Monday, December 3, 2007

The more things change...

Checking the headlines real quick....

  • Imus is back on the air.
  • Larry Craig still isn't gay, despite 5 guys going on record as saying they had sex w/ him.
  • Bush & Cheney Inc. lied about Iran's nukes.
In other words, nothing at all has changed. We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ah, a bit of brain floss....

A perfect antidote to the previous pious ramblings.

Hmmm....the timing was fortuitous. Almost miraculous. Obviously, a magic sky-daddy intended me to find that article at exactly the time I did.

More Unhinged Ramblings

I sincerely hope Time got things wrong in this article on Papa Ratzi's latest encyclical. Because they make him sound like a senile, doddering, deluded fool.

First, of course, he has to attack the wraith of Marxism, much as a GOP campaigner invoking the specter of Hillary, or an 80's evangelist raving about secular humanists. But the real problem you see, is materialism itself. The idea that by focusing on this world, we're providing "false hope of life without suffering":

"We can try to limit suffering, to fight against it, but we cannot eliminate it," Benedict writes. "It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater." In other words, the fall of Communism again proves that human salvation lies in the Gospel alone.
A great deal of ink has been spilled about what an intellectual Ratzinger is, about the quality of his thinking. If this is an example of it, the Church is in serious trouble.

First of all, I don't know of any serious thinker who maintains we can completely eliminate suffering, unhappiness, whatever. A straw man is one of the cheapest rhetorical tricks in the book, but I guess all's fair when the Church is involved. Secondly, isn't the alleviation of suffering held up as a goal by the Church? The problem, apparently, isn't that materialists try to alleviate suffering, it's that they point out ways of doing it (better food production, medicines, education, for a few) that don't involve blind obedience to magic sky-fairies.

Benedict argues that Marx was flawed, above all, because he misunderstood the human condition. "He forgot that man always remains man. He forgot man and he forgot man's freedom. He forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil.
Hm, he's got a point. If people are free, they might do things they shouldn't. That's what "freedom" means. That's why we've seen so many instances in history that when the Church had most of the political power, evil was eliminated, crime was unknown, and no one ever suffered.

He really seems annoyed that people have free will. I'm just saying.

It has become apparent since his election in April 2005 that this Pope, whether or not one agrees with him, stands out for his intellectual honesty and linguistic clarity.
If this is an example of either.... Well, maybe by comparison with his predecessors.
In this latest document, he uses Marxism — though no longer a clear and present danger to Catholic faith — as a warning against the rampant growth of reason, science and freedom without a commensurate growth of faith and morals.
Unfortunately, it's his unspoken, unexplored, and pernicious assumption that faith and morals are near-synonyms that is the root of the problem.

"The ambiguity of progress becomes evident. Without doubt, it offers new possibilities for good, but it also opens up appalling possibilities for evil — possibilities that formerly did not exist," Benedict writes. "We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world."
In this much, at least, he seems to be in contact with reality. Unfortunately, he goes off the rails soon enough, and refers us back to tribal sky-gods and self-contradictory texts of dubious authorship as ultimate authorities. Bleh.

However, you have to love the patented Time non-conclusory conclusion:
Benedict's message of old-fashioned faith in the modern world is itself a call to revolution — or counter-revolution. Only time will tell how many respond to the call.
Translation: Maybe it's something. Or maybe its opposite. Or maybe it's nothing at all. We don't know.

Pretty hard to argue with logic like that.