Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Wonders of the Kingdom of God


I find Pieper’s essay (Josef Pieper, The Philosophizing Act) seductive as I am enticed to spend my days trying to live in the sunshine of mirandum—what could be better?  I find it helpful to remember that Pieper values the “workaday world”: “the utilitarian world, the world of the useful, subject to ends, open to achievement and sub-divided according to functions” (The Philosophical Act, page 64).  Indeed, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (Second Letter to the Thessalonians 3:10).  

The point, of course, is that looking to mirandum as a means to escape from the duties and drudgery of the workaday world leads me right back into that world and the “pseudo-philosophy …[that] does not transcend the workaday world” (Ibid., page 70) and “…will never pierce the dome”(Ibid, page 71).  The temptation to “control” wonder and marvel is the opposite of what it means to philosophize in its purest form: “…it means to look at reality purely receptively—in such a way that things are the measure and the soul is exclusively receptive” (Ibid., page 77).

This is essential because the transcendence that comes with mirandum is not something that I create but that is created for me, a gift from the Creator.  If my focus is on my producing the marvellous then I am not open to the vital part of reality and I am unable “to look upon the world as the creation of an absolute spirit” and not just ”a field for human activity, its material, or even its raw material.” (Ibid., page 78).  Doing so traps me in the workaday world and prevents me from perceiving the spiritual part of the world--I am not open to the gift of the whole of reality as I filter out the non-utilitarian aspect.

And if I am not open to the whole of reality I have no hope of transcendence: “the great, wide, not to say deep, world which is at first sight invisible, the world of essences and universals, is not even suspected; nothing wonderful ever happens in this world, and wonder itself is unknown or lost” (Ibid., page 101).  I am left without hope because I filter out the Creator who can rescue me from the “narrow insensitive mind, that has become narrow through being insensitive…” (Ibid.).  I am left in the hellish isolation of the “dome” where I “itch for sensation” which I attempt to scratch through the perverting of the workaday world, producing higher and higher levels of stimulation in the hope of finding mirandum.

I propose that in the end philosophizing requires trust in God.  I trust that God will offer me wonder in ways I can accept in my always too-narrow perceptual field, to safeguard me as I find myself lost in the workaday world,  and will offer me the suffering that changes my nous and that frees me from my isolation of the dome.  If I trust in God’s providence of mirandum then I have the real hope of the wonders of the kingdom of God.