Saturday, December 15, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
"Why won't we do the Santa thing?" our host asked, "because we don't lie to our kids. Also, I've read an account of a guy who said it was after his parents told him Santa wasn't real that he lost his belief in God. He sees you all the time, he knows if you're good, and lets you know to be good 'for goodness sake.' Freaky"
Heavy stuff. If the man doesn't want to lie to his kids, I can't argue with that. Does losing the Santa magic cause most kids to doubt God? Its possible I suppose, but I doubt that its common. They say they celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas, and leave it at that. They put up only some decorations at a time, so that their advent is a continual build up to Christmas, not all at once a few days after Thanksgiving. Of course, they also celebrate Christmas for all eight nights like the liturgical calendar calls for too. Not a bad plan really.
Why the big difference of opinion between the Pro and Anti-Clausers? Obviously, focus is the foremost issue. If Jesus is the reason for the season, why the need for a fat man who breaks into your house to give you stuff? If you know the story of St. Nick (linked earlier in the post) you understand his association with Christmas and giving. Its also easy to see the transformation from Saint of Myrna to the Patron of Retailers (He's not, its actually Lucy of Syracuse. Go figure). Butshould Santa Claus be usable for Catholics in our day and age? Doesn't it lead to a loss of focus on Jesus?
I think it worth mentioning that there is no inherent evil in the use of Santa. Its said that the Santa as we know him came from St. Nicholas. Some folks like to claim he also comes from the German pagan god of war Odin as well, but I haven't found any good evidence for that myself. You know those silly gods of war, leaving kids presents in their stocking and eating cookies by the fire. However, like I said, the Santa myth is not inherently evil nor does it tend to evil or away from goodness ("be good for goodness sake"). Its all in the use of the thing. You can use him as an example of Christian giving, or an example of worldly materialism. To finish up, here's one guy's account of how his parents handled it:
"On the "Santa controversy," my own parents struck what has always seemed to me an ideal stance: Every year we read "The Night Before Christmas" and watched "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Babes in Toyland," so Santa was definitely a part of our domestic culture, but we never did the milk and cookies routine, and on Christmas morning the presents were always accurately labeled "From Mom & Dad" or "From Grandma & Grandpa," etc.
In short, my parents never made a big deal one way or the other about Santa's reality: They never went out of their way to tell us "Santa isn't real," any more than they went out of their way to tell us that Felix the Cat or Spider-Man weren't real. Santa was just one more character in our imaginative landscape. But they also never told us that Santa was real, and never acted like he was.
That's more or less what I've done with my own kids, except that Sarah, our oldest, has always insisted on absolute clarity about what is and isn't real, and explicitly wanted to know right away if Santa was real, so we had to tell her -- and then we also had to tell her that SOME parents DO tell their kids about Santa Claus WITHOUT telling them that he isn't real, and whatever we may think of that, it's not our place to tell those children otherwise. (As a very young child Sarah was always offended and upset when adults would ask her what Santa was bringing her. And she did NOT like the mall Santas AT ALL.)
But we still read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" with our kids, and this year we're watching Babes in Toyland from Netflix."
Is giving gifts immoral?
Friday, September 07, 2007
"One billion of the world’s population are rich; four billion are, albeit at varying pace, on the way to becoming rich; the real challenge is the “bottom billion.” They are caught in a number of “traps” that keep them poor and almost guarantee that they will be poorer in the years ahead, a ghetto of misery, disease, and discontent on an otherwise flourishing planet. The bottom billion are the radically marginalized. Seventy percent of them are in Africa. Although Collier does not discuss Catholic social doctrine, his analysis is remarkably similar to that of John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus: The really poor are poor because they are excluded, or exclude themselves, from the global circle of productivity and exchange."
Check it out.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
I've thought quite a bit lately about some objections brought up about the theist answer to the problem of evil. For example, its been asked "If God is perfectly good, powerful and loving, then He has the ability to create humans who have free-will yet choose always and everywhere good. Why hasn't He done this?" Put in logical form it would look something like this:
- God is all powerful
- An all powerful being can create anything
- Therefore God can create anything
- Something is a part of anything
- To always choose good within free will would be a form of perfection
- Humans could potentially be perfect
- Perfect humans are something
- Therefore God can create humans who always chose good within free will
The underlying assumption that goes with this argument however is that if something is possible for God to do (i.e.- create perfectly good humans), and we think He should have done it, then He should have done it. Sort of like a five year old telling his mom he should have a cookie before dinner because he could eat it if she gave it to him.
A couple of thoughts on why God didn't create us to choose good all the time:
1) As weird as it sounds, maybe we were. What if we were created in such a way that we chose good every time- every time that is that we encountered the occasion of temptation without outside influence. Though we could never know, who's to say how long Adam and Eve lived prior to committing the first sin with the help of a certain serpent. Just a thought that popped into my head, I couldn't back it up too much without more thought (and I don't know if its something I'd want to back up if I gave it more thought... whatever).
2) Maybe God's perfect wisdom saw it necessary to show us a contrast between real good and real evil. How could we know evil unless we saw it in real life? Anyone who has done any electrical work (or put together anything from Home Depot) knows that the way things should work theoretically and how they really work are world's apart. To copy Dr. Peter Kreeft "you can't appreciate the height of the mountain unless you see the depth of the valley."
To close out this post, I'd like to make mention that there are humans who exist in a state with their free will perfectly aligned to God's- they're in Heaven. A couple of them even walked the earth: Jesus and his mom.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
For anyone that hasn't seen Hot Fuzz (movie preview here), there is a line where Sgt. Angel tells Danny that his dad "thinks he is judge, jury, and executioner," to which Danny responds "He is not Judge Judy and executioner." While this is humorous it has nothing to do with my point, it just provides a segway to it- we have a judge Judy culture.
If you've seen the show you may know what I mean, if you haven't, don't watch it, take my word for it. It seems that every time I work on a rental property (or my grandma's house, who just can't find quality daytime programming) I find Judge Judy or some show based on the same concept is on and its always the same situation: Someone gave someone else money (usually an insignificant amount) and that person didn't give it back. Occasionally there's a stolen vehicle or a boyfriend/girlfriend living in an apartment not paying rent blah, blah, blah. The thing that you notice is that Judge Judy basically has her mind made up before the "trial" starts. When the plaintiffs walk into the room they're judged and its just a matter of getting through their all too familiar whining for her to make her grand pronouncements on who is a dummy and owes whom money. What you also notice is that should a plaintiff have the chutzpa to bring up the fact that Judge Judy wouldn't really listen to his/her side of the story all heck fire and darnednation breaks loose. "How dare you judge the judge!"
How is this a generational problem (besides the whiners on the show)? Read the headlines on yahoo or any other site. Take for instance these headlines from today at cnn.com:
- Famed flier Fossett missing for a day
- Henriette slams into Mexico's Baja California 59 min
- Flood risk rises as Felix hits mountains 20 min
- Iraq report gives 11 failing grades 2 min
- CNNMoney: Mattel to recall a third batch of toys
- Nooses, violence divide town
- Ticker: McCain: Nice question 'you little jerk'
- KCTV: Boyfriend charged for teen's SUV death
- Shark attack victim punches shark
- Jerry Lewis apologizes for gay slur 37 min
- Whoopi Goldberg defends Michael Vick
- Beach brawl causes mob scene
- Bill Murray explains away on golf cart police stop
- WYFF: Swastikas burned into golf fairways
- Rare albino buffalo calf is born
- CNN Wire: Latest updates on top stories
What if you called someone a jerk in a teasing manner and it was taken out of context? "C'mon, that's not what I meant, you weren't listening to what was going on." Judge Judy and executioner.
The popular thing now, as it always is in politics, is to use the label of "hypocrite." Problem is no one seems to remember how the word hypocrite is supposed to be used. For example, suppose John McCain really was angry and called some high school kid a jerk. Prior to his going to the high school suppose he first visited an elementary school where he told the kids to use the "golden rule" and that name calling, hitting, etc. was not right. While inappropriate, if McCain just lost his temper for a minute and later apologized he isn't being hypocritical, it was not his intention necessarily to call the kid a jerk, he just lost control for a little bit, he's human and he screwed up.
On the other hand, take Britney Spears new album which supposedly uses the f-bomb. As a former member of the Mickey Mouse club, and as a concerned parent, suppose she visited an elementary school and told the kids that using bad language was a bad thing. Either she A) really believes bad language such as the F-word is wrong and still used it intentionally making her a hypocrite or B) she doesn't really believe usage of the mother of all bad words is wrong and she was lying to the kids to improve her image. There is a difference between each example, one is intentional and the other not.
All in all, I think I'm going to have to try my best to stop my Judge Judy and executioner act. If I screw up, its just me being a sinner and falling again. Here's to forgiveness.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Saturday, June 30, 2007
With that in mind, here's what would have been a better version of Pirates 3.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Story was retracted by its source.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Brothers and Sisters, a small point re the "moral math" Interesting how your death toll doesn't include Iraqi dead, but only American dead. Last I heard more than half a millio n Iraqis had died as a result of the war and its predicted aftermath. Why not? Don't overseas deaths compute in the moral math of American voting? I am, by the way, pro-life, from conception to natural death. Jesus was non-violent. Listen to your pope, your bishops and the whole Catholic hierarchy. There are very feew exceptions. The current holy father is a contingent pacififst - that is to say he doesn't reject the notion of just war as such, but clearly feels the conditions are unlikely to be met in this climate - both in terms of ius ad bellum and ius in bello. I agree - there's no problem with single issue voting - as long as you take on the whole issue. That includes abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, war, the death penalty and poverty. If you can't find a candidate consistent on all of this, you shouldn't vote. It's that simple. Just saying that there is a moral responsibility to vote for the lesser evil on balance is proportionalism in other words. By the way, what's with the burning in Hell cartoon? I was under the impression that God alone would be our judge...Now here's my return:
Much peace to you all.
I used only American deaths because I only used American abortion totals. Being that American voters only have control over American abortion laws I thought it would be best to compare the two. I also, having been an American soldier during the war and an intelligence analyst none the less, think the "half a million" civilian Iraqi deaths is a bit of a stretch. However, even if you calculate 500,000 Iraqi deaths from the war it isn't near the 5.5 million deaths from abortion alone in America since the start of the war. If you check iraqbodycounts.com, a decidedly anti-war website, they only report 72,489 Iraqi civilian deaths. I use the word "only" because of the great exaggeration of 500,000 and because 73,000 is the "body-count" reached by American abortion totals in less than a month.Responses welcome (Especially you guys- Tom, Bartlett and Joe K.)
As far as the reasoning of the pope and some bishops towards the justification of the war the, CCC under paragraph 2309 states that "The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good." That judgment would belong to those in our country who have the authority to make such decisions, namely our president and other elected officials. Notice that the decision is not the pope's or any other Church appointed official. In such matters obviously every Catholic must listen to and respect our Church leader's opinions as they carry great moral weight, but the information our national leaders have to make these decisions is better and comes in greater volume and is the reason why it is their decision to make.
Speaking of the opinions of the pope and our bishops, have you read Bishop Chaput's statement listed by catholic mom? As it turns out the pope's spokesman even made the comment recently that “Legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist." While voting for an anti-life candidate is not directly supporting abortion, it is not so small as just a "second-effect" if voting for another candidate who does support pro-life policies is available. That is of course assuming that abortion is a greater moral evil than a potentially justifiable war, which I think is the case. Contrast quotes 1&2 from 3 out of the catechism:
1)CCC 2271"Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law."
2)CCC 2272 "Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense."
3)"All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, 'as long as the danger of war persists...governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed."
Numbers 1 and 2 show an unmoving certainty of grave sin of abortion while number 3 shows the potentiality for war's necessity. I think the sheer volume of deaths due to always gravely sinful abortion compared to the very small numbers of deaths due to the war in Iraq (because that's the one we're concerned with)is so overly proportional it is silly to think the two are even near a level plain morally. Being a "contingent pacifist" as you call the holy father, does not change the grave immoral value of abortion vs war. Again, the sheer numbers work against the argument. If the circumstances were changed, for instance if the war was totally unjustifiable and was causing massive numbers of innocent deaths, like maybe 500,000 while at the same time there were only say 1,000 abortions it would be justifiable to call the war the greater evil.
On the matter of the "lesser of two evils" I would agree that in some cases the lesser of two evils must be chosen. For instance if Giuliani won the repub ticket it would force repub voters to potentially look for a pro-life candidate in the dem or independent parties and vice-versa.
Poverty, the war, the death penalty and euthanasia are not the same issue as abortion. While these other things can destroy the dignity of the human person, none of them destroy it at its inception the way abortion does. Infants could be regarded as the essence of innocence, totally dependent upon their parents or other caretakers. Even if the death penalty is unnecessary, its not as if the criminals don't know the punishment for their crimes. Likewise euthanasia is a sin against one's own dignity. War as I discussed earlier can be potentially justifiable. Poverty, when defined as "relative poverty" (that is say that for instance the American standard of living compared to the standard of living of a nomadic tribe would make the nomads to be in relative poverty)is no such offense against human dignity. When defined as "absolute poverty" it must be necessary to find the cause and "fixibility" of the situation before a "moral" judgment can be made. Even when a grave offense (absolute poverty that is), to human dignity it does not fall within the shadow of evil cast by the murder of the essence of innocence.
And about the picture, no one is judging whether any of the people depicted is going to burn in hell, only God will know their final destination. Its a satire based on the movie "300" using less than orthodox Church officials. I have to say though I think any influential official condoning same-sex marriage, women priests and the like seems to fall in the millstone around the neck category- barring any unforeseen repentence.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I had a bit of a debate with someone today about confession. My friend had been on a week-long retreat and had come back very spiritually motivated. She was also excited about some things she had taken away from reading a book by Maria Valtorta (who's book Poem of the Man God was on the Vatican's forbidden book list back before the list was done away with). She was extremely excited about the holiness of the Eucharist, which is a fantastic thing. One thing she said, however, struck me the wrong way. My friend told me she wanted to go to confession every week just so she'd be holier and more pure for receiving the Eucharist.
For most folks I guess that might not sound odd but think about this- when we receive the Eucharist we are cleansed of venial sins. So, assuming that the person is talking about wiping away venial sins and not mortal, then saying that you want to go to confession so you will be purer for communion is like saying you want to go get your car detailed so you can take it to the car wash.
Now I'm not at all saying that confession is bad or shouldn't be used. On the contrary the sacrament of confession is probably the most underused (and perhaps the most needed) sacrament nowadays. What I am saying is that the sacrament of penance is for cleansing the soul for our salvation. That should include a deep examination of conscience and true sorrow for one's sins. But confession should be used for itself, like finding those little sins you usually don't think about throughout the day and asking for forgiveness and trying to avoid them or unloading the big sins you know you shouldn't have committed but feel really sorry for now. The motivation, or desire for confession should stem from the desire for purity itself and from the desire for forgiveness from God, not from a desire to be clean for something else.
My friend thinks it isn't a big deal whether or not she feels she should go to confession just for communion or not, I think it is a big deal. Motivations, or reasons for willing things, are sometimes just as important as the things themselves. A child is always a blessing from God, but if a parent wants a child just to attempt to patch up a relationship it's the wrong reason. In the same manner if a couple got married just so they could get better pay and split it (happens in the military more often than you think) it is the wrong reason for getting married. Likewise, confession has its own reasons proper to the sacrament and this includes the purifying of the soul for the sake of purifying the soul, not for the sake of receiving another sacrament. A bicycle and a car are both forms of transportation, they get you from point A to point B. However, you don't drive your car in preparation for riding your bike.
So, long story short, confession is for purifying the soul for the sake of salvation. The Eucharist is communion with Jesus via His body and blood, soul and divinity in a way that unites us to Him in heaven as well as with the entire Church in all its forms. They are not one for another but rather each has its own purpose towards the common cause of salvation.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I think there is one basic problem (and all politicians/political parties tend to do this), that is to discuss things in terms of "issues" and forget the fact that they're discussing real people. This leads to an easy breakdown of any objective moral value. Case in point, abortion and the right to life becomes a single "issue" right alongside talking about taxes or military base closures. Its easy to then quantify instead of qualify. You can say "I won't be made a single-issue voter" instead of "I care more about welfare programs and the war in Iraq than the tens-of-thousands of children murdered every day due to abortion." Sounds much better right?
If "issues" are about people, then we need to be discussing issues in terms of 1)their potentiality for good and evil, and 2) the moral weight of the potential evil which could be done. While tax law A has the potentiality to do good or bad, abortion has only the potentiality for evil. The fact that a tax law could potentially have good or bad effects makes it somewhat negotiable compared with a law which can only bring evil. Next, what would be the moral weight of these issues? A tax law which turns out to hurt the economy can force us to lose some money, maybe some jobs, but no lives are taken (as a direct effect anyway) and so the moral weight could again be considered negotiable. On the other hand, legallized abortion is murdering a baby. Murder, is obviously a very serious and evil crime and therefore it is non-negotiable in nature as far as whether it should be condemned.
Weigh the consequenses of whatever you like and the result turns out to be the same. Even, the Iraq war has its potentiallity for good (even those ardently against it must admit the potential good) while abortion is never allowable. US war deaths have been numbered at 3,431 since the war started in March of 2003. The number of deaths due to abortion in the US each day is about 3,700. That leaves the total number of US abortion deaths since 2003 at around 5.5 million. You do the moral math.
I realize that the "Hannity argument" is compare something, anything, to Nazi Germany and you win, but this comparison really does work- If you lived in Nazi Germany and the "issues" surrounding your next election (imagining you get one) are taxes, the military build-up, the invasion of Poland and the Jewish Holocaust, which issue would be more important to you?
We do live in a country, and a world where there is a holocaust going on. What should we choose?
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
Sunday, May 06, 2007
The article gives the story of a family father, Enrique, who recieves a temporary worker permit and comes to the US to work. He has to work in the US because he can no longer make any money from farming corn in Mexico due to the United States' free trade agreement with Mexico which makes the corn shipped from north of the border extremely cheap. Aside from being a shot at the US' free-trade agreement and implying its our fault his corn doesn't make money, the article continues to go on by saying that it could be seven or eight years before his family could join Enrique as legal immigrants. The article's author, Barbara Budde, tells us
"The realistic picture is that Enrique and his family are completely separated for seven to eight years. For seven to eight years, Enrique’s wife is deprived of her husband and their children are left fatherless –– not because of death, but because of immigration laws. Is it any wonder that people would consider breaking such laws to be with their family?For every Enrique who came to the United States legally, there are thousands who have been forced to come illegally because they cannot support themselves or their families in their home countries. That is why the Catholic Church supports immigration reform. We are pro-life and pro-family. Families facing starvation is not a pro-life concept and families living in long term forced separation is not a pro-family concept."
It is certainly a sad story, but while Enrique is certainly separated from his family for maybe seven or eight years, is his family really fatherless? Separation doesn't leave a family fatherless. Do the children not know who sends them the money they eat with? While not ideal, is he not setting a fatherly example of sacrifice for his family? It seems to be assumed that immigration to the United States is an inherent right for everyone.
There are two main points I want to make regarding the short-sightedness of both the article and immigration liberalization supporters. First, no one every mentions why there is a problem in Mexico (save Mrs. Budde's blaming the US because of NAFTA). In the United States we always work for social reform, how much are we hearing this call in Mexico? In the US, the government subsidizes farmer's crops, paying them not to grow more than a certain amount, therefore keeping the prices and the supply at a reasonable level. Is this happening in Mexico? I certainly don't know, but surely if corn prices are bad in Mexico they should model their system after ours rather than send their population to us. A certain "give a man a fish..." cliche comes to mind. If the Church in Mexico and Mexicans would support government reforms (they are a democracy after all) in that country to help the people in the long term then immigration laws would be a non-issue. Instead, blame America for not letting more people be Americans is the rallying cry.
Point number two, in a post 9/11 world liberalized immigration laws can't work. I happen to have a particularly different insight into this since I was a military intelligence analyst and I worked the Americas for a couple of years. Interestingly enough, its not just Mexicans crossing our borders. Other foreign nationals have been caught, and low corn prices weren't their motivation. I've been reminded by so-called immigration "reformers" that the US is a nation of immigrants. While true, it would be self-deception to say that we weren't also now a nation of true Americans. Would it not be pro-life and pro-family to protect those who are citizens of this country? Mrs. Budde says "Starvation is not a pro-life concept." Were the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center buildings pro-life?
As far as claiming the labels "pro-life" and "pro-family" for her own crowd, Mrs. Budde has neglected the fact that there is a country on the other side of the border just as responsible for the separation of families and the potentiality of its people's starvation. Mrs. Budde neglects to see that there is a choice of either running to our country or fighting for life in their own. She has shown neither the pro-family or especially not the pro-life side of immigration reform.
The answer as to the morality of Mrs. Budde's opening question still remains: "Why would the Catholic Church be in support of law-breakers?" She doesn't answer it but instead tells us the sad story. Catholic philosophical thought supports the man who must steal bread to feed his starving family- if he has no other lawful alternative. Is there an alternative? Yes, Mexican reform for their own people. Can the Church support the breaking of immigration laws? St. Thomas Aquinas has said that it is okay to break the laws which are really "unlawful." Is the United States' position on immigration unlawful? By no means. It is designed to protect it's own citizens. Is this in some way not pro-life or pro-family? No, on the contrary it is pro-family and pro-life. I wish Mrs. Budde could see her own countrymen, she probably could if her nose wasn't so high.
Monday, April 30, 2007
I drive a lot for work. This gives me plenty of time to think. My thoughts have been caught up quite a bit lately with the problems in the "Problem of Evil" argument. As an aside, if you're ever on Jeopardy its also called the "Epicurean Paradox." For those unfamiliar with the argument, you can generalize it like this:
- God exists. (premise)
- God is omnipotent. (premise — or true by definition of the word 'God')
- God is all-benevolent. (premise — or true by definition)
- All-benevolent beings are opposed to all evil. (premise — or true by definition)
- All-benevolent beings who can eliminate evil will do so immediately when they become aware of it. (premise)
- God is opposed to all evil. (conclusion from 3 and 4)
- God can eliminate evil completely and immediately. (conclusion from 2)
- Whatever the end result of suffering is, God can bring it about by ways that do not include suffering. (conclusion from 2)
- God has no reason not to eliminate evil. (conclusion from 7.1)
- God has no reason not to act immediately. (conclusion from 5)
- God will eliminate evil completely and immediately. (conclusion from 6, 7.2 and 7.3)
- Evil exists, has existed, and probably will always exist. (premise)
- Items 8 and 9 are contradictory; therefore, one or more of the premises is false: either God does not exist, or he is not both omnipotent and all-benevolent or there is a reason why He does not act immediately.
Another thing present in the argument is in #5 and #10 when it states the possibility that "there is a reason why He [God] does not act immediately. It is stated last for a reason, the debater wants this to be the last alternative. However, the fact that this alternative is even acknowledged ends the debate. If there is a possibility that God's thoughts are infinitely above that of humans it is always possible that the moral weight of such things as free-will is much greater than the moral weight of suffering. Also, in #5 its states that "All-benevolent beings who can eliminate evil will do so immediately when they become aware of it." This again doesn't take into account the moral weight of free-will. If an all-knowing God thinks that free-will is better than the potential evil that could be caused, lesser-knowing humans must accept it as true just like a 5 year old has to accept that the brownies he really, really wants before dinner may not be good for him because his mommy told him so.
An interesting problem (and somewhat less noticeable by most folks) is that the argument assumes the existence of evil. Here, most people are probably like "yeah, isn't it obvious that evil exists?" It is. Therefore, God exists. You see in a world in which God does not exist the possibility of a humankind-wide standard of morality reaches nil. To paraphrase Dostoevsky "If God doesn't exist, then all things are acceptable." Without God, there is no one to punish your wrong doing (outside of human law enforcement of course). There is only subjectively relative law, and that means that to claim that evil exists is only to claim that you, as an individual, believe it exists based on your personal standards. On the other hand, if you claim that evil exists and is known objectively and not relatively based on personal belief, then God must exist and must have created a "natural-law" so to speak, of which all of mankind has knowledge.
The laptop is getting hot in my lap and my coffee is running dangerously low, so I'll continue with some more interesting (or not so interesting) thoughts on the problem of evil later.
Persuasion (you can all prepare to be persuaded often after next semester)
Theory of Knowledge
Ethical Theory (I'm sure it'll be great at a public school)
Intro to Western Theater Drama (this fulfills an arts requirement)
Believe it or not, Texas A&M is supposed to have one of the top five philosophy dept. in the country. I have no sources for verification of this, but that's the word on the street. I'm pretty excited about next semester.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
Perhaps the word "beautiful" is somewhat overused in contemporary language. Is it another word like "love" which is cheapened by everyday use? I think that in the traditional Christian sense it is used in describing things that tend toward the Divine, that is to say things that show a hint of God Himself. Take us for instance. We say that each and every human being is beautiful no matter their appearance or mental or physical abilities. How can we believe something like that if beauty is only personal preference? Surely I prefer some people to others, or I prefer one person's appearance to another but I'm still called to recognize the beauty in each individual. Why? Because we are created in the image and likeness of God. We tend to reflect the beauty of God in our very existence, in our souls.
This concept of an individuals beauty as inherent based on their likeness to God is key in understanding the loving of one's neighbors- and enemies- as commanded by Jesus. The one whom I despise is also inherently beautiful just like my wife, my mother, my best friend- or the aborted.
How is that anyone can ask for the death of a small child if it is beautiful? Its beauty, its inherent value is already given from God, it has already been created in the image and likeness of God. Who therefore has the right to remove from this earth its beating heart? Does rape steal away the beauty of God's likeness? Does incest or an unintended pregnancy remove God's glory from His created image and likeness? Is it possible that down syndrome or autism can hold back the awesomeness that causes angels to fall on their faces and tremble at the sound of His voice. Of course not.
Yes, I think I can explain it. Beauty is God. That is why we find it in the mountain peaks He has created with a whisper of His mighty voice. That is why the smallest unborn child or oldest bed-ridden man and woman is beautiful.
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven AND earth are FULL of your glory and beauty.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Among some of my favorite things Professor Esolen said were:
"I see manhood as the drive to lead -- to serve by leading, or to lead by
following loyally the true leadership of one's father or priest or captain. The
man exercises charity by training himself to be self-reliant in ordinary things,
not out of pride, but out of a sincere desire to free others up for their own
duties, and to free himself for things that are not ordinary. The man also must
refuse -- this is a difficult form of self-sacrifice -- to allow his feelings to
turn him from duty, including his duty to learn the truth and to follow it. A
man loves his own family, but he also loves his family by refusing to subject
the entire civil order to the welfare of his family; he understands that if he
performs his duty, other families besides his own will profit by it. A man must
consider his life dispensable for the sake of those he leads; he must obey his
legitimate superior; if and only if he does so will he become really necessary
and really worthy of the obedience he claims, with scriptural authority that
need not embarrass anyone."
"Then they might notice that Jesus is not the cute boyfriend that many of
our churches make him out to be, the one who never goes too far -- forgive me if
that is a little coarse. Jesus loves women, as all good men must; Jesus obeys
his mother at Cana; but Jesus does not hang around the skirts of women; he
speaks gently, but as a man speaks gently, and when he rebukes, he rebukes
forthrightly and clearly, as a man. His closest comrades are men, though they
are not necessarily the people he loves best in the world. He organizes them
into a battalion of sacrifice. He is remarkably sparing in his praise of them;
certainly, as is the case with many good and wise men, he is much more desirous
that they should come to know him than that they should feel comfortable about
themselves. From his apostles he seems to prefer the love that accompanies
apprehension of the truth, rather than love born of his own affectionate actions
toward them. In fact, they respond to him as men often respond: They admire and
follow with all the greater loyalty the man who rebukes them for, of all things,
being frightened when it appears their ship will capsize in the stormy Sea of
Galilee! Men can learn from Jesus to seek the company of other men, at least in
part for the sake of women, and certainly for the sake of the village, the
nation, the Church and the world. They can learn that there are two ways at
least in which man is not meant to be alone: He needs the complementary virtues
of woman, and he needs other men. A soldier alone is no soldier."
Get the story HERE.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I like this:
"Artificial birth control has become increasingly accessible and customary. Slowly we have depreciated our own self-worth to the point of calling contraception "healthy" and implying it is "pro-family," as the Better Homes and Gardens article transparently articulates. Yet those who say they are pro-women will continue to deny the Pill's link to breast cancer, the national media will ignore the Mayo Clinic study, and we will skip through fields of flowers wearing our pink ribbons."
Catholic & 20 Something pinged back with the link to the report referred to in the article. Thanks Christopher.
Lynne at A Quiet Catholic pinged back with a more recent report from the Mayo clinic. It is HERE.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
As it turns out, the Magic Kingdom thinks it has the power of the Heavenly Kingdom and is performing magical gay unions. The story is HERE.
According to the article:
"Gay couples are now free to buy a Fairy Tale Wedding package at Disneyland, Disney World, or Disney's cruise ships, with 'a ceremony setting befitting the dreams of a princess.' The Disney properties have long allowed same-sex couples to tie the knot on the premises, but this is the first time those unions are being given official sanction. The Magic Kingdom has thus proved itself more progressive than the motherland, or as progressive as you can be while throwing around the word 'fairy.'"
My first reaction is to tell everyone "Do NOT take your kids to Disney World/Land." The last thing a six year old (or any kid for that matter) needs to see is two guys in princess outfits (or pink prince outfits) exchanging vows. I shudder to be the one to answer little Bobby's question of what the hell is going on.
The article continues to go on explaining that the writer thinks its a good thing- blah blah blah my heads up my you know where but then she says:
"My objection: Marriage isn't being re-engineered. It is evolving in an impeccably Hayekian fashion, as folkways appear on the ground and are gradually ratified by imitation, then market acknowledgement, and then, only lastly, by the law. For eons, same-sex couples have quietly lived as though they were married. As social mores changed and gays came out of the closet, so did those longtime-companion relationships. Before long, lovers were holding their own marriage ceremonies, which were not recognized by the government or (at first) by any established church but did carry weight with family, friends, and neighbors. Couples started to draw up marriage-like contracts, in an effort to establish rights privately that they couldn't acquire publicly. Businesses had to decide whether to extend benefits to gay spouses; with time, more and more did."
First of hun, marriage can't evolve. This will always be the contention of those who give a crap about truth. Marriage isn't just an "I love you and want to live with you" thing. That's what it is reduced to when anyone other than a man and women want to get married. It isn't that its not fair, its that it isn't possible.
That marriage is treated as an "I love you and want to live with you" thing is evidenced first by the prevalence of divorce in our society- the moment one member of the couple is tired of the arrangment the throw in the towel to find a new one. It only makes sense that if that's all that marriage is then anyone can marry anyone (hell, anything) and its fine. If marriage is no more than feelings and a living arrangment then that psycho who married the Israeli dolphin a while back would be justified.
If on the other hand marriage really is a union whereby two individual people become one, and that this union is not only symbolically, but really actualized through the marriage act then same-sex marriages are not only not possible but ridiculous.
Secondly, what the author demonstrates is not an argument for "marital evolution" but is a demonstration of how the slippery slope has pushed the cultural concept of marriage from knowing its unacceptable to saying they want it to be acceptable to thinking that gives them a right to demand its acceptability.
Bottom line: don't take your kids to Disney, for it is the land of the fairies now.
Of course teachers blame it a lack of "glamour" in the baby murdering field:
What's the solution? Make someone else do it:
"Some senior doctors have blamed declining interest on the lack of 'glamour' involved in the work.
This has been dubbed 'dinner party syndrome' where doctors don't want to admit to their friends that they do abortions."
"But the situation has prompted abortion groups to call for a change in the law which would allow nurses to carry out early surgical and medical abortions - procedures which are technically simple."
I hope the nurses have the right and the consciences to object.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The new conservative judges helped to get this done. Just another reason why guys like Giuliani can't be elected by a pro-life base.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Confirmation for the kids from my parish was last Friday, and in all the preparation the focus was on them becoming not just adults in the faith but also becoming warriors for Christ. If there is any modern example of this it is in Zimbabwe.
Anyone who's read a college newspaper in the last decade has probably read an article on a kid who was "ahead of his time" because he ran his car on vegetable oil or something similar. What's funny is diesels can run on vegetable oil and similar things without modification. I'm not sure how these new "low-sulfur-emission" diesels would do, but the old ones ran great, especially on a mix of diesel and whatever.
Interesting to me in the story is that despite these two companies coming up with a semi-alternative fuel, there is still that left wing tendency to hate on corporations: "But some renewable-fuel advocates say ConocoPhillips will be able to take unfair advantage of a tax credit designed to create new refining capacity for clean-burning fuels, even though they'll be using existing refineries." Do you want it or not hippy?
What will PETA do with this? They already hate Tyson's guts as the largest producer of chicken meat in America. Now they have to figure out what they dislike more, killing chickens for meat or fictional global warming.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Two things of note that this guy missed: 1) Homosexuality itself is not sinful but disordered, whereas to act upon homosexual desires is sinful. This could be likened to pre-marital sex between a heterosexual couple. Since marriage between two members of the same sex isn't possible (via natural law) acting upon homosexual tendencies is always and everywhere wrong. 2) The all knowing and infallible science has not said that homosexualtiy is something you are just "born with." As a matter of fact Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the human genome project, has written that the opposite is true. Also, psychologist Dr. Dean Byrd writes HERE that more and more psychologists are discovering "sexual identity was far from fixed." Not only have studies shown that "re-orientation" works, but the American Psychological Association journal has said that re-orientation should be available based on these criteria:
"(a) respect for the autonomy and self-determination of persons, (b) respect for
valuative frameworks, creeds, and religious values regarding the moral status of
same-sex behavior, and (c) service provision given the scientific evidence that
efforts to change thoughts, behaviors, and feeling-based sexual orientation can
I hate it when people, especially politicians run their PC mess at everyone just expecting them to jump on board and not ask questions. Guess again Frenchie.
The final sentence says it all:
"Mr. Giuliani says people who don't like his position do not have to vote for him. Many social conservatives who view abortion as a make or break issue are likely to follow his advice."
I suppose that means they all dumped on s.30 which would have allowed federal dollars to be spent on stem cell research without the use of human embryos. I don't know why stem cell research which isn't morally challenged isn't supported over baby killing research. Aren't these the same folks on the left who want an end to animal testing, whaling and seal clubbing? But babies are okay right? Well, I suppose they would just contribute to the obvious global warming crisis... A good break down is at the Saginaw Seminarians blog.
Thank goodness Dubya has said he'll veto this again.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Good article, give it a read.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Something strikes me as odd, and I don't mean the fact that he doesn't know the difference between a dogma and a discipline: "As it turns out, the church's absolute celibacy dogma is relatively recent..."
Instead, its his ending that seems a bit familiar:
"Why leave the future of the institution to the anemic power of prayer when the
answer may be as simple as lifting the proscription on priests as patriarchs?"
Maybe its just me...
"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the
kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you," he said,
"if you will bow down and worship me."
I'm still trying to figure out why at the end of the story among quotes by people about hell they used a quote from Jean Paul Sartre- an atheist:
"Locked forever in a small room with two other people"— Jean-Paul Sartre,
Oh well, I guess we atleast know what he'll be doing for eternity. He, Nietzsche and Marx probably.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
The first part of the book where he tries to present philosophical reasons for the existence of God is frankly, pathetic. Of course it is because you've already set the tone yourself. If you don't want it to be good it won't be.
Collins tries to present himself as fair and impartial but subtly denigrates nonbelievers with terms such as "materialists". Ah yes, "materialists." So snobbish of him to use the philosophically accepted term for atheist's theory of existence.
He quotes so much from CS Lewis, I kept thinking why am I reading this guy. I'm still wondering why you read Collins. Again, if you know you won't be convinved why read it?His two main philosophical arguments are completely unconvincing. First up, he tries the existence of "Moral Law" as evidence for God. But this is a joke. This has already been thoroughly explained by an evolutionary bias for altruism. I didn't know this. Well everyone, pack up your books and go home I guess. That whole "ethics" thing that was just a hoax. That so called "conscience" that pings you every time you want to do something "wrong" is just evolutionary bias. I guess that means that Hitler really was a fantastic leader since he was able to go "beyond" his natural bias. Or, maybe conscience exists... We are programmed to be altruistic and cooperative as this was required for us to survive throughout our evolution. Has this man never worked through Hobbes Leviathon and really thought it out? How can self-preservation a-la "pro-choice" be ethical yet ethics is an evolutionary bias towards altruism (think good of the group here) I suppose just another paradox of a wacky, random chance universe. It is instinctive at this point and gives us real pleasure. Yes, the wholesome pleasure of dying for the ones you love. Or in the case of soldiers, the ones you'll never know.
But Collins barely acknowledges this explanation. Next up he tries a "Longing for God" as evidence there must be a God, i.e how can you long for something that doesn't exist? But this makes no sense. We don't have a longing for God per se; we have a longing to understand things. First, I assume either Dr. Collins didn't explain the thought right or this guy wasn't paying attention. You can make two different distinctions among desires: 1) things which are "innate" desires- I thirst and desire something to drink 2) Things which are "artificial" desires-I really want that truck because its cool. In the case of #2 we understand that some people desire things and its possible that the thing doesn't even exist or that not all people may have the same desire. In the case of #1, however, we understand that all humans have that desire. Its innate because we all have that desire. As it turns out, when we talk about innate desire we realize that innate desires correspond to real things. We all want water, it exists. We all want sex, the opposite sex exists and it is possible. Again, the same isn't true about artifical desires. The thing doesn't have to exist not must everyone want it. A desire for a life after this one falls into the innate category as everyone wants it. It stands to reason that if every innate desire has a corresponding real thing that fulfills that desire then there must be an afterlife hence there must be some "thing" which gives us life after natural death. In the words Aquinas always likes to use- we call this "thing" God. For a more complete treatment and better explanation check out peterkreeft.com and look under his audio for his proofs for the existence of God.
Second, A desire for God does not correspond for a desire to understand things. I assume the author of the review associates Christian's desire for God with Greek or Roman explanations of natural events via mythology. A short course in theology should disprove this. Christian thought does not center around "Why does stuff happen?" nearly the way scientists do. Instead the focus is on an "us" and "Him" relationship meaning how we stand before our Creator and our Ultimate Judge.
He comes across much better when he moves into the scientific realm where he is in his element. He neatly debunks the reactionaries that desperately are trying to justify a literal interpretation of Genesis and the Bible. He gives a reasonably balanced view of the state of science in explaining the universe and where there are still major gaps in our scientific knowledge for example, what came before the big bang, and the anthropic principle. Good. I'm actually not suprised at this though. He's agreeing that fundementalitsts may be wrong on a literal interpretation on Genisis instead of commenting on whethere or not there was a decent argument put forth for I.D. or anything like that.
In summary his position is: 1. Science hasn't quite explained everything yet 2. People like to help each other 3. People want a God to believe in. Thus I will be a Christian. That's it. Sorry but I was expecting a little more than this for all the hype. Save your money. I'd say maybe this guy should leave the syllogisms to Socrates. I would put Collins' argument like this WARNING- NOT A SYLLOGISM:
1) If science had a reasonable explanation of existence it might be possible to show that God does not exist, but science CANNOT explain everything and in fact has considerable gaps which will probably never be filled, 2) Innate recognition of a moral standard among all human beings AND the fact that innate desires distinct from artificial desires MUST always have a corresponding fulfillment points towards the existence of a universal creator God, 3) It is reasonable and in fact probable to assume based on #'s 1 & 2 that God exists.
Note that these arguments don't end in the probability of the existence of the Judeo-Christian God, however I'd guess that's where much of the CS Lewis comes from that this guy didn't read.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Who can forget, as the article says "Many of these ideas, by their very nature, hobble science, inflame human conflict and squander scarce resources." Hmmm, you mean all the funding that came from the Vatican for the majority of science projects until the late 1700's and all of the clergy who made the discoveries such as Roger Bacon who was one of the earliest advocates of the scientific method or Johannes Kepler who is famous for his laws of planetary motion. Nope, always in the way those religious folks. You know the type, the one's who funded Galileo. Of course it is the religious who inflame human conflict. Such as Stalin's murder of millions in the gulags of the Soviet death machine, or under Mao's Chinese regime. If you count their atheism as religion anyway.
Next coming to the plate is Sam Harris' idea that "Within every faith one can see people arranged along a spectrum of belief. Picture concentric circles of diminishing reasonableness: At the center, one finds the truest of true believers — the Muslim jihadis, for instance, who not only support suicidal terrorism but who are the first to turn themselves into bombs; or the Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death." The Dominionist Christians? Who are they?They're calling for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death? They must not be very loud, I've never heard of them or what they're evidently saying.
I think it must be Harris however who is moving down the line toward diminishing reasonableness because he says "There is no question that many people do good things in the name of their faith — but there are better reasons to help the poor, feed the hungry and defend the weak than the belief that an Imaginary Friend wants you to do it. Compassion is deeper than religion. As is ecstasy. It is time that we acknowledge that human beings can be profoundly ethical — and even spiritual — without pretending to know things they do not know."
Question for Sam: if our "Friend" is only imaginary, how can something be ethical? The existence of ethics presupposes a natural law in which we know what is ethical and non-ethical. The existence of a natural law presupposes a natural law giver- a creator god. If that's not enough, how in the random-chance-organic-not-yet-ubermensch-material-world (Nietzche's "hell," just a joke folks) could anything be spiritual.
But the delusion continues: "Indeed, it is time we broke this spell en masse. Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos." Isn't this just a bit of a paraphrase of what Sartre said? Sartre told us that he was giving our lives true meaning by telling us that we were nothing. Harris is telling us the same thing. He says we are nothing but random chance and isn't that beautiful? How much further away from human intuitiveness can you get? A person's worth is in the dignity of their lives, but without divine purpose a person's life has no more dignity than the scum in a pond. Both are random chance but only one has the misfortune to know it. If however we have a divine purpose we are inextrincably linked to the divine Itself and we have greater purpose, the cosmos then has greater purpose, than could be imagined.
Next Harris slams the bible and koran by saying "Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain — from cosmology to psychology to economics — has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture." Isn't it interesting to know that this is false. What has the bible taught that cosmology disproved? The six days of creation in Genesis? Even Augustine at the end of his Confessions taught about the six days as being an allegory relating man to his place in the universe. Psychology? Freud's depression, caused partially by his fear of death with the thought of no afterlife, only upholds scriptures teaching of God love as a comfort to man. And I don't have the slightest what economics has to do with anything in his article.
The conclusion: "Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music." What evidence would suffice for someone who doesn't want to believe? Had Mr. Harris been in Fatima on the day the sun danced would he have thought it a "spell en masse?" Does Mr. Harris even think it prudent to believe his living room will light up with the flip of the light switch or that the sun will come up every morning? Be honest Mr. Harris, have you ever been to Iceland to know it exists or have you only seen a few pictures and heard about it back in your school days? What is sufficient evidence to you that Caesar lived or that Plato was a philosopher and not the alternate identity of a schizophrenic Socrates? Take the self-decevieing headphones off your dome and look at the evidence yourself, its there.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
What is it that they don't get? How many people have an inclination to be alcoholic? According to Narconon over 15 million people are alcoholics. Do we tell alcoholics to "be who they are" and tell everyone else to "accept them for who they are?" Of course not. We recognize a problem with alcoholism and we try to help the alcoholic who has the problem. The Church has shown (as have numerous philosophers from a standpoint of natural law) that homosexuality is a disordered desire which in itself is not sinful but when acted upon is gravely sinful. Such was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Retired archbishop Francis Hurley spoke at the rally saying "It's not about being orthodox or not being orthodox, it's about being sensitively aware" Of what? I would think the good archbishop would want us to be "sensitively aware" of sin and of endangering our souls. However with workshops at the event like "Lesbian Nuns: Steps, Stumbles and Strides," "Breaking Bread: Lesbian-Gay Parish Ministry" and "Gay Men in the Priesthood and Religious Life," I get the impression that's not what he meant.
I hope these people can see the beauty in the true colors of God's rainbow in the truth of the Church and stop staring at the rainbow they pinned on themselves.
Speaking of which, I saw a church sign the other day while Amy and I were driving to Pflugerville which read "Jesus loves you just the way you are." I guess they must have forgotten to read that part of the bible where Jesus loves us too much to let us stay that way.