Category Archives: Truth & Reality

Now You’ve Done It!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Undo.”

By: FRATER BOVIOUS


“Aren’t you sick and tired of ‘fake’?” They were walking down the aisle of the local Tom Thumb. “Look, here, Crystal Light ‘Natural Lemonade'” (he had made the bunny quotes sign, you know where you put up both hands with your first two fingers extended and then you crook them as you say “natural lemonade”.)

“What’s wrong with that?” she asked and immediately regretted.

“What, have you seen the commercial? ‘Just like Grandpa used to make.’ Yep, that’s what I want, chemicals just like grandpa used to mix up in the basement. Blechh.”

She was silent. As I walked by she glanced at me with a sort of pleading look in her eyes. I gave a mini-half-shrug/eyebrow raise as if to say, “Now you’ve done it!” And then out of morbid curiosity I stopped about a shelf length away and acted interested in the doo-dads hanging from the clip-strip attached on the shelf.

He had stopped and was reading the label of the offending Crystal Light. “Natural Lemonade.” He said it with an emphasis on ‘Natural’ that bespoke a deep disgust with this topic, and I sensed I was in for an epic rant.

“It’s all a damn lie! Look, should anyone eat this crap?” He shoved the box in her face:

crystal light ingredients

2% Natural Flavor

“How can something 98% fake be ‘Natural'”? He didn’t wait for an answer–it was a rhetorical question. “And look at this package! So bright and pleasing and promising what it cannot deliver. We can go to the produce aisle, buy some REAL lemons, squeeze them up in a jug, add some REAL water and REAL sugar, and have REAL LEMONADE like Grandpa ACTUALLY made! But, no. Here is the lie, if you drink this, you will look like Cindy Crawford. And so easy. It’s ‘Light’ so have that bacon cheeseburger. After all, you are dieting with Crystal Light!! Hell, you’d expend more calories making REAL lemonade than tearing this little box open and stirring in chemicals that we have no idea what our body is doing with them!”

He was rolling now.

“If I were king of the world, I don’t know what I’d do first. Un-invent artificial sweeteners, or un-invent marketing. This is a lie. ‘Natural’, pfft. Whatever dude. Here’s what it’s really saying: ‘You say you want to lose weight, but you really don’t. If you did, you’d do something real. Like exercise and eat less. God Forbid. But why should you deny yourself, and why feel guilty about anything. Here, we’ll help. You can lie to yourself, with hardly any impact on your conscience, because we take care of the lying for you!'”

He paused to catch his breath.

“My God, this is the hand of Satan! The sin of willful ignorance! Thomas Aquinas–this is exactly what he was talking about. We deliberately swallow this BS so that we can do what we want and pretend it’s somebody else’s fault. Holy Cow.” He stopped, and stood with that thousand mile stare. “Holy Cow indeed.”

They had worked their way back up toward me, and I was frozen in fascination. As they reached me, he realized he was still holding the box of sin in his hand and went back to put it on the shelf. She muttered to me, “And I’m the one that encouraged him to get that degree in theology.”

FB

Happy New Year

New Year’s Resolution Boldly Proclaimed

By FRATER BOVIOUS


"resolultio" the process of reducing things into simpler forms.

Resolution: from Latin resolultionem: the process of reducing things into simpler forms.

(CARROLLTON, TX – Cradle of Civilization) I rashly determined to write a blog a week, and so on this 7th day of 2015 I am running out of time. Perhaps this is an appropriate time to reflect on the nature and direction of this blog.

I do intend to post at least weekly on something. The posts will likely be in response to some current event, or whatever happens to be top of mind at the moment. There will be attempts to illustrate God’s hand in all things at some level, though not necessarily overtly. This, to me shall be easy to do, since I believe that God’s hand is in all things. If this belief be true, then God’s hand should be fairly obvious, if one should only look.

I think the Latin root of resolution is interesting, and so with my New Year’s resolution to write a post a week, I will attempt to reduce things into simpler forms which will be used to gradually build a world view in this blog that demonstrates God In All.

Wish me lucks!

FB

Blast from the past

Monday, August 16, 2004

Woman Purees Newborn
Acquitted on Technicality

“… Tremendous breakthrough”, says ACLU spokes-person. “This case represents a giant leap in the right direction.”

Dateline: Massachusetts

Exact details are sketchy, but what is known is that a woman, known only as “Jane Doe” gradually fed her two day old baby into a food processor.

In arguments before the court, Ms. Doe’s lawyer, Mr. Sharq, argued that the alleged murder was in fact an abortion. Mr. Sharq noted that Ms. Doe had not wanted the pregnancy, but didn’t know that federally funded abortions were her right as a woman. As she did not have enough money to pay for an abortion, she had been forced to bear an unwanted child. The lawyer then focused on the legality of abortions, centering on the viability of the fetus.

Noting that in the Roe v Wade decision the Supreme Court had left the ultimate determination of the viability of the fetus up to the doctor, Mr. Sharq then called in a pediatrician as expert witness. The pediatrician, responding to Mr. Sharq’s pointed questions, admitted that a new-born baby was just as helpless as a fetus. Elaborating, he acknowledged that a new-born was just as dependent on the mother for survival immediately after birth, as before. With the term “viability” hinging on survivability outside the womb, the pediatrician commented that a baby wasn’t able to survive “on its own…” until it was able to feed itself. A newborn, not being able to feed itself, would not survive outside the womb on its own, and was therefore not viable. In summation, Mr. Sharq said, “So, a new-born is in actuality simply a post-uterine fetus, and a non-viable one at that.” Turning to the judge, he continued, “A non-viable fetus is subject to abortion, under the laws of this land.”

The court then focused on the grisly manner in which Jane Doe had disposed of her baby. In testimony, Ms. Doe asserted that she had only heard of two methods of abortion, suction and D&C. When vacuuming the baby did not have the desired result, she resorted to D&C, or chopping the baby into little pieces.

The court dismissed the charges. The judge, in the written opinion, noted that “in court case after court case the right of a woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy has been upheld as an interpreted constitutional right. As the natural result of pregnancy is a child, it can be argued that the prevention of an unwanted child is implied. Further the Supreme Court has rejected the notion that a fetus is a human being entitled to protection under the Constitution. It has been here established that a new-born is simply a post-uterine fetus. As such it has no standing under the law, and no crime has been committed. May God help us all.”

In a related story, you will no doubt be fascinated to learn that in Santa Clara County v The Southern Pacific Railroad(1886) the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation was a “person” under the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is Unconstitutional to pass laws applied specifically to corporations and not to flesh and blood persons, as such laws deny corporate “persons” civic equality. (Conlin, The American Past, A Brief History. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Copyright 1991)


I originally wrote this in 1991 in a joke newspaper I ran called The Global Exclaimer and which I printed and mailed out to my nine subscribers (all family). When I printed it in my first blog, the Glob Blog in 2004, people freaked out. I saw it as simply the end point of the whole abortion mentality in 1991, and in 2004 we had the ghastly horror of partial birth abortion. Just to be clear what is meant by this procedure, labor is induced in the mother of the child and when the baby is partially birthed, and the (witch) doctor has the baby’s head in his or her hands, they ram a scissors or scalpel into the back of the baby’s head and kill the child. I pointed out that this fiction of “partial birth” to get around the fact that they were simply killing a baby was only the final step toward just killing babies after they are born.

It made people really angry. And now we have this: http://www.infowars.com/progressives-sign-petition-to-kill-babies-up-to-5-years-old/
So, I’m right. So was Jeremiah. We are in the time of Jeremiah.

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

“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.

Perfection Considered As Mystery

Not as mysterious as it may sound

BY Frater Bovious


In the end, Perfection

In the end, Perfection

(CARROLLTON, TX – Cradle of Civilization) I need to contextualize this post by first stating that this is not (directly) about God’s perfection, nor is it a talk about perfect bowling games or the like. Rather – the idea is of becoming perfect ourselves, and what that might mean in the real world.

I want to start by developing definitions of these two words, “perfection” and “mystery”. The first word to define is mystery, because it is only considered as mystery that we can rationally apply the concept of perfection to our fallen human reality.

Mystery, especially as applied to things like “mysteries of faith” or “the mystery of the Holy Trinity” does not mean something that is simply beyond our ability to comprehend. It does not mean that we simply/only accept things “on faith”. No, we need to reason, to think about with the desire to know, even  things like The Blessed Trinity, in terms more similar to a mystery to be solved, like a Sherlock Holmes mystery. (Note I said “in terms more similar”. I am not saying the Trinity is a murder mystery.)

Mystery, understood properly, is something so intelligible, so full of meaning, that it cannot be exhausted. You can always learn more, understand more, gain ever greater understanding, and – this is the glorious part – you will never exhaust the treasures to be found in contemplating the Incarnation, Creation, The Mystery of Salvation, yourself as creature in relation to Creator.

Quick aside, can you truly love someone who you don’t know? I would say, along with Augustine, no not really. This means that to love God we have to know Him. This necessarily means that our love is incomplete because our knowledge of God is incomplete. BUT please realize, that God, considered as mystery, implies that there is no theoretical limit to how much we can know God. This means there is no theoretical limit to how much we can love God and even though we are finite beings, this is where we touch the infinite. It bears repeating, there is no limit to our capacity to Love.

What then is Perfection? If a very basic principle of life can be stated as “Good is to be done, and Evil avoided” then one form of perfection would be to always do the Good. Always choosing the good would be to always order our acts and thoughts toward God. Since we are made for God, this then gives us a working definition of Perfection: ordering all our being towards God and away from anything that would distract us from God, who is our natural end.

If Perfection is a Mystery – then we can always work toward better. But, how do we work towards being more perfectly the person who God made us to be?

Since the faculties or powers of reason that most distinguish us from the animals are the powers of mind and will, then perfection of those faculties is what makes us fully human. Aristotle taught that by subjecting our senses and lower tendencies to rational rule and using our intellect in pursuit of truth, we can realize our full nature. Perfection of these powers then is how we perfect ourselves. In other words we must exercise our moral and intellectual powers.

Exercise is a key word here – it suggests that we can, by some regular regimen, improve our moral and intellectual powers, just like we do when practicing a golf swing, going to the gym, or learning to play the piano. So, if we want to perfect ourselves in terms of moral and intellectual powers, what are the things we need to work on?

The answer is to be found in the Cardinal Virtues.

First, note that Aristotle used the term virtue differently than most of us use it today. Today, we commonly think of virtue in terms of “A woman’s virtue” and so virtue has taken on an effeminate flavor. But, the root words for virtue, vir (man or hero) and vis (force, power) mean literally “man” and “strength” or “vitality”. When Aristotle was telling his students to live a virtuous life, he was quite literally, telling them to “Man up.” Please note that by virtue of the fact that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) this also and at the same time means, whether or not he realized the fullness, that Aristotle was also telling women to “Woman up.”

Second, for Aquinas, a virtue is habitus operativus bonus, i.e., an operative habit which is essentially good – by this I don’t mean the somewhat bastardized “essentially”, meaning “almost but not quite.” No, what I mean is essential, without out which, nothing (sine qua non). Also note, the archaic meaning of the word “habit” is clothing. So, a habit would be something that you would put on, and usually associated with some kind of action (a riding habit) or some state of life (a religious habit). I think it important to retain this idea of habit as something that you own. This means that you both own and are defined by a habit. All this to say, a virtue is not simply a “good habit” like brushing your teeth.

Now the word cardinal comes from the word that means “hinge” so the Cardinal Virtues are hinge virtues, or those virtues on which the entrance to humane living turns – to quote Aquinas. These virtues are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Prudence has to do with right reason. Justice with giving what is due to whom it is due. Fortitude is the strength to do what Prudence and Justice recommend. And Temperance governs our appetites and orders them to the good. Pursuit of these virtues yields perfection in ourselves.

I like Augustine’s definition of the Cardinal Virtues in that it ties into the earlier discussion of knowing and loving God:

temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved;
fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object;
justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly;
prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it.”
(De moribus eccl., Chap. xv)

Aristotle ranked Prudence as the chief of these Cardinal Virtues because it has to do with the exercise of our intellectual powers, those powers which most separate us from the beasts, and are the part of us that make us “in the image of God.”

But in this post I want to talk about the Virtue of Temperance. Aquinas says a lack in Temperance will undermine Prudence. I would say that today our American Consumer culture is at war with Temperance. This fact yields an opportunity: We live in a culture at war with Temperance, and it seems clear to me that our society is lacking in the common exercise of Prudence. It seems to be Cause and Effect.

But, if our culture is in fact at war with Temperance, that simply means that we have ample opportunity to exercise and strengthen this virtue. So, I will close with discussing Temperance.

I said earlier that Temperance is ordering our appetites to the good. We need to understand that by appetite is meant the desire for anything perceived as good. That can be food, sex, sleep, cigars, whiskey, etc. It can mean the desire for recognition, love, honor, etc. It can mean being hungry for human companionship, friendship, brotherhood. A thirst for knowledge. You get the point. But most or all of these can be perverted. A desire for food can be perverted to gluttony. The natural desire for sexual intimacy can turn to lust. The desire for sleep can turn into sloth. The desire for recognition can turn into the sin of pride. Etc.

How do you exercise the virtue of Temperance? One way to exercise is by deliberately choosing something other than what you want. You want a hamburger and onion rings at lunch and you eat a salad. You set your alarm to wake up 30 minutes early and you get up and pray, study, or exercise instead of hitting snooze. You ask yourself, does my desire for this help or hinder my path to heaven or is it neutral? You decide to refrain from eating meat on all Fridays, not just during Lent. You decide to fast one day a week. You decide to say a rosary every day, whether you feel like it or not.

Our culture is at war with this virtue. We are told we can have it all, we deserve it all, we should have it all RIGHT NOW. We are told not to deny ourselves, to be selfish. We are told that no one should be able to tell us what to do. Temperance fades and along with it Prudence as our base appetites simply override our better judgment.

Benjamin Franklin systematically developed the virtues. He made a list and kept track and developed virtue through repetition. I would add to this the sage advice found in a book titled The Spiritual Combat in that “Virtues are to be acquired one at a time and by degrees” (Chapter 34):

“… do not aim at all sorts of virtue-nor even many-simultaneously, but cultivate one firmly, then another, if you wish such habits to take deep root in your soul with greater facility.”

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p>Dom Lorenzo Scupoli goes on to note that the virtues are “like rays of the sun, almost inseparably united,” such that strengthening one cannot but strengthen the others.

So, develop the virtue of Temperance. Deny yourself. Take a cold shower, don’t put that sugar in your coffee, look at the menu, decide what you want, and choose something else. Start small. Be consistent, don’t stop. Perfect yourself. Recognize that this never ends, that perfection is a mystery that you can forever explore. Marvel at this reality.

FB