March 14th, 2004


Theology Notebook: Reading Von Balthasar; Christ as Solution to Problem of Universals; In Time

Over in the basement of Cudahy Hall, 4:30am, taking a brief break. I finally realized what has been nagging at me about this place as I've spent the last week doing my reading over here since the library is closed nights during the break: it kind of reminds me in its layout of the Novice Quarters in the White Tower on Tar Valon in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time--the way they're laid out around a courtyard. Weird to realize that the thing tickling in the back of my mind was a "memory" of a place that I'd read about in a work of fiction.

Reading Von Balthasar's little gem of a book, A Theology of History. There's all sorts of things worth sharing and playing with here, but I thought that I'd at least mention another one that I found interesting in light of all the discussion going on about The Passion of the Christ:

"If man even in his earthly state of subjection to death can find rest and room to move in the sphere of the true, the good and the beautiful which lies above him, how much richer in interior spaciousness must have been that mode of time which belonged to the Son, even while he walked resolutely toward that which was his Father's hour." (p. 36, footnote)

The whole book is a constant reflection on Christ in time. After hanging out with the Freeks in my Notre Dame years, all of whom were constantly writing songs about time (although I'm not sure if they recognized what a common theme that was running through so much of their music, with great variety), I've become really alert to the sheer experience of time. This book is laden with that same sensitivity, and I've found that as far as "spiritual reading" for Lent goes, this assignment has been astounding for giving me that opportunity. There are times--lots of times--when I simply can't read because the feeling of the Spirit is so insistent that I have to divert my attention there.

So... lots of things I could meditate on, but I should get back to it. Great stuff on how Christ is the solution to the theological/philosophical problem of universals: it gave me a flashback to the sheer, awe-inspiring excitement of realizing that reading Plato as an undergraduate: that Christ was the ultimate Form, but was immanent in history as well as transcendental--everything in life suddenly being tied together in one great dance.... Fabulous. One last passage and image (my favourite from the last page I read):

"The same Spirit who was sent by the Father to bring about the Incarnation of the Son by overshadowing the mother now perfects his work by quickening that same flesh. And not the least perfect aspect of his work is that by his power the flesh thus spiritualized by him enters anew into the womb of "the woman" (Rev. 12), who has now become the spiritual and universal bride, the Church." (p. 93)