Friday, February 22, 2008

Idealynicism Round Two

(Senator Kemple= italics)

“Hopefully you recall what. Hartmann said yesterday about Israeli politics: that they do not hold themselves responsible for the deaths of Israeli prisoners because they do not negotiate. Really, what does it mean to act practically? It means to act for the sake of usefulness, i.e., at achieving some end. Negotiating an exchange of prisoners, or with terrorists, would be practical in saving lives; it is not practical in dissuading terrorists (which can be told from practical experience); but it is extremely practical within the framework of an ideal, namely that no nation or people should be subject to terrorism (or more specifically in the case of Israel, no Israeli... but it applies in a broader sense, as well).”

If the end is the Good, if it’s God’s will, then what is wrong with acting practically? What other end would I be talking about? You seem to think that I by charity, I mean that no one feels bad or is unhappy or has no discomfort or ill-feelings toward each other or that there's no pain or something. That is definitely not what I mean. I don’t think an ideal world has much room for that kind of charity (if it can be even called charity). Yes, there are different forms of executing charity: I’ll bet that St. John Vianney didn’t hit every single drunkard without discretion. There are some people you have to be forceful with; there are some that it’s better to be gentle with. Like Hartmann said today, you may know the universal, but you need to act with practical knowledge in the particular because the universal may not be appropriate to the particular. Every action has a practical implication and in order to strive for an ideal world, those have to considered. You can’t strive an ideal without considering what is or what will be after another part of the equation is added (the action). In the case of the prisoners, if we know that negotiating with terrorist is not going to lead the right end (an end of hostilities, death, war, religious persecution), then it would not be practical to negotiate as it would lead to exactly the opposite of the end.

When practicality supersedes idealism, then you are not acting for the will of God, the good, but rather for your own will, the apparent good (hey, Aristotle!). God's will, simply put, cannot be achieved by man, and acting as though it can is a hideous example of pride. You cannot bring about peace and harmony, or even justice and right. That's not up to you; that's the attempted imposition of your own will on others, who can choose to act in accord with justice and righteousness or to act in the service of discord and injustice: hence that societal depravity which you do not seem to be properly acknowledging.

When idealism disregards practicality and prudence (which is exercising practical knowledge and judgment for the sake of the good), then that is an even greater example of pride. Where is this coming from? When did I say any of that? What is your point here? How would acting in accordance with charity (which is what I've said) and what I know to be the way most advantageous (for the end, which is the Good, God's will) imposing my will on someone? I'm not sure how I am not "propperly acknowledging" the depravity of society, and how does that change anything? Society is depraved. Very depraved. I know this very well, too well. How else am I going to acknowledge that than by acting in a way that isn't?

No amount of practicality is going to move the world to a better state; I can act as practical as possible and make absolutely no positive impact on those around me, because you know what? Isn't up to me, it's up to them. So I don't go out of my way to make a nuisance to people. I don't go around telling people what I think of them; I don't step on people's toes for the sake of it (which is what you implied by calling it a pettiness). But when they act in a way that is blatantly wrong, I have no problem getting right in their face - and sometimes that means close enough to step on their toes. When you post something on your blog that I think is wrong, I tell you so, because we're friends and honestly I thought you could handle it.

I don't have anything against practicality; I just have something against having your ideals subject to your practicality. I am all for acting practically second to acting idealistically.

Idealism without practical action is useless. Practical action without ideals is useless. You really can't have one without the other. That was the whole point of the blog post. Idealists tend to forget that practical actions are needed (or completely disagree that they are...) and cynics forget that the ideals can be strived for. How is stopping a circular argument not being able to handle it? We're saying the same things over and over. Do you not see that? No, I'm not giving up beause I don't think you're right. Circular arguments have no point. And in the words of the ever beloved Chesterton: "to me, all good things come to a point, swords for instance". You're not "listenting" to what I'm saying at all and I think you're wrong. No point in conitinuing. (Because, you know, no matter what I do, you can still choose to misinterpret me - which is obviously what you are doing as you told me that I was not saying what I am saying.)

Charity, caritas, agape, acting from and for the love of God leaves no room for error or deficiency, principle of non-contradiction, God cannot be where there is a privation, i.e., that which inheres a privation must be moved from without, per accidens, i.e., with violence (not necessarily what we call a violent act, but that which exercises its power upon something else). It's reason, logos, not an excuse, and nothing "excuses" bad behavior, or it wouldn't be bad.

Your last two comments were, frankly, pathetic. I like to argue, Catherine, but I don't argue for the sake of arguing. Your use of a catchphrase and evasion is very, very disappointing. If you want to talk about pettiness, which is a meanness, narrowness, and smallness, then you should probably look to those comments; I see no evidence of magnanimity or charity or even of reason of any kind. If you're going to insult me or the things I say, at least give me some reasons as to why they/I merit such. I'm idealistic, sure, and I'm blunt, but the two are not synonyms.

What if someone holds charity as an ideal...? Unremitting forgiveness is also an ideal.

Please tell me how I insulted you. When did you personally become the subject of this? I never said you were being petty and I didn't say you were blunt and I didn't use that as an example before you did. I know they aren't synomous and never said they were. Really, I don't get this paragraph at all. And how is it that you can tell me that what (you take it that) I'm saying displays a "sure sign of stupidity" (and is something that I absolutely abhor) and is an "admonishment of those who are not lukewarm" among other things, but I'm the one who lacks charity?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Idealism: The tendency to represent things in an ideal form, or as they might or should be rather than as they are, with emphasis on values.

Cynicism: An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.

I sometimes wonder if idealists even have the ability to see the world as it is. But then again, I am a semi-professional cynic. It's not that I have a jaded negativity about everything or that I wish to distrust the integrity or motives of others, but it's a bad habbit that formed from a bad experience, or rather, a series of bad experiences.

The idealists that I know, and I do know several, tend not only to present the world in an ideal fashion, but to act in the world in the way that they think the world would ideally act. That sentence confuses me, so let me explain: they act not necessarily in the way that would be best in a particular situation, but in the way that they think they would act if we lived in an ideal world. Since we don't live in an ideal world, though, this tendency can lead to much less than ideal consequences. They tend to disregard tact and sometimes charity which causes confusion at the very least and hatred at worst. I can see why they would want to act to act ideally. I've seen situations where acting ideally is perfectly fine. But something that always amazes me and confuses me is this: they seem to think that by acting "ideally" the world will somehow become more ideal as a whole. I see evidence to the contrary. By acting "ideally" they cause discord and ill-will which takes the world further from being an ideal world, not closer to it when, had they acted in what I'm going to call a practical manner- that is, in a way best suited to a particular situation- their actions would bring harmony and peace, or at least justice and right, which actually moves us closer to something resembling an ideal world. Yet, idealism has its redeeming qualities. There are those idealists who encourage others, who never give up fighting for an ideal world, and who, despite it all, actually do love the world, as much as it isn't so ideal.

Cynicism, on the other hand, hasn't really any redeeming qualities at all, at least, none that I can see. We tend to be more likely to give up because it's just no use; we tend to be hyper-critical of people (including ourselves) and we tend to "hate life". I think sometimes we even tend to act not in accordance with what is best, or "ideally", but apathetically. We can see what the world should be and we see how it is. And it's so far from ideal that there's really no point in even bothering. After all, what difference does it make, people aren't going to change, and nothing we do is ever going to be of any help. - It's a very bleak way to think.

Enter reality. The world is not ideal. But the world is not the most dismal thing possible. People act horridly sometimes. But they can be taught or persuaded (by reason...) to act otherwise. And on the flip side: even if I would act this way in an ideal world, we are not in an ideal world and therefore, perhaps, it's better to act practically. I think sometimes that the idealists get so lost in the ideals that they really cannot see how ideals impropperly applied are actually (and sometimes extremely) detrimental. And the cynics get so lost in the filth that they forget that they have the ability to clean. In order to get to the ideal, we must get through the muck- without adding to it.

The cynics add to the muck by refusing to see that it can be cleaned. The idealists add to the muck by refusing to clean in order. They vacuum before they dust. And then they wind up having to vacuum again and more. The cynics refuse to see that we can be lifted into the ideal. The idealists refuse to see that we do indeed need to be lifted; they bring it down to us before we are ready.

Cynics wallow in the muck. They see the clouds as unattainable and fanciful.

Idealists are in the clouds. But the clouds are much higher than the earth. It's not ideal to bring them to earth. We get fog. We have to bring earth to the clouds.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Some Favorite Quotes

I'm a little bored. And a litle frustrated. And a little hopeful. And a little pensive, a little scared, a little bold, a little angry, a little sad, and a lot amazed and happy at the people God has put in my life (and oddly enough, this particular instance, I'm not even really talking about people that I've met, though I do love you, too). I don't know what all that has to do with the post, though, except that what I want to write about, I can't.

Anywhoo, here ya go:

"...who is it that will be able to take you out of my hands? Even if you were in the vestibule of Hell, and if there remained outside but a single hair of your head, that would be sufficient enough for me to drag you from the claws of the devil and transport you to Heaven" ~ Saint Joseph Cafasso

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and Halleluia is our song." ~John Paul II

"horribly beautiful" ~ Nick

"I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love." ~Mother Teresa

"Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord,urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. " ~Ephesians 4:1-6.

"How far we are from the true spirit of Sacred Music. How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant, and ridiculous profanities have gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?" ~ Msgr. Grau.

"Whether it is Bach or Mozart that we hear in church, we have a sense in either case of what Gloria Dei, the glory of God, means. The mystery of infinite beauty is there and enables us to ex­perience the presence of God more truly and vividly than in many sermons. But there are already signs of danger to come. Subjective experience and passion are still held in check by the order of the musical universe, reflecting as it does the order of the divine creation itself. But there is already the threat of invasion by the virtuoso mentality, the vanity of technique, which is no longer the servant of the whole but wants to push itself to the fore." ~ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, NOW POPE BENEDICT XVI!!!! (I'm making fun of Ignatius Press, I just don't have a little gold sticker...)

"All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today" ~ Pope Paul VI

"Musical people always want one to be perfectly dumb at the very moment one is longing to be perfectly deaf" ~ Oscar Wilde.

"Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling." ~G.K. Chesterton

"Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable" PBXVI

"Their infernal parallels seem to expand with distance but for me all good things come to a point, swords for instance"- Chesterton

Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." ~...Chesterton...

"I have never killed a man, but I've read many an obituary with great pleasure." ~ Clarence Darrow

"Bongiorno principessa!!!!"

"And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist."

"And when it rains on your parade, Look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow."

- G.K.C.

"I've always regretted speaking wrong, but I've never regretted biting my tongue."

"He who covers up a misdeed fosters friendship, but he who gossips about it separates friends." --Proverbs 17:9

"Cursed be gossips and the double-tongued, for they destroy the peace of many." --Sirach 28

These are just a few, and most of them some of you have already somewhere.

Spider webs are gorgeous when they are frozen in the mornings.

Eyelashes are strange in the reflections of glasses from the sun shining in your face.

I'm in such a strange mood.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Where Charity and Love Prevail...

...There God is ever found. This is why we as Catholics must always be aware of what charity is and, almost more importantly, I think, what it is not. There can be no real charity if earth is the only realm that charity has relevance in, for if charity is anything, it is concern for another human's soul. Christ said "Love your enemies" He did not say befriend them. He said that you must forgive when others wrong you, but He did not say that you must forget. In fact, it would be quite idiotic and asinine to claim that forgetting has anything to do with forgiving.

There was a long time -years- that I struggled with forgiveness. I think that given my childhood and events stemming from that childhood, it's at least semi-understandable (which is not to say excusable). The association of forgiveness with mushy, warm fuzzies and happily ever afters kind of threw me off, I think. But forgiveness is not about warm fuzzies. That's not to say that warm fuzzies
shoud never result from forgiveness- I think that's as silly as saying that they always should- that's simply to say that God does not require us to feel anything. Of course, being humans, we will feel something. We can forgive and still feel angry or hurt or sad; we can also forgive and feel love or peace or happiness. Forgiveness is not about feelings. When we forgive, we will to forgive.

More often than not, I hope, we are called to forgive tiny things, things that probably should not bother us as much as we may let them. These things should not make us feel hatred or anger. These things should not cause friendships to end or families to be broken. There are some things that we are called to forgive, however, that necessarily end friendships and break families. If a man hits his children and wife, no matter how much he is forgiven, his family is still broken and there is still hurt.

In forgiving, we are not asked to put ourselves or anyone else in danger. As an example, I'll just use me. My grandmother thinks that in order for us to have actually forgiven her husband, we have to have a relationship with him. Now, when I was 13, IF that had happened, I would have been in serious danger of being raped by him (and as much as I may blow things out of proportion or over react, that statement is a true as if I had said "I am Catherine".) There are three things that I don't understand with this theory. First, even for someone who equates forgivness with warm fuzzies, how can one think that this would produce positive feelings rather than more anger and more fear? Second, how is putting the dignity of your person in danger loving yourself? Thirdly, how is allowing someone to persist in actions danerous to his soul loving your neighbor OR your enemy?

I've oftened wondered where this idea of forgiveness meaning letting people off of the hook came from. It's so different from anything divine; God is mericful, yes, but He is just in His mercy. Perhaps it came with the Protestant elimanation of Purgatory (a sad thing, by the way, I'm so glad we have it). It would make sense that as long as there is no punishment after death for those who made it to Heaven even though they sinned, then we should also not punish those who need it. If that is their idea of God's mercy, then it would follow that it should be ours, too. But is letting someone continue to act in ways that jeopardize his salvation actually being merciful or even just? Absolutely not. Two of the spiritual works of mercy show us that: instruct the ignorant and admonish the sinner. If the sinner recieves no admonishment, he recieves permission. As Christians, we are not called to simply let things go or forgive and forget, but to love one another; we are called to care for the souls of others. The idea of wram fuzzy forgiveness goes against the Gospels. Letting another person stomp all over you or get away with sin only endangers his soul. And that is in no way charitable. It's cowardly.

If we skew the meaning of charity in such way that it no longer refers to a supernatural type of love, how will we ever bring others to find Christ?