not of this world

Sunday, April 29, 2007

the encouraging radiance of the eternal law

Filed under: , — Not of this World @

that’s my favorite line from the most recent paper birthed
on the voluntary dimensions of wickedness (just figured out how to upload documents). the irony is not lost on me that i can write so clearly, well, at least in my own mind, on the will’s right and just ordering to the good, and yet still struggle hourly with according my own therewith. but one must start somewhere, hope springs eternal, and grace abounds etc. in all the battles with procrastination, sometimes forget how fun it is to write, though i’m very aware that it’s the kind of writing that equals glazed eyes for most potential readers who are not similiarly obsessed…

anyway, for those who might be, excerpt from the intro:

“No one is voluntarily wicked nor involuntarily happy.” This saying is brought into Aristotle’s discussion of man as a responsible agent to illustrate once again how common opinions are often found to be admixtures of truth, and falsity. Having established that all men by nature desire happiness and thus what is good, it is easily recognized why there is greater difficulty in seeing a “falling away” from this goal as having any communion with the voluntary. But upon closer consideration, the retreat to unhappiness through wickedness, as with the opposite pilgrimage to happiness through virtue, is not found in a “fall” in the way that an apple falls to the earth from the high boughs which held it loft, that is, by an involuntary compliance with an uncompromising, all determining law such as gravity. Rather, as Aristotle goes to great lengths to show through breaking the moral deliberative process down in its various stages, it is one of cumulative wandering, with each individual choice of man unconstrained (as to its moral or immoral dimension) by any alien force, save by that which may have been determined as a result of his own preceding choices. For man is the source and begetter of his actions as a father is of his children.

This “problem of evil” and the reflections aimed at, if not “solving” it, at least providing some intelligible account for its parasitic thriving, did not begin, nor end, with Aristotle. In both Aristotle and Augustine we find that in order to approach some account of the privative darkness of voluntary wickedness (what Augustine by faith recognizes to be ultimately an irresolvable dimension of “the mystery of iniquity”), it is necessary to illuminate the power of man’s faculty of will in respect to its proper actions and end, for a defect can only be rightly recognized and understood in terms of that normative and beneficial mode that it is a privative departure from. While in both authors there is a presentation of categories through which the two divergent paths, and the agents proceeding upon them, are given a certain intelligibility, and while the distinct locus of the individual will is pointed to as the departure point for wretchedness or blessedness, because that locus abides within the soul of each man, determined by each and every agent in entirely unique circumstances, the individual choice against what is good ultimately remains shrouded in that “mystery of iniquity,” defying the foolishness of such a choice with its abounding throughout the earth. Nonetheless, a careful examination can be of benefit in the approach to a deeper understanding of what is held by faith, in service of overcoming the obstacles banished by the will’s reception of, and cooperation with grace, accepting her abundant invitation to triumphantly build upon nature and carry it beyond all present limitations.

In Book I of Liberum Arbitrium, St. Augustine, having been asked to give an account of the source of evil, in addressing first what evildoing is, guides a dialectical discourse involving what is necessary for virtue, namely a free will, an account which then illuminates (as far as possible) what takes place in man’s failure to achieve that excellence of virtue which is proper to his imaged dignity. For if failure was not an option, so to speak, man’s response to God’s purposes would be relegated to the realm of the apple’s “response” to gravity’s law constrained “invitation” to draw near to the center of the earth. In order for man to truly become what his Creator has designed him to be, through pedagogic stages of servant, to adopted child, to friend and ultimately loving spouse, wedding himself to the Beloved through an utterly free vow of love, he must have a real say, a real though participatory power of his own to so assent towards unity. And if a real power – designed to be guided by reason and ratified by the judgment and choice of each individual, then a real risk of privation; though unlike merely physical privations as found in material being, as the rational being is of a higher order than nutritive or sensitive beings who are not so defined by that designated perfection, so there is a higher degree of participation required for attaining to the supernatural end to which man is ordained, and thus a more grave consequence to refusing to so participate according to his design.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

the gentle mastery of Christ

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saw the above section title tonight when digging through someone’s copy of the Bible at a dinner party, looking for a verse i had in mind about Christ’s citing of the Jonah-like three days in the belly of the earth that would be the only sign given to a faithless generation (found it eventually, Matt. 12:39). and from the whole night of disourse on far ranging theological topics, from the one to the many and back again, arguments and counter arguments about topics i’m sure would glaze over the eyes of many holy ones, just having my eyes move over the words the gentle mastery of Christ moved me more than anything that was said, made me want to just be still and linger in contemplation of that reality expressed in just that way. just a heading added by some random editor somewhere, so funny how a string of words can sometimes just strike at the breast and actually convey an image that screams off the page to be savored…

Monday, April 23, 2007

Filed under: — Not of this World @
If material things please you then praise God for them, but turn back your love upon Him who made them: lest in the things that please you, you displease Him. If souls please you, then love them in God because they are mutable in themselves but in Him firmly established: without Him they would pass and perish. Love them, I say, in Him, and draw as many souls with you to Him as you can, saying to them: “Him let us love: He made this world and is not far from it.” For He did not simply make it and leave it: but as it is from Him so it is in Him. See where He is, wherever there is a savour of truth: He is in the most secret place of the heart, yet the heart has strayed from Him. O sinners, return to your own heart and abide in Him that made you. Stand with Him and you shall stand, rest in Him and you shall be at peace. Were are you going, to what bleak places? Where are you going? The good that you love is from Him: and insofar as it is likewise for Him it is good and lovely; but it will rightly be turned into bitterness, if it is unrightly loved and He deserted by whom it is. What goal are you making for, wandering around and about by ways so hard and laborious? Rest is not where you seek it. Seek what you seek, but it is not where you seek it. You seek happiness of life in the land of death, and it is not there. For how shall there be happiness of life where there is no life?…

O ye sons of men, how long will ye be so slow of heart? Even now when Life has come down to you, will you not ascend and live?

-Augustine

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

another who didn’t get the consensus memo

Filed under: — Not of this World @

if you read one dissenting piece from a scientist calling out the criminal hysteria being piped through the media re human induced global warming climate change, this one from Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT (who is receiving death threats for his reasoned, expertified street cred unconsent), is a pretty good one to go with.

What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth’s climate history, it’s apparent that there’s no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman’s forecast for next week.

personally, i’ve been rather enjoying catching a few times now the irony of npr directly following their global warming doom reports with record colds and unseasonably devestating winter storms in april.

at least there are still some left of centers who have some intellectual honesty:

As a lapsed Catholic, I detest dogma in any area. Too many of my fellow Democrats seem peculiarly credulous at the moment, as if, having ground down organized religion into nonjudgmental, feel-good therapy, they are hungry for visions of apocalypse.

from here

Monday, April 16, 2007

Filed under: — Not of this World @

theological writing always transgresses itself, just as theological speech feeds on the silence in which, at last, it speaks correctly…
one must obtain forgiveness for every essay in theology. in all senses.

-jean-luc marion

What can anyone say when he speaks of Thee? Yet woe to them that speak not of Thee at all, since those who say most are but dumb…
So speak that I may hear, Lord, my heart is listening; open it that it may hear Thee say to my soul I am Thy salvation.

- augustine

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