Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A burning question for athiests...

how big of a jerk should we be? (H/T Mark Shea)

Because you know, people usually convert when insulted and scorned enough.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A little tip I've learned

about commenting in a blog post is the rule of three. Basically if you are commenting on another's blog you have 3 posts to make your point. This is helpful for a number of reasons:

1. If it takes more than three, get your own blog or take the conversation to a forum.
2. You are there to (in a sense) enhance the original post. Even when disagreeing your comment is in connection to the blog post. OT comments are next to useless.
3. You are a guest on the blog in question. Multiple comments disrespect the author's contribution. It's his blog, not yours.
4. It lets you walk away from a conversation. For some reason blog comments are notorious for sucking people in. This way you force yourself away.
5. Unless the point is unusually important usually a commenter doesn't contribute past three comments.
6. Allows the author of the post the last word.

I find it disappointing to see a blog post with "200 comments" only to find the same three people hashing out their personal issues with each other (usually in the form of screaming).

Three posts. Give it a crack.

A nice primer

For what I hope to be a blog post or two in the future about history. But didn't want it to be left unmentioned.

Europe hates America

and secretly suffers from a inferiority complex.

Not sure if I buy the whole article, but the particular point about the sentiment that Europe felt toward America after 9/11 being a phantom is particularly correct.

Its only violence when

From the "It's only violence if a Tea Partier says it" file:

When Obama gets bounced I will miss Biden's continuous gaffe generation. Quite entertaining...

On Historical Perspectives

A particular topic that I have been mulling over is the concept of historical perspectives. Be they religious, secular, scientific, particular viewpoints and presuppositions have an effect on how we perceive and evaluate not only events in our lives, but in the lives of those in the past.

What got this line of thinking started was a particular comment from a friend of mine regarding the "Catholic" view of history from the "secular" view of history. The comment was not important so much as the idea of competing views of history. As if there was one view of history that was fundamentally religious in nature and another that was secular, and that these two views compete for the title of "The Truth."

To me this view was troubling (not the view of my friend but what my friend's comment seemed to suggest) for a number of reasons. Primarily it posits the idea that there is a "Catholic" narrative to history. While it is true in the overall sense in that history is the story of God's plan for salvation of mankind, this comment seemed to indicate that there is a specific viewpoint on events in history that is the "Catholic" view. The Crusades were just wars I suppose would be one example.

This is incorrect primarily because it forces a viewpoint on the Catholic faithful that leaves little room for exploration. There are Catholics that repute and abhor the Crusades, just as there are secularist historians that show sympathy to the Crusaders. It may be a surprise to the reader that a Catholic can, if the opinion is truly honest, believe that the Second World War did not happen and still be a Catholic (however delusional that opinion may be).

The comment however does indicate to me a number of things that I think illustrate the problem the modern mind has with history, and the confusion that surrounds the proper use of history and what we hope to gain by studying it. I hope to explore in future posts these issues and in doing point out what I consider to be how our current society handles history and the problems that result from it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Moral Cowardice in the Modern Age

A particularly unpleasant episode in my personal life got me reflecting on morality and moral actions in the modern world. It would appear to me that the modern mind is lacking in the ability to understand that good not only means to avoid evil, but that we are obliged to do good.

Obliged. That is a word we do not hear often these days. And yet it is just as true today that we do wrong not just by commiting evil, but by our omission to do what is right. Helping the poor, telling the truth, even a simple act such as an apology are all obligations that we owe to our neighbor, and to fail in such actions can be just as wrong as doing something wrong.

This simple idea is lost on us I think because we find it is sufficient to simply feel bad about a particular situation. If we have done something wrong as long as we sufficiently torture ourselves with guilt this fulfills our obligation. I feel bad about the poor. Therefore I am a good person. I was a jerk and I feel bad, so I am a good person.

And yet all we really prove is that our conscience isn't so far dead that we can still distinguish between right and wrong. Guilt is simply a vector for us to do good. It is our conscience motivating us to do what is right. To simply feel guilty without actually doing something to fulfill our obligations is not an indication of a moral person, but simply moral cowardice. It is the attempt to feel like a moral person with the need of doing anything right.

It is thus not surprising that the Church calls us to make an act of repentance for what we do not do as much as what we do. In the opening prayer we say, "I have sinned through my own fault, in what I have done and did not do(failed to do)." In her wisdom She calls us to repentance for when we fail to do what we owe to others. For if we do not do what we are called, we will become just as lost as those who do wrong.