Thursday, September 28, 2006

pirates are neither extinct nor cool.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster pages make "whimsical" arguments based on the "fact" that the population of pirates has decreased since the 18th century. Modern pop culture glorifies the pirate as well. However, pirates are not extinct and piracy is not cool. Pirates are, in fact, a large part of the reason it was difficult and dangerous to get humanitarian aid to victims of the tsunami. On a scale from 1 to "not cool", I presume most of us would lean closer to ranking that "not cool". Also not cool: mobsters, "gangstas", drug dealers, fornicators, accountants, bandits, gunmen. Still cool: smokers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Genesis, trans by Robert Alter

Masterful translation. I will simply have to look at the medieval Jewish commentaries the author referred to extensively [Rashi and ibn Ezra]. I appreciated his constant jabs at source criticism in favor of treating the work as a literary whole, even if it is a compilation from various sources. His comments also make me appreciate how much even a little knowledge of Hebrew would add depth to my own reading of the text. All too often a translator's comments on the work make it seem like the only thing one is missing is a couple boring nuances and variant readings, as though the text really were quite boring from a stylistic point of view and could be translated perfectly in English if only a couple of our words had slightly different meanings. Or are boring enough in the details of the philology that it is impossible to care about anything other than the translated text [which is often boring as well]. The only criticism, which is one I certainly would never level at him, is that it leaves bare the influences of the polytheistic milieu on the emerging Judaic monotheism rather than providing a reading through the lens of the Judaic or Christian tradition which appropriated the stories. I really don't care, I'm a bright kid and won't be scandalized. Just label it "not appropriate for liturgical use" and carry on. I'm looking forward to hunting down his translations of the Pentateuch and The David Story.

on sola fide

Sola fide is, of course, a singularly useless slogan, since few Protestants could actually understand the difference between Luther and Aquinas if confronted with it at the popular level. Granted, most Protestants don't follow Luther and they attack only straw men. Luther's big and substantial change from the Scholastics was, to quote another if his slogans, "Where they say love, we say faith." That is to say, in both of their mystical theologies. But dialogue with Protestants never reaches the level of mystical theology, perhaps rightly so. Thomists have Juan de la Cruz as the grand test of theirs, but Luther has nobody in his tradition.

to kill a mockingbird: anti-racist or anti-FEMINIST

Though I'm on facebook and my ostensible reason for ever being on there is to track some friends who are off in the world and to allow them to track me, I'm probably soon going to have to close myself off from it much more than I am now. Never been "into" it, except insofar as sometimes writing things in my profile is sometimes as much fun as writing things in a web-log, and I'm sort of "into" that. But it really is a thing for kids, and I'm an adult, a serious man [not in the pejorative Little Prince sense, I still have twice as much fun, joy, and awe in my life as any four of you combined]. Example: I've twice now been invited to join a facebook group called, "No Glove, No Love!" I suspect I'll be invited more. I'm tempted to make a group called "Contraception is Immoral" and invite 'em, but that'd be childish.

I mean, c'mon, a girl who cries rape just isn't to be believed?

I'm also disappointed in general with the state of anti-Protestant rhetoric as used in and after ecumenical discussions with them. In the end, of course, any Protestant argument will collapse and Satan's foul seed will be uprooted by even pure reasoning, and how much more when aided by the grace of God, while the truth and existential concern behind the doctrine which Satan has corrupted to his foul ends will be shown to point back to Christ's Church rather than Protestantism, but the level of popular discourse must be raised. For instance, the assertions in the previous sentence must be made explicit.

Or, more seriously, respectful dialogue rather than debate is the order of the day. Debate always and only is done on the popular level on the order of slogans. Part of the allure of the Reformation is that they can all rally behind these nice, easily proof-texted, easily memorizable, easily-comprehensible slogans: sola fide, sola scriptura, soli Deo gloria, solus Christus, sola gratia. A Lutheran, a Calvinist, and a Baptist will differ wildly in their interpretations of these slogans, and, frankly, most naive objections to an idea of, viz, sola scriptura wide enough to hit every typical Protestant have been heard by the Bible College student you're going to run into and will be dismissed, probably rightly so, as attacks on straw men. Fortunately, the positions those are supposed to be polemics against are also straw men and are even more irrelevant to those of us who aren't like those legalistic Latins.

The first step, of course, is a respectful dialogue where one wades through the field of straw men to do real face-to-face battle. Then, of course, one must listen to what they're saying, see how much of it is true, and how much of it is almost true, and discuss what the Church says on the matter. Usually by then, we're out of time for the evening, but the reasonability of the Truth and how it fits completely with the existential longings that are driving your interlocutor's errors will then, hopefully, be visible. And, while the Protestant has nothing new to offer the Church, he may have appropriated what little truth he has better than I may have [esp. that damn bit about humility]. Any other approach wastes too much fire. Granted, there is a time and a place for beating people over the head. Disagreements about methodology, philosophy, etc welcomed [even from those Latins or even Angles].

The above should never be done without tasty beverages. Far too much stress otherwise.

The same could be said for OCF. I'll be there for vespers, a short time for food, and then I'm trucking. Never really been my scene, but I can't say no to the services. Hey, I'm no student anymore, so why not disappear a bit?

I smell ham, I must go.

EDIT: or, more seriously, smells more like that last of my sausages.