The pope’s visit basically left no impression on me, but apart from that, in the last few months, I’ve been experiencing a revival of faith of sorts. There have been two primary catalysts for this: Immanuel Kant, and Johann Sebastian Bach.
I have been approaching Bach’s greatest work, his B minor mass, from a Kantian perspective, wherein the significance of the mass’ creed is elevated by not being a mere profession based on what I want to be true, but rather a necessary aspect of my consciousness.
I once said in this blog, that faith has nothing to do with reason. I’d like to amend that, in that faith is a distinct matter from practical reason (what we perceive). That is, phenomena that we perceive could not be understood in terms of faith, a believing for its sake.
However, we could not help but believe the inescapably human, individual conditions that determine our sensibility, our conception, our understanding of the world. Faith is in fact a matter of pure reason (how we perceive). And Christ, depicted as eternal yet of flesh, is the a priori.
How is this assuring?
Why should anyone care about this ‘Christ as a priori,’ depicted in such cold, nitpicky language? What relevance does it have to how we go about life?
As I see it, it strikes at the very heart of the Christian creed, as exemplified by the ultimate lines, “We believe in one baptism for the remission of sins, and await the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”
Christ makes possible all of human existence, makes possible that which we value either as good or bad. Christ precedes experience, yet remains amid all change. The Resurrection, in this sense of ever-new becoming, determines all that we can know. Without the Resurrection, not only is all in vain, as Paul says, but all is not possible.
So this is actually what underlies the feeling of empowerment, when contemplating Christ. Reality is no less real, yet transfigured. As Krishna says, the infinite spirit, that which neither is born nor dies, pervades all experience. Of course it does. The infinite spirit is itself a necessity of being. Space and time do not exist in themselves, but exist only as they precede that which occurs in space and time.
Again, how is this assuring?
By recognizing existence as both fleeting and eternal, we are more capable of letting things go. We can better forget pain, forgive perceived trespasses. But resignation is not the whole story. When we let go, we also let in, on which we can then discharge our energies, before replenishing ourselves once more with the forgiveness of sins. It is no wonder forgiveness and the Resurrection are so entwined in Christianity, even without most people dissecting such principles.
Failure and death are less formidable subjects of our fears when we realize that all that is good, all that we love, all that makes sense to our physical existence, could never leave us, just as there will always be stars born to replace supernovae. And knowing this, we are less inclined to impose our wills for the assumed good of others. Political freedom, of purely voluntary interactions, is just one aspect of freeing others from emotional debt*.
Human evolution has been a matter of much trial and overcoming failure, of expanding time frames wherein the enhancing of our health is a matter of mastering time. Increased foresight also means greater longevity. Cosmically speaking, we may be a backwards species, our consciousnesses still trapped in these biological vessels, our fingers still picking our entry points of oxygen. But realizing our a priori, Christ-like nature is the right step in our cognitive development.
Final words… Or are they?
Kantian Christianity is just the beginning in a reevaluation of my understanding of spiritual matters, and how they connect to my life.
There is also the matter of music and humor being celebrations of subjectivity, allowing us to recognize our ‘obvious’ means of cognition as inescapable, yet absurd. I leave it to you to experience them for yourself as such.
* Holding another to economic obligations, as in a loan, is not cast aside completely, but rather emotionally detached from.