Friday, June 24, 2011

Further Cosmic Adventures with John Paul

Continuing with yesterday's loose associations on the subject of John Paul, his recent beatification has raised objections from the usual suspects, largely under the pretext that he's only been offstage for six years, but also for purely political reasons.

There is an obvious precedent for this, in that the NHL wisely bypassed the standard waiting period and canonized Wayne Gretzky into the hockey Hall of Fame immediately after his retirement. And as evidenced by the photo of John Paul depicted a few paragraphs down, Gretzky wasn't the only King with an effective slapshot.

I just googled the subject, and it brought out the predictable complaints from predictable coroners of the Culture of Death.

For example, one Joe Lynaugh, from a self-styled Catholic poutfit named "Call to Action," whined that "This will just go down as another disappointment from a church that is unfortunately filled with disappointments these days."

Before I look it up, let's take bets on whether "Call to Action" is actually a Catholic group or a neo-Marxist front in holy guise. If I am wrong, I am prepared to eat this post.

Here is their website. Its motto is "Catholics Working Together For Justice and Equality." Okay. The question is, how?

Let's see: mostly through an insistence that marriage should be redefined, that it makes no difference to children's development if they have a mother and father or two fathers, that the Church needs to have priestesses just like any other pagan fertility cult, and that transgendered people make fine parents.

As anyone with a shred of common sense knows, it is not at all confusing for a child to wake up one day and discover that his father chopped off his penis and is now his mother. Indeed, it undoubtedly frees the child from rigid gender stereotypes, and encourages him to explore his own sexually ambiguous nature. You know, liberal "open-mindedness" and all that.

Why these people imagine they are Catholic, and why they don't just join or invent another denomination, is not explained. This is like joining the Democratic party because one values liberty, limited government, and a functioning educational system, or joining the Boy Scouts in order to scout boys.

Here is a more detailed statement on their objection to John Paul's beatification: his papacy "was a divisive and often painful experience for millions of Catholics worldwide." Awww. That makes me sad. Can't we just believe anything we want? Why must there be rules? Why a Pope? A creed? Indeed, why must there be reality at all? Doesn't it just get in the way of our desires?

Apparently, growing up under communism and fascism taught John Paul nothing about the left, for he inexplicably had a problem with "liberation, feminist and other theologies that support the poor, women and other marginalized groups."

Indeed, his rejection of these thinly veiled Marxist theologies that warp femininity and demonstrably victimize the poor and oppressed, "left many Catholics shocked by a papacy that would withhold its support of theologies and spirituality that sustained poor and oppressed people." Shocked I tell you!

If you don't believe them, here is a photograph of John Paul administering a much-needed smackdown to a communist tool in Nicaragua. This priest was employed as Minister of Culture in the Sandinista regime. If this doesn't prove that John Paul was anti-culture, then nothing does.

John Paul also failed to have an "open discussion of sexuality in the modern world that compromised sexual health access and agency for millions globally" (sic), whatever that means. What, Catholics are not allowed to avoid dangerous sexual practices or treat venereal diseases? This is new to me.

In reality, as summarized by Weigel, here are some of the powers and principalities that John Paul was up against:

--a modern world "dominated by the pleasure principle"
--"an intellectual environment in which the human capacity to know anything with certainty is denied"
--a struggle to affirm that universal truths -- including moral truths -- exist, and that we have a duty to know and conform ourselves to them
--the secular fundamentalist dogma that the person has no essence, and is but an "infinitely plastic" cultural construct
--a Marxian belief system that defines the human spirit out of existence and reduces history to the mechanical play of economic and political forces
--and a debased culture that identifies happiness with a deeply narcissistic celebration of self (even though the self doesn't really exist, which, in our view, leads to the implicit belief that one is not real unless seen by others, i.e., the lust for celebrity)

As we have discussed before, there is always a temptation to regard the present day as uniquely catastrophic, or wavering on the knife-edge between survival and apocalypse. However, just because people habitually believe this, it doesn't mean that it isn't sometimes true.

Christianity has a view of time and history that situates them in a vast cosmic narrative that proceeds from cosmogenesis to cosmotheosis, or from creation to sanctification. It is principally a spiritual adventure, not a mere shadow of material forces; furthermore, there are "pulse points," as it were, when the Spirit is more frisky.

One such pulse point is the Incarnation, which John Paul properly regarded as the axis of history, that toward which it is ultimately ordered. In his view, the present crisis was fundamentally a "crisis of ideas," not of class warfare, sociobiology, or any other inhuman reductionism. Obviously, any humanism that regards man as anything less than human is a false humanism, of which their name is legion.

Now, the most important idea of culture is its idea of what a human being is. In other words, in a way, everything follows from one's anthropology. Get that wrong and your life is doomed, i.e., drained of its objective meaning (and if that is all that happens, consider yourself lucky).

If a culture's notion of man is flawed, then one of two things follows. Either the culture in question will "give birth to destructive aspirations," and/or it will become "incapable of realizing its fondest hopes," irrespective of how "nobly" and humanistically they are expressed (Weigel). Good intentions, road to hell, unintended consequences, Murphy's Law, New Deal, Great Society, Change You Can Believe In, blah blah.

For example, places such as Cuba, China, North Korea, and the vast majority of the Muslim world are laboring under a deeply false understanding of what man is. Likewise, we should all be able to agree, illiberal leftist and conservative liberal alike, that our battle for civilization -- the culture war -- may be reduced without oversimplification to a dispute over the nature of man.

Clearly, we are dealing with two anthropologies that are absolutely irreconcilable. One embodies the traditional American view that man's life and liberty are rooted in the Creator and all this implies.

Conversely, the secular leftist view insists that man is but the residue of random Darwinian accidents, with no essential being and therefore no intrinsic rights or duties but a whole lotta gimme. In this world view, everything is necessarily relative, which makes its adherents all the more dangerous, for their metaphysic prevents them from seeing how authoritarian dogma creeps in through the back door -- such as the absolute right to kill one's unborn child, or the absolute duty for you to pay for the healthcare of irresponsible slackers.

For John Paul, our freedom has to be grounded in something real, without which its security is jeopardized. Obviously, secular leftism has no such secure basis, and "a humanism that cannot give an adequate account of its most cherished value, freedom, becomes self-cannibalizing" (ibid.)

Indeed, many so-called liberals -- who are really crypto-authoritarian leftists -- will openly profess that there is no such thing as free will, a nihilistic doctrine that -- ironically -- absolutely undermines man's intrinsic dignity and invites a host of human disasters, all engineered for our benefit by the People who Know Better how to run your life.

But "to be human is to be a moral agent" (ibid.). In other words, freedom is ineluctably tied in with good and evil, otherwise it is a kind of blind nothing floating atop an absolutely opaque nothingness.

But for us, the cosmos has a moral structure that descends from the top, since it did not, and could not have, come "from the bottom" on pain of immediately denying its own reality.

For John Paul, this means that the cosmos, history, and the individual human life are all situated in a structure that is inherently dramatic, an idea that we have discussed in the past, in the context of Balthasar's Theo-Drama (a quick search of "Theo-Drama" on this site yields a number of posts which I don't have time to review, but may be helpful). Everyone's life is a kind of dramatic journey from the "person-I-am" to the "person-I-ought to be," which ultimately comes down to incarnating Truth in this world (ibid.). The alternative is anon's starter.

In order to get the puck to where one ought to be, the great ones recognize that the future is now:

34 Comments:

Blogger swiftone said...

What no comments yet? Ok, I'll wade in foist

...the most important idea of culture is its idea of what a human being is. In other words, in a way, everything follows from one's anthropology. Get that wrong and your life is doomed, i.e., drained of its objective meaning (and if that is all that happens, consider yourself lucky).

I found myself immediately trying to catalog the "cultures" that I'm a bit familiar with. Southern US? "Who are your people?" Central America, "Who's your Godfather?" Uganda 1970ish, "Who can you call on for protection?" (23rd Psalm was mighty important then.) So tell me again, what is the chief end of man?

6/24/2011 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Why these people imagine they are Catholic, and why they don't just join or invent another denomination, is not explained.

It's baffling. One of my personal disagreements with Catholicism used to be the proscription against divorce. But it never occurred to me that the Church should change its stance on the issue, I simply acknowledged that my views were not Catholic and moved on.

There must be, in their perverse minds, some recognition that the Church is a particular source of holiness in the world, one that is distinct from and (as they must see it) somehow superior to other Christian denominations. They know there is value there, or they wouldn't try to be a part of it. But at the same time, they can't bear to align themselves with that value; it would mean letting go of their particular idols, so instead they work to change that source of holiness and bring it down to their own level.

6/24/2011 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Morning DLoye - that part caught my eye, too, having spent no small amount of time with the wrong anthropology on a personal level. If I had actually done some of the things I had considered, once upon a time, out of the wrongheaded notion of godlessness and the concomitant lack of understanding what femininity is all about... Oy.

There but for the goad of grace...

6/24/2011 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think the purpose is to hold out ideals that are true while simultaneously recognizing that no one can possibly meet all of them all the time. If they could, either they wouldn't be ideals or man would be perfect.

6/24/2011 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Reminds me of a link The Anchoress had up recently (can't find it now), to a story about a couple who were leaving their church in search of one that was more perfect, whatever that meant. Of course, the observation was that since every church is made up of sinners, they'd never find their place.

6/24/2011 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

As the smart Marx said, I wouldn't be a member of any club that would allow me to join.

The church corollary being that as soon as I join the perfect church, it is perfect no more.

Nobody can beat the Pope at penalty-killing.

6/24/2011 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not for nothing do they call the penalty box the sin bin...

6/24/2011 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger horatio said...

"There is no question of living in our times as men lived in the Middle Ages. In the first place this is impossible, and besides there is no reason for doing so. The Truth—or God—could never ask something unreasonable or impossible of us. If someone said to me that Truth, Way, and Virtue cannot be followed in the modern world, I would respond that there is no reason they cannot and indeed that there are thousands and even millions of men who do so. Spirituality, at whatever degree, makes no distinction between ancient man and modern man, for it is not concerned with “such and such men” but with “men as such”—in other words with the unchanging factors that define man or human nature. In this respect, which is the only one that matters, there is no difference between the men who lived during the period of the Council of Nicaea and those alive during the pseudo-Council of Vatican II. Likewise, two plus two have always equaled four, in the age of the Apostles as in our own. This is all that matters." FS

6/24/2011 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Concur, except for the gratuitous swipe at V2!

6/24/2011 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Likewise, we should all be able to agree, illiberal leftist and conservative liberal alike, that our battle for civilization -- the culture war -- may be reduced without oversimplification to a dispute over the nature of man."

Most will scoff, except to remark that things aren't that simple, that everyone else more or less has it right, it is only us who have it wrong. Doh.

"...Clearly, we are dealing with two anthropologies that are absolutely irreconcilable. "

And it's only our view that offers the possibility of living together, whereas their's requires our being bound, imprisoned or exterminated.

"...Indeed, many so-called liberals -- who are really crypto-authoritarian leftists -- will openly profess that there is no such thing as free will, a nihilistic doctrine that -- ironically -- absolutely undermines man's intrinsic dignity and invites a host of human disasters, all engineered for our benefit by the People who Know Better how to run your life."

And there, ultimately, is the cipher, it is what places you into one camp or the other - do you believe you can choose? If so, welcome to the potential for liberty and happiness.

If not, choose what degree of thuggery you're willing to admit to yourself and the jackboot style you find most fashionable. Are you mostly wimpy? Squeemish about admitting your desire to violently control your fellow man (though no less determined to do so)? Proregressivism is the style for you then. A bit more willing to openly impose your demands on your fellows? Socialism (or Democratic Socialism if you like to posture about with a patina of nicety about you) is just the fit for you then. Just want to kick the ass of those damn people spouting off about property rights and liberty? Well then, a nice hobnailed jackboot is just the thing for you, and it comes in two trendy styles, Communism & Fascism... careful though, they do make your 'but' look big.

"But "to be human is to be a moral agent" (ibid.). In other words, freedom is ineluctably tied in with good and evil, otherwise it is a kind of blind nothing floating atop an absolutely opaque nothingness. "

Two views that are absolutely irreconcilable.

6/24/2011 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger horatio said...

oddly, FS doesn't do gratuitous, and so, one is left with being in sharp disagreement.

appropos--wv: saintio

6/24/2011 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

True, but he doesn't provide information that would let us know with what he is disagreeing. If it is the opening to modernity, he's already told us that this is not an insurmountable problem. Perhaps you can illuminate us.

6/24/2011 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, it is more than a little hubristic for an outsider to tell the church what is a proper council and what is a "pseudo council." John Paul, whose spiritual greatness cannot be doubted, says that if one rejects Vatican II, one must reject all the councils on the same basis. One cannot simply pick and choose from them.

6/24/2011 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Perhaps he sees it like the designated hitter rule -- an "intrinsic error"....

6/24/2011 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger horatio said...

Yes, the DH is a perfect example. Also, to refer to the staunchest advocate of authentic Christianity as an outsider, well, you could not have meant it.

6/24/2011 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger horatio said...

http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/Public/articles/The_Destruction_of_the_Christian_Tradition_Part_2-by_Rama_Coomaraswamy.aspx

For example

6/24/2011 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I hold Schuon in very high regard, but a little perspective, please.

6/24/2011 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Wonderpowerfulled post.
These two are linked, I thinked:

"Everyone's life is a kind of dramatic journey from the "person-I-am" to the "person-I-ought to be,"

and

"a debased culture that identifies happiness with a deeply narcissistic celebration of self...which... leads to the implicit belief that one is not real unless seen by others"

Hence, the one person in the womb whose name must not be person and remain unseen.

6/24/2011 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"the Incarnation, which John Paul properly regarded as the axis of history"

"Behold! I make all things new." Is a live give-away, for those with be's to hold.

6/24/2011 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

"Why these people imagine they are Catholic, and why they don't just join or invent another denomination, is not explained."

Allow me to explain...they don't want to start their own club or join another, they specifically want to weaken and ultimately destroy the Catholic Church.

6/25/2011 05:53:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I think it is more like this:
"a debased culture that identifies happiness with a deeply narcissistic celebration of self"

6/25/2011 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Beth:


I fully agree. It's a microcosm of what they want to do to our whole civilization: destroy it from the inside.

6/25/2011 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

While certainly there are many of those. Does it take so many like this to do damage? No. But I think for some if not an awful lot, they believe the church will be improved by their presence and smarts.
Like Mush said sorta, that's not what the church is for. The church is to improve (save) the person.
I think a person is much more susceptible to intoxication if that purpose isn't understood.

6/25/2011 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Either innocent or malicious intent leads to the same place. It's worth knowing that many mean well. And also that the malicious will promote mean-wellers whenever and wherever they can.

6/25/2011 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"It is principally a spiritual adventure, not a mere shadow of material forces; furthermore, there are "pulse points," as it were, when the Spirit is more frisky."

Aye! I think this is another reason why a good sense of humor is essential.
Without it, or without a healthy sense of humor one is more prone to be annoyed during these pulses of friskyness and miss the point.

In my experience, spiritual friskyness never occurs the way we assume it will, and looking back it's apparent there's good reasons for that.

6/25/2011 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Van said:

"If not, choose what degree of thuggery you're willing to admit to yourself and the jackboot style you find most fashionable. Are you mostly wimpy? Squeemish about admitting your desire to violently control your fellow man (though no less determined to do so)? Proregressivism is the style for you then. A bit more willing to openly impose your demands on your fellows? Socialism (or Democratic Socialism if you like to posture about with a patina of nicety about you) is just the fit for you then. Just want to kick the ass of those damn people spouting off about property rights and liberty? Well then, a nice hobnailed jackboot is just the thing for you, and it comes in two trendy styles, Communism & Fascism... careful though, they do make your 'but' look big."

Well said, Van! I got a good laugh when I read about the big "but" too! LOL! :^)

Of course, I say that fully aware that I may also become the "but" of the joke but I can laugh about it before that happens. Ha ha!

6/25/2011 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

But seriously, does this make my but look too big?

6/25/2011 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

For let it be yoinked,

"If a culture's notion of man is flawed, then one of two things follows. Either the culture in question will "give birth to destructive aspirations," and/or it will become "incapable of realizing its fondest hopes,..."

6/26/2011 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger SippicanCottage said...

What's all this drivel about some minor saint named Wayne Gretzky when Bobby Orr, an actual deity, still walks the earth?

BTW, the correct quote is: Jesus saves, but Esposito puts in in on the rebound.

6/26/2011 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos of nothing, this is just amazing. Who would have guessed there was that much motion going on?

6/26/2011 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Also apropos of nothing, stupidity is contagious. So is divorce, it seems. From personal observation, I have to agree that both are true.

However, there is an upshot - the converse is true as well. Intelligence and marriage are also contagious. Especially if there are good examples of strong marriages within a group, and especially if intelligence comes with some degree of social skill.

6/26/2011 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Sippster:

Yours is a legitimate theology unto the last days. Clearly, Orr was a chosen player, and indeed, some of my best friends are Bruin fans.

Having said that, there is an unavoidable "particularity" among the Orrists, largely because there simply weren't enough "witnesses," only those who actually attended the games, or who were able to see him on Hockey Night in Canada.

Or perhaps Orr's was the "age of the Father." Gretzky's was the "age of the Son," bringing hockey greatness to a much wider community of believers.

6/26/2011 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

@julie.

That cymbal vid was cool. Whole lotta shakin goin on.

6/26/2011 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks, John. You just reminded me I meant to forward that to a percussionist I know.

I'd love to see a video like that of a bell being rung, too. Any size - how much distortion would you see in one of those huge church bells, for instance?

6/26/2011 08:58:00 PM  

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