Sunday, July 23, 2006

Thanks to the beauty of RSS feeds, I stumbled across this article on the calculation of government-subsidized USF service: For once, I decided to write a response to it online because I was tired of reading the one-sided views that ranted on each side of the fence about this issue. See below for that brief response that I left. I intend to follow this one up with little reflection on why conservatism can truly be the banner for progress and how ponderous institutionalization can be a barrier thereto.

Any heated rhetoric in this discussion should not be directly aimed at the rural user but instead to a government that encourages an entitlement attitude. Whenever these taxes were passed years ago, most (hopefully all) of the representatives involved weren't wringing their hands saying, "Good, just another way we can steal from the taxpayer." They really wanted to help the American people.

The issue at hand, though, is that it doesn't help the American people to monopolize the plan for such an infrastructure. The government's role should be to guarantee that the market can remain free for competition and primarily take that role. When it comes to addressing an important issue like getting telephone lines to everyone, the forces of competition will encourage efficiency. Ultimately, those representatives who were not directly trying to steal from the American public really end up doing such because excess money will always be taken by taxes. If there isn't enough, it will just be raised. That does not encourage much fiscal responsibility. In this case, so much money is wasted where it could be used by the public to reflect the progress desired by the American people when they use the forces of their buying power.

Perhaps if any action should be taken by the government, it should offer tax cuts to the people who are willing to take the risk to wire in these rural areas. This too has to be watched, though, so as to be proactive and not just an empty check to the businesses. Another factor is that phone companies, in an open market, could ask for an extra dollar or two voluntarily. I know that my gas bill allows for this to help subsidize the very poor. Such a donation could function the same for phone companies to subsidize the bills of the very poor.

A truly noble government does not make the righteous decisions for people but enables people to make righteous decisions on their own. Of course I think that taxes can do a lot of good and can even reflect the righteousness of a people. However, they are not the only answer. People do not always have to work en masse but can also work together as individuals. Ultimately, the truly just society will do just that.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

In the news this week was president Bush's veto of the bill for the provision of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. I have been meaning to write on this subject for the past couple of days but have been prevented from doing such. Since I do not have the will to actually do some work right now, I'm finally going to express my feelings with respect to this issue.

First of all, let me bring some nice little facts into the foreground. My little sister, who is fifteen years old at the time of this entry, is a type I diabetic. She has been such since the summer between second and third grade. I have seen her deal with needles like a little champ for all these years and have often thought, "Gee, Matt, she sure is brave compared to you." When I donate blood I have to make sure I don't look at the needle. I have been at her bedside trying to get her out of low blood sugar moments (for those of you who understand the figures, we're talking 22 millimoles /L [I believe that is the unit] ). What's my point? I have someone dear to my heart who is effected by this entire situation and keep her in mind when I make the sorts of pronouncements that I am about to make below.

The lamentations arose from many this week over the veto of the bill. I wasn't one of those who were lamenting. I think that such a veto is necessary in a sane, stable, and moral, society. My question is this: "Since when have the most vulnerable among us been made into the ones who are to be used by us? Since when has that been right?" And where in the world are the heads on the politicians who are decrying this veto? Aren't they supposed to be the people who stick up for the little guy? There's where we start to see the insidious danger of this. They stick up for the little guy who they have defined.

Now, I know that many people truly are "the little guy" and need help. They should be helped. I ask, however, "What defines the little guy? Is it the definition itself or his/her current situation in life?" It's the situation! That a definition of "little guy" is attached to him is of secondary importance. The vulnerable are those who are down-and-out, who are defenseless, who are powerless. By their very situation, they become those who are to be helped. I will not suffer politicians defining who the "little guy" is with respect to embryonic life. Now, I feel all the pissed off complaints coming: "How dare you, Matt. You're nothing more than a closed-minded dogmatist." Well, to that I say, "Follow me through on this one."

If you slip but a millimeter, indeed, if you only give them the size of one cell, created by the fusion of sperm and egg, you will give them the entirety of humanity. There is no actual justification for the redefinition of life as excluding the embryo except by rhetoric (with cold logic). Perhaps one could argue that the definition of life from the embryonic stage is also nothing but rhetoric. Even if that were so, we can quickly see which tree is good and which is bad by observing the outcome of excluding embryonic life as being human.

This is already visible when we look at the entire vision of the issue of abortion. Slipping on the embryo has led to the point of making permissible even partial-birth abortion. If you define a human by exiting the womb of the mother, you can justify all acts of murder up to that point. Eventually, one must put to question the perpetrators of such actions. You most surely want to ask, "What is the difference between that child just killed and what it would have been several moments later, outside of the womb." It is but straw to say that it is only the fact that it had not left the mother. Such close proximity of time makes the act almost unjustifiable in the eyes of its supporters. Perhaps the response becomes, "Well, I didn't want the child, therefore, it is not good for it to live."

Now, we all know that the opinion which others have for us ultimately should not make us choose to die. Nevertheless, this is what is forced on these children who could have at least been adopted. The fruits of that mentality are already manifesting themselves in the pre-birth genetic screenings that are done to determine if a child is truly wanted. (Yes, I know that not all people get these done for the end of deciding on an abortion but instead to be informed of the health of the upcoming child. In such a case, the test is not evil but only serves to prepare the parents.) However, this becomes even more dangerous, for now it is no longer just a matter of the circumstance dictating the life's viability but instead the existence of a variety of traits.

It is at this point that we should all be shuddering. Of course, not everyone shudders at this. They can think of a whole list of things that they think are undesirable in life. We can all make a list of attributes that we don't like about ourselves and wish we didn't have. However, we , and I emphasize this, must agree that such feelings are wrong because they deny the goodness inherent in a person by their very being. The very thought of such definitions making the decision for what is and is not life should frighten you nearly to death. At this point, not a single thing stops eugenics from occurring. All that is required is for someone in power to decide what traits really are not worth living with. To such assertions, I must insist the following: "The ontological goodness of the human being can not be defined by genetic determinism which creates characteristics. The love which is always (I stress ALWAYS) potential in humanity is what makes man good. Man is never without the potential to love and to be loved." Ultimately, this is a choice between collective determinism and personal freedom. More on that below.

Open wide the doors to eugenics and people fully become only objects and lose all subjectivity. The potentiality of the person no longer matters. To such people, humans are only human because others chose to define them as such. I must repeat: The person makes the definition and is not ascribed an ontological characteristic by the definition being applied to him. A man will never be a woman because I call him such. A person will never,ever be a person because I call him such. A person is called a person because he/she is one. End of story.

Now, we come back to the question of whether or not the embryo can definitely be called a person. It must be acknowledged that even at this stage, we are seeing the unfolding development of the human person before our eyes. No person stands alone in the world (except perhaps the ultra-insane but even they had human contact at some point). The physically developing fetus / embryo is no different. Indeed, it is one body with the mother for 9 months. If anything, what we see in the development of the person in the womb is a radical instance of unity which speaks truly about our very nature as relational beings. The fetus, in the womb, is radically living the human life, fully given to the mother for its development. He/she is not a thing to be tossed aside but a human who is growing because of the love of the parents who conceived him/her. There exists no proof that the embryo is not a human being. The very potentiality for development always exists in humanity, for each person is always working to “become more human.” It is only greatly magnified in the first months of the human life.

Alright, now we see the danger (and perhaps the fallacy, although I have only begun to discuss that) of defining these frozen embryos as being "not really human". Let us also reflect on the fact that such an objectification of man, refusing to give the human person recognition is utterly contrary to democracy. Does not democracy (as I have actually said before in this blog) declare the fact that every person's will has the potential for good? We know that being must precede the will, for without being the will can not be expressed. Therefore, democracy says that every person, in his/her very being, has a radical capacity for union with the Truth. The objectification of the embryo is one step which is part of the denial of basic ontological goodness inherent in all humans. It is therefore utterly opposed to the spirit of democracy.

I found it very amusing that the "People for the American Way" claimed that "President Bush's veto of stem-cell research is a sad but telling confirmation of his administration's priorities". (See for the entirety of the comments.) Boy, isn't George just doing it all because all he really does is hate people, wants them to be sick, and die, all just to please those whack-jobs on the right. I can not begin to explain how my head nearly exploded when my business partner showed me this article. Yes, I, like Glenn Beck, needed duct tape to keep the pieces of my skull in relatively close proximity. How can people think that anyone would have that kind of conviction and make it publicly known. It's the stuff that goes on in secret that we have to be most wary of. Come on people, give the other view a chance. I'm willing to at least say that you are trying to be compassionate. You aren't even willing to acknowledge anything good in it. (This is one reason why I must say that modern liberalism isn't very liberal.)

Now really, I know you may be thinking, "Boy, that Matt is just such an uncaring hate monger." Well, my friends, I really am not. Do I want cures for Diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, and other illnesses? Of course I would. Do I think they are just as possible with adult stem cells? Perhaps. The science (for both) is rather unknown right now. Even so, such an unknown does not warrant the killing of human beings, using them for the experimental desires of scientists. My answer to this situation: Let donors come forth to get the embryos implanted. Maybe after that's done, we can finally outlaw in vitro fertilization. That, my friends, is the tip of another iceberg, one which we will avoid this evening.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Friends, Bloggers, Countrymen...

Thus shall open this most wispy, poorly-formed, blog entry. Imagine the excitement in Paul Harvey's voice when he exclaims, "Stand by for news." Now augment this same excitement with a dash of frankness and dab of sarcasm. You now have my tone as I say, "Stand by for sweeping generalizations." Yes, my friends, what you are about to read is going to be relatively sweeping in its nature. Not every generalization is meant to point the finger at every member of the group to which the generalizing process has been performed. However, I have things to do with myself that prevent me from listing all kinds of researched sources. Hopefully some day I shall have such time but not for this entry. Now let us begin.

I have all sorts of subjects lined up for this blog. Tonight, I have picked the most shallow of subjects. It is shallow insofar as it does not penetrate the timeless questions of the universe with biting clarity. It does not primarily take its subject material from those most profound questions on essence, being, truth, and love. Instead, I shall now proceed to reflect upon (and inevitably lambast against) the modern world of Hollywood and the media.

When you think of Hollywood, you think of a variety of images. I will not list them all here right now. To do such would be an insult to your intelligence, for you truly know of you own mind's images. However, there is one image which I would like to extract from the fibers of your brain and place before us. If you have kept in touch with any of the goings-on of the present situations in the world, you are quite aware of the protesting image of Hollywood, particularly against the War on Terror. These protests are an ironic twist in the fiber of social interactions, for the protesting are partially (I will not say the only) the cause of the subject against which protesting is undertaken. That is, they have fanned the flames of the situation, escalating it to its present state.

Why do the Islamo-Fascists hate us? Of course, this is primarily answered in saying, "Because we're not Islamo-Fascists." The veracity of this statement is beyond a doubt. However, how is it that they garner support from truly thinking people? Inevitably, many of them point to the debasement of society which they perceive in the West. They are able to conjure images in which the only absolute moral fact is that every moral fact is relative. (Yes I know this a contradiction. Tell that to the pure relativists.) They Jihadists are able to point to the sexual perversion of the West as well as the narcissism of the wealthy. They decry the supposed immorality of the West as a destructive force against culture.

Now, if you are a reasonable human being, you can not deny that immorality marks the decline of a society. If a society loses its ultimate base with respect to the Truth, it begins to slip from dominance to destruction. Based on the images painted by extremists, the West could truly appear to be a danger to the rest of the world. (Of course, they do not reflect upon their own immoral destruction and despising of life. That is a different topic, though…)

Now let us think about where these images come from. We all know it and have all heard it: The media (and Hollywood). Where else do we find an agenda for the full-sweeping acceptance of homosexuality, for a cutting off of life, and for the very snuffing of it by means of abortive actions. It is in so much of Hollywood (etc.) that we find individuals who look to liberate mankind from traditional values while enslaving him to a valueless existence. It is in Hollywood that we find elitists who make their vast shares of money by promoting such currents of thought. Here do we find those who are so wrapped up in themselves that they can scarcely step outside of their own narcissism to actually be selfless. Although much of this is imposed by those who fawn over them, they too often do not make any attempt to actually live by the standards of the rest of the world, in which self-effacement is accorded a positive, edifying role.

Although America is suffering from a deficiency with respect for the most primal institution for the advancement of the society, marriage, Hollywood takes this destruction a step further. Think of all the tabloids that talk about so-and-so getting into their new marriage, etc. Additionally, think of the redefinition which they are making so unreflectively with respect to homosexuality. All of this comes from unbridled “feeling” which has not found itself directed by the intellect and will of humanity. With all surety, those who wish to undermine the family itself are a danger to the civilized world.

Having said all of this, what is my point thus far? Succinctly placed it is: The accusations of the Islamo-Fascists are not fully wrong, although they are based on an incomplete vision of the West and are hypocritical in so far as they ignore the greater danger that they pose to the entirety of the world. Whereas the world of Hollywood may often make war on the nature of the family, the radical Islamic world makes a more direct assault on humanity by denying the meaningfulness of freedom in the overall understanding of the human venture.

Because of these facts, I think that Hollywood should reflect and realize two things:
  1. They can not side with fundamentalist Islam if they want to acknowledge the dignity of each human person. If they were to make such a pact, they would hook, line, and sinker sell release their claim to an edifying view for humanity.
  2. They need to really realize that perhaps the world is not all about them. Perhaps they should stop trying to shout their opinion so loudly without thinking of the ramifications of their feelings. Quite frankly, perhaps they should “shut up” and realize that they are part of the problem that we are currently facing because they paint the distorted image which so many take to be the American morality.

The protests of Hollywood are partially caused by their own slide into moral degeneracy. In my opinion (which could well be wrong), they are part of the reason why radical Islam can take root in so many nations. If the world gazes upon America as nothing more than a self-serving nation which seeks to uproot the Truth, then we indeed must seem to be a danger. We must seem like a nation that does not want to help the world but only to help ourselves. It is no irony that the extreme left of Hollywood thinks that we (America) should keep our nose out of other people’s business. In their minds, people only act selfishly, not out of a care which desires to lift up and liberate the oppressed. Perhaps, just perhaps, these celebrity types should realize that their worldview is problematic and antithetical to the process of the liberation of mankind and that, no matter how much they protest, they will never make positive progress unless they do some intimate soul-searching for the Truth. Only after such a reformation will the actions of these protesters aid us in our quest to stop (hopefully by peaceful means but also by just war when necessary) the dehumanizing forces of Islamo-Fascism.


Please note that this writing is perhaps a bit caustic. There are many celebrities who are doing great things for the world. As I said above, I am painting with broad strokes in this entry.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Alright, I know now that I’m going to make a lot of people angry by the post that is about to follow. I also hope that I can galvanize some people toward something related to my view because I feel that this topic is of extreme importance. Now, I know that this blog is meant to be primarily my reflections as a Catholic on things relatively related to Catholicism. Tonight, my friends, I’m going to drift more directly into the realm of politics. There is a relation to morality, but this reflection will not seem like that to many people. To them, it will seem that I am ranting on things just like the news world does. Well, I’m going to say some things that go beyond what most of the news world says. Some will just call me a right-wing nut ball. Well, that’s unfair because this is a matter of right and wrong, not of left and right. Everybody, liberal or conservative, should agree with at least some part of the crux of my argument.

Alright, as many of you know there were allegations of rape and murder by a group of US soldiers in the Iraqi city of Mahmoudiya. In response to this, the accused soldiers were taken into custody for a trial. Additionally, the radical Islamic world decided to take matters into their own hands. Two soldiers were captured and murdered in revenge for the rape / murder. For more information on this, visit

While I’m still semi-cool-minded, let me assess the two responses to this situation because they epitomize what is utterly different between the radicals and the US. The United States immediately acknowledged that the rape and murder were wrong. The soldiers were taken into custody to be tried. If they are guilty of these actions, which are against our moral code, they will be punished as we see fit, without being cruel and unusual. Ahh, but the terrorists were quite a bit different. In response to this offense, they decide that two people should be sacrificed in revenge for the action. To them, human life doesn’t mean anything unless it is subordinated to their message. Their idea of justice is killing two people out of revenge, placing culpability upon the heads not only of the accused but also of others who had no part in the crimes.

This is what is most insidious about radical Islam. Human beings do not really matter to them. The human is good only insofar as he is subjected to its message. If people must be killed in order for their sectarian views to spread, so be it. If revenge is necessary to galvanize people into action, so be it. They are the people who should be feared in the Middle East and not us.

Now, I know that some of you out there are thinking, “But Matt, aren’t we just subjecting them to the message of freedom? Aren’t we killing them for our view point?” Well, first of all, what premise are we starting from? We stand for the view that men/women are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” among which are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This is what America was founded on, and this is the end current of much thought which has occurred throughout man’s history. Therefore, our actions are driven by a pursuit of life.

Now, how are we pursuing life through death? It is not always an easy task to decide how you can respond to threats to these fundamental tenets of human existence. Nonetheless, at times there are threats which are so great that they must be stopped by as humane of means as possible. Radical Islamic-Fascism is the great evil of our time. It is a movement which suppresses individuals to its message. The message is what is important, not those who believe therein. By means of perversion of Islam, they have created a fearful environment in which people sacrifice themselves out of a fanatical fear or misperception. This movement must be prevented before it can spread across the globe. This can be stopped by multiple methods which much smarter people will arrive at.

They do not speak much for the truth of their religion by forcing it on people. If a religion is in line with the Truth, it will shine forth for the world to see. Perceiving the truth, they will come to it, finding rest in that which is ordered toward the totality of the universe. A forced religion is no religion at all. It is nothing more than affront to the Almighty, for forced submission is not submission at all. It is only when religion is received in the heart that it is truly a rebinding (a re-ligation) to the divine. The more fear is spread, the less the religion is freely chosen. I therefore do not think that Radical Islam is not a religious movement by a power movement.

From this, I posit something further. If every human in the world woke up tomorrow and said they were Islamic in the way that these terrorists want, they would not stop their actions. Since their quest is not really a religious one but one of power, they will not be satisfied. They will only be satisfied if everyone is subordinated to them.

Oh, I can hear it coming, “You’re Catholic, Matt. If anyone subordinates himself to someone, it’s you to the Pope.” Now, I truly believe that the Church is the steward of the Truth. St. Joseph is often used as the image of the bishop, protecting the Truth inside of Mary’s womb. This image is most excellent in this case. St. Joseph is the steward of the Truth which comes to him from without. Indeed, he doesn’t even accept it at first but only does when he realizes that something much greater is at stake here then his own opinion. This Truth doesn’t just come to him alone. The Truth is in Mary’s womb and inevitably gives Himself for all, the central tenet of Christianity. The Church doesn’t begin as a closed circle but one of openness. Although things are much more complicated 2000 years later, we still haven’t forgotten the universal call of the Faith. The sense of the faithful is still recognized by the Church as indefectible in matters of faith and morals. All can have contact with the Truth because it stands outside of the meddling of mankind and exists immutably on its own. The Hierarchy stewards the perception of the Truth in order to prevent it from being perverted. It does fail when it contradicts the Truth. It can only be a good steward by God’s grace.

Now these two different organizations of religion can run the danger of becoming closed-in on themselves when power becomes an issue. The difference between the Hierarchy and the leaders of Islamic terrorism is that the Hierarchy stewards a truth given to them. The terrorists subordinate their holy text to themselves and their aims and then subordinate humanity to their views. It’s not a matter of looking for the Truth but instead of looking after the leaders’ aims. They contradict the Natural Law by ignoring the fact that humans are endowed with liberty and that liberty is the only way that religion can have any binding force. They ignore the fact that human lives have dignity just because they exist. If you disbelieve me on this point about life and liberty, then you really don’t believe in the American ideal, an ideal which is not proclaimed for this nation but for the world as an exposition of the Truth.

I have barely scratched the surface on this subject. I require much more thought before I can be more coherent in my reflections. Please bear with me if I should revisit this.

At this point, I sign off. So much more could be said. I will save that for another day.

Let us all pray for peace,

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Today is one of those days that must be celebratory for all graduates of my alma mater, Saint Vincent College, for today is the memorial day of St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Order of Saint Benedict. The spirit of "Ora et Labora" which animated so many Benedictines throughout the ages ultimately led Boniface Wimmer to bring his brothers to America in order to minister to the Germans. His venture set the roots for one of the largest Benedictine monasteries in the world. (I have sometimes heard that it is the largest but have also heard otherwise.) In any case, the spirit of the monks of Saint Vincent continues to be a motivating force for the edification of the world. It is precisely in their unity of work and prayer that they remain a vital, formative factor in the world.

Perhaps this message of St. Benedict is one which should be resounded to modern thought. I think that man has tendency to be a bit too hopeful in his own endeavors. A great example of this is the fact that mankind seems to have a proclivity to trust the "market" or "government" as forces of salvation. There are indeed many good things that can be done by each force. Free-market economics, like it or not, have done a great deal of good for the world. By encouraging free investment into ideas, it spurs man onward toward many goods in both science and the arts. However, the danger always remains latent in such systems that man will forget that he is more than a utility. In these cases government does its good share as well. It also is a necessity in the preservation of human freedom insofar as it prevents the destruction of coexisting freedom. Even so, it can also become a force of indoctrination which seeks its own propagation because of its own rule for the "good" of all.

What is missing in both cases is often a realization of the Other. Man must orient himself to the Truth if he is going to make any true positive progress. (This is a theme which seems to keep cropping up in this blog. No redundancy is desired in stating this fact.) If market and government become the focal point of orientation, all deeds are focused on the truths latent in their subordinate existence, ultimately dependent on mankind. It doesn't take much to realize that being subordinate to man's own conceptualizations is a bit risky of an endeavor (to say the least). The whole sodden state of affairs in which we find ourselves riddled with sinful action proves that man is not absolutely good (although he is indeed capable of a radical ordering to the Truth). Man's gaze must rise above himself if he is to act in such a way that will truly build the world up. He must orient himself to That which is greater than him. This is where ora becomes necessary.

Prayer remains that fundamental link which never can be forgotten. It is only possible if the author of Truth and Truth itself are communicable and not merely idle forms outside of the world. Effective prayer is an encounter in which the relationship between the created and the Creator is refreshed and strengthened. Labora is only fully possible when ora occurs. It is only by communing with the Truth that man may fully act according to It. Without this orientation, man begins to strike out without reflection. Like St. Peter who fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane, we will find ourselves always cutting the ears off those who assail us instead of reflectively working to lift them (and the world) up. It was up upon the Cross that the great Labora was done by him who continually remained prayerfully in God's presence. Through this exchange of being, the great "work" of the Resurrection occurred, as He who prayerfully remained one in being with the Father removed the limitations of humanity, lifting humanity into the realm of the divine.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A couple of days ago, I was very much so tempted to write a bit in here about my position with respect to those lovely terms "liberal" and "conservative". I have since then decided against writing extensively about myself per se in this blog. I come here, having toiled most of the day either at my part-time job or for my business (or for both), to discuss ideas and not myself. I will only briefly touch on this subject and thus proceed to today’s reflection. I think that you will find through my ideas that it's not a matter of right and left, liberal and conservative, etc. As Sean Hannity would say, "It's a matter of right and wrong." This isn't to say that we live in a black and white world. I only endeavor to say that I desire to reach out for that most fundamental Truth which is the basis for all existing things and to behold it, as much as possible, in its fullness and no less if possible. I will err along the way but will always strive to find it where it is. In this spirit, I am liberal, willing stating a claim which is in some translations of St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae attributed to St. Ambrose, "Every truth, by whomsoever spoken is from the Holy Ghost". However, I am also conservative in so much as I am willing to state that there is ultimate meaning which is relational but not relative. Because of my general disdain for this subject and the problems which is causes, I will now move on to my reflections for this evening.

Over the weekend, I purchased some new books second hand from the Scottdale library. Yes, I know that many of you who know me are wondering, "Why in the world did you buy more books?! Don't you have enough already, Matt?" I shall reply only in this: "(1) There are so many things to know and love in this world that man should have an unassailable thirst for knowledge to the degree that it enables him to be more open to the beauty and goodness of the world as it exists. (2) I'm cheap and don't have a great income flow. Therefore, used book sales are always a ta

At any rate, I found a variety of books on the few shelves available. Among the various donated tomes, I found a variety of science fiction and a smattering of light theology and philosophy. Among the science fiction, I purchased several works of Isaac Asimov. To this point in my life, I have only read I Robot by him (and not in response to the movie which I did not see). Among the works that I purchased, one was a collection of short stories that he has written. Today while I was on my lunch break at Uptegraff, I decided to crack out this small book of short stories. (This dual offering of diminished size does not reduce the dignity of the stories, of course. ;-)) The last story that I read was a little gem called "Eyes Do More Than See." Now, in my ignorance, I had not read this very short tale up to this point in my life. If you are already familiar with this text, my hat goes off to you. For those of you who have not read it, it can be found at: From thence on, I shall reflect briefly on this story.

"I will not say: Do not weep; for not all tears are an evil"

Blessed are we, who are compositely spiritual and material. Beyond the intellect, we are able to reach the affective emotions which spirit our actions onward toward goodness, even though much bad may also come of their misuse. The beauty of the cosmos is ours in manifold ways. Man's intellect drives him onward toward such potential for good that one can scarcely begin to imagine the possibility which he promises to all of creation. Existing radically for relationality, mankind stands above all creation, able to order it in accord with the Truth and in unity with it.

If man were nothing more than a soul locked inside of a physical body, then physical existence would have no meaning for him. However, the "eyes do more than see." Think only briefly about the existence of the ocular sense. By means of our eyes, we see the world around us. In this aspect, it is not different from our other senses, which all communicate to our consciousness from the outside world. However, it is in the eyes that we have our contact with the world from within. The very gaze of man can penetrate into another, expressing feeling and depth. It is often said, in a variety of ways, "The eyes are the window of the soul." Indeed this is true, for through the eyes it can be proven that man's rationality can communicate with the corporeal realm. It is the eye which communicates those great movements of the soul from within to the without. It is also through the eye that we take in those guises of others, lightening or darkening our souls (cf. Mt. 6:22).

Alas if man is unable to express himself. If man can not jump, shout, laugh, or cry, how can he communicate himself to the rest of creation? Indeed he can not. Without these signs, man is alone in his emotions. Rationality alone can not express the inexhaustible movements of the human spirit. That most blessed doctrine of the Resurrection gives man hope beyond all compare. That man can be united with God, so fully that he can remain even bodily through eternity, is a cause for joy incomparable. Through all eternity, man need not be alone in his emotions. He can weep with Rachel for her lost children (Jeremiah 31:15) and sing of God's glory (Rev. 15:3). Humanity has no need to worry about a lack of corporality or to pine over "the fragile beauty of the bodies they had once given up" ("Eyes Do More than See"). Indeed, mankind can weep for all eternity, for his bodily emotions are not meaningless. "Not all tears are an evil" but are an expression of the depths of his emotion unto others. It is indeed an exchange of ontological importance, in which emotion communicates man’s very being, from the soul, through the body.


  1. There are varied degrees of relationality possible by means of the other senses. The eyes seem to be the most radical, although this is possibly contestable. For the sake of these reflections, I will not consider them, for it is the spirit of Asimov’s story that spurs it on and not the overall correctness of a closed philosophical system.
  2. The first (and last) quote are taken from the last words of Gandalf the White in The Return of the King. This can be found on page 310 of The Return of the King in the collector's edition of The Lord of the Rings.
  3. Additionally, I am not prescribing that man necessarily only weep throughout eternity. However, it is not an indignant position for man to take, for tears can be of great sorrow or great joy. Additionally, it is in keeping with the theme of Asimov's story, for Brock would much rather have wept than have been in a state of perpetual non-weeping.
  4. I do not usually pay heed to politically correct speech. I am not sexist but prefer this style of writing. No offense is intended. I will not reiterate this point again unless pressed to do so. I do not wish to lambast those who use "she" exclusively, so long as I am not accursed for primarily using "he".

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The thoughts of yesterday have combined with a comment that I heard on the radio today to give birth to the reflection which you will find below.

If you must put me on a social scale, many more people would call me conservative than those who would call me liberal. When it comes to a variety of moral and social issues, I have a tendency to be somewhat related to that group which is currently labeled "conservative". Included in such issues are the importance of the family, God, and the acknowledgement of human freedom which does not ultimately rely upon governmental action. However, conservatives may call me liberal for my desire to have the government aid in picking people up and enabling them to rebound from their mistakes and falls. Additionally, my general aversion to the death penalty and wanton destruction of nature for the sake of progress are signs that my heart may be bleeding more than such conservatives think it should. The list could go on for both, but I will avoid such ponderous boredom right now. ;-) When all is said and done, I am more often-than-not labeled a conservative, often to my chagrin, for I hate labels like that in general.

This labeling, however, has brought me to an interesting point. Being young and often perceived as a pure conservative makes people assume that I see only in "black and white". This charge is railed against conservatives privately and publicly. John Stewart's book "America: Democracy Inaction" shows the left brain as having grey matter that is only existent as black and white matter in the right brain. This pun is doubtlessly offered only with respect to the general accusations which are railed in this debate over the judgments of conservatives versus those of liberals. Even so, it is indicative of the general perception which exists.

Anyway, in the course of my thoughts today, I heard the “ultra-conservative” Sean Hannity express a very "grey" statement and began to think. We won't get into where my views are with respect to Mr. Hannity's. I will at least say that he is not the crack-pot that everyone makes him out to be, although I would like to talk to him on a few social issues. On the whole, however, I don't think he is the black-and-white personality that people make him out to be, as his comment today clearly expressed.

Mr. Hannity was evaluating the culpability of individuals who are sex offenders, acknowledging a difference between someone who is 18 dating a 16 year old and the more wretched case of one who is a 45-year-old who takes advantage of a young child. Sitting in the traffic coming into town from work, I though, "How is it that people can accuse conservatives of being black-and-white?" This question has come up before in my mind, but I have ignored it mainly because of the weight of the reflections that flow from thence. Such reflections, as will be seen presently, hold within them the possibility of insulting many people before I finish expressing my thoughts. Nonetheless, I would like to venture into this realm for a short while.

If one thinks about what Sean said, there is definitely an accusation of right and wrong which renders a judgment against both cases mentioned above. In both cases, each are stated as being wrong, insofar as they are in direct contradiction to the legal and moral order. The perceived "black and white" is also a partial illusion. In his treatise On the Nature of Good, St. Augustine, arguing against the dualistic Manicheans, astutely points out that things of a lesser order are called by a contrary title when compared to something of a greater amount of that same quality (cf. De Natura Boni Contra Manichaeos, Ch. 14-15). With respect to our current consideration, both acts are truly evil compared to the ultimate good against which they are compared. In that respect, the matter is black-and-white. However, within this black-and-white must be ultimately held a spectrum of grey which acknowledges the insidious slipping by means of which man deviates from Goodness into the nothingness of oblivion.

I know not where the supposed "black-and-white" is other than in the contrary which must distinguish between that which is ultimately good and that which is some degree of privation from good. If such is the case, those who desire for more grey to be show in judgment are either misjudging the apparent “black-and-white” or are gravely mistaken in their perception of what true human progress is. They are mistaken if they think that "conservatives" believe that the first individual above is as gravely wrong as the second. If they are not so mistaken, what else can they believe but that the Truth is not absolute?

Of course, such a belief would be preposterous, as such a claim is absolute in itself. However, there exists there some latent desire to accept a plurality of "truths" or "paths" as being ultimately equally acceptable. I will only begin to rebuff such thoughts, as time is running short for me right now.

If progressivism is to achieve an end of perfection, it can not look toward anything less than perfection. To accept a lesser good as part of the path of progress is an affront to the Truth and to the ultimate goal of progress' very aims. Therefore, to accept a plurality of "grey" choices is a ridiculous affront to progressivism itself. Progress can only occur when it has a true sight of what Goodness and Truth are and how man exists in such with the potential of erring with his free will.

Having given these very poor reflections, I would like to address the issues in here individually and will perhaps take one of them up in my next entry. For now, I must get ready for bed, as it is already past midnight.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

As I sit here, listening to fireworks go off somewhere in my town, I find it necessary to pause and reflect on the true goodness of the democratic enterprise. In the wretched ignorance of my more youthful days, I would sometimes despair of the apparent arrogance which seemed to pervade the American conception of democracy. Indeed, it seemed to me to be nothing more than self-flattering drivel to celebrate a system of government which could become as equally corrupt as others. While I am thoroughly ashamed of this view on my part, I must say that I am also glad that the past few years of my life have washed this rebellious strain of thought from me.

The true goodness of democracy dawned on me when I realized that it holds within it a true affirmation of the power of liberty and free-choice. This thought has grown on me by means of influences both liberal and conservative. The liberals who rail over the imposition of the government on their choices speak a truth. It is often a danger of conservativism that it can ossify a country and, even worse, trap it in upon itself. However, the danger of extreme liberalism is that it too can deprive freedom to people, trying often to justify all actions or force control by means of over-zealous governmental regulation. Now, the point of this is not that liberals or conservatives are bad or good. I find that it is impossible to pin such titles on either group. G.K. Chesterton would say that it is impossible to find a good path of progress in either alone, for the only way to have a sure plan is to have planned it from experience, that is that true progress must be conservative also. We will not discuss this right now, although maybe it will come up at some later time. The essence of what I am saying here is that in this very protracted example, both groups hit upon an essential truth: That the human being is indeed free and must be able to make choices as such.

Of course, such freedom has its limits and any just society must protect the freedoms of all of its members, no matter how frail. Freedom does not stand against freedom but instead for it. Free will must be aimed at the unity of individuals and not the destruction of the bonds of true, unitive love. For this reason, laws exist to ensure that freedom may not be squashed by its own weight when misused. However, I have digressed.

The democratic spirit, when exercised aright, is truly an affirmation of Christian thought. The spirit of democracy proclaims from the mountaintops that man is intrinsically able to look toward the Truth which stands outside of him. It also acknowledges that something is not exactly right with any one man, that all of mankind suffers from the effects of its own weakness and sin. In one grand swoop, the democratic ideal aims to overcome the sinfulness of man by acknowledging his capacity for the Good and for the Truth. It realizes that man can and must strive for the Truth each day. Democracy does not hold itself to perfection. It has no aspirations for perfection in this lifetime. If that were the case, we would need no leadership or we could have a ruling monarch. Instead, we turn together as brethren and consider the Truth, which is ultimately communicated to us from without and reflect upon it within. Democracy can only function by action which sets forth from this type of reflection, always working to overcome human short-sightedness by looking deeper into the depths of the Truth.

Because of this true good which exists in what we Americans (and others, of course) have in our democratic system, we celebrate our Independence Day today. May freedom be embraced, with all of its possible infirmities, and may it always be aimed toward the unity of freedoms, ultimately by means of unity with Him who freely creates freedoms out of a true ontological love.