As Christians have accepted that they must treat the Church’s authoritative offices with evermore suspicion, they’ve asked themselves—tacitly or otherwise—what it means to “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” in an institution that is largely repudiating His mission (Apocalypse 14:4).
Can Hermetic Magic Rescue the Church? Part II: Behold, The Kingdom of God is Within You, by Sebastian Morello
My review of Part I is here. In his Part I, Morello laid blame on the failings of the Church that have contributed to the mess in which we find ourselves today – lack of meaning, lack of worship. Lack of valuing life.
What is this “Hermetic Magic”? It is a combination of the Corpus Hermeticum of Hermes Trismegistus—the central mystery text of esoteric transformation with the traditions of Platonism and Neoplatonism, resulting in “a metaphysical language expressive of the vertical vision of the cosmos common to all religious traditions.”
It is just this that I have explored in, for a layman, significant depth. It has struck me that the answer both to moving toward liberty and toward recovering from the meaning crisis are to be found here (although I have never previously done any work regarding the Corpus Hermeticum that I recall).
Morello focusses on Aquinas as the one individual in the West who brought all of this together best. Yes, we are individuals, but we are also tied together by our participation in species with other human beings. We share an essence with other human beings. This is so because we participate in a logical likeness in the divine mind.
Put simply: I exist because God thinks of me. But I also exist because God, having created an essence of me from the exemplar idea of me in His mind, has held that created essence together with an ‘act of existence’ in a single substance (that I call myself). In sum: I exist because God thinks of me and wills that I exist.
Which comes to the idea that the world is not only created by the Word, but it is held together and continues to exist due to the Word.
…according to Aquinas were God to stop thinking of the universe for one instant, the whole thing would vanish. Thus, the relation of creation to the Creator is perhaps more like the relation of song to singer.
I have heard this idea quite a bit from Eastern Christian sources, even today. I don’t recall ever hearing of it from Western sources at any time in recent history. There is a reason for this:
The Neoplatonic ontology of Aquinas was generally neglected by the Catholic seminary manualists of the last few centuries, bewitched as so many were with the assumptions of rationalism.
It isn’t that Thomas was completely ignored:
For natural theology, they preferred to focus on the famous Five Ways, to which Aquinas devoted one article of the Summa Theologica, and largely ignored the deeper ontology that undergirded the other 2,668 articles of that work.
His “rational,” “logical” proofs, but not anything deeper. And this is why, in Morello’s view, the Church is failing – not even merely stuck, as the failures grow deeper through time. The Church (and he is writing of the Catholic Church, but it is true much more broadly) is unable to respond – both to its own crisis of authority and to the loss of meaning in the West.
Morello then goes on to describe the many ways we (Christians) waste time on irrelevant arguments and false divisions. It strikes me as the same issue plaguing society overall: while our “betters” take over more and more control, we allow ourselves to focus on each other as the enemy instead of on the “betters.”