Friday, November 07, 2008

Full Circle

I feel like this election is an ending for me. I named this blog "Crimson Catholic" because Harvard was the place where I first felt the impetus to seek some real truth. The primary motivator there was seeing the number of people with great cognitive ability who had no reason. By that, I mean that they were philosophical nihilists, sheer relativists unable to provide any reason for what they believed. And when I saw that, it horrified me. I had never articulated what gave meaning to the life, and to be fair, I had always taken God for granted. But at least I did bear that glimmer of natural philosophy that recognized that there was something greater that was the source of existence and meaning for everything that existed. I knew that such there was such a thing as God, and I knew that ignoring him inevitably meant that human life would be worthless.

Barack Obama is literally the bext example of the sort of man that I feared. Morality and theology are "above his pay grade," as he foolishly said in my former home, and worse, in a building dedicated to God. That is what I heard over and over again at Harvard, that we could not "legislate morality" or "force religion on people." For all of the intelligence that this once-Christian institution supposedly embodies, some of the stupidest people in the world can be found there. Pagan irreligion is one thing; mindless anti-religion against even the most fundamental tenets of the natural law is another thing entirely. Slaughtering innocent human beings in genocidal proportions, something that the most ignorant pagan should be able to see as evil, is a matter beyond the competence of this supposedly intelligent man.

But something has happened since then, and it is a great blessing. I have received a peace that surpasses all understanding. My worries and fears over men like Obama have been quieted, not because Obama is any better than I thought, but because I now have a hope beyond these things. There are evil men in the world, but my treasure is in a place where they will never touch it. In defeat in this world, we build a stronghold in the next. So what if evil men seize the power of law? God, the Creator, the source of everything that is good, was killed as a criminal. He proclaimed forever His victory over injustice.

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4)

Before I was afraid. Now faith gives me the same eyes as David, so I pray with him his Psalm:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;
he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


Anonymous said...


I'm glad you've returned to blogging here once again.

About Obama, given recent events which only confirms how he is determined to proceed with such ferocity on his Pro-abort agenda, I can't say I am similarly appeased; yet, I'll trust in God nevertheless.

Now, about your past aims at intelligible discussions, would you kindly provide the full context to this statement made rather recently by Tim Enloe about you?

"Yet, in a recent interaction I had with Jonathan Prejean, Prejean was unable to intelligibly distinguish between the Catholic’s claim to have an objective authority in the Magisterium and my claim to have an objective authority in the community of the faithful, marked out by an objectively discernible Trinitarian baptism."


"If you take his rhetoric seriously, the whole Platonic tradition - which certainly includes great Catholic figures like Augustine and Bonaventure - were basically a bunch of idiots for believing in innate ideas. The only truth is empirically derived truth; the only verifiable ideas are ideas which are solidly rooted in sense experience. Yet, ironically, Prejean once accused me of being a positivist in my approach to history."


kkollwitz said...

I think many Catholics are realizing we must change more hearts before the laws will change.

CrimsonCatholic said...

Not sure how much "back" I am, but the moment struck me as worth noting.

I'll have to track Tim down at some point now that I'm back in the Metroplex, because I think he misunderstood me. I admit that there could be an authority collectively in the baptized in principle, but I haven't seen anything in history to suggest that this was the authority actually established in the Church. It's not inconceivable for this to be the case, though, which is why I don't dispute that claim. There is no distinction in principle, but I am not sure that it would be the same thing as saying that there is no intelligible distinction between the two.

Sola scriptura, on the other hand, can't be sustained in this fashion as far as I can tell. I DO think he has to appeal to some normative communitarian authority, and if that normative authority is divine in origin, then it is necessary infallible. There are no two ways around that as far as I can tell. It isn't a question of whether there are infallible human authorities, only of who they are.

On the question of innate ideas, there is first the question of whether the concept is coherent and then the question of how it is used. I don't think the concept is coherent, and in that respect, I am happy to respectfully take up the dispute with St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure, or whoever else wishes to disagree. But in those authors particularly, I find their use of the concept to be relatively innocuous, since it is really used to describe the potency of the intellect with respect to God. It is simply a version of the sort of "obediential potency" that might be linked with the search for the knowledge of God, a sort of knowledge that indicates an absence of knowledge as much as light. Assuming that the Doctor of Grace and the Seraphic Doctor were not about establishing a Platonic theory of epistemology but were instead repurposing these terms with respect to the experience of God, then I'm not even sure there is a dispute to he had.

On the other hand, if one were to carry those ideas to mundane epistemology (as Van Til does) or even more narrowly to a notion of God putting concepts in your head directly through some communicative medium, such as Scripture, then I think they really do become absurd. To the extent "innate ideas" make sense at all, it is purely in this mysterious sense of awareness of the divine nature. As numerous Christians have observed before, when you try to make that a foundation of a mundane epistemological theory, you err from the beginning. God does not operate that way, else He would not be knowable precisely as God. If Scripture did work, for example, in the way proposed above (an "innate idea" sort of revelation), then it wouldn't be divine revelation at all. It would simply be some form of natural revelation that didn't touch on the divine aspects.

beetlebabee said...

Have you seen this Demographic Winter video? I saw it over on Kingfisher Column, the decline of the family has huge economic impact. This thing is chilling.

dianonymous said...

Tim Enloe is kicking against the goad, and that's all there is to it. :-)

Geting abck to the res, though: I'm with you totally re the Obama Thing. I was a nervous wreck before the election. I was depressed and scared right afterward. Now I am at peace (although still worried about my kids' future)...because I see this election in the context of God's plan to purify us. Christ has already won the victory! As we ceelbrate His Incarnation, we focus on His ultimate victory over ALL the forces of evil. Our redemption is at is time to rejoice in Him while we prepare, with His Grace, to evangelize the world.

The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are coming soon!