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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

EWTN: A Sad Tale

That's essentially the headline from EWTN's daughter publication, the National Catholic Register. A priest who was fired from his job at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is pissed off, so he is demanding the Church fix his crisis of faith.

Why is EWTN running anti-papal crap hit pieces like this?

Sadly, the answer is very simple: at this point, EWTN and its purchased daughter publication, NCR, have been captured by badly catechized older American Catholics.

American Catholics have always been about ten inches from full-blown Protestantism. Remember, it was the bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas who led the charge AGAINST the declaration of papal infallibility at Vatican I. It was the American Catholic presbyterate and episcopate who endorsed the American heresy of the separation of church and state. In fact, the very heresy of Americanism is named after this country, the first heresy named after a specific geographic region in centuries.

The United States has never been a reliably Catholic country, and it still is not. Unfortunately, EWTN relies almost entirely on elderly American Catholics for its revenue stream, so it cannot afford to report the news in a way that will alienate it from the wealthy old people who help it make bank each month.

One of the reasons VC II was called was precisely that Catholic catechesis already sucked rocks in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The council was called because the state of the world's catechesis had almost uniformly descended to the wasteland that American catechesis had always inhabited.

The pre-VC II catechesis in America was, in fact, so bad, that the minute the 1960s American MSM began reporting that VC II heralded a "change" in Church teachings, most American Catholic laity, and quite a few of the religious and the priests, bought the MSM's reporting hook, line and sinker. If we had been well-catechized, the conciliar teachings could never have been successfully twisted, the majority of American Catholics would never have been taken in by the nutcase "theologians." If adult Catholics had known their faith, they would have known the teachings of the Faith do not change. The very fact that nearly every American adult did buy into the post-VC II heresies is itself proof that the previous thirty years of pre-conciliar catechesis had miserably failed. 

So, it is now 2017, forty-five years after the council. EWTN's audience is primarily elderly retired folk who grew up in the pre- and post-conciliar wasteland. Since this is the SAME audience that was never properly catechized to begin with, either before or after the council, and since EWTN has to keep these para-Protestants happy in order to keep its revenue stream, EWTN's reporting skews more and more weird. The organization has been captured by the people who pay it - badly catechized American Catholics.

Whatever EWTN may have been in the past, it isn't that thing anymore.

To be fair, this is pretty much true of all the Catholic media in the United States. It's all about click-bait now, and the best way to get clicks is to appeal to the Protestant American undercurrent in American Catholicism - brand the Pope seven kinds of heretic, and America's Protestant Catholics will richly reward you. Dan Brown's Protestant history of the Catholic Church demonstrated that in spades. EWTN is following in Brown's grand example, and so are all the other "Catholic" outlets that bash the Pope.

But that's Catholic media for you.
It is now indistinguishable from the MSM.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

My Body, My Spectacles

The question has been asked - are feelings or emotions sinful?

Feelings are generally either factually correct or incorrect. Feelings summarize a whole situation into a single, compact experience. That summary is either essentially correct, or essentially incorrect. But "factually correct" is different from "morally correct."

I am not morally responsible for misapprehending the facts.

The reaction of the intellect to the fact of the emotion is what determines right or wrong, just as the reaction of the intellect to anything the world sets before us determines right or wrong. Feelings are the result of a hormone surge within the body, emotions are a chemical reaction in the brain.

But so is sight, touch, hearing, etc.

We are not responsible for what the world puts before our eyes. We are responsible for what we seek out in the world in order to see. The same goes for emotions - I am responsible for what I seek out, knowing what emotion will be provoked by what I seek.

If I deliberately seek out things to see, touch, feel, that I should not seek, that is sin. But, if I see, touch and therefore feel as part of my work or as part of what the world has placed before me, that is not sin.

When St. Francis encountered the leper and threw up, he did not sin. He didn't mean to throw up - his body just did it. When he used his intellect to deliberately over-ride his body's rejection of the scene, he was able to embrace the humanity of the leper. His intellect allowed him to see what the leprous scabs partially hid. His body saw the scabs, his mind saw the person. His body reacted to the scabs, his mind reacted to the person. Vomiting was not a sin, but embracing the leper was a virtue.

Perhaps a different way of thinking about it will help.

To a certain extent, our bodies are a summary of the whole universe. Our bodies are the bit of the universe we drag with us everywhere we go. The universe presents us with all kinds of things to examine. Because we drag them with us everywhere, our bodies are often the things we spend the most time examining. What our five senses perceive, how our emotions bubble forth, our brain's chemical reactions, these seem central to us, if only because these things are the part of the universe that are always present to us. As Buckaroo Banzai said:

But our bodies are not only a constant part of what the universe presents to us to examine, they are also the part of the universe that serves as a lens through which we view the rest of the universe. Most of the time, I look through my glasses, not noticing the way they balance on my nose. But sometimes, I look directly at my glasses, to see what is on them, and to determine whether or not I am seeing clearly.

My body is the pair of eyeglasses that bring the universe into focus for me. Sometimes, they have specks the size of logs. If we are to see clearly, we need to keep them clean.

Star Wars is Wrong

The rise of the emotional snowflake is part and parcel of the destruction of our old culture and the creation of a new one. This transformation affects everything, even the law.  Today, Matt Lauer tells us there is an "emotional definition of obstruction of justice". Which is true, in a certain sense.

"Your eyes can deceive you. Stretch out with your feelings!"
You see, for people raised on images, my FEELINGS form reality.
"Trust your FEELINGS, Luke!
FEEL the Force!"
Here is the problem. The snowflakes are attempting to apply the following Aristotelian logic:
What I feel is a fact (which is true - it is).
Facts are infallibly correct. (also true - facts, by definition, cannot be controverted)
Therefore, feelings are infallible.
Unfortunately, what seems to be unassailable logic is corrupted by a confusion of terms. What goes unnoticed by most people is that the subjects have been swapped out. We confuse the existence of facts with the content of facts.

Catholic faith distinguishes between the fides quae creditur ("fides kway") and the fides qua creditur ("fides kwa"). The fides qua is the power by which we believe, it is an individual person's ability to believe, it is subjective. The fides quae is the content of what is believed, it is objective. If we were to use an analogy, the fides qua is the shipping pier that holds piles of cargo, the fides quae is the content of the boxes on the pier. The syllogism above confuses the two and treats them as one.

As already indicated, emotions are, indeed, facts. If we consider the facts of any situation, we have to consider the emotional response those facts engender, because it is a fact that people feel emotions, and those emotions can color how they perceive the facts. However, while it is a fact THAT I feel something, the CONTENT of what I feel can definitely be wrong, my emotions can wrongly summarize the situation at hand.

So, while facts are infallibly correct, feelings are not.

Einstein famously said, "Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed."

Emotions constitute a type of theory. If I encounter a beggar or leper and feel disgust or distaste, I may allow my emotional "theory" to influence my reaction to the leprous beggar. I may throw up, run away, scream at him in order to force him away from me, etc.

My emotions have summarized the situation, but have they done so correctly? Are my feelings infallible? Are my feelings always right? Obviously, I know they are not always right. First impressions say a lot, but first impressions can be, and often are, wrong.

If my rational intellect allows me to recognize that my emotional reaction is often wrong, then, even as I feel the emotional tide, my rationality would attempt to overcome it. If my intellect recognizes that my emotions have incorrectly assessed the beggar's worth, I might still throw up. Emotions are still facts, and my body still reacts to them. But, I would attempt to remove my emotional bias, wipe the bile from my lips and then respond by helping the beggar. I might give him alms, embrace him, care for his wounds, discuss his life's difficulties with him, etc.

Christianity's great leap forward was precisely the emphasis it put upon discounting one's feelings. Any emotionally functioning person is going to reject the image of a flagellated, crucified corpse impaled upon crosspieces of rough-hewn timber. Seeing this sight in real life would be living in a horror movie - we would all be screaming at each other to run away.

Christian rationalism tells us to do precisely the opposite. It tells us not to run away, but to gaze all the more closely. It tells us to investigate and, ultimately, to embrace what looks to all the world like a horror (if you ever wanted to know why horror movies work, it is precisely because they are often a shallow re-telling of the Gospel story).

So, the Christian response is quite simply the reverse of George Lucas' advice: "Your feelings can deceive you. Stretch out with your whole being, your personhood. Don't allow your feelings to become your interpretive theory. Instead, allow yourself to recognize and assist a fellow human person who is in distress."

Dispassionate analysis, objective study of the facts of the case, acknowledging emotion while refusing to allow it to rule the analysis, these are Christian values, founded upon the crucifixion. To say that there is an "emotional definition of obstruction of justice" is true, but that does not make the emotion, or the fact of the emotion, relevant to the analysis of whether or not there actually was an obstruction.

Emotions are facts, but emotions are not infallible, nor are emotions always even relevant. While hate is an emotional response, love is not an emotion. Thus, the lesson of Christianity is precisely to stop trusting your feelings, and start trusting rationality.
God is Pure Reason
God is Love
So, the only reasonable thing to do is to Love