Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Year's Resolutions

Well it is time for that yearly tradition to cite New Year's Resolutions.  I'm pretty sure the definition of "New Year's resolution" is:
A promise you make to yourself that you pretty much know you aren't going to keep.
 So instead of simply saying quietly to myself what I intend to do I'm going to put all of mine out there.  This way I can at least be honest and upfront and we can all share in my failure.

  1. Pray more:  I found a book on Dominican Prayer that I have yet to pick up and try.  Starting in the New Year I will keep on this blog a daily journal (as the book suggests to keep a journal) of my experiences with such.  Should be interesting.
  2. Go cold turkey on video games during Lent:  I'll have to wait until Lent on this one, but I have decided that the only way to cut back on video games in Lent is to do it completely.  This includes Sundays.  Readers will remember that my last attempt to limit my time was an epic disaster.  So this year I'm going all out.  I have the local insane asylum on speed dial just in case.
  3. No commenting for three months:  I have come to realize that comment boxes are little more than an occasion of sin.  The very rare case where an intelligent conversation can occur is eclipsed by the far too numerous incidents of flame wars that I routinely get sucked into.  I'm convinced that people who post in comment sections of Facebook posts to lash out in empty-headed fashion are working through emotional issues that logic and reason have no way to touch.  I am tired for my part and have no interest in contributing to such a toxic environment.  So for the next three months I refuse to post comments anywhere.
  4. Learn the Korean language:  I have been flirting with this for far too long.  But this year I will finally jump this hurdle and learn the Korean language.  Or at least I hope so.

So there they are.  The die is cast.  The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Life, I challenge you to a duel.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

In the stillness of the night

So Christmas at our house was quite subdued.  It was a little depressing honestly but I think I am the better for it.  But first a little background.

My wife and I have been battling a cough that has persisted after a cold for the past month or so.  It has been quite annoying to say the least.  We had recovered sufficiently to decide to carry on with our planned trip to New York.

We were there until Christmas Eve and we had a lovely time.  Not without cost however.  My wife's cough came back with a vengeance and she had quite a bit of trouble sleeping on the trip.  When Christmas Day came she was so ill we didn't even make it out to Mass that day. This we will be confessing later, not that we think we did wrong by missing Mass due to illness but like missing any big event you still want to apologize to your host for missing a party you wanted to go to.

So there I was late at night with my wife finally able to sleep and eating McDonald's, I began to feel lonely and depressed.  It was the first time I could remember not being around family on Christmas.

As I sat though I began to think about Christmas for the first time.  To simply sit and meditate on the awesome nature of God who became Man.  In the stillness of the night I found the true meaning of Christmas.  There is such a thing.

It is more than hope.  It is the new reality.  The night that the battle had been joined by God to win Man back.  It impressed me in that quiet how the true meaning of Christmas shines forth and the modern world seems hell bent on distracting us from that truth.

The work of the Cross and Resurrection begins at Christmas.  In fact one could say that evil was defeated on Christmas day.  In that singular moment the defeat of darkness was sounded.  A new day was dawning.

Christmas has one true meaning.  The coming of the Christ.  It is the defining moment in the history of the world.

In a night just like the night I experienced all was still on the earth.  But on the spiritual plane a cannon shot went out.  The first salvo of return fire from the Lord of Hosts against the Enemy.

Though it wasn't how I intended to spend Christmas I learned quite a bit from my forced silence.  To drink in the true mystery that is the coming of God into the world.  History pivots on that moment.  For this realization I am thankful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The best comment on the media evar!

Not Mark Shea's article about Human Toothaches Who Happen to be Atheists (though in my experience there is a strong cross-section) but a comment left during the ensuring discussion:
TMLutas: It is quite common to see thoughtful people believe in the media narrative in every area except for areas where they have personal expertise. There, they know that the media is babbling more often than not. But it is much less common to extend this very common observation that the media are getting a lot of things wrong and the narrative is also very often wrong in areas where you don’t have the facts at hand to check and correct for them. To do so is to strike out into deep waters without a backup plan. It is very scary but it unfortunately is true. We have an awful media that does not gather basic facts well and we are largely living our lives informed by narratives that are at least as likely to be wrong as they are to be right.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The "Real" Problem of Evil

I originally planned to post this on Friday, but in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut I found myself drained from the news.  I typically don't react in such a way to such news but for some reason I could not bring myself to post.  After sifting through my thoughts I began to realize why.

We have heard of the problem of evil.  As one of the only two good arguments against the existence of God, the existence of evil continues to this day as a stumbling block to Faith.  How can an all-good God exist when there is such suffering in the world?

The logical side of the problem of evil has several answers actually.  In fact according to Aquinas the only way evil can exist in the first place is if God is goodness itself.  The argument from the point of reason is answered in a variety of ways.

The real problem of evil is that the answers are not "satisfactory" when a soul is hurting.  Evil wounds us.  We see the horror, pain and death that evil causes.  It pierces our minds and souls.  We react with sadness, confusion and anger.  However right the reasons may be they are of little comfort when we ache.

That is what evil is though.  Irrational.  Damaging.  We make justifications for it in our own lives even as we know it damages us.  We accept the twisted and irrational framework necessary to do evil.  In our more honest moments, we try to work ourselves out of that evil.

But when confronted with the horror of the shooting in Connecticut, the glamour and rationalizing of evil falls away.  It grieves us.  It confuses us.  It turns a world of reason and order into irrationality and chaos.  The anger, hurt and pain that we feel is another product of that evil.  

This is the way we should react to all evil.  Evil is foreign to this world.  We recognize this when we first encounter it.  We accept it as part of life, but like any invader we'd like to kick it out.

Blinded by pain and anguish, we being to question good.  Is it worth it?  We begin to question God.  Is He there?  Like any powerful emotion the hurt and anger begin to derail our reasoning.

This is not to say the emotion isn't worth something.  It is.  This is how we should react to evil.  Evil SHOULD repulse us.  It SHOULD hurt us.  We should avoid it at all costs.

What we cannot allow it to do is to damage our Faith and reason.  Evil by its very nature is irrational.  And it encourages us to think irrationally.  To allow it to crush our reason is simply to perpetuate evil.

This is the real problem of evil.  Our souls react quite rightly at the horror of evil.  In that grief we can question how such a God could allow such things.  And the explanations appear hollow in the face of our pain.

But given the power of that reaction we can blind ourselves to the truth.  Past the pain and the anger we know what the truth really is.  And the choice presented to us is to embrace or reject the True Comforter.  And like any choice between good and evil, we can choose either the true source of comfort or allow the grief to define us.  This is the choice everyone will face at some point. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayer and Silence

Given the horrific shooting that occurred today I'll post my thoughts later on the subject.  For now the only response I can muster is prayerful silence.  I suggest we all do the same.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How Gay Marriage will destroy our Society

Alright I admit that the title is link bait but hear me out.  I have been quite ill getting over a cold that I suspect I'm not quite done with yet.  My head is swimming in medications.  Yet somehow I managed to get sucked in yet again in a "discussion" about gay fantasy, otherwise know as gay marriage.

Now I will reiterate my disclaimer about this topic yet again.  I find gay "marriage" as an issue to be appallingly dull.  I see it simply as the latest degradation of marriage in this culture.  Why I wind up getting sucked into such debates is that appalling bad arguments are routinely brought forth in support of this fantasy.  And since I am drawn to bad arguments like a moth to a flame, once again the subject took up far more of my time than I'd care to admit.

Particularly striking about this encounter was my opponent's insistence on having to justify "banning gay marriage" from a legal basis.  Never mind that my entire argument was that gay marriage is an oxymoron and so "banning" it is a non-starter.  Never mind that I pointed out that having the discussion in purely legal terms was also a non-starter as I was maintaining it was a moral issue.  The counters to my points ranged from "You are wrong! Period!" to "You are a liar for disagreeing with me still!"

Now wiser people would have realized by now that trying to conduct a civilized discussion during what was quickly becoming a pissing contest would have recognized the situation and backed out.  But no, oblivious to the signs I soldiered on.

Coincidentally this exercise has demonstrated to me another hazard of online apologetics.  Given that I've been insulted so much I've more or less become completely immune to it.  While good for my health and psyche I realized I no longer recognize when the discussion has simply broken down and nothing further can be accomplished.  When your opponent is outright calling you a liar and a hypocrite, the only thing one can accomplish is looking like a particularly savvy liar and hypocrite.

Anyway, what I was stuck by was this blind insistence that I must come up with a legal reason to ban gay marriage.  Given that the entire framing of the issue was based on principles that I was directly challenging, I refused, and stated why.  This was taken as a sign of surrender, and the tap dance in the endzone of this absurd game was conducted.

It was this discussion that finally led me to realize why gay marriage is so dangerous.  Understand up till now I understood the danger purely at a theoretical level.  I understand that morality is important and a society that drifts from the true nature of man will collapse under its own dead weight.  But this discussion has finally allowed me to break through the intellectual barrier so to speak.

A society that allows for gay fantasy to be enshrined in law is completely vulnerable to a tyrannical takeover.  When our thinking is reduced to "can we come up with a legal argument for it" regardless of the moral soundness of or even common sense, to the point of forbidding discussing from any standpoint other than a legal one, we are in trouble.

Think about it for a minute.  The exclusion of a moral discussion about our laws allows for a state to usurp total control so long as the law can be tortured to justify it in some sense.  This is why the state claims the right to torture terrorists.  This is why it has executed a citizen of the U.S. without trial.  So long as the state can exclude the moral component from the legal one, genocide is perfectly fine so long as a legal justification can be made.

When one pretends that the moral and the legal exist in separate worlds the state no longer recognizes any boundaries.  As long as it can rip bleeding from the text what they want, there is no way to stop it.  We live in a country of lawyers and judges that redefine life to suit the whims of those in power.  And we as a people have surrendered the weapons of justice and integrity to avoid conflict.

As I reflected on this last night I could not help but admire the cunning of the Enemy.  Had it gotten as bad as it is I would never have seen the connection.  Well played, Satan.  Well played.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Posting issues

It has been a strange month for me healthwise.  Nothing major but a relatively allergy-free year has yielded to a bad month of mental haze and runny noses.

Last Monday's miss though was because my poor wife has the worst head cold.  I am finally at my desk which is where I usually write on breaks.  But yesterday's caretaking is why I missed the post.  Apologies and asking for prayers that I can get back on track.