student at the University of Vienna in the early 20th century, he thought the answer was a more organic one: that by studying the "hidden" man ( the ego and the id, etc.), man might progress and be freed to become the "true" man. But after one year in concentration camps in Dachau and Buchenwald, he quickly - almost instantaneously in fact - became dispossessed of his former convictions. He was shocked, really, by what he observed :

"It was the realization that those persons who, according to psychoanalytic theory as I understood it then, should have stood up best under the rigor of the camp experience, were very often very poor examples of human behavior under extreme stress. Others who, according to the same body of theory and the expectations based upon it, should have done poorly, presented shining examples of courage and dignity. " (p.21)

He found that moral clarity was something much deeper than just the organic brain, and indeed presented an extraordinary exercise of balance between the inner and the outer, the heart and the intellect, but was expressed in such an immediate and almost unconscious way that it seemed almost primordial.

So I am again pondering that first sentence in both Genesis and the first in John (who more than any other Gospel writer expressed not only the relationship between Christ and His Father, but also between Christ and man, and taught clearly that the basis of that relationship is divine love), and thinking that if God is the Word, and that God is Love, the effect of both that divine rationality and that dynamic love are His ultimate gifts to us, and ours to Him.


Kass said...

Cathy - You've gone and done it. You have a blog. This first post is great. So much thought. First sentences are something to ponder and I will be pondering this first sentence of yours for a long time.

Moral clarity. Another concept to ponder upon. Are we getting more as we grow older?

Cathryn said...

You inspired me ! You are so clever and gifted. It's good for me to try to put into words the path of my thoughts these days.

Moral clarity..yes, I think we are getting the superstructure falls away, as we feel the heft of our own life experiences. "The heart has its reasons.."

Kass said...

Please tell me that you weren't really up at 3:48 this morning as I was.....