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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

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40 Comments:

Anonymous Henry said...

Crystal,

I am currently reading the transcript of the Perry trial decision and at the moment I agree with what B. Daniel Blatt has written at the "Gay Patriot" blog.

I was too young to actually care that the supreme court redefined "personhood" by judicial tyranny but I can now imagine what people felt back then now that I am witnessing the redefinition of marriage by a judge who clearly had his mind made up beforehand because he has a vested interested in pushing for the redefinition - judicial tyranny at its best and great objectivity!

Despite what the media is saying I don't think there are any winners here. In fact, looking at it through what's most dear to me, I believe that the rampant Anti-Catholicism in America as well as the push to deny those with the wrong opinions the right to express themselves freely will now become even more fashionable. And I am saying this because I work in the art world and my colleagues don't even bother to hide that this is their goal - in fact, they celebrate it!

The "dark side of rights" (a phrase by Hadley Arkes) is about to rear it's ugly head.

Sad.

Henry

8:38 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Henry,

No one is stopping the church from expressing its opinion about same-sex marriage.

I don't see how allowing same-sex marriage will hurt traditional mariage. It's not like suddenly, now given the chance, heterosexuals are going to start marrying people of the same sex, or that they will stop marrying each other. I think traditional marriage will remain the same, but the small percentage of people who are same-sex attracted will get to marry also.

What do you see as harmful about same-sex marriage?

1:37 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Crystal,

I have the impression that you like to imagine what I am thinking before I actually tell you, am I mistaken? I know that you label me in a certain way when it comes to politics, as I do you, but is it possible that my objection is not simply about whether traditional marriage will or will not be hurt?

Now, to answer your assumption, I believe “traditional marriage” was “hurt” (to use your word) long ago and thus think it’s unjust to scapegoat people with SSA for problems that “breeders” (as the extreme websites call us) started long ago. So that’s not my concern.

My concern is twofold: 1) That the state will happily discard “conscience clauses” that it deems unacceptable, i.e., it will attempt to crush those who refuse to dance to it’s tune; and 2) That the State will try to force the Church to bow down and worship it as the only true source of what is right or wrong.

The situation I see arising reminds me of an historical event. Many years ago there was a powerful government called the Roman State. And this government actually defined who was and was not a person, who did and did not have rights. But inside this state there was a small group of people, a little society, called Christians who refused to say “the final authority is the roman state” and this is where an enormous battle began. This little group was fined and/or hunted down and killed for at least 300 years! Now some say “that would never happen in America” but I am not naïve enough to think that we are so enlightened that we would never do that because I am certain that human beings have not magically evolved into just beings. And I see the start of the huge battle in cases like this.

In 2008 Vanessa Willock contacted Elaine Photography, a husband-and-wife photo agency in Albuquwrque, New Mexico, through its website to inquire about photographing her same-sex ceremony. Co-owner Elaine Huguenin emailed back: “We do not photograph same-sex weddings. But thanks for checking our site.” Willock filled a complaint with the state human rights human rights commission alleging a violation of the state’s public accommodations law, which covers sexual orientation. At the hearing, Willock testified that the email “was a shock” and cased her “anger and fear.” Johnathan Huguenin explained at the hearing that they made sure that “everything that we photographed, everything we used our artistic ability for” was in line with their Christian values. The Commission rejected the photographers’ constitutional claims, found that they unlawfully discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, and ordered them to pay attorney’s fees of nearly $7,000 to Willock.”

From what I know, there were other photo agencys that would have gladly taken the photos, so it’s not as if Vanessa couldn’t find someone else to photograph her same-sex ceremony so why not just walk away and say, wow, what jerks. It’s not as if the goods or services were not available in the same vicinity. But that’s not the point is it? To paraphrase Ghandi, wasn’t that just a way of “hitting back” because someone didn’t agree with my opinion?

So, my questions are: Does the state have the right to violate my conscience? If yes, how far can that violation go? Will America ever get to the point of doing what Nazi Germany did? Why not? What will stop it if we as a culture continue to believe that “rights” are imposed by the state?

You state, “No one is stopping the church from expressing its opinion about same-sex marriage.” That’s true right now, but will that always be the case?

7:38 AM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Henry,

Living near Albuquerque I certainly heard about the Elaine Photography case, and I think it brings up some special problems of living in a pluralistic democracy.

First comment, had Vanessa Willock been black or Jewish, would there have even been a question of discrimination? I think not, mostly because the judicial tyranny had made it clear that discrimination against such was illegal. I believe that judicial tyranny is sometimes necessary to protect civil rights of minority people.

Finding the balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the majority is a difficult problem, and probably most often it is the majority that has to give a bit.

As I have mentioned before, probably the group most responsible for attempting the redefinition of marriage is the Catholic Church. At the same time, at least in the United States, the issuing of a marriage license is about tax laws, inheritance laws, financial responsibility, the right to make medical decisions, and the right of any offspring to use the family name. It makes the couple a legal entity, but interestingly, I do not believe it gives the couple a legal right to have sex, or the requirement to have children. So it seems to me that the granting of a marriage license is strictly a civil issue, bound by civil law.

Today we would be shocked by an attempt to pass a law the denies marriage to a mixed race couple, but I have lived in a time when a mixed black/white couple would go to jail if they entered certain states. I believe the defeat of those laws have done more good for the country than their continuance would have.

I believe now that the defeat of Prop 8 will in the long run do less harm to marriage and to society than the continued hate and anger that is being bred today by trying to force others to follow a certain moral code that I believe in. When the Church begins to see a marriage license as more than a license to have sex, and the only real purpose of marriage is to have children and start thinking of the sacrament as one that promotes love and caring, then we will start to see marriage become special again.

Going back to the photography case, most of us accept that businesses have an obligation to be honest in their advertising. If they advertise that they do wedding photography, then their obligation is to do so. If they are limiting their operations to white protestant weddings only they should so advertise. I would be very upset if I had been told, "we do not do Catholic Weddings." Wouldn't you be? Is that any different?

Hugs,
Mike L

9:00 AM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Henry,

You say "My concern is twofold: 1) That the state will happily discard “conscience clauses” that it deems unacceptable, i.e., it will attempt to crush those who refuse to dance to it’s tune; and 2) That the State will try to force the Church to bow down and worship it as the only true source of what is right or wrong."

Conscience clauses are a real problem. Should refusing to serve a black couple be accepted as a valid conscience clause? Refusing to sell certain medications because I think they are immoral? Refusing to inform people of their options because I think some of them are immoral? Refusing to give antibiotics to your child because you think they are immoral?

I think it has long been established that yelling "FIRE" in a crowded theater is wrong. I am afraid as we become a more crowded, more pluralistic society we will have to limit what people say in order to maintain a peace. I don't like that, but for the greater good of the state, I think it will have to occur. Good judgment will be required, and I don't really believe that humans really posses such :).

As for the state trying to force the Church to accept the state as the final arbiter of right and wrong, I think it is coming, although I believe that it is also likely that such a state will most likely be a theocracy, possibly Catholic, more likely Evangelical.

I have always thought I would be dead by the time that happened, in fact I did not expect to live as long as I have. Perhaps God is going to give me a punishment of seeing the world that I, along with all the others, has created.

I will say that in general, I am much happier with laws that say "you can do this" than I am with laws that say "you can't do this."
I will consider myself free as long as I can marry whom I want, even if I can't tell my neighbor who he cannot marry :).

Hugs,

Mike L

9:19 AM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Crystal,

Sure glad they don't charge for comment space :). As you can probably tell, I am feeling a lot better and a lot more feisty.

This last procedure seems to have done a lot of good. Hope the changes are permanent.

Hugs,

Mike

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Dear Crystal and Mike,

Great comments and great conversation! Crystal, we are about to get into the deep things that I mentioned before.

I too want to thank Crystal for bringing up the topic and for allow us to use her blog to explore it - thanks Crystal!

I can't respond to the new comments now but I will!

So that you don't have to guess, I will tell you that one of my strongest beliefs, precisely because I am a Catholic Christian, is that a person's conscience is sacrosanct. (Of course I believe that a conscience has to be properly formed, but that's another discussion.) Why do I say that? Because I learned it from Christ Himself!

Elaboration to follow...

Peace and love to both of you,

Henry

9:55 AM  
Blogger Michael J. Bayly said...

Thanks for sharing this, Crystal. I've just added an excerpt from it to my Reactions to Prop 8 Defeat post.

Peace,

Michael

11:20 AM  
Blogger Michael J. Bayly said...

. . . Oh, and great conversation, by the way, to what you initially shared in this post.

Peace,

Michael

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Mike,

I am happy that Christ has kept you alive this long precisely so that I could meet you through this wonderful technology. The same is true for you Crystal!!!

Have you ever seen the movie “A Man for All Seasons?” Well I feel like we are both watching it but I am saying, “look the State is represented by Cromwell and Henry VIII and the Christians are represented by Sir Thomas More; that’s what is going to happen to me/us!; and you are saying, “That’s funny, I think the Catholic Church is Cromwell and Henry VIII and the State is Sir Thomas More.”

I thought of this because I was laughing so hard that I almost fell out of my seat when I read this sentence in your comment: “As for the state trying to force the Church to accept the state as the final arbiter of right and wrong, I think it is coming, although I believe that it is also likely that such a state will most likely be a theocracy, possibly Catholic, more likely Evangelical.”

I believe your statement contains much truth because, as I see it at the moment, there are three main applicants for the job: those who worship secularism as a god, those who worship a non-Christian god, and Christians who believe in moralism.

Now, I don’t know about you or Crystal, but I’ve been to gatherings of “those who believe in moralism” and so I can tell you that I will do all I can to prevent their moralism from becoming the law of the Land. I am a firm believer in morality NOT in moralism because morality enhances the human person and moralism diminishes the human person. So, based on my experience, I would rather attend a party full of sinners – like the three of us – who disagree but have a great heart full of much love than a party group of people who want to impose their idea of how people should behave on me. Note, I said impose! Why? Because, as I said before, a person's conscience is sacrosanct. (Again, I believe that a conscience has to be properly formed, but that's another discussion.)

As I see it, the debate can be summarized as follows:

• There is a right to same-sex marriage

• All rights should be protected by law

• Therefore, the right to same-sex marriage should be protected by law

Do you and Crystal believe that is a fair and accurate summary of the debate?

More to follow, my break is ending.

Hugs,

Henry

P.S. Crystal / Mike, do you want to continue this discussion via e-mail instead?

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

One quick question Mike, why is yelling "FIRE" in a crowded theater wrong? That is, what actually makes it wrong?

Hugs to both,

Henry

12:04 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Henry, you seem like a 'nice' guy, but you need to read up on your history. Thomas More, for example,was an extremely cruel arm of the state before he tangled with the king. He authorized torture and executions based on his belief--as you seem to have--that HIS church is free to exercise anything it desires to protect the one true church. He was also, in his personal life, a very weird man. This seems the way you are suggesting. So as a Catholic I say "no thanks."
O, I know you are going to say "I don't favor torture and execution for those who differ with me on religious matters." But your belief that our church has absolute truth is the first step toward torture, and religious persecution, including death. Those who believe they have absolute truth are a danger today as they were centuries ago.

12:10 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I come to the party late, as usual :)

Henry - I don't think I can respond to what you wrote any better than Mike did - his response is what mine would be.

Mike - I'm glad you're feeling better. Didn't realize you had had another procedure. Wish you would comment more often.

Michael - hi - thanks for the comment and thanks for adding me to your post. It's good to hear from you :)

Mark - yeah, Thomas Moore had a dark side that is seldom acknowledged by Catholics.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Hi Mark,

It’s a pleasure to meet you virtually and I am sorry to disappoint you but your belief that I am a “nice” guy is not true. However, I try to be reasonable and fair as often as possible; and I imagine that you try to do the same.

Questions: Why did you presume that I was unaware of the history of the period in which Thomas More lived and of his actions? Are you under the impression that you are the only person that reads history?

You say that in his personal life Thomas More was a very weird man – what does that mean? Can you give me an example of what you considered weird? What criterion are you using to determine that it was weird, the ones we hold now or the ones that were held then? As a historian, which one should be used?

You wrote: “Those who believe they have absolute truth are a danger today as they were centuries ago.” I agree but are you trying to imply that a utopian society would miraculously arise if everyone suddenly decided that there is no such thing as absolute truth? Are you aware of a society, in the past or in the present, that tried this? If yes, what were the results? (As an aside, I don’t know about you, but I coming to believe that “Animal Farm” was as prophetic a document as was “Humane Vitae”, particularly paragraph 17 in HV.)

In any event, experience has taught me that we human beings (individually and collectively) imagine many things about ourselves that are just not true. What’s my point? That I can stay in my room and congratulate myself on how patient and kind I am but I’ll only know if that “hypothesis” is true if I test it in reality.

So, when you watch yourself in action do you live as if you did not accept certain things as absolutely true? And I am not saying when you see yourself as Mark “the Catholic”, I mean as Mark the man.

Thanks for joining in the discussion mi amigo.

Pax Christi,

Henry

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

I agree Mike gave a very good response and I want to go through it point-by-point but I don['t want to hijack your blog. So, Mike if you are willing I will send you an e-mail with my telephone number so that we can talk over the phone - writing takes too long. Or, if you prefer we an do it by email. Let me know if that's agreeable.

I hope you feel good today Crystal and let me know how the art is coming along!

Hugs to you and Mike.

Pax Christi,

Henry

1:32 PM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Henry,

Jeez, in all of this I had to go look up the definition of secularism. I suspect a lot of people throw the word around as an insult. But if you accept it as meaning government that does not take God into account when making it's laws, I guess I am at least somewhat a secularist. The problem in a pluralistic society is whose god. I think Islam is a fair example of a non-secularist government. I really don't think there are many people that accept secularism as a god, but they might accept it as a philosophy.

"I believe your statement contains much truth because, as I see it at the moment, there are three main applicants for the job: those who worship secularism as a god, ..."

I think you really missed the most important group, those that want power and simply use God as a political force.

You suggested a summary of the discussion as:

• There is a right to same-sex marriage

• All rights should be protected by law

• Therefore, the right to same-sex marriage should be protected by law

First of all, I do not believe that there is any right to a civil marriage, e.e. to that legal contract defining benefits and obligations.

So my path would be:
* If you give two people the right to form a legal contract involving legal and financial benefits, than it is discrimination to limit those who can enter into such a relationship.

* In this country discrimination is defined as illegal, i.e. unconstitutional.

* To say that legal rights should be protected by law is a red herring, it is equivalent of saying the law should be protected by law.

Crystal may have different opinions and if so, I would like to hear what she has to say.

I also believe that we have certain God given rights to behave in certain ways. For example, I have the right to form a Sacramental marriage with the woman of my choice, providing she agrees. I have the right to worship God as I understand him, providing it does not impinge on the rights of others. Some of these rights are protected by law, others are not, and some may be limited in practice to preserve the state.

Oh my! A bit of copper colored fire just flew past my window. The rufus hummingbirds are here, and they are spectacular when the sun hits them.

Hugs for now,

Mike L

1:49 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I guess I could try to saw what I think, though Mike says it better :)

Henry wrote ...

My concern is twofold: 1) That the state will happily discard “conscience clauses” that it deems unacceptable, i.e., it will attempt to crush those who refuse to dance to it’s tune; and 2) That the State will try to force the Church to bow down and worship it as the only true source of what is right or wrong.

1) I think the state should not allow for conscience clauses, because the state has a responcibility to protect all its citizens, especially those who are a minority and are discriminated against. Such clauses only come into play when the way people act (not think or believe) affects others. Mikes's example of race discrimination is good, I think.

2) The state doesn't really care what the church believes as long as what it believes doesn't harm its citizens. There is no god of secularism, there's just the acknowledgement that fairness is a virtue the worth of which can be independent of religious belief.

It just creeps me out that the church is championing the right to discriminate under the guise of religious liberty and freedom.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Henry,sometimes in this exchange, you confuse me. I have my own blog and have dealth with the infallability issue many times.As you probably know, that doctrine was put foreward by the church as it attempted to counter the rise of empirical science. Supposedly, after the doctrine was proclaimed a doctrine in 1870 Cardinal Manning jumped on a table and said 'with this we shall conquer the world.' Whether Manning actually said this,I cannot say with certainty:). But there can be no doubt that the Church realized that people desire certainty and the proclamation that She could not error in matters of faith and morals was a good doctrine for many. Infallability saves a lot of time and thought.

Of course we act on many things as if they are certain.We have to. But science is wise in saying that any belief may be subject to modification. Without such a belief, no progress could be made in our understanding of the world.Of course, no society has completely accepted the idea that certainty is not possibility for humans. And, of course, that explains the rather sordid history of ignorance and cruelty to a degree in all societies of which we are aware.

More was very much into self denigration. Hair shirts, flaggelation,etc. He often slept on the floor to be able to prevent carnal thoughts. Yes, there are Catholics today who support and practice self debasement. Maybe that is your cup of tea(party)? but not the Catholics I know.

Crystal knows that I believe the hierarchy of the Church is clearly opposed to sex activity.But I have argued this on my blog, and am 'certain'(88.666 so)this should be quite clear to anyone who checks it out. The Church's position, not sex:)

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Crystal and Mike,

Well, we really are moving along aren’t we! However, reading over the posts I see that I need to state my thesis in a more precise manner. My thesis is: Does the state have a right to violate a person’s conscience. In other words, am I right to assert that a person’s conscience is sacrosanct and cannot be violated by any individual person, group of persons, government, society, or deity?

I am not sure, but I think Crystal thinks I am simply referring to the right of pharmacists to not give out the morning after pill, etc. While that’s an interesting debate, as is SS marriage, I want to go behind that to the foundations we hold, we as individuals and we as a society.

Now, my belief system includes the word “perhaps” as in “perhaps I am wrong” or “perhaps I am right” or “perhaps this part is right and this part is wrong.” So, while I have strong beliefs I do believe that any belief must be tested in experience and that’s why I wrote the following to Mark: “In any event, experience has taught me that we human beings (individually and collectively) imagine many things about ourselves that are just not true. What’s my point? That I can stay in my room and congratulate myself on how patient and kind I am but I’ll only know if that “hypothesis” is true if I test it in reality.”

But let me quickly address the last two posts you both wrote for a moment.

Mike wrote: The problem in a pluralistic society is whose god. Agreed but I would go further, whose belief system? And Crystal wrote: fairness is a virtue the worth of which can be independent of religious belief. I agree but how is fairness decided? By whom?

Although I am not a philosopher, I do enjoy reading philosophical books that examine this issue on occasion. For example, I enjoyed reading “After Virtue” and “Whose Justice, Which Rationality?” by Alasdair MacIntyre. As an aside, the best book on morality from a Catholic Perspective is “Morality: A Catholic View” by by Servais Pinckaers - not the rule tome people usually expect.

Perhaps it would be helpful for all of us to define what we think conscience is – what do you think?

I have to go teach now, have a great night my friends.

Pax Christi,

Henry

3:15 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Henry, of course you can follow your conscience. But if your conscience tells you to kill someone (Wichita doctor)then the state must go along with our laws and say NO. There really is no problem here in my opinion.

Back to More for a minute. He supported torture and burnings if he got to say who was the recipient.So I don't give him much credit.

Cramner said "This hand hath offended; let it go first" as he stuck in hand in the flames.He was opposing Catholic teaching and is ridiculed by some Catholic apologists.Henry, do you think he should have followed his conscience?

The church's rule for a saint: Did you put the Church first. To hell with the rest of your life.

3:44 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Henry,

My thesis is: Does the state have a right to violate a person’s conscience. In other words, am I right to assert that a person’s conscience is sacrosanct and cannot be violated by any individual person, group of persons, government, society, or deity?

I do think a person has not only the right but the obligation to follow their conscience.

But .... people are not being forced by the state to violate their consciences. They are being forced to make a choice: either to follow their conscience and accept the legal consequences of doing so (like maybe losing their job or facing legal prosecution). or to not follow their conscience. People want to have it both ways - to follow their conscience but to be exempted from the consequrnces of doing so. Nobody said following your conscience was easy or that the state should make it easy (just ask Moore :)

5:40 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

Well said Crystal. That pretty much sums up what the Church teaches about the priority of conscience. Follow it yes, but realize that there may be actual consequences for doing so. Doesn't that provide a good litmus test for making a good decision? Do I believe this is the right course of action to take even if it results in some unfortunate consequence for me?

Very exciting debate here today. Wow!

6:43 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Cura,

As soon as I wrote that I started to worry - easy to say that when my conscience isn't telling me to do anything scary :)

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Victor said...

Hi crystal, Mike, Henry and other friends,

I don't know how much of this I could touch in a comment but "IT" wouldn't matter cause "IT" would not be enough cause of "Free Will" which I'll sum UP as my conscience and/or my thoughts which I've given to our Heavenly Father and if I go astray then "IT" is His fault and not mine cause I was made in HIS IMAGE.

Like Henry said in so many words, staring at four walls will not tell you how good you really are. To make another long story short, I did write about some of my pass experiences and gave "IT" to my good Bishop and also to one of our past Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Pierre E. Trudeau who eventually sent me his picture after his retirement and his aid was kind enough to say that he liked some of what I wrote to him. God Bless his soul.

I hear ya! What does all this have to do with same-sex-marriages? Probably nothing as far as most people are concerned but "IT" does have something to do with "Saints". You see! As a Catholic I truly believe in The Communion of Saints and Forgiveness of Sins! No you don't see! Anyway, you won't believe "IT" but I was a "Saint" once :)

I really didn't know "IT" at the time but when you're able to talk to animals and they seem to listen to you and when you put your fingers into fish bowls and they come up to the surface and let you pet them, you eventually must believe that something is happening. I never shared "IT" until years later because of what I had experienced in the pass I thought that "IT" might be Satan and/or friends of his. Anyway, while our family was growing UP more and more injustices were done to us by the spiritual world. Call me crazy if you want but they are back again because I won't listen to sinner vic who wants to destroy the world when I get to 66. Like most of you I don't believe "IT" but after the things that have happened to me I must be a little concerned, don't you think?

"IT" seems to be starting all over again and let me try to explain if I can. You see I started truly searching for God when I got transfered from home in the mid sixties and I did manage to reach the spiritual world although I asked God with a sincere heart to keep an eye on me because I really did not know what I was doing and to make another very long story short HE is still doing "IT" and The Spiritual Forces are UP SET with me cause I won't acknowledge their presence cause I truly believe that only Our Heavenly Father can do that and they don't believe in HIM cause they think that they are "IT" and not HIM. Anyway, I'm telling you this because you like Tiger. These forces got him in trouble at camp and me also but let's forget about my spine cause I've already told my good bishop about that.

I know that you still like Tiger and I'm sure that his spirit likes you too. He's one spirit that likes our camp and I thought that everyone liked him but my wife and I have to keep him from camp because he chased a child. It is probably my fault cause I tease him now and then and tell him that he's a bob cat and he literally lift up his ears and looks like one. To make another story short my wife and I agree that he can't be going around chasing little kids. We know that the problem is that the children are running from Tiger but when the parents are not prepared to teach their kids what are we to do?

I'll close by saying that as usual, we'll continue to agree to disagree on same-sex-marriage and their problems and please pray that I always get to keep the right of Free Thoughts cause I'm afraid of what sinner vic might do if humanity ever took "IT" away from me.

Peace

God Bless

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Dear Crystal, Mike, Mark, and Cura Animarum,

Even though it is almost 2:00am here in NY I want to dash off a quick response because the new posts are so exciting.

Crystal - your sentence - “I do think a person has not only the right but the obligation to follow their conscience.” - is not only accurate but it is beautiful – brava! I will address your second part when my brain is working, OK?

Mike - I haven’t forgotten you and the great points you raised.

Mark – infallibility, More’s personal spiritual practices, the fact that the Church has the audacity to proclaim a sexual morality, how do those things contribute to the topic at hand? Is it possible that they are interesting but tangential topics completely unrelated to the discussion? Just a question.

You then wrote: Yes, there are Catholics today who support and practice self debasement. Maybe that is your cup of tea(party)? but not the Catholics I know. Am I supposed to now resort to ad hominem attacks too?

CA – welcome to the discussion. I agree that it is getting very exciting and I look forward to going deeper into it.

In closing, experience has taught me that people can use the same word but mean completely different things. So, in order to forestall possible misunderstandings, I wonder if it would be helpful for each of us to define what we think this thing we are calling “conscience” is. I’ll give my definition sometime this weekend.

Pax Christi,

Henry

P.S., Victor - I will read what you wrote tomorrow, I am going to sleep now.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Crystal, Mike, Mark, Cura Animarum, Victor, etc.,

Our conversation has really provoked me and I did not sleep well because I feel like I have a splinter in my mind. I think we’ve all made some beautiful points but I sense that we haven’t gone deep enough, that we are still just skimming the surface and simply regurgitating our cultural assumptions. So perhaps it might help me (and you) if I try to articulate what I am thinking / doing.

Something happened in “reality” – Prop 8 was overturned. And if a person has even a tiny bit of awareness this event will provoke them because reality is provoking. Ok, so Crystal, who I have grown to admire and respect deeply, declares “Yeah, Justice has been served.” But my reaction is different and I post my initial thoughts on the blog because I want to have a conversation about it.

continued in the next comment...

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Now why did I pick Crystal’s blog? Well I gave one reason in my previous paragraph but two others are 1) her reaction is the exact opposite of mine; and 2) she loves the Truth as much as I do. When I first came across Crystal at the Whosoever Desires Blog, my initial reaction was – “what a freaken liberal” and “she’s probably a heretic” (sorry Crystal!). Of course, I imagine that she saw me as an “arch-conservative” and/or “Traditionalist Fundamentalist” idiot. Now, I do not believe that it’s a problem if people have strong reactions and/or feelings but I do think it is wrong to keep someone in a box precisely so that “I” can dismiss them and/or their opinions. After all, as Mike alluded many times, human beings are complex. In fact, I was reading my comments as if they were written by someone else and I can well imagine that some of my “conservative / traditionalist” friends would call me a “liberal and heretic.” So, maybe I am a “liberal orthodox” or “orthodox liberal” after all - I need help coming up with a term I am open to suggestions. (P.S., please imagine me bowing to Mike at this point as a gesture of acknowledgment that you were right when you said that we all pick and choose!)

One of the things that really disturbs me is that both sides demonize the other and frame the debate in categories derived from moralism. So liberal sites go on and on about how stupid the conservatives are because they can’t see that this is a “justice” issue and that’s because they are homophobes, bigots, etc.; and the conservative sites go on and on about how this will kill marriage, destroy our culture, the world, etc. and that this is all the gays fault, blah, blah, blah. But I think they actually share the same problem: they defend themselves from the blow of reality precisely because they do not want to face the need that reality awakens. I might even go so far as to say that they love their opinions more than the Truth.

...continued in next comment...

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Let me give you a concrete example. You are probably going to be shocked to learn that I actually believe that those with SSA are right to fight against what they believe is an injustice. (I intentionally don’t use the word “gay” precisely because it has political overtones and is a step removed from reality, but that’s another conversation for another time.) So, I actually support their cause because it’s a human cause.

So why am I arguing that it should not be permitted? Because I do not believe that the assumptions and inferences for those fighting for it are sound. But, as I said, since my belief system includes the word “perhaps”, perhaps my assumptions and inferences are unsound too and this is what I want to explore with all of you.

So I am not arguing for the sake of trying to prove that I am right and you are wrong or vice versa, I am looking for the Truth. Believe me, I could avoid this existential investigation by simply adopting the opinions of others, especially those with prestigious or influential positions – philosophers I have studied, journalists or writers whose opinion I agree with, opinions expressed on my favorite blog and/or by my favorite theologian, Bishop, etc., but if I did that before engaging in this existential investigation I would alienate myself from myself and thus I think that method is wrong. In other word, I do not think anyone should abandon themselves to the opinions of others and/or the most fashionable views or impressions that determine our milieu with having first engaged in an existential investigation.

So forgive me if I want to go further but I don’t think we’ve explored the topic as deeply as needed yet.

I will write again later with more questions and/or details about what has been written so far.

Pax Christi,

Henry

P.S., N.B., I have not brought in any citations from Church documents intentionally and I will explain why at the end.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Henry,

I think that there is a serious problem with your quest. To start with, the Air Force has done extensive study in artificial intelligence, and one of their conclusions is that a sane and healthy mind functions illogically. The insane and mentally unhealthy can be expected to function in a logical and predictable pattern. I think this finding makes "truth" a bit difficult to nail down for all people.

It seems to me that you are dealing with the same problem that science deals with. Newtonian physics works well in everyday situations, rocks fall, planets whirl around the sun, and waves wash upon the shore. But when we look closer we find some strange things that can't be explained by Newtonian Physics. Planets move a little faster or a little slower than expected, light doesn't always travel in a straight line through space. So, to deal with these phenomena we have to move into the realm of Relativity theory proposed by Einstein. But even then things don't work exactly the way we thought, and so one starts to look at Quantum theory. That helps, but still there are things ...

I think in the same manner we move through "Truth" perhaps getting closer, or understanding some aspect of it, but never quite reaching it.

There are also different ways of thinking. I am visual, I need to form images and equations are not part of my thinking ability. I suspect you are more abstract, and leads you down different paths. Crystal has a very solid image of what is right and wrong, perhaps you and I have to go through great contortions to get to an understanding that she instinctively perceives.

I have no doubt that you will follow paths that baffle Crystal and I, and we will "know" things that you just can't see. If we come up with the same answers, then we know that we have approached the truth, but I will be willing to bet that we are only approaching it.

Hugs,

Mike

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Mike,

I definitely agree that the “sane and healthy mind functions illogically” because I believe that the “sane and healthy mind” uses “reasonableness” and not just logic while interacting in this thing we call reality. However, I have noticed that many people believe that terms “demonstrable” and “logical” are synonyms of the term “reasonableness.” 


I also agree that our own efforts can only move us closer or further away from Truth but I also see that I, as a human being, need Truth. So, is there anything I can do to get myself out of this dilemma? If not, does that mean I must surrender before the question of Truth?

When I taught 4th grade I studied learning styles, and I am so grateful I did because I use what I learned when I teach Adults. In fact, one of my favorite books was: The Way they Learn. As an aside, I personally believe that conflicts would be minimized that If everyone remembered that people have different learning styles.

I agree that the three of us will follow paths that will perplexed the others, but does that mean that my quest is doomed from the start. One of the books that the priest who taught me about the Catholic Christian Faith had me read is called “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander” by Thomas Merton. I loved that book especially this passage: “We are all convinced that we desire the truth above all. Nothing strange about this. It is natural to man, an intelligent being, to desire truth. (I dare to speak of man as “an intelligent being”!) But actually, what we desire is not “the truth” so much as “to be in the right.” To seek the pure truth for its own sake may be natural to us, but we are not able to act always in this respect according to our nature. What we seek is not the pure truth, but partial truth that justifies our prejudices, our limitations, our selfishness. This is not “the truth.” It is only an argument strong enough to prove us “right.” And usually our desire to be right is correlative to our conviction that somebody else (perhaps everybody else) is wrong.”

I have never forgotten that sentence and it’s been a sort of “creed” for me.

If you and Crystal want to stop, I’ll understand and I thank both of you and everyone else for journeying with me on my quest.

I am leaving for a two week retreat early next week and I will remember both of you while there.

Pax Christi,

Henry

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Victor said...

Henry said below
>>What we seek is not the pure truth, but partial truth that justifies our prejudices, our limitations, our selfishness. This is not “the truth.” It is only an argument strong enough to prove us “right.” And usually our desire to be right is correlative to our conviction that somebody else (perhaps everybody else) is wrong.”<<

sinner vic might not like those few sentences but you nailed "IT" right on as far as I'm concerned about him. If he could only be perfect like me, myself and I are! Go Figure! :)

Until next time,

Peace,

God Bless

1:04 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I don't know how to expalin why I think what I do about all this, but I'll try ....

I ask myself, what would it be like if I were a lesbian? What would it be like if someone I loved was gay? There but for fortune could go any of us, if you accept the idea that people are born this way and have no choice in the matter. How would I want to be treated or have my loved one treated?

And I ask myself, what harm does same-sex attraction cause?

The conclusion I come to is that though being same-sex attracted is different, it's different in a way that hurts no one else. I don't see any harm in it. And I know that if I was a lesbian or if anyone I card about was gay or lesbian, I would hope we would be treated fairly.

Against that, the beliefs of medieval neo-Aristotelian natural law theorists just don't convince me - I think they're based on faulty assumptions that ca't trump fairness.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Henry,I think I am on subject and YOU are dancing around. So, a couple of points.

Plato wrote of the "inner voice." But it could only be trusted if it said "No." I think this is good. Keeps us from taking our inner desires as a true inner voice.

The Church is playing a game with "relativism." P.E. More in "The Demon of the Absolute" demonstrated that a logical fallacy is to argue that if "standards" are not absolute, there are no standards. The last two popes are saying the only positions on moral issues is absolute standards vs.no standards.This sells with some. What about the excluded middle?

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Crystal and Mike,

I think I've understood what I was meant to understand and I thank you for your patience and for helping me reach the aha moment.

I'll send both of you an e-mail that answers the points that are unanswered when I return and you can post whatever parts you like, or none at all, Crystal.

Thanks again.

Pax Christi,

Henry

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Mark,

I didn’t mean to imply that all your points weren’t on subject, because, in my opinion, some were and they were very good points. My question point was that I felt some were not. But I can see why you thought I was dancing around the subject because it’s true that I was engaging in a bit of mental hopscotch to sort out what I actually think about the topic and why.

The Plato quote is very good - thanks for that.

I get it, you have an issue with the Church, I don’t; if I did I would have never converted. I would be more than willing to debate anyone at any time about the link between Christology and Ecclesiology but I was not interested in doing that in this conversation. I looked at it as primarily a discussion between two friends about an event that happened in reality. I wasn’t try to prove that I was right and they were wrong or vice versa.

One thing I confirmed from this experience was that I really prefer face to face discussions! It would have been magical to have actually been sitting at a table with Crystal and Mike discussing this. Mike and I would get revved up and Crystal would try to calm us down, then Crystal would get revved up and we’d try to calm her down and then I would get revved up and they would try to calm me down - it would be life, friends talking about life. I personally get tired about talking about abstract ideas, I get tired playing ideological ping-pong, and I think this form of communication actually perpetuates that precisely because the human is missing. Crystal can’t see my face or hear the tone of my voice or see my comportment, etc., all things we need to see to truly understand. On the blogshere people simply engage in mental masturbation - sure it feels good but then what? What has been proven? Not much, in my opinion. What has been done? Disharmony has increased.

Moreover, blogs allow for too many voyeurs. What I was trying to work out is actually something private, something deeply personal, and I realize now that I should have done it via e-mail with my two internet friends. So I am probably not going to post on blogs very often from this point on.

I thank you though for helping me sort out my thoughts.

Pax Christi,
Henry

8:29 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Henry,

I hope you don't give up discussing things on blogs. Not all of us get the chance to meet others face to face to discuss this kind of stuff. I don't actually know any other Catholics in real life (hmmm, actually I don't know many other people at all in real life :).

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Vampire Hunter D said...

I don't believe that gay "marriage" is a right. It is a slap in the face of God. He makes it very clear what marriage is and should be. He also says that it will as Sodom and Gomorrah. So then why is it that gays think they have or should have for that matter more or special "rights" than anyone else. They chose the life style. They should buck up and deal with the consequences on said choice.

8:13 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Vampire Hunter D,

I disagree.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Vampire Hunter D said...

Being gay is a choice. Just look at Sodom and Gomorrah. Bible even states that the men lusted for each other. And that it was evil in the sight of God. Woe to those that call evil good.

9:48 AM  

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