Thursday, November 27, 2008

Aphorism XII

Wisdom finds its end not in some proof, but in the Sanctus.

A Thanksgiving prayer.

"Or what hast thou that thou hast not received?" ~1 Corinthians 4:7


Lord, on this day when my country still in some way recognizes that You exist and that You are the source of all that is good, I offer to You a much belated and inadequate thanksgiving for all the gifts You have given me. I offer also my sorrow and repentance for those far too numerous times that I have squandered Your gifts.

I ask You, omnipotent and eternal God, to give me the grace to return to You what You have given to me a hundredfold. Let me not be like the wicked and slothful servant who returned no gain to his master. And yet Lord, I am a weak and foolish man. I am a wrathful man, a lustful man, a gluttonous man. I am limited by my nature and broken through the fall of mankind's first parents. I can do nothing pleasing to You, return nothing to You, without the help of Your grace. But I know, O Lord, that Thy grace is sufficient for me, for Your power is demonstrated most perfectly through my own infirmity. Help me to return to You all You have given to me and to pour out myself, even to the last, for the glory of Thy majesty and the salvation of souls.

I ask all this, Father, through Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Update on my studies

I'm not sure if it has ever come up before, but I am a graduate student currently working on my licentiate in philosophy. All my course work is finished, so I have been writing my thesis. It's title: A Defense of God’s Freedom to Create in the Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas.

I just dropped my first draft in my director's mailbox today. Not counting front and end matter--the dedication, acknowledgments, table of contents, bibliography &c.--it clocks in at just under 150 pages. My director must now read it and suggest any changes. Once he has approved it, a reader will be found for it and I can schedule my final oral examination. Once it receives reader approval and I pass the oral exam, I will receive my licentiate and be licensed to teach philosophy in any pontifical university or major seminary.

I would appreciate any prayers that readers might spare for the successful completion of my studies. I would also appreciate prayers to aid me in discerning what to do after I graduate. At the moment it looks like a decision between finding work as a teacher or entering the seminary. I am currently leaning towards the latter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The foolishness of values subjectivity

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life" (Planned Parenthood v. Casey).

If all values are purely subjective, then your life is only worth what I hold it to be worth. And if I hold it to be worth less than anything else, and I further believe that it is worth sacrificing your life to achieve something I value more, then you have no right to stop me. To do so would be to impose your meaning of human life on me, and my right to define human life for myself is at the heart of liberty. What are you, a fascist?

"Then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom" (H.P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu").

Fhtagn, baby. The stars will soon be right. They must be. After all, we're almost there already.

Of course the best part of all thus bull plop is that it is self-refuting. If liberty means that I get to define life, the universe and everything, then that means I have every right to define them in such a way as to allow me to forcibly impose my definitions on others. Which in turn violates the right people have to define life, the universe and everything.

Do we actually pay Supreme Court justices? Because this is first year undergrad, intro to philosophy, "here's your F-" crap.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A bit on marriage basics

What is essential to marriage? It is essential to marriage that the couple, by being the kind of couple it is, is ordered towards having children. That is the basic essence of marriage.

A couple that consists of a man and a woman, by being the kind of couple that it is, is ordered towards having children. This is true even is this particular couple, consisting of this man and this woman, is not capable of having children due to age or infertility. It is even true if this man and this woman use contraception to prevent themselves from having children. The universal, i.e. being this type of couple, is essential. The particular, i.e. being this particular couple, is accidental.

A couple that consists of two men or two women is not ordered towards having children. This is true by virtue of being the kind of couples they are. Neither two men nor two women are capable of making a baby. This is not due to being this particular couple, but to being this type of couple. It is not accidental, it is essential. As such, neither two men nor two women are capable of marriage.

I hope that clears it up for everyone who tries to argue for same sex "marriage" by arguing that we do not make heterosexual couples prove they will not use contraception before the government considers them married. Such arguments are fallacious. They are examples of the fallacy of the accident.

Aphorism XI

Marxist argumentation: When logic and reality are against you, accuse your opponent of a pathology.


Or, to put in the terms of the Underpants Gnomes...

Argument Plan:

Phase 1: Accuse your opponent of a pathology.

Phase 2: ???

Phase 3: Victory!

See how simply it is?

Another post election thought

Morning prayer today has the following reading, which I will give from the Douay-Rheims translation:
Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful (I Corinthians 12:9-10, emphasis added).
Something to contemplate, no? Quite often the public prayer of the Church will speak to one's life in a way that seems surprising for a standard cycle.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Gonna start a counter-revolution from my bed...

So, this post over at Mark Shea's blog got me thinking, "What do we conservatives really mean when we say, 'We need to return to those things which made America great: individual liberty and limited government'?"

Well, I don't know what everybody else means by them--though some seem to mean, "I can do what I want, and neither man nor law has the right to stop me!"--but I know what I mean by it. And what I mean by it has been shaped by my understanding of what our forefathers meant by it. (I would note that by "forefathers" I don't just mean the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution. I mean the everyday, ordinary sort of people. You know, the ones who actually made the Constitution law by their approval of it, the ones whose interpretation of the Constitution make for its real original intent?)

So, first let us discuss "individual liberty" and what conservatives should mean by it. I take my understanding of individual liberty from our forefathers, who seemed to take it from Micah 4:1-5. To paraphrase it all into one sentence, it is when every man walks in the name of the Lord, and sits under his vine, and his own fig tree, and there is nothing to make any afraid, or at least as close to this as is possible this side of the Parousia. "Liberty," then, is the product of a proper order--defended not just by law, but by religious conviction and virtue--that allows men to tend to their own families and such without the need for interference to make them do good or keep them from doing evil. There is no need for interference because virtuous men freely choose to live their lives this way.

Then what should conservatives mean by "limited government," you ask? It should mean that first you take care of your family, and your neighbors, and your congregation, and your coworkers, and your employees, and the other guys in the 4-H, and the other members of your fraternal order, and the guys on your softball team, and any of your countless other immediate and personal connections. You do it because you have real relationships with these people, and such relationships mean that you have duties to each other. If that isn't enough, then you turn to your town, or city, or municipality, or whatnot to pitched in. And if that still isn't enough, then you turn to your state. If that fails, then and only then do you turn to the federal government. And when it is necessary to turn to these more remote levels of government, you remember that the limitations on their power were set in place so they couldn't butt in where they weren't needed and make a mess of things. And, as such, you respect these limitations and, if modifying them is necessary, you do so prudently and through the proper legal process.

Now, the problem is that, with a few exceptions, few people use these terms this way anymore. And when we conservatives use them we are often misunderstood. So I would suggest perhaps modifying the terms a little. For example, I try never to speak simply of "liberty," but rather to speak of "ordered liberty," as did men such as Edmund Burke, George Washington and Russell Kirk, to name just a few. This calls immediately to mind the fact that true liberty cannot exist without the proper ordering of the soul and of society. And I try never to speak about "limited government" without discussing the principle of subsidiarity and federalism, which is the framework for the implementation of subsidiarity in the American political tradition.

Now, the election of 2008 makes it likely that conservatives are going to have very little influence in the corridors of power. So be it. Remember that this loss happened, at least in part, because the so-called "conservative" major party was far more right- to center-liberal than truly conservative. Make sure you let them know that. Speak out for virtue, for the priority of the local, the preeminence of the family and for all those things that true conservatives hold dear. And, more importantly, live these things in your life. If the culture is poison, then be the antidote. The counter-revolution doesn't start in the voting booth, or at the party committee meeting, or on the soapbox. It starts in our communities, in our homes, and in our hearts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Today is Guy Fawkes Day

Today is Guy Fawkes day. It is the day a patriot and true son of the Church tried to bring down a tyrant.

Interestingly enough, it also the day William of Orange, the usurper, landed at Brixham. William was supported by the Whigs, who were traitors to their king and country. Their reasoning? James II and VII was Catholic.

Today, of all days, I find these fact amusing. But then again, I've always had a rather odd sense of humor.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election '08

Earlier this week my father and I wondered why we hold elections on a Tuesday in the United States. After thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that we hold elections on a Tuesday because the divine hand of providence has seen fit to have us vote on a day when the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are prayed. I would humbly suggest that any of my readers who have not yet prayed the Rosary today do so.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.


From The Ballad of the White Horse, by G.K. Chesterton:
"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

"Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"