Saturday, June 30, 2007

von Balthasar on God as other

God, who is for us the Wholly-Other, appears only in the place of the other, in the "sacrament of our brother". And it is only because he is Wholly-Other (in relation to the world) that he is at the same time the Non-Other, the one who, in his otherness, transcends even the inner-worldly opposition between this and that being. Only because he is over the world is he in it. But being over it does not deprive him of the right, the power, and the Word, to reveal himself to us as eternal love, to give himself to us and to make himself comprehensible even in his incomprehensibility.

- Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone is Credible
(trans. D. C. Schindler; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004 [1963]), 150.

Today is the final meeting of a reading group which has been working its way through this little book by von Balthasar, and it's given us a taste of why people get so excited by this 20thC Swiss Catholic thinker. He proposes that the unifying centre of theology (and, thus, life) is love. Not simply any old love or warm feeling of tolerance and appreciation, but the passionate love of God revealed in Christ. He is a very scriptural thinker, and yet obviously also deeply steeped in the Western (including Protestant) tradition. Obviously influenced by Barth, he attempts to relate his insights to traditional Catholic doctrines, and the results shed interesting light on both.
Speaking of shedding interesting light, twenty points to whomever can shed interesting light on this picture. What is it?

26 comments:

Michael Canaris said...

A potato?

Donna said...

Is it prehistoric amber? Maybe with a mosquito in it?

The sun viewed through a very dirty window?

A lamp from ikea?

Toby said...

A dinosaur egg?

byron said...

Good tries, but keep guessing. Perhaps there will be consolation points for best incorrect guesses.

Anonymous said...

Do you know anything about von Balthasar's connection to Heidegger or Levinas? From the quote it seems that the concept of the capital 'O' Other is in the same ball park as Levinas' notion.

- JRS

The pic could be a lump of quartz with a golden back light. It seems to have that sort of igneous, crystaline structure.

Michael Canaris said...

A gold nugget?

Carlie said...

A cirrhotic liver?

ang said...

the cap of a skull?

byron said...

Some more good guesses. I will allocate points for being close/creatively way off to some of these guesses once someone gets it (or very close). Hint: I took this photo on our recent trip.

byron said...

JRS - as for von B's link to Heidegger or Levinas, I'm not sure. The concept of the 'other' has been much discussed beyond Levinas, though he has made it particularly famous.

peter j said...

is it a photo looking through a hole in a cave to a lit place?

Rachel said...

def a lava lamp

Anonymous said...

opal? Gold? Honey? A seriously deformed moon? utvgglv? (sorry, thought the word verification was giving me hints)
Mike w

byron smith said...

Pete, Rach and Mike - sorry, keep guessing. It's tricky, that's why it's worth 20 points.

byron smith said...

Although one of those guesses wasn't too far off.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Amber?

byron smith said...

Donna already guessed amber.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Something related to the glow worm tunnell?

byron smith said...

Nope.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

A cleverly disguised rabbit?

byron smith said...

I'm not sure rabbits are that clever.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Nectar?

byron smith said...

Nope. I saw another example of this same phenomenon just this afternoon (though in a less dramatic setting). This was, however, the first time I'd seen it since taking this image.

byron smith said...

Hmmm - on looking back through the comments, I've realised that one of them was really quite close and perhaps I should just give them some points and call it done. Otherwise, the fact that I ruled it out as incorrect may prevent anyone from guessing the correct answer.

Therefore, I'll give JRS fourteen points for coming close. It was actually a lump of limestone crystal (part of a stalactite) with an electric torch behind it. I took this picture during a tour at Jenolan.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Blast. Hey, what time is it over there? Why are you still up?

byron smith said...

The time it says on the box (comment): 10.30 pm.