Climbing the Mountain of Virtue

As the Pilgrim and Virgil pass through the tiny opening in the mountain wall of rocks, Virgil proclaims:

“Now, do not change your course,
keep climbing up the mountain, close to me,
until we find a more experienced guide.”

Suggesting that Reason is the closest companion until it reaches its limitations, and then Beatrice will take over as a symbol of intuition and theology.

Then Dante masterfully blends arts, poetry and science:

The peak rose higher than my sight could reach,
the slope soared upright, steeper than a line
drawn from mid-quadrant to the center’s point.

Meaning steeper than 45 degrees upwards. The learning will be hard at first, but then eventually – it will be like “floating downwards in a little boat on a stream”.

Posted in Dante | Leave a comment

Vision Quest – Opening the mind and Resistance

Great new video from our friend Seán Eckmann at Mythos & Logos, with deep symbolic wisdom. From a McGilchrist perspective; the fighting with the Great Spirit that gives insight might be an internal struggle of the hemispheres, the LH (left hemisphere) refusing new perspectives and strongly defending its current model, the RH (right hemisphere) potentially giving deep new gifts of understanding and broader horizons. But the gift cannot easily be pushed or hunted, it often has to be received, when the time is right.

Similar ideas might also be found in the story of Jacob wrestling with an Angel, or how the Divine Grace is being received on its own premises, not when we ourselves decide. Which brings to mind the opening scene of Dante, when Virgin Mary has seen the Pilgrim from above in the Heavens, and decides to intervene. The same perspective of the internal dynamic of the hemispheres could apply to all of these aspects.

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment

The Age of Utopia

What a read. At times a breath-taking experience as the “Age of Utopia” outlines the consequences of the argument that a humanist secular idea of Utopia gradually replaced an inner search for Paradise and a connection to something beyond us, something Divine. The first half of the 19 hundreds is hard to look at in this context. Also as a fulfilling of the widespread warnings from writers and philosophers in the 18 hundreds.

A strongly recommended book, though it might be important to start with the first volume “The Age of Paradise” to get a deeper sense of the first millennium, and what was later lost after the Great Schism and the Papal Reforms in Western Christendom.

As an aside, it’s also interesting to see how well this aligns with the ideas of McGilchrist and how the culture of Europe gradually started to be more unbalanced and left hemisphere oriented after the Renaissance. It gives pause.

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment

Finding the start, of a Learning Process

After the Pilgrim has lost his sense of time while being absorbed in a conversation, he and Virgil have the tiny opening in the mountain rock wall pointed out them – symbolic of how hard it could be to find that glimmer of an idea or insight, that starts a bigger process of learning that might greatly enrich you and your future path.

at some point along the way, those souls
cried out in one voice: “Here is what you seek.” 

A peasant, at the time the grapes grow ripe,
with one small forkful of his thorns could seal
an opening within his hedge more wide

than was the gap through which my guide and I
were forced to climb, the two of us alone,
once we had parted company with that flock.

And thus starts the real climb, in Purgatory.

Posted in Dante | Leave a comment

History and the Idea of Progress

A Thought of the Day:

We’re currently reading through the third volume of John Strickland’s history epic “From Paradise to Utopia“, outlining a somewhat different perspective on the changes and forces shaping the centuries from the Italian Humanism towards the early 19 hundreds in Europe.

A central idea is that once the experience of a spiritual, inner Paradise had been dismissed, new dreams gradually replaced this longing – among these a dream of a future, secular and perfect earthly society. And thus came the elevation of broader ideologies that would kindle these dreams as an aspiration to work towards, but often with disruptive and counter-productive means.

And just as a contrast one might look at other major cultures today that are looking back at the past as the ideal and aspiration to draw from instead. And this basic orientation could often influence a culture at a very deep level.

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment

Language for the Sacred, and the ineffable Beyond.

Here’s an interesting phrasing of “that which lies beyond” rationality and science, and the linguistic grasp of the left hemisphere, with still a rational vocabulary:

Without necessarily invoking “god” as a supernatural being, it seems fine to recognise an ineffable sacred beyond science but still “natural”.
Beyond science but still natural.

Quote by Ian Glendinning from the live Member Q&A with Iain McGilchrist this week.

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment

Review of the Renaissance, by James Willis

Thank you to James Willis for a poetic and beautiful review of our book!

Posted in Renaissance | Leave a comment

A review of the Renaissance

Thank you to Ian Glendinning for a wonderful and generous review of our “Renaissance” book!

The Renaissance

Posted in Renaissance | Leave a comment

The theology of St. Aquinas (and Dante) – and Being

Excellent summary of some of the basics of the theology that underlies so much of St. Thomas Aquinas’ work – and in many ways the over-arching idea and representation of Divinity in Dante’s Divine Comedy. A crucial introduction for understanding the vocabulary of much of the writings from the 12- and 13-hundreds:

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment

The richness of the Tradition – and Mysticism

Happy to see Mark Vernon launching a new course based on his previous book – which outlines a broader canvas of history and theology in the old Tradition. The argument for reviving the mystics might also be largely congruent with McGilchrist’s latest masterpiece “The Matter with Things”, as a means of searching for ways to re-balance the hemispheres and elevate the right hemisphere’s approach to apprehending the world, and what lies beyond.

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment