Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
Amid the Forests, Among the Stars
A Little Animism Might Help
Sunday, October 5, 2008 7:52 pm
When considering what has occupied thinkers until the modern age, it strikes me how unabashedly they ruminated on the non-material. For ancient and medieval thinkers, material things were not ultimate things, and truly ultimate things can and should be understood.

Modern materialists simply lack imagination. Maybe it is better to say that their imaginations cannot escape their machines and mathematics. Whatever strength of imagination they do have — to imagine, say, a warp in spacetime — they reject any concepts not reducible to the material.

Thus they are terribly hampered when it comes to thinking about the supernatural, let alone believing in God. Indeed, unlike the rest of us, they have no sense of the Divine. Perhaps they truly lack this sense. Rather than having plucked out their eyes, they were simply born blind. Either way, is it not amusing how they think themselves superior for being handicapped? It never occurs to them that they are in a minority not because they, as an elite, have transcended mankind, but because they are simply damaged. 

In any event, it seems that much of the difficulty in accepting God is rooted in an abandonment of philosophy. Natural science has progressively estranged itself from its parent. The modern materialist, at heart a scientist, no longer wonders about causes formal, efficient, and final. He simply doesn't wonder. They don't matter to him. He has, indeed, lost the very language to discuss them. All the terms and theories and modes and categories have been cast aside. And why? Because all of them were devised at first to explain the mundane: Why do things grow? Why do things fall? Why do things live? Why do things burn? Yet having explained the mundane with all his equations and having presumed there is an equation for everything, the materialist has no more need for philosophy.

Never mind Aristotle and Aquinas and their ilk. Consider animism. How is that things move? How is that some of them clearly move deliberately? Is there something that facilitates this animation of things? There is clearly a distinction between living and dead. Something enlivens. And is "living" restricted to beasts? Isn't the wind alive? Shouldn't it, too, have an animating spirit, as much as a mouse? Indeed, are any objects free of spirit? Is it not possible that all objects contain a spirit?

This is not an idiotic line of inquiry. It is reasonable. Just because we have since concluded that the wind has no spirit doesn't mean the evidence isn't there. What is unfortunate is that, having concluded via science that the wind is just an effect of the variously accelerated molecules in the atmosphere, the intuition at the core of animism has been lost. Did you know that the ancients even supposed that abstract emotions had spirits? Love was not only something experienced but something existent, an entity in possession of its own animating spirit. This is downright alien to modern thinking. It may be a refined animism far from the fields and forests, but it is still an animism.

Now, when we Christians say that God is Love, what are we saying, after all? We are saying that Love is an entity animated by a Spirit. Yet the materialist has so thoroughly discarded animistic thinking, he can't even suppose that Love might be more that just an affect of creatures. He can't imagine Love as Being. Sadly for him, so much of God is like that; and since he can't manage the tiniest bit of animistic thinking, he imagines God as only a kind of Spaghetti Monster. The materialist simply hasn't the philosophical disposition — the necessary cognitive tools — to transcend his inadequate notions of God.

When Only Corruption Is Authentic
The "True" Self, Revealed
Saturday, July 29, 2006 9:44 pm
There is a conceit that most of day-to-day life is a lie and, underneath it all, seething darkly, lives the truth. Thus, when a good man says or does something bad, we thereby learn what he is "really" like. But have we so learned? Bad acts or words are bad precisely because they present a failure; they signal a corruption. The man who, especially when drunk, does or says disreputable things has not lost his mask; he has succumbed to his corruption. When he is sober and does and says reputable things, he is not being a hypocrite nor a traitor to his "authentic" self; he is rising above the sins to which we are all subject. Our authentic selves are the uncorrupted, sinless selves, what we would have been had not the Fall occurred. No matter the terrible thoughts that beset a man, they do not represent him truly, unless he pertinaciously and characteristically indulges them. A man's character, after all, is what he wills of himself. When his will is crippled, especially by drink, his character has been set aside and he fails himself. It is a shame, really, that when someone is kind to us one moment and unkind the next, we think the kindness was false and the unkindness true. It is uncharitable, really, to allow a bad act to trump a good. Yes, a single bad act, absent repentance, can be decisive; but only absent repentance. Isn't that what God has told us, after all?
Eternity With Love Handles
God's Gonna ResurrectThis?
Monday, August 1, 2005 1:54 am
It's right there in the Nicene Creed: "I expect the resurrection of the dead." On the final day we will each arise as Christ arose and be restored to our bodies, no matter how dispersed our flesh might be among the elements of the Earth. To be sure, on that day our bodies will be uncorrupted and imperishable, glorious bodies like the glorious body of Christ; but I've always wondered: What will those bodies look like? 

Christ looked like the Jesus at 33 — that is, the Jesus at the time of His death. If I died right now, would I be resurrected with a bald spot and love handles? Insofar as these things are a function of corruption, I suppose the answer would be no; but what, then, does that mean? Do I suddenly become the trim and virile, fit and vigorous man I am not? Do I become what I would have been, had I been born in Eden? I am sure that some theologians have pondered this; but I haven't read them. I don't think the Magisterium has an opinion, since the particular details of the general resurrection have not been given to the Church.

So if you don't mind, I will offer a little speculation.

An important clue, I think, is in the Eucharist. The glorious Body of Christ is there as the host; yet there are — obviously — no bodily attributes whatsoever. In other words, a resurrected and glorious body need not manifest itself in an expected way. The body is as real, distinct, and unique to each of us as are the reason, soul, and will. On the last day we will be given, again and truly, the bodies we had at death. But the notion that Heaven will be filled with infants, children, teenagers, and adults young and old seems absurd, somehow.

What will be returned to us, I think, is the substance of our bodies. In body we will be substantially as we were, just as a consecrated host is substantially the Body of Christ. Which is not to say we will be formless. We will surely have some form. Some default form, if you will. Yes, Christ can appear as 33-year-old man, just as Mary can appear as a very young woman, despite having raised a 33-year-old and lived long past his death; but what if they, and eventually we, default to something else? Say, to children? I'm not just being sentimental. I'm not getting all Hallmark on you. I'm serious. I suspect that in Heaven we will be children.

This hardly proves anything, but I'm especially guided by the following:
And Jesus, calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them. And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 18:2-3

And they brought to him young children, that he might touch them. And the disciples rebuked them that brought them. Whom when Jesus saw, he was much displeased and saith to them: Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter into it. Mark 10:13-15
I know that Jesus was not being literal in these passages. His point, quite different from mine, was that we must be like little children if we expect to enter the Kingdom of God. Still, I find these words highly suggestive. It seems so right that Heaven would be filled not merely with childlike people but with actual children. Of such is the kingdom of God. And then there's this:
For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married, but shall be as the angels of God in heaven. Matt. 22:30
It's not so surprising that there would be no marriage in Heaven. After all, what is marriage for? Apart from providing for the best upbringing of children, marriage contains and sanctifies the act that produces those children. Since no more people will be created — let alone born and raised — after the end of the world, marriage will have no purpose. Sex will have no purpose. There will be no sex in Heaven. Unless you're an angry jihadi, I think you'd agree.

Well, what sort of human is it, who has no need or capacity for sex? A child, of course. Yes indeed, I am only speculating, and perhaps ill-informedly; but I really think that on the last day we will be resurrected as children.

The Misanthrope's Epiphany
Stupid People and God
Sunday, June 13, 2004 5:43 am
You've got your dislikes, yes? For certain sorts of people, yes? Such people appear in a store or at an intersection and, despite every well-remembered admonition to be charitable, you all but fume at their repulsive stupidity. And, as always, you remember that God loves them; that, in fact, He died for them; and, looking upon them again and feeling an ill-natured disgust, you apprehend the greatest truth: Not that God loves sinners per se; but that He loves complete and utter morons. Such a love must be infinite indeed.
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