Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We Have a Pope

I read this article online, and it was like, "Bergoglio falls in line with the other orthodox cardinals who elected him, many of whom were appointed by the conservative Benedict, so it's unlikely that the Church will change its position on abortion, contraception, and gay marriage." Sometimes I feel like the news (or just popular culture in general) is absolutely incapable of seeing things outside of some weird (usually quasi-Marxist) political lens. It's like, they really think circumstance and politics (not philosophy and truth) are the only things keeping the Church from endorsing abortion and homosexual sex. It's a really crazy way to view the world. I'm sure someone could write (or has written) an interesting piece about this. 

Anyway, pray for him. And a couple of (I think) interesting posts upcoming. Check back soon.


  1. The press considers him a conservative (he doesn't support immorality! gasp!), but I see him as being fairly radical--in the proper, Christian way. Any pope candidate who tells his flock not to travel to the Vatican to celebrate, but to instead give the money to the poor, is okay in my book. Not to mention his ascetic lifestyle. That kind of legit Christianity is totally foreign to the bourgeois values of modern liberals and conservatives. Very exciting. He seems like a no-nonsense kind of guy who's willing to challenge corruption in Catholicism and outside of it.

  2. What I find really disturbing on the contraception issue is that the conversation tends to go in ways that show some people have utterly given up on the idea of personal self-control. The AIDS issue always comes up, and I've run into people who scream 'the church is KILLING PEOPLE by not allowing condom use!' If you point out that casual sex is the culprit by and large, and that abstaining from that is pretty much fool-proof, they scream that people won't abstain. The very idea that the person who is engaging in this is at fault, even in countries with an AIDS epidemic, goes right past them. 'People won't stop having sex!' etc.

    I agree that the media frames these things in a bizarre way. Part of the problem is we've given up so much of the language without a fight. I grit my teeth whenever I hear of a such and such view called 'progressive', as if theirs is the only view that yields 'progress'. Same with 'forward thinking', etc. Even self-described conservatives seem to get on board with that, and describe themselves as opposing progressives. It's insanity.

    1. This brings to mind the popular notion that if one abstains from promiscuous sex, he must be a prudish Christian with a silly, outdated and baseless "morality." As if historically a large part of Western culture besides Christianity (such as pagan and secular philosophies) did not consider temperance to be a virtue, or at least something to be admired.

      Correlative with this is the idea that even pious men are secretly lustful and perverted (a kind of "there really are no holy men, regardless of purported history" mentality). I once explained to a friend the story of Aquinas, firebrand in-hand, chasing a prostitute from his room, and recall him remarking incredulously (paraphrase): "C'mon, I'm sure he wasn't completely chaste...he must have at least masturbated from time to time."

      "I grit my teeth whenever I hear of a such and such view called 'progressive', as if theirs is the only view that yields 'progress'."

      I totally agree with this. I find the moment you forgo the labels and language they rely on, and immediately layout the basic "logic" of their position, or at least ask them to define their terms, they vanish pretty quickly from the conversation. In my experience, most people cannot even define what a 'right' is, for example. But man are they quick to attribute them for this or that.

  3. I thought the following quote from Rod Dreher (an excerpt of a longer article) was pretty interesting:

    "If you don’t believe there is any cosmic order undergirding the visible world, and if you don’t believe that you are obliged to harmonize your own behavior with that unseen order (the Tao, you might say), then why should you bind yourself to moral precepts you find disagreeable or uncongenial? The most human act could be not to yield to nature, but to defy nature. Why shouldn’t you?"

    It seems like this argument is pretty bad, honestly. I know that Dreher is holding it up as something a liberal could reasonably think, and not something that he personally believes, but it's still bad.

    The main thing bad about it, I think, is that it assumes a view of nature as something outside of ourselves, and thus something that we can either conform to or ignore. But humans, like the animals/rocks/plants around them, also have a nature. So to say that it could be quite "human" to purposefully not conform to that nature of "humanity" is nonsensical.

    To borrow Feser's triangle example, it would be like saying that it could be quite "triangular" for a triangle to choose to have wavy sides instead of straight ones.

  4. @ Joe K

    Have you thought about examining masculinity and femininity from a natural law perspective?

    I know that New Feminism takes male/female biology as its starting point (men as bigger/stronger, asserting themselves during the sexual act; women as smaller/weaker, receiving during the sexual act, and nurturing the child within her) and uses them as a way of defending traditional gender roles of man as protector/dominant and woman as nurturer/supporter.

    But I haven't seen a popular explication of this, other than on Wikipedia. Have you?

    1. I'm actually sort of addressing just this in the next post! It's almost like someone paid you to ask this question, heh. More directly to your question, though, no, I have not.

  5. John,

    I'd never heard of New Feminism before, but it sounds an awful lot like JPII's Theology of the Body. You might check that out. Be warned that it isn't totally natural (not that the Christian understanding of humanity ever could be), although it is built in part on natural law. It also isn't focused on a superior/inferior binary between sexes, but on a complementarity that overrides such distinctions. A good corrective for the bits of sexism that Aquinas inherited from Aristotle.

  6. Hello, my name's Jethro

    Hi Joe, I started reading your blog about 3 days ago from a link on Amazon. I believe John posted it. I took one look at your blog and knew I'd struck intellectual gold. I really admire how you handle your logic and rhetoric, and your own backstory is equally inspiring. You're the first person I've heard talking about natural law and it's implications for homosexuality and morality in general. I also admire how you've handled the obstacles in your sexuality. Although not enough to call myself bi, I've had some troubles in the past with SSA. I truly am thankful for the arguments you make in this blog. Keep up the good work! :)