Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,
Through Your power and your majesty,
You delivered us from the hands of wicked men-
Even from men whose killing fires burned
For years on end, and did not cease to burn.

Lord, let every heart be grieved when it remembers
What we did with the freedom you entrusted us.
For we offered, and are offering even now
Our children to the idols of Canaan.

Your wrath is heavy upon us Lord, your wrath is heavy-
For you have divided our tongues;
And now every scholar and every man
Speaks in his own language.
Neither does any man understand another.

Your living word has left us, Lord-
And in its place we stuff our inky paper.
The lamp within our eyes has been snuffed out.
The furnace in our chest is cold and black.

Do not grant us what we truly deserve.
We hate you, Lord. Have mercy on us.
We have murdered all your Prophets. Send us more.
We have butchered your children. Make us innocent again.
We have held your truth beneath us. Speak it again.

Blessed is he who is not scandalized in the Lord
For as high as his throne is above the earth,
So also is his mercy.

Jottings

-I posted below on the trouble with identifying thomistic ethics with natural law. One of the worst downsides of this is that it ends up marginalizing virtue. Its hard to convey the absurdity of a so called thomistic ethics without virtue.

As a test: I am quite certain that even very well- schooled thomists won’t be able to give St. Thomas’ definition of virtue.

-I was flipping though channels yesterday and saw a cable-news debate about whether a television commercial that depicted sexual intercourse in a comical way would be beneficial to those who watched it. The former leader of Planned Parenthood argued in favor of the commercial. She based her argument on the fact that modern day Americans are very sexually repressed, and they need to spend more time discussing sexual intercourse. Such a discussion, she claimed, would be promoted by watching comical depictions of intercourse on television. Neither the host, nor the opponent of the commercial challenged any of her assertions.

One point that all sides of the debate agreed upon was that one saw things that were “much worse” than the commercial on other television stations. This fact was taken to justify the commercial, or at least it was taken to be a very damaging blow to anyone who would oppose the commercial.

-As illustrated above, people simultaneously believe that a.) the more public displays of intercourse, the better and b.) To show more intercourse is to show something “much worse”. Sex depicted on a television sitcom, for example, is reflexively excused by saying it is “not as bad as” some other depiction, or that there is some other depiction of sex that is “much worse” than the sitcom. This is, of course, a contradiction. The sense of shame remains, ignored by all, but clearly shown in plain speech. We use words like “much worse” and “not as bad as” even in spite of our ideology- nothing else would sound right to us.

-A theology professor once asked me what I would say if God told me to deny the principle of contradiction. I told him “Non Serviam”. Said another way, I judged such a conditional to be absolutely impossible; and I saw such a denial as being demonic.

I am confident in saying this even now, because Jesus Christ was quite clear on his stance toward the principle of contradiction: “Let your no be no, and your yes, yes. Anything else is from the Evil One.”

-A good modern epitaph might read: who lets the family be destroyed for one reason will let it be destroyed for any.

Art and Corruption

Take any part of an artificial thing, say, a house. If we focus on the internal, natural tendencies of that part, they will not tend to keeping the house in existence. If a house, or any natural thing gets harmed, it doesn’t heal, nor does the it maintain its shape in the same way that water expands whenever it freezes (which is a certain internal, natural motion of water). There is simply no internal principle that keeps an artificial thing in existence as artificial.

 

The Root of Science

The opening line of Aristotle’s Physics states that whenever there are principles, cases, or elements to be found, science comes by knowing them. Aristotle then gives a reason for this that seems trivial, though obvious: “for we think we have science when we know the principles and causes and have reached the elements.” The all important word is “we think”. Most often in English, the verb “we think”, when used in this way, means “I believe that” or “my opinion is”, and we mean this in such a way as its opposite is “I know that”. This is obviously not what Aristotle meant. Aristotle is clear that the principles of any science must be more known than the science itself, and opinion is not more certain or more known than science.

“We think” in the above quotation means rather “we see within ourselves”, said in a more clunky way “there is within my own inner activity of knowledge” as when we say “As soon as I saw her, I thought…” The sense of the quotation is that when one has a principle of science within himself, he knows that he has a principle of science. The principle is known through itself, and as a principle. Now to know something as a principle presupposes that it is a principle of something-and so we have to be acquainted with the subject we are studying for some time (even a long time) before we can have this internal experience of seeing the principle of the subject matter. But we do not have science- certain knowledge through causes- until we have that principle within our soul.

A few conclusions follow from this-

1.) The need to pay attention to the interior life when we are seeking science. Are we well disposed to accept the truth? Is our soul quiet enough, and free enough from the tempests of passion to allow a solid, immutable principle of science appear?

2.) The need to pay continual attention to exactly what we want to know, and what we are seeking the principles of. To the extent that this is vague, any principle we find must be vague. A common response to “what are you trying to know?” is either “I don’t know, I guess” or some platitude.

3.) We need to see critical theories and skepticism- when they are not handmaids to science and finding certainty- as nothing more than blind men denying the existence of distinct colors. All a radical skeptic or a critic can do is say that he has no principle (the case is similar for one who lacks the faith). The first light of the mind is the principle of contradiction. To those who have just opened their eyes, the principle seems blinding, and almost of no use, but over time, it makes more and more things known distinctly through meditation.

Shulamite goes into the world

Got into a discussion here.

The ascent from chance

1.) We look into the world and see that some things happen by chance.

2.) We define chance, and see that it a cause per accidens, that is, outside of any intention or determination.

3.) we notice that we can’t say anything is “outside intention or determination” unless we presuppose intention or determination.

4.) We see that all intention or determination presupposes mind. For

a.) determination is either by chance or by mind; but
b.) if it is by chance, it presupposes something not by chance (step 3.) c.) but determination, if not by chance, is by mind (see a.)

5.) So all things in nature are certain processions of mind.

6.) but existence certainly belongs to the things in nature.

7.) and so all existence is a certain procession of mind.

8.) but what is by luck or chance exists.

And so even those things that are by luck and chance are being maintained in existence by God, an eternal mind who can be known to absolutely transcend the human power to comprehend- for we can even know that he is the necessary and per se cause of even what comes to be by chance. What a profound mystery is revealed by reason! To give an example: if one wins the lottery by my own design, the lottery is rigged- if one wins it by the design of the divine mind, then it still can be truly said to happen by chance.

The argument from evil

The argument from evil (God cannot exist because evil does) can only seem plausible if one doesn’t define evil, or if they give a superficial account of it. As soon as one defines evil as it is- sc. as a privation of goodness and what is due, just, and proper to the nature, then the argument from evil becomes ordered to proving the existence of God. Aristotle, for example, uses the fact that mistakes happen in generation to prove that nature acts for an end- i.e. that nature is a participation in the divine mind.

In the same way that it is an error to judge what is most knowable by what we know first, so too it is an error to judge what is most loveable by what we love first. The root of these two is the same: knowability and loveability is proportionate to existence; i.e. what is most knowable and loveable is found by a certain denial of what we know first through the senses and love first through the senses.

The denial of materialism, hedonism, sensualism and other errors is purely negative: the positive side which should motivate it all is a promotion of philosophy, which is ordered to its culmination in mystical theology.

In the same way that it is an error to judge what is most knowable by what we know first, so too it is an error to judge what is most loveable by what we love first. The root of these two is the same: knowability and loveability is proportionate to existence; i.e. what is most knowable and loveable is found by a certain denial of what we know first through the senses and love first through the senses.

The denial of materialism, hedonism, sensualism and other errors is purely negative: the positive side which should motivate it all is a promotion of philosophy, which is ordered to its culmination in mystical theology.

Mystical Theology

Mystical theology is best understood in when compared to other kinds of theology.

All theology is the study of God, i.e. science of God. The difference between the various theologies is the knowledge they begin from:

Natural theology, or philosophy, begins from things known by man- i.e. it begins from what is known in itself within a man’s soul.

Revealed theology begins from things known to God and the blessed- i.e. what is self- evident to one of these.

Mystical theology begins from what is known by a man inasmuch as he is sharing the life and knowledge of God.

I don’t know whether revealed theology and mystical theology are one in species and related as imperfect to perfect, or whether they are specifically different kinds of theology. But irrespective of whether mystical theology is a part of revealed theology or not, we can show that all philosophy and theology has Mystical theology as is source and end.

1.) To be aware of the supreme good is the same as to desire union with it. But theology makes one aware of the supreme good, sc. God. Union with God, however, is to share in his life and knowledge.

2.) The more perfect any knowledge is, the more perfectly it get to the interiors of things. Intellectual knowledge, for example, sees more into the interiors of things than sense does, for it sees substance when sense sees only surface appearances. But natural theology shows us God only through his effects, i.e. extrinsically. Mystical theology, however, is a participation in the inner life of God.

3.) Things are difficult to learn to the extent that we find them hateful or repugnant. But to the extent that we are not sharing in the life of God, we will find knowledge of him hateful and repugnant. But sharing in the life an knowledge of God is mystical theology, etc.

4.) When something is known, it becomes in a certain sense like the knower, for it is in the knower according to the nature of the knower. When something is loved, it more causes the likeness of the thing loved to be in the lover. Said another way, knowledge is perfected by truth, and truth is in the knower; but the lover is perfected by the good, and the good is in things. Mystical theology, however, is knowledge gained by of God from union with him in a shared life- i.e. in friendship- which is a certain kind of love.

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