Monthly Archives: November 2016

Lowest Common Denominator

In today’s post I want to examine the subject of who “keeps” a nation’s morality. Given the state of moral decay in the West at the moment, and the overall mess that is the marriage market, I think it a topic worth exploring. Since it is a fairly broad subject, I will give considerable latitude to my readers in their responses. But at the same time I would ask that folks use common sense, and not abuse this privilege.

A number of figures have argued, and argue still, that women are the one’s who set the “moral tone” of a civilization. One such figure was Fulton Sheen, who said in Life is Worth Living:

“To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood.  When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

Others, including I think some around the ‘sphere, have argued the opposite. I do not have any quotes to provide at the moment, as I think this position is argued more by the commentariat than by most bloggers. But I know I’ve seen it.

Before I go on, I should clarify something. I am not examining the subject of which sex, male or female, is more “naturally virtuous.” Or which is more naturally civilized, or a greater fit for civilization, or some such. Rather, I am examining which sex sets the bar of morality in a civilization. In math terms, which is the lowest common denominator?

I do not think that Rev. Fulton Sheen was expressing above a belief that women are more naturally virtuous than men. Rather, he was stating that when women in a society are moral, it is likely that the men will be too. Conversely, the implication is that when men in a society are moral, women do not necessarily follow suite. [The argument that the men in a society can only be moral when the women are, and so the reverse stated before isn’t true, is a different argument altogether.]

As I see it, there are four mutually exclusive alternatives here: women set the bar, men set the bar, neither sets the bar (they are both independent of each other) or both set the bar (there is a casual link between the two in terms of moral level). I invite my readers to offer their thoughts on which they think is true.

Also, I think there can be a number of different possible factors which might be responsible for any bar setting that might occur. They are, in no particular order:

  • Inspiration- The moral character of one sex inspires the other to live a more virtuous life (perhaps in order to be “worthy” of them).
  • Reactivity- One sex might be more inclined by nature to mirror the moral character of the other sex (this is more instinctive than a deliberate choice)
  • Responsiveness to Leadership- One sex might be more inclined by nature to respond to moral leaders and their directions on the moral life. [If one sex is less responsive  than the other it is all the more essential that it be trained/raised properly when young.]

I am sure there are more, but those are the ones that I could think of in short order.

While I am one who loves intellectual discovery for no other purpose than curiosity, something else is driving me here. If one sex is naturally more influential when it comes to the moral character of a people, than it stands to reason that more care needs to be exerted raising that sex while young. After all, a misallocation of time (that most precious of resources) could have lasting effects on the virtue of a civilization. And even if time is spent, it if is spent poorly it will still have deleterious effects. Perhaps even leading to collapse, in the end.

And with those dark thoughts I invite my readers to step forward and voice their own.

 

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #120

Today marks the beginning of the Advent season. In light of that I have been reading over scripture which foretells the coming of the Messiah. I start with the word of the Lord through Nathan the prophet:

Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 15 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.’” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

(2 Samuel 7:8-17)

There are several things of note in this passage. The first deals with the promise that the people of Israel will not be disturbed. We of course know that much of Israel was later disturbed- whether carried off into Assyria or Babylon many were displaced. The whole region was in fact never truly settled afterwards. There was perhaps a small period during the Maccabean revolt, but that is it.  In fact it is unsettled even to this day.

All of which leads me to two possibilities: that time has not yet come, or that the “place” mentioned here for the people Israel is not the area of land we know as “Israel.” The first would perhaps be the traditional Jewish interpretation. Certainly it would seem to have been the understanding of the Jews during the time of Jesus. However, I think, based especially on what Jesus tells us in the New Testament, that God here was speaking of the age to come. The age when we would see a new heaven and new earth. This the prophet Isaiah speaks centuries later:

17 “For behold, I create new heavens
    and a new earth;
and the former things shall not be remembered
    or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice for ever
    in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing,
    and her people a joy.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
    and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
    and the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
    an infant that lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the child shall die a hundred years old,
    and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
    or bear children for calamity;[c]
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
    and their children with them.
24 Before they call I will answer,
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
    and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain,
                says the Lord.”

(Isaiah 65:17-25)

Such a time has not yet come.  It will not come until the end of the age, the Day of Judgement. Isaiah spoke of it, and John the Evangelist was granted a vision of it towards the end of his life:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

(Revelations 21:1-8)

Notice the symmetry there? To both David and John we have reference to a son of God. For that son will inherit, and will be a conqueror, like his father David. Yet he will also be the son of God, and call God (and not simply David) his father. The promise to David is still in awaiting final fulfillment. It is for this day that we, all of us, await. This, ultimately, is the purpose of the Advent season- to prepare us for the coming of the Lord.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I hope all my American readers have a Happy Thanksgiving.

I give thee thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
    before the gods I sing thy praise;
I bow down toward thy holy temple
    and give thanks to thy name for thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness;
for thou hast exalted above everything
    thy name and thy word.
On the day I called, thou didst answer me,
    my strength of soul thou didst increase.

All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord,
    for they have heard the words of thy mouth;
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
    but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    thou dost preserve my life;
thou dost stretch out thy hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and thy right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    thy steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever.
    Do not forsake the work of thy hands.

(Psalm 138)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord is God!
    It is he that made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures for ever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

(Psalm 100)

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Set In Stone

I came across this this story recently, and thought that some of my readers might find it fascinating:

The world’s earliest alphabet, inscribed on stone slabs at several Egyptian sites, was an early form of Hebrew, a controversial new analysis concludes.

Israelites living in Egypt transformed that civilization’s hieroglyphics into Hebrew 1.0 more than 3,800 years ago, at a time when the Old Testament describes Jews living in Egypt, says archaeologist and epigrapher Douglas Petrovich of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Hebrew speakers seeking a way to communicate in writing with other Egyptian Jews simplified the pharaohs’ complex hieroglyphic writing system into 22 alphabetic letters, Petrovich proposed on November 17 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

“There is a connection between ancient Egyptian texts and preserved alphabets,” Petrovich said.

That’s a highly controversial contention among scholars of the Bible and ancient civilizations. Many argue, despite what’s recounted in the Old Testament, that Israelites did not live in Egypt as long ago as proposed by Petrovich. Biblical dates for the Israelites’ stay in Egypt are unreliable, they say.

You can read the rest at the link.

Something like this could certainly be a publicity stunt. The fact that the archeologist making the claim is writing a book would give that notion some support. At the same time, however, I am also highly suspicious of most modern scholars. I  don’t imagine I am alone in thinking that many of them would go to great lengths to come to a conclusion that just coincidentally argued against biblical timelines.

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Saturday Saints- #120

Our letter for today is the letter “M.” So we have as our saint, Margaret of Hungary:

Saint Margaret, O.P. (January 27, 1242 – January 18, 1271) was a Dominican nun and the daughter of King Béla IV of Hungary and Maria Laskarina. She was the younger sister of St. Kinga of Poland (Kunegunda) and the Blessed Yolanda of Poland and, through her father, the niece of the famed Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

The four-year-old Margaret was entrusted by her parents to the Dominican monastery at Veszprém in 1245. Six years later she was transferred to the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin founded by her parents on Nyulak Szigete (Rabbit Island) near Buda (today Margaret Island, named after her, and a part of Budapest; the ruins of the monastery can still be seen). She spent the rest of her life there, dedicating herself to religion and opposing all attempts of her father to arrange a political marriage for her with King Ottokar II of Bohemia. She appears to have taken solemn vows when she was eighteen years old. In marked contrast to the customs of her Order, she received the Consecration of Virgins along with some other royals to prevent further attempts on the part of her father to have her vows dispensed by the Pope for marriage.

More can be found out about her and her life at her wiki, located here.

st_margaret_of_hungary

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In Service Of The Truth

This post is not so much a continuation of my last post but rather a further exploration of the nexus of Truth and the differences between men and women. I want to start it with a small story:

Some time ago I was eating at a restaurant and overheard a couple of women speaking about their religious views. I wasn’t eavesdropping, they were just that loud (I am sure my readers know the type). One of them explained that she was Catholic, and had been for a number of years. When she was quizzed on that by the other woman, the first one explained that she was familiar with other Christian sects. In fact she had “tried” several out. And what she had found was that she enjoyed the Catholic liturgy (the new Roman one, anyways) the best.

As if anticipating something the second woman might say, she went on. She said that she “knew” that other people could find God their own way. It was just that, for her, the Catholic liturgy was the best way to “experience God.”

What fascinated me was that there was absolutely no mention during this conversation of the word “Truth.” It never came up, not even once. It was all about “the experience.” In other words, how a particular liturgical experience made either woman feel.

Thinking it over, I wondered if that was the primary motivator in a woman’s religious preference- the desire for something that felt good or right. Based on my own observations, I am inclined to think that many, if not most women, operate this way. Mind you, I know that not all do- I personally know women whose religious conviction was based on a quest for Truth, and not simply feels. Yet I am fairly certain they are the minority.

At the same time I wonder about men. I am sure that some men operate this way too. But I am not convinced that as many men do it as women. I think that men are more likely to base their religious preference based on what they view as True, and not merely something that will make them feel good.

[Incidentally, given the overall greater number of women in Church, I wonder if the percentage of overall truth seekers might be closer than it appears.]

All the same, I am curious what my reader’s thoughts are on the matter. So feel free to contribute your thoughts on the matter. Tell me where I am right… or wrong.

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Filed under Blue Pill, Christianity, Men, Red Pill, The Church, Women

Handling The Truth

In his most recent post, Deep Strength discusses the differences between Kindness and Niceness. I find no disagreement with his explanation of both:

Kindness, of course, is a fruit of the Spirit, whereas niceness is concerned meeting a need while placating feelings.

Where I disagree is his view on how Truth and Kindness interact, as least so far as where women are concerned. As he explains it:

Women, however, tend to need more flavoring with their food. Food is Truth. Is the essence and meat of the subject. However, Truth (or meat) by itself tends to be very unpalatable to women. Thus, they need flavoring with food to make it more palatable. This is where grace comes in.

An example he uses of this in practice is this:

If a woman/wife asks if something makes her look fat and she is then…

  • the Nice answer is no, but that is a lie.

  • the Truthful answer is yes, but it is generally not graceful.

  • a Kind answer may be to decline to answer or a sarcastic answer, as a Truthful answer may not be palatable to the ears.

To begin with, I don’t see how there is really any flavoring here. To flavor something is to add something extra to make it more palatable, right? Except there is none of that going on here. Instead, the Kind answer contains no Truth, and instead dances around it. Perhaps this is simply a bad analogy, or perhaps I am missing the point. But I don’t see where this supports the argument advanced by DS.

But setting that example aside, I question whether anything but the Truth is kind. One of the major analogies used in the ‘sphere is the Hamster- that invisible rodent ever spinning on a wheel of rationalization inside the brain. The Hamster churns out rationalization after rationalization to do just what DS is talking about here- making things more palatable.

It seems to me that what he proposes is dangerous. Mixing up the Truth with something else just feeds the female Hamster. It gives women more of an opportunity to rationalize things.  This makes it more likely for the Truth to be lost in whatever mental machinations are necessary to make the woman feel better about the situation.

Now, I can agree that how one tells the Truth to women should be different to men. Perhaps different words, perhaps a different tone is needed. But the Truth stands on its own, and should so stand. Mixing it up with anything else… well, let us keep in mind these words of Saint Paul:

For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who called you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

(Galatians 5:5-9)

The danger is that adding something to the Truth is like leaven- it causes the whole lump to rise. In this context, it means that a little leaven changes something that was True into something else entirely.

Also, part of me questions the entire premise that women can’t handle the unvarnished Truth. I am curious if there is any Scriptural support for this notion. Perhaps 1 Peter 3 and the “weaker vessel” analogy, but that seems like quite a stretch. Frankly, I think Deep Strength is giving women less credit than they deserve. I am curious what my readers, male and female alike, have to say on the matter….

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