[Peaceful CoExistence] all snips here from http://www.counselingkevin.com/religion/index.html
.../... Ms. MacDonald ignores the fact that many of the most reprehensible and destructive mass movements of recent times in Western society were spawned by the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment has produced many wonderful advances in human society, but the jury of history is still out on its ultimate "heritage." Some thoughtful philosophers have even decided that the Enlightenment has failed as a search for a purely rational basis for morality.
I think Ms. MacDonald sets up a straw man by positing the dichotomy of faith and reason. As I've posted previously, on more than one occasion, the realms of faith and reason are not incompatible. One need only read John Paul II, C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton, among many others, to discover that this is true. Although they operate in different spheres, and Catholics believe, as John Paul II described it, that faith "purifies" reason, there is no "reason" that "reason" alone cannot lead a person to adopt the same political principles as would a person of faith. As a Benedictine monk once asked a "skeptical" conservative who made such an argument on another blog a couple of years ago: "That's where your reason takes you today. As C. S. Lewis asks, how do you know what you 'ought' to do tomorrow and the next day and the day after that? It's moral relativism dressed up as 'ethical realism', a castle built on a foundation of sand."
I have respect for the struggle that conservative atheists must have every day to "stay the course." I also admire people with intellectual honesty. Nevertheless, there is a profound difference between those conservatives with religious faith and those without it.
I'll leave it to Michael Novak to give a more considered (and considerate) response to Ms. MacDonald,that both clarifies this difference and why it has consequences and yet asserts that the skeptical (atheist or agnostic) conservative and the believing conservative must approach one another with respect. Although Mr. Novak seems to struggle with his answer to Ms. MacDonald in an attempt to describe the experience of faith, a personal encounter with God on a realm other than purely intellectual that the nonbeliever has chosen to forego, in the end he asks and answers the right question, I think.
The fundamental question of our age is this: Can humans really maintain a civilization if a predominant majority live etsi Deus non daretur, as if there is no God? If there is no God, humans are likely to live one way, at least in a few boundary territories, such as life, family, and daily, humble self-sacrifice. If there is a God (the true God, no false gods before him), at least some—and not altogether minor—decisions are likely to be taken in a quite different direction, along a different axis.
The answer to the question “Who am I, under these stars, with the wind upon my face?” is quite different in the two cases. To choose not to believe is to choose for oneself an identity quite different from the identity of one who chooses to believe.
Both choices, springing from the most profound of inner sources, are worthy of infinite respect. From the Christian and Jewish point of view, the Creator himself set before every single individual this inalienable choice and thus gave to every human being a dignity higher than that of any other creature on this earth.
This difference in radical choices is, therefore, the epicenter of human dignity. Each person is created free. This fact demands more than tolerance—more than the mutual agreement, for reasons of peace, merely to put up with (tolerate) each other. It requires, not tolerance, but something higher—mutual respect.
Mr. Novak's emphasis on "mutual" respect means that Ms. MacDonald must suppress her expressions of annoyance at the religious expressions of believing conservatives and resist the temptation to attack their beliefs as irrational. In return, believers must suppress their annoyance at the nonbelievers' irrational refusal to accept what God reveals. Such respect requires that in a society in which believers and nonbelievers must live with one another, both must appreciate the "goodness" of others who share and adhere to their "values," if not the fundamental basis for their holding such values. This is so even though the believer "knows" the differences between the two groups have consequences beyond the social realm.
Can a man be good apart from revelation and the grace of Christ? Thomas [Acquinas] answered, as he almost always did, by making a distinction (his method was “distinguish in order to unite”): If you mean, can a man be good within the boundaries of the civitas, make a good citizen, be a good person according to the canons of reason, then the answer is yes. Just look at Aristotle. There’s some of the evidence.
But if you mean, Can a man be saved without the grace of Christ, the answer, alas, is no.
Religious conservatives must respect skeptical conservatives even while praying for their conversion and salvation, and skeptical conservatives must silently suffer those prayers with good humor.
July 14, 2006
Even If, Even If
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. --Colossians 3:13 The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. --Mahatma Gandhi Forgiveness is not an emotion, it's a decision. --Randall Worley Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares forgive an injury. --E. H. Chapin We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck . . . But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness. --Ellen Goodman I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one. --Henry Ward Beecher To understand is to forgive, even oneself. --Alexander Chase He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven. --Thomas Fuller The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness. --William Blake Forgiveness is the final form of love. --Reinhold Niebuhr Once, The Times of London asked famous authors to write an essay on the subject of "What's Wrong with the World?". G. K. Chesterton wrote in the form of a letter: "Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G. K. Chesterton." I've been tryin to get down To the heart of the matter But my will gets weak And my thoughts seem to scatter But I think its about forgiveness Forgiveness Even if, even if you don't love me anymore --Don Henley
May 19, 2006
Let's Get Serious
A reader e-mailed me to inquire whether my posting yesterday of the painful scenes from The Passion of the Christ, joined with Dolores O'Riordan's haunting wail of Ave Maria, was part of a previously announced plan to drive certain readers away. If so, she said that it was working.
Well, actually, yes it was, and I see by my site meter that it has worked admirably. Certain IP addresses that used to show up regularly no longer do. "Mission Accomplished"? No, unlike our Prez, I have no illusions on that score. The power of boredom is great, as is the power of the urge to sneer. Like the Terminator (and Al Gore), "they'll be back."
Speaking of our Exalted Ruler, it's good to see his rock solid conservative base, the Religious Right, finally taking him to task for something that's been bugging me for some time: his inept praying.
President Bush, already facing the lowest approval ratings in history, is coming under fire from former supporters over what they call his "ineffectual and incompetent" use of prayer for national guidance and assistance.
"Every time the president is criticized, he insists that the nation is in his prayers," said the Family Research Council's Bob Jensen. "That may be, but it's becoming more and more clear that these prayers are either too infrequent, too brief, or not strongly worded enough to be effective."
Jensen added: "This nation deserves more than a president who just pays lip service to prayer. It deserves a president who demands that his prayers get real-world results."
In an interview on Fox News, Vice President Dick Cheney defended Bush, saying the president puts as much energy into prayer as he does into domestic policies.
"Half the time, I can't even get him on the phone because he's busy praying for the American people, the same people who are now so quick to criticize him," Cheney said. "If something's wrong with those prayers, I would suggest that it's perhaps the fault of a supernatural entity. But it's not the president's. He is doing his duty."
"There is a real possibility that the president misrepresented the number of times he invokes Jesus' power each day in accordance with the strict guidelines of scripture," said Henry Holbrook, senior fellow at the Intercession Institute, a leading conservative prayer tank. "Is he clasping his hands together tightly enough? Is he using the proper forms of the pronouns 'thine' and 'thou'? What about the verb 'hast'?"
Susan DiDomenico of the National Prayer Task Force said her organization is seeking "full disclosure" of any and all prayers Bush may have skipped or manipulated to seem more effective or holy.
This is a serious problem for many of us. I know that when I pray, I never get an answer. I keep expecting to hear a booming voice answering back "Less Filling" or "Tastes Great," whichever is the correct answer to my question, but it never comes. Later I came to realize that the answer was "Both," but that's a mystery that one must accept purely on faith.
I finally came to the conclusion that maybe Viktor Frankl was right (even if he was Jewish and, therefore, not in touch with all three parts of the Holy Trinity). He felt that God was beyond man's comprehension, but that while man could not speak "of God" man could speak "to God" through prayer. Moreover, Frankl posited (and remember, this was the guy who coined the term "existentialism") that God's failure to respond to the person praying in the same manner as the person prayed to God was not proof that God did not exist, but proof of God's infinite nature. Only looking back will we be able to determine if He has heard our prayers, and then, not always completely.
In fact, I've always thought that a "one-on-one" with God in my present mortal condition might be as terrifying for me as it was for the prophets, apostles and saints who've apparently been among the very few (outside of Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital) who've actually had such direct communication. Plugging into the mind of a Being who created all that is, was and ever will be might be a wondrous experience for the entire nanosecond prior to your mind frying, but the end result is not likely to be pretty.
But, what do I know? Bupkis, apparently. Guys like Pat Robertson get all the feedback they can handle, and that's apparently quite a bit.
"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. Wednesday, he added, "there well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."
What, God talked to Pat but hedged His bets? He does work in mysterious ways. Pat, did he give you the over/under? At least the line on the tsunami? 10 to 1? 8 to 5? C'mon, you're killing me here, Pat! I'm Catholic, we can gamble!
I suppose if a tsunami doesn't hit the Pacific Northwest this year, Pat will chalk it all up to an inner ear infection. You know, he didn't hear the Lord "right," and the Lord really said "3006."
I'll have to ask Pat who the Lord sounded like. Was it like Pat himself? That would be my guess.
UPDATE 5/22/06: I bet Pat's snickering at these clueless retards.
A hectic, above-normal tropical storm season could produce between four and six major hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico this year, but conditions don't appear ripe for a repeat of 2005's record activity, the National Hurricane Center predicted Monday.
"Conditions don't appear ripe." Did you boys and girls at the National Hurricane Center talk directly to God? No? Well, then: 'nuff said.