by Andrea Elizabeth
Since my last post, “Pronouns“, I have read a few articles and picked up again, A Eucharistic Ontology, Maximus the Confessor’s Eschatological Ontology of Being as Dialogical Reciprocity by Nikolaos Loudovikos. Rather than getting technical above my pay-grade, I will say that I don’t know why I so easily forget things I learn. Rescanning the introduction I find that absolute kenosis is indeed an unwarranted annihilation of self. There is desired reciprocity. I get confused in the process of repentance, however. Dying to self can seem like annihilation, but sacrifice in faith is immediately met with the filling of something new. Deprivation feels like death I guess because we want to be full. Full of something besides ourselves. But we want to be full of the right things in proper amounts. If one has bad habits, one is used to being temporarily filled with unfulfilling things. Severing the attachment to unfulfilling things temporarily, I suppose, feels like self-annihilation. But why would one feel annihilated if the thing severed from is not oneself? Because reciprocity is part of life?
Narcissism is reciprocity with oneself. How can one find oneself more fulfilling than others? Abuse and neglect can be factors. A person can feel he can take care of himself better than others can. Narcissus was truly more beautiful than others. Why should he not respond to his own reflection? Turning away from something more captivating can feel like death. Should he do it because it violates a rule? Unless one is coerced out of fear of death, one may find that rules aren’t enough to curb his behavior. It could be said that Narcissus made an idol out of himself, which violates the first commandment. Besides fear of punishment, Psalms (45:2) and Song of Solomon also describe Christ as the fairest of them all, contrary to Isaiah 53 saying He had no form or comeliness. We desire reciprocity with the fairest of them all. I’ll go out on a limb and speculate that truly loving others indiscriminately can be sincerely done in Christ, in seeing Him in all creatures. It may be true that some created things reflect his character more concentratedly than others, like the sun. But nothing exists apart from Him, so love for Christ can be projected on everything. This is what Saints do, I imagine.
For those who have not reached Sainthood, there is a process of learning to love Christ first, who is indeed worthy. I don’t know if it is anthropomorphism to talk about God’s preferential treatment of some things and not of others, like the barren fig tree. I have heard of experiential realities based on a creature’s preparation for the glory of God, where unsuited things suffer in His presence. This type of incompatibility is one sided. Judgment day may reveal another, I don’t know.
Back to what I mentioned in “Pronouns” about Person and Nature, here is a quote from the introduction to Eucharistic Ontology, “Nature is something that is planned, given and discussed in the perspective of this eschatological formation, and finally emerges in the eschata. Person refers exactly to this eschatological/dialogical mode of existence of nature. It is the very formation and not the escape from nature that makes the person really exist.” (p. 8,9) Dialogue with one’s own nature? How does that escape narcissism? If there wasn’t a Trinity, it probably would be narcissism. Our nature is Christ’s nature since the Incarnation, and we are to pattern ourselves after His dwelling in it. But He was in dialogue with His Father, “Not My will be done, but Thine.” And it did lead to death. And resurrected life. Life in the Kingdom, not alone.