Kendal Q. Binmore: A cacophony of silence: ground of the Triumvirate: 5. Cabrales’ God


            5. Cabrales’ God

Let the desperate grasp pass by the networks of prior

desperation. Become catholic for a day. Let no one

direct the weave–enemy, or friend.

Anthony Pau Cabrales

On the 5th Circuit

(Kashmir earthquake entry, Oct., 2005)

           Gerrard Ponti, clerk to Cabrales in his sixth term, records a terse exchange between Justices Cabrales and Whitehead (from Remembering the Suzuki Court):


Whitehead: My God closes no living door.


Cabrales: My God? No, Rachel. It’s no one’s God. That is the terror.


Whitehead’s comment became infamous in her own day, the focus of both her surprising concurrence in the Habeas Corpus Cases and her alliance against the death penalty in Kuntanga Resplendent Anderson v Texes. Cabrales sentiment lay burrowed in his journal. His catholicism would not allow overt proclamation of faith; to do so would alienate against his populism. With Suzuki and Mitland he clothed his conclusions in history; whether history controlled his conclusions, or those of any of the Triumvirate, is unclear. His stance in the abortion case Doe v Dawkins of the Superior Court of Alaska suggests history could dominate personal values; but many American Catholics found it difficult to condemn abortion in toto before that centrifugal outcome. While Dawkins articulated a path to ban abortion, only North and South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming succeeded over court challenges. No State with a significant Catholic electorate withstood the Court’s conditions; nor did most of those with significant Resurgence politics, the Dakotas exceptional. Elsewhere, abortion was permitted to save money, a result some see as latent fascism. However that, whether Cabrales’ God forbids the execution of the fetus is fair rebut to his thought: for the answer is–it all depends. Cabrales’ fractured God can make no life decision without confronting Itself in some other form.


           “My God,” as though possession can make subservience into delight. My God is a God of love; a God of wrath; a jealous God; it matters not, for there can be no bargain in monotheism, this perhaps its greatest innovation over Olympus abstract–or the peculiar race monotheism of Deuteronomy. Praise of God is superfluous. Talk of my God is competitive, useless once successful–unless success fades. God has never been whole among monotheists, this is its power. Ecumenism, if not convenient lie, fractures God anew, making each denominational “my” real against the other, God a street player hoping to draw an audience away from Itself. This the greatest mercy, to be no singular slave, to have choice where to bow. God’s freedom lies in fracturing Itself, uncountable contests to create anew what was never whole.


           Catholicism in lower case praises not God but people praising God. Polytheism shorn not of godheads but exclusion; no god will supplant the others in battle, for all are God. No ecumenical can have a static heaven, for the finality of stasis breeds exclusion. The Catholic Church of orthodoxy is an inconsistent ideal, placing all the conflict of worship in its saints, each saint vying for exclusive, dominant notice among votives whose only currency is their finite awareness. God permeating all of these. God the intersection in lives pleading through some but never all of these, God already fractured in Church Catholic. And what of that saint canonized in records obscure, perhaps only noticed now in the momentary pause of a page turning scholar–is he still of God, saint without clientele, or has he vanished, changing God in his last involuntary act? Changing God who is the nexus of our needs.


           Cabrales’ fractured God is catholic in small and large c, no Protestant gathering of the righteous whose worst enemy are the almost brethren who think righteousness abides in their private elsewhere, distanced unreachable from all other doctrine. No, no such clarity of path for the catholic. Pity the Pope who must speak for the mutually inconsistent; respect the Pope who articulates needs so distant from one another that they live mutually unseen; grieve with the Pope who knows his task impossible, so in hard resolve decides all the world is. Perhaps Cabrales’ God is a reaction against an infallible Papacy, against not failure, but the consequences of success, against the denial of limitation.


           It is the responsibility of God, Cabrales wrote, to confront Itself. In confrontation a fractured God accounts for some of Itself. Accounts, not necessarily affirms; God may repudiate what it partly was. The strange covenant of Jesus on the cross, atoning not just for transgressions against the old covenant, but for that covenant itself. Covenant anew no longer singular, but potential for each confrontation of God with God. God is the articulation of what It was, partly was, to make a present is, bounded by knowledge of Its worshipers. God is fractured by the finitude of men, distanced from Itself by the lives of men.


           Again Thomas Merton anticipates:


The religion of our time, to be authentic, needs to be the kind that escapes practically all religious definition. Because there has been endless definition, endless verbalizing, and words have become gods. There are so many words that one cannot get to God as long as He is thought to be on the other side of words. But when [H]e is placed firmly beyond the other side of words, the words multiply like flies and there is a great buzzing religion, very profitable, very holy, very spurious. One tries to escape it by acts of truth that fail.


One tries to escape by acts of truth that fail. Each failure is an instantiation of God, failure through its finite, fractured, realization. Elsewhere:


the law of all spiritual life is the law of risk and struggle, and possible failure


Not possible, but unavoidable, necessary, failure. One has the impression that Merton hesitated in personal silence to avoid a commanding silence from Church. But Cabrales was not wedded to Church for his meals, that ultimate finitude which shatters the world, and God, into mutually unknowable inconsistency; Cabrales, made master of law, could make of its ambiguity what amounted to a theology in outcome, a theology which could bear 9-11’s as an honest act of God. A theology legal minions practice but never know.


           Distanced from 9-11, the emotions which were more for a we than an I have dissipated, no greater surety for the proposition that in extremity the self fades into an actor it knows not. We regain what awareness we claim as self, dimly aware that something absent corporal form has been, so assuaged of responsibility for detritus without memory. We prepare for reply in that absence of self, and we will have none take away that righteous efficacy. But God is as terrible as the suicide terrorist, as other, as apparently incontingent to ourselves. It’s no one’s God. That’s the terror. God embraces the suicide bomber as much as us. Not because omnipotence is beyond consistency; omnipotence is a fracturing which allows the hobgoblins of consistency to thrive. God fractures so that we may breathe. That our breath may curtail another’s is of no consequence to something which allows consistency to be.


           On 9-11 Cabrales heard the call of Allah and could not turn away. Something of the resolve of those men was in his believing ancestors as well. The anonymous destructive hand does not need the theory of flight; it has been with us as long as men could march. To reprise a crisis of faith entry (Cabrales’ release to God, ante)


Lord, if eternity is in a moment, if immortality is outside time, how can the suicide bomber be wrong? In a moment the world ceases for those so baptized; they step out of the stream and so are eternal. Has the suicide brought his victims to God? Is he wanting only in his inability to bring all to God? Is there really no war, just impatience waiting for the stepping out? How can the Absolute open itself to us but by snuffing us out? We who are afraid of death, how can we not see that the Absolute’s only solace is in fact death?


So Cabrales asks in another crisis entry, is the healing touch of Jesus a torture when it stays the immediacy of death (ante)? The Apocalypse, the End of Days, is in his faith. Who can say when a human hand is directed by God? The afore quoted entry continues:


Suicides, you preludes to God, you are not here to win or lose. You do not walk into houses of worship which belong to none, as separate from our legal worlds as is the quiet of mountains, and as defenseless against those worlds as are mountains; you do not enter the echo of Ka’ba for political gain, but to declare the end of politics. The End of Days has taken your breath; the rule of God’s word is lost, so you walk into the oblivion of Absolute. You do not want the return of days never experienced. There is no hill worthy of the city you see. You want out. And in your holy mercy you offer the door to the innocent defilers. In your holy mercy you remove them from transgression. Such is the love of the Absolute.


But we bystanders, victims too if we allow, are still here. We endure what the suicide escapes, and his act as well. There is no End of Days in human hand; even the Apocalypse proclaimed would be incremental. This social physics denies singular resolutions such as Apocalypse–this the fracturing of God, not of “my God,” which needs no other, but of the very impartiality which buys entry into faith. Cabrales’ first (academically designated) crisis of faith entry, just days after 9-11-2001, flavors this thought of social physics in finitude:


[T]hey wondered whether at the seconding

coming of Christ to Jerusalem, Peru would

be long in receiving the news.


So Thornton Wilder in Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927). Set in the early 18th Century, the distance contemplated slows the hand of God. The Second Coming, that for which Church endures, that which in anticipation sustains our Catholic hierarchy, might not be known to all, orphaning pieces of persevered faith, Pope dissolved, his minions continue to genuflect. For with the Coming, preservation is done; in trust we know not what to expect. All we have achieved, mostly well-fed, advances in faith and renown, gone. Our upward path not there. Our brothers in extended network not there. What if, in Wilder’s Peru, a humble faith thinks the Coming done? Should he wait to be informed by a dead Church? Or should he dissolve this distant limb not cognizant of its death? Should he rebel, deny the rites, bring the blessed end for which all wait to his distance-denied land? Should he not make his land one with Christ inhabited Jerusalem? But all he–we–know of it is a desolation from the present.


A worse speculation for this humble faith: the coming may never be announced afar; desolation at the center–at Jerusalem–may remove the means of communication. We sit, waiting for a message, finally realizing silence is its only content. Another silence, removal of the present, is that for which we wait. Heavenly silence produces earthly silence afar in reply, trapping the distant in a faithless earth where ritual is void. So why not create the heavenly silence in the far locale? This is what the Church fights; but it cannot gainsay the time has come. The humble, speculating faith may be a madman or the finger of God. When the coming has arrived there will be no difference.


Sitting here, in the endlessly reflected wail of 9-11, voice bouncing off voice, fueled by the roaring streams of media which dare say nothing beyond the destroying moment; sitting here I tremble to think we have witnessed a Second Coming. Not for us; for the suicides. They bring their Allah to us, they bring the peace of God in descent and we, in that silent peace, wail to fill the space.


No reply. The desolation which is heaven knows no earthly means. Sit before the created silence. That is the message which will never hear reply. We hear that message. But so do others. For we live not in 18th Century Peru. If only we did; we could at least argue with the humble faith–no, friend, the time is not yet; wait a week–the mail shall come.


The desolation which is heaven knows no earthly means. Sit before the created silence. That is the message which will never hear reply. We hear that message. But so do others. Others–not singular. For all the madman’s singularity, he preaches. Even the suicide bomber needs fellowship; it is the need for such entry into the finitude of others which downs his theology.


           God confronts God. The bystander confronts the singularity of suicide. No confrontation leaves one unchanged. Such is Cabrales’ response to 9-11: to change you I confront you, and change myself. God fractures anew, no longer of the us that were. We approach Suzuki’s satori, but only approach. Satori is a complete temporary removal so others may come; the confrontation of God with God is direct, unrelenting–change comes, but not through temporary dissolution. Change comes through the audience, God watching the confrontation with Self. Yet judicial satori, removing issues from the Court in the first instance, accelerates God’s confrontation with Itself. A mighty conceit that such a judicial stance could affect the genesis of suicide. Perhaps conceit is now our only tool.


           The present entry closes, not with full recognition of divine self confrontation, but repudiation of the singularity upon which the suicide stands:


Absolute, I fear you. I do not want you. I want history for others after my end of days, just as, this instant, uncounted lives create beyond my ken. Absolute, I do not want you. I want the endless seed of Abraham, your promise broken by our Lord Jesus Christ’s prophecy of End. I tremble at what you’ve done, Jesus. I choose instead the unfinished love of men and women too vast to know. I choose the paths I will never see.


I stumble in disbelief, Lord. Do not pick me up.


Uncounted lives create beyond my ken: Cabrales’ catholicism trumps the dogma of faith, dislodges faith from the surety of childhood ritual, removes it to roost in an essential reality experienced only as a tale: the unseen others living, giving ground to all. This his ground with Suzuki, who makes a curiously similar statement at the conclusion of his nomination hearing, curious until one reflects that reality, for all its pluralism, is still of one kind:


I want to be your Justice. Somewhere, out there, ever beyond my sight, is the reason why. (Concluding remark, Fifth Session, opt site)


The denial of singular solution is denial of adequate personal experience. The ever differentiating other can be contained only through brutality and, for Suzuki, such brutality will always fail somewhere.


           Perhaps not inevitably so for Cabrales. Suzuki lives in a world of texts; Cabrales more in a world of communion by faith. Suzuki sees nothing divine in 9-11 or its descendants; Cabrales would not deny divinity there, indeed, his catholicism seems to require divinity there (see Micah 4:1-5 and fractured monotheism, below) to purge the same from himself. For Cabrales, the self confrontations of God are a path, paths, stepping stones branching this way and that. The more contested social worlds become, the more confrontations, the more branches resulting, perhaps so many that an identifiable path cannot be discerned among the stones, although travel among them, directionless, is possible. Such multi-directional connections stay brutality as an option of God. Not stay–remove as irrelevant, or distance in irrelevance, a walking away which leaves brutality to consume its own existence. Sometimes divinity must bury itself.


           The self-purging of singular solution which Cabrales undertakes is consequent of the social worlds he transverses. Confrontations are contextual, much as in evolution; the development of God is not teleological. The fracturing of God anew is a struggle in faith, a risk, the same gamble risk Suzuki sees in the Constitution (Traveling awhile with Justice Holmes, ante). Indeed, Cabrales would see Constitutional gamble in enabling God’s struggle with Itself. Enabling, not allowing; the struggle will go on in any case, a question only of degree and place.


           The brutality of divinity is part of all God; a commonality of God across abyss, across doctrine, words used to differentiate life into death, across the foul odor of the others’ feces. Struggle against this commonality creates God anew, linking the otherwise disparate in faith, perhaps making a God they never know. There is a vignette by Cabrales’ clerk Ponti brushing lightly this linkage; I quote fully, not because it details the fracturing of God against present brutality, for it does not, but for the very ephemerality of the connection made, this one likely vanishing into loss:


The Justice took me south, drove me through southwestern Texas into New Mexico, legal briefs in trunk, days in old hotels, never the fuzzy class called motel, hotels just this side of comfort, days with legal briefs pilled about Mexican food, this the locus of my jurisprudence, he said. Never mind Harvard Law. Desert towns were his education, men and women with Spanish, telling stories of lives with fiction as tool for clarity, speaking this time to audience of single man who ramifies into multitudes, unknown, concealed magician of ideas.


So he traveled with a clerk one month each summer, rejected certiorari petitions in tow: what would we have said if the Court had heard the petition? Studies in the caprice of justice, voices drowned so a few others may speak. Why invest so heavily in a few clerks? Because so much was invested in me.


And always Church and Mass. Sundays and, when available, confessional. Once, in a small New Mexico boarder town, he entered an old confessional, I sitting in a pew, wondering how such poverty could sustain such a glittering alter; priest rush walks in directly to confessional, enters his side, confers with an Associate Justice. The priest emerged bemused, started at my presence, rushing off, a visitation from something unplanning his day. The Justice would call it an act of God if in the audience. Acts of God. Cabrales would say our lives are too familiar to recognize an act of God. But an immigrant needs those acts, sees though others’ mundane. Immigrants, he said, found it hard to ignore God. Then, with a smile, of course, immigration is a matter of scale.


Where we traveled, not all immigrants were Hispanic. One small town’s sole hotel was owned by an arab. We stayed and did our what if work, listening to the proprietor’s banter. Banter of Iraq. Heads rolling in Bagdad, death so persistent it must come from faith. So many heads only the hand of God could sever them all. The proprietor was wounded inside, no balm in ranting against America, his America, citizen some twenty years.


“We have chaos!” he barked at the Justice, “no one knows who is doing this!”


Anthony paused. Pau paused. He knew most Muslims declaimed terrorists as not of Islam. But the beheadings were too frequent to escape the net of Belief. Gently he said, “No. We know. All of us know.”


The proprietor’s eyes bulged. “Who,” he challenged.


“The hand of divinity severs these heads.”


Silence. Not Islam. Divinity. Not nationalism. Divinity. Not the murderous hatred of humans. Divinity. Divinity: the fulcrum of hope.


Anthony reached into his shirt pocket, took out his small childhood wooden crucifix, stained with decades of sweat and skin, placing it on the table, before all.


“I know,” he added.


A moment which might break. The proprietor looked at the cross, at the Justice. A burden retreated from his face.


“Yes, you know.”


We traveled the next day. (from Remembering the Suzuki Court)


           This brief recognition delegated to memory, perhaps later overwritten by the importance of anger; perhaps not. Bound by stories important only because others continue to tell, continue to listen, these two stand in commonality told centuries ago. Their stories whirl about them, clashing, deflecting, again, again, until a pattern of near misses creates commonality, two traditions sharing the same space by never being in exactly the same place. Lebensraum. God anew. Small collisions keep the near misses aligned. Remove confrontation and God reverts to singular certainty. Here we see the reason of brutality: to blot difference so no confrontation is possible, to wipe out other so brutality cannot change, so its offspring will be as it, so its offspring with be the last offspring. To snare brutality in confrontation is its only fear; so it brutalizes its own kind to insure no difference emerges. God is not only unique, but the same everywhere. When God comes in new form, blot It out.


           Cabrales’ God is wherever human memory can be made, even in the hermit whose battle is in memory, stories clashing until jostled into separating orbits, a God ready for contact that may never come. God is as brutal as the singularity of story, as the singularity of existence, becoming less so as clash becomes dodge, a self-limiting of story, allowing other stories to be, creating a nexus of sometimes empty space, the whirling orbits ready to accommodate intrusion in the currency of partial survival for all–so God comes anew, fractured in outcome, singular in process, monotheistic, unwilling to abide another deity without change in both, so preserving monotheism. Monotheism a race never lost because never finished.


           In this world God never knows Itself. Distance in creation may become incommensurability, slaughter then the only resolution upon confrontation. God experiments with Itself, says Cabrales, we were once like you, but no more (ante). Go to God, never take from God, never return to what you were. To return is to annul accommodation, partial survival, for the intruding other. Peace, not submission, is purchased at loss of self.


This the faith of monotheism: that these free resolutions to God beyond our sight will somehow quell thirst for the frozen certainty of destruction. (To God entry, ante)


The bomber’s Paradise resides in the explosive moment; Cabrales’ heaven resides in imagination unreached yet ever, somewhere, formed. Neither is ontologically superior. Brutality resides in both; the question is one of distribution, the great matter of life and death, to borrow a zen phrase–a borrowing quite happily given, I suspect. The great matter is decided apart from God. While God must be, Its resolution is beyond Its control. A phrase from Alfred North Whitehead encapsulates this theology:


The fundamental notion of the philosophy of organism is expressed in Locke’s phrase “it is past doubt there must be some real constitution on which any collection of simple ideas co-existing must depend.” …passing beyond Locke’s explicit statement, the notion of a real constitution is taken to mean…the multiplicity of actual entities as constitutive of the actual entity in question… In other words, the actual entity [for us, at this moment, Cabrales’ God], in virtue of being what it is, is also where it is. It is somewhere because it is some actual thing with its correlated actual world. (Original emphasis; Process and reality, 1985[1929], Free Press, New York, p. 59)


God, whose winds tear us about, is as trapped as we.


           God is a map for story placed in the world, never completely known because never completely manifest at once. This is God’s power, that it is underdetermined in any instant, the word “God” evoking unarticulated potentiality, giving pause at the prospect of intervention of story unforeseen. Such God has miracles, creates and destroys–but these are social things. A miracle is a successful gamble in the world, linking people beyond their imagining, story a map for people to pantomime. A miracle is endured loss of a gamble, risking nonetheless anew a throw of the die until awe in success comes. The terrorist waits for miracle, as do we. Faith is risk, and none may be denied risk.


           God creates and destroys, is created and destroyed. The orbits of story, stories the vessels of all that was or can be, God is no-thing defining, through related stories, all things. Again Alfred North Whitehead:


All relatedness has its foundation in the relatedness of actualities [for us, actualities related by stories]; and such relatedness is wholly concerned with the appropriation of the dead by the living–that is to say, with “objective immortality” whereby what is divested of its own living immediacy becomes a real component in other living immediacies of becoming. [T]he creative advance of the world is the becoming, the perishing, and the objective immortalities of those things which jointly constitute stubborn fact.. (Ibid, pp. xii-xiv, original emphasis)


This obtuse brilliance is exactly what God needs, encompassing all through the repeated use of the vague, thereby evolving precession: “fundamental ideas…presuppos[ing] each other so that in isolation they are meaningless” (Ibid, p. 3). What is divested of its own living immediacy becomes a real component in other living immediacies of becoming: God confronting Itself, destroying Itself, consuming Itself, becoming Itself. These words pause, so vague as to nullify the furious intent of doctrine, which is why their magic is employed. These words pause, so vague as to be catholic, applicable to any matter of belief and faith. To a suicide bomber; to an Aztec priest pulling out a throbbing heart in our imagination; to the beheading of apostates other defined; to the sacrifice of self for another in a concentration camp; to to’s too numerous, deadly, ecstatic for any mind to bear. This nullifying generality is Cabrales’ response to 9-11, a theology so catholic it terrifies.


           But Cabrales, singular man, knows only a few God. Our small experienced worlds make this theology not a terror but a helpmeet. Precisely because we are incapable of expanding to the potential God abstract we venture to expand as we can. Ah, “we”: maybe not you, maybe not I, but, I pray, some. It is God’s self-fracturing which gives hope against terror inevitable: God is never God abstract. Progress is based on incomplete realization, intentionally so. I find Cabrales’ struggled theology in another of Alfred North Whitehead’s sentences:


Religion is the translation of general ideas into particular thoughts, particular emotions, and particular purposes; it is directed to the end of stretching individual interest beyond its self-defeating particularity. (Ibid, p. 15)


Religion is an ongoing articulation of God, incomplete because the experience making God, being experience, is incomplete. God lives in the world, knows more of the world than we because fractured in space and time, yet, being fractured, never sure of what comes next. A weak paradox, born of treating process as entity.


           Stretching individual interest beyond its self-defeating particularity: God too is self-defeating. So God confronts God, brutality confronts brutality, until stories entice new dodging orbits, or incompatibles are vanquished. The recognition of brutality, attenuating the orbits of stories, is one resolution of God with Itself; another is the simple destruction of the unsubmissive. There is no heaven to reach, unless we make it for ourselves, brutality whirling about us so fast, so distant, we do not see. Could the dictators of whatever grain of view be more honest than we? No, no simple, satisfying mea culpa as that: for in those distant quickened orbits which grant a boon of blindness there is lebensraum, and this we see. Perhaps the dictator sees another world, as do we. Yet the whirling orbits are real, the collisions of stories measurable; lebensraum is no relativism. Whether Cabrales’ God strives toward a heaven is a question of social physics. God, omnipresent, indispensable, potent, lives in a material world. If heaven is no man’s, it need not be for all men, implied perhaps by the gender bias in this linguistic melody. Again from Cabrales’ journal:


Oh, the populations of faiths your Son has made! Speciations and extinctions so quick even we of instantaneous life fail to notice …Structures not of easy solid body but of outreached hands, so subtle as to go unnoticed by the participants. …[S]ubtle beauty product of faith against faith… This is heaven, and it is on earth, as your Son said, in every now that is.


Oh, the populations of faiths your Son has made! These faiths compete for heaven to make.


There is no conflict between You and Your creation. Conflict is everywhere; it is what you are. You are all faiths in conflict with each other. You are the denial, the affirmation, of everyone.


Conflict is exclusionary, heaven a restricted place, its appeal, its hope. Save perhaps the obscuring balm of distance, or walls to same effect: In my Father’s house there are many mansions (John 14:2). Gospel God striving to surpass God. Cabrales remained a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth for all his apostasy. Ah–Suzuki would say apostasy is faith’s greatest weapon. Cabrales, ever catholic, would be more delicate: for some God, Benjamin, you are right.


           God is not the repository of story but its actualization; those whirling orbits move our lives in avoidance and clash. God is not text but the implementation of text. God is text incomplete, this an escape for the faithful, an invitation to gambit change. Human minds are the repository of story, even when culled from text. God is a multitude of life, yet tangible in outcome to an individual, hard opposition or comforting blanket. Whitehead’s Process and realty ends with Cabrales’ God:


[T]he consequent nature of God is composed of a multiplicity of elements with individual self-realization. It is just as much a multiplicity as it is a unity; it is just as much one immediate fact as it is an unresting advance beyond itself. Thus the actuality of God must also be understood as a multiplicity of actual components in process of creation. This is God in his function of the kingdom of heaven. (p. 350)


Such a mind still is compelled to allude to an ancient declarative text presumably culled from stories told to the illiterate. That is God.


           Of course, Cabrales’ God is not Whitehead’s. Cabrales is no philosopher, and would likely wonder at so many words surrounding his personal journal. He wrote to cut a path toward a jurisprudence of coalition in faiths, a path to weave through his brethren, to weave through his memories. An industry of words devoted to his privacy would detract from his jurisprudence. In this my paycheck says he is mistaken. His jurisprudence cannot survive without this tortured path of faith blazed. We live not by results, but process, and make an industry of the past in desperate hope that thereby something new will come. No more than Cabrales did in his private work, On the continual genesis of faith.


           So: Cabrales’ God is not Whitehead’s. Whitehead’s connects the universe, defines progress as pursual of the abstract through the actual. Cabrales’ is only for men and women, so fractured as to possibly not recognize itself; destruction rather than the attenuation of story may be inevitable. People may be incommensurate in their God, consequent of isolated histories. The discomfort of impregnating travel, the unwelcome visitation of otherness, may be essential for the future reconciliation of God with God. Endure now so as to not exterminate later. But a God who avoids exterminating must Itself evolve. Tolerance, acceptance, endurance necessitate the fracturing, the sacrifice, of God.


           God is human creation creator, actualized creation stories, stories which create. Creation lies in no single place, nor does God. A trick of language, one of the few tricks we have. No disparagement in this; a trick is as good a tool as any, perhaps here a tool beyond the direction of any hand. There is personal risk in this God; as in satori, outcome is, most essentially, beyond us all. Beyond, so potentially alienating. Not so Alfred North Whitehead’s God:


What is done in the world is transformed into a reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world. By reason of this reciprocal relation, the love in the world passes into the love in heaven, and floods back again into the world. In this sense, God is the great companion–the fellow-suffer who understands. (Ibid, p. 351)


This God relishes all, best to worst; cradles the actual, transforms to cherish more, returning this creation to the actual. Cabrales’ God, finite in locale, cannot embrace the world. Cabrales’ God must truncate: this God is difference, difference is error, and from error comes forgiveness, acceptance, sacrificial transformation–or the brutality of conviction. In process the difference between these two is slight, for in process both are finitely manifest. But for Cabrales finite is all there is, brutality never lost in the limit of ever expanding love.


           For Cabrales the battle for God is never assured; not for the good of God, for the shaping of God. A Dios: To God, a battle cry to make a God that is. Never from God: a tactic to push brutality to distant sight, always to, never from, never demanding the resolution which lacerates people into molds, ideal flawed in impossibility. Let us discuss and have another perform the brutal choice, stories whirling about one another while we struggle to avoid collision. Let others collide, not us: this a creation of God. Still, in finitude there is no limit to push hope ever forward; Cabrales’ faith knows it must fail in time and place not distant. Such failure a taking from God, a demand for absolute resolution, a call for apocalypse where all things have their place. The measure of this faith is perseverance despite foreordained failure, with hope only for a resurrection not of body, but futile ideal in an elsewhere. But it is not the business of life to be forever.


           Strange that the finality of Apocalypse, the finality of the suicide bomber, and the open ended failure of Cabrales’ advance of God should reside in the same premise of life. It is not eternity which separates Cabrales from these, but a resolved refusal to extend one’s will to others, the quintessence of his God, a God which refuses victory to keep brutality at bay. Choice among these three, or others, is a matter of process, of present being, a mystery of historical development which is no mystery from the outside, the final, terrible reality of what we, of this moment, are.


           Alfred North Whitehead would say such choices are feelings as primary as any sense experience. Our resolves manifest simply are. But the Court, the Suzuki Court, would channel that are. The passive choice to let others be becomes something else in law: the willful resolve to stay others’ will against all self aggrandizement. Justice Cabrales is not moving to God; he enables others to so move–a quite different thing. Justice Cabrales found a way to delay the failure of his God. That is his Suzuki Court.


           His God, but not of him. Not Its creator, not Its sustainer, not Its slave; a God which moves away from him as It becomes, yet is out there, somewhere, growing in change. Not to bring others to God, but to keep God moving. God is a traveling word. A sedentary God cannot but make wrath of its energy. It’s no one’s God: that’s the terror–Cabrales transforms this terror, this otherness, into distanced hope, hope for others unseen. The otherness of God is unavoidable, but a conceptual if not personal sacrifice can make It someone’s God. When we tether God to our needs we risk whirlwind for those around us; tether God to others and marvel at It’s flight.


           There is no place for conversion in this social physics of God. Conversion is affirmation of a prior world, a stationary God, a brutality which confronts, certainty absolving the forced fit. Conversion cannot be catholic save through condemnation of the hesitant. Distanced in memory from childhood ritual, Cabrales cannot convert another to higher ground. The price of such advocacy would be loss of those memories, and that he will not, can not, abide. A fractured man–El Paso parish, illegally resident grandfather, Harvard Law, 5th Circuit, Supreme Court–he needs a fractured God, fracture his commonality with humanity, the only solution for a mind condemned to remember what it was. Memories are not a seamless cloth; life is not whole; God is not whole. This the only way to endure the catholicism of his memory. So Cabrales could, mostly, embrace the final paragraph of Process and reality:


Throughout the perishing occasions in the life of each temporal creature, the inward source of distaste or of refreshment, the judge arising out of the very nature of things, redeemer or goddess of mischief, is the transformation of Itself, everlasting in the being of God. In this way, insistent craving is justified–the insistent craving that zest for existence be refreshed by the ever-present, unfading importance of our immediate actions, which perish and yet live for evermore. (p. 351)


Sans everlasting, sans evermore, so too Cabrales’ God, the present reviving the past to perish with it, a resurrection which says not life evermore, only that you died too soon. Always too soon, always pulled back, a resurrection of Lazarus, not Christ. But memory is not seamless; God must be selective. There is not enough time to tell it all, some vanishing in sacrifice so others may be pulled back for a moment, a moment of retelling.


           If there is an everlasting retention it is not a human thing. Our God, saddled with the necessity of finite advance, stumbles forward, bits of life falling wayside, some stopping in reverence at the sacrificial discard as God shambles ahead. To these God may come anew, fractured–or not. If there is everlasting retention in some other strata of existence, hubris to call that God. Mind is story, pantomime, puppeteer, story of struggled, minute steps, no pillar for the universe, rather strange pebble moving up an incline instead of properly down. God struggles to make the improper proper, lumbers forward, makes a forward, the going most important, rolling into life, collecting life, life falling off God, fractured God, to take some other direction. Everlasting retention is the antithesis of this God, a humble servant of life who knows how to play the master well, compassion its tool adroit.


           We are made of this God, by this God, and It comes anew in the compassion which links the bits of what we are. And this is key. We are as God, bits of life linked by compassion, guarded by distaste. We move in false coherence only to find we are no longer what we once were, our finite, blunt acts sundering minutia of what we used to be. God makes us, we fumble, fracture, shatter, making God, each building the other, this no model for the universe; let us be realistically humble and recognize that the panoply of stars as atoms are not of us at all.


           This process of God delineated is a child of science, but the locally rolling God may sustain the book of Genesis, may speak in the necessary ineffable beauty of Qu’ran; the process of God cannot refute its God emergent–only a fracturing of God, so too God, may claim that. Relativism of process is commitment in the instance. We cannot escape God and still speak.


           Lofty speech of dubious utility–not Cabrales’, mine–mine made in the false excuse that these words might lead others to worlds which act beyond their reading. We authors of books published think we have acted, push others into shadow with our work for the finite attention of the human mind, but words are most efficacious in some undelineated elsewhere, and, after all the interest and interviews, novelty gone tarnish, a faint suspicion that we have been duped inhabits the place of vanished laurel. Words are most efficacious elsewhere, but no one tells me where. I just literary critic traveling far, perhaps too far; but that’s what literary critics do, this my excuse called right. So I write the word “theology” and call it Cabrales’.


           Cabrales wrote to himself before it could matter to we of valuable time, and I wager that the importance of words, that ephemeral importance so elusive to the published work, resides in such closed books never opened to others. Cabrales wrote when it could not matter to others, save for that mystic, holy moment of first encounter, no matter how many firsts there be, which so often shapes what follows. Cabrales wrote to hone his response to others, not to control or impress, but as catholic necessity. He began in confessional, where the hidden face of Father Confessor left nothing but God’s presence, young Cabrales actor forbidden script, finding he was nothing without response from an other. God’s script was to remove all scripts, his self lost before the Presence. He left confessional noticing that people reacted to him differently, for a while, until he settled into what he was again. Then he noticed he met different people, found the door of the face closed more often than not; so this young man, with horniness channeled by Doctrine, this young man wondered where the locus of person was. The Presence of God, never seen, showed him how to open the face of others.


           Or so I imagine. That’s what you pay me to do. Imagine. I imagine Church Catholic closing faces among the faithful with its massive emblems even as its child Cabrales is shown through nameless, faceless priests how to open them. I imagine Church Catholic makes Cabrales catholic before 9-11. We have but two journal entries dated before that event so symbolic it must be fluke, both from a European vacation in 1999. Thereafter the journal lies dormant until 9-11. One, Shelter of the saints, portends a fractured Catholic Church through its parthenon of saints (Cabrales’ release to God, ante). The other details unease with omnipotence, genesis of the fear of God. An entry which closes his journal until some dozen men ramming travel into livelihood force it open in silent demand for witness, in silent demand of transformation, in silent plea to be more than barbaric. Whatever the American Cabrales saw in Europe, he kept locked until the unimaginable came. I think he saw the inevitable apocalypse of the One God.


While on the 5th Circuit, vacationing in Europe, Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain


I stand in the interior of Gaudi’s faith and wonder what he believed. Above, a piecemeal ceiling reveals a terrible gold/blue beauty of wings which, with shifting eye, become gaping, hovering mouths. The God of YHWH Shibboleth, who uses for purposes not ours. Terrible, silent purpose incidental to the happiness of men.


Gone the fabulous exterior of the nativity, there only to draw one into this interior of morally neutral power. Standing here the Church becomes a locus of power, uncolored by any emotional palette. The outside draws you in; that it’s only function.


This ceiling changes everything. Once viewed I see the stained glass windows differently. They begin in earth colors of brown and green but rise to clear white, deep red. Abstract at their height, what supports them is mere entry, a way to the top. Did Gaudi see himself as ladder to similar end–not an understanding or knowledge, but as a means to move forward to–something else. Was the goal entry into terrible purpose, leaving Church behind?


Those old photos of Gaudi and Cardinal–is that love of Church or use of Church? Cardinal as dead as Gaudi, now a saint, still working for the reification of Gaudi’s imagination. Yet Gaudi forbade direct investment by the Church in his Cathedral’s construction; only donations are to be accepted, donations outside the Church, outside the Body of Christ on Earth. God’s terrible purpose is to absorb all people; or so Paul’s epiphany tell us. The Church, as secular institution, is ultimately in God’s way. So Gaudi employs the piety of Church as base, but builds through direct absorption of the people–through donation.


A remarkable faith this, that building will be propelled through God’s terrible goal of absorption long past Gaudi’s death. When complete this cathedral will not be of the Church. It will stand apart, orphan to innumerable donations, tiny portions of tiny lives. This architect transformed necessity into the absorption of God. Of course the Church could not finance the building; so he forbade it. The Cardinal becomes a saint because he supported a project beyond the Church’s means, part of the terrible, indifferent, silent purpose of absorption. As always, the Church appropriates after the fact, appropriates the shells of past absorption, mistaking bones for spirit, relics for reality. Recognizing past saints, it blindly blocks present saints. Yet, without its archive of memory, present action would ultimately go unnoticed. So the Church is not of God but a curious necessary refuse of God’s absorption. Gaudi must be on his way to sainthood, having so adroitly employed this instrument of obstruction.


Here Cabrales faces catholicism without fractured God. This God is whole, consuming beyond the confines of doctrine, people streaming in, called by the massive ceramic fruit Gaudi steepled so high, promise of abundance which is to be taken, not given. He closes his journal to avoid the feast, this 9-11 abstract in gentler form; he needed 9-11 to face this God. Those wings become mouths follow him onto the Court:


…the mouths of God on the ceiling of Gaudi’s cathedral. Blue-gold beauty consuming us in our paralysis. … Gaudi, those mouths on your ceiling: a warning to not trap what you think you see. To contain the stars is to destroy. It is the ceiling which creates the mouths; it is the cathedral of faith which creates the mouths. (Entry dated from the full Suzuki Court)


The consumption of God is our work, ours alone, resplendent monuments to the Absolute. The Absolute collapses all into Itself, final violence against all distinction, apocalypse perpetual.


           Aristotle defended inference by contradiction by noting its denial would collapse all things into single identity. God unfractured does exactly this. Eternity is release from the perpetual temporal collapse, from perpetual apocalypse. Jesus was not wrong–apocalypse was in his time, is in ours, is of all times, eternity the promise of the final coalescence of God. The suicide bomber is strange entry of the eternal into the temporal, sundered limbs a seamless parchment beyond writing. Certainty is too weak a concept for this Absolute. Collapse is beyond certainty, beyond control, beyond all distinction upon which these rest. It is marvel that we don’t blow ourselves up in race to exit time. I quote again from one of Cabrales’ “crisis of faith” entries:


Lord, if eternity is in a moment, if immortality is outside time, now can the suicide bomber be wrong? In a moment, the world ceases for those so baptized; they step out of the stream and so are eternal. Has the suicide bomber brought his victims to God? Is he wanting only in his inability to bring all to God? Is there really no war, just impatience for the stepping out? How can the Absolute open Itself to us but by snuffing us out? We who are afraid of death, how can we not see that the Absolute’s only solace is in fact death?


It is marvel that we don’t all blow ourselves up in race to exit time. We do not, evolutionary biology aside, because, after all these centuries of unheard debate, the existence of God becomes an empirical question; and God empirically, is finite. There is no Absolute to blow oneself into; so most of us choose life. We choose to make God, as we were made by God. What we make is finite, so variable. The destruction of the suicide bomber cannot be denied; but nor is it an absolute. God confronts God, Divinity repulsed by Itself.


           Yet a vestige of the Absolute remains, consequent of the finite’s inability to grasp its greater self: the immigration of faiths from worlds encountered only in imagination, in story. The miracle of material production beyond our ken, the hope that keeps story alive, visitations from elsewhere which keep hope afloat, hope in story to prepare for future visitation. This Absolute from outside comes to infect our known world, to ally locally in defeat of the bounded Absolute which collapses all into Itself, which denies distinction and labels this immortality. Absolute against Absolute, the invading other against the surety of the collapsed infinitesimal. The Peace of God lies in the paths these invaders make, promise of a world beyond collapse, the blessed inability of the finite to comprehend Itself. Peace is built on otherness, but otherness embedded in a space costly, impossible, to traverse and hold in entirety. The violence of seamless identity is present in both finite and infinite. But only the finite can offer the peace of a traveling, finite, God. A Dios, to God: God traveling from Itself, to Itself, in the hope, hope, no more than that, of remaking Itself. We abide in that remaking and call it peace.


           That remaking–a creation we hope continual, a hope for hope. God is always creating; Cabrales’ trick is to break this monopoly, creation of God as well as from God, creation of God, maker made. But this verbal dancing must face theology’s trump: what of the first creation, of life, matter? Dodge in dance, alliteration to sooth the mind, verbal alchemy urging the next experiment in transmutation, don’t give up: this first Absolute has no answer, collapsed infinitesimal which is everything exploding into finitude, into God as we know It. This first Absolute is beyond text, so beyond Cabrales’ trap, no stories to whirl about as created creator. This first Absolute is irrelevant to our told lives, fakes identity with the spontaneous miracle of the immigrant seed of God finite elsewhere. Captured by the net of story, made a finite thing of words deleted or expanded, the very primacy of this Absolute makes it impotent against the lumbering constellations of story which are our God. To know of this greatest act is to be immune from it. We know only the telling, not the act, making God one of us.


           Unless there are miracles continual, perpetual recursion to the first Absolute, singularity beyond knowing still revelatory for private belief. Yet as soon as told private revelation is ensnared by story, each meaningful to others only as mirror. The great divide, experience liberally salted into different lives, story the space in which all live, revelation untold failed escape from the singularity of Absolute. To be known the Absolute must vanish; knowledge is It’s eulogy, and this writer who would know is here–empirical evidence that God is finite. Miracle may shift story, but not escape the trap story is. God protests Its finitude to no avail.


           So Cabrales forces God into finitude to avoid the catholicism of singularity, a catholicism which, by the laws of physics physical and social, cannot be realized in any lifetime present, Jesus’ wait for the Apocalypse unendingly with us. Leaving no one behind, he stays behind, this commitment to catholicism eclipsing the brutality of terrorism. It is not the horror of violence which repulses Cabrales but the failure of promise catholic thereby; so he makes of the world a fractured God, promise catholic already and always fulfilled, heaven here on earth, house of many rooms, his Gospel still alive against Church.


           For all the comforting hearths in these many rooms, rooms stepping stone connected by God, a one God who is not the same everywhere, this territory owned near but no man’s in distance; for all the peace and rage, for all the solace from loss, this heaven is evil, this one God is evil, evil because inherently exclusionary, necessarily exclusionary, definitionally exclusionary. Process and Reality says it well:


The ultimate evil in the temporal world is deeper than any specific evil. It lies in the fact that the past fades, that time is a “perpetual perishing.” Objectification involves elimination. The present fact has not the past fact with it in any full immediacy. The process of time veils the past below distinctive feeling. There is a unison of becoming among things in the present. Why should there not be novelty without loss of this direct unison of immediacy among things? In the temporal world, it is the empirical fact that process entails loss: the past is present under an abstraction. But there is no reason, of any ultimate metaphysical generality, why this should be the whole story. The nature of evil is that the characters of things are mutually obstructive. Thus the depths of life require a process of selection. But the selection is elimination as the first step towards another temporal order seeking to minimize obstructive modes. Selection is at once the measure of evil, and the process of its evasion. It means discarding the element of obstructiveness in fact. No element in fact is ineffectual: thus the struggle with evil is a process of building up a mode of utilization by the provision of intermediate elements introducing a complex structure of harmony. (p.340)


Alfred North Whitehead abides in an infinite mind. Cabrales’ catholicism cannot; for him no mind is greater than the meanest labor. It is not that the character of things happens to be mutually destructive; it is rather that spatial/temporal existence is a finitude, that communication is not instantaneous, that travel is a form of decay. The finite contains more than the finite may bear; in finitude a subset cannot fathom the whole. Evil is entry into the finite. The Singularity, of which nothing can be said, enters space/time, making God, making evil. God is evil. Knowledge, knowledge through story, the Singularity entering the world, knowledge is evil. Keeping our stories afloat lets others drown. The grandeur of God lies in the drowning of others.


           Cabrales cannot avoid the truncation of finitude. It is in every morsel eaten, every feces produced. He creates an illusion of infinity in the making of God through travel, A Dios, God decaying as we, dung of potential. Truncation shall come, but not here; and the wonder of travel in two dimensions gives many God in the makings, many truncations afar, so indefinite, God borderless yet confined, always everywhere somewhere, something else. Pluralism is willful blindness. What Alfred North Whitehead calls novelty, the introduction of mental originality, is equally truncation somewhere else. Again appropriating Process and Reality:


The world is faced by the paradox that, at least in its higher actualities, it craves for novelty yet is haunted by terror at the loss of the past, with its familiarities and its loved ones. It seeks escape from time in its character of “perpetually perishing.” (p. 340)


An escape, if actualized, which is another’s perishing.


[R]ational life refuses to conceive itself as a transient enjoyment, transiently useful… [J]ust as physical feelings are haunted by the vague insistence of causality, so the higher intellectual feelings are haunted by the vague insistence of another order, where there is no unrest, no travel, no shipwreck: “There shall be no more sea.” (Ibid, p. 340)


To deny the risk of shipwreck is to seed a 9-11. The denial of risk is Singularity, Apocalypse. The “religious problem” is the problem:


The most general formulation of the religious problem is the question whether the process of the temporal world passes into the formation of other actualities, bound together in an order in which novelty does not mean loss. (Ibid, p. 340)


No, no Alfred North, no. Loss is the only hope of the catholic. One needs choose whether all or some die. All is never complete, so no true choice. But the latter, some, is always with us, and may be made ambiguous, indeterminate, unknowing, connecting worlds into a universe we call humanity. This is the final ground of Cabrales’ catholicism, not of men and women, but of worlds.


           So Cabrales knells to a God beyond the possibility of worship. A fractured God cannot demand universal or, really, single embrace. We can only greet, recognize, the fractures we form. This our fulcrum to move God along: with each greeting God is encountered in potential, raw stories before theology. Cabrales wrote silently to prepare for encounter. He wrote to himself before it could matter to we of valuable time. He wrote to be an act of God, immigrant into encounter. He wrote to a Father Confessor still hidden beyond some wall, Father Confessor still there, silent, made of childhood memory of awe which makes fear, strange ritual giving us a man who knows faith may only be fought on its own ground. He wrote to walk, to greet God in the making, his counter to all the 9-11’s no one really wants to know. He wrote, not knowing he shaped himself for these Gods to be made; he wrote, merely on his paper path:


On the path

downcast eyes rise

in mutual, unfettered



Benjamin Suzuki


Laying pen down, he looked up, startled to find–eyes.

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