And, of course, I will be renewing my yearly resolution since 2000: "Don't be stupid." Have a blessed 2010.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
And, of course, I will be renewing my yearly resolution since 2000: "Don't be stupid." Have a blessed 2010.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Although Christmas has been largely (no pun intended) about surviving sleepless nights and bronchial lungs this year, I was blessed with a few moments to read the central chapters of GK Chesterton's Everlasting Man. Ostensibly, I was preparing to lead a seminar on the Roman Empire. God had additional ends in mind.
Here is Chesterton on what Christmas meant to that ancient and founding world:
"It might be suggested, in a somewhat violent image, that nothing had happened in that fold or crack in the great gray hills [of Bethlehem] except that the whole universe had been turned inside out. I mean that all the eyes of wonder and worship which had been turned outwards to the largest thing were now. turned inward to the smallest. The very image will suggest all that multitudinous marvel of converging eyes that makes so much of the colored Catholic imagery like a peacock's tail., But it is true in a sense that God who bad been only a circumference was seen as a centre; and a centre is infinitely small. It is true that the spiritual spiral henceforward works inwards instead of outwards, and in that sense is centripetal and not centrifugal. The faith becomes, in more ways than one, a religion of little things."
Hans Urs von Balthasar mentioned last week that a world that forgets the incarnation will be a world without women and children (not literally, of course, but rather a world that refuses value to the womanly and childlike things). This is close to what Chesterton claims for Christianity: the faith is a faith of the "little things"--infants, manure (human and animal), night-time feedings, a mother's wordless adoration and service, a father's irreplaceable protection of the helpless.
It was a great comfort to be reminded in all the illness and frustration: our God is a God who was little. Mary wasn't sleeping much during the Christmas octave either--she was attending to the little things, the everlasting things.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The Philosophical Household is still slain by a virus, so depth of thought escapes me. Fortunately, the Anchoress has a beautiful reflection on Mary and Elizabeth's joy for today (along with her usual wealth of links).
Be still these past few days... find that cloister in your heart. (I speak mostly to myself!)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I've been dipping into Hans Urs von Balthasar over and over again this Advent. Love Alone is Credible is surely, as I've exuded before on this page, one of the best spiritual readings for the penitential seasons.
Monday, December 14, 2009
from New Advent.org:
"St. John has often been represented as a grim character; nothing could be more untrue. He was indeed austere in the extreme with himself, and, to some extent, also with others, but both from his writings and from the depositions of those who knew him, we see in him a man overflowing with charity and kindness, a poetical mind deeply influenced by all that is beautiful and attractive."
from the Dark Night of the Soul:
Upon a darkened night the flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright I fled my house while all in quiet rest.
Shrouded by the night and by the secret stair I quickly fled.
The veil concealed my eyes while all within lay quiet as the dead
and here, Loreena McKennitt sets him to music:
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Fresh bread baking in the oven, a baby baking in the womb.
A little Pandora radio on so softly.
Some Hans Urs von Balthasar: "Love is an a priori Yes to whatever may come, whether it be the Cross, or being plunged into absolute abandonment, or being forgotten, or utter uselessness and meaninglessness. It is the Son's Yes to the Father, the Mother's Yes to the angel, because he carries God's Word..." (loving this book...)
An examination of conscience for tonight's Penance Service.
And the promise of a coming King.
O holy moment.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
(Traditional Antiphon, via Magnificat)
Today, like the great feast of the Annunciation (when Christ became a one-celled zygote), we get a special glimpse into the mystery of God's will. The One who is Absolute Love--whose ways are beyond our ways--shows us it is his perfect will to defeat all evil and sin through the participation of a tiny person. Through Mary, who begins life today, He will take on flesh and make it possible for each one of us to take on divinity.
Celebrating a conception is truly odd. Celebrating the conception of God's mother is truly necessary. Necessary to knowing Him more.
But I was still having a hard time understanding why Mary was free of original sin. (Part of the answer is, of course, that she didn't have to be--Absolute Love does all sorts of unnecessary things.) Then Hans Urs von Balthasar gave me this:
"We [Christians] do not represent the proper measure of absolute love in human form to the world as isolated individuals. We do not have a monopoly on its spirit; we are merely failing members of a comprehensive whole who have been allowed to share in this spirit. Whatever is impure and fallible in us becomes immaculate and infallible in the innermost core of this whole.... As members [of the whole], we participate in the humility of the handmaid, in her perfect obedience to the Lord, to the extent that we are obedient as parts to her whole.... She is an essential step in the process of our integration on the way to the Parousia." ("Love as Deed," in Love Alone is Credible)
We don't do this alone. We can't become holy alone. God chose to place Mary, a singular woman preserved from original sin, on the way from what we are to what we must become. As we become more and more obedient to the Church--the whole of the Body of Christ--we become more and more one with Mary's own obedience to the whole of God's will. And that is the essential step in our salvation.
Monday, December 7, 2009
"I press my hand against the cold pane and feel December. I remember to breathe. I remember to smile. I prayed for a time such as this, with these children and this husband and this life, and I am tired and I am weary, but it comes and I can see its reflection in the window.
Because there is no passing by this way again.
This labor and pain, it's part of receiving the gift."
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Fr. Cliff Ermatinger has compiled a little Q & A book on the practice of prayer according to St. Augustine, one of my favorite people of all time. St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer is, not surprisingly, now on the bookshelf with my favorite basic prayer manuals. Fr. Ermatinger mostly acts as an editor, allowing the great saint to speak in his own words on the most fundamental questions about prayer: What is prayer? Why and when should I pray? How do we pray without ceasing?
Books on prayer usually turn me off. It always seems like we should stop talking about how to pray and just pray. But sometimes someone (usually a Doctor of the Church) writes something down that articulates perfectly what happens when we pray. It makes me want to pray more, pray more deeply.
Here are a few samples for your Advent stillness:
Where should I look for God? "It is difficult to find Christ in a crowd. Your mind needs a certain solitude, for it is only by this type of contemplative solitude that God is seen. A crowd has noise, yet this seeing requires secrecy ... Do not seek Christ in a crowd: He is not like one from among the crowd, for he excels every crowd."
What if I don't feel drawn to prayer? "No man comes unless he is drawn. There are those he draws and there are those he does not draw. Do not even consider why he draws one and why he does not draw another, if you do not want to err. Simply accept it and then understand ... There is no sea so deep as the thoughts of God, who makes evil men to flourish and the good to suffer -- nothing so profound, nothing so deep. And it is upon that deep, in that profundity that every unbelieving soul is wrecked. Do you want to cross over the deep? Then do not move away from the wood of Christ's cross. You shall not sink; just hold tight to Christ."
Is God merciful to all who call on him? "Consider well, bretheren, what good things God gives to sinners -- and then learn what he gives to his servants. To those sinners who blaspheme him every day, he gives sky and the earth, he gives springs, fruit, health, children, wealth, bounty. All these good things God alone can give. If he gives such as this to sinners, what must he have reserved for his faithful ones? No, not the earth, but heaven. But perhaps with 'heaven' I understate it; for he gives himself ... Heaven is beautiful, but even more beautiful is its Maker."
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company, and the reviewer received a free copy of the text in exchange for her opinion. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
One of the perks of bedrest and the Internet Age is that I was able to get almost all Christmas shopping done before today. I've never begun Advent with so little need to focus on Christmas! My hope this year is to focus, for the first two weeks, on Christ's second coming and only then on remembering his nativity in Bethlehem.
Purity of heart means just that focus, that singularity of purpose. And so, this first week of Advent, I hope to desire only that one thing necessary--the face of God.
From this Sunday's Gospel:
"But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who swell upon the face of the earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place and to stand before the Son of Man." ~ Luke 21: 34-36
Drunkenness is not currently my biggest temptation, but dissipation--the spending of my mind and time on empty pursuits--and the cares of this life--one translation mentions "daily anxieties"--are certainly things I must pray to escape. I cannot avoid them on my own. But the quiet and waiting of Advent are a gift given to provide us with the strength and peace we will need to stand before the Creator and Judge.
Advent in my heart is this singleness of purpose, the Virgin's purity: I wait only for One, the Son of Man. God alone inspires my longing. "I shall see him, but not now..."
And check out the Abbess at St. Walburga. She wrote a beautiful address to her dear sisters on just this theme. Thanks to the Anchoress!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
May the Lord of abundance and mercy be in your homes this weekend. See you for the Advent kickoff...
Painting by NC Wyeth, from Pilgrims
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The first observation in order seems to be this: Human beings are an obeying sort of thing. That means that, just by virtue of being human, we are going to live in subjection to something. The second point is this: Also by virtue of being human, we get to choose to whom we subject ourselves.
That choice will either make us happy beyond all comprehension, leave us dissatisfied and wanting more, OR make us perfectly wretched and miserable.
For example, I am currently subject (among other pregnancy cravings) to Lime Tostito Chips. Wow. I just have to be munching on lime-flavor-dusted chips every ten minutes. And they leave me wanting more chips. Then I want more. I'm never full when I am obedient to the Lime Tostitos.
I have in the past chosen to be obedient to a debilitating frustration with a college roommate. Oh, that was a tough year. I was wretchedly miserable just thinking about going back to the room. I hated the way she hummed, talked on the phone, and dressed--it was like sandpaper on my soul. That was bad obedience, and it was my choice.
But there is one obedience that has given my endless joy: "Lord, I come to do your will." Subjection to God, and to God through the "righteous authorities" around me, is so much more fundamental than obedience to Lime Tostitos or to personal grudges. It is so fundamental, in fact, that it makes all the other slaveries--to sin and to weakness--seem small and silly. God subjects all the other authorities in my life to himself, and those that are found wanting he offers to take away.
I suppose that is why the persecuted Christians all over the world find so much joy in suffering for Christ. They may be frustrated day-to-day, being unable to raise their children in the faith or profess their beliefs openly, but they know they are not ultimately subject to anyone but God.
I'd like to end this now--the rambling must cease. I am subject to the authority of my children's needs, after all. And that obedience has certainly been a gift and a joy.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Adoro Te Devote
trans. Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.
On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
Monday, November 16, 2009
It's about time for an update on the pregnancy. I've just started feeling those first flutters of a new life--wow. I forget each time how strange it is to suddenly feel that little person whose life has thrown our lives into such change so quickly and who is so worth the price.
And I am coming back to life! It is like rising from the dead to suddenly wake up one morning and want a pickle and mustard sandwich. With a side of Lime Tostitos. Then, a few nights later, I had to have Mu Shu beef (you know, the cabbage stir-fry with the little pancakes and soy sauce). And so on. By November 7, I was eating three meals per day and down to two doses of the medication.
The clouds lifted, the sun shone through, and the world was renewed.
My mother has been so wonderful--reminding me to go slowly, don't push it too fast. She still does all diapers and the cooking, which lets me just play with the girls. Oh! To play with one's own children! To return from the dead.
Of course, returning to life is not without its bumps. When I rejoined my parents at dinner about a week ago, my 4-year-old promptly decided to see if Mommy was really "in charge" now. Haha. Yes, dear, I am still in charge here. And the past three days I've realized that the 15-month-old I left in August is now an 18-month-old who plays new games, has new words I don't really understand, and professes her newfound opinions with healthy vigor.
I have great trepidation on the one hand: We return to our home in the Deep South (and to our dearest Scientist Dad) on December 1st. The tickets are bought, the time draws near. Can I really do this? Grocery shopping, laundry, diapers, discipline, cooking... What will happen when it's just me and the girls and this bulging belly all day? What if...?
But surely the lesson of severe illness is that all such fear, while natural, must be put aside with the other childish things. There is no "what if" in God's plan, and he can amply provide for our struggle to follow his will. All those little tasks will come on one (or two or three!) at a time, and I'm sure the times will come when my heart and body will break. But all will be most well. Hasn't he shown me that already these past three months?
Show me, again, Lord. Show me again and again and again.
~William Butler Yeats
When my arms wrap you round I press
My heart upon the loveliness
That has long faded from the world;
The jewelled crowns that kings have hurled
In shadowy pools, when armies fled;
The love-tales wrought with silken thread
By dreaming ladies upon cloth
That has made fat the murderous moth;
The roses that of old time were
Woven by ladies in their hair,
The dew-cold lilies ladies bore
Through many a sacred corridor
Where such grey clouds of incense rose
That only God's eyes did not close:
For that pale breast and lingering hand
Come from a more dream-heavy land,
A more dream-heavy hour than this;
And when you sigh from kiss to kiss
I hear white Beauty sighing, too,
For hours when all must fade like dew,
But flame on flame, and deep on deep,
Throne over throne where in half sleep,
Their swords upon their iron knees,
Brood her high lonely mysteries.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Rainer Maria Rilke
How shall I hold my soul and yet not touch
Or stir it with your own? How shall I place
It clear of you to anything beyond?
How gladly I would stow it next to such
Things in the darkness as will not be found
Down in an alien and silent space
That does not resonate when you resound.
But everything that stirs us, me and you,
Takes us together like a bow when two
Taut strings are stroked into the voice of one.
What instrument have we been lain along?
Whose are the hands that play our unison?
What a sweet song!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Of all the Causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
What weak head with strongest bias rules,
Is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
Whatever nature has in worth deny'd,
She gives in large recruits of needful Pride;
For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find
What wants in blood and spirits, swell'd with wind:
Pide, where Wit fails, steps in to our defence,
And fills up all the mighty Void of sense.
If once right reason drives that cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with resistless day.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
To start us off, some Lithuanian remnants. (If YOU have a favorite dead poet, let me know!)
To what summoned? And to whom? blindly, God almighty,
through horizons of woolly haze.
Fata morganas of coppery scales on the fortresses of
Through a smoke of vines burning over creekbeds or through
the blue myrrh of dimmed churches,
To the unattainable, small valley, shaded forever by words,
where the two of us, naked and kneeling, are cleansed by an
Without the apple of knowledge, on long loops from earth to
sky, from sky to the dried blood of potter's soil.
Disinherited of prophecies, eating bread at noon under a
tall pine stronger than any hope.
Image: CD Friedrich, Man and Woman Contemplating Over the Moon
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This has given me a new perspective on the Church's teaching that we be "open to life." The emphasis with the teaching is usually that each conjugal act be open or that married couple be open.
But it's much more than that.
In our experience, being "open to life" has affected each and every family member and most of our closest friends. Everyone has sacrificed for this new little life and (thanks be to God) everyone looks forward to meeting the "new one."
My parents, happily married for almost 32 years and empty-nesters for 3 years, have taken two very energetic small children into their care. 24-7 care. Not to mention footing the grocery bills for an 18-month-old who eats like an adolescent male.
The Scientist's parents have given up weekends and evenings to help out my parents.
Back home, our employers, friends, neighbors and doctors have been outstandingly generous with their time and flexibility. And most of all: prayers.
This pregnancy exemplifies what healthcare should look like--openness to life, eagerness to serve, and understanding hearts full of encouragement and wisdom.
Being "open to life" is a call, I have found, to every single one of us. It is a love of God's own plan, not just for one couple's happiness and joy and sacrifice, but also for everyone around them.
We are filled with joy.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I'll let the Anchoress do the reporting while I sit in my recliner and give thanks. Ut unum sint.
UPDATE: Creative Minority Report has its share of comments, too. Hilarious.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The best bit is when she ties the sort of Thomistic "ends-means/essence-final end" explanation to the Whole Point: openness to God's will. A tidbit:
"One of the jobs of the church is to help us find our openness to God – to help us to maintain that openness to His will, so that we might reach our own best and highest spiritual potential; we are not called to dwell in darkness but to live in the light, and in holiness. We are called to holiness: “Be holy as my Father in heaven is Holy.”
Holiness is not something that we can compartmentalize. If we are holy, it is a permeation of our entire being, and our holiness will be reflected in all that we do, in our every action and choice, and the path to holiness begins with an openness to God, in whom we live and move and have our being. If holiness is our quest, there can then be no limits to our openness.
This is not a difficult thing to understand, at all. It is difficult in practice, but the church is not here to baby us along and make the roads wide and smooth. Christ told us the way is narrow, and not easy. What was it Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” Quite right."
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Let nothing disturb you
Let nothing affright you.
All things are passing.
God never changeth.
Patient endurance attaineth all things.
Who God possesseth
Nothing is wanting.
God alone sufficeth. Amen.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
The good news is: 1) the baby is still fine and happily sucking away in the womb; 2) the girls love living at my parents' house; 3) my mother is surviving a new shot at stay-at-home-mommyhood.
And I am 9 weeks and 1 day along. This is no sprint to the finish, though. I've been sick now for about 5 weeks, and if Isabella's gestation was any precedent, have about 9 more weeks of this to go. I move like an 85-year-old and eat like the pickiest 4-year-old. I've lost about 12 pounds so far--though on bad days it's more like 15 because of dehydration. Today's a good day, so I think I'll eat a popsicle!
Deep thoughts have included, "Wow. Dorothy Sayers was a genius," "St. ________ (fillintheblank), pray for us!" and "One day at a time." Sometimes I hum Johnny Cash, "And it burns, burns, buuurrnnssss, that ring of fi-yer!"
One deep blessing this weekend: My home parish church--St. Matthew/Holy Trinity--offered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick at the Saturday evening Mass. My dad, dear and glorious physician that he is, took me along. I realized that now I have received all six sacraments for which I'm eligible at this one little church building: Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Confession, Holy Matrimony, and this Anointing. Such a humble little building, with such banal and offensive music, and one of my favorite crucifixes.... and so much grace. God does not withhold any blessing from our lives.
In spite of emptiness, the good Lord visited my heart on Saturday: "My yoke is easy, my burden is light." Whatever that means, it is good. I'll think about it later, and just love it right now.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
St. Therese reminded me the other day, via an article in First Things, that suffering is not ecstasies and flights of romantic passion. It is simply to be in pain--but not alone.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
In the meantime, however, the Philosopher Mom will be battling a few months worth of hyperemesis gravidarum. Your prayers are much needed and greatly appreciated as we pack up our little ones, ship us off to the grandparents, and leave the Scientist Dad behind to cry over his beakers. (He'll probably have some fun times, too!)
Blogging will be light, but a sometime escape. Until we meet again, keep your eyes fixed on the True, the Good, and the Beautiful!
Monday, September 7, 2009
“Contraception is to be judged so profoundly unlawful as to be never, for any reason, justified. To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God.” (Pope John Paul II – Osservatore Romano, October, 10, 1983)
That is, the Church's teaching on contraception is not about who we are, our male and female parts, the hang-ups of old white guys in the Vatican... It is about who God is.
The Scientist Dad and I partook of a Planet Earth marathon yesterday. What we couldn't get over was how prolific creation is. Even in the most hostile environments, there is life in one bizarre form or another. Not only is there life everywhere, but everywhere life is bent on reproducing. Metabolize and reproduce. That's about it. The God who made all that--from the cave fish to the snow leopords, from the cicadas to the great redwoods--is clearly the sort of Being who loves life. The God who is God alone made us, too, along with our rather stange system of reproduction. To recognize God as God is to stand in profound awe of that power.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Here is a beautiful memorial piece from First Things: "She silenced even a Jesuit who joked that she seemed to be getting smaller: “Yes, and I must get smaller until I am small enough to fit into the heart of Jesus.”"
Friday, September 4, 2009
In spite of nightmares about H1N1, restless toddler, and exceptionally clingy 4-year-old, all is most well. Have a beautiful weekend sharing in your little part of the eternal peace.
~John Henry Newman
LEAD, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,—
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet! I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years!
So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Thanks to Melanie at Wine Dark Sea!
Fr. Thomas G. Morrow gives a beautiful and practical introduction to Catholic spirituality with Be Holy: A Catholic's Guide to the Spiritual Life. The blurb on the back is a little lofty and completely turned me off at first: "Be Holy is the guide you'll need to achieve holiness now and heaven later." Gargh.
But immediately, the author himself makes it clear that what you need in order to become holy is Truth, grace, and large doses of the sacramental life of the Church. Much more up my alley.
I was particularly struck by Morrow's decision to open with a goo 30 pages on what he calls the "motivations for holiness"--why should we want to be holy, anyway? He goes right the four Last Things: the delight of heaven (which he describes mostly in terms of a "divine marriage"), the reality of Hell, the suffering of purgatory, and the pursuit of happiness here on earth. It is a phenomenal chapter--I learned a lot about the meaning of purgatory for example. And it's a great opportunity to see a diocesan priest writing about these things. I haven't heard the word "purgatory" at Mass in at least 5 years (the last time I remember it was as a joke about the Baltimore Catechism).
It's great motivation.
He also offers eminently practical guidelines--taken from the great spiritual directors of the Church's history--for growth in holiness. He lists and explains the different categories of virtues, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, to name a few. The language is simple and straightforward, with many anecdotes from real people's lives to illustrate the concepts.
This book is probably the best introduction to the Whole Catholic Thing I've seen in a long time. I hope to use it in some way with OCIA (RCIA) this year, and would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about what it means to be Catholic.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Be Holy.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I'm slogging through, er, writing a brief talk for a neuroscience class under the dubious title assigned to me): "What philosophy can do for neuroscience." Sigh. I'm off my game here, but Plato (being dead) never is. I came across a wonderful bit from the Phaedo that certainly helped me withstand materialist reductions.
When Socrates asked why he was sitting in the jail awaiting trial, he noted that Anaxagoras would have told him that he sat there because his limbs bent at the joints, his sinews stretched, and his rear touched the seat which was in the jail. In other words, Anaxagoras would have explained it all in terms of his body parts.
Socrates’s answer speaks to us today as we hear things like, "Well, the neurons explain away free will."
"By the dog, I think these sinews and bones could long ago have been in
He then goes on to a brilliant philosophical discourse on the immortality of the soul, asking all the deepest questions of our longings and attempting to grasp at answers that take account of all he knows—his body, his thoughts, his country, his upbringing, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
And it is a bumbling brilliancy—as all such grapplings are. And Socrates would laugh at neurophilosophy's confidence that soon, at last, knowing the whole of the brain, we will understand ourselves. For we will understand only a little something of a much greater whole. And, without the reference to the whole, the material part will lose its certainty, for it will lose its context.
As Socrates knew, it is only in appeal to all things—seen and unseen—that the satisfaction of our deepest, and philosophical, questions even begin to emerge into the light.
Monday, August 24, 2009
"Above all, the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians, who in the midst of their own community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity with the efforts of all for whatever is noble and good. Let us suppose that, in addition, they radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live. Here we have the initial act of evangelization." ~Paul VI
Friday, August 21, 2009
"Do not fill your schedules with unnecessary activities and lists of textbooks and unnecessary busy work--it will wear you out and demotivate your children. Instead, delight in great stories, teach the word passionately. Greatly value and treasure words and ideas and history in front of your children so that they will fall in love with language and knowledge."
Children are already so motivated to greatness... this is easy for them and harder for us. My discipline and self-control--with regards to media, book choices, and time management--will bear exponential amounts of fruit in the girls. Motivation to keep going.
Miriam: "Mummy. I cannot go to the ball until the windows are washed and the laundry folded."
Me: "That's right." (I'm the "mean mother.")
Miriam: "Please, please, let me wash your windows."
And she did. For 30 minutes. Not spotless, but I can live with a four-year-old princess who does her chores.