Sunday, May 9, 2021

"To us, everything is permitted"

 "We reject the old systems of morality and 'humanity' invented by the bourgeoisie to oppress and exploit the 'lower classes.'  Our morality has no precedent, and our humanity is absolute because it rests on a new ideal.  Our aim is to destroy all forms of oppression and violence.  To us, everything is permitted, for we are the first to raise the sword not to oppress races and reduce them to slavery, but to liberate humanity from its shackles . . . Blood?  Let blood flow like water!  Let blood stain forever the black pirate’s flag flown by the bourgeoisie, and let our flag be blood-red forever!  For only through the death of the old world can we liberate ourselves forever from the return of those jackals!"

     "an editorial . . . in the first [(August 1919)] issue of Krasnyi mech (The Red sword), the newspaper of the Kyiv Cheka."  Stéphane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panné, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Karel Bartošek, and Jean-Louis Margolin, The black book of communism:  crimes, terror, repression, trans. Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1999), 102.  I was put onto this by Rémi Brague, Moderately modern, trans. Paul Seaton (South Bend, IN:  St. Augustine’s Press, 2019), 233.

"What good do these perverse confessions do that never result in absolution? They can only inoculate us with a paralyzing poison."

"à quoi ces confessions perverses qui ne débouchent jamais sur une absolution?  Elles ne peuvent que nos inoculer un poison paralysant."

     Rémi Brague, Moderately modern, trans. Paul Seaton (South Bend, IN:  St. Augustine's Press, 2019), 254.  I.e. keep us from "becom[ing] the past of our future":  "respect for the past in no way inhibits preparing for the future.  On the contrary, it is what permits there to be a future.  Why so?  Because we must know that we have been the future of our past, in order to become the past of our future [(Il faut savoir que nous avons été l'avenir de notre passé pour pouvoir être le passé de notre avenir)]" (252).  I have taken the French not from Modérément moderne, but from a different version of this chapter posted online.  Apparently there is more on these "perverse confessions . . . that [can] never result in absolution" in Curing mad truths:  medieval wisdom for the modern age.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Whether naps are necessary for salvation

Objection 1: It would seem that naps are not necessary for salvation. Salvation consists in becoming like God. God is most actual. Hence, we must be actual. Now, naps are opposed to actuality and are hence opposed to salvation.

Objection 2: Besides, the Apostle says, "Be watchful and awake, for your salvation is near at hand." Naps are opposed to being watchful. Hence, it follows that naps are opposed to salvation.

Objection 3: Furthermore, Aristotle says that virtue consists in activity. Naps are not activity and are therefore not counted as virtuous. Hence, it follows that naps are opposed to salvation.

On the contrary, the Psalmist says, "He pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber." Now, salvation is a gift, and we must sleep to receive the gifts of God. Hence, naps are necessary for salvation.

I answer that, naps can be spoken of in two ways: naps in a relative sense (secundum quid) and naps simply speaking (simpliciter dicta). Relatively speaking, naps are neutral in that they can be used for a good or a bad purpose. Naps, simply speaking, are those naps which give us the rest that we might wake "refreshed and joyful" to praise God (as the Roman Breviary says). To this end, naps are necessary for salvation, since praising God is necessary for salvation. Furthermore, contemplation is said to be “rest in God.” Now, contemplation flows from charity, and charity is necessary for salvation; it follows that naps, which are also a kind of rest, are necessary for salvation. Likewise, contemplation is said to be a foretaste of heavenly beatitude. Naps are a foretaste of heavenly beatitude. Furthermore, Jesus slept in a boat. Hence, we are to sleep in the Church, for the boat is a type of the Church. Hence we are to sleep during Church, often during homilies. Consequently, it must be said that naps are necessary for salvation.

Reply to objection 1: One cannot mistake immobility for potency. For a man acts even in immobility; for instance, the liturgy compels us to times of silence. Sleep is perfect silence. God is all perfection. Hence, God is most actually napping.

Reply to objection 2: The Apostle spoke figuratively, not literally. For Saint Joseph was watchful in his sleep, that is why God spoke to him in a dream. So also God spoke to many Saints in dreams. Hence, we are to nap watchfully, that God might speak to us.

Reply to objection 3: Aristotle was a pagan and cannot be expected to have understood the deep mysteries of God’s napping. Had he known the revelation, he would have slept much more than he did.

     Author unknown (hat tip Kathy Harty).  I haven't yet traced this back behind c. 2007.  Susanna Pudner:  "my understanding is that it was [']discovered['] by a group of seminarians at Mt. St. Mary's in Emmittsburg."  Back-Latinized in some places as

Utrum siestae necessae sunt pro salute?

But these would seem to me to be closer to Thomistic usage:

Videtur quod somni breves non necessarii sunt ad salutem.
Videtur quod somni insticii non necessarii sunt ad salutem.
Videtur quod meridiationes non necessariae sunt ad salutem.

And these to editorial:

Utrum somni breves necessarii sunt ad salutem.
Utrum somni insticii necessarii sunt ad salutem.
Utrum meridiationes necessariae sunt ad salutem.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Hadjadj on the Eucharistic origins of modern science

"one can assume [(faire l'hypothèse)] . . . that the ultimate [(la plus grande)] attention to the real, including material [reality], that modern science inaugurated in [the process of] outstripping Greek science, resulted from the deepening of Eucharistic dogma:  one 'passed in Latin Christianity from a logic of the symbol to a logic of the real' when 'the effect of the consecration of the bread and wine was defined as transsubstantiation' (at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215)."

     French mathematician and 2002 Fields Medalist Laurent Lafforgue, citing p. 14 of L'agneau mystique:  le retable des frères Van Eyck (Paris:  Oeuvre, [2008]), by Fabrice Hadjadj, in "Le Christ est la vérite, fondement d’un enseignement catholique," an address to the annual session of the Alliance des Directeurs et Directrices de l’Enseignement Chrétien, 19 November 2009, p. 14, translation mine.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The State places the fertile at the service of the infertile in order to assure for the latter an artificial posterity

      "Finally, we can learn from the Jewish tradition yet another lesson:  to place no confidence in the State, such as it is, nor in any other secular power.  We, the French, have great need of this [lesson] because we have been idolaters of the State since the [French] Revolution, Louis XIV, or perhaps even earlier.  The Jewish people, by contrast, learned to do without the State, and to protect themselves from [its] authorities [(administrations)] in the situation of [a] minority exposed to society, and from hostile powers.  This has been its situation for a very long time, and it has become ours, now, too, though we have not been habituated to it nor yet drawn from it the necessary consequences.  But it isn't just a question of historical accidents [(conjunctures)]:  like the Jewish people, the Church stands in contradiction to [the] whole [of] society and to [the] whole [of] the State for theological reasons.  The historical books of the Old Testament contain, with respect to the Hebrew state that they describe, a virulent critique not only of the monarchial regime but of the State in general.  Following the remarkable philosopher Rémi Brague, let us attend to verse 8:15 of the First Book of Samuel:  'He (the king) will subject your fields and your vineyards to the tithe and will give them to his eunuchs and slaves.'  Note Brague’s commentary on this:  ‘The word translated by 'eunuch' can designate an uncastrated functionary.  I take it in the strong sense.  The role of the eunuchs in the administration of a state is a well-attested sociological fact in, for example, Confucian China, Sassanid Persia, or Byzantium.  But their mention in this very concrete sense acquires a shocking depth if one considers the [very] letter of the Hebrew.  [For] it speaks literally of "your seeds (zera) and your vines."  The State gives the seed [of others] to those who can no longer produce any; it places the fertile at the service of the infertile in order to assure for the latter an artificial posterity.'  The State possesses, in itself, no fertility; it is capable only of capturing—by drying them—the sources of fertility that come ultimately from God.  Now, education aims to render minds and souls fertile, and it has a vital need of being itself [an] object of fertility, concretely by the creation of new schools.  Christians can be fertile in the matter of schools to the extent to which they turn themselves toward Christ, who is the source of life.  But if, in their heads and in their hearts, they prefer the collar of the State or an administration to the sweet yoke of Christ, they condemn themselves to sterility.  Thus, a single verse of Scripture suffices to clarify the historical revolution of the Republican school:  as a consequence of the inveiglement [(captation)] by the State of the model [institutions (modèles)] of the Christian Brothers [(Les Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes)] and the Jesuits, fruits of the fertility of the Church, the Republican school has become [a] shadow of itself in little more than a century, despite the always more colossal resources that get allocated to it and the devotion of innumerable professors.
     "An awareness of these realities must, in the light of Scripture, lead those responsible for Catholic establishments to consider with sympathy and with the greatest interest the hors contrat Catholic schools that found and give life to courageous pioneers and laborers [in the work] of transmission.  To the extent that the founders of these schools, their masters [(instituteurs)], and their professors have not—at the cost of the heavy sacrifices that this has required of them—submitted to the State, it is easier for them to be grafted onto Christ as shoots onto the vine, and to become thus sources of fertility.  Their poverty and the abandonment to divine providence required of them are precious riches.  To me, they offer the best chance of new life for the Church of France and for France itself."

Resisting the temptation to construct a university of the good

"The worst temptation in the matter of education consists in dreaming of a school that would guarantee that its students do not later become 'bad [(méchants)]'.  It is to this temptation that the educators of recent decades have perhaps succumbed: [the temptation] to construct a school of the good [(une école du bien)]:  a good which is called [the] 'rights of man', tolerance, peace, solidarity, social and humanitarian action, listening to the other, sharing, engagement, respect, ecology, etc.
     "The raison d'être of the school is to teach the truth.  Now, according to the promise of Christ himself, 'The truth will make you free' (Jn 8:32).  Freedom [(La liberté)] is a risk.  It does not do away with the possibility of evil; on the contrary, it heightens [(exacerbe)] it, for it magnifies the possibilities of knowing and serving the true and supreme good who is God revealed in Jesus Christ.
"If it is true that we must once again question the ways in which we have been habituated to do and to think, how to proceed?  How to escape from a habit of thought?  How to think and act in a manner more truly faithful to Christ?
     "Not, in my opinion, by continuing to do obeisance to the principle of the primacy of action that has dominated our world for many centuries under the double form of politics and economics.  Holy Scripture does not say, in effect, as Goethe:  'In the beginning was Action.'  It says:  'In the beginning was the Logos—le Verbe, la Parole.'  The word in question [here] is the eternal Word of God, [and] therefore a word that does not come from us and in response to which the appropriate attitude is [one of] attention [(l'ecoute)].
     "In seeking to re-found the school, then, we must, long before committing ourselves to the conception and inauguration of any new action, and before even beginning to reconstruct a thought, commit ourselves to listening to the Word of God incarnate in Christ."

     French mathematician and 2002 Fields Medalist Laurent Lafforgue, "Le Christ est la vérite, fondement d’un enseignement catholique," an address to the annual session of the Alliance des Directeurs et Directrices de l’Enseignement Chrétien, 19 November 2009, p. 4, translation mine.  (On the other hand, is not the good a matter of the truth?)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

They love [the truth] when it shines, they hate it when it reproves.

"Amant eam [(veritatem)] lucentem, oderunt eam redarguentem."

     St. Augustine, Confessions X.xxiii.34.  Lit., They love [the truth] shining, they hate it reproving.

Chadwick:  "They love the truth for the light it sheds, but hate it when it shows them up as being wrong (John 3:20; 5:35)."
Outler (LCC):  "They love truth when she shines on them; and hate her when she rebukes them."
Pilkington:  "They love truth when she shines on them, and hate her when she rebukes them."
Pine-Coffin:  "Men love the truth when it bathes them in its light; they hate it when it proves them wrong."
Pusey:  "They love truth when she enlightens, they hate her when she reproves."

     I was reminded of this by Rémi Brague, Moderately modern, trans. Paul Smeaton (South Bend, IN:  St. Augustine's Press, 2019), 151.  "Truth is the light that we shine on the things we desire to know, and which assures us control.  But it is also what turns back upon us and indicates to us what we ought and ought not to do, what we ought to be and are not; it even is what brings to light all the dirty little secrets that we would prefer to leave in the shadow [(redarguentem as 'also "to cause to stand out," in the sense when one says that the light, being more lively, accuses the shadows')]; it is what speaks frankly, even brutally, to us.  Thus, while we love the first sort of truth, we flee the second.  Now, if we truly loved the truth, we should also want it to shed its light on us" (151).  "What motivates our animosity against the truth? . . .  would it be the fear of seeing it direct its demands toward me?  To say 'to each, his truth,' to reject a truth that would be the same for all, isn't that to say:  above all, not a truth that could say a truth about me?" (152)