Friday, January 17, 2003

Actually, I now have two rants and raves coming this weekend.

Keep in touch.
I have had a lapse in posts due to a suddenly overwhelming work schedule. Being an accountant and it being January, I guess I should have expected it.

I am reading two or three books at the moment, they are:

John Paul II - Fides et Ratio
Willa Cather - Death Comes for the Archbishop (This for variety in my reading and out of love of the Southwest)
Josef Pieper - Leisure the Basis of Culture (Fides et Ratio led me to this, indirectly anyway)

And in the midst of all of this I feel a rant and rave coming on, this on the basis of an article in Newseek on the web. Hope you'll stay tuned.

Paz y bien

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Circulating on the Internet - With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person that lmost went un-noticed last week. Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in... and then the trouble started.
Beauty - For the past week or so there has been a lively discussion taking place on the pages of Flos Carmeli and Disputations on the nature of beauty. I have wanted to take part in this but, to be honest, did not believe I could contribute much, if anything to the discussion. I feel the topic is over my head, at least a bit. I'm sure the rest of this post will prove my point.

I do believe that there is such a thing as objective beauty. Things that bring us joy and uplift us can, I think, be called objectively beautiful. Beauty is joyful, true and enduring whether expressed in words, letters, paint or sculpture. The classics in literature are classics because they have endured, they have had something to say to many generations of men. The Old Masters are enduring, not because they are old but because they have something to tell all people something about themselves. Beauty brings joy because it tells us something true about ourselves. I think we sense this instinctively when we struggle to understand a difficult concept, say a math problem. After we have struggled long and hard and we finally "get-it" we get a little rush of excitement and satisfaction. I think that is one example of the type of joy that truth, and beauty, bring us.

So much of what is called "art" today is not meant to be true, or uplifting but merely shocking. It is created for no other reason and, a fearless prediction, it will not endure.

The problem I have is that there are elements of ourselves that treat beauty subjectively. I know that I certainly experience this. I like rock and roll music and especially the Beatles. But I don't believe that rock and roll can be considered objectively beautiful. Yet, I get some of the same rush listening to it as I get looking at a Rembrandt painting. I don't understand it.

In any case, this is only meant to be my own musings on the nature of beauty.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Faith and Reason -- I had lunch with Craig, my neighbor, today. Craig is an evangelical guy who is seriously devoted to Christ but he made a comment that is somewhat uncharacteristic for an evangelical guy to make. He said, “The Bible is not the source of truth.” (I’m quoting him from memory, which, in my case, is not as good as it used to be, so if I’m mistaken, and if he happens to read this, I hope he will correct me.) I guess I’m getting so accustomed to being a Catholic, having converted seven or eight years ago, that the comment didn’t register with me as anything unusual. Of course, he is right, but his comment got me thinking about the topic of some of the original posts on this blogsite – the relationship of truth and faith and the role our intellect plays in connection with our faith. This has brought me face to face with a task I had been deferring for a while but feel I can no longer put off, that is a study of our Holy Father’s encyclical – Fides et Ratio. And, of course, if I study it I’ll have to write about it. So perhaps this will be the first installment of a series on Faith and Reason.

Craig was right when he said the Bible is not the source of truth, God is the source of truth; God, in fact, is truth. The Bible is inspired by God, inerrant and the source of God’s revelation of himself to us, but on it’s own, it is not the source of truth. As John Paul II put it in his introduction to the encyclical Fides et Ratio “God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth” and gave us faith and our ability to reason to discern truth so that we could come know God and thereby come to know ourselves. The full introduction is probably worth repeating here to see the Holy Father’s line of reasoning
“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).”
According to the Holy Father, we must come to know ourselves so that we can understand the reality of our human situation, so that we can know the world we live in and, again, ultimately come to an intimate knowledge of God himself. We are here to come to a fuller knowledge of the true meaning of our lives and to make that knowledge a part of, and a guide for, everything that we do. Without truth we are simply unable to function properly as human beings.
Now this may seem somewhat ethereal or pie in the sky, and to have nothing to do with live in modern society. But, if what John Paul II is saying is itself true, then this is the most practical activity we could engage in – it would improve our ability to do almost anything else because we would have a fuller understanding of reality. In other words, we would have a better roadmap to follow on the journey of our lives.
Stay tuned for further meditations on Fides et Ratio.