Playing the Indian Card

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Damnation by Faith Alone

 

 We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, remembered gate

When the last of earth left to discover

Is that which was the beginning;

At the source of the longest river

The voice of the hidden waterfall

And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for

But heard, half-heard, in the stillness

Between two waves of the sea.


Bishop Sheen once said “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

That includes many people raised Catholic. 

Part of this is anti-Catholic propaganda; part of this is confusing Catholicism with other denominations; much of this is pure culpable ignorance.

In early adolescence, I thought I was an atheist. That did not last; but it took me many years of intense searching to claw my way back to where I needed to begin.

Hoping to save others much wasted time and suffering, I want to look at one common fallacy, a very grave one, one that troubled me.

It is the faith thing. 

People think faith means believing things without evidence. I remember at one point explaining that I could not accept Western religion because it demanded a “leap of faith.”


The postmodern leap of faith.


This comes at least in part from Luther, who believed in “salvation by faith alone.” 

News flash: Luther was not Catholic.

Faith is important in Catholicism, but it does not mean choosing to believe something. That is postmodernism, and that is Satanic. Let me make that clear: that is Satanic. A moral person must seek the objective truth, wherever that may lead.

“Faith,” dating in English from the 14th century, means primarily “The fulfilment of a trust or promise, and related senses.” (OED). As in “keep faith,” or “keep the faith”: to be loyal to one’s commitments. This is pretty much its Catholic sense as well: to stay the course. To go to mass, to keep the commandments, to run the race, to fight the good fight. It has nothing to do with deciding to believe or not believe in the existence of God; it was clear enough to me by the age of 18 that this was a smokescreen question, an avoidance of the issue. The existence of God is not in doubt. It is demonstrable.

“Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.”

- Vatican Council I, Dei Filius 2: DS 3004.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of convincing proofs of the existence of God. Only a fool could say in his heart “there is no God.” The Bible takes no trouble to make the case: it is self-evident.

There is a second meaning of “faith,” in the religious context. OED: “the capacity to spiritually apprehend divine truths, or realities beyond the limits of perception or of logical proof.” While the existence of God is apparent to reason, his nature is self-evidently beyond our comprehension. In places where reason cannot be employed, faith must be resorted to: we must take things we cannot understand “on faith.” These are the things the Church calls “sacred mysteries”: the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection.

Conversely, anyone who takes anything “on faith” that he cannot think through for himself, or simply chooses to believe something despite contrary evidence, is guilty of the deadly sin of acedia. This is one of the Seven Sins that lead to sure damnation.


Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Unethical Materials

 



A proposed checklist to evaluate multimedia content for use in schools just came across my desk. One of the criteria was “ethical elements.” 

Digging deeper, this means the presence of “discrimination, bias, violence, and sexually suggestive material.” Materials used in classrooms at any level must not include these. And, to clarify further, “discrimination” means “discrimination related to gender, age, race, religion, and culture.” “Bias” means “bias for a particular notion and theory.”

This seems unworkable. 

To begin with, we are talking about words and images, not actions. Based on the principle that my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins, it is difficult to conceptualize discrimination in this context. Presumably, what we do not want is material advocating discrimination on these grounds. But that is not what the guidelines say: they use the vague term “related to.” The term used in most human rights legislation is “based on”: that one must not discriminate against persons “based on X.” “Related to” suggests one must instead not discriminate between religions or cultures or ages or genders. One must not distinguish between British and French cuisine, and one must certainly not say one is better.

This is absurd, and leads to unfortunate dining experiences. And human suffering.

The definition of “bias” seems objective and reasonable—but note that it would mean no teaching the dangers of global warming without featuring the other side of that debate; and no teaching the Theory of Evolution without also citing Creationism and Intelligent Design. And that’s just the start. Some people do insist that there was no Holocaust—so you cannot privilege the view of history that says there was. Some say there was no moon landing, there are alien lizards among us, and the earth is flat. Again, no bias allowed.

Prohibiting materials featuring “violence” would prohibit discussion of the news, and most of world history. Not to mention most fiction, in any medium, and any fairy tales. Who benefits from that? Certainly not anybody seeking an education.

Prohibiting sexually suggestive materials might make sense for teaching children, but a blanket prohibition means you cannot teach the Bible, the Krishna legend, or most great literature.

The problem here is that, in the name of inclusivity, we have jettisoned all specific moral traditions. Were we able to refer to the Ten Commandments, or the Analects, or the Dhammapada, or Sharia, weeding out unethical material would be relatively straightforward. While there are universal principles of morality, the average person cannot do very well at working them out in every instance on the fly. We’d probably require a graduate seminar for each individual decision. Without this, absurdities are inevitable.

We settle on “violence” or “sex” as proxies for “immorality,” for example, because they are objective and indisputable; not because they are unethical. Ideas like “discrimination” and “equality” turn out to be too abstract for most to understand.

We need to get back to our traditional moral standards. Of the great moral traditions, it matters far less which one we follow than that we can all agree on applying one or the other--at least within a given educational institution.



Monday, April 05, 2021

A Shot in the Arm

 


Got the Pfizer vaccine, first dose, yesterday—Easter Sunday.

No detectable side effect so far. Not even an aching arm.

I figure in three weeks, round about April 25, I will have substantial immunity, and need not worry about being out and about. Masking and distancing still, but only for the sake of others’ peace of mind.

Surprised to learn now that my cousins, all but one of whom are younger than I, have all already had their second dose of Pfizer. How can that be? I’ve been keeping close tabs, and got mine as soon as I was eligible.

I think it must be because they have their Indian cards. Racial preferences; or, put more frankly, racial discrimination. My own second shot, although older and with a couple of comorbidities, is not slated until the end of July.

It might make sense to rush-vaccinate people living on reserves, based on higher infection rates. Online, I see claims that infection rates on reserves are 187% of the national average. On the other hand, the fatality rate is much lower—less than half. As a matter of fact, as of August, the story was that the rate of COVID, too, was much lower on reserves than in the general population: only 25% of the national average.

Whatever is happening currently on reserves, shouldn’t the risk be greater in urban settings, where people are closer together? Are matters worse on reserves than in other poor communities, or is the issue just poverty? In any case, my cousins are prosperous and indistinguishable from their urban neighbours. The different treatment seems based not on any scientific or humanitarian justification, but purely racial preference.

We are creating different classes of citizenship in Canada based on race.



Saturday, April 03, 2021

He or She?

 

Filipino transvestite beauty queen.

Jordan Peterson rose to prominence over which pronouns to use to refer to transvestites. This has become a dominating issue: if someone looks like a woman, but is in fact biologically male, do we say “he” or “she”? Or “zhe,” or “they.” Or seventy or a hundred other possibilities now being floated.

This is a relatively new problem in North America, but it occurs to me it is not elsewhere. In Thailand or the Philippines, transvestitism has been open and socially accepted for generations, perhaps centuries. So I thought to ask my Filipina wife, in Visayan, do you refer to a male-to-female transvestite as “he” or “she.” 

She reports that, as indeed seems most sensible, biological sex is definitive. He may look like a woman, but he is still, in fact, “he.”

Problem solved.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A Journal of the Plague Year

 



It is now more than a year.

Just as the vaccines seemed to bring hope of an end, new concerns. The AstraZeneca shot, hoped to be the workhorse, has been suspended in Canada for under-55s for fear of causing blood clots. New variants are spreading that are deadlier and more virulent than the original virus. People are speaking of a “Third Wave.” 

It seems possible that the virus will be able to mutate faster than vaccines can keep up. If, say, the UK and the US manage to vaccinate nearly everybody, new variants might still breed in other countries, enter the US/UK, and be resistant to the vaccines. New round of new vaccines, new round of virus mutations, and the battle goes on year after year.

And everyone seems at the breaking point with the lockdowns.


Monday, March 29, 2021

The Bigotry of the Left

 


Michael Knowles has recently lost a sponsor for his podcast because, a few years ago, he expressed the opinion that being a man who believes you are a woman, or vice versa, is a mental illness.

On another occasion, he was berated on Fox News, and the network apologized, for saying Greta Thunberg is mentally ill.



Isn’t there an obvious problem here?

If you consider it an intolerable insult to say someone is mentally ill, what does that say of one’s attitude towards the mentally ill? 

That their existence is intolerable. That they are to be dismissed from the conversation.

It seems that, on the left at least, this is the standard view.