Comments on Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s Podcast (2020) “Myths, Monsters and Mysteries” (Part 8)

0065 Now, I proceed from monsters to mysteries.

Many Jungian commentators of the Matrix movies say that the hero, named “Neo”, is a Christ-like figure.

Is the comparison appropriate?

If it is, then Jesus gives substance to twin monsters through a human sacrifice.  In doing so, he humanizes them.

0066 What are the monsters?

The Roman empire is like the machine world.

The fixation of the Jewish law into ritual is like the matrix.

Here is a picture.

Figure 17

0067 Every monster is an actuality2.  Every monster is an ill-proportioned thing.  Esse_ce and essence are out of balance.  That tells us something.  It produces phantasms that serve as warnings.

0068 Remember the minotaur?

Do you have some money to invest?

Most investors have met a minotaur.  He is someone so bullish that it makes him dangerous.  He survives in a labyrith of rules, conditions, and documentation filled with fine print.  Once your money is in, it cannot come out of the investment. The financial minotaur is completely confident.  He is fully capable of losing your investment.

0069 Longenecker may talk about monsters like the minotaur.

0070 Perhaps, he will talk about the most horrifying monstrosities.  These monsters lack substance.  Such is the case for the monsters of Roman power and Jewish ritual law.

Roman power is like esse_ce without substance.  Rome serves the order that it imposes.  Sure, Romans pay tribute to their gods.  But, their gods did not order them to construct an empire.  Roman power survives because trade flourishes under its rule.  Romans place tariffs on trade.  Romans rule foreign subjects and tax their wealth.  Romans take slaves and sell them at their markets.  How does this serve Jupiter?

Jewish ritual law is like essence without substance.  Self-described scholars examine the Pentateuch for legal proscriptions.  By the time of Christ, scholars accrue lists with hundreds of regulations.  There is no way that a Jew could fulfill all these proscriptions correctly.  Of course, wealth provides options.  One can hire a scholar to manage one’s divine legalities for a reasonable fee.

That fee, of course, is unreasonable for the common person.

0071 Roman power is existential, existence0.

Jewish legalisms are formalisms, form0.

0072 Is there a relation between these two monsters?

At first, it seems that Roman rule2b situates Jewish legalism2a.  Standard histories of first-century Palestine make this assumption.  These histories try to establish what happened.  They propose material and instrumental reasons for conditions and parameters.

In the context of modern history, the following sensible two-level interscope applies.  The following configuration is one answer to the question, what does this mean to me3b.  That answer is proximate.  It addresses the esse_ce, not the essenceof history.

Figure 18

0073 There are other answers.  After all, history does not reduce to conditions and parameters.  Is there an essence to history?

These are the answers – or perhaps, the questions – that Longenecker addresses.

In the context of what it ultimately means to me3b, Roman law2 does not situate Jewish legalism2.  One monster cannot honestly situate the other, because something is missing on a higher level.  Rome does not have righteousness and Jerusalem cannot impose order.  What brings them into relation?

0074 The passion of Christ, depicted in the four gospels, is masterful.  It reads like a fantasy.  It reads like a historical document.  The four gospels embody and transcend myth.

Both Roman rule2 and Jewish legalisms2 play out in the contradiction-filled theological and political arenas of first century Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is a provincial capital for Rome.  Jerusalem is the center of message, meaning and presencefor the Jews.

0075 Two monsters occupy Jerusalem.  Each accommodates and resists the other.  Neither wants to see anyone like Jesus.  Jesus appears to threaten Roman order. That is easy to accomplish. Gathering a crowd will do.  Crowds intimidate the lion. Also, Jesus obviously undermines the letters of Jewish legalities.  He upsets the sheep.  He insists that the Jewish Law has a substance, a moral and theological vision.

0076 Monsters do not necessarily create mysteries.  No, monsters are drawn into mysteries.

One way to appreciate how Jesus unites both Roman rule2 and Jewish legalism2 is found in a permutation of the previous diagram.

Figure 19

0077 In the life and passion of Jesus Christ, Roman rule2 and Jewish legalism2one monster filled with esse_ce and the other full of essence, are drawn into a single actuality2.  For this moment in history, two monsters coalesce.  This is the type of event that eventually leads to myths.  It happens right before the eyes of the disciples.

0078 What is this single actuality2?

If Roman rule2 does not honestly situate Jewish legalism2, or visa versa, then they cannot align.  Their normal contexts3are mutually exclusive.  They may accommodate one another.  But, in the encounter with Jesus, they coalesce, forming a single actuality that resists Jesus.

This is the way of theodrama3The essence of history is theodramatic.

The theodrama of power3 appears independent of the theodrama of revelation3.  Until, of course, they are not.  They are never independent in the eyes of God.  They are never independent in the presence of God.

0079 Intersections are mysteries.  Intersections are described in the chapter on message in How To Define the Word “Religion”.

Here is a picture of the intersection.

Figure 20

0080 Indeed, before the eyes of the disciples, Roman law2 and Jewish legalism2 coalesce into one intersection, one mystery.

What is the single actuality that labels this intersection?

The most appropriate label is the name of Jesus Christ, who rises from the dead to defy Roman rule2 and who offers a pathway to the Father in defiance of Jewish legalism2.

0081 In mythic terms, Jesus tames two monsters.  The lion lies with the lamb.  The power of the state and the legalism of religious institutions come into conflict, but that conflict is contained within the object that brings us all into relation, Jesus Christ.Without Jesus, two monsters are set loose upon the world.


Comments on Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s Podcast (2020) “Myths, Monsters and Mysteries” (Part 7)

0050 The myth is hylomorphic.  So is the phantasm1b that the myth’s telling1a inspires.  

The hylomorphism of the myth1a is some real event [hides within and gives rise to] a story.

The hylomporhism of the phantasm2b is a configuration of matter and form by way of the imagination1b.  Matter or being (in Latin, ens) should substantiate the form.

0051 Here is how that looks.

Figure 13

0052 What does an independent corroboration of the stories of Adam and Eve accomplish?

It changes what is happening3a by revealing an esse_ce that lends the story2a a realness that we cannot ignore1a.

To the modern, the stories of Adam and Eve are suppposed to be fairy tales.  Adam and Eve are not supposed to serve as harbingers of civilization.  They are not supposed to be weirdly consistent with a scientific hypothesis on the potentiation of unconstrained social complexity, that is, the first singularity.  They are not supposed to be witnesses.

In light of the first singularity, the Genesis myth becomes counterintuitive to the modern imagination.  It becomes monstrous.  Essence without esse_ce can be ignored.  Essence with esse_ce cannot.

0053 Strangely, this may be one of Lonenecker’s subtle contentions.  As soon as one adds esse_ce to essence, a fantasy becomes more real than previously imagined.  Myths may become monsters.

The same surprise works for the phantasm generated by the myth.  The monstrosity of a monster comes from an unanticipated balance between esse_ce and essence.

0054 Premodern monsters have this character.

For example, the minotaur is a monster dwelling within the labyrinth of King Midas.  The minotaur is half-bull and half-human.  Its esse_ce is human.  Its essence is a bull.

What a monster!

But, there is something natural to this monster, because it informs us of a familiar actuality, the matter of a human [substantiating] the essence of a bull.  Here is a monster worth pondering.  Where does the word, “bully”, come from?

Premodern monsters have an imbalance between esse_ce and essence.

0055 Moderns take this imbalance to the limit, making two radical discoveries.  Both discoveries are built on one insight. We can lose touch with the contiguity between matter and form.  We have discovered (indeed, even actualized) worlds without substance.

I label these two discoveries, the zeroth order of existence and form.  I label then existence0 and form0.

This is how they work.

Figure 14

0056 Existence0 is esse_ce without substance.

Form0 is essence without substance.

Work serves as an example.

Humans are designed to work.  Work gives people purpose and honor.  Work goes with the essence of a civilized human.

So, what is work without humans?

What is pure work without substance?

May I mention the industrial revolution?

How modern can I get?

The modern era is full of monsters.

0057 Machines do work.  Then, humans work machines.  Sometimes, this takes great skill.

Now, with robots, humans get in the way.  The robot is awarded the status of purpose and honor.  Today, postmodern economists call the robots, “the fourth industrial revolution”.  Make room for the pure existence0 of robots and the pure form0 of robotic work.  Robots are not aware of what they are making.  Robots do not know why they are working.

0058 Here is a picture.

Figure 15

0059 How does this play out in our phantasms?

Humans become less than human.

Consumers are a type of monster.  We choose among flavors of peanut butter without knowing what a peanut is.

One may reply, “Robots manufacture things that consumers buy.  So this is an essence.”  

Here is an essence that denies humans the dignity of work, turning humans into things (that is, consumers).

Savor the word, “consumer”.

0060 A consumer dies, leaving an estate filled with manufactured momentos, icons of life as a consumer.  This monstrosity must be dealt with.  Maybe a robot can be designed to do the job.  The sheer bulk of the consumer’s life weighs down the world.  Imagine the cynicism required to build a robot that performs this work.

0061 The sequence of movies, titled “The Matrix” (1999), portrays a cyncial resolution to these two great philosophical discoveries.  The human becomes (1) a battery that powers a machine world and (2) the one who accepts the illusionary works of the machine world.  The matrix is the deception that allows humans to be used as batteries.

0062 Both the machine world and the matrix are monsters.

Figure 16

0063 In these movies, the hero’s journey gives substance to these twin monsters through a sacrifice.  This is not any sacrifice.  This is a human sacrifice.  In doing so, the hero humanizes the two monsters.  He provides substance, allowing the monsters to continue for another iteration.

If Rene Girard is correct, this plotline is as ancient as the most ancient civilizations.  This plotline begins with the first singularity.

0064 Modern monsters are exemplars of things without substance.

Where does substance come from?All substance flows from God.  God’s grace pours into the interstices between matter and form, body and soul, and a real event and its myth.  Substance is the contiguity between being and form.  God is foundation of substance.


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 2.2 DY

Summary of text [comment] page 78

The limited goods (that a sinful person chooses) have a tendency to slip away. A sinful person may cling to a shred of virtue. But only for so long.

Schoonenberg wrote that fallen man is unable, without grace, to keep the commandments of the natural law for a long time.

[Why did Schoonenberg refer to ‘the commandments of the natural law’ and not ‘the divine law’?

Does Schoonenberg conflate thinkdivine and lawessential?

Or does his intuition implicitly comply with the explicit model of the intersection of virtue and sin?]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 2.2 DX-2

[The hero stands for Progressive television producers (whose way of talk exploits the viewers, since they cannot talk back). The victim stands for the viewer (who cannot talk back to the television, therefore is a victim).

The expectation is that the victim-viewer will join the television producer-exploiter in a mutual hatred of the one designated as the anti-object. ‘The bad one’, in many these shows, stands in for those who do not watch TV and mind their own business.

Thus, in contradiction to Jesus’ words in John 15:5, the so-called Progressive mainstream American TV portrays a world where both producer and viewer love one another while both hating their fellow “man” (the stock character accused of the projector’s moral failures).]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 2.2 CQ

[All interventions by the postreligious (enlightenment) sovereign religions are ‘we win and you lose’ for traditional religions.

Once intentions are more consequential than consequences, then consequences may be blamed on scapegoats.

When the intervention improves the actuality, it verifies the ideological slogan.

When the intervention worsens the actuality, it verifies the ideological slogan.

What slogan?

We are the good ones who must identify and destroy the bad ones.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 2.2 CE

[In our current Lebenswelt, humans no longer have these options, even when the band itself is specialized (say royalty or blacksmiths).

Concupiscence has been unloosed.

To me, this unloosing resonates with Rene Girard’s descriptions of ‘unconstrained mimetic desire’.

Cupid is the god of mimetic desire.

After the first singularity, religious traditions wrestled with concupiscence, at first through thinkgroup (which originally served as thinkpost-first-singularity for a band or a specialization), then through a slow awakening to a trans-thinkgroup, which I label thinkdivine].


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 2.2 AY

[Televisionaries transformed ‘love (agape)’ into ‘something that does not proceed from grace and that requires no conversion’. They have transformed ‘freedom’ into ‘celebrity and slavery’.

The real victims are the unsuspecting folk who do not watch Progressive television.

They have no idea what is going on, especially when they are suddenly branded as ‘bad ones’.]