transcendence and freud

by Andrea Elizabeth

I have been thinking how to articulate my criticism of “transcendence” for a while now. Today I saw a Freud meme that said, ‘A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.’ The single quote marks are because the attribution is not exact. See here.

Transcendence can have gnostic implications¬†regarding escaping present circumstances. Then I hear in Liturgy that God is transcendent. Yes, he is and beyond all that we can imagine. However, we know Him through the Incarnation. Our experience is incarnate, not transcendent. We can’t revert back before the big bang, if that’s when creation began.

The claim we go high when they go low is hypocritical because they are perfectly capable of going low as well. As Trump said, “playing holier than thou doesn’t work for you, Hillary”, who is sick and tired of us deplorables.

Not all claims of going high are hypocritical. Some people can attain a “head in the clouds” level of detachment.* Buddhism can help you escape in such a way. But like Chuck Swindol said once, “I need a Jesus with skin on”.

Back to Freud. If I have fear that leads to escapism into a dream world full of unity, brotherhood, and peace – where the nitty gritty cannot be coped with – it may mean that I have some growing up to do. Where I don’t need a political father or mother to get me out of all my scrapes. A partner, and dare I say, paraclete, yes. We can transcend fear, but not to the extent of denying reality.

So should this make us gun-toting waries? Not necessarily, though someday I may hope someone is if it comes to that. Still, I don’t think we need to be head in the clouds. Just not afraid of death, if we are prepared. And being properly prepared for death is what takes maturity.

*I am currently working on an idea that I think came from the epilogue in The Great Divorce where a couple of people who have reached the heights of heaven are looking down on the world and having some effect on their lives before they died. Timelessness isn’t necessarily transcendence, but perhaps eternal incarnation, so that one doesn’t have to escape the nitty gritty, but can see the bigger picture of what can be done about it and what it means. This way every moment and molecule remains significant and inhabited.