Friday, 2 March 2007

Notsaussure Does Not Run My Blog or Mind

But on the other hand you might as well let someone with talent and intelligence do their work. NS has also sent me a link to an article by Andrew Sullivan, on his Christian belief, to which I am going to link here. Please do not attempt to engage me with intractable arguments or debates on the existence of God. Anyone who reads my blog, or who knows me, will understand that I am not interested in such debates, having had them many years ago and having emerged with nothing but "confusion in my eyes now" (Mergrave, Castrovalva). If you would like such a debate, please go to "In Search of High Places", in which you will find the brilliant and tolerant Matt and Alex engaged in debate (and occasionally on An Insomniac too). Look at my links for those two. Now that I think of it, one could read the wonderful Castrovalva as a metaphor for religious belief: it is created, is illusory, is destructive. Hmmm. On second thoughts, no. That doesn't quite cut the mustard. Er...it is beautiful but unreal. No, it's not that either...er...well I guess I'll think of it at some point.

No. The reason I love the Sullivan article is this. Mary fails to work but sits at the Lord's feet instead, for which she is praised. Sullivan loves her for this: I feel it as exactly the problem with belief and indeed political ideology. We are great, wonderful, terrible creatures. We should not let ourselves fall mindless to any feet, even those of the eternal divine spirit. We are the spirit's greatest thoughts, or the universe's own attempt to look into itself. We should look at and into immense or even eternal creatures with our own gifts: of thought, understanding, wonder and yes, love. But never to leave thought out of it. I love Mary too for this, but I see it as difficult. Jesus never asks us to shut the **** up and be empty: he asks us to sacrifice, to worship and to work. And, even if they don't concur with your views, that entails rules. Most societies create rules for themselves, even if some people don't like them. In our advanced liberal democracy we love nothing better than creating more and more rules to moderate our conduct (but then I think our modern democracy is deeply suspicious and even contemptuous of people); there will therefore be rules in religion. I take Sullivan's point about fundamentalists and agree, profoundly. But I also acknowledge the need, however slight, for rules, the right of a living system to make demands of its free adherents so that they come closer to its designs. Hence Catholicism has always placed weight on works as well as faith, knowing that even with faith we can often not be bothered with works. Having said that, Sullivan's article is rather more subtle than I've given it credit for being, so if you're interested, read it carefully. I'm not picking an argument, I'm giving a shade of thought. Mary is right, of course, but it is troubling to me.

11 comments:

Matt M said...

Cheers for the mention.

You can rest assured that I have no real intention of converting anyone to my position – I’m increasingly realising what a futile thing such an attempt would be. Whether we’re atheists or theists, left or right, etc. probably isn’t the result of any particular argument, but the outcome of all our experiences to date. Debate can still help us work through any problems or inconsistencies we have, as well as enlarging our awareness of what others think and feel, but it has to be consensual and respectful in order to be productive, and you have to go into it expecting your own views to change and evolve. Going into it expecting the other guy to change their mind and agree with you is more about validation than debate.

What’s important isn’t whether someone agrees with you, it’s whether you can tolerate each others differences enough to focus on your common goals and values.

I think the good Doctor would agree. :-)

The Tin Drummer said...

I knew you would say that, Matt; it is typical of your respectful approach to other people. I agree with you and I'm sure the Doctor would too, although it does raise the interesting question of what would his response to theists be. Given his tetchy, bad mannered and rather arrogant performance in The Daemons, I think the Pertwee Doctor at least would give them short shrift.

Matt M said...

Heh - I've justed finished listening to 'The Stones of Venice', and the Doctor has some rather caustic remarks about religion in that, though he's undercut quite a bit when someone points out that he shares many of the qualities he's just criticised people for.

Luckily, with the TV series, RTD has kept a bit of mystery about the whole thing. The Doctor seems to be a sceptical agnostic, challenging what he sees as faulty logic, but - with the inclusion of the demon in the pit - they've thankfully acknowledged that there's far more out there then even he knows about.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks for the link to the Sullivan article: I found it very moving but I tend to agree with you on rules. Won't debate!

james higham said...

TD, interesting that the issue jsut won't go away. The ahrder the humanistic atheists decry, the more the issue gets discussed. Personally, I'm with you in that there are better things to discuss than the bleedin' obvious.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I'm impressed by your understanding of Catholic doctrine on justificatio through works.
The relevant biblical texts on this are the Epistles of James and Jude- which is why Luther wanted to expell them to the Apocrypha. Maccabees 1&2 were expelled because they support the idea of Purgatory.
Fortunately, my bible is the full vulgate text.

The Tin Drummer said...

Thanks, CBI, although I'm not sure why Maccabees should be excluded because of PragueTory....the doctrine is the one which particularly ensures that one feels guilty most of the time.

WL - debate on this topic, like on abortion, goes nowhere, and becomes increasingly shrill. When you have good people like Matt and Alex over at High Places it's easier but I've been down that particular road so many times I know it off by heart but don't like it very much.

James - that is an odd consequence; I think it's the reason that the debate seems to be getting shriller.

Matt - The Satan Pit was a funny old episode. I believe, following a debate on Outpost Gallifrey, that they only decided at the last minute what should be in the pit. I need to rack my brains for other religion in Who -Kinda, I suppose, but the Doctor sees the Kinda's beliefs as more of an innate understanding of reality than of belief.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Purgatory is incomptatible with the doctine of predetermination and Justification by Faith alone, whereby people are either damned or saved, which is why Protestants don't like it.
Up to them, I know I ain't going straight to Heaven.
But hell don't sound to much fun.Purgatory is in fact the only logical doctine you can formulate if you think about. When we are told 'Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord', it implies that the lord will punish all transgressions, therefore it is not for you to seek vengeance. But the new testament tells us that a genuinely penitent sinner will be saved.
If the repentant transgressor is saved from Hell, but is still to have the vengeance of the Lord visited in him for his transgressions, there is only one logical conclusion.
I await the wrath of an army of angry Calvinists...

The Tin Drummer said...

Well I don't know how many Calvinist readers I have, to be honest. I always think back to Dante's reaction on getting up to Purgatory - however much suffering is there, the souls are going to heaven, and that much is certain. Purgatory makes more sense to me than just heaven and hell, neither of which I'm entirely sure I deserve, yet.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Purgatorio is is probably the most theological of the three volumes. I always feel a faint pang of sadness when Virgil has to leave him at the Earthly paradise to return to Limbo. But there is a definite sense throughout of 'the punishment fitting the crime', as in Inferno, but with a different focus. In Purgatorio, we feel that there is the paying off of a debt. there is someting refreshing about when Statius joins them because his time is done (Which reminds me, I still haven't read the Thebaid, six years after buying it). In Inferno the Punishments are a badge of shame to be carried throughout eternity.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a lot of dubious projection. "We should not let ourselves fall mindless to any feet" Mary is not mentioned as falling or as being mindless.

"We are the spirit's greatest thoughts" How do you know that?

"or the universe's own attempt to look into itself" How do you know the universe is sentient?

You appear to oppose Mary's behaviour against both the idea of a student at a masterclass and the idea of Jesus being both created and creator.