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Sunday, January 01, 2017

Crux commentary on abortion and children with Down Syndrome

Must-read from Charles C. Camosy. It is tragic and ironic for France, known as a bastion of liberty, to censor a documentary movie in order to avoid offense to some. Perhaps it is a mere blip, some individuals in whichever agency makes these decisions made such a call. In any case, it is contrary to the free marketplace of ideas where we are open to challenge and due consideration of other perspectives in search of the truth, which is what truly sets free.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Interesting insights on why good people do bad things

This is an interesting quick take from Business Insider on why good people do bad things, Two jumped out at me: The notion of self-image (labelled under the Galatea effect), which I think is repeated in two other points, is a powerful notion. How do people see themselves such that there isn't a strong resistance to the impulse to do evil? The other is on euphemisms to label an evil thing with a neutral new name (labelled under the Power of Words). While we can appreciate how words are just words, a new label will add a new dimension to an act, which in the case of a deliberately bland or generic euphemism renders it above judgement.

Something else that struck me is (of course) the Christian response. What is the right self-image for anyone to embrace? It is simply that of the image of God. Each human being who accepts this deliberately will never be the same. Far from being defined by one's actions at any moment in time, it is far more correct to view one's entire nature, which does not change and is therefore a firm foundation on which to ground one's decisions. It gives us a clear template, and even a non-believer can appreciate the importance of standards of behavior, hopefully well-considered ones that do not change on whim.

As for the words we attach to acts, there's this time-honored saying: the Truth will set you free. Pretending that an evil was not committed does not make it so. The problem is that it is necessary to look carefully at the two facets of evil: the morality of the act itself and the culpability of the actor. We can't get to the bottom of the act without distinguishing the two. Both are crucially important. You can't do good medicine by pretending that the patient isn't sick. You have to identify the condition after a thorough investigation if there is to be a proper cure. At the end of the day, evil demands a healing response, not condemnation. Because it must be thorough, and because it can be acted out from deliberate reasoning, it is necessary to trace that reasoning and root out why someone chose evil, assuming they did. Ascribing culpability is ultimately about prescribing the cure, because while there's time, amendment requires great deliberation. Conflating the two can result in a disgust with judging what one person did as evil or not, particularly if there's the fear of being condemned irrevocably or "sentenced" unjustly in some way.

A final thought on that article was to find it amusing, considering that we already know about them, particularly the ones I comment on above, but at the same time, it's good to find recent findings in psychology pointing to unchanging truths.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mind and Heart

Had a good conversation with a friend of mine who invites me to turn to atheism as a progressive step. His view is that religion was useful once but holds us back now (and by some 600 years or so) from true progress. He's got a lot of truth-seeking energy and I think he could become an evangelical Catholic given the chance. One of his recommendations is to look at Sam Harris and his study of the emotional experiences that he thinks are what keep Christians devoted. He probably hasn't been exposed to Catholics for whom emotional aspects, while important, are not the one thing that matters. This bit from this article on Thomism and the new evangelization hits the mark for me:

How does the intellect provide for our deepest happiness? By giving us ultimate perspective. If you know where your true good lies, you can love that good, and in loving that good, you can remain at peace, even in the midst of the storms of life.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Supply and Demand in this Woolworths branch

So there's this branch of Woolworths in Dortmund, Germany, where shoppers were told that Christmas merchandise will no longer be sold there (at least this year), and the story goes viral because a staff member said,

"We are a Muslim business, we don’t want to sell Christmas articles”.

But that's not the problem. It's a business, so it has to move with the demand, and there was apparently little demand for Christmas merchandise. And why is that?

That's the story, I think.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Inevitable clash

Professor Anthony Esolen saw it coming and it did not disappoint. The clash is inevitable because the conflict in principles is that of fundamentals. Christianity, specifically, stands in the way, incompatible with what really looks like an odd mix of Marxist and self-indulgent ideologies.

Really reminds me of the Old World empire that flooded the whole world in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth novels. Only those committed to fight against it made its defeat possible. Today it's not evident that Christians are committed to fight against the growing hostility against Christianity and its heritage.

Many of us in the Catholic Church have a tendency to be too passive. Where is that nonviolent but unyielding power with which Jesus of Nazareth overcame the world, holding to the truth to the end about who he was and what was wrong with the world? We sort of expect our bishops, especially our Pope, to be bold in proclaiming the truth in season or out. I think Professor Esolen is doing a fine job of it.

What about me?

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Faith and works

Explained very well.

Be deaf therefore when anyone preaches to you without mentioning Jesus Christ

St Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Trallians;

  Be deaf therefore when anyone preaches to you without mentioning Jesus Christ, who was of the family of David, who was truly born of Mary, who truly ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth; who was also truly raised from the dead, when his Father raised him up — just as his Father will raise us up, believers in Christ Jesus without whom we have no true life.

  Flee from these preachers, these wicked offshoots that bear deadly fruit, one taste of which is fatal. These have not been planted by the Father; if they had been, they would grow as branches of the Cross and their fruit would be incorruptible.