Monday, September 1, 2014

Issues in Science: Genetics and Embryology

This ought to help get some more regular posts up on this wall. I gave up pretty much all online news stories as well as FB over Lent this year and found it so freeing that I pretty much have stayed off since then. I've read maybe a handful of articles in news journals here and there and I've strayed back to FB or drudge now and then but have for the most part steered clear of the 24 hours news cycle and insta-opinion fabricators. I don't feel like I've missed a thing. It's not that I don't care. In fact, I was talking to a friend this weekend about how we sometimes feel like our opinion doesn't matter so the temptation is to give up and  develop a fatalist "nothing I can do about it" response. It's not that it doesn't matter what we think about events near and far. It absolutely does. It's just that we have gotten conditioned to think that somehow change is always 2 or 3 mouse clicks away and if it's not well...all consideration is futile. This is not to say that moral outrage is never an appropriate response. It's just that it is not always the most productive response. Sometimes it takes a while to develop a mature thought and a well considered response. Not just seconds or hours, but days, weeks and months...even (gasp) years. And just because we can't immediately measure the impact of our opinions on say, Syria, Gaza or Christians in Iraq doesn't mean that it doesn't matter what we think. 

Anyway, I have to comment on a weekly hot news story for one of my class in the Biotechnology track at school. So my hiatus from the trumped up world wide drama machine is now officially over. Fortunately, it's a simple assignment. A few comments or questions in short form. I can even use bullets. 

And...the story of the week is The Atlantic's coverage of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, Australia (FODI) written by associate editor Kathy Gilsinan.

  • What is a dangerous idea? In the academic tradition of free inquiry how do we discern between what is different, unconventional, alternative, jarring, offense and what is down right dangerous or destructive? Also, is an idea destructive just because it is dangerous? What about provocative ideas in areas in which we need to be provoked? Gilsinan writes that "offense is practically baked into the conceit of systematically challenging deeply held beliefs specifically because they are deeply held."  I like that. Particularly in light of the Enlightenment Tradition of rejecting all revealed knowledge, dogmas and um, traditions in favors of some supposedly neutral Baconian empiricism in which we will eradicate all idols of the tribe, cave, marketplace and theatre. Surely, that is something that only other people do. Conceit indeed. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Celibacy As Resistance to The Man.

Very interesting article by Grant Kaplan of St. Louis University on opposing the mass imposition of Consumerist Sexuality and its implication on Church State relations.

Yes...I know Rush meant this as a rally for Libertarianism but I'm co-opting it because LIbertarianism is goofy and no thinking adult really wants it. Plus, the logo still works and is more valid when used as an appeal for authentic Humanism.
I'd take issue with Kaplan's opening paragraphs in which he downplays the merit of the Bishop's call to the "Fortnight for Freedom." Prayer and petitions are always our first recourse and I'm not sure that we have to worry about the Holy Spirit going through our prayers with a doctrinal scope to ensure philosophical soundness and theological orthodoxy before He will hear our pleas, (not that orthodoxy isn't relevant...obviously it is). In any case, efforts to focus our attention to appeal to God are never in vain and I say "good for the Bishops for first calling us to a prayerful response."

That said, I think this article is still well worth reading as there is some danger of us succumbing to a latent Americanism, (or at least cultural Calvinism as Cardinal George has warned ) in response to the cultural and political opposition of our times.  There is some really good history here and I think it sheds some light on the present situation of the Catholic Church in America.

Kaplan makes the case that Protestantism is inherently vulnerable to a kind of state domination while the Catholic Church always stands as a contradiction to worldly powers. Sure we have our weak, cowardly and poor spoken Bishops the same as anyone else. However, it's these quirky doctrines of ours, (real presence, sacraments, priestly celibacy, contraception, etc), that really causes the world to do the double take of dumbfounded-ness. It seems that here is where any state ideology will always eventually bump up against Catholicism and some sort of conflict will come to a head. I wonder if what we're seeing now in America could have been seen as almost inevitable from the start, (and even implicitly present in the intentions of the Founders). In any case, the Church is always called to be a sign of contradiction and in an age too focused on the present, (and focused on the control of the present and future), that contradiction will come to a point of outright conflict. Perhaps we shouldn't be so shocked when the state opposes us. Interesting point here on the 19th century Catholic German theologian Mohler who encouraged the Church to resist the fusing together of religious and national identity.
The Church has always been a scandal to the world and a sign of contradiction...all while being the only source of hope the world could ever have.

Also... Aaron Taylor at Ethika Politika has a whole slew of writing to peruse on celibacy as a voice for legitimate feminism.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

It's a Wonderful Life...Always

If I'd known then what I do now, I'd have wanted him to die in my arms'

This is a really good article…and deserves way more than a quick FB comment. I think it poses some questions that require way more dignity than just a reaction.

She asks if we are always right to save premature babies because sometimes it is only "post-poning the inevitable…" But does any one think that it does justice to a child for a parent to say “It would be better if you were not alive.” She comments that it is “a great taboo to wonder if she should have let her son go when he was born so fragile and weak.” It is a great taboo for a reason. Would anyone ever want to hear “you’d have been better off dead” from their parents? Death is always inevitable. No one wants to bury a child. Still, isn't it the case that whether we know, (however much we can really know anything about such things), that our child may die as a teenager or die as an adult... isn't it still a reality that death is always inevitable?

What this mom is contending with is suffering.
And the question comes down to this…Can suffering make life meaningless to the point that it is not worth living?

Friday, April 18, 2014

I Really DO Care...

Am I missing the point about empathy if I think this is funny?

I think this is hilarious.
My wife does not.
I see her point.
But I still think it's hilarious. Probably because I'm an ass.
I guess just because you've read "Men are from Mars, Women and from Venus" back in the '90's and you mentally ascent to it, doesn't mean that you are a good listener.
I suppose there is something utilitarian about just listening and trying to be empathetic, even if you really DO care about a person, that could drive them up a wall. Just because you think you're empathetic, doesn't mean you are. It's sort of taking a reductive approach to how women operate...or something...I guess. I don't know. All I know, is that damn nail...if we could just yank that thing out...OK. Sorry. Never mind. Go on. I'm listening.

Just because you know someone doesn't mean you know them.
It really is kind of funny though how absurd we are.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Religion does Nothing but Cause War and Oppression" Seems Like a Claim of Almost Willfull Ignorance.

"But what about the Crusades and Inquisitions and the Reformation? Huh, huh, What about those?" Well, I won't deny that there are travesties in history in the name of religion, (although we really are bad at history here in America these days and all of these periods really require a deeper look and not just a mere caricature from the History Channel, especially if you're going to form strong opinions on them that weight your view about things like well, God and eternity), but I will challenge the assertion that religion, properly understood, was the source of the violence. Now, there is a great deal of qualifying that is needed here. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do this justice. However, I'll remind folks of the well documented stat that in the 20th Century we became incredibly effective at killing one another and did so on a previously unprecedented level. Between Mao, Stalin and Hitler, all of whom took up ideological banners that carried an explicitly atheist component, more people were killed in one century than all of the combined war-related murders in the preceding 19 centuries.

Meanwhile, we see people of faith coming together at an unprecedented level to together appeal to God for mercy and an end war.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Devotion to God Continues to Rise Despite the Assertion of His Death by Old and Now Dead White Guys.

I've been reading a little bit of Hegel and Nietzsche the past couple of semesters for school. It's worth spending the time and energy to review them, particularly if you wonder where we developed our bias of reading the world of people as a mass of individual self-deterministic consciousnesses. In any case the they helped develop and popularize the whole "God is dead" bit.

Interestingly enough, a century later, this supposed passing of God doesn't seem to have quite the impact that one might anticipate.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Anarchy and Oligarchs!

Yeah, your Mom's an Anarchist!

The fun of reading Chesterton is his reveling in the seemingly absurd only to have it realized on further discussion as the pinnacle of sanity. For example, anarchy is held up as an ideal and routine is cautioned against. However, Chesterton is not rejecting order, but is instead calling for a higher order. He draws a picture in which aristocratic decadence devolves into boredom and the card trick that seems to go unnoticed is that while the oligarchy talks about preserving tradition, it is in reality blazing a trail of superstitious progress for the sake of progress. So it is the case that most revolutions are not the peoples’ revolution but are instead foisted on society by the insanely rich and the pathetically bored and it is the home and the family that ultimately suffers as they are set upon with an imposed and alien control.  

For Chesterton “the [aristocratic] sort of reform as routine is a failed proposal.” Instead, he proposes that what is needed is the wildness of the domicile and a healthy dose of feminine anarchy. This feminine anarchy would propose that “people should not be treated as the rule, but all of them as exceptions.” Chesterton hints at his framework for a Distributist antidote to landlords and usury that would craft a society of “monomaniacal” specialists who must realize success in one particular function by giving “his all.” Contrast the tyrannical world of the specialists with the home, which serves as the cultivator of wildness. We gain as sense of how the tragedy of the suffragette seems to be in the loss of herself as woman rather than any shackles of the household.