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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

I Mull Things Over

I'm not a sudden changer of routine. I'm open to suggestions, mind you, but "my people" know I don't do anything quickly. On the other hand, once I decide to do something, I do it.

I might even say, "That's a great idea! I should do that!" Still, it's gonna be 2 weeks, minimum, before I do it. I apologize for any inconvenience or frustration this may cause. The enduring circle of associates already knows, but others of you may not. I do try to show appreciation in that moment for the suggestion, but I'm not 16. The timeline is the timeline. It won't be shorter, unless my current plan or method is actively dangerous, or immoral, or something else of gravity.

I would like to think other people are like this, too, but I don't know. I could just be crazy.

I love parties, because I love people. But whoever those people are who actively enjoy planning things--more than the thing itself--obviously should see a doctor! Ha!

I did buy a kitchen tool last week or so, and I'm pretty excited about it. I got it from our friends at Amazon. Don't worry, Bryan. I chose the slowest shipping speed possible, so that whomever is driving the truck is free to use the bathroom when he has to. Also, no, I will not join Amazon Prime. I don't want to actively know I'm degrading human society, even if I can't resist mass market paperbacks sold for a nickel.

Consider this: I love baseball, and even though the MLB Radio package is easily the best deal in professional sports, ($20 annually, to hear every radio broadcast of every team) I thought about it for an entire year. It's not a crucial decision, I suppose, but money is money.

One thing I don't have to think over is giving my heart and my whole self to Jesus. The first time, and the next time. There's nothing to debate. If there are things in the way, that may slow us down, but I have no doubt it's the best decision you will ever make.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Who Is This Tim Keller Guy?

Just kidding. This guy is planted theologically in what was native soil for me, before I became Catholic. Which is not to say I know his work well. What I knew was filtered through my seminarian colleagues at the time. To be quite honest, I felt a twinge of annoyance at the time, because it seemed like his was the only voice for our times in our circles. It's easy to proclaim a guy overrated by default in those circumstances. That's not fair to Pastor Keller, and I know that.

On the other hand, do you notice these philosophers? I intend no disrespect. Let me state it another way: Do you notice who's not mentioned? Christianity already has resources in our Catholic philosophical tradition. Feel free to steal it, fellows. You can still disagree theologically with the Church, but your philosophy of knowledge--your epistemology--needs to be on firmer ground.

I remain shocked that philosophers trained today many times want to move away from realism. It's like reinventing the wheel, and replacing it with nothing. Keller may not intend to premise his philosophy on skepticism, but that's what a debate about "faith" used in two senses seems to imply. Christians can't win that fight on these terms. You can't get to divine faith via a probabalistic "leap" from human faith.

Let's come at it from another direction: If you truncate what can be known by reason--and if the two interlocutors agree that they can't know anything except by revelation--what will the avowed Christian do when his partner in dialogue denies that supernatural revelation has occurred? Neither partner will use an alleged source of knowledge they deny.

Put your Bible down for a minute, and start a conversation about the nature of reality. Talk about sufficiently credible witnesses. If Aquinas' "First Cause" is the anchor of a chain of caused causes, then there is a basis for reality itself. But we have to inhabit the same thought world. Dialogue begins with agreement; it continues with disputation; it ends with adjudication and revision in the language of shared terms.

One cannot actually debate without shared terms and definitions. I think Plantinga and Keller are attempting to ground faith in something apart from reason.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Whatever We're Calling "Conservatism" Right Now Is Literally Idiotic

Pick a side. It seems to be implied. The narrative seems to be that "The Left" hates Trump, and nothing he does is good. This seems like a fake right-wing framing, especially in the "conservative" media. I think it's for people that are culturally Republican, who may find him appealing, even in his more unsavory aspects. If his opponents can be shown to be "unhinged," one doesn't have to have a reasoned defense for one's support; one can say, "Well, I'm not like those people." It's the fruit of emotivism in action. You can't really consider the justice of a $7.85 minimum wage relative to say, $12 in isolation. All you care to know is that the same people who call for higher wages, and higher government spending also favor abortion-on-demand until the moment of birth. Well, that settles it.

And you're done thinking. It must be nice.

Or maybe another group bears in mind the lessons real and imagined from largely 20th century experimentation with socialism and communism. Any advocacy for increased public spending of any kind smacks of "socialism" for these folks. They'll support any system of free exchange, as long as they're not poor, no matter how unjust. If I'm honest, I can barely tolerate conservative Catholic political thought now, because its brand of Catholic "fusionism" isn't terribly concerned with economic justice of any sort. And it comes to this: One can get away with almost any crime against the Earth, against immigrants and their families, Americans of color, the incarcerated, or neighbors in other lands, as long as one gets the sexual ethics right, as a "conservative" Catholic, or a politician seeking their support.

I grant that this may not be fair, or fair in every case. Yet I know that it names something real, something that militates against my comfort in abiding in former familiar ideological haunts.

Supposing I had been politically enculturated as a Democrat, I'd have a different set of complaints, especially regarding sexual ethics mentioned earlier. Perhaps there'd be other things as well I couldn't abide, as a doctrinaire Catholic.

I keep thinking about this pointed thought every time I see and hear Nancy Pelosi. You know, she says true things all the time. It's easier to notice when I haven't decided beforehand she's a person who is insane.

I had this pointed thought yesterday at Mass, of all places: If you dropped Bernie Sanders and his economic policies of today back into 1985, he's probably helping Speaker O'Neill with a budget proposal. Which is to say, he wouldn't be on the fringes of policy and political life. The Democrats have moved away from advocating for the poor, and lower middle class, to their shame.

In the end, it's easier to listen well when I don't have a "team," per se.