Saturday, January 30, 2021

"the choicefulness of life"

"my personal narrative splits from that of the American gay and lesbian movement.  The latter was based on choicelessness.  A choice may have to be defended—certainly, one has to be prepared to defend one's right to make a choice—while arguing that you were born this way appeals to people's sympathy or at least a sense of decency.  It also serves to quell one's own doubts and to foreclose future options.  We are, mostly, comfortable with less choice—much as I would have felt safer if my parents had not set out [from the Soviet Union] on their great emigration adventure." . . .

     "Also, some of the women I had known had become men.  That's not the way most transgender people phrase it; the default language is one of choicelessness:  people say they have always been men or women and now their authentic selves are emerging.  This is the same 'born this way' approach that the gay and lesbian movement had put to such good political use in the time that I'd been gone [in Russia]:  it had gotten queer people access to such institutions as the military and marriage.

     "The standard story goes something like this:  as a child I always felt like a boy, or never felt like a girl, and then I tried to be a lesbian, but the issue wasn't sexual orientation—it was gender, specifically, 'true gender,' which could now be claimed through transitioning.  I found myself feeling resentful at hearing these stories.  I too had always felt like a boy!  It had taken some work for me to enjoy being a woman (whatever that means)—I'd succeeded.  I had learned how to be one.  But still:  here I was, faced with the possibility that in the parallel life that my left-behind self was leading in the United States while I was in Russia, I would have transitioned.  True gender (whatever that means) didn't have much to do with it, but choice did.  Somehow, I'd missed the fact that it was there." .  . .

. . . In short, "I had failed, miserably, at seeing my [transgender] choices, made as they were under some duress, as an opportunity for adventure.  I had failed to think about inhabiting a different body the way one would think about inhabiting a different country.  How do I invent the person I am now?" . . .

". . . I lay no claim to someone I 'really am.'  That someone is a sequence of choices, and the question is:  Will my next choice be conscious, and will my ability to make it be unfettered?" . . .

     Masha Gessen on "the choicefulness of life," "the freedom to invent one's future, the freedom to choose," no matter the hand dealt.  "To be, or not to be," The New York review of books 65, no. 2 (February 8, 2018):  4-5.

"the majesty of God cannot be propitiated by that which defiles the dignity of man."

 "Nullo modo his artibus placatur diuina maiestas, quibus humana dignitas inquinatur."

     St. Augustine, City of God II.29, trans. Dodds.  Trans. Bettenson:  "It is impossible for the divine majesty to be propitiated by arts which cast a stain on human dignity."

"Just as he was"

Hessische Landesbibliothek, MS 1640
"And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was" (Mk 4:36 (N)RSV, italics mine).

1.  without further ado; i.e. without first, say, returning "home" to Capernaum (3:19; 2:1; 1:21).

2.  as per the emergency plan (3:9).  But the plan had already been executed, for Jesus had long since stepped into the boat and sat down (4:1).

3.  as per an improvisation on the emergency plan (3:9).  This, with no. 1, seems to me the most likely historical sense.  Jesus, following the emergency plan, had long since stepped into the boat and sat down (4:1).  The disciples, by contrast, are with the crowd on land.  Jesus says, "'Let us go across to the other side.'"  They leave the crowd (4:36 and two variants), step into the boat, and "t[ake] him with them in [it], just as he [had been]" (4:36).  Before long he lays down in the stern and falls fast asleep.  Hence:

4.  exhausted as he was (4:38).  Exhausted, pressed by the crowd (3:9), and threatened—albeit in sleep—by the storm (4:37).  I.e., as supremely vulnerable as he was.  This seems to me to be a legitimate figurative sense, a sense that stands then in marked contrast with the flash of divinity displayed from v. 39 (cf. 1:27).  "just as he was," i.e. fully man and, as it turned out, fully God.

Friday, January 29, 2021

"'If I have accomplished anything in my life,' she said late in her life, 'it is because I wasn’t embarrassed to talk about God.'"

     Dorothy Day, according to Jim Forest in

Forest, "a member of the New York Catholic Worker c[o]mmunity in the early 1960s" (611) who lived with Dorothy Day and knew her well, cites nothing.  I have not looked further.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

"if [you] can't get the little things right, [you] can't be trusted on the big ones."

"Citations protect you from a charge of plagiarism, but beyond that narrow self-interest, correct citations contribute to your ethos.  First, readers don't trust sources they can't find.  If they can't find your sources because you failed to document them adequately, they won't trust your evidence; and if they don't trust your evidence, they won't trust . . . you.  Second, . . . if a writer can't get the little things right, he can't be trusted on the big ones."

     Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. Fitzgerald, The craft of research, 4th ed. (Chicago & London:  The University of Chicago Press, 2016), 203.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Christianity and classical culture

"the whole of this discussion may be summed up in the following syllogism.  The Greeks give us the major premise:  If such gods are to be worshipped, then certainly such men may be honoured.  The Romans add the minor:  But such men must be no means be honoured.  The Christians draw the conclusion:  Therefore such gods must by no means be worshipped."

     St. Augustine, City of God II.13, trans. Dodds.  CSEL 40.1, p. 77 ll. 2-7:

In hac disceptatione huiusce modi ratiocinatio summam quaestionis absoluit.  Proponunt Graeci:  Si di tales colendi sunt, profecto etiam tales homines honorandi.  Adsumunt Romani:  Sed nullo modo tales homines honorandi sunt.  Concludunt Christiani:  Nullo modo igitur di tales colendi sunt.