Thursday, September 30, 2010
The people who argue that the morality is formulated solely by the pope have only to wait until another pope is elected--and popes are elected if they are not appointed by God Himself--for this morality to change. If this is really only the morality of a few Old Men, then it should be asked why the youngest pope elected in over 150 years (since Pius IX was elected in 1846) was so supportive of this morality. Indeed, this morality belongs not necessarily to the older members of the Church--the so-called Baby Boomers are still largely opposed to this and most other forms of traditional Catholicism--but to the younger members who are influenced by the young pope. Today it is the morality of a few Old Men and a myriad of younger ones who revere them. Before today, indeed so recently as a matter of decades ago, it was the morality of a majority of people at any age.
Continue reading on the Catholic America Today blogs. Admittedly, this did not turn out quite as well as I'd have liked.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
In the course of this discussion, Socrates argues that death is a good thing because it frees the soul from the body in which it was effectively imprisoned. An effect of that imprisonment is that the soul is hindered in the pursuit of wisdom and of truth:
Read the rest at the Nicene Guys site.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Of course, the Old Men in Rome did not invent this morality: they only work to preserve it, to pass it one to the current and future generations. To my knowledge, none of them have even so much as modified the Church's moral teaching; the nearest to a modification came from the last pontificate, and it was not so much a modification (or break with the old teaching) as an explanation which shed new light on the teaching. John Paul the Great's Theology of the Body did nothing to abrogate the Church's teachings; it did not, for example, change anything about the teaching that the primary end of sex was reproductive that the primary purpose of marriage was procreative. Without taking away from these aspects of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony and its consummation, the pope brought our attention to an unfortunately ignored teaching, which was that these things should foster intimacy and union between persons (respectively).
Read the Rest at the Catholic America Today blogs. More may follow, but what's on that blog is all I had time to write today.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Adoro Te Devote--ex-cop and real Catholic woman extraordinaire--she has something a bit more defensible in mind: armor.
complain that cullotes are never flattering and armor is a bit impractical and heavy. There is always the possibility of wearing a skirt over pants:
Or, if the cloak is a bit too warm, there's always the possibility of going with something lighter, like a cape. Capes are good because they can be worn with practically anything, whether with a skirt or a suite (think Dracula, only a woman; this, I suppose, is more fitting for the Goth types:
The cape is maybe the best choice for those women who moonlight as superheroes, and it can be made to work with the skirt and pants combo:
So there you have it: several alternatives (or compromises) to the dress/skirt/pants dilemma.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
"This literally seems like a great idea. Planned Parenthood also provides a tobacco cessation program, education outreach to underprivileged/at-risk youth, cancer screening for both men and women, STD screening for both men and women, regular gynecological exams, and a lot more stuff I can't think of at the moment. They provide health care for people who don't have insurance and could not otherwise afford it. In many cases Planned Parenthood is the primary health care provider for its clients. It may be the the first place a person is alerted to the fact that they have other, non-sexual-health related problems like high blood pressure. Abortion makes up the smallest percentage of what they do, and the more people they can reach to provide education and prevention methods, numbers of abortions they perform would hopefully drop."
Such was the comment of my cousin in regards to a link I uploaded via facebook. The story in question, which I found via Mr Mark Shea, was a story posted by the American Life League about the a bill which is being pushed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee which will establish a nationwide 2-1-1 hotline to Planned Parenthood. And because the $350 million which Planned Parenthood already receives in government grants (read: your money as a tax payer), the bill authorizes $150 million annually for 2009-2010 (retroactively?) and $100 million for 2011-2014 to be granted to the states the implement this, nevermind the $85 million "net revenue" (read: profits) made by Planned Parenthood in 2007-2008 alone (down, however, from the 114.5 million they netted in the previous fiscal year).
Back to the statement above. I have heard these claims before, it is is worth addressing them publicly, since the sentiment expressed was a) public and b) held by more than just my cousin. Before I begin, I should note that I hold no ill will towards my cousin (I'm not out to begin a family feud or anything), since I take his statement at face-value, that is, I believe that he really is looking at Planned Parenthood as the provider of some good non-abortion services.
On to the actual claims. First--albeit only of tangential importance--is the claim that "Abortion makes up the smallest percentage of what they do." Is this a true satement? Well, it depends on what is meant by "smallest percentage":
PPFA's income for fiscal year 2006-2007 was $1.018 billion (up 11 percent from 2005-2006), with nearly one-third coming from taxpayers. This "not-for-profit" entity ends virtually every fiscal year with tens of millions of dollars in "excess revenue over expenses" (known to most people as "profit"). The "excess" for 2006-2007 alone was $114.8 million....PPFA admits that it killed 289,750 preborn human beings in 2006 alone (up 9.4 percent from 2005), generating an estimated $125 million. A scant 2,410 customers were referred to adoption agencies.
That comes out to about 1/8 of their budget. Oh, but this does not count "emergency contraception" (Planned parenthood sold 1,436, 846 "emergency contraception" kits, at an estimated cost of $70 a pop: there's another 9% of their budget) much of which is abortive, since it prevents an already fertilized zygote from attaching to the walls of the uterus, thus killing it. Since a fertilized zygote is a genetically separate human being in its earliest stage, this would be an abortion. Sans a bit of pro-choice mystical rubbish involving the question of ensoulment at some later stage of fetal (or childhood) development, that would be a murder.
Yes, yes, I know: Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo both had theories of ensoulment. But guess what: both also said that anything which they said which was not in line with the Church's teaching is wrong, and should be rejected. To quote St Augustine, De Trinitate Book 15: "O Lord, the one God, God of the Trinity, whatever I have said in these books that is of thine, may they acknowledge who are thine; if anything is my own, may it be pardoned both by thee and by those who are thine." As for Saint Thomas, in his Summa Theologica he states that
"The custom of the Church has very great authority and ought to be jealously observed in all things, since the very doctrine of catholic doctors derives its authority from the Church. Hence we ought to abide by the authority of the Church rather than by that of an Augustine or a Jerome or of any doctor whatever" (Summa II-II:10:12).Aquinas himself is certainly included amongst those doctors whose authority is derived from the Church, and to whom one cannot appeal on a matter or faith or morality which is held as a deposit of the Church's Tradition, that is, as a matter of the Faith.
As for for their condom dispensation, well, the fact that the nation's largest abortion committer also provides the least effective brand of condom should raise some eyebrows. Actually, to count condom dispensation and education programs geared at deliberately undermining traditional sexual morality* should hardly count as reason to support them, especially not for faithful Catholics. Actually, for us it' just one more reason to dislike Planned Parenthood. This is perhaps of lesser interest to non-Catholics in general and non-Christians in particular who don't really care about sexual morality;contraception, in any case, accounts for more than 1/3 of the total services they provided in the 2007 fiscal year.
This is all so far tangential. Frankly, it does not matter whether abortion and contraception (abortive or otherwise) makes up 50% of their total services or only 5%. The fact of the matter is, this is an organization whose established purpose was one of eugenics. They were not founded to provide benevolent things like cancer screenings and gynecological exams. They were established to remove from the population those whom their founder referred to as "human weeds," and the "establish a race of thoroughbreds." Decades later, not much has changed. "The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it" she wrote in Women and the New Race (Eugenics Publ. Co., 1920, 1923). That idea is not wholly missing from today's abortionists.
The "good" services they provide will never make up for the evil that abortion is. That they provide proverbial "panem et circenses" ought not to distract us from the fact that they also kill more pre-born children than any other entity in this country or the world. Social services bought with blood money do not qualify Planned Parenthood as a philanthropic organization--let alone a truly charitable one--whatever their status as a nonprofit may be.
Moreover, H.R. 211 (the bill in question) is set to provide a nationwide 2-1-1 hotline; as in, "Hello, this is an emergency." Do we really believe that there are going to be people calling 2-1-1 to say, "Y'know, I want to quit smoking tobacco," or "Gee, I think I need a cancer screening today"**? No, let's face up to what this is meant to do. It's meant to make girls who find themselves pregnant--or perhaps more often, the men who helped get them that way--a quick call to the nearest abortion provider without the possibility of encountering, oh, say, the nearest crisis pregnancy center, maternity home, or Gabriel Project outreach center. This is not about helping to provide people with those other services Planned Parenthood provides; it's about ensuring that women are given abortion referrals without risking that they may encounter some other organization which will help them to choose life.
Whatever accidental good this bill may cause--and it would be mostly accidental--it pales in comparison with the evil intent of the organization which it supports.
*"The marriage bed is the most degenerating influence in the social order," wrote Margaret Sanger in her Birth Control in America (page 23). Apparently, Planned Parenthood continues to share her opinion on this matter.
**And, as it turns out, Planned Parenthood has actually lied about providing services such as mammograms. It make me wonder what other services they lie about.
If you found this post helpful, you might also like:
Abortion and So-Called "Lebensunwertes Lebes" (Catholic America Today)
Speaking Up, If Painfully
Some Thoughts on Abortion: Some Rights are Greater than Others
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Pascal's Wager was a chapter in the Pensees, in which Blaise Pascal presented an argument aimed not so much at the atheists of his day as the agnostics. The outline of the argument is as follows:
- Man must satisfy both his intellect and his will; the demand of the intellect is to know and obey truth, the demand of the will is to seek and find the good and to avoid evil.
- The agnostic claims that we can't know truth absolutely.
- However, we must ultimately live as if we did know truth: ultimately, we must live as if there is God, or as if there is not God. While we may claim intellectually not to know, not living as if there is God is equivalent to living as if there is not God.
- Since we must make a choice, our intellect is not offended by having made this choice. We therefore must choose based on our will.
Having settled the demands of the intellect, we must now turn to the demands of the will:
Read the rest at the Nicene Guys site.
If you enjoyed this post, here are some related ones:
Ignorance vs a Desire to Learn (Thirty Minute Musings)
Warnings and Ignorance (Thirty Minute Musings)
Religion or Relationship: A False Dichotomy
A Fitting Means of Salvation
Homogeneity in Heaven and Hell
What Happens to Non-Christians When They Die: a Speculative Reflection
Of Infants and Salvation (Nicene Guys)
Sola Fide and Works (Nicene Guys)
Monday, September 20, 2010
Socrates: Now, does holiness, which is to be a kind of ministering, benefit the gods? Does it improve them? Would you agree that when you do something holy you are making the gods better?
Euthyphro: No, by Zeus; not I.
Socrates: I did not think you meant that, Euthyphro. Far from it. That is why I asked what you meant by ministering to the gods: I did not believe you meant such as that....But what kind of ministering to the gods is holiness?
Euthyphro: The kind, Socrates, with which slaves minister to their masters.
Socrates: I see. Holiness would, it seems, be a kind of service to the gods....Now, can you tell me what sort of product service to physicians would produce? Would it not be health?...What about ship builders? Is there not one product it produces?...And service to house-builders produces a house?....The tell me, my friend: What sort of product would service to the gods produce?
This exchange between Socrates and Euthryphro is recorded as one of Plato's early Dialogues, fitting titled Euthyphro. To summarize the backstory to this dialogue, Socrates here is questioning the meaning of holiness, in conjunction with the meaning of justice. Euthryphro suggests that justice means "ministering" to the gods, and ministering to men, thus bringing about Socrates questioning of him along the lines of what ministering (or serving) the gods means.
Read the rest on the Catholic America Today blogs.
Friday, September 17, 2010
In one of my recent link round-ups, I linked to a set of stories which proclaimed the end of "Catholics" in Alliance for the Common "Good." My brief statement for that story was:
After this bit of bad news, some good news is in order: "Catholics" in Alliance for the Common Good is apparently out of business (for now?). I will add my voice to the others who have said, variously, "good riddance" and "Thanks be to God." Now, if only "Catholics" United, "Catholics" for Choice, and the "Catholic" Campaign for Human Development would follow suit...
My friend Mr Phil Carter then asked me why I don't like the Catholic Campaign for Human development; simply put, they have some ties to groups which promote things (such as contraception, abortion, Marxism, etc.) which go against Church teaching. As a follow-up question, he asked me if I had any charities which I would recommend instead of the CCHD. I gave a short reply, but said that this deserved its own post, so here is that post.
While I support giving to charities, just picking "any old charity" is not a good policy, even if the charity claims to be Catholic. Not all charitable organizations which claim to be Catholic act in accord with Catholic teaching to the fullest extent that they can (within the scope of their mission). Whether this is by malicious intent to undermine the Church's teachings or by mistake (e.g. an organization like the CCHD not doing its research before donating to other organizations, thereby accidentally giving money to groups who support abortion or contraception or gay "marriage", etc., groups which will even use that money to further that support).
I am not an expert in the ties of every charitable organization with ties to the Church, be those ties in name only or more significant. With that said, here are my thoughts on charities. I should note that these are not necessarily hard rules, but rather are some principles which may help some Catholics who want to give to help the poor without supporting abortion or contraception or a host of other social issues which go against Catholic moral teaching. We should be able to help the poor and destitute--including by making financial contributions to organizations which claim to do this--without having to compromise our moral principles.
My first recommendation is to consider "shopping" local if you want to help the poor in our own country. Donate to the local soup kitchen or food pantry: they will often do "food drives," so you can donate by participating in this way and know exactly what your money is going to support. Another alternative, for those living in the Austin Area (as well as some other cities in the southeast), is the Mobile Loaves and Fishes program; other ares may have an equivalent program to this, which takes the food to the hungry and poor people of the area. The principle also works with Saint Vincent de Paul: donating clothing (new or gently used) and other items.
The reason for "shopping local" with charities is three-fold. First, they help people within your own immediate community, some of whom you have almost certainly met, and who have likely asked you for aide. Second, the local charities are often volunteer-run, and as a result may have less overhead--your donations become more efficient. Third, the local charities rarely get distracted with issues outside of their immediate concern. Recall that for all their good work, both Catholic Charities and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society spent quite a bit of time lobbying for health-care reform, including urging people to call their congressmen to pass the controversial (abortion-funding, almost certainly contraception-funding) health-care bill.
My second recommendation is to consider funding very specific charities such as the Gabriel Project, or the local maternity home. In general, helping the poor should go hand-in-hand with being pro-life (and vice-versa). In the case of charities like these, you are helping poor women faced with a "crisis pregnancy," and you know that the organization in question will put your donations to good use locally. Crisis Pregnancy Centers can also be a good option. plus, you know that if any of these organizations does happen to spend some of your donation supporting a cause outside what you might consider their charitable mission (most don't), it is going to be pro-life.
A third recommendation is having your own "water-bottle" ministry (of sorts). Carry some bottles of fresh water (and maybe some granola bars, fruit, or some other "snack") in your car (or backpack). You can give these to the homeless and panhandlers who you encounter. It's not much, but they usually appreciate it; they appreciate it even more if you ask their names, since this means that you are recognizing their dignity as fellow men.
So far I have given suggestions only for working locally. What about working nationally, or (more importantly) internationally? I actually have a few recommendations for this. First and foremost is the Peter's Pence collection. Most (if not all) Catholic Churches in America take up a collection for this annually. The money is sent to the Vatican, and is generally used by the Pope (or his designee) for charitable work. In other words, you are sending money to help the Pope in his charitable works. Similarly, you could donate to your local church's charitable fund, or your local diocese's. These support the charities of your local bishop or parish.
Second, you could consider sponsoring a child (or a family) in a third-world country. You'd have to research your charity on this one, but I suspect that the odds are the money you send are going to support a real live person (or family) who is starving and/or needing the other basic necessities of human life. Condoms and/or sterilizations aren't among those necessities, and as far as I know they aren't treated as such by most charities in which you sponsor a family/child/other person. Not to mention, you can extend your sponsorship to be spiritual as well as material, both in prayers and kind correspondences.
Third, you could donate to the visiting missionaries which come every few weeks or months to any given American Church. I suppose, though, that since these are often representatives of foreign dioceses, this counts as much towards supporting the Church as it does towards charitable donations. You can also send aide to organizations like the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's organization)*. You could also consider donating to a particular branch of a larger national/international charity: for example, to the adoptions services of Catholic Charities.
If you want to work with a larger charity, Saint Vincent de Paul is the best I know of. The whole health-care-bill thing was well-intentioned, and likely a prudential blip on the map. They really do good work, both locally and internationally. If you don't mind the occasional rallying/lobbying for controversial political goals (like health care reform in spite of the abortion funding), then they are probably the best large charity. I've not heard of any condom-distribution scandals or the like**.
As a final principle, you can consider donating your time as well as your treasure, though to be fair there are some people--myself included--who are "time-poor," and they aren't necessarily the same people as those who are "materially" poor.
*However, it is worth researching these foreign charities before donating, just to be safe.
**With that said, the whole push by them and by Catholic Charities on the health-care front really hurts the reputation of both organizations. People--Catholic or otherwise--who donate money to charities do so in the hope that the charity will work directly with people in need, not by urging the passage of controversial legislation, however necessary a reform of the health care system was. Health care may be a basic right, but this doesn't mean that government needs to provide it, let alone in the form of a bill which provided for abortion funding.
Update: and of course, within a short time of writing this a scandal would have to erupt at the Vatican bank. I'm not sure whether or not this ties into the Peter's Pence collection, though.
If you found this post helpful, you might also like:
Idealism, Pragmatism, and Expediency
Social Services and Blood Money
Backstory: Well, our laser is broken again. When we were working on it a few days ago, we heard a loud snapping noise from the power amplifier box, and when we shut off the pump lasers, we found damage spots neatly drilled by the laser into both the front and back surfaces of our titanium sapphire (Ti:S) pre-amplifier crystal. Bummer. Thus, today we were asked an important question in our meeting.
Question: Wat caused this problem.
Material Cause--The laser beam and the titanium sapphire crystal.
Formal Cause--Brights spots are imposed in the laser beam, which exceeded the damage threshold of Ti:S and so burned a hole.
Efficient Cause--Diffraction and/or focusing of the laser beam through the damage frequency-doubling KTP crystal in one of the Thales Saga pump lasers.
Final Cause--The Thales execs, design engineers, and/or quality control folks were greedy and slothful, so they cut corners and gave us a defective product. The KTP crystals used were of lower damage threshold and smaller size (it's cheaper that way), resulting in the infrared laser's fluence exceeding the damage threshold of the KTP crystal. The result of this is that said crystal was damaged, and the green (frequency doubled) beam was of poor quality. This poor quality resulted in the development of hots spots in the beam, which grew worse when it was focused. Some of these hots spots exceeded the 10 J/cm^2 damage threshold fluence of Ti:S when focused, which therefore damaged the Ti:S crystal. Incidentally, when the first KTP crystal was replaced by a brand-new out-of-the-box KTP crystal loaned to us by some colleagues with the same laser system from a different university, the new crystal lasted all of 5 minutes. Design flaw.
Conclusion: Even in physics, things such as intent and will matter. In this case, one effect of the capital sins of sloth and greed is that our laser is not working right now, and will probably take some time to be fixed. Therefore, morality--at least as manifested in the practice of ethics--can affect scientific research by sheer accident. Moreover, such things as "final cause"--that is, the exercise of one person's will--can have a direct bearing even in the otherwise deterministic realm of experimental research in the physical sciences.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Our enemies press upon us,
Accusers and despisers--
They say we're too judgmental, too intolerant--
Though they've never taken much time,
Nor exerted any effort to understand
Why we think and believe the way we do.
"Your beliefs are so unfair" they cry,
Sophists and relativists all--
"Any morality which holds sins to account
Is simply too rigid, too old and stale"--
they crucify and cast sharp stones,
And tell us we're the unloving ones.
Read the whole poem at the Nicene Guys site. This is the seventh (and thus final) poem about the principal virtues--there was a bit of a time lapse between the last one and this one. On another note, I personally think that my poems about the 7 deadly sins are collectively better than my poems about the 7 principal virtues. Perhaps this means that I understand the sins more than the virtues; perhaps I need to work more on understanding (and practicing) the virtues? In any case, we could all be--should be--more virtuous and less sinful.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
"Depart not from a wise and good wife, whom thou hast gotten in the fear of the Lord: for the grace of her modesty is above gold" (Ecclesiastes 7:21).
"But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, Mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
I miss a day or two (tight schedule early in the week), and come back only to find that arguable the hottest topic in the Catholic blogosphere is...pants*. Apparently, this started with a ill-conceived manifesto printed by CatholiCity, which was rebutted by Mrs Simcha Fischer's pro-pants manifesto, and the latter has been lauded by others in the blogosphere. At the risk of putting my foot into my mouth again, I will say this about the whole pants, dresses, and skirts thing. I personally do not care what a woman decides to wear, so long as it's modest. There are plenty of modest cuts of pants, just as there are some very immodest skirts (usually, cut too high) and dresses (usually, the top is cut too low, and sometime the top too high).
I would like to assume the best of all involved, but I don't really know much about the folks at CatholiCity. I would like to think that they have good motives and are calling for modesty in a manner which was meant to be somehow humorous but which comes off as tactless and "creepy," yet tactless ineptitude only goes so far as an credible explanation as to why I should exercise charity and kindness in interpreting their motives. And though I don't know personally any of the folks on the other side (we'll call it the pro-pants side, though anti-creep may be truer to the mark), I respect the three who I read regularly as writers, and so am assuming that their sources of information are correct and that the CatholiCity folks really are the controlling creeps and utter misogynists that are claimed by Mr Shea and Mrs Manning (and by extension Mrs Fischer, others). The CatholiCity manifesto certainly reflects this latter view.
My own thoughts on dress (and dresses) is that I personally prefer dresses and skirts to pants (on women, not me!), and so I am grateful that my wife likes to wear them. However, I also recognize that there are plenty of good reasons to wear pants, and so I won't criticize my wife when she chooses pants over dresses. I consider it a sort of treat when she wears a lovely dress to a date, just as I think she considers it a treat when I put on a bow-tie and suspenders (or jacket) rather than a t-shirt.
I pretty much don't care what other women are wearing, so long as it is modest and not worn in a deliberate attempt to incite lust** in either myself or in others. Odds are, I won't compliment a outfit as anything other than "practical" (or modest, or a good budgetary find) if it consists of pants and a shirt. Luckily, I also don't have to. That's one of the nice things about being a married man: I am pretty much free to just be myself, and not worry about what other people think (save perhaps my wife). I do my best to let others (married or otherwise) do the same.
*Ok, more precisely, it's about the apparent creeps who would have women stop wearing them.
**As to accidental attempts to incite lust, it's hard to believe that there are (m)any people who are so ignorant as to be "accidentally" guilty of this, but I suppose that instructing the ignorant is an act of spiritual mercy, as is, for that matter, rebuking sinners. The trick, of course, is to do both in a manner of charity and humility, with an appropriate measure of decency and tact, rather than in the spirit of pride, desire to dominate, and of judgmental condemnation.
If you enjoyed this post, here are some other related posts:
Modesty and the Culture Wars (Catholic America Today)
Thoughts About "SlutWalk"
A Tale of Two Columns
Wright Is Right
Love and Responsibility (Book Review)
Monday, September 13, 2010
At hand is the peril of Christendom,
The Turks lay siege to her last great fortress,
The armies march in time to the war drum,
Will no one challenge the Prophet's conquest?
Not the Brits nor the Dutch, not Spain nor France
Have offered beleaguered Vienna aide,
She must await a Holy Alliance,
But can she hold against another raid?
Echoes of Lepanto, another John
Rides forth to break the Turkish arms again,
The hero of the Eastern realm, Poland!
Sobieski will defeat the Sultan.
The battle is won, the siege is broken,
Europe's victory is more than token.
“And through the grace which I have been given, I say this to every one of you: never pride yourselves on being better than you really are, but think of yourself dispassionately, recognizing that God has given to each one his measure of faith. Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same function: in the same way, all of us, though there are so many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we should be joined to one another. Then since the gifts that we have differ according to the grace that was given to each of us” (Romans 12:3-6).I usually try to attend our physics department's weekly colloquium. This is the hour when a good portion of our department comes together to hear a general talk given by a person conducting research in either physics or a related field, given at a level that an advanced graduate student (or a professor) in physics can follow. Most recently, the talk in question was given by Professor Gennady Shvets, whose research interests are fairly widespread--both experimental and theoretical, with plasmas, lasers, photonics, and materials science--a youngish professor in our department. The topic of the week was metamaterials, which are themselves fairly interesting, but it is not the talk itself which is of interest today, but rather something which the professor said in introducing his talk.
He began by noting that he would talk about “metamaterials,” and that “meta” comes for the Greek word for “after” or “beyond.” So far, so good, as best I can tell. Then he made the uneasy joke that this is where the word “metaphysics” comes from--discussions of things which are “beyond” physics--and that this is a bad word in these parts (meaning in this department, and perhaps in the sciences writ large). The implications, of course, is that there is nothing “beyond” physics to discuss, not that physicists aren't qualified to discuss metaphysics with any particular authority.
This, of course, should come as no surprise to those who have followed the development of outward disdain for anything which may trace its roots back to philosophy--let alone theology--amongst physicists. We need go back no further than to the renowned--and widely popular--physicist Dr Richard Feynman. One of the final remarks made by Dr Feynman in the Feynman Lectures chapter about “The Flow of Dry Water,” he remarks that “today we cannot see whether Schrodinger's equation contains frogs, musical composers, or morality--or whether it does not.” Others, such as Doctors Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, and A H Guth--eminent physicists all--have argued along similar lines, leading their accolades to the conclusion that physics is all there is, physics is all we need. As the late Fr Stanley L Jaki puts it in his analysis of the situation,
"Feynman does not say categorically that [Schrodinger's equation] does [contain frogs, musical composers, or morality]. Yet by taking as plausible the possibility that Schodinger's equation may contain all of these things, Feynman claims that science is limitless in a sense very different from from the one already stated, namely that science is applicable wherever there are quanititative properties to measure. This unlimitedness of science is extended by Feynmen into a sweeping suggestion with no restriction whatsoever: Not only matter but everything else, morality included, can be measured, and is contained in some future form of physics....
What Penrose really claimed [in The Emperor's New Mind] was the old Platonic idea that quantities necessarily turn into real matter with quantitative properties. Therefore, since mathematical physics is the best way of dealing with the quantitative properties of matter, mathematical physics is declared to be all that we need in order to cope with existence, material as well as intellectual and moral....
Now, if such scientifically coated claims are true, one might as well follow the advice which David Hume gave at the end of his Enquiry concerning Human Understanding and burn all books except those that contain quantities and matters of fact. Obviously, Hume meant only those facts that were material and therefore could be measured in terms of quantities. At any rate, ever since Hume the book burning recommended by him has been done, at least in a metaphorical sense. It is, however, well known that during the French Revolution and kindred ideologico-political revolutions, pyres were made of books that lacked quantities and matters of facts as understood by Hume. Metaphorically, that book-burning can be done (and this is the way it is done in the name of science), by declaring that anything that cannot be measured is purely subjective, almost illusory.” (From The Limits of a Limitless Science, reprinted in The limits of a Limitless Science and Other Essays pp 8-9).
Such Platonism is alleged by Hawking himself to be in his latest book, The Grand Design. Hawking has been more than happy to declare his atheism by stating that a Creator of the universe--that is, God--is not needed because of the way that the Law of Gravity is. That is to say, because of the quantities found in the Law of Gravity, our universe (along, perhaps, with an uncounted many others) can pop into existence from nothing. That no universe has ever been observed to come into existence from nothing--in a scientific “laboratory” setting or otherwise--is wholly disregarded in favor of the “scientific” theory which does its best to replace metaphysics.
However, to declare that metaphysics is a “bad” word, or that its subject matter is “illusory” is not to cease to engage in it. Rather, it is to engage in metaphysics under the guise of physics, which is to do an injustice to both realms of knowledge. After all, to cite the laws of gravity (or of quantum mechanics, of general and special relativity, or any other branch of physics) as the ultimate cause* of the universe is to suppose that such laws preexist the universe to which such laws belong.
It is similarly bad science to declare that God does not exist simply because no scientific evidence for Him exists, since science itself consists of of the study of the laws of nature. But those laws can only be studied within the sphere of our own observable universe, and so it is useless to speculate--as Dr Hawking himself has done previously with his Wave Function of the Universe--what those laws are beyond even our own universe, assuming as he and others have done that multiple universe exist in the first place. To assume the existence of those universes is indeed to assume something beyond our own universe: that is, to assume in a different sense that there is something “beyond” physics.
There are indeed a number of physicists who have taken to proven that ours is but one of an infinite number of possible universes. Some attempt to show that ours is the only one which is possible, as Hawking has attempted to do with his Wave Function; others are content merely to state, more practically, that ours is the only one which matters, since it is here that we find ourselves. Both sets of scientists go on to assume that since they have thought of an infinite number of universes, they have therefore covered all possible universes, a gross error in reasoning which is motivated perhaps solely by their desire to rule out God.
They have, in any case, attempted to ignore and even denigrate metaphysics, which is not the same as actually avoiding it. Rather, to ignore metaphysics as “illusory” when compared with there own familiar field of physics is to still to engage in metaphysics, but to engage in it badly. Since many of these scientists have engaged in a form of Platonism as their metaphysics--perhaps accidentally, perhaps by design--it is worth noting what Plato himself had to say about experts in one subject matter brazenly blundering through another in which they held no special competence. In his Apology, which was the first of his Socratic Dialogues in The Last Days of Socrates, he portrays Socrates at the trial in which he would be condemned to death, a trial at which Plato was presumably present himself. Socrates, in his search for a man wiser than himself, first questioned the politicians (with my emphases):
“Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation for wisdom, and observed him...and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by himself; and thereupon I tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is,--for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nothing nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him....
After the politicians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithrambic, and all sorts. And there, I said to myself, you will be instantly detected; now you will find out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them--thinking that they would teach me something....Then I knew that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them. The poets appeared to me to be much in the same case; and I further observed that upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not wise. So I departed, conceiving of myself to be superior to them for the same reason that I was superior to the politicians.
At last I went to the artisans. I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and here I was not mistaken,for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets;--because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom; and therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and to the oracle that I was better off as I was.”
It would appear that now, 2500 years after the time of Socrates and Plato, the great intellects have learned nothing. They continue to believe that particular competence in one field--then, as poets or artisans, now as scientists--grants them a special competence in all other fields of knowledge, either by claiming some wisdom in those other fields or by dismissing said fields out of hand. Then as now, the intellects are made to look foolish and ignorant by their presumptuous metaphysical blusterings, which are little more than blind bumblings in a field of knowledge in which they are ill-equipped to tread.
*Not to mention that it is never really clarifies to which cause, exactly, Dr Hawking and his colleagues are referring. “The Laws of Gravity” provide at best an efficient cause and possibly a formal cause, but “gravity” does not generally exist in the absence of mass--that is, matter, material--and so it cannot be the universe's material cause. The very thrust of the atheists is, of course, that there is no final cause to the universe's existence, though this is again a matter for metaphysics more so than physics.
Originally published on the Catholic America Today website.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Note that I'm not claiming these to be the worst songs ever written, or the worst ever made into video--though some could certainly compete for either "award"--they nevertheless made me cringe. And now, just to get the bad taste out of our mouth (and to restore hearing to our ears and sight to our eyes), here is a video of Jackie Evancho singing Pie Jesu:
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Doctor Hawkings himself is no stranger to this, as he briefly mentions God (albeit metaphorically only) in his previous book. His latest work, however, is reported to “disprove” the existence of God by “proving” that there is no need for a First Cause. The fact that the First Cause (or Unmoved Mover) is but one of St Thomas Aquinas' five arguments for God's existence and that there are plenty of additional arguments aside, I find it highly unlikely that Mr Hawking will successfully prove that there was no need for a First Cause. Such an attempt has been made variously by a variety of scientists and philosophers of science, most of whose tenor in writing their proofs suggest that they have an ax to grind with this supposedly nonexistent entity.
Read the rest at the Nicene Guys site.
Update: Professor William Caroll has written a great article for the Public Discourse in which he delves a bit more into the metaphysics of "origins" as opposed to "beginnings." Meanwhile, Mr Michael Flynn has a post which is tangentially related to this one, in which he takes Dr Stenger to task for his own
Monday, September 06, 2010
Friday, September 03, 2010
I had a quick question about St. Paul the Apostle...I was having a discussion with someone regarding what made St Paul an apostle in the first place. I made the assertion that Paul was sacramentally ordained an apostle/bishop and based this on the logical extension of how the Church defines the nature of that ministry. Subsequently, I have been trying to find Scripture to support this assertion and this is the only relevant passage I could turn up -
Acts 13: 1-3 (RSV-CE)
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyre'ne, Man'a-en a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
My friend makes the assertion that St Paul was directly ordained by Jesus, and that this was the basis by which Martin Luther claimed authority for himself - by a type of direct "spiritual ordination." I don't even know if that claim about Martin Luther is correct, but that is what he said.
This sounds incorrect to me as I assumed Paul would have had to have been ordained in the physical presence of someone with authority to do so and that this is the basis for Apostolic Succession - even the Apostles were ordained by Jesus while being in his physical presence and this is the basis for the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
So... I was wondering if you resolve this for me or let me know of some resources so I can find the answer for myself.
That’s an interesting question, and I'm afraid that my answer may seem a bit speculative. I'm not the world's biggest expert on this one, but here are a few of my thoughts:
1) There is some speculation that the first preaching journey of Saul and Barnabas was undertaken with Barnabas in charge, and Paul as his assistant. If it seems that Paul spoke more often than Barnabas, then recall that when Moses was sent to Pharaoh, his brother Aaron was given to him as an assistant to speak for him
2) Unlike the case with Luther, Paul’s authority was actually recognized by the early Church, including especially the apostles. He had to present himself to Peter and James the lesser (a.k.a. “The Just” and “Brother of the Lord”: another apostle) before he was sent out on missions of his own (see Galatians 1;18). He later meets with several of the other apostles, during his second (or maybe third? the details aren’t exactly clear) visit to Jerusalem, which involves what is known as “The Council of Jerusalem.” This was the one and only ecumenical apostolic council after the apostles had scattered to evangelize beyond Jerusalem.
3)His mission to the gentiles was accepted by Peter, John, and James (presumably the Lesser, since I think this was after the martyrdom of James the Greater) around A.D. 48-50 during this council. See Galatians 2:1 and Acts 15:1-30 and 15:22 especially.
4) For that matter, Paul mentions that he spends three years in Damascus with Barnabas, Ananias, and the other disciples (Galatians 1:18). Barnabas is called an apostle (though he was not one of the original 12, nor the 13th which was elected to replace Judas), so it is also possible that he was ordained (possibly to be a priest?) by Barnabas.
5) It is mentioned that hands were layed on Paul and Barnabas by the other disciples before they left on Paul’s first mission. It is possible that there were bishops present amongst these dispels, but this is only conjecture on my part.
My thoughts are that there were plenty of opportunities for Paul to be ordained as bishop before he left on his second missionary journey (the first which he undertook without being under Barnabas’ authority). Moreover, his mission was accepted by the Church authorities of the day: namely, St Peter along with at least two other apostles from the original 12, and Barnabas. The same cannot be said about Martin Luther, who went against the Church authorities of his day at the earliest convenient time for his doing so. For an interesting essay--also from a Catholic perspective--concerning Luther’s “reform” as compared with genuine reform undertaken by a Catholic Saint, see this post on the Creative Minority Report.
Hope this helps.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
You cannot make him out at all,
But many sanguine people hope
To see him through a microscope.
His jointed tongue that lies beneath
A hundred curious rows of teeth;
His seven tufted tails with lots
Of lovely pink and purple spots,
On each of which a pattern stands,
Composed of forty separate bands;
His eyebrows of a tender green;
All these have never yet been seen--
But Scientists, who ought to know,
Assure us that is must be so...
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!
Hillaire Belloc, The Microbe
The world's greatest living technician has cut himself with Occam's razor. Of course, when one is a devout atheist, every new or old discovery is a proof against the existence of God, just as the Christian may see God's hand behind everything--not least f which is the continued existence of the universe and the continuity of the laws which govern the universe.
Is there nothing which Texans won't deep fry for their state fair? Latest item on the menu: beer.
Speaking of alcohol, apparently drunk baboons are a problem in South Africa. I hear they can be fairly vicious and aggressive when sober, which leaves me to wonder: are the baboons happy drunks, or angry ones?
And now for two stories in which the morality as the sole criterion of the good is on display. First, with a tip of the derby cap to Mr Mark Shea, come this story about the German cannibal restaurant which solicited human donors to donate body parts for the menu. Second, from Mrs Erin Manning comes a lawsuit case in the Netherlands over a college move-in guide's solicitation for the students' to engage in prostitution: specifically, "online sex workers," a.k.a. pornography, including perhaps hard-core pornography. That's an excellent reason for a lawsuit, but the complaint is not that the freshmen are being solicited for prostitution--which is legal in the Netherlands--but rather that some of the freshmen might be underage.
After this bit of bad news, some good news is in order: "Catholics" in Alliance for the Common Good is apparently out of business (for now?). I will add my voice to the others who have said, variously, "good riddance" and "Thanks be to God." Now, if only "Catholics" United, "Catholics" for Choice, and the "Catholic" Campaign for Human Development would follow suit...
For those who enjoy questions relating to consciousness, materialism, and philosophies of mind, Mr John C Wright has a review of Blindsight in which he discusses these things, as well as a follow-up post on the matter.
As with newspapers and magazines, for with books? The Telegraph reports that the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary will never be printed, due to declining book sale. All of this, thanks to the popularity of the internet. As for me, while the convenience of reading electronic versions of any book is nice, it's hard to beat the feel of actually reading a book, both in terms of reading from actual pages and in terms of the feel of an actual book in the hands.
Of especial interest to me--I am soon to make the temporary commitment to be a lay Dominican--is the commencement of the 290th General Chapter meeting of the Order of Preachers in Rome. Tip of the derby cap to the St Catherine of Siena Institute for posting the link.
From Monsignor Charles Pope: it's time to start evangelizing! My own pastor has also been saying this quite a bit recently, and I agree. Some practical advice from the good Monsignor can be found on his site. Also of help is this post from Mr Marcel Lejeune.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
"The metaphor argument, that the priest should be male because he represents Jesus, the male priest, is simply fallacious. The priest does not represent Christ, but serves as leader of the community of men and women worshiping God in communion with Christ. Further, since the Risen Christ is neither male nor female, any gender based symbolism ascribed to the presider is meaningless" (emphasis mine).
The most annoying thing about the heresy of modernity--to which VOT"F" apparently adheres, if one were to judge based on this letter (among other things)--is that it is a bastardized reincarnation of all the old heresies which were for a while laid to rest. Every major heresy, from Arianism to Peliagianism, from Montanism to Nestorianism, and from Manichaenism to Monophysitism (yes, the opposite of Nestorianism) is given a second life under the name of modernity. The particular heresy of which VOT"F" is guilty this time is one of the oldest--perhaps the oldest, since in some ways it predates Christianity--is Gnosticism.
Their interpretation--that the risen Christ is neither male nor female--shows exactly the right kind of disdain for the the body to regard them as a sort of Gnostic. Where, exactly, they get the information that the risen Christ is "neither male nor female," I do not know. It is certainly not from the original sources, of which only the Gospel accounts are extant. Neither do they draw on oral Tradition, nor on the creeds, nor any of the teachings of the Church. These sources, when they speak, suggest the opposite conclusion.
Consider, first of all, the reactions of those who are said to have encountered the Risen Christ. One would think that they would register some form of surprise or alarm had He appeared to them as a hermaphrodite. Instead, the only surprise we hear of is the joy of His disciples on learning of His resurrection. Ponder, for example, the following passage from the Easter narrative of St John's Gospel:
"When she [St Mary Magdalene] had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away" (John 20:14-15).
She mistook Him at first for the gardener: which seems to me unlikely is the risen Lord was a hermaphrodite, unless VOT"F" wants to now posit that the gardener, too was a hermaphrodite.
Perhaps they are trying to force this interpretation onto the passage from Luke describing the resurrection encounter on the road to Emmaus. This passage, Luke 24:13-35), states only that the disciples "eyes were held, that they should not know him" (Luke 24:13), and that after He broke bread with them "their eyes were opened, and they knew him" (Luke 24:31). Ok, but this does not give any evidence to say that the risen Christ was neither male nor female, only that the disciples didn't recognize Him, much as St Mary Magdalene did not initially recognize Him. This is more a measure of their surprise at encountering a man whom they knew had been executed. They expected to find Him dead in his tomb, not alive and well and traveling with them to Emmaus, 60 furlongs (7.5 miles) away.
There is, of course, far more to this claim that Christ was "neither male nor female" after His resurrection. First of all, it is a denial of bodily resurrection, a point which the Bible practically hammers into its readers. Both St Luke and St John go out of their way to explicitly state that the risen Christ has a body:
"Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not. But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and feet" (Luke 24:36-40 with my emphases).
Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord....Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20: 19-20, 24-27 with my emphases).
Thus, a merely "spiritual" resuscitation is out. He appeared to them in bodily form, which gives two possibilities: the resurrection of His body; or a reincarnation rather than a resurrection. The former means that he retains such features as sexuality--the Risen Christ is still a male--whereas the latter implies nothing whatsoever about His body, only that he happens to occupy a new one. But if he occupies a new body, why does St John go out of his way to state that Christ showed the apostles "his hands and his side" (that is, those places where he was pierced?). Why, indeed, is St Thomas able to put his hands into the nail holes? It would be quite a stretch to say that Christ's risen body retains all of the same features of His old body save for his sexuality.
Moreover, in a reincarnation, there is no need for the old body to disappear, yet all four Gospels are quite clear that the tomb is left empty. Therefore, we conclude that the risen Christ was resurrected, and not reincarnated, which means that he retains the male sexuality. That He was resurrected is the teaching of the Church, of Tradition, and of Scriptures. Consider Christ's own teaching in the gospel of St Matthew:
"That day there came to him the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection; and asked him, Saying: Master, Moses said: If a man die having no son, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up issue to his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first having married a wife, died; and not having issue, left his wife to his brother. In like manner the second, and the third, and so on to the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. At the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? for they all had her. And Jesus answering, said to them: You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken by God, saying to you: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:23-32 with my emphases; this is also recorded by St Mark and St Luke).
Clearly, then, Christ Himself is teaching a resurrection. If The Gospel writers are not clear enough on this point, consider the letters from St Paul, which mention the resurrection countless times. Indeed, the Acts of the Apostles records that he disputes with the philosohpers of the Epicureans and the Stoics concerning the resurrection (not the reincarnation or mere "spiritual rising" of Christ). Perhaps most relevant of his letters is the passage from 1 Corinthians 15:11-21 (again, with my emphases):
For whether I, or they, so we preach, and so you have believed. Now if Christ be preached, that he arose again from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ; whom he hath not raised up, if the dead rise not again. For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep: For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead.
If Scripture as a whole is not clear enough, then it is worth also turning to the Historical creeds. The Apostles' Creed concludes by stating that "we believe...in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting." Similarly, the Nicene Creed gives "We believe...in the resurrection of the dead." As for the lesser-known Athanasian creed, it states that
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.....At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.
This is the Faith of the Church, outside which salvation is not to be found. But why is this so important, other than all of the reasons which I have so far presented? Here we return to the question of Gnosticism, which denied that Christ was "true man" (and often, that He was "true God"). Suppose we take the last remaining way "out" for VOT"F"C's and say that while all of these passages are true as far as they go, there is a hidden interpretation (that is, hidden knowledge, hidden gnosis) which is oh-so-easy to overlook. Specifically, the most explicit passages concerning the body's resurrection are not necessarily specific to Christ, but rather to mankind.
Here is rank Gnosticism in its most blatant form. For if Christ's risen body is to be a reincarnation rather than a resurrection, then we must ultimately deny the original incarnation: perhaps He was and perhaps He was not truly and fully God****, but He was most certainly not fully man, that is, a man. This is ultimately what VOT"F"C's position ultimately boil down to, and it is identical to the teaching of the Church's early Gnostics.
It also has an unfortunate implication, to which I alluded earlier in my selection from St Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians: "For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:21). In other words, if Christ was not truly and fully man--in addition to being truly and fully God--then we have no resurrection, no salvation, and no hope for new life in the world to come. The act of salvation must also be an act of reconciliation between God and Man, and thus require both God and Man to participate fully.
Thus, to state, as VOT"F"C did, that "the Risen Christ is neither male nor female" is to ignore both Scripture and Tradition, to embrace Gnosticism, and to separate oneself from the Church. It is, moreover, to embrace a theology which ultimately rejects the body--indeed, one which abolishes man--and which in the final measure denies not only Christ's resurrection, but also our own salvation.
*As to the Holy Father's own opinion on this matter, he has noted (when he was the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith) that the teaching in Pope John Paul the Great's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was infallible. Additionally, in his most recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy Father writes (emphasis mine):
Here [John :5:6-8] John very obviously gives the motif a polemical turn against a form of Christianity that acknowledges Jesus' Baptism as a saving event but does not acknowledge his death on the Cross in the same way. He is responding to a form of Christianity that, so to speak, wants only the word, but not the flesh and blood. Jesus' body and his death ultimately play no role. So all that is left of Christianity is mere "water"--without Jesus bodiliness the word loses its power. Christianity becomes mere doctrine, mere moralism, an intellectual affair, but it lacks any flesh and blood. The redemptive character of Jesus' blood is no longer accepted. It disturbs the intellectual harmony.
Who could fail to recognize here certain temptations threatening Christianity in our own times?
**There are, of course, a number of arguments against ordaining women as priestettes, as well as rebuttals to the arguments in favor of women's ordination. I've noticed, in any case, that the trend amongst those who want women to be ordained is that they do not really comprehend what the sacrament of ordination is or what it does. They take it as a matter of right, like a political office, when in fact it is a duty. The believe that people choose this sacrament, when in fact if they have discerned properly, they find that they are actually chosen by God. Among other things, this means that those women who think that they are called to be priestettes have not properly discerned God's calling to them--if they have bothered with discernment in the first place. On a related note is that a crisis in discernment also often underlies a couple's decision to contracept, thus furthering the parallels between the priestly role and the fatherly one.
***A more humorous rebuttal on this point is given by Mr LarryD of the Acts of the Apostasies:
Apparently, these folks take St Thomas the Apostle's declaration a bit further than he had ever considered. All he wanted to do was probe the nailmarks with his finger, and put his hand in Jesus' side, and then he would believe. I get the impression that the VOTF Chicagoland group - and quite possibly many others like them - would only be convinced of Jesus' gender should they lift His toga. And even then they wouldn't believe their own eyes.
****An additional question raised by VOT"F"C's statement about the resurrected Christ is whether or not they believe that Christ is fully God or not. Moreover, it is reasonable to ask if they subscribe to the heretical belief that Christ was "just a man" before His Death, but was raised to or united with the Godhead after His resurrection. Was Christ or was He not truly and fully God, equal in the Godhead with the Father, to paraphrase the Atahanasian creed? And was He always God--the God Who became a Man--from the moment of His conception, or was He a Man who later became a God?
Note: While this article originally appears on the Nicene Guys site, I decided that it was worth republishing the whole thing here, too, since the post to which this is the sequel was originally made here.
If you enjoyed this post, here are some other related posts:
Gnosticism: The First Heresy (Nicene Guys)
VOT"F" on the Role of Priestettes
What Happens to Non-Christians When They Die: A Speculative Reflection
Pascal's Wager and Invincible Ignorance: Irreconcilable? (Nicene Guys)
Priestettes, VOT"F", Resurrection, Reincarnation, and Gnosticism (Nicene Guys)
Priestesses: Why We Don't Have 'Em Here
Marriage and the Bible: Was Saint Paul "Anti- Marriage?"
Homogeneity in Heaven and Hell?
Montanism and the Dangers of Pride (Nicene Guys)