Circle or Line under Most Beautiful Absolute

Remove from me then, Lord, the sadness that the love of self might give, but create in me a sadness in conformity with thine

Month: February, 2012

Not Just Nature

Pope Benedict XVI:

God has all the essential characteristics of what we mean by a “person,” in particular conscious awareness, the ability to recognize and the ability to love. In that sense he is someone who can speak and who can listen. That, I think, is what is essential about God. Nature can be marvelous. The starry heaven is stupendous. But my reaction to that remains no more than an impersonal wonder, because that, in the end, means that I am myself no more than a tiny part of an enormous machine. The real God, however, is more than that. He is not just nature, but the One who came before it and who sustains it. And the whole of God, so faith tells us, is the act of relating. That is what we mean when we say that he is a Trinity, that he is threefold. Because he is in himself a complex of relationships, he can also make other beings who are grounded in relationships and who may relate to him, because he has related them to himself.

This is the primary scandal of the Trinity – that relationship precedes being.

Fr. Francis Martin:

And so God’s laws are understood not merely as principles but as expressions as love. Fr. Robert Barron:

Sri Aurobindo, Savitri — A Legend and a Symbol, Book X, Canto IV:

How sayst thou Truth can never light the human mind
And Bliss can never invade the mortal’s heart
Or God descend into the world he made?
If in the meaningless Void creation rose,
If from a bodiless Force Matter was born,
If Life could climb in the unconscious tree,
Its green delight break into emerald leaves
And its laughter of beauty blossom in the flower,
If sense could wake in tissue, nerve and cell
And Thought seize the grey matter of the brain,
And soul peep from its secrecy through the flesh,
How shall the nameless Light not leap on men,
And unknown powers emerge from Nature’s sleep?
Even now hints of a luminous Truth like stars
Arise in the mind-mooned splendour of Ignorance;
Even now the deathless Lover’s touch we feel:
If the chamber’s door is even a little ajar,
What then can hinder God from stealing in
Or who forbid his kiss on the sleeping soul?
Already God is near, the Truth is close:
Because the dark atheist body knows him not,
Must the sage deny the Light, the seer his soul?
I am not bound by thought or sense or shape;
I live in the glory of the Infinite,
I am near to the Nameless and Unknowable,
The Ineffable is now my household mate.
But standing on Eternity’s luminous brink
I have discovered that the world was He;
I have met Spirit with spirit, Self with self,
But I have loved too the body of my God.
I have pursued him in his earthly form.
A lonely freedom cannot satisfy
A heart that has grown one with every heart:
I am a deputy of the aspiring world,
My spirit’s liberty I ask for all.

Matt Maher – Isaiah 61

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the Lord
and a day of vindication by our God,
and a day of vindication by our God.

So will the Lord God let justice and praise,
justice and praise, justice and praise,
so will the Lord God let justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

I rejoice heartily in the Lord;
in the Lord is the joy of my soul.
For he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth springs forth its plants
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
and a garden makes its growth spring up.

Take this Cup

It is difficult sometimes not to be a rage junkie. This is one of those times. First this:

And just to let you know that I also appreciate the subtle side of things I let loose my favorite dog of war, Emperor Misha:

So let’s see if we get this right: Some putrid prick-pustule pisslamist puke from the Afghan Army that we trained and armed, that wouldn’t even exist if it hadn’t been for our blood and treasure, some goat-humping savage barbarian who’d be hiding out from the Taliban that we liberated them from went and murdered two of our officers in cold blood because we burned books the pisslamist pig-molesters themselves had defaced …

And WE’RE the ones owing somebody an apology???

Fuck YOU, Comrade Barack Petukh Hussein O-bow-and-scrape-ma!

It’s time to follow the Imperial Three-Step:

1) Withdraw all our and allied personnel.
2) Turn Ashcanistan into a glass-covered, radioactive parking lot.
3) Issue a press statement to the world saying only this: “And we’ve got plenty more where THAT came from! Questions?”

Thatisall.

There’s your fix of rage for the day. Best when ingested in small doses – otherwise addiction follows. And a rage junkie can easily become a despair junkie also:

Patrick Buchanan:

Did then the conservatives fail?

In defense of the right, it needs be said. They were no more capable of preventing these revolutionary changes in how people think and believe about God and man, right and wrong, good and evil, than were the French of the Vendee to turn back the revolution of 1789.

Converting a people to new ways of thinking about fundamental truths is beyond the realm of politics and requires a John Wesley or a St. Paul.

The social, political and moral revolutions of the 1960s have changed America irretrievably. And they have put down roots and converted a vast slice of the nation.

In order to love one’s country, said Edmund Burke, one’s country ought to be lovely. Is it still? Reid Buckley, brother of Bill, replies, “I am obliged to make a public declaration that I cannot love my country. – We are vile.”

And so what is the conservative’s role in an America many believe has not only lost its way but seems to be losing its mind?

What is it now that conservatives must conserve?

Like rage, despair is best quaffed in such small mouthfuls. Otherwise one can get caught in its net not only in broad historical terms but also on the strategic level. Here is the quote of the week, perhaps of the entire primary campaign. Jonathan Tobin:

What the GOP needs are not more RINOs or right-leaning Washington establishment types like Richard Lugar (whom Brooks lauds but is in fact, a more reliable indicator of conventional wisdom on most issues than any liberal establishment pundit), but leaders who care about ideas and have the ability to convince the nation to get behind them and then govern accordingly. It is the absence of such persons in the presidential race that is the GOP’s problem in 2012.

Yes, the worker bees continue to work:

But all of this is completely irrelevant anyway. When debtpocalypse happens – then the blood will truly – literally – start to flow in the streets.

Ludwig von Mises:

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit (debt) expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit (debt) expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

America is doomed. Drink up – it’s almost closing time.

Feel better now? Cheers.

Now of course the deeper problem here is that the addiction is not really to the underlying issues we think we are defending. It is to a mode of thinking (or rather, un-thinking) that has completely replaced the older medieval synthesis of faith and reason. That synthesis genuinely valued debate and sought always to pursue it as a means of achieving genuine knowledge. These days everyone just slings mud. Witness a famous rage boozer (curious that he keeps saying “sorry, I’ve tried”, as if what he is being asked to do is a series of acrobatics instead of merely consider something) dragged back to the points by a sober analyst:

A is not A

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? Alberto Giubilini, Francesca Minerva, Journal of Medical Ethics.

Alberto Giubilini 1, 2
Francesca Minerva 3, 4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Philosophy, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
2 Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
3 Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
4 Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

Abstract:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Mark Shea:

I sometimes despair of the value of argument. There are moments–and this is one, I fear–where a civilized society would take St. Louis’ advice, take such people, and “stick a sword through them as far as it will go”. When the intellect itself is so corrupt as to deploy all its artillery in the defense of cold-blooded baby slaughter, it becomes extremely difficult to engage it. It reminds me of the demon-possessed Weston in Perelandra, by turns clever (angels are, recall, superior intellects) and idiotic (Weston: “Ransom. Ransom. Ransom” Ransom: “WHAT?” Weston: “Nothing.”), utterly committed to the denial of life and God. What appalling evil. It requires exorcism, not argument. It must be expelled.

And yet, in a world where fools are not yet committed to such evil, but prone to become so when the devil’s minions make clever arguments, I suppose it must be argued with. But how in hell do you argue in such a way as to supply fundamental moral intuitions to blithering moral idiots? If a person can’t see that slitting an infant’s throat is a Bad Thing, what possible method of moral suasion can be used to make a moral imbecile–and particularly a highly educated moral imbecile–capable of the sense God gave a goose? I sometimes begin to suspect that the violence of the Old Testament was sometimes the only language fallen man could understand and that treatises on ethics for cretins who hurled babies into the flames were not as educational as the siege, famine, slaughter and exile God in fact permitted in his providence.

Don’t take that as a thought. Just as a cry of pain. We are a civilization facing an awful reckoning. Be glad I’m not God.

But in case you think this is a new issue, reconsider. After-birth infanticide has always been with us. Population Research Institution President Steven Mosher testifies before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Committee on the Judiciary on December 7th, 2011, on the topic of sex-selective abortion:

Consider also that the primary apparatus of the West’s understanding of foreign culture has now been definitively established to be “cultural relativism.”

Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual human’s beliefs and activities are understood by others in terms of that individual’s own culture. This principle was established as axiomatic in anthropological research by Franz Boas in the first few decades of the 20th century and later popularized by his students. Boas first articulated the idea in 1887: “…civilization is not something absolute, but … is relative, and … our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our civilization goes.”

Franz Boas argued that:

in order to understand “what is” — in cultural anthropology, the specific cultural traits (behaviors, beliefs, and symbols) – one had to examine them in their local context.

In Boas work, he argued for an approach that:

considers every phenomena as worthy of being studied for its own sake. Its mere existence entitles it to a full share of our attention; and the knowledge of its existence and evolution in space and time fully satisfies the student.

Since Boas’ anthropology has been firmly established as the scientifically valid approach in the academy, “cultural relativism” has ceased to become a term of art and is now, in fact, scientific dogma. Alternative approaches to this issue, such as that of Lloyd deMause, have remained marginalized.

And so we are left with:

necessity, what Milton called ‘the tyrant’s plea’ to excuse the crime, specifically that it is necessary for the innocent baby to die so that society will not have to go to the expense and effort of raising and caring for him, and effort which is (in a summary fashion) labeled ‘unbearable’.

Apparently, in Cloudcuckooland, homo sapiens give birth to a transitional form of life which is non-human, but which becomes human either at the age of seven years, or when when the skull clears the birth canal, or when the mother or a judicial body bestows whatever Linnaean taxonomic classification on the organism whim sees fit: I do not see why a mother, if it is she who decided if her baby is homo sapiens, cannot with equal godlike authority declare him to be a spaniel or a goldfish instead. This makes us the only known species who does not reproduce itself directly, but instead engages another species, creatures called fetuses, to produce us.

Ah! But we who know grammar-school biology, we are the mystics and nutbags cruelly attempting to tyrannize the mother, and rob her of her rightful magic powers to decree that humans are livestock, babies are parasites, A is not A.

The Perversion of Rights

CNN’s John King did his best the other night, producing a question from one of his viewers:

“Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?”

To their credit, no Republican candidate was inclined to accept the premise of the question. King might have done better to put the issue to Danica Patrick. For some reason, Michelle Fields of the Daily Caller sought the views of the NASCAR driver and Sports Illustrated swimwear model about “the Obama administration’s dictate that religious employers provide health-care plans that cover contraceptives.” Miss Patrick, a practicing Catholic, gave the perfect citizen’s response for the Age of Obama:

“I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for Americans.”

That’s the real “hot topic” here — whether a majority of citizens, in America as elsewhere in the West, is willing to “leave it up to the government” to make decisions on everything that matters. On the face of it, the choice between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church should not be a tough one. On the one hand, we have the plain language of the First Amendment as stated in the U.S. Constitution since 1791: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

On the other, we have a regulation invented by executive order under the vast powers given to Kathleen Sebelius under a 2,500-page catalogue of statist enforcement passed into law by a government party that didn’t even bother to read it.

Commissar Sebelius says that she is trying to “strike the appropriate balance.” But these two things — a core, bedrock, constitutional principle, and Section 47(e)viii of Micro-Regulation Four Bazillion and One issued by Leviathan’s Bureau of Compliance — are not equal, and you can only “balance” them by massively increasing state power and massively diminishing the citizen’s. Or, to put it more benignly, by “leaving it up to the government to make good decisions.”

Some of us have been here before. For most of the last five years, I’ve been battling Canada’s so-called “human rights” commissions, and similar thought police in Britain, Europe, and elsewhere. As I write this, I’m in Australia, to talk up the cause of free speech, which is, alas, endangered even in that great land. In that sense, the “latest hot topic” — the clash between Obama and American Catholics — is, in fact, a perfect distillation of the broader struggle in the West today. When it comes to human rights, I go back to 1215 and Magna Carta — or, to give it its full name, Magna Carta Libertatum. My italics: I don’t think they had them back in 1215. But they understood that “libertatum” is the word that matters. Back then, “human rights” were rights of humans, of individuals — and restraints upon the king: They’re the rights that matter: limitations upon kingly power. Eight centuries later, we have entirely inverted the principle: “Rights” are now gifts that a benign king graciously showers upon his subjects — the right to “free” health care, to affordable housing, the “right of access to a free placement service” (to quote the European Constitution’s “rights” for workers). The Democratic National Committee understands the new school of rights very well: In its recent video, Obama’s bureaucratic edict is upgraded into the “right to contraception coverage at no additional cost.” And, up against a “human right” as basic as that, how can such peripheral rights as freedom of conscience possibly compete?

The transformation of “human rights” from restraints upon state power into a pretext for state power is nicely encapsulated in the language of Article 14 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which states that everyone has the right “to receive free compulsory education.” Got that? You have the human right to be forced to do something by the government.

Commissar Sebelius isn’t the only one interested in “striking the appropriate balance” between individual liberty and state compulsion. Everyone talks like that these days. For Canada’s Chief Censor, Jennifer Lynch, freedom of expression is just one menu item in the great all-you-can-eat salad bar of rights, so don’t be surprised if we’re occasionally out of stock. Instead, why not try one of our tasty nutritious rights du jour? Like the human right to a transsexual labiaplasty, or the human right of McDonald’s employees not to have to wash their hands after visiting the bathroom. Commissar Lynch puts it this way: “The modern conception of rights is that of a matrix with different rights and freedoms mutually reinforcing each other to build a strong and durable human rights system.”

That would be a matrix as in some sort of intricate biological sequencing very few people can understand? Or a Matrix as in the illusory world created to maintain a supine citizenry by all-controlling government officials? The point is, with so many pseudo-“rights” bouncing around, you need a bigger and bigger state: Individual rights are less important than a “rights system” — i.e., a government bureaucracy.

This perversion of rights is killing the Western world. First, unlike real rights — to freedom of speech and freedom of religion — these new freedoms come with quite a price tag. All the free stuff is free in the sense of those offers that begin “You pay nothing now!” But you will eventually. No nation is rich enough to give you all this “free” stuff year in, year out. Spain’s government debt works out to $18,000 per person, France’s to $33,000, Greece’s to $39,000. Thank God we’re not Greece, huh? Er, in fact, according to the Senate Budget Committee, U.S. government debt is currently $44,215 per person. Going by the official Obama budget numbers, it will rise over the next ten years to $75,000. As I say, that’s per person: 75 grand in debt for every man, woman, and child, not to mention every one of the ever-swelling ranks of retirees and disabled Social Security recipients — or about $200,000 per household.

So maybe you’re not interested in philosophical notions of liberty vs. statism — like Danica Patrick, tens of millions of people are happy to “leave it up to the government to make good decisions.” Maybe you’re relatively relaxed about the less theoretical encroachments of Big Government — the diversion of so much American energy into “professional services,” all the lawyering and bookkeeping and paperwork shuffling necessary to keep you and your economic activity in full compliance with the Bureau of Compliance. But at some point no matter how painless the seductions of statism, you run up against the hard math: As those debt per capita numbers make plain, all this “free” stuff is doing is mortgaging your liberty and lining up a future of serfdom.

I used to think that the U.S. Constitution would prove more resilient than the less absolutist liberties of other Western nations. But the president has calculated that, with Obamacare, the First Amendment and much else will crumble before his will. And, given trends in U.S. jurisprudence, who’s to say he won’t get his way? That’s the point about all this “free” stuff: Ultimately, it’s not about your rights, but about his.

Mark Steyn

The Prince of Egypt

Exo 3:9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.

Allegri – Miserere

Psa 51:14 Deliver me from blood, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol thy justice.
Psa 51:15 O Lord, thou wilt open my lips: and my mouth shall declare thy praise.
Psa 51:16 For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted.
Psa 51:17 A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Moving Takahashi

Absolutely brilliant piece here.

I see it as a kind of Adam and Eve story. First we have Eve, having lived with the devil incarnate, eating the apple, which was hidden underneath the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in her bathroom. And then Adam, outside, who is also confronted by the serpent, and is also eating an apple. In a ten minute film, perhaps there are no coincidences.

The central scene of course, is the one with the circling camera, which parallels the record playing. Name five. And of course none of them are really, in the end, the true, real reason. None of them.

Just like, in the end, with a work of art, there cannot be any reason, any explanation, that can be verbalized. Why? Because that chair is not for sitting. I totally misread that.

The true, real reason Eve has to live is the fact that Adam is himself an injured interloper – I’m not a mover. I’m no good. I’m robbing you. I just need your bed.

Just like, with a work of art, the only reason is that thing which ultimately robs us of our reasoning capacity. Why would you tell me that? I don’t know. I just like to live in the moment. Well that’s just fucking brilliant.

And so in the end they are no so much kicked out of Eden as they elope out of it – with their moving truck of stolen sculptures, pearls, paintings.

The road is curving and they do not know.

Poor old Mario. He doesn’t get to hear the music.

Let Me Go Back to the Balanced Approach

I wish you would.

I actually pity him. By the end of the second day he looked like a turtle, and that his head was descending into his neckline and just his eyes were going to be left sticking out, looking left and right, terrorized. Watching this is like seeing a fully grown adult get spanked. It’s unbearable, in fact.

And in the meantime, of course, is the central irony that everyone knows that no-one is going to pass this illegal budget. Just like no-one was willing to put their fingerprints on the last one. At least 97-0 is a truly bipartisan vote. Reasons to be cheerful, you see.

And do not think for one minute that this kabuki is new. The magic wand has been waved over our balance sheet since the start, by everyone.

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us — if at all — not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Who we Want, When we Want it

George Weigel, quoting a senior Vatican official, quoting a Dutch activist, speaking at the Third Preparatory Commission meeting in anticipation of the 1994 Cairo World Conference on Population and Development:

Let’s stop fooling around here. What we’re talking about is our right to f*** whoever we want, however we want, whenever we want.

George Weigel:

What began as a movement to liberate sexuality from the constraints of moral reason, custom, and law has become a movement determined to use the instruments of law to impose its deconstruction of human sexuality and its moral relativism on all of society.

Bad Catholic lays some smack:

Now I don’t know if you ever managed to sit in on a moral principles class, but allow me to try and explain why this sugarcoated politicking is ridiculous. Think about it: If you tried to force orthodox Jewish restaurants to sell bacon, and those Jews — rightfully — told you to take a knee, punch yourself in the face and read the Constitution, it would be no ‘accommodation’ to then force them to pay for a Gentile with a bacon cart to serve pork inside their restaurant. The Jews would still be paying for and serving the bacon, you’ve just made them pay some one else to do it. By this logic, hiring a hit man is delightfully ethical — “I didn’t do it, I got someone else to!”

Mike Flynn‘s take:

[I]t’s legal to buy pork chops; but should the government compel Jewish organizations to serve them in the cafeteria because of the protein value of America’s Other White Meat™? Gun ownership is legal, but should the government compel Quaker meetings to provide a free ammo employee plan or pay for their membership in shooting clubs because a well-regulated militia is necessary for a free republic? Would it matter if lots of Jews have eaten pork or even that some Quakers have gun licenses?

The most succint one yet comes from Matthew Warner:

Obama to Kids: Get the old kid to buy your beer.

The Conservatory:

[I]n what way is the Catholic Church supposed to be depriving women of birth control? Is the Church picketing Walgreen’s? Is it highjacking shipments of Depro-Vira? Are they calling for the ban of condoms because they pose a danger to seagulls? No. They simply don’t believe that they should be forced to pay for their employees’ subsidized access to those things, accounting trick or no accounting trick.

But as Bad Catholic points out, all is not lost:

Praise Jay-sus! Like all Leviathans, the fate of this hand of despotism is certain – to be finally overthrown.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.