Saturday, February 02, 2008

Reflections on the bombing of the Baghdad pet market

They were easy to spot at the bus stop. Serious. Neat in a painstaking sort of way. Very deliberate. Each afternoon a group of slightly retarded but functional young adults boarded the bus at a nearby interchange in a group on their way home. One had a daughter, but the man -- who in his mind would forever be a boy -- was single. He happened to live a short distance away from my mother. And there was a girl he had his eye on. One Valentine's Day I saw him in a long-sleeved shirt with a tie, a change from his normal working attire with a bunch of flowers, which he held beside his bag and badly folded copy of the Daily Telegraph. He was on his way to a date. And then he disappeared from view. Some months later I learned why.

His neighbors in a public housing development finally called emergency services after noticing his apartment, though lit, never had anyone come in and out of its doors. The paramedics found him long dead in his bed, cause of death unknown. His television set was still going.

It is the suffering of the children that most makes us question the existence of God. Al-Qaeda's attack on a pet market in Baghdad, which disproportionately killed pets and children raise the question of why the world is so cruel to its most innocent, unless it were cruel in itself. Fyodor Dostoevsky, in considering the Problem of Evil, tells the story of sadistic tradesman who whipped an overloaded donkey across his eyes. His description of how the poor animal struggled forward, stumbling sideways at once encapsulates the character of evil and of innocence. How can a world in which there is cruelty to donkeys and children be one in which there is hope? It's understandable that soldiers should die. But why, why should the children and the pets die for a few column inches of newspaper propaganda space?

The only possible answer lies in the generosity of love. In its inextinguishability. A young man considering a family asked me once what the hardest thing about having children was. I answered that it was knowing your child was mortal and that you could not protect him from the hurts of the world. It's that feeling of helplessness that keeps parents awake at night. But as the child grow into a man, by some miracle the perceptions become mutual. If you asked a young man what his greatest fear was, he might reply it was the knowledge that someday his parents would die. One of the most interesting scenes in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ occurs when Mary sees Jesus stumbling under the Cross on His way to Calvary, and Mary for a moment sees Him as the child He was, falling by the wayside. She rushes forward but then she reaches Him, He turns the tables, and the Child becoming the Parent and says, "See Mother, I make all things new!". He would save the world to save His mother.

When one day my son grew old enough to realize that I would someday die he asked what heaven would be like. I told him I did not know, but told him what I believed:  that for as long as we did nothing infamous, shameful or evil  that naught could keep us apart. And that was our pledge on the way to school: that we would strive to remain worthy of each other. And that is the pledge we renew each day; a pledge that is made each day by fathers who walk in the rain to buy a loaf bread and a bottle of milk from the local gas station or the men who are even striving now to find the killers of the parakeets and the children. We strive to keep away the darkness with the fragile screen of love.

The odds don't matter. It's what we believe we must do. But faith requires memory. It needs us to remember the retarded young man boarding a bus, with his bouquet of flowers and tabloid newspaper long after his apartment has been cleared out; it requires that we never forget the smiles of those who delighted in goldfish and cats and dogs in that instant before a temporary darkness came. It requires we believe that no act of courage is ever forgotten, no gesture of love is ever futile, that not a sparrow falls to earth without the stars weeping. That our lives are a flower whose blossom we have not yet seen. This is who we are; and al-Qaeda shall not prevail.



70 Comments:

Blogger Bill said...

Very poignant post Wretchard. I had a dear friend die from a sudden massive cerebral hemmorage today. I talked to my sweet natured 20 year old son about it after. He (my son) recently converted to Christianity and maybe reading between the lines saw my mortality in it. The stuff that life is made of ;so we abhor these Barbarians who would quench innocent lives for their diabolical ideologies.

2/02/2008 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Golgonooza

All imaginative and creative acts, being eternal, go to build up a permanent structure, which Blake calls Golgonooza, above time, and, when this structure is finished, nature, its scaffolding, will be knocked away and man will live in it. Golgonooza will then be the city of God, the New Jerusalem which is the total form of all human culture and civilization. Nothing that the heroes, martyrs, prophets and poets of the past have done for it has been wasted; no anonymous and unrecognized contribution to it has been overlooked. In it is conserved all the good man has done, and in it is completed all that he hoped and intended to do.

Northrop Frye 'Fearful Symmetry'

All evil acts, being negatives, vanish.

2/02/2008 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

This touches upon why I am puzzled by the two young women who became suicide bombers. How many Downs syndrome people are there in Iraq and the Middle East, any way, that they're wandering alone out on the streets available to be kidnapped by terrorists? It's not the first time this tactic has been used by the thug-ajaheen.

In my whole entire life, I have known one Downs syndrome child. He was the brother of a friend in high school and was very closely monitored and supervised by her mother and 5 or 6 siblings. He would never, ever, have been left to his own devices outside the house and was even watched when he was in their yard.

Nowadays I see groups of these children, teenagers and adults out in public, too, but they are always in groups, monitored and supervised by an adult caregiver.

You see mentally disturbed individuals on the streets among the homeless drunks and druggies, but they are talking to themselves and their gods and demons -- they are not Downs people.

Evidently one of the young women in Iraq was selling ice cream at a market, and that's wonderful. If she could count and make change then she's not seriously retarded and I applaud her initiative and work ethic.

But again, I have to ask why do there seem to be so many Downs syndrome young people in Iraq that terrorists are actively seeking them out, where are their families and why aren't they being watched over, and why are they out wandering around on their own in the world where Very Bad Things *can* happen to them?

2/02/2008 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Skookumchuk said...

Posts like these are why this site is the best on the net.

2/02/2008 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Down syndrome occurs in all human populations, and analogous effects have been found in other species such as chimpanzees[6] and mice. wiki

It has to do with chromosome 21, added or doubled material. It occurs in about 1 out of 800 to 1000 births, but is higher in the United States, as more middle age women give birth here than in other areas. The chances of having a Downes Syndrome child go up dramatically with the age of the mother, rising to nearly 1 in 10 when over age 45. It is easily detected in tests early in pregnancy.

2/02/2008 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Thanks (is it still Mr. Al Harb? As in Bobal Harb?) for the genetic explanation.

There are many other vagaries of pregnancy, of the birth process and of subsequent infant development that can interfere with normal cognitive development. Presumably abortion was not readily available or practiced under Saddam's regime, and I suspect it is not encouraged in Islam. And under the stresses of the war with Iran and later the 1991 Gulf War, and the subsequent Oil-For-Bribes scam, medical care for pregnant and nursing women was seriously disrupted.

These factors could be expected to create a greater than normal proportion of children and youths in today's population that could be described as retarded in cognitive skills.

Only a very wicked and mean-spirited person would assert that U.S. Democratic Party leaders seem to have been selected from a similarly stressed candidate group.

2/02/2008 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Nah, just bobal.

The old Greek solution was the rocks.

Only a very...:)

2/03/2008 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger mouse said...

"The paramedics found him long dead in his bed, cause of death unknown." --Could have been a brain aneurysm that popped, similar to that mentioned by Bill in the first comment. I lost a splendid, happy sister that way once, one night, suddenly. If you don't care it doesn't hurt, if you do it does.

And if you do care and there is pain there is only one recourse in a healthy life and that is to love more. If you love you will lose, but if you don't love you're lost.

And this is the nature of the Western mind, and it's epitomized by The Problem of Evil: How can a good God allow evil toward the innocent? But that this is seen as a problem indicates that West knows that the greatest good is to protect the innocent. And that over time is what we do, though it's often expressed in other abstract terms such as justice, a better life, freedom, caring. This is the value ethos of the West, not really a choice, though it seems so, but the way we are.

I'll note further that a love which is "inextinguishable" is not a "fragile screen". Coupled with the faith that "no act of courage is ever forgotten, no gesture of love is ever futile... not a sparrow falls to earth without the stars weeping" it is the most powerful force on earth. It's a constant, like gravity, it's the force and faith that works to set the world upright. This is why, in the long term, despite much present multiculturalist self-contempt, we can not lose to forces like al Qaeda, or creeping Sharia; it is just not in our nature to not finally fight.

2/03/2008 01:52:00 AM  
Blogger DaveK said...

Yes, the eternal question of why Evil is allowed to exist in this world. I've come to believe that God allows it to exist in order that we can understand Evil for what it is. And by understanding the difference between Good and Evil, we can exercise our free will to choose.

And I have to believe that it is part of Gods plan that we, as sentient beings of free will, must consciously make our own choice between Good and Evil. Were Evil to be eliminated from this world, we would lose our ability to know the value of Good, and the devalue the choice that God wants us to make.

Without the existance of Evil, Goodness becomes banal.

This is a grand oversimplification of my years of thought on this conundrum, but is the only answer I have come up with that gives me any sense of satisfaction.

Just my $.02
DaveK

2/03/2008 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger tckurd said...

DaveK- I think you are spot-on.

IF (super big IF here) there is a level of existence above our own - the place where the consciousness or soul goes in many beliefs - and IF with that comes capabilities more akin to a god-like entity vs. a mere mortal, the question of What Kind of Being Can Ascend to These Powers must be asked.

When viewed in the light of current religion, which religion most closely gathers followers who would understand the Universal Love of God?

Ok, coming back from my way out position on the existential limb.

2/03/2008 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger Andrewdb said...

Thank you Wretchard.

I am on my way to church in a few minutes. I can't imagine the sermon will be as good as this post.

2/03/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Al-Qaeda's attack on a pet market in Baghdad, which disproportionately killed pets and children raise the question of why the world is so cruel to its most innocent, unless it were cruel in itself.

Simple answer: IT ISN'T.

Whether a person is religious or not, our world is of such exquisite beauty and enchanting complexity that is can only be the product of one thing: Namely, LOVE, bounteous endless love. The abundance and life-giving properties of this planet almost defies comprehension.

To assume the world is cruel is to posit a malevolent universe. Just as this world is of love, so is the universe. If our cosmos was of a destructive and malicious nature, life would never have arisen. Instead, we can rest assured that a billion other worlds like our own are scattered across the skies, each teeming with incalculable forms of life.

Cast the blame where it truly belongs. Squarely upon the shoulders of Islam. Nothing else drove the devastation in that marketplace. Nothing else has so consistently demonstrated such an utterly callous disregard for human life.

This is but one more fang strung upon Islam's necklace of death. It will continue to seek out and destroy innocent life until civilization crushes it for the philosophical cockroach that it is. Muslims are confronted with only one choice. Either root out the evil in their midst or follow it into oblivion as decent human beings scourge this age old menace from the face of our earth.

NahnCee: I have to ask why do there seem to be so many Downs syndrome young people in Iraq

Marry up cousins for a millennia or two and see what happens.

2/03/2008 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

nahncee:

Abortion. I can think of 3 families off the top of my head who have downs children. They wouldn't abort under any circumstances.

Derek

2/03/2008 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger racketmensch said...

I remember that kid; I think his name was Graner, and the girl was Lidy something. I guess he must have been Muslim.
Schmucks.

2/03/2008 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Alaska Paul said...

Wrechard----A wonderful, thoughtful posting. As far as humans go, there is a presence of great Love woven everywhere. Humans are interesting: in one way, we are just another species. But we have this consciousness and awareness that sets us apart from the other species.

In the natural world, I have seen some pretty brutal things among the animals: Wolves chasing and isolating a caribou or calf, then attacking it and tearing it apart. I have seen a grizzly bear attack a grown moose immobilized in deep snow and kill it. I have seen male bears attack and kill their own cubs, and eat them, too. But nature does this in controlled, proportional doses, so in the overall scheme of things, it does not get out of control and cause a species extinction very often.

In humans it is different. We have free will, or freedom, if you will. But with the free will comes an equal amount of responsibility or self restraint. They go hand in hand, and must be balanced for our survival.

The species is like a giant body. It has systems that control the body so it sustains itself and stays healthy. Evil, like a disease, is always around us. If the body is healthy, the evil will be kept at bay. Incidents of infection will flare up from time to time, but they are isolated by the body's defense mechanisms.

But when the body is not eternally vigilant, then diseases of opportunity will be able to set up shop or infiltrate the body. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. If it is not radical Islam, then it will be another disease. This is the way of the world.

When people are narcicistic, they do not pay attention to threats to their existance, and evil will make an inroad, or destroy the host.

I believe in this Love, Wrechard, but there are no guarantees of success in the end. There have to be enough responsible people to pull us out of the pickle we get ourselves into. I hope that there are enough of us to be aware of this great Love to do what needs to be done to save us all. I am an optimist, but a very cautious one.

2/03/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

One unusual trait about Downes folk is they rarely have cancer, a result of the cancer suppressing factor of chromosome 21.

2/03/2008 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

It's amazing to see how even the most perceptive and intelligent minds can get infected with viral memes.

There's nothing to love in submitting as a dumb slave to authority. Whether they be the Roman story tellers, Egyptian story tellers, Communist story tellers, Capitalist story tellers, etc. Story tellers is what they are.

2/03/2008 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

George Carlin on The Religion of Bullshit.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o
.
.

When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!




..
Same if you sub any lying and unaccountable government for religion.

2/03/2008 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Thanks for this, Wretchard.

First time this writing/philosophy blog brought tears to my eyes.

Beautiful.

2/03/2008 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger DaveK said...

Although it can be made a bit of a 'chicken vs. egg' comparison, my feeling is that belief came before religion, and that there really is something to believe in, in spite of imperfect people organizing that belief into a religion. Some of those imperfect people had the best of intentions... others were out and out frauds, occasionally sociopaths.

Organized religion has brought forth the best and worst that mankind has to offer.

Nonetheless, to maintain our humanity, I think it's essential that we believe in something greater than ourselves. The alternative is to believe there is nothing more important than oneself. And that is about as quick a path to moral ruin as I can think of.

Another $.02
DaveK

2/03/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Hey Bobal (I only asked because there was a person a while back posting as "Bob Alharb... as in "Dar al Harb.")

It has been pointed out that in each of our bodies, the programming that directs the orderly functioning of the cell's metabolism --- including response to triggers, growth rates, autolysis, etc. --- go awry and run amok in maybe a billion cells in the course of a day. Happily, this is not a problem for most folks, because (1) our bodies comprise many trillions of cells, and (2) there are plenty of guardian systems in place to quickly identify and eliminate cells that run amok. Healthy humans are able to deal with this constant background of "cell programming errors" so that we can go about our business without ever even having to think about it.

There are factors that can drastically alter that equilibrium --- chemical triggers, ionizing radiation, ***STRESS*** such as frustration, job loss, bankruptcy, living with an aggravating relative, the grief of divorce, betrayal, loss of a spouse, the stealing of an election by a chimpanzee (sorry), a series of legal misunderstandings about a sheep dressed in lingerie, too much mayonnaise on every hamburger you ever asked for no mayonnaise on... and so on and so on.

Such factors can either seriously impair the monitoring and repair systems, resulting in low white cell count, white cells being among the essential guardians that normally gobble up "neoplastic" cancer cells. Or an unusual infection or dose of radiation or toxins can turn on a whole bunch of "oncogenes" throughout the body so that a huge flood of neoplastic cells overwhelm the body's ability to cleanse itself. Sometimes things gang up, and both situations occur simultaneously.

Most readers are familiar with the use of immuno-suppressive drugs to keep an organ transplant recipient's body from rejecting the transplanted organ. From the early days of transplants, there are illuminating incidents. One transplanted kidney came from a donor who on autopsy was found to be riddled with cancer. The doctors who'd done the transplant were alerted and found that within only three days after the transplant, the recipient's body had cancer cells invading all the major systems, because the normal guardian systems were suppressed. They stopped the immuno-suppressive drugs, and the patient was cancer-free within a week. Later another donor provided a healthy kidney. But the rapidity of cancer growth is dramatically demonstrated.

I would be mighty interested to know more about the anti-cancer genes on chromosome 21, and how's cum they're so much more effective for people with Down's syndrome.

2/03/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

(p.s. ***I*** am NOT one who thinks the election was stolen. But there are those who still think their ox was... well, Gored.)

2/03/2008 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger JacksonvillePat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/03/2008 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger gdude said...

Metušéla -

George Carlin's amusing...but wrong.
First of all, it's dishonest of him to say Religion, when he means Judeo-Christianity in the West in particular (10 Commandments, tax breaks, etc).

Second, to conflate the charlatans with the Creator means he's as small minded as the charlatans.

And finally, if you don't believe that there is a Creator of the Universe and that we owe Him our gratitude and appreciative, respectful, loving participation in His Order of things, then there is absolutely no reason to be concerned about anything so normal and natural as indiscriminate killing, war, death, thievery, pollution, economic inequity, slavery, maiming, divorce, global warming, global freezing, etc., etc., etc., etc. Just do what you want and can get away with, because there is NO RIGHT OR WRONG. In fact, the whole notion of notions is unintelligible, or at least unimportant. Go to it, man.

2/03/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Downes Syndrome and Cancer There are many articles to be found. There are some conflicting opinions.

2/03/2008 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger herb said...

When I heard of the incident, it struck me that part of the awfulness of using Downs Syndrome people for such acts is their utter sweetness. I have been around but a few, and they seem happy and loving.

Thank you Wretcherd.

2/03/2008 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

Beautiful post Wretchard.

It seems to be an act of desperation on the part of alQ. However, there have been other documented instances of mentally handicapped people used in this heineous manner.

It is also becoming more and more apparent many siucide bombers are being duped into the act.

On another note, may I ask what the donation feature is for?

Salaam eleikum

2/03/2008 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

This is the thing I find most confounding: why there are people who, while not Muslims, would zealously and with all of their wits defend this monstrous evil. Not only defend it, but simply not recognize evil AT ALL.

What could be more of a contrast? The malevolent, cosmic Demonic Allah preying upon the most innocent of human beings?

How can the mind be so empty of moral depth as to not be enraged by the cosmic implications of what happened in the Baghdad markets? And it has been happening in endless permutations for fourteen hundred years, since it whirled out of some tent or house in Medina where a band of desperadoes led by a sociopath gave Divine Sanction to raiding, stealing, and killing?

Zenster,

As one who studied theology and philosophy, and who is revisiting Aristotle and Aquinas after the joyful absorption of the implications of recent cosmological thought in astrophysics and physics, I agree with you about the beauty, sophistication, elegance, and complexity of creation. But, I also see evidence of flaws, of destruction, and of tragedy and evil that have nothing at all to do with human volition. It is these things that have cosmological significance. That extra chromosome is telling us something. I'm not exactly sure what that is.

2/03/2008 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

gdude,

Your argument is not only factually erroneous, but is rather insulting. I do care, very deeply and very passionately, about RIGHT OR WRONG. And that is precisely why I don't subscribe to these control memes, be they in the form of religion or lying unaccountable governments or utopian fantasies and ideologies.

2/03/2008 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Fred: I agree with you about the beauty, sophistication, elegance, and complexity of creation. But, I also see evidence of flaws, of destruction, and of tragedy and evil that have nothing at all to do with human volition. It is these things that have cosmological significance. That extra chromosome is telling us something. I'm not exactly sure what that is.

My own take is that just as the absolute nothingness of a perfect vacuum could no longer endure in a pure state—and thereby blossomed forth as our material universe—so too must existence also adhere to dualistic principles whereby the persistence of something so beautiful as life relies completely upon death for its continuation.

These are not flaws so much as the complementary aspect of reality. None of which has anything remotely in common with the demonic and heinous acts of Islamic terrorist scum. To close:

For the opposite of human is not the animal. The opposite of the human is the demonic.

— Abraham Joshua Heschel —

2/03/2008 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

zenster,

Your way of explaining it makes sense to me. In fact, I have thought of these things - the tragic and painful flaws that wreck so much destruction in human existence - as complementary aspects of existence. Death is necessary. I can accept it.

The problem is somehow reconciling these things in arguments with people who grew up, as I did, in the Roman Catholic tradition and they ask, "If God is good, omnipotent, loving, perfect, and makes all things new, they why...does "X" happen to "Y?" "Where is the good and the mercy of God?" I explain to my wife and to others that perhaps God is not all these things perfectly, and we just have to live with the tragedy stoically.

The human mess is another matter.

Many people leave the Church or some other Christian church because these questions overwhelm them and they feel abandoned by God and by their traditions. Often, I feel empathy for their plight.

2/03/2008 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Do Evil men know that they are Evil? There are real sociopaths. Men like Charles Manson, raised in our culture but with brains so twisted that they do things to others without caring. But I don't believe that every member of AQ is a sociopath in that way. There just can't be tens of thousands of mentally deranged people walking around unconfined.

I think that their culture is just different from ours. Their honor-shame tribal culture allows them to see others different from themselves as less human than they are. There are certainly AQ like Zarkawi who are sociopaths. The kind of organization that goes around killing people is likely to attract sociopaths. But I doubt that all are sociopaths. They just grow up in a culture where the ends always justify the means. Where the golden rule doesn't exist. They are only Evil in our culture. In their own culture they are normal. Their mothers love them too.

2/03/2008 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Can we not say, then, that their culture/religion/ideology is evil and that, if we cannot change them and they remain a lethal threat to us, that perhaps it is very moral to destroy them?

It is a terrible thing to contemplate. I find it interesting that we in our tradition are hesitant to be ruthless, when they show no compunction whatsoever about being savage. Does that not demonstrate the superiority of our culture, and hence at some point we are justified in destroying them?

2/03/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger OBloodyHell said...

It is inherent in the design of the universe -- all things feed on the death of other things:
Predators feed on prey
Prey feed on plants
Plants feed on the slow death of the Sun.
The Sun feeds on the slow death of the Universe.

Life is the only thing which works in opposition to this -- it alone works counter to entropy -- from disorganization towards organization. Reversing the inherent trend towards true universal chaos.

Al-Queda is a death-force -- thriving on and targeting disorganization and chaos.

There are a number of readily conceivable reasons why God might have made this universe with this quality -- and no doubt some reasons we cannot conceive of, as well.

If you are a believer in God, then you pretty much have to assume that He has a purpose to it all.

If you don't believe in God, then why even bother to fight entropy? Roll over, die, and get out of the way of the rest of us, willya? Yer buggin' me.

:-P
.

2/03/2008 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Fred: Your way of explaining it makes sense to me.

I am honored that one so erudite as yourself found value in my speculations. My own conclusions have been the culmination of many years spent investigating both philosophy and cosmology.

The problem is somehow reconciling these things in arguments with people who grew up, as I did, in the Roman Catholic tradition and they ask, "If God is good, omnipotent, loving, perfect, and makes all things new, they why...does "X" happen to "Y?"

It is absolutely crucial to distinguish between those tragic events that arise from the acts of malicious or ignorant people and those of random nature. My own finding is that much of the evil that goes on in this world is due to mankind's own handiwork.

Yes, there will always be natural disasters that bring misfortune to the innocent. Still, please consider how the Aceh tsunami could easily have been preceeded by more-than-adequate forewarning if only the intensely corrupt Indonesian government had spent some rather meager funds on its incomplete ocean-going warning system. Much of the death in Aceh was actually caused by the hand of its venal politicians. Endless examples of this abound. Much of this world's famines are the result of similar corruption and not altogether attributable to crop failure or drought alone.

"Where is the good and the mercy of God?"

As an agnostic, I can only speculate that God has delivered unto us—not only a worldly cornucopia—but a body and mind to appreciate it as well. Along with that mind is volition—or free will—plus an inherent degree of intelligence to understand that mercy and justice must be dispensed in proper measure. If, indeed, these be the gifts of God, He is most good and merciful to be sure.

I explain to my wife and to others that perhaps God is not all these things perfectly, and we just have to live with the tragedy stoically.

You return to the roots of my agnosticism in this contemplation of tragedy. I am too often obliged to consider exactly why the most evil of men do not more often meet with greater tragedy than they frequently impose upon others. Moreover, bearing with the notion that God is a concept of which no higher concept can be conceived of, deistic perfection is seemingly demanded despite valid questions regarding this, as you yourself note as well.

It is a small measure of cold consolation that those who are most evil often exist in an utterly twisted and loveless world that can only be some variant of living Hell. Still, too often it does not quite seem like sufficient punishment for the calamities these miscreants bring about.

Again, I must return to the notion that much of the tragedy we encounter is imposed by the hand of man. Further, as you note:

Can we not say, then, that their culture/religion/ideology is evil and that, if we cannot change them and they remain a lethal threat to us, that perhaps it is very moral to destroy them?

Not just "can" but MUST condemn the evil that is so clearly before us. To not fight and eventually destroy recalitrant evil is one of the greatest imaginable sins.

It is a terrible thing to contemplate. I find it interesting that we in our tradition are hesitant to be ruthless, when they show no compunction whatsoever about being savage.

Far more terrible is inaction in the face of such savagery. It is all that is necessary for evil to succeed. Islam's stunning lack of scruples goes beyond abhorent and into the realm of evil personified. If you wish, the demonic.

Does that not demonstrate the superiority of our culture, and hence at some point we are justified in destroying them?

Absolutely and those who quaver at the notion of having to assert the power of free civilization towards overcoming the most barbaric and Neanderthal forces in recent history divest themselves of any right to complain about those who would take honorable action in the face of such moral filth.

OBloodyHell: Life is the only thing which works in opposition to this -- it alone works counter to entropy -- from disorganization towards organization.

Please explain how quartz crystals and gemstones form. I'm quite certain there are worlds entirely bereft of organic life where such highly organized structures nonetheless evolve. While entropy may be the fate of our universe, methinks that it—much like some of us puny human beings—shall not go quietly into that dark night. Buckminster Fuller said that, "Energy flowing through a system tends to organize the system."

The abundant energy of our universe seems to fight—or at least temporarily thwart—entropy rather well. It is one of the reasons that I remain an agnostic and do not become an atheist.

2/03/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger OmegaPaladin said...

Mətušélaḥ,

I have run across this type of thinking before. It usually involves George Carlin, Penn and Teller, and a few others. I noticed the line about control memes, so you may well be Dawkins fan. I'd also wager you love Hitchens. It's the classic domain of the smirking atheist.

It is interesting that your answer to an act of murderous barbarity is sarcasm and attacks upon religion. I suppose the terrorists could have killed for power or money and it would not have fazed you. Your response is also devoid of hope or comfort - even sympathy is absent.

2/03/2008 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Nicholas D. Kristof: Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love

And the Democratic presidential candidate (particularly if it’s Mr. Obama, to whom evangelicals have been startlingly receptive) has a real chance this year of winning large numbers of evangelical voters.

“Evangelicals are going to vote this year in part on climate change, on Darfur, on poverty,” said Jim Wallis, the author of a new book, “The Great Awakening,” which argues that the age of the religious right has passed and that issues of social justice are rising to the top of the agenda. Mr. Wallis says that about half of white evangelical votes will be in play this year.

A recent CBS News poll found that the single issue that white evangelicals most believed they should be involved in was fighting poverty. The traditional issue of abortion was a distant second, and genocide was third.

2/03/2008 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

OmegaPaladin,

My solution to the Arab problem is to send them all to China and let the Chinese utilize the supply of arab testicles for a soup recipe. And that's as far as my sympathy and compassion for these people goes.

2/03/2008 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Mətušélaḥ: My solution to the Arab problem is to send them all to China and let the Chinese utilize the supply of arab testicles for a soup recipe.

Lends a whole new meaning to the phrase;
"From soup to nuts".

2/03/2008 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Their mothers love them too.


Assuming their mothers are vicious bitches, too, that's not much of a recommendation.

2/03/2008 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

No soup for you! :D

2/03/2008 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

that for as long as we did nothing infamous, shameful or evil that naught could keep us apart.
////////////
Romans 8:30-42 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)


31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."[a] 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2/03/2008 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Here's a good serman based on Romans8:38 from one of my favorite pastors: John Piper.

2/03/2008 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Thank God someone finally mentioned that name that is above every name.

Thank you Charles.

God's creation was good but Adam's sin, his falling short, brought death into the world. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Jesus paid the penalty for man's sin but you must ask HIM to be included in.

Save me Jesus I have fallen spiritually short. I'm broken!

Thank YOU.

It is amazing to me that so many people who recognize the evil of the market bombing are into duality, agnosticism, the occult, pointless philosophies, recriminations, cursings etc.

We have been created by God to exist forever but existing forever is not always called living.

There is a second death.

Your good deeds will not get you into heaven.

The worship of love will not get you into heaven. God is love but love is not God.

Time to grow up boys and girls.

It is getting way past time for some of you to bow the knee to that MAN from Galilee. While it is still called today!

These things have been known from of old.

God bless you all; even Calvinists!

2/04/2008 01:41:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

ZEITGEIST

Part 1 of 3

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5216975979627863972

2/04/2008 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

God bless you all; even Calvinists!
///////
At the time of the American revolution most americans of english, scottish, german, dutch french & swedish background --were Calvinists.

Hard to believe now but the biggest radicals among the revolutionaries were the presbyterians who--at the time-- were ardent calvinists.

The indeas of governmental checks and balances and limited government--came from the Calvinist view that man is essentially evil (and therefor in need of the blood of jesus as payment for his sins.)

You have to go over to the French revolution to find the idea that man is essentially good. (and that it is society that corrupts him.)

I would not have said anything just now that was obscure to Americans of 100 years ago. the reason this stuff might sound obscure is that imho much of the philosophical & constitutional work in the USA since WWII has been to remake the USA into the image of the French revolution.

2/04/2008 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Mudpuppy said...

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.

It is long time past to light up the world.

2/04/2008 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Your argument is not only factually erroneous, but is rather insulting. I do care, very deeply and very passionately, about RIGHT OR WRONG."

I think what gdude was getting at is that if you don't draw your definitions of right and wrong from God (or Jesus, or pick the source of a religion) then where do you get it from? Is it just what you feel deep down inside?

Because that's a pretty flimsy place to get your moral direction from, and it seems to be the preferred source of some of the worst mass murderers in history. And if they were correct in that their own feelings were the best source of moral direction, then Stalin, Hitler, Mao et al didn't even do anything wrong.

On the other hand, "Thou shalt not kill" (or "murder" in place of kill according to most translations) is pretty unequivocal. Don't murder people. Works for me...and nobody can change it to suit their whim.

Hope you don't see this as insulting, because it's certainly not meant to be. I'm one of those dreaded "evangelical Christians" you hear so much about, and I've reached a point where I'm very comfortable with my beliefs (which don't include classical Creationism, by the way).

It's just that the issue of right vs. wrong is one of the things that drove me back to Jesus. It's the only thing that makes any sense. If we're living in a world where right and wrong are things that anybody is free to make up as they go along, then why does everybody agree that Stalin did bad? Where does that consensus come from?

$.02

2/04/2008 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Dan,

What consensus?

The Commies eliminated the Russian monarchists and Hitler's fascists. The Commies were also largely responsible for the civil rights movement in the US. As for Stalin, he was instrumental in all of that.

2/04/2008 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

If there is no God then there is no ultimate purpose to human existence and the koranimals win.
If there is no true God, then Hitler and Stalin won. If there is no God, those who were forced to jump to their deaths from the WTC on 9/11 lost, those who were killed for sport throughout history lost.

Of course it is good when we grab onto things like family, nation, philosophy etc. but in the end those things are side paths which mean nothing IF our short time here are compared with the sands of time.

All religion may be fake, man made, foolish. It's great, yet historically odd, to be able to have the time and freedom to openly exercise our thoughts concerning existence.

The more I understand the essence of Judaism and Christianity, the more I feel our time here has a greater purpose. May the evil which has run rampant throughout history have a destiny.

2/04/2008 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

We Catholics are somewhere between the gloomy Calvinists and the French Revolution naturalists. The Calvinists hold that humanity is intrinsically evil; we Catholics hold the view that God did not make us evil and that our understanding of original sin is that our will is both weak, intrinsically and inclined towards sin, and that society is often wicked as well. I can summon many examples that support my position. I have known people who have been born into loving families with strong support, who have turned out bad to the bone, were that way from the start, and no one has been able to correct their course. They are born defective in some way that cannot be corrected. I have also known people who were born into very cruel nests and this has done great harm to their personality, but some have escaped this and have turned their lives around. Very many people are, like me, a mixture of virtue and sin. We struggle to do the right thing, but we don't always succeed. But, by nature we are not EVIL persons. Just weak, but essentially gentle natured in need of support from God and from those around us.

The psycho-dynamics and socio-dynamics of humanity are very complex, which is why I am not a Calvinist and prefer to ad-mix both science and biblical insight in order to make this work-in-progress make sense. By the way, I have a sibling who is a very stern, strict Baptist. He too is very pessimistic about human beings. I am somewhere in the middle. What was very influential in his turning away from the Church of his youth: I don't think he ever really understood it and never wanted to. But, he was a very wild kid, adolescent and young adult. He did lead a much more pronounced life of sin than I ever did, and his salvation and lifeline was a kind of Christianity that also subscribes to anthropological pessimism. But, it fits his experience of his own humanity. I never judged him nearly as harshly as he judged himself. But, then again I could never exorcise his demons.

I honestly think that pluralism within Christendom is a good thing. Mind you, the hard-liners in my Church (or in some others, I might add)would find my ideas heterodox, but I honestly don't care what they think. There are many paths towards salvation. Some need a path that beckons with a different emphasis. Some people need more structure than others do. My brother just happened to need that path. I am following my path and I think it works for me.

Muslims, however - and here I agree with zenster - are born into a living Hell - never experience a good, kind, merciful, compassionate, forgiving Creator. Their god is cruel, violent, impulsive, and selfish to the core. Their mothers are, as NahCee put it so well, cruel bitches who profoundly harm their children. Their fathers are despotic and violent, and these children almost never have a chance at realizing the good things that a human being can be. It is an awful "religion"/cult/ideology of death. I feel so fortunate to have been born into a basically loving Catholic family, having been given a Catholic education. Not perfect, by a long shot, but a far better fate than what a boy born in Islamabad, Kabul, Tikrit, Mecca, Cairo, or Damascus could be born into.

2/04/2008 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

The Calvinists hold that humanity is intrinsically evil; we Catholics hold the view that God did not make us evil and that our understanding of original sin is that our will is both weak, intrinsically and inclined towards sin, and that society is often wicked as well.
////////////////////
these points are neither mutually exclusive nor intrinsically in disagreement.

For example, we have in the record two rebellions against God. One is the rebellion of Satan. One is the rebellion of Adam.

Lucifer was an angel of light while he was in heaven but he and his angels were kicked out. He was a created being and yet God did not make him evil.

Adam (and eve)too were created beings yet God did not make them evil.

Lucifer was sinless before his fall. Adam too was sinless before he ate of the apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

2/04/2008 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger tckurd said...

How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb?

None, for God has predestined when the light will be on.

-or-

Calvinists do not change light bulbs. They simply read the instructions and pray that the light bulb will be one that has been chosen to be changed.

2/04/2008 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger tckurd said...

In defense of Calvinists everywhere (and I've been accused of being one), it's not that we're all doomy and gloomy. You misunderstand. We know that everything is corrupt, and working just exactly perfectly.

It's a tough spot. Just exactly "how" does one insert themselves into it to make any difference?

2/04/2008 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Sparks Fly: It is amazing to me that so many people who recognize the evil of the market bombing are into duality, agnosticism, the occult, pointless philosophies, recriminations, cursings etc.

Then, quite obviously, you must have immense difficulty reaching beyond your oh, so gravid self. How amazing is it that rational minds of numerous other persuasions would arrive at the same conclusions as you have without necessarily cleaving to the Bible or monotheism?

We have been created by God to exist forever but existing forever is not always called living.

That's your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it.

There is a second death.

See above.

Your good deeds will not get you into heaven.

Hokay. So, please keep your hairy thunderer, your wrathful Lord and your vengeful deity. Any God worth worshipping will be examining the big picture of a person's true character and overall contribution to life, not which particular brand name of faith one adheres to or who published which version of their Bible. Better to rule in Hell than serve in some elitist snot-nosed Heaven.

If there is a God, be sure that more than just Christians worship Him. While it is now quite clear that Islam's Allah and God are most definitely NOT congruent, many other non-Christian perceptions of God merit consideration.

The worship of love will not get you into heaven. God is love but love is not God.

Any God worth worshipping will most certainly recognize the ascendancy of love and goodness. "God" and "good" are not so similar in spelling by some mere accident or coincidence.

Time to grow up boys and girls.

You first. No, please, you first.

I refuse to believe that in the entire history of this earth there has never lived a blameless being. What's more, long before God's name was spoken or Jesus Christ ever trod this planet there were people who led lives uncontaminated by evil. However rare they might or might not have been is immaterial.

Now, tell me that God will damn those good souls to eternal Hell solely because they were innocently unaware of His or Jesus' existence. Tell me that despite having lived an entirely pure and honorable life they are unworthy of Heaven due to their unintentional and guiltless lack of familiarity with God or Jesus.

If your idea of Heaven is some sort of theistic country club where other totally decent and honorable souls are eternally blackballed for innocently disregarding your own particular brand of accepted rituals and liturgy, yours is a Hereafter not worth attaining.

God is a concept of which no higher concept can be conceived of.

If that is so, then such a God can assuredly transcend man's petty and constricting theological constraints—no matter how stridently some of us might insist upon imposing them—and share His blessings with all worthy beings.

If not, then God has made sinlessness into a stone so heavy that even He Himself cannot lift it.

Man is certainly stark mad: he cannot make a worm, and yet he makes gods by the dozen.

— Michel Eyquem de Montaigne —


Arthur Dent: If there is no God then there is no ultimate purpose to human existence and the koranimals win.

Perish the thought that a wonderfully productive life, innocently unaware of God or Jesus' existence would—due to such unintentional lack of familiarity—be deemed without "ultimate purpose", no matter if that person were a da Vinci, a Michelangelo or an Omar Khayam.

Even if God did not exist, the meaning of life would still be realized in productivity. I can assure you that WITHOUT productivity the entire human race would have perished long before even the least conception of God or Jeasus had ever come about.

2/04/2008 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

"The worship of love will not get you into heaven. God is love but love is not God.

Any God worth worshipping will most certainly recognize the ascendancy of love and goodness. "God" and "good" are not so similar in spelling by some mere accident or coincidence."

Zenster,

I think we are in agreement about this. Both of us, I think, would have a congenial and interesting conversation with Thomas Aquinas.

We Catholics do not "worship" love. It is merely the first of all qualities of the Creator. THE FIRST. The evidence of love is a sure sign that the God of Jesus is there. As surely as the presence of love shows the face of God, so too the primacy of love in the life of a Christian proves that God is with him or her. It validates one's faith. Hell, even my Baptist brother will assent to that and be in agreement with me.

Love is not the sappy thing some disparage it to be.

Calvin was, for his time, a brilliant man. But he was wrong about some things. AND he was not a very nice human being. Neither were his persecutors very nice human beings. In fact, these disputations are usually evidence of a certain spiritual bankruptcy.

It isn't so much clarity of Christian faith that is, for me, the first bulwark against Islam. For me, the canary in the coal mine is their cruelty and lovelessness. It indicates what they worship and the quality of their god.

I don't worship agape; I merely try to remain immersed in it, extend it to others, and rely on it as my defender against the demonic.

2/04/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Zenster said:
Even if God did not exist, the meaning of life would still be realized in productivity.
---------
"Life is what happens to you when you are busy, making other plans."

Absolute and complete depravity comes from denying God.

America is not God, America is odd.
For too many in the free world America IS THE LIE. This alone makes me ask whether humans are stupid or evil.

If God is a lie no one will remember the depravity. No one will remember the love.

2/04/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Fred,
Classic Judaism declares that humans are filthy. In need of redemption. What I know of Christianity says exactly the same. The original Passover, as a picture, is worth 10,000 words.

The Jewish Passover may be a lie. The story of Joseph and the story of Passover shake my belief to the point where I dare to stand up and wonder with awe.

If I'm wrong I'm left with liberty, freedom, rule of law, justice. And a love for Moses.

2/04/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Arthur Dent said:

"America is not God, America is odd. For too many in the free world America IS THE LIE. This alone makes me ask whether humans are stupid or evil."

Actually, all this tells me is that some people are moonbats (duh!). The fact that moonbats are stupid and evil is a fact of life (entropy is a bitch).

What does cause me distress is when moonbats attain positions of authority. I wish democracy was better at keeping this from happening....

2/04/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Arthur Dent,

Are you filthy?

Personal admission: I am a sinner. This I know, as I live in my own skin. But, I don't think God wants me to descend into the depths of such self-loathing that I wonder why I was even created.

Let's get real about sin and evil. There are gradations and degrees of it. I have a hard time conceiving of the idea of a God without a sense of proportionality.

And that's not pride. Capriciousness is a quality of al illah, not Yahweh. That was one of the important points Benedict XVI was trying to get across to his Muslim interlocutors.

2/04/2008 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

The only thing more prominent in American life than religious sentiment is the ambition of those who seek to exploit it for social, political or even business purposes. Wherever three are gathered in the name of honest worship, a fourth will be calculating how to benefit. And pursuit of that personal benefit leads to demagoguery of the highest order. If the followers are stupid enough and the leaders unscrupulous enough, it can lead to propagating cultures of violent religious partisanship. This is the reason, IMO, that the Founders tried to minimize the influence of religion in the US government. Define our core areas of agreement and enforce that agreement with maximum clarity and mandated algorithms of compromise. Otherwise, there is essentially no limit to how far people can stray from moderation at the behest of some self-appointed authority figure -- picture it as the Stanford Prison experiment meets the Middle East. When religion enters a positive feedback phase, things quickly become dangerously uncontrolled and finally unbearable, the China Syndrome of human philosophy.

I have known three people with Down's Syndrome in my life. One was a cousin, the most affectionate child I've ever known. The second an attractive and free-spirited young man who was the bane and joy of his mother's existence. He had an intense love of humor, simple of course, but very real. The third was a young lady who, though unable to speak very well, took care of her psychotic mother, making sure that medication was carefully administered and basically keeping the mother out of trouble.

That such people as these -- full people with all the armor rubbed off -- that they should be made instruments of the schemers and despoilers is beyond sad. Unfortunately, we have heard worse, and we can contemplate still worse to come. ... And people still question the need for this war.

2/04/2008 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

picture it as the Stanford Prison experiment meets the Middle East.

Excellent.

2/04/2008 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Fred: I think we are in agreement about this. Both of us, I think, would have a congenial and interesting conversation with Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas Aquinas aside, I think an evening's conversation with one of your perception would be something to prize. Please know how much I appreciate the way that you first look for my actual meaning and not any of the incidental flaws in how I express it. It enriches these exchanges beyond measure.

It is merely the first of all qualities of the Creator. THE FIRST.

Were love not that first and foremost quality, ours would be a dramatically different and decidedly gloomy world, if it even managed to exist at all. The world of Islam springs to mind as a pluperfect example of creation authored without the primacy of love.

2/04/2008 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Charles!

Thanks for the Piper reference. It was interesting. Calvinists are often obsessed with whether or not they are saved. According to Calvinism it happens before a person is born so they have no evidence of a born again moment. And we all sin, even born again Christians. So it haunts Calvinists that their last or recurring sin might be evidence that they are not of the elect. That's a living... torment.

Have you read Dave Hunt's book on Calvinism? "What love is this?" I think many Calvinists are born again Christians. I enjoy their patient, energetic presentation of the scriptures. They would benefit immensly from what Dave has to say.

www.thebereancall.org is his website.

Romans 3:23:

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of GOD.

Acts 4:12

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

GOD is Holy.

Revelation 2:11:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.

Mercy

2/05/2008 02:12:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Fred said...

We Catholics are somewhere between the gloomy Calvinists and the French Revolution naturalists.
//////////
the french revolution was Atheistic anti clerical and specifically anti Catholic.

this cannot be said about the american revolution.

2/05/2008 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Sparks fly said...

Charles!

Thanks for the Piper reference. It was interesting. Calvinists are often obsessed with whether or not they are saved.
///////////
People may think that --but it is not a tenant of calvinism. Calvinism's view is the doctrine of justification. that you are save once and once alone for all time-- and that by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Your saving faith marks a complete break with the past. The short hand of the reformation is that You are saved by faith. Or in Latin Sola Fide.

I like your quotes.

My bible study is only just emerging from the bad news in Paul's romans 1-7.

Paul is very different from Job. Job puts satan at the right hand of God--while Job is good--even if a little full of himself. Paul puts Jesus at the right hand of God--while man in general and he in particular is bad to the bone.

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? romans 7:24.

2/05/2008 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Charles,

In one of your posts you contrasted the ideas of Calvinism in connection with the American Revolution, which by the way I mostly agree with, against the ideas of the French Revolution which preached that man is inherently good and society corrupts him.

Catholics hold that BOTH inherent weakness AND society corrupt and are corrupted, which was what I was attempting to explain, perhaps less adroitly than I should have. Human culture, being the product of human beings, does spiritual and material harm to people. There were, after all, totalitarian ideologies before the French Revolution. Try 1,200 years earlier, for the longest surviving ideology which is now robustly awakening after a period of somnolence following 1683.

Protestants hold that final truth is found only in the Bible, often in its most literal meaning. Catholics are more eclectic than that, because we believe that science can discover truth that points to God, and reveals truths not contained in the Bible. This is why the older I get the more I realize the timelessness of Thomistic thought.

Lest you think I am being a bit Triumphalistic in my thought, I can be critical of my Church too. But very often outsiders are not always the best critics of the Catholic Church, as they are not always up to date in their knowledge and sometimes some mistaken impressions slip in to their thinking.

I have to deal with these issues on a regular basis with my younger sibling who probably left the Church when he was but a wee one, but went through the motions in a most disinterested way for some years afterwards. He got the good, old time religion when, as a young adult, he was clearly going down a self-destructive path. And I say, good for him, if his unmediated experience brought him closer to God. If it works for you, don't mess with the formula. Which is why, despite some issues I have with my received faith, I have found that I am more at home with it than I was with my occasional forays into Episcopal, Baptist, and UCC services and meetings. Despite everything, I was still more comfortable with the sacramental and prayer life of Catholicism.

Despite your possible misgivings, I do believe Calvinists and Catholics do get along in the hereafter.

2/05/2008 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Calvin did not die for my sins. Calvin is a different name than Jesus. That's pretty obvious. The Bible is very clear on this point. If you hold Calvin above Christ you are an idolator. You would seem to me to have come short of entering HIS rest.

God knows; not me.

The Bible instructs me to plead with you on this issue.

Catholicism is not Christianity. It is a different name. It means universal as in universal church. Catholicism teaches that if you say you are born again and definitely going to heaven then you are anathema to Catholicism. But Jesus says you must be born again to be saved. So who do you believe?

I think, but I don't know, that many who call themselves Calvinists or Catholics are in fact born again Christians.

Who are you trusting for your salvation? Are you trusting Calvin or the Catholic organization or are you trusting Jesus. You know what you should be calling yourselves.

They don't call HIM the "WORD" for nothing.

HE lives!

2/05/2008 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Fred said...

Charles,

Catholics hold that BOTH inherent weakness AND society corrupt and are corrupted,
///////////
so all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I don't think a Calvinist would disagree with this proposition.

A story teller would tell the sad tale of a reprobate in terms of his own failures and the poor influences upon him.

A person interested in changing their ways would change their company & habits.

2/06/2008 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Fred said...
Protestants hold that final truth is found only in the Bible, often in its most literal meaning. Catholics are more eclectic than that, because we believe that science can discover truth that points to God, and reveals truths not contained in the Bible.
//////////////////
Actually these tensions exist among evangelicals as well. Indeed geneticists tend to be much more theological than paleontologists who tend towards philosophy.

2/06/2008 08:07:00 PM  

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