Friday, August 2, 2019

"insofar as liberal principles seem to be needed to deal with actual pluralism, these same principles magnify their own necessity over time."

"In fact, however, liberalism tends to see itself and pluralism precisely as such an absolute standard.  As Rawls puts it, pluralism is not simply a de facto problem to which liberalism is the de facto answer; rather pluralism is the product of individual reason working under free, that is to say liberal, institutions.  Indeed, Rawls suggests, increasing pluralism is therefore a social good, producing a variety of viewpoints and encouraging tolerance.  Hence, tolerance is not simply a matter of getting along, a mere modus vivendi, but a normative goal.  But as a normative goal, it also tends to take on the form of an interior disposition that in fact relativizes the good.  In any case, if liberal institutions result in increasingly diverse notions of the good, there would seem to be no principled limit to this process.
     "Given this particularly corrosive version of liberalism, policing the interactions of freedoms becomes a crucial state role."  Etc.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Man loves God not so as to refer God to himself, but rather himself to God

"The part . . . love[s] the good of the whole . . . not . . . so as to refer the good of the whole to itself, but rather itself to the good of the whole."

"bonum totius diligit quidem pars secundum quod est sibi conveniens, non autem ita quod bonum totius ad se referat, sed potius ita quod seipsam refert in bonum totius."

     St. Thomas Aquinas, ST II-II.26.3 ("Whether, out of charity, man is bound to love God more than himself").ad 2, FEDP.  Latin from Corpus Thomisticum.  From ad 3:
That a man wishes to enjoy [(frui)] God pertains to that love of God which is love of concupiscence [(amore concupiscentiae)].  Now we love God with the love of friendship [(amore amicitiae)] more than with the love of concupiscence, because the Divine good is greater in itself, than our share of good in enjoying Him [(quia maius est in se bonum Dei quam participare possumus fruendo ipso)]. Hence, out of charity, man simply loves God more than himself.
Note that this means that the love of friendship (a major theme in Aquinas on the relationship with himself that God desires to effect in us) is the love of charity.
     My own paraphrase of those last two sentences:  The goodness of God is infinitely greater than that "portion" of it that we will ever (even, presumably, in glory) have the capacity to participate in by way of personal fulfillment.  So we must also love God with the love of friendship, i.e. charity, i.e. the Love by which God loves his own infinite goodness.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"a cheap and easy way of being 'critical'"

From Wikipedia
"where once they sought to transmit to each new generation the wisdom of past ages, today most within the universities equate critical thinking with a simpleminded repudiation of the past.  A lodestar of the European spirit has been the rigorous discipline of intellectual honesty and objectivity.  But over the past two generations, this noble ideal has been transformed.  The asceticism that once sought to free the mind of the tyranny of dominant opinion has become an often complacent and unreflective animus against everything that is our own.  This stance of cultural repudiation functions as a cheap and easy way of being 'critical.'  Over the last generation, it has been rehearsed in the lecture halls, becoming a doctrine, a dogma.  And to join in professing this creed is taken to be the mark of 'enlightenment,' and of spiritual election.  As a consequence, our universities are now active agents of ongoing cultural destruction."

No man. But God

Truly no man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life [(אָ֗ח לֹא־פָדֹ֣ה יִפְדֶּ֣ה אִ֑ישׁ לֹא־יִתֵּ֖ן לֵאלֹהִ֣ים כָּפְרֹֽו)], for the ransom of his life is costly, and can never suffice [(וְ֭יֵקַר פִּדְיֹ֥ון נַפְשָׁ֗ם וְחָדַ֥ל לְעֹולָֽם)], that he should continue to live on for ever, and never see the Pit. . . . But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me [(אַךְ־אֱלֹהִ֗ים יִפְדֶּ֣ה נַ֭פְשִׁי מִֽיַּד־שְׁאֹ֑ול כִּ֖י יִקָּחֵ֣נִי)].

     Ps 49:7-9, 15, RSV.  לָקַח > יִקָּחֵ֣נִי.  For he, rather than the Pit/Sheol, will take me in.  BDB 4f is "receive, accept, esp. a bribe, gift, ransom, etc.", but then v. 15 would contradict v. 7 (which, if אָ֗ח is (as in the note) "brother," may not be reflexive in nature).

"'Grant that I may find mercy and may grow old together with her.' And [Sarah] said with him, 'Amen.'"

ἐπίταξον ἐλεῆσαί με καὶ ταύτῃ συγκαταγηρᾶσαι. καὶ εἶπεν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ Αμην.

     Tobit 8:7-8 RSV. Nicholas J. Healy Jr., in "The merciful gift of indissolubility and the question of pastoral care for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics" (Communio:  international Catholic review 41, no. 2 (Summer 2014):  330 (306-330)), treats this as a prayer for the grace to remain faithful for life, though what they're asking for is of course most immediately that, unlike Sarah's seven previous bridegrooms, Tobias be allowed to live through their first night (6:13-17; 7:10-11, 17-18; 8:9-18).

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A totalizing mentalité from within which réalité becomes quite literally incomprehensible

The "reconfiguration of marriage [to this essentially androgynous anthropology] represents a very fundamental shift, the shift toward the conception of a humanity composed of alternative but essentially equivalent 'orientations.'  And this has enormous implications for the philosophical (and theological) understanding of the human person driving culture. . . .  [I]t implies grounding society and culture on an essentially gay anthropology"; on a mentalité from within which what it is replacing becomes, not something similar or even complementary (an older form of the one thing we call "marriage"), but quite simply inconceivable.  Under this conceptual regime, "the anthropologically fundamental starting point of the sexual otherness of man and woman is in fact no longer available", no longer accessible to thought, incomprehensible.  "If [not the liberals but the] radicals [of 2006] criticize current society as institutionalizing a 'compulsory heterosexuality,' the vision of society proposed as its replacement may therefore be characterized just as accurately as a form of [not the proverbial bigger tent but] 'compulsory homosexuality.'"

     David S.Crawford, "Liberal androgyny:  gay marriage and the meaning of sexuality in our time," Communio:  international Catholic review 33, no. 2(Summer 2006):  246, 264-265 (239-265), italics mine.  "a . . . compulsory homosexuality" in the sense that the androgynous anthropology of "orientations" renders it impossible to understand why the difference between male and female was ever considered constitutive of "sex" (from secare, to cut or divide, some think), now conceived of in terms of pleasure (the manipulation of a sub-personal body) alone, rather than also procreation, considered as its fundamental and distinctive telos (drawing a bit also on "Public reason and the anthropology of orientation:  how the debate over 'gay marriage' has been shaped by some ubiquitous but unexamined presuppositions," Communio:  international Catholic review 43, no. 2 (Summer 2016):  247-273).

The greater the equality, the greater the complementarity

The "'liberation' [of women in Jesus and Paul] happens against the backdrop of an equally unique and permanent revaluation of the gender difference.  In fact, the difference is maintained throughout:  from the special designation of Mary as the mother of the Lord and, later, of John (hence of the Church) to the (no longer merely symbolic, but) 'incarnatory' relation between Christ as Bridegroom and the Church as Bride and the new valuation of marriage that follows from it (Eph 5).  This goes far beyond the relation between Yahweh and Israel in the Old Testament, which had not yet found an echo in the human-sexual sphere, and which also has nothing in common with pagan and Gnostic 'syzygies.' . . .  The New Testament’s 'revaluation' of the woman to equality of dignity is inseparable from the simultaneous accentuation of the difference between the sexes."

     Hans Urs von Balthasar, "Thoughts on the priesthood of women," trans. Adrian Walker, Communio:  international Catholic review 23, no. 4 (Winter 1996):  702-703 (701-709).

"the more diverse the characteristics of man and woman in the identity of human nature, the more perfect and fruitful their union in love can be."

That "the 'persons' [of the Godhead] are so different that they cannot be subsumed under any generic concept of person and precisely thus constitute the one and only essence of God. . . .  suggests the following anthropological principle:  the more diverse the characteristics of man and woman in the identity of human nature, the more perfect and fruitful their union in love can be."

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Martin Luther (on St. Thomas Aquinas), ignoramus

In the whole of Thomas [there] is not one word capable of facilitating trust in Christ.

"Im gantzen Thoma ist nicht ein wort, das einem mocht ein zuuersicht zu Christo machen."

     Martin Luther, Tischrede 1721, 12 (?) July 1532, WA-TR 2, 193, ll. 5 ff.  I'm not seeing it in the American edition ed. Pelikan.  Paul M. Bretscher ("Neothomism," Concordia theological monthly 21, no. 4 (April 1950):  258n11) translates this more professionally than I as follows:
In all of Thomas there is not one word which might arouse in one confidence in Christ.
     I was put onto this by the Lutheran (?) theologian Stefan Gradl.  See his "Inspektor Columbo irrt:  kriminalistische Überlegungen zur Frage 'Kannte Luther Thomas?,'" Luther 77, no. 2 (2006):  91 (83-99).  "Inspector Columbo" is, following Otto Pesch, Denis R. Janz, whose Luther on Thomas Aquinas:  the Angelic Doctor in the thought of the reformer (1989) is said to have converted even Pesch himself to the view that Luther knew Thomas well.  Having traced the history of the debate, Gradl goes on to argue 1) that Janz was quite mistaken (that, barring the discovery of sources hitherto unsuspected, Luther very likely did not know Thomas well), and 2) that, anyway, the question is not only unanswerable (???), but entirely beside the point, dogmatically speaking.