1. Evidently, the ’70s Detox Didn’t Take?
And so the disorder was allowed to fester?
As you may recall, the readings this past Sunday were all about how we Gentiles get to be part of Team Chosen People, too! Huzzah! Caught two homilies. In the first, Father was trying to expound on the idea that those rejected by the powers that be are often those who recognize Christ and know Him deeply, and used the Good Thief to illustrate, thus: He says: I deserve this. I am a victim. I am a person of crime. (Those were his exact words.)
A person of crime? A victim? WTH? So, how does he deserve to be crucified? The rest of the homily was about the same level of coherence. As part of the dance of inclusiveness, wherein we suppose that Church teachings ‘evolve’ over time in such a way that more people are ‘included’ in the sense of having their previously condemned *behavior* now ‘accepted’, we got a gloss on the end of St. John’s Gospel –
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
– presented as if it were a quote, to be saying that all four Evangelists are picking and choosing sayings and stories to address the concerns of the Christians of their time. No issues with that last point, it is certainly one good way to read Scripture, it just that it doesn’t follow at all from what John wrote. (Another more interesting way to read it: there’s more to your faith than what’s in Scripture.) And, it was presented in such a way as to convey a certain message to those who wanted to hear it in a certain way, while not saying it too baldly.
There are some people, it seems, who do not treat language as primarily a means to convey thought and meaning, but rather, like tail wagging or throat displays, a way way to convey certain feelings and group membership. Or something – at least, for someone expecting a coherent thought to emerge, listening to this homily was like listening to a unselfconsciously tone deaf person belting out ‘tunes’.
The second homily is more of the ‘you had to be there’ school: a deacon, who is no doubt a holier man that me (not to set the bar on the ground or anything – but, seriously, he seems like a good guy) started out by mentioning that reading “The Ugly American” was a formative feature of his education, and that he’s been all over the world, and has no trouble fitting in. Somehow, this was tied to the Canaanite woman in the Gospel, who, it was explained as if it were a simple fact, was really a member of a Greek trading community. See, the apostles, who were getting bugged by this woman who kept pestering Jesus, and so wanted Jesus to give them permission to chase her off. But since the concept of flustered Jews on their own turf wanting to be left alone by a crazy Gentile woman (and the possible subtext of the Apostles’ frustration with Jesus just ignoring her and thus escalating the encounter) isn’t as zingy as Ugly Americans, we’ll shoe-horn in this one story with some book telling us how badly Americans behave toward non-Americans.
I mean, I guess. It was just weird. The overall context was ‘values’ – you know, the word you use when you’re not comfortable talking about truth. One thing we Americans, ugly or otherwise, used to think was that there were self evident truths we all agreed on. What almost everybody misses is that this is less a confident philosophical assertion than it is a political statement about what you need to agree on in order to build a nation from diverse parts. See, our nation was not founded by Aristotelians or Thomists – it was founded by people who thought Hume and Locke and Descartes were rockin’ philosophers. They may not as yet have realized exactly how deep that rabbit hole went – Kant, Fichte and Hegel were just getting started at the time of the Declaration and Revolution – but they could see that all truth was, if you followed the anti-Thomists, dubious. But you can’t build a nation on doubt: therefore, you assert in the teeth of your philosophy and common sense the religious proposition that all mean are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable right. Because if you don’t insert that, any nation so conceived doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.
Anyway, it is grimly amusing to hear a child of the 60’s talk about values, and respecting values, and how my values aren’t any better than your values, and about Christian values as if the only issues to be decided are which end of the egg to open. Values-talk is such an insipid watery soup. Perhaps if he’d read O’Conner’s A Good Man is Hard to Find rather than Ugly American…
2. Finished finished that triple-decker bunk bed. Put on rails, got mattresses. Just in time for 2 teenage girls to sleep over. It’s cool. Now, have a small mound of scraps & paint and finish I’m to turn into shelves and a clothes rack. Comparatively small project.
BUT: the Great Books man-cave (OK, it’s a big desk in a corner of the bedroom with ample bookshelf space – but it’s a man-cave to me!) is coming along very nicely. I even – hope you’re sitting down – got to start digging into the book backlog! Hurrah! Which leads to:
3. About one-third of the way through Count to a Trillion, the first book in John C. Wright’s epic space opera. So far, it is totally excellent. More detail when I finish.
4. Next up: Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Hey, it’s better than whacking one’s self in the head with a ball-peen hammer. I hope.
5. Finally, Dr. Boli strikes again – this time, with a snippet from a 1855 book on manners, explaining tolerance as opposed to approval. Read the whole thing there – here’s a snippet of a snippet:
It may be known, as a matter of fact, and innocently related, that such a man is a fire-worshiper; that such a woman knits on Sunday; that another eats his Welsh rarebit with mustard; that Miss Jones has the misfortune to be devotedly in love with her friend’s husband; or that Mrs. Thompson accepts the free-love theories of the Fourierists. But when such matters, the love or the mustard, become causes of persecution, there is a very gross violation of the first principles of good manners.