Social Hierarchy Helps Us Love God

May 16, 2019

If we gauge the issue to its farthest horizon, it encompasses a way of looking at God, a way of the human spirit looking at itself and the reality around it. In other words, it involves a way of looking at the entire universe in its numerous aspects.

Painting by Jules Breton in the Brooklyn Museum

For if we consider God as a transcendent being in relationship to all other beings, it means that He is their final end. His being cannot be conflated with the being of others. On the contrary, He has in the highest possible degree, in an absolute degree, all imaginable perfections, and even mysterious perfections that our spirit cannot understand. At best we can love these perfections, should He reveal them to us. For only with Him revealing these perfections can we know and love them. So, if we understand things like this, we have God, and around Him we have nothing. From this nothing, He created. He brought forth creatures for His own glory because He chose to do this. These creatures were not necessary to Him, only convenient. He created them in His goodness.

Such is goodness; it is that expansiveness whereby He wants what is convenient to Him, not just what is necessary. This abundance, this type of superfluity—[revolutionaries] today speak so much against the superfluous—all of Creation is God’s superfluity. Creation is this kind of superfluity made by God.

God creating the Sun, the Moon and the Stars by Jan Brueghel the Younger.

Now if this is how things are, and there is this abyss between Him and us, then, to imitate well this order of things, Creation must provide that an abyss separate one created being from another; or something like an abyss. This is precisely the point I’m trying to make. It is not an abyss, because we are not infinite beings, and it is not proper for us to be surrounded by an infinite abyss. Rather, it is a distance. It is a perpendicularity without which the relationships between one created being and another will not be a copy of the relationship that exists between creature and God. God is transcendent. Therefore, it is necessary that the created beings beneath Him have a relationship among themselves that is in the line of the transcendent.

This, which is a necessity, can be presented in another way, as follows: All beings created by God—from the first instant of Creation until the moment when History will end, and everything will be in Eternity—all of these beings form a collection, a perfect collection. No single being is superfluous, and no being repeats another.

God would err if one being were to be the repetition of another. In our human conception of things, repetition may seem pleasing. Thus, for example, let’s take these stained glass rondel bottle bottoms that you see here. You could say that one repeats another. But there is an optical illusion at play here. It is not entirely true. If the stained glass is artisan-made, differences will appear because the artisan cannot repeat things perfectly, even though he may try. So, when we look at the stained glass, it delights us in its similarities, but it delights us also in its differences.

If there is an industrial way of manufacturing this stained glass, the inequality will be much less—entirely equal it will never be—but its inequality will be close to indiscernible. When that happens, we look at the stained glass, and it seems monotonous. We put it aside. It is repugnant to our gaze, because complete equality disgusts us since it is contrary to our nature.

In making this collection, to make beings different God had to make them unequal, because whenever there is a difference, you have inequality. Thus, you can see a transcendence that expresses itself through inequality; an inequality that expresses itself in hierarchy; and how does hierarchy express itself? With each lower being representing a step for us to understand better the superior being.

That is how we cross this abyss, this difference that separates beings one from another. So we know and don’t know fully at the same time.

Let’s imagine, for example, the least of Englishmen; an Englishman from one of those islands of fishermen between Great Britain and Ireland. I don’t recall the name of that sea, but it has some fishing islands there. Well, an Englishman lives there. He is a simple man, weathered, rough, etc. He watches the wedding of Prince Charles on TV and is enchanted. Why is this?

Sark is a royal fief, which forms part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, with its own set of laws based on Norman law and its own parliament. It has a population of about 500. Sark is one of the few remaining places in the world where cars are banned from roads and only tractors and horse-drawn vehicles are allowed.

It is a whole pulley system. He has on his little island or close to it a gentleman, Mr. something or other, who is very dignified, has good bearing, is honest, and he admires this gentleman. He knows that this Mr. “X” is the friend of a lord who lives at such and such a place on the shore nearby and whom he has seen already. This is how he crosses over the abysses and his remote attention becomes focused on the queen and the future king.

These various relationships form a channel of understanding for him. He raises himself to it, and is enchanted. It is the transcendent inequalities that take him to the consideration of this plenitude, and he becomes enchanted. It fills his soul. It does good to his soul.

This relationship is one of the temporal order, of temporal society. However, because it imitates God in His relationship with individuals, this social relationship of the temporal order has the densest spiritual content.

In other words, when souls are accustomed to seeing things like this, they easily tend to love a God who is supreme, perfect, eternal. And they have the need to meet a being at the top of the hierarchy which is being itself [“I AM who am”] and is the keystone for everything else. His spirit is already prepared to reach this conclusion.

(Excerpt from a Symposium for the Hipotecas, Monday, October 12, 1981 – translation. Neither the original talk’s transcript nor this translation was reviewed by the author. – Ed.)
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