Orthosphereans – not just the contributors, but our formidable commenters – write to explicate the Tradition of the Christian West: to those who are not Traditionalists, or Westerners, or Christians; to each other; perhaps especially to ourselves.
“Explicate” is a lovely word. It derives from the Latin explenare, literally “to out-fold;” although in English we would translate it as “to unfold.” And there is no better way to explicate an idea for one’s own edification than to explain it to someone else. The process of explanation is an exploration. All these verbs are related: “explain” derives from explanare, “to out-plane” – i.e., to make the crooked straight, the rough places plain – while “explore” is from explorare, “to out-flow,” or as we would say, “to pour out,” as of living water, or worlds. John Evelyn combined all three notions in the first text on forestry, presented to the Royal Society in 1664, in which he spoke of buds that “explain into leaves.”
When we explain, explicate, or explore, we become the occasions of novel introductions to the world, new creations; for such motions result in the concrete implementation in our minds, and ergo our lives, of conceptual configurations that might otherwise have lain forever dormant in the realm of the possible, unexpressed except in the eternal contemplation of the Logos. All such apparent novelties are, of course, in one way or another, types of an archetype that has often otherwise iterated in the history of the world; new buds explicating on an ancient tree. There is nothing new under the sun; yet utterly new every morning is the love our waking proves.
So it is with the renascence of Tradition, whose renewed flux from the womb of time we would attend as doctors.
We are all of us engaged in a massive fathomless project – intellectual, moral, sophialogical – of rediscovering our true and ancient Tradition: what it is, whence it springs, how it works, what it means, and how we may show it forth, not only with our lips, but in our lives. Like any flow, a conversation such as ours here is a turbulent process, although by no means chaotic. One never knows what might next rise to the surface. Is it mere flotsam, or is it a turtle, old and wise? Is there ever after all such a thing as “mere” flotsam on the stream of time? Is Providence, however profligate, ever just sloppy? No; full plenary is a completion. So, as each atom is a system of all things, each signifies all things. No matter how humble or unexpected, then, anything may provide to us a moment of holy delight.
This happened for me just the other day, when an amiable new commenter disagreed with my post about morality, and urged that Buddhism provides a truer notion of moral salvation than Christianity. I was happy, because his comment elevated to my attention a misapprehension about the Christian understanding of moral salvation that is quite common, not just among the unchurched but among Christians too. His admirable description of Buddhist moral theory was, in fact, quite a good explication of the Christian doctrine of moral salvation; and his innocent caricature of the Christian doctrine was an apt description of the moral predicament of those who have not gotten the Gospel, and are therefore still subject to the Law, rather than masterful exponents and flowers thereof – slaves, rather than Kings and Queens.