Just started reading Life of Pi (I know, I know I’m not exactly at the cutting edge of new publications…)
Pi was thinking about believers, non-believers and agnostics. He comes up with this gem:
It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. [...] To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
I am subscribed to a Catholic news portal called New Advent. The website is http://www.newadvent.org, but I can’t remember where I’ve clicked to subscribe, still you can do worse than click around and discover the little treasures hidden all over the place. I find the Catholic Encyclopaedia particularly edifying .
Anyway, through their newsletter I get to read the pope’s Wednesday audience quite a bit. I don’t know exactly what a ‘Wednesday audience’ is, I must admit, but it makes for interesting reading most of the time – especially with Pope Francis delivering it. I have been struck with the frequency he seems to talk about eschatological issues (then again, perhaps I read the text because it discusses echatology, so I’m under the impression that he gives the topic special treatment when in fact he doesn’t).
Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell (Novissimi in Maltese; I don’t know the English term) happen to feature prominently in St Gorg Preca’s booklet Is-sena tas-Sinjur. (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: I translate – try to translate, rather – the thought for the day here)
San Gorg Preca’s thoughts are very hard-hitting, and to be honest, can be quite “disturbing” at times. They drag you screaming and kicking out of your comfort zone. Same thing with some of the Pope’s Wednesday audiences ; this is from the 24th April 2013), e.g.
Human history begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and ends with the final judgment of Christ. Often these two poles of history are forgotten, and, above all, faith in the return of Christ and the last judgment sometimes is not so clear and steadfast in the hearts of Christians. Jesus, during his public life, often focused on the reality of his last coming.
I mean, really … how often do we think of that? We are products of the Life-is-now brigade, our life is a blur of smiles, happiness, perfect bodies and perennial beauty. No yesterday, no tomorrow.
See what I mean? We don’t even have time to think about what really matters.
I don’t quite agree with most people who say that Pope Francis is your nice, avuncular pope. I think he’s a thorn in our flabby, toneless sides. The pea underneath the princess’s mattress, looking to make us uncomfortable to wake us from our slumber.
Only those who have suffered with me will enter my kingdom; before she entered, even my Virgin Mother had to suffer because of me. Worldly pleasures will pass and become eternal torments; worldly suffering will also pass and it will be transformed into eternal joy. This is a law that cannot be changed for those who want to enter heaven: patience or hell. Suffer with me by shunning sin and by carrying your cross every day, that you may please God.
One of the major stumbling blocks with Catholic faith is God’s apparent intransigence - which may be very easily misconstrued for “unforgiveness”.
It’s there in black on white, see? Even St George Preca said so. It troubled me, in the sense that it could easily scare away somebody who passes by for a look, if you know what I mean. You obviously can’t not include it, that would have defeated the whole WYSIWYG idea with being a Catholic. We’re not used car salesmen, after all.
Some of you may or may not remember that I was trudging along Pope Benedict XVI’s volume 2 of Jesus of Nazareth. (I say trudging because I don’t have the intellectual capacity for it, not because it’s boring – far from it.)
At one point he too mentions the apparent contradiction between the expiatory dimension of Jesus’ ministry and God’s “unconditional love and forgiveness”. He really does your head in, pointing out “inconsistencies” and planting new questions about stuff you’d never even thought could be questioned. After all the ruminations and twists and turns he comes up with this gem:
God cannot simply ignore man’s disobedience and all the evil of history; he cannot treat it as if it were inconsequential or meaningless. Such “mercy”, such “unconditional forgiveness” would be that “cheap grace” to which Deitrich Bonhoeffer rightly objected in the face of the appalling evil encountered in his day. That which is wrong, the reality of evil, cannot be simply ignored; it cannot just be left to stand. It must be dealt with; it must be overcome. Only this counts as true mercy.
(Through this we also get a feel of the magnitude of the Crucifixion. At work someone screws up and the boss comes charging at us, foaming at the mouth “How did this happen?” Our first reaction is “He acted against instructions”, you know trying to deflect the blame. And here’s this man (Jesus) who not only does not try to deflect the blame, but actually takes the blame for other people’s screw ups, but that’s by the by.)
P.S. The title got you, didn’t it ?
Schopenhauer on a person who searches information (boo) rather than insight (yay)
[...] how little such a one must have had to think about, since he has had so much time for reading!
The question begs itself … how can you think if you don’t know what to think about? Even more self-defeating … how could such insight *ahem* have been made available to us had we not read it?
I have finally made it through The Horrors and Absurdities of Religion by our friend Artie … will definitely come back to it a couple of posts down the line.
Advance health care directives (a more explanatory name for living wills) are, in a nutshell, a person’s impression of care s/he thinks s/he will want to receive should the person be in a position where s/he cannot decide for her/himself e.g. a coma. Whether or not s/he’d like to be left to die, in other words. It is important to clarify that we are not speaking about euthanasia here. The notion careens dangerously close at times though.
There was an interesting discussion on TVHemm about all this the other day (20th March 2013).
I can’t stop myself from telling you what I think about the whole issue (Believe me, I tried.)
One of the terms that was sprinkled quite liberally, IMO, was the “value of life”. A member of the panel even went through the trouble of subdividing said value into “moral considerations” and “social/societal considerations”.
I am not going to beat about the bush. We cannot discuss life without recourse to an absolute set of rules – namely the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 2258 – 2260. I know that the concept of “absolutism” is tantamount to troublemaking these days, but that’s not something that worries me. Life is not ours to play with – we struggle to define it, let alone give it a value. On this earth, as far as we’re concerned, life is all that we have and all that we are.
Saying things like “it’s my right to decide whether or not to die” and “I want a to die a dignified death” are pretentious and hollow (besides coming uncomfortably close to euthanasia)
And another thing. Today that I’m healthy and I can communicate – thank God – I see matters differently to how I’ll think when I’m moribund.
There’s also the fine line – in these circumstances – between killing and being unable to stop death. The CCC explains this simply and unequivocally in paragraphs 2278-79.
There’s a feminist group called FEMEN (founded in the Ukraine in 2008) who protest against whatever takes their fancy – or perhaps doesn’t – by baring their breasts. One of their better known sorties was when they flashed their wobbly bits at Pope Benedict XVI during or after his Sunday sermon.
On the one hand you get feminist groups telling us to look at women as human beings not sexual objects (excellent point, mind you) and on the other hand you’ve got feminist groups who think they can make a point by flashing their umlauts (or Zeppelins, as the case may be) rather than by more conventional means.
The first ever member of the Society of Jesus to have become pope chose the name Francis despite the numerous pontiffs who have been elected from Franciscan orders…
OK … there’s also that other little known ‘Jesuit’ St Francis Xavier …. but that sort of takes out the wind out of my sail, doesn’t it?