Thursday, 30 December 2010

The First Love

What is the first love? To figure that out, you must start at the beginning. You must go back to the beginning of your faith and find out what it was that you loved at first. What was the object of your love that made you a Christian? Truly, it was Christ. Further, everything you admired in the Christian faith while you were still a heathen and an infidel pointed to him.

Today, we hear so often that we must go and be Christ to the world and so it is. We hear that Christ enters us in Communion, that he fills us so that we can live as him and so it is. These things illuminate in our minds the mystery of what sort of help we are to be to others. However, beloved, there is another thing to which these truths point to implicitly and it is this which I would like to elaborate for you.

My dear siblings, I don't propound to you anything new, only anew. Do not glory in your flesh, but glory in his flesh. I can not say it more excellently, so I will say it again: Do not glory in your flesh, but glory in his flesh. Do you understand, now? Live as Christ. Again, do not glory in your flesh, but in his flesh.

Just as you invite Christ to dwell in your body by partaking of the Eucharist, it is as though your soul has been invited to dwell in the body of Christ. Did you see that? Live in your body as you would in Christ's body. If you were in Christ's body, if you had control of Christ's body, as though it were a vehicle, what would you do with it and to it?

Now, I implore you to think about what you do with your own bodies, having this very idea in mind, that you must live in your body as you would in his body. Perhaps, you will find yourself to be not so reverent a person as you thought. Perhaps, now, you will see more clearly what sort of person you must become. What would you set before his eyes if you were stewarding his body? Would you place violent, immoderate, immoral spectacles before his eyes? Or would you place holy things before his eyes? What sort of sounds would you fill his ears with? Would you fill his ears with meaningless, evil and worthless music that ruins the soul, detracts from God, degrades the dignity? Would you fill his ears with lewd jokes, excessive laughter, impious comedy, wanton stories, abusive language, curses, lies, mockeries, politics and idle talking? Or would you fill his ears with hymns, prayers, uplifting speech, truth, pious conversation, the scripture, that is to say, holy things?

Would you fill his body with alcohol and make him drunk; would you put anything in his body unhealthy, of such a sort that cause addictions, shame and malady? Would you have his body suffer the consequences of gluttony; would you let his body fall into disrepair? Or would you not rather keep his body clean from all addictive substances, and keep him pure from all such things which create malady and shame? Wouldn't you rather use moderation in eating and in drinking, keeping his body strong and fit? Wouldn't you rather keep him free from the fetter of addiction?

What would you do with his members? How would you use his neck to turn his head? Would you use the neck to turn the head toward everything which is shameful, causing the head to lust? Or wouldn't you rather use the neck to turn the head toward everything which is holy and way from that which is debauched and unclean? Would you use his feet to run to evil or to flee from the mere occasion of sin? His hands, too; what would you use them for? Would you use them for what you presently use them for? What sort of speech would you use his mouth for?

How would you groom his body? Would you strive to conform him to the customs of the secular world which rejects God? Would you mark up his body with tattoos? Would you shave him and pierce his ears; and what would you do with his hair? What sort of clothes would you put on his body? Would you make him look like everyone else in the world? Also, if you had his mind what sort of thoughts would you allow and disallow?

Live as Christ, glorying in his flesh and not in yours. Stop watching spectacles which do nothing for your souls, but rather numb you against the revelation of God. Start praying. Stop paying to go fights where those made in the image of God beat each other for your amusement! Start giving alms to the poor; invest more in the Kingdom of God. One might even say that you, by your running to such wicked spectacles and your cheering, harden the knuckles of those men fighting for your amusement. They bleed on account of you and do you think, Christian, that their blood does not cry out against both of you, alike? Quit spending hours, crazed, watching men riding in circles hoping to see one die in flames. Do you still think you are better than the Romans? What will you say to God? "I did not do your works and I was idle so that I could watch men ride in circles." Stop setting aside time to watch men throw a ball back and forth between themselves and having feasts in their honor. Stop imitating them like children and teaching your children to imitate them so fanatically! Will you men be reduced to games?! Put away childish things and teach your sons to be men. Put aside time for holy things, have feasts in honor of the martyrs who won the crown of life with a bold death; imitate the saints! Who will you give your son as a hero? A stranger who catches a ball? Or those who won the crown of life in a single hour through fierce martyrdoms?

Live as Christ, glorying in his flesh and not in yours. Do this faithfully and you will not offend God. Liberty exists for you so that you will forfeit it and be conformed to him. Do not glory in your liberty, the liberty of your bodies and minds, but glory in your liberty to live as Christ. Do not glory in strength and beauty, glory in his holiness and piety. Do not glory in youthful vanity, but in his ancient wisdom. Do not glory in wit and intellect, glory in his mysteries and his humility. Again, do not glory in your liberty, the liberty of your bodies and minds, but glory in your liberty to live as Christ.

When you live this way, you will begin to see what a terrible will your flesh has. Crush it, therefore, through mortification. By dying we live with Christ. What else is mortification but making something dead and are you bewildered, Christian as to what you are making dead? Judge for yourself and see if I am deceiving you. If a Christian dies in a state of grace, does any Christian reckon that person to be dead, in fact? Or do they not rather say that he is only sleeping, referring to the certainty of his resurrection? They say this because while his body is dead, having paid its debt to sin, the soul yet lives with Christ and therefore, as men exist both as their souls and their bodies, if one item lives the other must live again also and so we are certain of the resurrection. If the soul lives the body will live, if the body is alive, the soul is yet alive.

Again, in baptism, you died to death and you well know that it was a spiritual death that you died. Perhaps, there are some of you who think that you only died symbolically. I ask you, then, did you cure with a symbol what was a malady in fact? No! Baptism is not a placebo cure for the death of the soul. It is the bath of regeneration in which our souls come to life in Christ. You were resurrected from the waters of baptism as from a tomb. Just as the body has a death to die, the soul has a death to die and this is baptism. You were raised from death to life in the waters of baptism, I say raised from one to the other. Such power is in that death and resurrection that it washes away all sins and exorcises all demons. What is the benefit of these deaths? Christ says that if we die with him we shall live with him. What is this like? It is like 10,000 devils held you fast like a pillar of salt, because you had become a pillar of salt just like Lot's wife by sinning and longing for your sins, and the waters of baptism dissolved you so that you could no longer be grasped at by devils.

So, then, what is mortification? It is the same species as baptism and resurrection. It is the death of the iniquitous will, piece by piece. It is gangrene in the body of sin. It is leprosy in the body of concupiscence. Whatever you mortify lives again as Christ, because life kills death, so that whatever is death in the body of sin is life in the body of righteousness. Is so much of your strength spent on sin? Mortify yourself and that strength will be free to uphold righteousness. Therefore, wherever you see the body of sin, crush it with mortification and wherever you see the body of Christ nourish it. Let the rock of Christ fall on that flesh and grind it to dust. I am speaking to you about yourselves.

You are called to mortify the body of sin, not the body of Christ. God forbid! You are called to have the mind of Christ and no more be deceiving yourselves with vain imaginations and excessive rationalism. Mortification is every good and natural pain. What pain is natural? That of hunger, cold, heat, discomfort, and thirst. I do not say destroy the God given gift of the body. I do not tell you to do evil to bring about good! But, perhaps, some of you eat too much, then, eat less and be hungry. Perhaps, some of you are vain, then, give away your fine clothes, grow a beard, or for those of you who are obsessed with your physique, fast more often. It may be that some of you are lazy; go and do penance, walking eight miles in prayer. Are you always eating delicacies? Make your meals simple and bland. Do you sleep too much? Stay up in prayer or in reading scriptures. Do you talk to much? Be quiet. In this manner subjugate yourselves to Christ. In this way die, so that you might live as Christ.

What about the mortification of the soul? Be assured that whatever you do in the body you do in the soul. That is to say, the mortification you impose on your fleshly members is also benefiting the soul. Indeed, it is the soul which is benefited, because the body is perishing and can not truly benefit, except by chance, and will be made new with Christ in the resurrection. However, since baptism, your souls have been raising to life in Christ. You exercise the soul over the flesh in mortification and make it stronger, ordering yourselves aright in the order which God intended. Do you suppose that God intended for that which is less real to have dominance over that which is more real? Or do you think that God desired it to be that, that which is perishable should have dominion over that which is imperishable? Certainly not! Know, then, that the soul must govern the body.

Still some of you are saying," There must be a mortification of the soul which may be implemented." There is such a thing and it is compassion. This is suffering with others through empathy and sympathy; also it is to suffer because of their wounds. Think about what that means, Christian. Is there someone in your life who clings to everyone, someone who always feels utterly alone? Admittedly, this person is annoying, but why are they this way? They are this way because they have no spiritual companionship. They are starved and their stomachs have shrunken so to speak. So, how much compassion would it talk to fill that person? Is there someone who clings to possessions? Speak with them about immaterial things and draw their souls away from that which is leading them into Gehenna. Compassion, co-pain, putting up with the weakness of others because of the love of what is weak and not the weakness itself. Does anyone look at a child's broken arm and love the break? Do they not rather love the arm because it belongs to the child whom they love? In the same manner, you are not called to love the wrong opinions of others or their misguided emotions, but you are required to love their ability to feel, because you love them on account that they are made in the image of God whom you are called to love, firstly. Understand those words.

Aside from all this, to the person doubting that their penance does good for others. It is by Christ's wounds that we have salvation. Do you not know already that you are the Body of Christ? Christ willingly suffered in the body for you in an efficacious manner. Will the Body of Christ suffer and it not be efficacious for you and for many? Again, you are the Body of Christ and your suffering is His suffering, therefore, your suffering can only be efficacious, when rightly ordered.

So, again, do not glory in yourself, but in Christ. Now, may our God, the Holy Trinity, protect you and enlighten you and make each of you gifts to the human race, in His name. Peace be with all of you. 

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

To Those Uninitated Who Think They Should Be Allowed To Receive Catholic Eucharist (Communion)

Very often I find people who are not Catholic who are offended at the tradition in the Churches of the Apostles, whether they be in the East or in the West, whereby, they are refused the privilege of receiving the Most Holy Sacrament. Their reasoning goes something like this:

"I'm a Christian and therefore I should be allowed to receive."

So, for all of you outside of the Churches of the Apostles, holding a different opinion than the tradition handed down from the Apostles, I'm going to put forth the sound reasons for your exclusion from the Feast.

In the first place, many of you do not share the belief held by the Apostolic Churches that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. Many of you are of the different opinion that communion is merely a sign and an ordinance. That is, you think the communion is a sign to remind you of Jesus Christ's Passion so that it initiates you in a spiritual and intellectual manner into a deeper love and reverence of God. You think that it is an ordinance, that is, something ordered to be done amongst believers by Christ and on those grounds you execute what you have effectively reduced to a mere ordinance. You have the bread to "remember" His body, and you have the grape juice to "remember" his blood.

For the Catholic and Orthodox Christian, however, we believe that the fullness of Christ's body, blood, soul, and divinity mystically abide under the species of bread and wine. We confess that in a great mystery Christ is substantially present in the Eucharist. The wine no longer being wine, but blood. The bread no longer being purest wheat, but flesh. We believe this so much so, we profess that the Communion, as you prefer to call it, is the source and summit of our faith, because it is God and our revelation of God. We will kneel down and worship what were once mere elements of bread and wine, knowing and confessing that they have mysteriously through the power of the Holy Spirit, at the good pleasure of the Eternal Father, become the Body and Blood of our King and our God, Jesus Christ.

For us, it is a sacrament, something which literally and truly initiates us in an ontological sense into the mystery of becoming One with God. We hold the Eucharist to be a symbol to the eye and a sacrifice in fact. To those of you who would level the accusation that we mean to "re-sacrifice" Christ, that is another evidence that you are not in communion with us. God 'IS,' because He is outside of time and, therefore, completely in all time. So, whatever happened to Christ in His life as a human 'IS' being, right now. His Passion has taken on the same infinite attribute that is unique to His essence, because only God is infinite and He is God. By this we know and have no need to debate with anyone, that the Eucharist is not "re-sacrificing" Christ, but only the reality of what 'IS.' So, we make a good profession of these truths.

Hitherto, some of you say you agree with us. Others of you say that you don't agree with us. To those of you who agree, how can you partake of communion if you are not in communion? The Eucharist requires participation of the whole person, body and soul. The Body of Christ is the Church and the Body exists because of the common faith, because without the common faith in common things, there is no body. How can you then say that you discern the body of Christ in the Eucharist, but can not discern the Body of Christ, which is the Church, all around you? St. Paul commands that everyone discern the Body, lest they eat and drink unto condemnation. If you say you do discern, then why aren't you in the Church of the Apostles? You testify against yourselves! And will you continue to think that we have done something arrogant and rude to you, because we did not enable you to eat and to drink unto condemnation of yourselves?

To those of you who had disagreed, I say much the same. To your sensibilities we have become idolaters and cannibals. Will you partake of a feast of idols? Will you become a cannibal? I don't speak as though you are of the right opinion, but in such a manner which is not at all incongruent with your beliefs and in such a way as should be fitting to your conscience if you have these heterodox opinions. Take measure of what you believe; and will you still act so offended as though we did something evil to you, when it was our tradition which prevented your imprudence from making you a cannibal or making you in communion with the cup of idols? Again, I am only speaking in accordance with your opinions and not those of the Church.

Further, to each of you, no Catholic or Orthodox may receive while being in a state of mortal sin. This is so that Christ is not offended. Also, no one being stubbornly anathema in their denial of the dogmas of the Church should ever receive, because they are ipso facto out of communion with the Body of Christ. Again, this is so that Christ is not offended. Will any of you deny that Christ is offended? St. Paul said that some had died and fallen ill and become weak because of eating unworthily. Do you think that happened for no reason, or does not your reason lead you to the perfect knowledge that Christ is truly offended by those who partake unworthily? If so, why then are you compelling us, those who you are not even in communion with, to assist you in offending God? Why should we take you at your word that you are receiving worthily without any evidence of it? Confession, baptism and confirmation would be sufficient signs to the Body of Christ, which is the Church that you are receiving worthily. Why should we do as you do, giving the communion indiscriminately to any and all who enter through the doors of your places of gathering, whether they be Christians or otherwise, in opposition to the sacred scriptures?

Again, on the other hand, why are you compelling us to be complicit in your own harm? Why should we who have been given the sacred task of being Light in the world, be the same people who lead you to punishment? Why are you compelling us to get you into trouble? You are like a boy telling another boy to push him up over a fence; and if you fall and break your arm will you not both be in trouble?! Stop being offended then and know that no one has deprived you the privilege to receive because of hatred, arrogance, or elitism. It is prudence and integrity that deprives you.

Speaking even more plainly, as stated before, no Catholic or Orthodox may receive without being confessed, unless they are without mortal sin. Not even the children of the Church may do this; no bishop, no Pope, no priest, no deacon, and no laity may receive in this state. In fact, it has always been the tradition and teaching of the Apostles that no one is to ever receive without having made a first confession and being chrismated. How can you, who have never been confessed and who have not made a public profession of faith in the Body of Christ, which is the Church, receive the Eucharist? You are accusing us of arrogance, but here you think that you should be allowed to do what we do not even allow ourselves to do! You declare you have the right to circumvent us? You declare you have a right to our most Holy Treasure, without first giving a sign that you are worthy? You scorn everything that we are and have, but this, our Most Holy Sacrament, you demand?

Truly, none of us would come to you to receive what you call an ordinance, which is your own concept of communion. Never! The one who does such a thing would betray his faith, communing with those who are of a different opinion. Also, Christ said to partake of the Eucharist as often as you come together, yet you are not. You only quarterly take your wafer and juice packets, some more frequently. However, we come together so that we may receive the Eucharist, because it is the source and summit of our faith. We do this everyday, not only on Sundays and Wednesday which are your choice days of meeting. We do this throughout the whole earth, reading the same readings, partaking of the same body and blood. You come together to partake in scripture which is the center of your worship; we come together for the Eucharist, which is the center of our worship. We are different men.

Yet, some of you think that it is your right to take communion, because you are called by the name Christian. How can this be sufficient? If five sisters marry five brothers can any sister have any brother she desires? All of them have the same last name, all of them are equally married. However, they are not all equally bound in the sacrament of marriage, because one is wed to another and another is wed to another. Many of you are married, but you are not married to everyone, you may not have your neighbors wife, but only your own. There is schism in the Church between the East and the West, but one Church in essence and these may legitimately receive from one another, being Churches of the Apostles; however, this excludes separated brethren which are the Protestants and heretics, whom we trust will attain the Mercy and Grace of Christ in an extraordinary way in the resurrection.

The Church is the Bride of Christ and you profess to be the Body of Christ. Why then are you attempting to have two spouses? Why are you turning the matter into an affair of adultery? Why are you going to the places of Protestants who are separated and then to those whom they are separated from? It would be better for you to pick one or the other instead of engaging in adultery. Think about what you are doing with the temple of Christ, which is your body. Will you try to enter into two women? Why are you trying to enter into two fundamentally different bodies of faith? Take account of what it is precisely you are trying to do.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Conspiracy Theories and Their Theorists

It is important to know and acknowledge that conspiracies do exist, often elaborate in nature and other times deviously simple. They can occur at all levels of society amongst virtually any number of people. Indeed, we ourselves can unwittingly play a part in these conspiracies. However, just because anyone may be enacting a conspiracy anywhere does not mean that everyone is part of a conspiracy everywhere.

Most reasonable people will evaluate facts as they come and attempt to make sense out of them, according to their varying abilities, cataloging them chronologically into certain genres. As these facts and evidences become abundant, they build a case for something in their own mind. This same process occurs with the fomenting of a conspiracy theory. The problem is that often benign stimulus from unrelated events, such as any fact, may coalesce with what we think we know about the nature of a given entity.

To explain what I mean in the main, imagine if you will that Adam thinks he's been ripped off by the federal government on his tax return. Later, in his Psychology class, Adam learns that the U.S. government has performed many unethical psychological experiments on their own soldiers in the past. Next, Adam sees an insurance report that says he failed to appear in court. Finally, Adam sees Barack Obama openly criticizing and censuring U.S. citizens. Adam, finally, theorizes that the government is steadily pushing the limits of what it can get away with because it wants to have control over everything.

However, Adam has made this rather life changing decision from passion and not reason. Adam fails to realize that the government took back taxes from his tax return and thus it was smaller than he expected. Secondly, he does not know that the insurance report is showing the failure of a clerk to log his payment of a citation. Adam's tax return and citation have nothing to do with each other, further they have nothing to do with the President of the United States, neither do they have anything to do with psychological experiments from the 1950's and 1960's. In fact, each of these stimuli are so insular in nature that you can not logically connect them in any fashion, therefore, they do not corroborate.

What does corroborate is the emotion. Each even would cause any reasonable person to have feelings of disgust, anger, and indignation; all these emotions that Adam felt were directed toward government. The emotions were so intense that Adam's mind did not catalog these events according to their appropriate genre, but according to the emotion solicited. Each time the emotion comes up in relation to the subject at hand, in this case the government, it reinforces his conclusion.

To call a conspiracy theory a "theory" is a bit misleading; "theory" is a safe nomenclature that saves the conspiracist shame and embarrassment. In fact, most often the conspiracist is not propounding anything at all, rather they are stating what they believe to be a fact by the presentation of evidences. Adam believes the government is evil, he knows it, and instead of coming out and saying it plainly he does as much by stating all the things that we previously mentioned.  He presents these evidences in such a fashion that will make anyone who doesn't agree with him seem unreasonable or stupid; this of course is an insecure attempt to manipulate the beliefs of others. Now, Adam is doing the conspiring.

Adam falls victim to something called cognitive dissonance, which is the tendency to accept information and ideas that confirm our beliefs, ideas, and world view, while at the same time it is the tendency to reject that information and those ideas that do not agree. Imagine that someone hears Adam's story and begins with great enthusiasm to commiserate with him and recount their own worse stories of how the government screwed them over. Do you imagine that Adam will continue with caution or will he not rather think," FINALLY! Someone who understands!" Then they get together and make even more elaborate theories and repeat them over and over until those become beliefs as well.

On the other hand, imagine that someone does not agree with Adam; instead they bring up various benevolent government programs with patriotic fervor and begin to laud the country. Do you imagine that Adam will immediately go along with them and abandon his point? No. He will attempt to point out the flaws of the person's argument and try to prove that the positives they mentioned are actually diabolical negatives designed to trick you into thinking the government is good. And if the person doesn't take what Adam says wholesale he will write them off as brainwashed imbeciles.

There is no sobriety of moderation in Adam, and in this case there is none in either of his opponents. That is the real problem with conspiracy theorists, they do not believe that what they are saying is a viable theory, but rather that it is bullet proof, ironclad, air-tight fact. Therefore, they become frustrated with anyone who doesn't agree with them. They offer their so-called "theories" with a disproportionate and imprudent enthusiasm, because to them they are factual discoveries. When they conjure up a so-called theory, it's like they are Isaac Newton having an apple fall on his head all over again. Ergo," People accepted Newton's apple, why not mine?" Which creates another conspiracy theory.

People who "live for conspiracy theories" are people who try to establish their self-worth through various substitutes, people who can't conquer reality so they criminalize it, people who are emotionally insecure, people who are lonely, people who have something to prove, who are cowardly, who worry themselves to death, or neurotic people who are bored.

Some conspiracy is real and some theorize soberly, but that is rare indeed. One should be careful not to become a laughing stock, just like one should be ashamed to make eyes roll. One should be careful not to become afraid of their own shadow.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Cultural and Moral Relativity

It's always strange when you have a college professor, someone who is supposedly educated, look you in the face while standing in front of 50 people and say," All cultures/morals are equal." Especially, when they have a smug look on their faces like they're the only one in the room who understands the concept of objectivity vs. subjectivity. I used to take the high road with such people and give them a chance of recovering with dignity, but I find that the more preposterous I become the more preposterous they become. I'll explain what I mean.

Let's take the situation in the above. The professor makes this claim, that all cultures/ morals are equal because they are asserting as fact, without declaring it, an unproven assumption that all cultures/ morals are subjective. So, you appeal to their sense of humanity and bring something up like chauvinistic cultures. Without missing a beat they reiterate their point feigning objectivity, without explaining the "why," confident in their assumptions and content with their arrogance.

Their assertion creates a number of dilemmas. Probably the most obvious is that it dismisses the concepts of good and bad, right and wrong. By doing so, they are attempting to unilaterally dismiss a multitude of things and people they have no business dismissing. When they dismiss the concept of good and bad, right and wrong they're dismissing every religion in the world, they're dismissing the laws of every nation since the dawn of civilization, they're dismissing human rights, they're dismissing animal right, they're dismissing much of philosophy, dismissing family and friendship... all while arrogantly smiling. Can you tell I don't like intellectual  arrogance concerning untried assertions?

Whenever this happens, I'm reminded of the scene from the movie 'The Princess Bride' where Wesley says to the villain," You're that smart?" and the villain says,"Have you ever heard of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle?... morons." That's basically what these people are doing; they're dismissing on their own authority Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle along with everything and everyone else stated in the above.

If you point this out to them, they begin to stammer a bit as they try their assertion for the first time. For the first time they actually wonder if what they've been saying and believing is true. I used to help them with this process and be more reserved at this stage of such debates, but it seems that as soon as they've realized that they're had they divert their attention to their embarrassment and they go back to blindly defending their primary assertion. They prefer ignorance to the enlightenment of the point, by failing to submit to what the facts bear out.

So, now what I do is as soon as they're reeling from the realization of what they have just dismissed, to their shame, I follow up with a final point,” Well, I'm a Nazi and I'm relieved to finally meet an open minded person like you. I know you won't judge me because I'm a racist and I think that we should kill all Jews. By the way, you don't have any non-white ancestors do you?" tongue in cheek.

Most often in the media, in college, in the modern world, we encounter this sort of theoretical cultural/moral relativity nonsense instead of well tried, well reasoned assertions. The media and schools of higher learning are supposed to be devoted to enlightening people, yeah? They’re supposed to be communicating objective truths, unless they are expressly communicating subjective opinions. I suppose most people would just shrug if the media blurred the line between reality and fiction, objectivity and subjectivity. But we would expect more from an institution of higher learning, yes?

The reality is that culture and morality come in two varieties: nature and convention. The family, in all its variations, is a natural piece of culture. Duty to family is naturally moral. Then, you have morals and culture of convention. Wearing a fruit basket on your head is a cultural convention. Being a pro-choice individual is an exercise of moral convention. Political loyalty can be an exercise of moral convention. When it comes down to it, however, there are some natural morals we can’t negotiate on that cause us to come to conclusions like: Don’t murder, take care of your offspring, don’t rape, don’t steal, don’t perjure… etc.

Morals form a culture, but at some point a culture can start to fabricate morals. If a culture starts chucking the natural morality for the conventional, or they introduce morals that contradict each other, then the consequence is an inferior culture. Leaving all that aside to say, cultures are not equal, all moral systems are not equal. And to some extent morals and cultures are both natural and man-made; it’s not one way or the other like secular and religious fundamentalists try to say so often. A blind man could see that. People get so caught up, especially in America, with this absolutist, either-or thinking. We need to challenge that when discretion calls for it. There are absolutes out there, I'm not saying there aren't; to say that there are no absolutes is an absolute. But we need to be moderate in our approach to things and always strive for legitimate and true objectivity. 

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Monday, 27 December 2010

Euthanasia Should Remain Illegal

In the recent decades there has been quite a bit of talk concerning euthanasia. The proponents of euthanasia say that every person has the right to die. On this point we might all agree, but this is not really at the heart of the issue. The question isn’t whether or not man has the right to die, but rather does man have the right to kill himself? Here, I will do my best to convince you that man doesn’t have that right at all. My purpose is to give you well founded and systematic reasons for why these practices are bad for society and the individual on various levels. Further, my intent is not to persuade you by means of rhetoric, but if I can win you over by reason then I have succeeded.

Euthanasia is defined in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. Also, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines suicide as the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally, especially by a person of years, of discretion, and of sound mind. However, for the purposes of our discussion we will use an expanded definition of euthanasia, which is inclusive of psychological problems as well. The reason being that those who believe euthanasia is a right, believe that the psychologically impaired should have equal access to euthanasia. says in its online article titled An Overview On Euthanasia; Are We the Master of Our Own Destiny, “In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize doctor –assisted suicide. Around 20% of the death toll in the country is from euthanasia and it is believed that out of this 12% is involuntary. The consent or acknowledgment of doctor-assisted suicide gave rise to illegal dilemma of falsified proof of death willingness. Imagine the ramifications of legalizing euthanasia. People would live in fear, instead of having doctors willing to treat patients, there would be doctors ready to kill them instead.”

Euthanasia is intended to be a way out for individuals who are faced with often incurable diseases, for the elderly who do not want to die in the due course of time, for those who are suicidal, and the depressed. The argument goes that these individuals have the right to do with their bodies what they please; they have a right to choose whether or not they will continue to live in such painful physical and psychological conditions. In fact, there is a wide array of arguments for doctor assisted euthanasia. This is partly due to the popularity of the issue. I’ll take a moment here to mention some of the pro-euthanasia arguments.

One very popular argument is that if man is allowed to choose how he will live, then it follows that he should be allowed to choose how he shall die. This argument seems reasonable, until we examine it further. Do we get to choose how we live? Are any of you living exactly as you would if you did indeed have the choice? The answer is no, because nature, circumstance, and society work in unison against us to put restrictions on our ability to do exactly what we want, when we want and therefore no one is living as they choose. Man does not have the right to live as he chooses, nature has not provided for that. So, if man does not have the “right” to choose how he will live, then it follows that he does not have the right to choose how he will die either. Therefore, this is a fallacious argument for euthanasia.

Another popular argument for euthanasia and suicide is that which appeals to nature. These people argue based on instances of suicide and euthanasia observed in nature across various species. The argument goes that often enough in nature there are instances where herds leave behind the elderly to die. They also make mention of the suicidal tendencies of various species. The purpose of this argument is to establish that suicide is a natural impulse, and euthanasia is a natural way for a community to deal with the eminent death of its members. They reason that if they can show euthanasia and suicide to be natural impulses then the government does not have the right to make them illegal or regulate them. 

The problem with this argument is quite simple. While animals both euthanize and commit suicide, they also have sex with their siblings and parents, lick their anuses, and not only eat each others children, but their own as well; and I might add that they do so with far greater frequency than they do euthanasia and suicide. So, if we are to allow euthanasia and suicide based off of natural evidences, we must first allow cannibalism, murder, and incest. Therefore, this is another fallacious argument.

Another very popular argument is that euthanasia doesn’t hurt anyone. Notice here that this argument is made only for euthanasia. This is in part because to say the same concerning suicide is ridiculous. Many of us know of someone who has committed suicide. Some of us have seen the sad slope into despair and the final self-destruction of our loved ones. No one can say that suicide only hurts the person who commits it.
So, instead the argument is made that “euthanasia” doesn’t hurt anyone else. When this argument for euthanasia is propounded it is coupled with images of the terminally ill, crippled individuals, and aging widows. It is far easier to stomach such an idea when we imagine a person suffering from AIDS in a doctor’s office receiving a painless shot that ends their suffering. It’s easier if we think of a person whose whole body is paralyzed from the neck down, choosing to end their hopeless life. Or the lonely 80 year old widow whose family never visits her; who has passed the last seven years alone without her lifelong husband.

Those scenarios are much easier for us to accept, because they appeal to our sense of mercy, hence the term “mercy killing.” They don’t involve a bloody bed spread that someone shot themselves on; they don’t involve someone vomiting to death while trying to dial 911, because they changed their mind and don’t want to die after all. It’s in a sterile environment, administered by a medical professional, and they just go to “sleep.”
But this proposition is yet another argument rife with errors of logic. Specifically, this is what is called a ‘pathetic argument’ and is an error of logic. This argument attempts to assert the rightness of itself by appealing to emotions while pointing at the pitiable and pathetic state of the object being argued; in this case a person.

We are compelled to agree with this argument, because it appeals to emotion; not because it corresponds with reason. To quote Socrates,” A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” We are sold on this argument because it makes euthanasia out to be some sort of good for those who are suffering incurable and hopeless physical conditions. However, in the same instance they try to “shoe-horn” in psychological cases as well, for instance the lonely widow scenario. They try to gain the moral superiority by making a claim to mercy. 

Further, they are pretending that it is the same species of mercy by lumping all of their scenarios together. Can we truly compare a person with a mangled and paralyzed body to an otherwise healthy elderly person who is simply tired of living? This argument creates a plethora of moral, philosophical and ethical dilemmas and in no way levies an effective argument. For instance, are those who are psychologically impaired with suicidal depression fit to make such choices? No.

The argument that euthanasia doesn’t hurt anyone else is based on the idea that we are all sovereign; that we are independent individuals who have a right to do whatever we want with our bodies. Let’s say that we do legalize euthanasia based on this thesis, what will the second and third order effects be? How far can we take this philosophy and what will it do to society? How will it change our laws, our world view, and our social norms? If we are the masters of our own bodies and immune to government interference concerning what we do with them, then it follows that we should legalize all illegal drugs. We should be able to do heroine, cocaine, ecstasy, crack and LSD. Prostitution should be legalized. Further, the sale of human body parts should no longer be illegal.

Where does this philosophy end? If you open the door, what else must you let in? Why don’t we allow people to do or sell crack? Because it ruins lives, and those lives add up to make communities, which add up to make society. The sale of illegal drugs has an adverse effect on society; that is why people may not do what they want to with their bodies. Similarly, the sale of body parts is illegal because people would be performing operations on each other and thousands of people would die; people might even murder in order to sell off body parts at a high price if they could readily sell it in a free market. We don’t allow prostitution because of the spread of disease, the increase of crime and the moral decay it brings to society. 
The idea that a person should be allowed to do whatever they want to their own body is diametrically opposed not only to our laws, but to reason itself. The very idea promotes anarchy. Anarchy is the philosophy of “Do what thou wilt.” This selfish philosophy does injury to society which is a mutual necessity for the individual and the collective. 

In the end, all arguments for euthanasia and suicide are either fallacious, subjective, or both. The argument for euthanasia is not built on rational arguments or facts. Further, for the past 2,500 years the physicians and doctors of the West have take then Hippocratic Oath where in it is written: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” The very idea of euthanasia disagrees with the medical arts, and with our common ancestors

To recap, there is a difference between having the right to die and the right to kill oneself. We may choose to not be resuscitated; we may even decline treatment or cure for life threatening diseases. We may choose martyrdom over self-defense, or we may even prefer to be killed instead of killing. These instances differ from euthanasia, because we are not killing ourselves, neither are we hastening the inevitable. Man does indeed have the right to die, but he does not have the right to hasten the inevitable and take his own life, because it is against the natural law. Therefore, no government can make right what is inherently wrong in nature, even if they should legalize it; and if a government cannot make right what is wrong it most certainly should not try and give license to the people to do what is wrong. There is no sufficient evidence to support the right to kill one’s self in nature, in philosophy, in science, in antiquity, or otherwise. If anyone can effectively make the argument for suicide and euthanasia, proving that it is indeed good and beneficial for mankind to practice, then let them make their argument and better mankind. 

Otherwise, we must submit to the facts. It is a question of law and not of passions and opinions. To quote John Adams,” Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidences.” We must judge this matter based solely on the evidences produced for and against euthanasia. When our liberty is destroyed through the abuse thereof, we are returned to the tyranny of our passions. We have liberty for a purpose, and not for the sake of itself. Liberty does not give us the right to do whatever we want; liberty and lawlessness are not synonyms. Euthanasia, suicide and all other such practices must remain illegal, because we are a society of laws; laws which extend from and expound on our fundamental rights as human beings.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Christian Liberty

In the modern day we have seen both the true and false liberation of women. I say true in that now a much greater dignity and task has been conferred upon womankind, which is their liberty. I say false, because they have become the victims of double tongued serpents. How so? Very simply, if a woman decides to put off marriage and children until the flower of youth withers, she is regarded as shrewd. If she goes and gets an education and pursues all the temporal advantages of business success, she is considered keen and self-sufficient. Finally, if she begins to be promiscuous, she is regarded as an all-powerful and jaded goddess who is above the emotional trappings which affect us mere mortals.

However, say that a young woman has decided to marry and have children, without having gone to college, with no aspirations of a business career. Let us say further that such a woman comes across the path of a so-called liberated woman, or perhaps one of their "emancipators." What do you suppose will happen? Do not speak to me of extraordinary instances, but avail your mind to the common occurrence. Will they not start in with all kinds of false pity, indirectly insulting her? Or the more mean spirited sort, will they not even go so far as to degrade her, putting on airs of superiority, making ostentatious gestures, and so conveniently steering conversation and venue to places the mother and wife cannot come? If they hear of any misfortune in the mother or wife's life, are they not eager to blame her children, brand her husband as a jailer, and amongst each other speak of her stupidity for having chosen such a life?

Or say perchance, there is a woman who has chosen to be a wife and a mother, and she goes out getting an education and making a career. Being surrounded with so-called liberated women, will they not prefer each other to her? Tell me, will they not incessantly propound to her that it is her being a wife and a mother that is the cause of all her troubles? Will they not attempt to exclude her on the pretense that her motherhood and her being a wife are at irreconcilable odds to her so-called professional goals?

Therefore, do they not rather propound to her an ultimatum, which is," Be a stupid animal, a slave, living with no one to care about the things you want." or," Be like us. Take charge. Free yourself. Get what you want." By this ultimatum, do they not say to wives and mothers," You have chosen to be stupid animals, slaves. You chose this; it is your fault." What sort of strange and exceedingly wicked perversity is this! These, their so-called liberators said to begin with," Women are prevented from all sorts of liberties. They are confined to specific social roles, so we are going to liberate womankind!" Yet, which of you can't see the difference between this statement and what actually is, now? I do not intend to paint every woman with the same brush, by no means. However, look at what we have already laid out. Can you not see that it was not want of liberty, but hatred of social roles which drove the multitude to revolt? The majority of women wanting merely liberty, lead on by women who had hatred for wholesome things in their hearts. Now, it seems that the liberty has been granted the hatred still remains. Where is the proof? The proof is in the scorn of motherhood, the hatred of marriage and the fear of both. The proof is in the rolling eyes of "liberated women" at pious mothers and wives who hold their husbands arms. The proof is in the gossip and ostracizing against holy women who have, because of true liberty, chosen to be mothers and wives. The proof is the torrents of implicit, and often explicit, disrespect which are blown against wives and mothers.

So, are women free? It seems they are free to do anything their hearts desire, except to be mothers and wives, especially the sort which stay at home and tend to those things. It has become taboo, even. All of society strives in sneaky and sometimes overt ways to dispossess these mothers and wives of their sacred place. They are the pillar of civilization upon which the whole human race rests, as I have often said, but the world tries to convince us," Kick out the pillar, the building will not fall." So, they strip them of their glory and honor, trying to make women like men and men like women; always doing and teaching what is perverted and abominable.

Still, as much as is written here concerning the fairer sex, I do not mean to make you think about womankind and their plights. Rather, I mean to communicate with you concerning another woman and her liberty, the Bride of Christ and Christian liberty. Part of the error of the secular feminist movement, and in truth it is the same error of the humanist movement, is that they demand liberty and give it no purpose. Liberty to do what, exactly? Whatever one wishes? That is not liberty! That is the most horrific and terrible tyranny of the senses and passions, which leads mankind away from all virtue, morality, and ethic. Liberty without a reason is the greatest of deceptions, the worst of lies. Knowing this, God has given us liberty for a reason.

What is that reason? Listen to the words of Zechariah," This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
    To set us free from the hands of our enemies,
    free to worship Him without fear,
    holy and righteous in His sight
    all the days of our life."

We were made free to worship Him without fear and to be holy. What does this tell you about Christian liberty, then? It says to us that we are no longer beholden to death, we do not owe a debt here to this sin and a debt there to that sin, but we have been emancipated. We now possess the ability to worship without fear of death. Before, there was no possibility that we should be holy, justified, and righteous. Now, we are made free and can be, because of our liberty, something which we could never be before, which is holy and righteous in His sight, forever.

So what, then? What point do I bring to you? That many do not know what sort of liberty it is which they have. They think," I am free to do this and that. I may wear this with that. I may eat whatever I wish. I may drink this and say this, and go here or there." This is true, but this is only what pertains to sensible things and truly, they are not even the most blessed things which pertain to sensible things! This error comes from littleness of soul, hardness of heart, and dullness of mind. These poor siblings of ours stop here and realize no more than these things which pertain to food, clothing, speech, and the body. However, which is better, that is, more blessed?     

You are free to eat what you wish, by God's allowance, this is your liberty. Does this mean that it is your liberty to offend God by eating too much or breaking His fasts? By no means! Only you have the freedom to do so, and incur judgment on yourselves. You are free to dress in garments of any material, according to the customs of whatever nations you live in. However, does this mean that you are at liberty to don impious apparel covered in blasphemies, or be clad in such fashions as are offensive to God? Are you at liberty to dress in such a way that makes your fellow human being stumble at you, or in such a way that is irreverent at the Mass, or all places? God forbid it! Only, know that you have the freedom to do such things and incur judgment on yourselves.

Some of you are saying," This is not true liberty, as it is delimited." Hypocrites! How can you say this? In your own countries where you govern yourselves as you please, is your own liberty not delimited as you call it? What sort of boundaries are these, which make your civil liberties delimited? Are they not such limits that prevent a person from infringing upon the rights of his neighbor, nor upon the rights of the collective? Will you whinge and cry because you can not go murder without consequence? Will you say that you are shackled because you can not steal? Will you say that you are oppressed because you can not rape? Will you say that you say you are slaves because you may not perjure the courts of your own country? Shame on you, hypocrite, for such reasoning. You have liberty in your own countries, of the sort which is good for you and for all and to such an extent that you consider yourselves, often enough, the freest of men. So it is with God, you are free and He has liberated you, but you do not have the liberty to trespass and offend God. Is there any legitimate government in the heavens or on earth that can truly give men the liberty to do evil, so that it is no longer evil? No, and throughout history wherever there has been such a government, it has been destroyed by it's own citizens.

So, now that we have talked generally about what we may not do, let us talk about what we may do. Now, as stated previously, unfortunately, many Christians merely view their liberty as a temporal emancipation from the Law of Moses and neglect the incorporeal aspects of that. Yet, I have no desire, right now, to talk to you about the inside of the cup, that is, incorporeal things. I desire to talk to you about the damage being done to the inside of the cup, because of the outside of the cup, through presumption.

For some strange reason, Christians look at someone who is cleaning the outside of the cup and assume the worst about them. They show how little they know, because Christ lauded the pharisees for cleaning the outside of the cup, which is bodily purity according to the Law of Moses, but rebuked them for neglecting the heart of the Law, which is the purity of the soul. Christ says to them that they had done well, but that they should not have neglected the inside of the cup. Christ does not even so much as say that they should have cleaned the inside of the cup instead of the outside. Only, he says to them that all things are clean to those who clean the inside of the cup, speaking the truth to them, but more importantly speaking of future things to come of which we in the Kingdom of Heaven have the benefit of.

Does this mean that men have the power to make holy that which can not be sanctified? Then they should not be practicing what can not be sanctified. 

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

The End of Education

 The value of a college education depends on what you do with it and what sort of person you are. Summarily, however, education in itself, if educated in the truth can only have a positive effect on the whole of the person. As Juvenal the Roman poet said,” A healthy mind in a healthy body.”
In the beginning of higher education, as we are familiar with it, we see it as a means of bettering both the society around us and ourselves, it was a pious activity designed to enlighten one and all in antiquity. This seems to have changed, however, and while the benefit of college education is evident everywhere, it has popularly become a tool to be used only in becoming richer. In this case, we see that what was meant to free mankind, emancipate his soul, and move us forward as a society has become a means with which to exacerbate objectification.
 If our education only serves to enable our various base impulses, then all we see is the continual waxing of “blindness” to the truth, which only brings about unhappiness. The positions we earn via education become a yoke and do not help us. If a person gets educational honors in a process they loathed, so that they can do a job that is loathsome, simply so they can have a bigger house and more money… they are miserable. They are constantly tortured by their own wantonness, which they have enabled and inflamed, to do what they don’t want to do so that they can have what they want. When they finally get what they want they are concerned with keeping it, and the savor they should have enjoyed the thing with is marginalized by the excessive bitterness whereby they acquired it! This cycle is repeated indefinitely. The person is worse off than a slave, because a slave at least gets to do what he wants to sometimes, this person never does. 

In this instance, it is far better that a man, simply do good and be good and not go to college, lest he glut his passions and ruin his life. After all, Diogenes was right," Content is the wealth of nature." and," Whoever is content with the least, has the most."

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Africa & Condoms

 I'd like to make a practical and fiduciary argument for why contraception is bad for Africa.

Anyone who has ever seen the back of a condom has read the following storage warnings or something similar: Store below 40°C (104°F). No long-term exposure to high humidity, direct sunlight, fluorescent light, or ozone. Don’t store near chemicals. Do not store in wallet or other places of high friction. Do not store in an excessively dry environment.

And of course we have the shelf life if all those conditions are met:" 4 years (for USAID-donated; may vary according to national policy)." ( accessed Dec 27. 2010)

Now, think about this. What are the odds of the storage conditions being met in Africa? Lot's of people clap their hands and laud the practice of pushing prophylactics on Africans as though they were doing them a favor. But if I could give them one of those condoms I wonder if they would use it. It couldn't be that bad, now could it?

The condoms aren't the real sturdy kind like you'd get in Europe and America, they're cheaper. They get put into steel sea containers for who knows how long, waiting to be put on a freight liner. Maybe, the condoms ship across the briny sea immediately. But then again maybe they wait for a month or two, or more. Then they finally get to Africa. The steel sea container is placed on a truck and driven out to an aid station, maybe in a desert, maybe in a jungle. Either way the storage conditions are exceeded. If they're in the desert do you think that it just might get a tad bit hotter than 104°F inside the steel sea container as it sits in the blistering hot African sun? And don't you suppose that the hot sun and arid desert might ruin more than a few of the condoms? Well, we have to assume that, don't we? After all, the makers and distributors of the condoms say so themselves, on every condom!

And if they end up in the jungle it's the same story; sweltering heat far exceeding 104°F and unacceptable conditions of long term humidity. How many weeks or months will it take, do you imagine to distribute that many prophylactics? How many months in these totally unacceptable conditions will these condoms sit before they get used?

But aside from all this we have the shelf life warning: "Four years (for USAID-donated; may vary according to national policy)." What exactly does this mean? It means that regardless of the objective expiration date of a condom, some governments might destroy them prematurely, others might just hang on to them for a while. And how do they do this? By subjectively ascribing their own expiration dates, regardless of when they go bad.

So, who would take the gamble? Which one of you would don the condom that has been sitting in a sea container under the blistering African sun for six months? Then, why are we insisting that others do so? Why are we telling them that prophylactics are the solution to their problems? The world sends billions and billions of dollars in condoms to Africa. Why?

Imagine Africa is amalgamated into a single person. What can we hear them saying to us, what can we hear them begging for? "My children are dying of disease because we have no clean water. They are starving to death because we have no food. My family is being murdered and my wife and children are being raped and abducted, because there is no one to protect us. My children have no future, because they have no education. I have AIDS. I am poor. I have no economy."

How shall we answer them?" Your children are starving to death? Here's a condom. Your people are dying of diseases like malaria, dysentery, the buruli ulcer and Ebola? Here's a condom. Your people need clean water? Here's a condom. Your country is torn apart with tribal warfare? Here's a prophylactic. Your kids need an education? Here's a condom. You have AIDS? Here's a condom. You need help building a viable economy? Here, put this on your penis... it's magic."

Instead, of giving Africa what it needs, we give it condoms. We give them condoms that we wouldn't even be allowed to sell in the United States and tell them like a mantra," Use these and you won't get sick and you won't have any kids." Europe and America pander to this magical thinking because they think everyone in Africa is an animal and an idiot, that they don't have the capacity for abstract thoughts, for self control, for understanding what is good for them and what is not. "Just put this on and all your problems will go away." When what they are really saying is," Put this on and all of OUR problems will go away. We do not want to fix you! We do not want you to reproduce! We want you to go away! We want you to die! What don't you get about that?!"

Abstinence programs in Africa are often attacked on principle by many people. They start with all kinds of absurd arguments and try to dismiss it because Bush was for it, etc... However, if it was so ineffective, they'd be certain to prove it with statistical supports. Yet, if anyone hasn't noticed, there aren't any such arguments out there. In fact, the deepest arguments out there against abstinence programs are fallacious, by that I mean that they're bifurcations. "Because of this that... if you don't have this... if you don't do this... if you don't believe this... then this will happen." The statistical arguments against abstinence programs that do exist are taken from the early stages of the programs and are not comprehensive, they aren't followed up either.

The whole argument against abstinence is based solely on the idea that African's can't control themselves. That doesn't sound familiar does it? We need only go back sixty years to hear similar things about African Americans. These kinds of arguments against aggressive abstinence programs are bigoted without meaning to be, but they are bigoted and are constituted by errors of logic. It's a patently unscientific approach to the issue and as Plato was fond of saying," True opinion is knowledge." We all want to have the right opinion. There is a solution out there that is better for Africa, what you might call the right opinion. There is a way that is objectively better than the others.

When the US began their support of abstinence programs in Africa people were infuriated. The condom companies and far left analysts in Europe and American were watching the whole thing like a hawk. As soon as they could comment they did and they tried to railroad the programs into the ground. But as with all programs they take time to take effect. If you search through articles about abstinence programs in Africa, you'll see nothing but sharp, biased, leftist criticism up until about 2007. But it sharply tappers off in 2008 onward and you don't hear anything else about the matter in the way of criticism. Why? Because it works. In the countries that have employed the abstinence programs, they've been able to halt and in some cases reverse the spread of AIDS in their own countries. That's a feat that contraceptive programs can't compete with. I'll also add that condoms were still available to those populations during abstinence programs, but did not constitute the primary focus of the initiative.

If we were to divert the billions of dollars we have been using for condoms toward dams, agriculture, stronger industry relations with modernized nations, and education I think that we could help make an Africa that is capable of helping itself, an Africa with a future. But when I look at Africa and how we "deal" with the "problem" by putting a condom on it, I'm angered at the West. I see the same structuralism that caused the Irish Potato famine, that sick ideology that says some people must be starving, sick and dying for society to have any structure. It's almost seems like the world keeps saying to Africa," Take one for the team!" I say we stop throwing condoms at Africa and find a real solution.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Oedipus the Akratic

The story of Oedipus is designed to inculcate into the hearers a two fold lesson; the first being that of the value of virtue and the second being of the value of reason. Oedipus lacks both virtue and reason, being of a highly akratic nature, or at least it can be argued so, especially in the Greek fashion, which I will make some attempt to prove. It is through the exposition of the consequences that arise from being bereft of reason and virtues that the man Sophocles attempts to establish their desirability in the mind of the hearer. As it is said, fear is a good.

So, proceeding from that thesis, having narrowed down our search to the akratic nature of a single man, Oedipus, I think that it is best to at first with brevity say what I mean in the main. Oedipus appears as a man of virtue, a savior even. By the priest he is called “noblest of men” (line 46). However, I will point out that he is not called this because he is in fact the noblest of men, but there is some duty in the words of the priest. It is not pedantry to point out that the priest is talking to the king and indeed I would be indolent if I did not so much as point out that Oedipus had in fact been the savior of their city. Hitherto, I have not brought down the virtue of Oedipus, but I will. It will become evident that Oedipus has very little control over his passions.
However, before I take in the hand the defamation of a character as great as Oedipus is said to be, let us first be certain of the general so that we might avail reason concerning that which is particular.

Here is my mean, we must be sure to identify precisely those things which I have claimed to be lacking in Oedipus, namely virtue and reason. Plainly, I do not say anything on my own authority, but I appeal to your own knowledge of the general and exhort you to use it in the particular. Is not virtue a vice when practiced without moderation? Can a person be just if their integrity is so great that they become merciless? Is not mercy a good? Only, again we see that mercy itself is a good, but not for all. When mercy is misapplied is it not a means of enablement for lawlessness and disorder? There can be no question. The discernment for the particular applications concerning these virtues requires reason.

Reason is precisely what makes humans human. It's the ability to think abstractly, to go beyond instinct. It's the necessity of logic and intellect to survive that makes us human; without intellect man dies. As a person Oedipus is extremely instinctual and this causes many problems for him. We see this when he is pushed off of the highway,” The driver, when he tried to push me off, I struck in anger… And then I killed them all (810-817).” Beyond this, reason is what makes virtue virtuous. As stated before, without some discernment of proper use, virtuous things cannot be applied appropriately without luck.

Where exactly does this impious nature in Oedipus come from? I say ‘impious’ because virtues and reason are holy qualities; at least they are to me and they were to the Greeks (lines 302-304). A writer for the explicator agrees, and points out the same, saying,” Light, to the ancient Greeks, was beauty, intellect, virtue, indeed represented life itself. The Choragus asks Oedipus, ‘What god was it drove you to rake black / Night across your eyes?" Further, I say impious because we discern that while they are holy things, this in fact denotes another characteristic, which is divinity. Things are not divine because they are holy, they are holy because they are divine and proceed corporeally and incorporeally, respectively, from the Divine. So, from whence does this impiety in Oedipus derive? Certainly, his impiety begins in his mother and father. In Nassaar’s exposition of Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus the King’, he points out that,” … his (Oedipus’) father Laius decides to kill Oedipus at birth, and his mother's scorn for Apollo and his prophecies is traceable to this terrible event. She defies and rejects Apollo and his priests for the sake of Oedipus, nursing a lifelong contempt for them.”

Lauis is guilty, insofar as he becomes impious by trying to thwart the gods. Instead of submitting to their omniscient ways, he rather arrogantly, from the god’s point of view, assumes he will make their prophecies come to nothing. Because of this impiety he “pierces the ball joints” of his son’s ankles and arranges to have the infant exposed, thrown out (line 1040).

So, it can be seen that Oedipus is of impious blood from the start, with many evidences in the story reiterated by many characters. However, this is only one sort of source and one source indeed for his impiety. There is another source of his impiety and it is the same as his father’s; namely fear. Despair is the mother of iniquity in these men's lives as it is in most people’s lives. Their despair and fear drive them to disrespect the gods. Instead of being fatalistic and stoic in facing their fate, they behave nihilistically. Their actions are arrogant, putting man too high; assuming that they could and would bring Phoebus’ prophecies to nothing. Oedipus tries to accomplish this by running away from Corinth.

Indeed, if there had been any flexibility and mercy to the prophecy, it would have been found in the reason of truth and the virtue of mercy. Assuming that the portent was not one of predestination, but rather of things foreseen, the prospect changes a bit. If Apollo was writing with a divine pen the destiny of the family of Laius, then such a thing is, in fact, what is called double predestination and man cannot fight such divine literature. If, however, Apollo was looking at the events of the future with time rolled out before him like a scroll, it all means another thing; I strongly suggest that this is the case.

Assuming that my theologoumenon is the case, that the god was actually doing a favor for Laius by telling the future, the onus is on Laius for all calamities. It seems unreasonable to assume that the gods would make Lauis impious only to destroy him, in order that fear be struck into the hearts of those they completely control anyway. That is asinine. It seems more right, and offends logic less, if the god solicits the use of reason. If someone says to another,” Something terrible is going to befall you.” which is better to do, act well or act evil?

The portent solicits no particular action. The portent merely “IS” and therefore, the portent being benign itself must be left aside in the question. A new question arises, namely, is it better to be good and do good or to be evil and do evil? It is clear that Oedipus, Lauis, and Iocosta repeatedly fail to attain to that which is good and because of it more sins occur. As often as possible they make twins of their sin. An example is Oedipus pronouncing curses imprudently as if it might alleviate the god inflicted suffering in the land, somehow. He foments ignorance in his own person and incenses himself, abandoning all reason and mercy. While he is making his reason less and less potent, he sins against the innocent and defames Creon with preposterous accusations of treason and plotting. Even, further, in his vain attempt to alleviate curses by pronouncing curses, he once again is found trying to bring the words of the gods to nothing. His sins are multitudinous against god and man. By these means he brings down the vengeance of a god whose judgment is sovereign and incontrovertible in Greek culture.

So, to the particular Oedipus abandons reason by first abandoning piety. Instead of making good his own goodness, he takes to cursing others in an attempt to abase them morally and lift himself likewise. This is a very “un-Greek” thing to do, isn’t it? We see that wherever an enemy is confronted in classical Greek literature, the protagonist makes a beatific litany of the antagonist’s accomplishments, virtues, honors, nobility of birth, heroisms, etc… in order that upon victory over such a person they deem themselves greater in all respects, though this person was great. Oedipus, very incongruently with the other myths, does quite the opposite and cheaply publishes a curse with his lips in order to separate himself from the sins which brought the plague. Let me point out that Oedipus’ attitude, while not only imprudent, espouses some peculiar divinity. Why do all of Oedipus’ contemporaries in the myths need other men in order to be great, but Oedipus does not? Look at mighty Hector, a man of respect, loved of the gods. Oedipus indeed is compared to other men, insofar as he solved a riddle and saved the city. But where is iron put to iron to prove his greatness? Nowhere, indeed! Not only this, but look at the prophet who is given vision from a god. Inasmuch as the prophet is a prophet the gods are glorified because it is precisely they who give vision. Or mighty Hector, slayer of men, he is great because of his loyalty to other men and because of his noble victories over many other noble men. Glory either comes from other men or from the gods, one is vanity and the other is true glory, but nonetheless does glory come from another.

So, what does Oedipus make himself out to be? When we say a man is "great," do we say it because he is greater than other men or do we say it because he is great and, therefore, better than other men? Surely, we say he is great because he is better than the rest, for he became this way and necessitates the need of others to be great by comparison. For, if and we say he is great and therefore better we make him a demigod. This is precisely what Oedipus has made himself out to be through his many vain pronouncements, one of which is when he points out the he solved the riddle with his own reason and not revelations from the gods or augury from birds (lines 400-405); this infuriates the gods. However, as stated before, logic is intrinsically a divine and holy object; notice, then, how irreverently boastful Oedipus is over his wit. He blurts this out while berating a blind prophet of the gods for being indolent with him to save Oedipus pain. He is impious in the midst of a tantrum and, of course, a tantrum is the bastard child of a person who lacks the four virtues of courage, temperance, wisdom, and justice. As Aristotle said so plainly,” Wit is educated insolence.” As it turns out, this is all that Oedipus ever had, educated insolence. In the poem we see that insolence exercised against god and man, and not until calamity befalls him is that insolence exorcised from him. So, one might say, when taken as a whole, the gods had done a sore but good thing to Oedipus. It is better for his flesh to corrupt and be destroyed than to be interned to Hades owing some great debt to the gods. The gods saved his soul and purged him of insolence and impiety. It is only horrific to men because they all at once in the corporeal see what happens to Oedipus because of impiety, which is in reality only what is regularly done in the House of the Dead.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Why Every Christian Needs the Catholic Church-Things You've Never Thought About

I'm in the process of transferring a lot of my notes, so bear with me:

It's been quite some time since I've written anything to the Protestants. But they have entered into my mind once again, with their assertions that the Catholic religion is superfluous to Christianity. I am convinced that the majority of those who hold this opinion have never given any real thought to the matter. So, being willing and quite able to supply, I figured that I would do through exercise of reason what they have lost the ability to do by the atrophy thereof, namely, reason. Let it be noted that this is a general reply to certain assertions made by Protestants. I'll just begin...

The Protestants claim that Catholicism is superfluous to Christianity; they do this through a number of stock charges, all of which are fallacious, the majority of which are strawmen. But that is neither here nor there. I do not feel compelled to defend the Church; I've see enough feeble assaults against it by Protestants to convince me that it is in fact unassailable. I am much more interested in what the Protestants who make this argument think they know.

If the Catholic religion is a superfluity, if it is a body of man-made traditions, doctrines, and dogmas unnecessary to salvation and a proper Christian faith and they claim to have discovered this, then, it follows that they must know what is essential to the Christian faith. In fact, I don't think that there is any danger in me saying that Protestants must imagine that they are bare essential Christians.

If I was to ask them what things are essential to the Christian faith, what can we imagine them to say? I suppose that they would say several things are necessary: faith in salvation through Jesus Christ, the bible, the Holy Spirit. Further, if I were to then ask them which person has a purifying effect upon the people of God, I would get several different answers: the pastors, the community of believers, and the Holy Spirit.

So, here I have the Protestant faith in general which states that a biblical faith in Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation. Further, that the whole community of believers has a refining effect upon the Christian and that the Holy Spirit is his guide in all of this. Now, we have six things to examine, here, six essentials beyond which the Christian, according to the Protestant, has need of nothing.

So, let us discuss pastors in general. How are they chosen? Are they selected from seminaries or do they begin as house church leaders, or something like that; or do all of those things occur? Certainly, all of those things occur; no one would say that all Protestant pastors have seminary and likewise no one would say that none of them do. In any case, who does the selecting? The individual churches, of course, choose their pastors. In some cases, the former pastor will choose a new pastor and so on. But in the end, if the church is discontented with the pastor, whether he has seminary or not they will eject him from their employ. And if the people do not have the power to eject him they will leave and go to another Church.

So, I must ask the question again, who does the choosing? It is the people who choose. Further, having seminary might be a means of more directly gaining employment as a pastor, but it is not usually a factor in whether or not a pastor keeps his position. Ergo, if a man without seminary finds himself employed as the pastor of a protestant community, his having seminary on his resume is not going to be a factor of whether or not he remains the pastor. Therefore, there is no real advantage to seminary beyond gaining employment. What matters is the people's opinion of the man.

This I find extremely strange. When a man goes to receive his doctorate in the medical arts, he does not go before a board of nurses, but instead he goes before a board of medical doctors. Or if a person went to receive a license of any kind, don't we all know that they must receive the license from someone else so licensed? Whoever obtains a drivers license must obtain the license from someone who can drive, and whoever obtains a license for gun ownership must obtain it from someone apt in teaching the laws concerning ownership. Therefore, the person without seminary who claims themselves a pastor is like a person who claims to license themselves.

Also, if the community decides that he is to be a pastor, I find this even more strange. The ignorant are commissioning a teacher as though they are qualified to do so! A person is a teacher because they are apt in knowledge, the pupil is the pupil because he is ignorant of what the teacher teaches. If the pupil is ignorant of what he will be taught, then it follows necessarily that he is ignorant of what he needs to be taught, who knows it, and who is able to teach it. Imagine, that we took a rhetorician, whose task it is to convince through routine the ignorant of whatever he pleases, and placed him in with eight doctors. Let us further say that we placed them before a crowd of average people. Whom do you suppose the ignorant mass of people will say is the best of the doctors? It is certain they will say the man who speaks the best is the best doctor. They have no objective way of gauging the excellence of the doctors, because they are ignorant of the art. It is for the very reason of their ignorance that they need a doctor!

So, having selected the rhetorician to be their doctor, do you suppose they will enjoy many benefits because of this? Do you suppose that they will enjoy great health by him? No, they certainly will not. And so we know that not only are the people ill equipped to select good teachers for themselves because of their ignorance, but that they have even less business choosing a teacher from amongst their ignorant fellows. The person without seminary has no business in either case, whether he chooses himself or is chosen by his fellows, to be a pastor.

Now, concerning the man who has been to seminary, let us examine. If we went to a doctor and became dissatisfied with him and demanded his license to be revoked, how would we go about this? We would take him to court and lawyers would go find his peers, true doctors, and his practice would be examined. If his peers found that he was guilty of malpractice then he would surely be punished to the fullest extent possible. We would not simply strip him of his license and rights because a rabble of discontented folk, ignorant in medicine, brought an accusation against him. Never!

Likewise, if we find that a doctor is guilty of malpractice, but the patients love him and make many excuses for him will this in anyway prevent the law from delivering what it must, namely, justice? Will pathetic pleas and stories of how great and faithful a family doctor he was save him from the fact of his malpractice of medicine? No, never! He will be striped of his license and prevented from practicing medicine wherever the law can prohibit it and fines and possibly imprisonment will follow.

In this way, the doctor is aloof from the ignorance of his patients. When he is a good doctor and they are bad patients he is safe and secure in his position and they still have recourse to him because he provides to them what they cannot provide to themselves. When he is a bad doctor, the ignorant nostalgia and favoritism of his patients will not save him and he will no longer be allowed to misapply the art of medical science. The doctor is established by his peers and knowledge which no man takes away.

It should be the same with pastors. However, as our inquiry has revealed, this is not the case. Ordained ministers find themselves a congregation of one if they do not do as the ignorant require. The ordained minister is not protected from the ignorance of his people at all. He must be careful not to hurt them, even if he must; he must be careful to entertain them and conform to their expectations. If he doesn't they will abandon him or eject him from employment. If at any time they become discontented with the ordained minister, they will prefer the unordained man who knows how to tickle their ears, to him.

And how can we be sure of this? Which would children prefer, the teacher who teaches or the teacher who gives them games? The one who gives them games. And which do the children prefer to listen to, a block of instruction, or a story? A story. And which one will the people rather encounter, a police officer who is lax or one who delivers justice? The officer who is lax. And I could continue on this way, ad infinitum.

We can, therefore, confidently know which man the congregation will prefer. So, what Protestants posses is democracy, which is the worst form of government. Democracy descends into despotism, because mob always gives birth to a tyrant. Democracy always murders itself and chooses the wrong instead of the good. It is short sighted, selfish, ignorant, anarchic. In this "democratic Christianity" that Protestants possess who is in charge? Obviously, the same people who are in charge in all democracies, man in general. I can devise of no other form of government which is more dissimilar to monarchy than democracy. Where is the singular rule of Apostolic authority? Where is Christ the king? How ironic that they accuse the Catholic Church of being an organization of men, when they have democracy. Their communities simply could not be more man-made. You begin to see why I said I don't think that Protestants have given any real thought to their position on the Catholic religion.

But we should hold right here, because here we find that the Protestants have been consistent in one thing: they asserted that the whole community of faith has a refining effect on the Christian. This keeps with their democratic attitude. And I'm certain that when I said," Where is Christ the king?" some of you were saying," He is in all of us!" So, Protestants claim then, that they whole community of faith has a refining effect on the Christian. Then, you have only to shut off from the outside world and make your communities exclusive and you will be excellent. But what does history tell us about such experiments? I think that the Puritans are sufficient evidence that this is not true, witch trials and all.

Protestants claim that because they have the holy Spirit, the bible, and have Jesus in their hearts, that they all have a refining effect upon one another. But what about health, because the business of the church primarily is the health of the soul, or as the Protestants like to say, the spirit? So, what about other kinds of health? What of mental health? Do all people have a refining effect on the health of the mind, or do only some people have a positive effect on the mind? And bodily health, too; do all people have a positive effect on the health of the body, or only a few people? Obviously, only a few people do good to these and the rest do damage or nothing.

And what about people who live in houses, do they all know how to build houses because they possess them? Or people who drive cars, do they know how to make them, because they own them? Or people with tumors, do they know how to treat them because they possess them? No, only a few know how. But here, then, the Protestant stands confuted with his mouth open, because it is obvious even to children that there is no way that everyone has a refining effect, but rather that only a few have this effect. So, the democratic nature of Protestant Christianity is necessarily counter-intuitive to the end of religion, just as it would be counter-intuitive to bodily health if suddenly everyone claimed to be a surgeon.

If they understand this, why are they doing this?

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Ad KJV Protestants: A General Reply To Some Stock Charges

I'm making a general reply here to some stock charges that self described "Bible Christians" have made against the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. So, please read it in that context:

 The Church is not a man made institution any more than the bible is a man made book. It has been given Life by God; life is the death of death. This is why we are baptized, because death dies in life which is the water. We rise again out of the water, life from life. Therefore, the Church "IS" until it is not.

The Church is the pillar and foundation of truth, not the scripture, because Paul says in Timothy 3:15 (KJV, just for you): "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

To dismiss the Church as secondary and only complimentary, as though it were some mildly beneficial superfluity, and yet give assent to the scripture as primary and necessary, totally salvific based on its own merits, disagrees entirely with the whole bible itself, common sense and the whole history of the people of God. Indeed, that supposition controverts Christ Himself.

The Church made and conglomerated the bible, because it has the authority to do so. It approved and disapproved texts, because it has the authority to do so. The scripture submitted itself to the Church so that the Church could submit to the scripture; both submit to God because they are equally from God. Each are clearly defined, the Church is defined in councils the scripture is defined in canons. They have recourse to each other. To have only the bible and no Church is like having faith but no reason, or being a bird with one wing, or being a man with one leg, like having a heart but no liver. And the Church is not only generally ontological being called "the people of God" but it is particularly ontological being "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" which includes all proper Apostolic Church, East and West. So, the Protestant, the person who only clings to the bible and not the Church, is diminished, being only generally ontological, not enjoying the particular graces of being particularly ontological.

The power of the bible is that it is interpreted. You make the assertion that the King James is "self-correcting," except the reality is that it is readily found in the hands of over 30,000 different protestant denominations, not to mention those who are not even Trinitarian Christians, or not even Christians at all... like the cults of the Mormons and the Seventh Day Adventist. Indeed, the KJV is the translation from which many modern heresiarchs have unilaterally innovated their own patent heresies.

The practice is pretexting; taking a text out of context to make a pretext. Protestants can't help but to pretext, because they have no legitimate means by which to put those texts into context. And whenever confronted with this fact, the automated rebuttal is," I have the Holy Spirit." Yeah, you and the 30,000 other denominations, and the Mormons and JW's, prosperity gospel spongers, etc... etc...

The fullness of faith is found in Churches established by the apostles, whether it be any of the Orthodoxies or any of the rites in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. These Churches shepherd the flock of Christ with the Holy Spirit, and not in a presumptive and arbitrary manner, but via the confluence of the shepherds (bishops), that is, their mutual and prayerful agreement upon what the Holy Spirit has revealed to them as a whole.

You state:"Trusting an ever infallible Christ in opposition to an only fallible man-made institution seems only logical to us." Except, it is obvious from scripture and beyond refute that the infallible Christ 'has' already entrusted those things which are worthy of faith to "only fallible men" because according to the scriptures he gave the Apostles the right to bind and loose on earth and in heaven and to forgive sins, he gave Peter the Keys and the Book of Life, and put the whole flock of God predestined to salvation into the capable hands of the Apostles and their successors, the bishops. This is the work of Christ. So, trusting in those organizations, because of what Christ has done Himself, is only logical.

It is the height of folly to rest upon one's own understanding, or to even trust in an island of peers who rest upon the conjecture of one another (which is Protestantism). "The bible alone" is to be quite alone indeed, and though it can be a path that leads to life, it is most often one that leads to despair and is not the path intended by Christ for his followers.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~