Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Philosophical Objections to Gay Marriage

The topic of gay marriage is a divisive subject, in large part because it is constantly coupled with religious overtones. However, gay marriage is not at its heart a religious issue; rather, it is a philosophical one. It is a faulty modern philosophy of love which allows society to even consider the possibility of gay marriage; the same flawed philosophy which has previously justified other sexual perversions such as divorce, adultery, and pornography.
Love, in its romantic sense (eros), must be a full expression of unity between a man and a woman, because the differences between man and woman are united by the completion of the human person. Men share specific characteristics with all other men, and women share specific characteristics with all other women. It is only when man and woman come together that a true exploration of the human person is possible. Thus, homosexual relationships cannot fully explore the totality of the human person, rendering love impossible.
Two points about love must be made. Romantic love is not simply a feeling of mutual attraction, as many moderns argue. Love is and must be a total outpouring from both individuals in a relationship to each other. If anything is held back, love between two partners cannot exist. Also, love cannot be felt for a time and then discarded. One who completely bares their soul to another (the physical aspect of which is the act of sexual union) cannot then take that revelation back. Love requires constant commitment, and demands the constant revelation of both partners to each other.
If either of these two aspects is not present, love cannot exist. What makes marriage special if it is nothing more than a formal legitimization of mere erotic attraction?
This is why divorce, adultery, and other forms of sexual deviancy are perversions of love. Divorce intimates that two people can share everything for a time, but they can break their relationship off and enter into total intimacy with another. Adultery signifies that it is possible to give oneself totally to more than one person. Similarly, gay marriage intimates that it is possible both to have an intimate connection with someone who one cannot experience the completeness of humanity.
Proponents of gay marriage often claim that since marriage is already treated casually by society, that marriage is not further harmed by the adoption of homosexual marriage. This statement is dangerously inaccurate. Fifty years ago, divorce was not rampant, it would have been unthinkable to kill a child who had survived an abortion, and gay marriage was abhorred.
We do not know what people will believe is acceptable fifty years from now. But we do know that gay marriage takes us further down a dark path, just as divorce, adultery, contraception took society did in previous eras. That path will lead to the eventual acceptance of now-unthinkable concepts that reflect similar misunderstandings of love and marriage.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Separation of Church and State?" Or Elimination of the Church Altogether?

Nowhere in the Constitution does the phrase “the separation of church and state” exist. (Thomas Jefferson first coined the phrase in 1802 - more than a decade after the Constitution was ratified.) Yet many treat the term as though it is enshrined in the Constitution.
Those who bandy about the term “separation of church and state” argue that it means church and society remain completely separate from one another. Religion and government must not intersect, and society must not show a “preference” for one religion over another. Society must remain agnostic: ANY mention of any form of deity must be eliminated from the public eye altogether. (Never mind that by doing so, the government has already adopted a form of religion - irreligion.)
This is actually only the tip of the iceberg. In actuality, the loudest criers of the “separation of church and state” want more than the mere separation of the two powers. Those who argue for the “separation of church and state,” really want religion to be subordinate to the state – and eventually, replaced by the state altogether.
Not coincidentally, proponents of the “separation of church and state” support an ever-growing, metastasizing state. In a sense, a leviathan state becomes a new religion, touching on all aspects of life. The “public good” – as determined by government experts – develops a set of new rules that regulate human behavior just as strictly as religion's moral codes.
The recent decision by the Obama administration to force insurance companies to cover contraception for all employers – including religious employers who serve people of other faiths – is a perfect example of this trend. The defenders of this decision demand that even faiths that believe contraception is immoral be forced to violate their consciences and pay insurance companies for something they believe to be evil – for the sake of the “greater good” of society, as determined by medical "experts."
As such, statists demand that the church to have absolutely no voice in the governance of a society. They desire that religion become irrelevant, so that the state can then supplant the church as the sole arbiter of authority.
But to fully replace religion, the state must supplant religion completely – by eliminating it. In effect, religion must be forgotten entirely for the state to take the place of religion. So every hint of religion must be expunged altogether from society.
Those who seek the “separation of church and state” are in reality seeking the isolation and elimination of the church.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Darwin's Case Against Contraception

Outside observers of Catholicism are often under the mistaken impression that the Catholic Church opposes contraception because She desires Her followers to breed as many children as physically possible.
They are completely wrong. That is not the view of the Catholic Church. That is actually the view of Charles Darwin.
The Catholic Church opposes contraception because She teaches the twofold purpose of sexual intercourse – procreation and unity. Sexual intercourse is meant to unite man and woman together in a joyous, fruitful act that quite literally has the potential to create new life. In the Catholic tradition, this twofold purpose of the sexual act cannot be separated - a couple cannot lawfully have sex solely with the end of pleasure (or, for that matter, solely with the end of baby-making) in mind.
But for Catholics, while every act of sexual intercourse must be open to life, that does not mean that every act of intercourse must be performed with the sole intention of procreation. Indeed, the Catholic Church teaches that men and women can abstain from sexual intercourse during a woman's fertile periods for grave reasons (for example, medical reasons) - a practice known as natural family planning. The Church does NOT teach that couples must have as many children as physically possible.
By contrast, Darwinian evolution postulates that sexual activity evolved over time as a method for individuals to pass on their genetic code to their descendants. In Darwinian evolution, sexual intercourse is for the purpose of reproduction, and the pleasure inherent in the reproductive act merely serves as an incentive for couples to reproduce.
According to Darwinian theory, over time, stronger individuals are better able to pass on their genes and have a greater influence on the gene pool of a species, while weaker individuals are less able to pass on their genetic code, and thus have less influence upon the future of a species.  
Having more descendants is a sign of evolutionary success - more descendants means more opportunity to further one's influence on the gene pool. Those who fail to reproduce and pass on their genetic code to descendants are evolutionary failures, because they do not have a chance to pass on their genes to offspring and have no genetic influence on future members of their species.
Thus, humans who have many children are evolutionary successes, in Darwinian terms, because they are able to spread their genetic code to more descendants, and have a greater influence on the gene pool of the human race. By contrast, individuals who contracept thwart their reproductive capacity and deny themselves the chance to influence the human gene pool.
So from a Darwinian standpoint, faithful Catholic married couples who have many children are highly successful, and those who contracept to the point of having no children are Darwinian failures.
Yet despite their insistence on "science" and Darwin's rightness, modern secularists view the act of sexual intercourse solely through the prisms of pleasure and power. They pay homage to Darwin while ignoring his most fundamental principles and scorning basic biology.
The spectacle of secularists who enshrine Darwin and attack the Church for being unscientific, while themselves blithely ignoring basic evolutionary principles, is incredibly ironic - the devotees of reason themselves willfully ignore logic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Joyful Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day which marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent. During Lent, we are called to draw closer to our Lord by emulating the 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert that Christ underwent before He began His public ministry. The Church asks Her followers to deny themselves common pleasures and to pray more deeply, so as to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
But far too often, Lent is treated as a time of gloom, sorrow, and self-sacrifice by Christians. We are called to give up pleasures that are dear to us. We are called to mortify our senses and our pride, praying and reflecting on the sufferings of Our beloved Master.
To many (including myself), this is a painful trial. After all, who would not be unhappy at the thought of giving up things that they like – especially for things that do not provide obvious temporal benefits? Lent can become a time of fruitless complaining, even for faithful Christians, who fail to bear their suffering well.
But Lent should not be a time of sorrow. Indeed, in order to be a fruitful Lent, our sacrifices should be made in a spirit of cheerfulness, and the period of Lent should be a time of joy.
Lent reminds us that comforts and possessions cannot grant us happiness in the long run, and that our true happiness is in the Lord. Only God can satisfy man’s desperate craving for happiness.
We must be willing to cast aside unnecessary things during this Lent, and embrace our Master's yoke.
If we do so, we will come to a fuller realization of our spiritual state. We will come to rely less and less on those pleasures we depended on to bring us happiness, and instead rely solely on God, the source and fountain of true joy.
If our Lent is successful, we will draw ourselves closer to God through its observance. In doing so, we will become truly happy - for the Maker of happiness will fill us with His delight as we draw ever nearer to Him.
Besides, Christ told us not to be sorrowful when fasting. Indeed, we are commanded by Him to be so joyful that others may not be able to detect that we are fasting through our misery: “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matt 6:17-18)
Indeed, as Catholics, we must go farther than mere stoicism. We must be joyful in this season of Lent – so joyful that others may be inspired by our glowing example. We must attract others to live the Christian life of suffering by taking joy even in the Cross.
Let us all seek to exude a spirit of Christian joy this Lent, as we draw ever closer to our Master through prayer and self-denial.
Have a blessed Lent, dear readers.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Principle of Community

As water seeks its own level, so too do people. People seek out those who perform certain activities, and practice certain behaviors, and form communites with those people.

Common interests are one factor in the formation of communities. Friends seek out friends with similar interests. Lovers (at least those who stay lovers for more than a month) similarly share common interests.
Virtue is also a strong determinant in the formation of communities. Good people tend to associate themselves with good people. Monks gather in tight-knit communities, churches are composed of individuals sharing common moral and religious principles, and humanitarians band together to form charitable organizations.    
Similarly, bad people also seek each other’s company. Criminals form gangs, cults isolate themselves into communities separate from the outside world, and politicians gather in Congress.
(That last part was only mostly in jest.)
People naturally seek their own kind. Common bonds between individuals, such as religion, political parties, and hobbies, unite people. Relationships and friendships are built on commonality and on shared bonds between people. People are comfortable around people they share a common bond with, even if that bond is merely allegiance to the same sports team. Conversely, people avoid situations where they feel out of place or like "a fish out of water.”
Common virtues and common vices similarly bond people together. Lechers tend not to associate with moral women, nor are nuns found in strip clubs.
This principle of community also holds true in romantic relationships as well. While it is true in part that “opposites attract,” it is also true that a relationship where both parties are completely opposite from each other will not survive. Good relationships thrive when common bonds, such as love of certain hobbies or activities or shared religion are present.
Virtue is a strong predictor of the solidity of relationships. People tend to end up with spouses who share similar interests and who possess a similar level of virtue. A person lacking virtue will usually end up with a spouse who similarly lacks virtue. A person possessing a great deal of virtue, by contrast, will usually end up with a person who similarly possesses virtue. And those virtuous couples tend to have more fulfilling relationships than those lacking in virtue.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Concerning Proper Attire for Mass

T-shirts and shorts, low-cut tops, miniskirts, and other skimpy items of clothing are common attire for some Massgoers - even on Sundays. This refusal to dress appropriately during Mass reflects a fundamental and dangerous disrespect for God.
Wearing proper clothes during Mass should not be an option: it is an essential duty for Christians.
God does not need us to dress properly for His sake. God, of course, has no need for human praise. He is immortal, and infinitely higher than us by His very nature. No action of ours can harm or defame Him.    
Rather, proper attire during Mass is for our benefit. Proper attire reminds us that at Mass, we are in the presence of the divine, and that we must act accordingly.
During Mass, we are present at the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary, represented before us. We are placed at the point when God comes down from heaven and gives His Body and Blood to us in the form of bread and wine. 
Should we not show our Lord the courtesy of dressing up honorably during this great miracle?
If we were to see the Pope or the President dressed in low-cut tops or ratty T-shirts, we would exhibit horrible disrespect for them. The dignity of their office requires a dress code suitable to the occasion of meeting them. How much more true is this for our Creator, who keeps us in existence!
The parable of the guest who did not wear a wedding garment at the wedding of the king's daughter (Matt 22:11-14) gives a stark warning of the consequences of improper dress during Mass. The ill-attired wedding guest was cast out into the darkness for his refusal to honor the king by dressing properly. If an earthly king punished a subject so harshly for disrespecting him and his beloved daughter, what will our heavenly King do for disrespecting Him at His sacrifice?
Should we not give our King and Master our full attention and honor, in every respect? Should we not dress as we were at the feast of the Lamb of God on earth at Mass? For indeed, we are!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Poetry Session! The Valentine's Day Edition

Happy Sts. Cyril and Methodius Day, everybody!
Oh, and it's also that other holiday, the ridiculously confectionalized one. But like Christmas, despite all the nonsense surrounding it, St. Valentine's Day still serves a good and holy purpose to those who seek to love and obey God.

And as an excuse to inflict poetry on you! (Insert evil laugh here!)

O lady of my dreams, our hour draws near,
The time in haste approaches when we meet,
But first must come my trial of pain and fear
The bitter must be tasted ere the sweet.
For saintly souls do not in shadows walk,
And so the angels' staircase I must climb.
For mortal vision could not bear the shock,
Nor low and craven enter the sublime.
I hear your lovely voice in every sound,
In all my dreams you beckon me and call,
With every passing day you more surround,
And grow as I seek to give you my all!
Strange, is it not, that still we have not met,
But still I hear you call me onward yet?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Principle of Non-Contradiction, Applied to Politics

It is impossible for a thing to be and not to be at the same time and in the same respect. – Aristotle.
The great Greek philosopher Aristotle formulated the principle of non-contradiction over two millennia ago. His formulation of this self-evident principle is one of the foundations of logic.
But modern philosophers attacked this foundational principle of logic, twisting themselves in tangled knots trying to explain it away. Their denial of the principle of non-contradiction has percolated into the thought of the general public – and manifests itself in modern society and politics.

The denial of the principle of non-contradiction can be seen most clearly in the philosophy of modern moral relativism, which can be pithily summed up by the phrase “what is good or true for you is not necessarily good or true for me.” This now ever-present philosophy leads to Orwellian use of language in political discourse, to the point where war really can become peace and slavery truly can become freedom.
Abortion is perhaps the clearest example of philosophical schizophrenia in modern society. So-called “fetal homicide” laws make the murder of a pregnant mother the equivalent of a double homicide – yet abortion is legal in all 50 states. In the modern world, a fetus is human only when it is convenient for society to define him or her as human.
But abortion is not the only place where self-evident contradiction is present in modern society. Politicians consistently put out a stream of deliberately self-contradictory assertions.
There are countless examples of this behavior, but the examples of our three most recent presidents illustrate this behavior perfectly.
President Clinton, when asked whether he had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, famously replied: “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
President Bush famously claimed that he was pushing for a “compassionate conservatism,” while at the same time he aggressively pursued war in Iraq and adopted massive spending programs antithetical to conservatism.
President Obama launched airstrikes on Libya, yet somehow maintained that the United States of America was not at war with Libya.
The Alice in Wonderland methods of logic practiced by these Presidents are illustrative of society’s embrace of moral relativism, where truth is essentially arbitrary. A society which has declared war on the principle of non-contradiction should not be surprised when its leaders deliberately use sophistry to mislead the general public.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Admonishing the Sinner

There is a common mentality among many people that condemnation of sinful activity that a person engages in is equivalent to rejection of the person committing that sin.
Thus, disapproval of "trendy" sins such as homosexual activity is often taken to be a sign that one hates a person. The words “judge ye not” (Matt 7:1) are used to attack Christians who condemn homosexual behavior as evil.
But condemning a sinful behavior is not a sign that one disapproves of a person. On the contrary, condemning a sinner is known as admonishing the sinner in Catholic theology, and as such is a measure of love.
Because humans are fallen creatures, we want to allow others to be able commit certain sins, because we want to be "free" to commit our own favorite sins. And for this reason, we are leery of admonishing the sinner.
But if a friend is about to commit murder, it is not “love” to allow him to wield a knife against his intended victim. If a friend is committing suicide, it is not “love” to let them pull the trigger of a gun and blow their brains out. On the contrary, it would show a lack of love NOT to stop one's friend from doing evil activity.
All sin is destructive to the person committing that sin. All sin poisons the lives of both the sinner and the people around the sinner.
Since sin is so destructive, it is not “love” to let someone remain in their sin – no matter how minor. Instead, we as Christians are called to warn those who commit sin that they are harming themselves.
Admonishment of a sinner is a spiritual work of mercy by the Church for this very reason.
I wrote in a previous post that God loves His creatures with a burning love that demands that His creatures be perfect. As He does with us, so we must do with others. In a spirit of loving, Christian charity, we must correct our brethren when they do wrong.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Militant Atheists and the Name of God

Anyone who has ever watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail remembers the hilarious scene with the Knights who say “Ni!”
For those who have not, you are deprived souls, and I hereby take it upon myself to enlighten you.

But as silly as this Monty Python scene is, it is mirrored by a peculiar aspect of reality. Another group of people is similarly terrified at the power of a mere word.
This word is God, and this group is militant atheists. Militant atheists cannot stand the name of God. They demand that any mention of God be expunged from any public place – and sue any public institution that dares to mention the name of God. They rail against the idea of Someone whom they do not even believe exists.
Militant atheists claim that their scorn of God stems from the fact that they cannot stand the folly of theists. They argue that the idea of God is so ridiculous that the name of Someone who obviously does not exist should never be mentioned. They also claim that belief in God is the primary cause of war, famine, and oppression in this world. (How anyone could believe that after the violence of the anti-religious 20th century is a mystery of stupidity.)
But the antipathy for the very name of God which fills militant atheists shows not the attributes of people who are sure in their beliefs, but the frantic, frothing orthodoxy of those who cannot defend their position rationally, and know that their position is wrong.  
The rage of a militant atheist against religion is not the rage of a moralist, because morality to a militant atheist is a human (or evolutionary) construct, and not the product of any higher morality. It is not the intellectual scorn of a skeptic, because militant atheists deny the existence of miracles, even when they are presented with indisputable evidence of supernatural events they cannot explain.
Rather, the rage that engulfs militant atheists whenever they talk of God belies the truth: that they cannot bear the thought of God. Like children, they are frightened by the power of a Person they claim not to believe in. And to ignore their gnawing doubts, they lash out at those who do believe in a God.
Militant atheists are creatures of doubt, not of belief. And the anger they display at God reflects their desperate efforts to avoid the hound of heaven that they can hear in their heart of hearts, calling them home.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why is the World So Polarized?

The modern world is a sharply polarized world. People and political parties demonize each other for holding different views on political and cultural matters, portraying their opponents as monsters.
To some extent, polarization between people who disagree on major issues has always existed. People have always hated those who have opposed them, and have launched vitriolic attacks on those they disagree with.  
Still, however, polarization has taken a different form in the modern era than it has in previous ages. Opponents on major issues have always loathed each other and insulted each other. But they used logical arguments to present their points and attack their opponents, usually in long diatribes and polemics.
Today, rational argument has largely retreated into the background, and debate has been reduced to the level of 5-year olds taunting each other on a playground. Modern debate is characterized by childish polarization, where rational argument is rendered impossible.
The obvious question must be raised: Why is the modern political world so polarized?
There are two major reasons for this polarization. One is technological, the other philosophical.
The first is that the age of technology has reduced the attention span of its users. Argument – at least, effective argument – has been reduced to 30 second sound-bites, more suitable for televisions and computers than for intellectual dialectic.
This phenomenon renders attempts at dialogue much more difficult. It is next to impossbile to debate rationally in an age where effective debate tactics pander to the cameras and not to intellects. And it is impossible to include all the points for to sustain a logical and coherent argument in a 30 second sound-bite.
So technology (or at least the modern use of technology) has reduced the capacity of people to argue rationally. Without rational debate to elucidate the arguments of two sides, polarization is inevitable.
The second reason is philosophical. Fundamental disconnects exist between people today that were nonexistent in earlier eras.
In previous times, most people could agree on basic certain shared first principles. God existed, good and evil and right and wrong were actual realities instead of social constructs, marriage was between a man and a woman and meant families and children, and so on: these shared principles were held by the general population.
Those who did not agree to these shared first principles were a tiny and powerless minority, and were generally ostracized.
Over the past 100 or so years, atheism, secularism, and moral relativism have rendered these shared principles nonexistent. Portions of their philosophies have been adopted by major political groups and voting blocs.

Opponents of these trends held to traditional understandings of these concepts. Very little remains to unite those who have adopted a secularist mindset and those who have retained a traditional mindset.
The result of the confluence of technological advancement and the rise of secularism is that debate in America has become a “dialogue of the deaf” between two or more sides that violently disagree with one another - and can barely comprehend the arguments of the other side.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Logic Behind "Coming Out"

Homosexuals often “come out” and announce their sexual orientation to the rest of the world. Gay celebrities often “come out” to the public with fanfare, while gay individuals post videos in public places flaunting their sexual orientation.
No straight person (at least, none that I know of) feels the need to “come out” and announce to the world that he is straight. An obvious question then arises: Why do so many gay people feel the need to “come out?”
The answer lies in the nature of homosexuality, and the innate knowledge practicing homosexuals have that their lifestyle is self-destructive.
Homosexuality causes people who cannot reproduce to be attracted to each other. But the human sexual drive is designed (or has evolved, if you are an atheist) for the purpose of reproduction. So the active homosexual engages in behavior which renders ineffective one of his or her natural drives. The result is inner turmoil. 
But the homosexual often does not understand the root cause of why he is uneasy about his lifestyle – that his sex drive cannot result in reproduction.
So the homosexual seeks reassurance from other sources that he is not engaging in self-destructive behavior. The reassurance he seeks most often comes from his fellow man.
The homosexual who “comes out” and announces his sexuality to the world is seeking popular approval for his lifestyle. He wants his lifestyle to be affirmed, because he wants his gnawing unease about his sexuality to be satisfied. And he will not take no for an answer.
(Ironically, Christians do affirm homosexuals as people and as brothers and sisters in Christ. But they do not affirm their lifestyle, which is what homosexuals seek.)
Practicing homosexuals seek the approbation of others, so as to assuage the gnawing hunger they have that their lifestyle is disordered and harmful to them. And they will not stop until everyone approves of their way of life.