Recapping some of Hofstadter's points from I Am a Strange Loop:
1. Our self is a symbol, a pattern.In my last post I hinted that in the shared memory of the Eucharist, the Strange Loop known as the Imago Christi is shared, spread, and passed along. Generation after generation. Century after century.
2. These patterns have causal potency.
3. Patterns are shared among many minds.
Christian theologians emphasize the narrative core of the faith, The Story sitting at the Center. Why? In Hofstadter's language it is because the pattern that was Jesus continues to causally affect the world. And the great medium of "activating" that causal chain is the Eucharist.
Think of what happens during the Eucharist while you read this quotation from I Am a Strange Loop:
Though the primary brain has been eclipsed, there is, in those who remain and who are gathered to remember and reactivate the spirit of the departed, a collective corona that still glows. This is what human love means...the more deeply rooted the symbol for someone inside you, the greater the love, the brighter the light that remains behind.Hofstadter also quotes from the novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter:
Or perhaps, when there is love, the widowed must stay for the resurrection of the beloved--so that the one who has gone is not really dead, but grows and is created for a second time in the soul of the living?I am not here suggesting that this is all there is to the resurrection of Jesus. Nor am I trying to reduce the workings of the Spirit to symbol activation in the brain. But what I am suggesting is this:
If Jesus was God he represents a Causal Dead End. Jesus would be a new causal force in history that cannot be reduced to or traced back to anything prior. Jesus, then, is causally unique. But once "inserted" into human history, once that Strange Loop takes up its place in the causal whirlpool of history, it begins to affect things, causally speaking. Like a rock thrown in a pond which sends out ripples in all directions. And all those effects, those ripples of the Incarnation, are, in a strict sense, supernatural. Because when they are "reduced" they trace back to the Causal Dead End. In short, if Jesus is the cause, God's doing it. Think of it like a Time Machine. If I, today, give a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus, then, in a very miraculous way (and I mean that literally), Jesus is doing it. He is transported into the present. His Strange Loop, like the Chopin songs of the last post, is inhabiting my mind, causing things to happen in the world. He was Dead. But now he is Alive.
The point I'm arguing for is this interesting convergence between causality and the miraculous. They are, in this vision, the same thing. It suggests that causal events in the world, locally explainable via the scientific method, might actually be "supernatural," in a very real sense. God doesn't have to intervene time after time after time, always fiddling with the cosmos. God just has to intervene once, inserting His Pattern into the causal flux. This is why Christ and his Divinity is so important. Causally important. Christ is the route of the miraculous. Of all miracles. Or, phrased another way, Jesus is the Only Miracle.
But this miracle, if it plays out in the causal flux, needs a means of self-sustainment. A means to re-energize, propagate its influence, and avoid dissipation. Thus, the Incarnation, prior to death, ritualizes a means to accomplish those ends. A narrative, communal remembrance. In the words of Hofstadter that we read earlier: "in those who remain and who are gathered to remember and reactivate the spirit of the departed, a collective corona that still glows." Eucharist.
And if this is so, then maybe the Catholics and Protestants were BOTH right about the Eucharist. Maybe Jesus really is present, in a miraculous way, as the Catholics believed. And maybe Eucharist is just simply a corporate remembrance as the Protestants believed. But maybe, as I have been suggesting, these two positions--the Presence of Jesus and the remembrance of Jesus--really are, in the end, the exact same thing.