Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dim String AS String (syntax error)

Someone should try to infiltrate this cult. You don't get a capital B unless you become a member.
We've got a couple Steven Pinker books, and I'm not surprised he's a B. In his last book he actually supported Peter Singer's notion that humans are not fully human until they reach a certain capacity for reason - thereby excluding infants and the mentally retarded from the ranks of people entitled to their subjective understanding of "human rights". This should make me laugh, but it's got sci-fi horror movie written all over it.

When I was doing my thesis research I read an article in a scientific journal from the late 60's about population control and the author's argument was that progress would never occur until people's cultural attachment to a "family" unit based on monogamous heterosexual unions which treated procreation as a cultural "good" was done away with. I chuckled at the time, picturing this bald, fat Poindexter in his lab all upset that chicks didn't dig him. I also chuckled cause that periodical's circulation wasn't quite up there with "Good Housekeeping", so he had a ways to go. But as with all social engineering endeavors, it only takes an enlightened cadre with commitment, money, and political power to realize their dreams. We did, after all, forcefully sterilize thousands of "morons" in the US back in the 20's and 30's - before the Nazi's sort of took the fun out of it.
So now you got The Brights, who also want to remove people with non-materialist philosophies from posts of influence in American society. And I realize how important bible-thumping, redneck, gun-packing hillbilly morons in the south have been and will be in keeping these eggheads at bay.

I do not want these men reshaping civilization.

every single day

Luke 12:

[35] "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning,
[36] and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks.
[37] Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them.
[38] If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!
[39] But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.
[40] You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour."
[41] Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?"
[42] And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?
[43] Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing.
[44] Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
[45] But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,
[46] the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful.
[47] And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating.
[48] But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.
[49] "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!
[50] I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! [51] Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; [52] for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three;
[53] they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
[54] He also said to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming'; and so it happens.
[55] And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens.
[56] You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
[57] "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
[58] As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.
[59] I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper."

Monday, October 22, 2007

what the Lord wants from me

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
Sermon 34: on Ps 149

"Be rich in what matters to God"

Brethren, carefully inspect the place where you dwell interiorly; open your
eyes and consider the capital of your love; then increase whatever sum you
discover within yourselves. Keep watch over this treasure so that you may
become wealthy within. Goods of great price are called ‘dear’, and with
good reason… But what could be more dear than love, my brothers? What is
its cost, in your opinion? And how are you to pay it? The cost of land or
wheat is your silver; the cost of a pearl is your gold; but the cost of
your love is you yourself. If you want to buy a field, a jewel, an animal,
you seek the necessary means, you look around you. But if you want to
possess love, look no further than yourself: it is yourself you must
find.What are you afraid of in giving yourself? Of losing yourself? To the
contrary, it is by refusing to give yourself that you lose yourself. Love
itself speaks through the mouth of Wisdom and calms with one word the
confusion into which this saying threw you: “Give of your own self!” If
someone had wanted to sell you a piece of land, he would say to you: “Give
me your silver” or, for some other thing: “Give me your cash.” Now listen
to what Love says to you through the mouth of Wisdom: “My child, give me
your heart” (Pr.23,26). Your heart was in a bad way when it was your own,
when it was in your own hands. You were a prey to emptiness, not to speak
of evil passions. Remove it from all such things! Where will you take it?
Where offer it? “My son, give me your heart!” says Wisdom. Let it only come
to me and you will not lose it… "You shall love the Lord your God with
all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind," (Mt 22,37)...
He who created you desires the whole of you.

Monday, October 01, 2007

no man's land

Sam Harris has this to say about the Eucharist:

Of course, Catholics have done some very strenuous and unconvincing theology in this area, in an effort to make sense of how they can really eat the body of Jesus, not mere crackers enrobed in metaphor, and really drink his blood without, in fact, being a cult of crazy cannibals. Suffice it to say, however, that a world view in which “propitiatory sacrifices on behalf of the living and the dead” figure prominently is rather difficult to defend in the year 2007. But this has not stopped otherwise intelligent and well-intentioned people from defending it.

To some extent - if we are to look at reality from purely materialist viewpoint - you'd have to say he was spot on. What the Church believes occurs at the consecration is no small absurdity. And no matter how well the arguments are phrased to support transubstantiation they can't be expected to "convince" anyone that the Eucharist is true. What we are asked to accept and believe defies our senses and can only be embraced through the gift of faith. Atheists like Harris are only being honest when they make declarations like the one above.

Recently, when I've been in front of the Blessed Sacrament in our local adoration chapel, the absurdity of the experience has become very present for me. Here is this inanimate round white disc, encased in an ornate gold monstrance - and here am I, a living, breathing man on my knees worshipping it as my God!

Scientific investigation doesn't bring me there.
Logical reasoning doesn't bring me there.
Rational philosophical structures don't bring me there.

None of those things are incompatible with my Catholic faith. In fact they owe much of their current evolutionary development to the Christianity's far-reaching quest to know the face of God. However, they cannot be - and are not - the foundation for my personal, physical worship of something so visually insignificant. It is not ironic that the host is placed in expensive and ornate monstrances as much as it is a cultural and psychological attempt to give something a degree of worldly glory that our faith says it deserves, but our senses find disturbingly absent.

No arguments can ever convince anyone that this "source and summit" of our faith is in fact the Lord. But, when God gives you the grace to believe (even just a little!) the scriptures open up, Tradition opens up, and the world opens up for the light of God to pour upon it and lead you to a means of understanding that transcends the ultimate dead end of human reason. Here, in the Eucharist, is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords - in a form more humble and less assuming of those titles then when he was a slick, red-stained infant amid the smells of livestock and manure. In the Eucharist, Christ is even more vulnerable to abuse and disrespect than when he was presented to the chief priests on Good Friday. And in the Eucharist, Christ gives mercy and life in an even more personal way than when he surrendered it from the cross.

Humanity's alpha and omega are present in the Eucharist, but we cannot, through our own devices, concoct a grand-unification theory to quantify this reality. As Christ told Peter after his outburst of faith in Matthew 16, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. "

But those who pretend to be on the solid ground of rational, materialist reality are really just avoiding the inevitable consequences of looking down. Our universe - our experience of space and forward-moving time is the by-product of our fragile consciousness. Our lives and thoughts occur in a vast absurd abyss. It is where we turn when this cold truth becomes real to us that matters.

Neils Bohr once said "Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. " This is an accurate description of the universe Sam Harris bases his philosophy on. The Eucharist is the only thing in the universe about which that statement can be reversed. It is more real than the "reality" in which it resides.