PAUL TILLICH AND “THE SHAPE OF WATER” by Bishop Robert Barron: Water is pure flow; Person (in God) is pure Relation and Nothing In and For Self


Blogger: The title and concept of “the shape of water” is fascinating for me because it speaks to what I experience of myself. I am fascinated by water because it is – for me – a plastic symbolization of what I experience myself to be. It took conceptual shape in college when I first got into St. Thomas’s account for God as Ipsum Esse and each being of creation as habens esse. It was esse as act of all acts that spoke to me of what I experienced myself to be. I have always gravitated to water. I have to see it, be close to it, sail on it, listen to it. And this reached a boiling point for me when I stumbled across Ratzinger’s account of the divine Persons as pure relation . The Father was the action of engendering the Son; the Son was the action of glorifying and obeying the Father; and the Spirit as the personification of these opposing relations. And when I wanted to account for this notion of person as “relation,” I knew it could not be the ancient category of “accident” of substance (that which is “in self”) but somehow pure action of “to be” For. And when I found Vatican II’s Gaudium et spes (24) explaining the human person as “finding self by gift of self,” I knew I was home. That is, I become who I am by going out of myself and becoming relational – always toward God – for another. And, of course, it should make sense since this is the meaning of Jesus Christ as Son of God made man, and doubly clarified as the very meaning of man (GS 22). And when I am turned back on myself and look for myself, I get sick of myself. I get worse than “bored.” I can’t stand myself. And you can’t either. So, water is a great image. And here, Barron expostulates on the movie. I don’t know if it’s great. But Barron is great. And the image of water is a great metaphor for the non-reductive mind escaping from the conceptual tangle of Gnostic inwardness and pelagian individualism. Here’s Barron….. Bp. Robert Barron

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