Thank you for replying.
First, to answer your last question: "What do you mean when you say that charity is the first commandment?" I am simply referring to Christ's words which state that the first and greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is like to it: loving one's neighbor. Paul will later say that the whole of the law is summed up in this: "Love your neighbor as yourself." So, that's what I meant (basically, charity-- love of God with the love of friendship, loving neighbor as ourselves-- or, better, as Christ loved us-- out of love for God-- is the first commandment in the sense that it is the most important commandment, and that all other commandments flow from that).
With respect to the use of sarcasm/satire: there is a time and a place for that in various kinds of debates (including theological debates). However, in my strong opinion, when we are doing what we are doing here-- honestly discussing matters which, by your own admission, are EXTREMELY difficult to handle, i.e., very difficult philosophical and theological topics such as the simplicity of God, the Essence of God, is it possible for more than one person to possess the divine essence, the meaning of "time" and "eternity", etc.--- and if we are to truly help each other gain a better understanding of these topics (and not simply have our minds already made up and want to "win a debate") then, in a situation like this, sarcasm is out of place and counterproductive. For, one utilizes sarcasm when a.) one's mind is already made up on a matter, and b.) one regards the opposite position as ridiculous. While, with respect to the first point, we all may have strong positions and beliefs on some of these matters (and, so, our minds may be already "made up" in the sense that we have, even prior to our discussing a topic, already formed a strong opinion or hold to a strong belief on something), nevertheless, with regard to the second point, when we are discussing such topics which are, as I said, so very difficult, it seems to me to be quite out of place to regard an opposing position as utterly ridiculous (which, again, is what sarcasm/satire communicates). For, again, let's be honest: these sorts of questions are DIFFICULT questions which even TRAINED philosophers and theologians struggles with. While I myself have been blessed to have had the opportunity to receive a good number of years of formal education in philosophy and theology (receiving degrees in both fields), I HARDLY consider myself a "trained" philosophy or theologian, for, even after those years of formal study, I still regard such questions as RATHER/EXTREMELY difficult (in fact, if there was one thing that I learned from those years of study, it was that I realized how little I actually know and how dumb I am when it comes to grasping such difficult concepts). Studying mathematics and computer science (which I also studied-- my undergrad degree was in those areas), as difficult as those subjects are, is EASY-- VERY easy!-- compared to studying philosophy and theology. So, while I may, of course, have disagreements with others in discussion of such topics, I would very rarely-- if EVER-- regard an opposing position on such difficult topics as being simply ridiculous (i.e., a position worthy of being EASILY dismissed or disdained, which is, again, what is being communicated when one responds with sarcasm). Thus, for example, while I disagree with Paidion's idea that eternity "does not make sense", I can understand why he might say that because, well, shoot, the concept of "eternity" is an EXTREMELY difficult concept to adequately grasp! (Now, that does not mean that it is "nonsense"-- for, when one studies and contemplates it enough, one gets little "flashes" of insights onto it's nature, even if ever so dim-- it simply means that our minds are not strong enough to be able to EASILY grasp such concepts; in taking on such concepts, we are like little children who barely know how to add, and, yet, now, we are trying to do Calculus, or something like that). The main point I am making here, Darin, is that these concepts that we are taking on are extremely difficult (again, even for trained philosophers and theologians), and so, if we are to honestly help each other in gaining better understandings on such concepts, we ought to be open to listening and learning from each other with regard to what insights another might have; and, even should one utter something that seems "off" to us, in my opinion, considering the difficulty of the subject matter with which we are dealing, it does not seem appropriate, or, rather, seems really inappropriate, to hold that opposing position as being ridiculous (and, thus, worthy of a snide or sarcastic remark). Sarcasm is for stuff that is easy to see: none of this stuff that we are talking about here is easy to see. Hope that makes sense, man.
We ALSO have to remember that, in discussing such stuff, we not only have to keep in mind the difficulty our neighbor might have in thinking about such things, but, even more importantly, we have to remember that we are talking about GOD. And, while we all have our own beliefs about God, unless one is absolutely certain about something with respect to God, we ought to be at least a little bit careful about what we assert (or deny) about Him, lest we offend Him. Sure, we might make mistakes about Him (and He, being merciful, understands honest mistakes, so those are easily forgiveable); but, if we, when speaking about God and the Mystery that He is, fall into the idea that talking about Him is easy, then I believe we are on a very dangerous path (and, it seems to me that, when we hold opposing positions about God as being easily dismissed or simply ridiculous-- again, things which, it seems to me, are being communicated in the use of sarcastic comments-- then we are at least giving the appearance that talking about these mysteries related to God are EASY when, in fact, they are far from easy for us human beings and our very limited intellects), for we could be reducing the great mystery Who is God to our meager level of understanding about Him (and, this, I fear, could be not just a little, but quite, offensive to Him, as it would be an act of injustice towards Him, Who, in His Mystery, deserves to be regarded with complete awe and reverence, even as we do our best, with His help-- His Word and His grace-- to talk about Him as best as we can using our limited minds and vocab). Really, to be honest, that is my main concern when we employ sarcastic speech in discussing such difficult topics involving our God: the concern about potentially offending our all-holy and mysterious God. (I hope that is not overly-pious or over-the-top for you, but, well, that's where I, personally, am at on all of this).
Alright, bro, God bless you...Peace; I hope to write more to you and the others later (after my week-long retreat....I'll pray for you, and the others, on the retreat; as I also ask for your prayers for me, sinner that I know that I am).
With fraternal charity in Christ,
I was also going to write some stuff about how authority and tradition can be helpful things for us, but I will have to leave that for later (suffice for now to point out that the Scriptures-- which, again, were handed down to us through an authoritative Christian tradition and through Christian leaders who had authority from Christ to hand down to us these Scriptures-- tell us to "Remember our leaders, and imitate their faith, etc." So, we ought to have a healthy respect for the leaders in the Church whom God gives to us. But, again, I'll have to say more about that later. Peace...
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."