Ep. 16 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Christianity and Agape



my notes

  • Jesus: How what he did contributed to our understanding of wisdom and meaning.

( The point is that religious or not we can appreciate the role these religions have played in providing a sense of meaning. This no doubt contributed to their staying power and highlights that we would benefit from secular institutions that provide similar roles)

  • Kairos: turning point in the course of history.
  • Israelites: psycho-technology of understanding history as a cosmic narrative in which crucial turning point.
  • Jesus saw himself as a source of Kairos.
  • Seems he had sense of himself as deeply participating in how God influencing course of history.
  • Exodus God creates in an open future. People identify, loving it, participating in its flow. Jesus felt especially deep participation.
  • Reciprocal revelation: participate in culture, language, history, know this by way in which self is fundamentally transformed
  • Love: deeply transforms who we are
  • Love:
    • Eros: love of being one with something - drinking water, sex, consumptive
    • Philia: love of cooperation, work together
    • Agape: love of creation, love God demonstrates to humanity, God is creating the future, makes people possible. Agape creates persons. Parent loves a child. By loving that non-person, you create a person. God-like ability
    • Agape: radical transformation: metanoia : radical turning. Salience landscaping. Fundamentally turning, altering whole orientation. My personal Kairos.
    • Jesus teaching this and exemplifying it.
  • Before, we are receivers of Agape, transformed into a person.
  • Gain our sense of self, and ability to reflect on oneself through how reflected in other people
  • Born out of an agapic love
  • From the child’s perspective, they are consuming the love that the adult giving them. Becoming one with it. Egocentric.
  • Freud: our relationship to our parent in that sense is erotic, consuming them. Becoming one with them. Don’t think it’s sexual ,but insight there.
  • From parents perspective, not egocentric.
  • Good parent: no longer the centre of salience landscape. Child is. Absolutely dependent on you.
  • Turning from egocentric to being centred on someone else.
  • Jesus offering a teaching so that all people could experience this, in terms of a relationship with God. We become vessels through which Agape creates other human beings.
  • John: understand capacity for radically transforming people, so they are conduits of God-like process. Agape is God.
  • Participate in Agape, in solar as you help other people come to person-hood through you.
  • Radical idea: psychotechnology, grammar for how to transform, allow to conquer Roman Emnpire. Offer all the non-persons a process by which they become persons: women, widows, sick, poor, weak, non-male roman citizens. All receive the opportunity of a radical transformation.

15:00 - Sacrifice and Forgiveness

  • Agape has a sacrificial element. Give yourself before the person earns.
  • I’m giving up, making myself an affordance for your transformation from non-person to person
  • Forgiveness: central
  • Forgive other people - experience agape from God to the extent we forgive other people
  • We have trivialized it. Not just saying sorry. Doesn’t depend on contrition.
  • All agape love is forgiving love, because given before earned it.
  • Individuals can redirect their own history, experience their own Kairos
  • Born again: radical transformation of entire orientation, entire way of being


  • Death of Jesus profound effect on some christian movements
  • Death exemplifies the sacrificial forgiveness at the core of Agape
  • Enables people to internalize sacrificial love, empowers them to transform other human beings
  • Resistance to Jesus movement and to Jesus: may have been angering and upsetting a lot of people
  • Saul

21:15 - Saul

  • Jew and Roman citizen
  • Had been wars between romans and jews. Tense relationship.
  • Integrated these two aspects of his personality together through commitment to law.
  • Sees the followers (initially called the followers of the Way): Jesus is the way in which can experience the Kairos of Metanoia and be forgiving and for giving agape to others.
  • Saul sees these people as threatening to Jewish heritage and Roman order. Persecutes early Christians
  • There when Steven, first Christian martyred. Stone him.
  • Gets a writ to travel to Damascus, to round up Christians for prosecution.
  • On the road: transformative experience. Myth: presenting a profound pattern.
  • Struck by bright light (metaphor enlightenment). Radical super salience. Struck to the ground. Voice says: Saul why do you persecute me. Says “who are you lord?” Sense confronting something more real than himself. Voice said I am Jesus.
  • He’s blinded by light. Plato - blinded by the light.
  • Engenders in Saul deep inner conflict. How can it be that he’s had this awakening experience, from the very being he was persecuting? How reconcile.
  • Travels to Antioch. Taken in by the people was going to persecute. Forgiveness.
  • His sight is restored.
  • He’s at war with Agape itself, and we all are.
  • Tough to acknowledge reality of Agape.
    • We like to create person fables of how we are:
      • self-maade,
      • self-directed
      • self secure
      • self sustaining
    • Agape challenges that.
  • Goes into desert to reflect. Comes out gone through radical transformative experience. Changed his name to Paul.
  • Message: presents Agape as:
    • And now I will show you the most excellent Way.
    • Not going to make an argument like Plato. Present from framework as participatory knowing.
    • “If I” his identity being transformed into Agape “speak in the tongues of man and angels but have not love I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have faith that can move mountains but not have love I am nothing.”
    • Participatory language. Language by identifying.
    • “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames but I have not love I gain nothing”
    • “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy it does not boast.” Not romantic love, “It is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, Always trusts. Always hopes. Always perseveres”
    • Those are features need to help and afford someone into personhood.
    • “Love never fails” Romantic love fails. That love does fail. What he means is Agape can’t fail. We are always born from and always have to give birth to agape or personhood disappears.
    • “when I was a child, thought like a child, when became a man, put childish ways behind me”.
    • When kid, have particular identity, things matter to you in a certain way. When become adult. World radically reoriented. What is salient, change.
    • No longer super saliency of candy and toys, and playing. Then not growing up as an adult.
    • “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part then I shall know fully even as I am fully known and now these three remain faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love”
    • Like seeing a reflection. Not in touch with reality. Like Plato’s cave. With Agape will come to know as we are knowing. Participatory love.
    • Gnosis: way of knowing that is bound up in Agape.
  • Not advocating for Christianity: trying to get us to understand how prodound an expression of meaning is on offer here.

39:30 - Dark Side

  • Danger here: of misunderstanding.
  • When I know someone, participatory agapic relationship. Knowing them and knowing myself deeply bound together. Jesus and God are one. Paul: Christ who lives in me.
  • Deep bonding of identity.
  • Know by transforming yourself.
  • Danger: any aspect of yourself that do not properly understand that has not come into knowledge can get projected onto what you love
  • Danger in romantic relationship, so bound to them, a lot of what is unconscious in your identity can be projected into that person
  • Should have commitment to self-discovery in Socratic sense when enter into a relationship
  • Happening in Paul: inner conflict in Paul profound.
  • We know what we should do and do the opposite.
  • Almost like being pulled to do something else. Like in the midst of civil war.
  • Comes up with a narrative for understanding this conflict: comes from personalization of notion of movement from liberation from old place, moving to new place. Exodus.
  • Experiences old Saul, wants to follow the way of the law but feels guilty and angry. Then the new Paul, the Paul of love, who feels connected. New man being born from old me.
  • He understands his inner conflict as reflecting an inner conflict with God: danger
  • Radical idea: have to understand Paul to understand Augustine, and Luther.
  • Idea that God has two aspects:
      1. Law and justice and order. We stand in judgment. We have failed. Not lived up to moral perfection that morality demands of us. None of us can meet that standard.
    • Paul sees God as perfectly just, we fail to meet that standard so legally we are condemned to death.
      1. Agapic parent who loves us.
    • Jesus sacrificed himself to satisfy God’s demand for justice so that God could fully love us.
    • Relevant to our purposes: within this message also an attempt to project the idea that somehow the course of reality itself is enmeshed in a conflict between justice and agape
  • What that’s going to mean is that people who experience deep inner conflict will find a home in Christianity. Sense of personal failure, not living up to what can and should be, that their personhood is thwarted, that not come into the fulness of perfection, completeness of personhood going to be attracted to Christian message

(hmmm, that’s me but I’m not attracted to Christianity)

  • Relevance to meaning crisis: how do we tap into all of this power of Agape, participatory gnosis, own sense of not living up to fulness of personhood without the machinery of Christianiity.
  • Despair
  • Price we pay for the gifts that Christianity given us. Given us expectation of love and transformation and relief of inner conflict, expectations that not well met in post-christian worldview
  • Carry the grammar of God, but many no longer believe
  • Want to trace how Christianity, starts to intersect with axial revolution coming out of greece.
  • Paul quotes Stoicism.
  • Come into confluence with neo-platonism, gnosticism.