The Truth and All That

How Simply Being Positive Is Simply Being Foolish

By FRATER BOVIOUS


If you have the words, they are useless if you don't use them correctly.

If you have the words, they are useless if you don’t use them correctly.

I found the attached video on Seth’s Blog. It actually makes a point that applies to my previous 2Cellos post, and factors in to what will be the follow-up to that post.

While the circumstances depicted in this meeting are exaggerated – I have been in this meeting. Please Watch.

This, to me, is an example of a certain mind ailment – a weakness of thought – which is a result of Political Correctness (which is another word for Indoctrination) and the very loose way words are used for style rather than for substance.

I think consideration of what happens in this meeting will apply to the discussion of Friendship and Love, and then eventually tie back to my post on Identity Politics.

2Cellos, Love, Language

Friendship And Love and sorting it all out

By FRATER BOVIOUS


If you don't have the words, you may not know what you are talking about.

If you don’t have the words, you may not know what you are talking about.

(CARROLLTON, TX – Cradle of Civilization) So, I have a few friends that come over, sometimes two at once, but typically one at a time, and so far never all three at the same time, but sometimes in the same week.

With Don I smoke cigars and drink Pyrat rum. With Gary I smoke cigars and drink scotch. With Frater Cowculus I smoke cigars or a Missouri Meerschaum pipe and drink whiskey. Often it is rye whiskey. Gary and Don have their doubts as to the actual existence of Frater Cowculus. They have their reasons. We meet in the Parthenon when the weather is fine, and in the Theological Armory when it is not. Generally I have one or the other over about once a week. My son-in-law would be the fourth musketeer, but he does not live as close and he is trying to get into medical school, so we don’t talk often enough. But there are the cigars and the strong spirits. And the talking. About Stuff.

Last time Don was over we were talking about Friendship and Homosexuality while we were smoking cigars. Freud would have had a field day. Ok, so really, we were talking about the nature of true friendship and Aristotle’s definition of the friend as your other self, and the idea that without such a friend life is not worth living, and that he defined friendship as two friends contemplating Truth.

Here, I have a diagram:

friend diagramSo, here we have two friends talking to each other and contemplating Truth. Lest the general light tone of this post lead you astray, this idea of two people fundamentally attempting to come to grips with Reality and their place in it is seen as possibly the highest endeavor to which one can devote their energies. It is critical to note that Aristotle contends that one cannot contemplate truth satisfactorily by oneself. There is a Proverb: “As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.” (Proverbs 21:17). Aquinas would go on to point out that the Truth is God, so true friends help each other on their way to their voluntarily joining their wills with the Will of God. (That’s my synopsis of Aquinas’ thought.)

Anyway, Aristotle has a very high opinion of friends and friendship, and Don and I were discussing how many people have true friends, close friends, with which they can talk about things besides the game or cars or what have you. And I had a thought which I tried to express. I noted that in older movies, it was not uncommon to see men walking with an  arm draped on his friend’s shoulder, or some such other contact which seems very rare today and has been viewed with suspicion of the sort that is expressed as “What are you, gay or something?”

I wondered aloud about the fact that we have this dichotomy – on the one hand if you were too friendly or too touchy then you might be viewed as “gay” and most manly men want to distance themselves from any appearance of being gay; on the other hand, being “gay” is now almost a virtue and certainly not anything that can be viewed in any light other than acceptance. My half-formed wondering did not quite come out this way in our conversation, but basically I wondered if this artificial dichotomy created a situation that excluded the authentic middle, where two people can be very close friends, spend time in rather intimate discussion about things that matter, and then not feel any need or desire to “take it to the next level” and strip down and get after it. But, my thoughts/hypotheses were not well-formed and it was difficult to say what I was wondering about. Basically, if I can dignify it with the term, my hypothesis was that some folks may very well enter into a same-sex relationship because it just seems that they have to – because the option of just being really close friends without physical intimacy seems unavailable in our sex-obsessed culture. This, I think can be recognized, is not limited to same-sex relationships, I think it plays out in heterosexual situations as well. “Well, we’ve been on three dates, it must be time for the sex.” (I will also note that all gay friends are not sexually active with each other, at least I don’t think so. Just like a guy and a girl can be friends without getting naked. No really.)

Later I saw a video from Elton John regarding these two guys that play the cello. He said something that caught my attention and helped me to think this through a bit more. So, I have provided the video below. Watch the whole thing, because it’s basically worth it because of the awesomeness of the cello playing. But, at about 2:26 Sir Elton begins a series of interesting comments about the way these two guys play. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

So, if you just skipped, then I’ll have to just say it. He says at one point, “it is a most beautiful homo-erotic way they play together.” So, if you skipped it, then go back so you can get it in context because the context matters. Plus, they really play a mean set of cellos…

Got it? OK.

It seems to me that Sir Elton is using the vocabulary that he has available to him, and consequently relating something that he sees in the only way available to him, but he clearly knows his description doesn’t really capture what he is seeing. But one thing I think anyone watching them can agree upon is here is an example of friends who are for each other “their other self” as Aristotle put it. And, are they not contemplating the truth of their cello playing? I would wager that if you asked them if either of them would play the way they do had they never met, the answer would be a unanimous “No.”

So, what does Sir Elton mean by their playing having a homoerotic quality? I think he lacks the vocabulary to accurately describe what he is seeing. In English, we have a narrow definition of eros. If you look it up, you will usually see it associated with erotic, i.e., physical love. Keep looking and you will see it described as a certain losing of control. Terms like “I want to fall madly in love” come to mind.

Pope Benedict the XVI wrote a piece called Deus Caritas Est. He has a discussion about this eros, and the other Greek words, agape, and filia, which are the three most common Greek words that come into play when attempting to define the word “love.” But I want to focus on his discussion of Eros. In the next post.

FB

State Religion

How We Get One by Default

BY Frater Bovious


It's either something, or is nothing.

It’s either something, or it is nothing.

 

The curtailment and violation of religious freedom are in contrast with  man’s dignity and his objective rights…It is therefore difficult, even from a “purely human” point of view, to accept a position that gives only atheism the right of citizenship in public and social life…

Redemptor hominus, JPII

The current excesses of the principle of separation of Church and State, wherein one’s religion is becoming restricted from the public square and relegated behind the closed doors of church and home (making of religion essentially a private hobby) have the de facto effect of raising atheism to the status of state religion, or at least state philosophy.

Just a little something to think about during Lent.

FB

Saul Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals

Accumulating a Power Base that Will Implode

BY Frater Bovious


Power Base Politics Have No End, Only Means

Power Base Politics Have No End, Only Means

Saul Alinsky was a Community Organizer, or as some have styled it, a Rabble Rouser. Basically, Alinsky recognized that, for example, a bunch of folks living in a tenement house owned by a distant slum lord had no power. The reasons for lack of power are beyond the scope of this post. However, the basic physics principle involved in the difference between a grain of sand and a dump truck full of sand grains was not lost on Alinsky. There is an inherent power in numbers.

But, how do you get a bunch of disinterested and despairing individual people who feel powerless and unconnected to operate as a unit for the common good? Alinsky figured out how to create a power base from almost nothing by uniting folks against a common enemy.

If you read the below rules I think you will begin to see how these rules have become the handbook for American Politics today. You can see the tactics in the debates, in the news headlines, in soundbites and bumper stickers. It clearly works. There is however a problem inherent in these tactics. Read and see if you can identify the core issue. (I don’t believe the parenthetical statements are  part of the original rules. They seem to be editorial comments by, I think, Glen Beck.)

* RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)
* RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)
* RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
* RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)
* RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)
* RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)
* RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)
* RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off-balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)
* RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)
* RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)
* RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)
* RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

One problem that I see with the tactics is they don’t create a self-sustaining organization based on recognition of the innate dignity of all humans. To the contrary, the rules specifically require demonizing your opponent, and making the participants feel good about it. This is basically bullying.

The other problem is that once you have toppled a bastion of power, such as a landlord, or maybe a political opponent, you become the new power and you are subject to the same tactics. When you make of your opponent the rabble, and you have become the establishment, the cycle simply repeats. Meaning there is no long-term progress resulting from this method of gaining power. And that’s because whatever the point of trying to gain power was, it has been lost in the overarching need to be in power, and then to defend being in power. Nothing is left for actually doing whatever you wanted to do.

The solution is to be found first in recognizing the inestimable worth of every single human being, from womb to tomb, and resting in that reality. From there, dialogue between persons of equal dignity can happen. It’s not as quick or as flashy, and will at times seem like you planted a seed and nothing is happening – but that is how real growth and development always transpire. (cf Mark 4:26-28)

Rules for Radicals give false and temporary power – something worth considering this Lent as we contemplate our ultimate end.

FB

No stroke of a pen will change the question underlying the problem of divorce and remarriage

Frater Bovious:

Dr. Peters begins his post with “Good grief.” He then, in his usual masterful manner, addresses the issue, pointing out the salient features, and deals with each systematically. BUT, he does not allow comments, and so I have to re-blog his post in order to make a comment about Dr. Cafardi’s comments about “pastoral.” I have a need to make this comment because my degree will be in Pastoral Theology, and I must defend my degree.

So, I echo, “Good grief.” Put shortly, this you cannot do: “Take what the church has made a complicated judicial process and make it into a pastoral problem with a pastoral solution,” if by pastoral is meant “pay no attention to doctrine.” Because, simply, to be pastoral is to engage doctrine in the world with real people and real issues. To be pastoral does not mean “just look the other way, it’s all good, after all what would Jesus do?” and then pretend you know what Jesus would do. There is all manner of ways that can go awry.

For example: You walk into your local grocer, try to find figs, they don’t have any. “What would Jesus do?” you think to yourself. Remembering Mark 11:12-20 you curse the store, go to your local church, chase out everyone that is selling raffle tickets and holding silent auctions, then go back and burn down the store, figuring that’s a reasonable substitution for “shriveling up.” Yeah, no.

So, anyway, I object to how the term pastoral is being used by Dr. Cafardi.

Originally posted on In the Light of the Law:

Dr. Nicholas Cafardi writes:

Nothing, no clear theology, no gospel teaching, nothing except hidebound tradition requires that a Catholic marriage can only be annulled through a complicated judicial process. If he wanted to, Francis could reconsider this judicial function of the church, and instead delegate authority over the annulment of first marriages to the proper pastor of the people involved. Take what the church has made a complicated judicial process and make it into a pastoral problem with a pastoral solution. Again, as sole legislator, Francis could reassign this legal responsibility to the pastor with a stroke of the pen. And note, this does not require a change in our theology, only a change in jurisdiction.

Good grief. Where to begin?

Such casual talk about marriages “being annulled” is okay in chit-chat, but scholars discussing—to say nothing of lawyers attacking—the annulment process itself must, before anything else, describe that…

View original 456 more words

“Sometimes I don’t even know who you are…”

Said one of my best friends (Frater Cowculus, to be explicit) when I told him I really liked the movie “Purple Rain”.

BY Frater Bovious


(CARROLLTON, Tx – Cradle of Civilization) So, yeah. Purple Rain. Prince. And, oddly, Truth – as in “I Would Die For You.”

The first time I heard this song I was watching a VHS tape of Purple Rain on my TV. What with Prince’s overtly sexual gyrations, it was pretty easy to miss the lyrics of this song. Then one day, many many years later, I heard the song on the radio, and became intrigued by the lyrics – went home, used the Internet as Al Gore intended, and found the lyrics. Oila! here was a song that, for me at any length, appeared to be about Jesus, whether by accident or design, I’ve no clue:

I’m not a woman
I’m not a man
I am something that you’ll never understand

I’ll never beat u
I’ll never lie
And if you’re evil I’ll forgive u by and by

U – I would die 4 u, yeah
Darling if u want me 2
U – I would die 4 u

I’m not your lover
I’m not your friend
I am something that you’ll never comprehend

No need 2 worry
No need 2 cry
I’m your messiah and you’re the reason why

‘Cuz U – I would die 4 u, yeah
Darling if u want me 2
U – I would die 4 u
You’re just a sinner I am told
Be your fire when you’re cold
Make u happy when you’re sad
Make u good when u are bad

I’m not a human
I am a dove
I’m your conscience
I am love
All I really need is 2 know that
U believe

Yeah, I would die 4 u, yeah
Darling if u want me 2
U – I would die 4 u

Yeah, say one more time

U – I would die 4 u
Darling if u want me 2
U – I would die 4 u
2 3 4 U

I would die 4 u
I would die 4 u
U – I would die 4 u
U – I would die 4 u

So this is my own odd introduction into the season of Lent – to consider the truth that Jesus died for me. And you.

Sometimes, I don't even know who you are - or, to put another way, "Truth? What is that?"

Sometimes, I don’t even know who you are – or, to put another way, “Truth? What is that?”

Question with brief intro: Ever heard someone say, “Well, I’m not a theologian…” I would like to say that at one level, we all are theologians to the extent that we are interested in, or seek, the truth. I have no idea what Prince’s intent was with this song. I think I recall reading he was a Jehovah’s Witness or something. Nevertheless, while not a rigorous theology, I found some truth in his song. Have you ever been riding along in a car or sitting at home listening to the radio and suddenly realized the song had an unsuspected depth? Or presented a truth, however flawed in its presentation, that for some reason that day was the first time you noticed? And it made you stop and consider? If so, then you may have come across an accidental theologian. Please let me know in the comments.

On another note, some may wonder at Frater Cowculus, and note that I am Frater Bovious, and wonder all the more. Keep on wondering. Muhuhuwahahahaha.

Quote

Limits

A professional knows the limits of his knowledge. An amateur does not know the limits of his knowledge. A dilettante does not know that there are any limits to his knowledge.

Stolen from In the Light of the Law.