Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brief Sabbatical

I find myself lacking in my prayer life lately.  I believe that this is due to many personal factors.  But the motivation along with topics to discuss.  Thus the time I would spend blogging I will devote to prayer.  Please pray for me and if you have any intentions I will gladly add them to my list.  I hope to start posting again soon.

The Management 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Judge not lest ye be Judged

It is an irony of this day and age that far too often what we accuse our intellectual opponents of is precisely what we are too often guilty of.  It becomes almost an amusement to see one accuse another of the very thing that the accuser is doing.  I can't put my finger on it but I have yet to discover why this age seems so prone to such lack of self-reflection.

Examples abound.  In my own short time blogging I have found the following:
- A Facebook discussion where the post was a link to a Keith Olbermann video.  The poster then complained about the lack of civility in the discussion.
- A Vox Nova contributor posted about the need to drop suspicion only to accuse his opponents of dishonesty in the same post.
- Stacy's blog is bombarded with the Apostles of Peace and Tolerance explaining to her why her children should be raped and drown.

I am at a loss to explain what I find to be one of the biggest issues in modern discourse about...well...anything.  It is as if we have all lost a complete sense of self-reflection.  The ability to reconcile our thoughts and words with our actions.  It seems the more that we accuse others (and the volume we use) are indicators that the accuser could stand to take his own advice.

I can think of a few things that contribute to this.  The first is the rejection of objective truth.  If truth is relative, than I am the source of all relevant truth.  Thus if I am the source then my accusations are not binding on me.  Morality can be completely contradictory since I am the arbiter of such.

Another aspect is the ability of the modern mind to turn vices into virtues.  We can redefine morality as we please, so we can simply change our "values" to match what others call "vices."  We are beholden to no one but ourselves in the end.  So why define morality in a way that inconviences us?

This is not to say that those who accept objective truth do not suffer from this as well.  To me it appears to be the product of our culture rejecting objective truth.  And like it or not, all of us are products of our culture and thus subject to the blind spots that our culture suffers from.  It is encumbent that all who hold to objective truth to reflect on how our culture's rejection of truth affects us in ways we do not know about.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hope in the Politics of Fear

When we last talked about the politics of fear we talked about how fear controls us.  If we continuously live in fear, be it of the economy or of those who wish us harm, we will forever be paralized by this fear and paradoxally continue down the path that will instill more fear in us. 

The path of fear holds no respite despite our ideas to the contrary.  We tell ourselves that if only others would listen we would be alright.  Vote for this person.  Support this tax.  End this entitlement.  Grow government/corporations.  Shrink corporations.  Fear collapses problems from the real and complex to the simple and easily solved.  And in doing so we devise solutions that are both flawed and damaging. 

The only real antidote to fear is its opposite virtue, hope.  Hope allows us to escape fear, by changing the unknown from a fearful black mist to a shinging cloud.  With hope the unknown is no longer to be feared but embraced (albiet cautiously).  The problems of this world, while real, are not insurrmountable.  And as such, the problems that we experience day to day do not have the power to paralize us with fear.

Hope is a virtue, not a state of mind.  It must be practiced.  It does not achieve instant results nor does it come easily.  Oftentimes we must fight ourselves and our tendencies to become preoccupied with the problems of the world.  It is a daily challenge not to give in to despair, to see problems as either insurrmountable or to find quick (and immoral ) "solutions" to them.

But hope cannot subsist in itself.  Hope needs an object.  To hope for the sake of hope is ultimately folly.  To hope in man only is to invite disappointment and disaster.  The only logical hope is in Christ.  This is because Christ, as the living God, has already redeemed the world to Him and His Father.  He takes an interest in each and every one of us.  It is to Him that we look for our hope. 

Ultimately the economic and spiritual crisis that we experience today will not be solved until we are reduced to the point where we MUST hope in Christ.  A good economy can distract us for so long from these fundamental issues.  A bad economy can inspire us to hope or it can cause us to embrace immoral solutions to the problem.  But ultimately such a deep crisis will not be solved unless we turn to Him who is the source of life itself.  A world without God is a hopeless one.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unintended hiatus and pledge

It has been a few weeks since I have been able to post regularly.  For this I apologize as there have been several factors that have effected my ability to post on a regular basis. 

First it should be noted that my home internet connection is busted (until hopefully tonight).  This has sapped my will to write as I'm not sure when I will be able to post next.

Second I have been taking an exercise class in order to reduce the weight that we often get when we ignore our health (which you can afford to do in your 20's, not now for me).  This has really taken the wind out of me as my thoughts are often preoccupied with how sore I am after workout or how hungry I am.  There isn't a lot of room for thinking more substantive thoughts when all you can think of is that meal that you really want but cannot eat because of dieting.

So I hope to get back into the swing of things as I adjust to the schedule of the class and whatnot. 

Finally I would like to make a pledge.  I have noticed that in the history of the blog I've done more posts about the errors in assumptions and thought of the modern man than talking about Christ or the Faith.  It is one thing to talk about what is wrong.  It is quite another (and far more challenging) to propose a truth and defend it.  Just because you are wrong does not mean that I am right.  Thus I pledge to balance my posts more often with things I actually believe and not just what I find wrong with the world.

So I ask that you be patient as I climb back into blogging on a regular basis.  I hope to have something substantative in the near future.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doctrine doesn't matter?

My friend JC posts about the common complaint from Protestants that the Catholic Church is too obsessed with "doctrine."  That is, the Church seems more concerned with people being "right" about doctrine and less about the personal relationship with Christ. 

My post is not so much about the charge. It is instead about how this notion can be true to the Protestant given his experiences. Conversely for the Catholic what is true or not often has a great impact on his daily life. 

I had often heard this idea during my days as a functioning Evangelical.  The idea that the differences don't matter so long as we worship Him is in a certain sense true.  Those who profess that Christ is Lord and Savior are all united in that truth.  And as such we should not let divisions come between us unnecessarily. 

For the Protestant worship services are pretty much similar across the denominations.  You have praise music, opening greetings, more praise music.  Then the sermon, which is often the heart of the service.  More singing.  Then possibly a just-a-symbol-not-in-any-way-a-sacrament communion service (maybe).  More singing.  Then goodbye (possibly followed with singing).

Regardless if you have TULIP tattooed on your arm or if you are in a barely Christian denomination this commonality of worship I would wager is pretty common.  Were you to go from one service in the Bible Belt to an "All are welcome, unless you come from the Bible Belt" church in the north of the states, you probably would not notice much difference in overall service types.

However when one goes from a Protestant service to a Catholic one, suddenly we are in an entirely different world.  The statues of the saints and the stained glass.  The huge crucifix in front of the Church.  Rosary beads and repetitious prayer.  Indeed during the Mass the very focus is not on the sermon but the Communion and something about a "sacrifice."  Not only is worship different, it is in a sense turned upside-down.

 It is not suprising then that our Protestant brothers are confused about how much the claims we make create such differences in worship and daily life.  If in most of Protestant worship the doctrine has little bearing then one can go from one church to another and the doctrine doesn't mean much.  But if one darkens a Catholic Church door....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The dictatorship of relativism

Cardinal Ratzinger's famous phrase at the beginning of the conclave that would elect him Pope has made me think ever since I heard it. There are so many dimensions to the phrase that each time I look at it I come from a different perspective. However over time I realized that these perspectives are related.

The problem begins with the modern denial of objective truth. This is often phrased as "There is no such thing as objective truth, all truth is relative" Immediately we encounter a problem. It is not obvious at first, but this phrase is self contradictory.

If we assume that the phrase is true, then it is true regardless of one's opinion on the matter. This then means it is objective. But this means that there is such a thing as objective truth, in this case, the phrase "there is no such thing as objective truth, all truth is relative." Thus we have a contradiction. If the phrase is true, it refutes itself. If false, then there is such a thing as objective truth.

It is a testimony to our age that this self refuting phrase has such a titanic death grip on the modern mind. When I've pointed this out I've been accused of semantics to obfuscation. Sadly, such is the confusion of our modern age that it is almost impossible to fix a mind that has latched onto this faulty assumption. This is the first aspect of the dictatorship of relativism, the imprisonment of the mind.

But there is another aspect that this dictatorship manifests itself. The problem with holding on to something that is not true is that reality often intrudes on us. We need air to breathe. We need food to eat. We also die. Thus life contains daily reminders that there are truths that exist beyond our perception of truth.

Now this obvious aspect of truth and reality is unnoticed. Since we take such things as food and air for granted as a part of life we do not stop to consider how this point of reality infringes on ours belief that truth is relative. Thus the first rift opens, that between what we believe (no objective truth) and our implicit assumptions about life.

But herein lies a problem. We often experience aspects of life that do not conform to our tastes. Something a person wants to do is "wrong" according to some. Someone does something that is wrong yet I am powerless to do anything about it. Oftentimes it is a personal wrong done to me.

Now note at this point we encounter the second rift. One the one hand, the mind holds that there is no such thing as objective truth. On the other hand, I have a personal conviction that there is a moral wrong done to me or to others, such as when someone steals from me or such horror has a genocide occurred in some foreign country. Hence now there is a break even in the thoughts that I have. I believe in moral wrong yet also in a principle that undermines that truth.

But now a shift happens. The focus is no longer on the notion that "there is no objective truth". We begin to shift to "truth is relative". In other words, the truth shifts from nonexistent to real, but only in the sense that my perspective is what determines truth. In this way we reconcile the denial of truth with the personal moral revulsion to things I find morally repulsive. I also convince myself that there are measurements, such as overall happiness, that determine what is moral and what is not. Thus again these measurements are subjective, but they are reasonable, because I am reasonable.

But another problem arises. That problem is people. People disagree with me about morality. They have differing perspectives. What one person says is morally wrong another calls one's personal prerogative. And since all morality is relative, there is no way to reconcile right or wrong.

But there is one way to resolve the tie. I consider myself a reasonable person. My morality is reasonable and if people agreed with me they would be moral as well. This is because morality is subjective, and therefore only the most reasonable morality should be enforced. Obviously that which proposes objective morality is out of the question. But reasonable people either agree with me (because I am reasonable) or will come around.

But some remain obstinate. Especially those who insist on an objective morality. They are not reasonable people because if they were they would agree with me or at least hold my general views. Thus they are superstitious, morons, ignorant. They hold to ideas that are morally repugnant. They are bigoted, rooted in unreasonableness and prejudice. in short, they are evil.

These are a threat to true morality and what is reasonable. They must be punished and silenced for the good of all. If they persist in such foolish notions as objective morality they can keep it to themselves. But in no way should they be allowed to have any influence over others. Only views that can be measured in empirical metrics should be used.

And now we come to the full paradox of the dictatorship of relativism. Having the mind enslaved to the notion that objective morality doesn't exist I now have become the worst of moralists. Only my views and the views of those who agree with me can influence morality. Those who disagree with me cannot be allowed a voice. Truth is what I make of it. And those who do not conform must be silenced.

Thus both the mind and (if I have the power) those who disagree with me I will enslave to my will. It is a dictatorship of the worst kind. It is one only bounded by my will. All reality must conform to my will. The only truth is that which I enforce on the world.