I Am a Certain Thomas

I think this is a faith-building story, and one that reminds me that God goes where there is a heart ready for him, and not where people think they have made themselves worthy of him through religious observance.

Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog

Holy-Spirit-Clip-Art-17

My life has been blessed with the certainty of God’s existence. My brother was born multiply disabled with Rubella syndrome, (a warning to those who do not believe in immunizations.) He was almost deaf, blind, severely developmentally disabled and had a cleft palate, along with several other physical anomalies. My mom spent the first few months of his life sobbing on her bed. It was a confusing time for me as a child…my mom was not available to me, this new creature in my house mewed like a kitten for hours on end, and my dad did everything he could to not be home. Then, one sunny, warm day, my mom sat in the sun parlor on a rocking chair, rocking Curtis as he cried his kitten cry. Then a miracle happened…she was visited by the Holy Spirit. He/she came right on in, with a brightness that far surpassed the…

View original post 554 more words

65 thoughts on “I Am a Certain Thomas

  1. Poignant story. But, for me, having some sort of absolute certainty about God’s existence (or any theological or religious doctrine for that matter) seems less like a Godsend and more like an affliction. I prefer the doubt of the old theologians–it’s intellectually honest and spiritually stimulating. Just my two cents though.

    Like

    • Well… I don’t think that what the lady is talking about is a theological (as in, doctrinal) certainty. It’s just… meeting someone. An everyday occurrence.

      Which old theologians do you like?

      Like

      • I could see that but…God is a concept, an idea within the much larger, more complex phenomenon of religion. I just think it is dangerous, intellectually and socially, to talk in certainties about God or any theological concept for that matter.

        The typicals: Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Macrion, Origen, Augustine, Boethius, and so forth. I like to throw the non-Christian Plotinus into these lists as well because of his influence.

        Like

        • Yes, not all theologians are Christians.

          But, are you really saying that you believe God’s actual existence to be confined to human minds? Or just that whatever God really is, we can never know and therefore we should never pretend to certainty?

          Like

          • Really? 😉 I just assumed you were referring to Christian theologians because I, more or less, was, even though I wasn’t explicit in that regard.

            No, not really. We just don’t have access, at least directly, to the thing-in-itself. That’s just a phenomenological characteristic of talk about God. We have access to sensory experience, some general principles, Scripture, and the things that can be deduced or inferred from these things. But no God-himself.

            I am saying that we cannot have that kind of metaphysical certainty about anything except a few mathematical and logical truths.

            Like

            • I doubt we have access, even indirectly, to ANYTHING-in-itself. That doesn’t stop us from feeling a normal level of certainty that things exist, because the nature of our interaction with things and people, and the consistency we notice, allows us to conclude that we are not mentally projecting everything. So, it seems to me that you are setting the bar of certainty abnormally high for certainty about God’s mere existence.

              To turn the whole question around: If we assume for argument’s sake that God is personal, real, and our Creator, would it not be strange if he were incapable of making his love known to us in a direct personal way – that is, of interacting with human beings in such a way that they know they have been interacted with by God?

              Since the possibility is logically permissible, it’s very strange that you should want to stop people from talking about it if they feel they have actually had such an experience. For all you know, they did.

              I think you must be aware, at some level, of the weakness of your argument, because you appeal to social danger in belief of, not the truth or lack thereof, for the existence of God. It reminds me of those movies or sci-fi stories, in which some elite governing class has outlawed emotion or some alien force is seeking to destroy free will, in the general human population. Certain evils are removed, but eventually someone asks the question, “Is what we have lost (i.e. our humanity) worth the removal of these evils?”

              I think that is a very good point. Everything I see suggests to me that belief in God is the essence of our humanity. Emotion and freewill gain meaning only when connected to confidence in the goodness and love of one’s Creator (because only then can we see ourselves as good and loveable.) So, is losing one’s humanity worth the removal of religious temptations?

              This is not a facile question for me. I am very aware of religious temptations, both historically and in the general population now, and in my own soul. Nevertheless.

              Like

    • I say that, because in one of her earlier posts she explains that she didn’t grow up religious – her parents had no specific religious beliefs.

      Like

      • Okay 🙂 But surely she doesn’t “know” God exists, at least not in the way she “knows” she has hands or her father was born before her.

        Like

          • What empirical evidence does she have? I would say we have pretty good empirical evidence that she has hands. The second one is an analytically true statement. I don’t know of any empirical evidence for God’s existence.

            Like

            • Well, no, of course you don’t know of any empirical evidence, or else you wouldn’t be talking this way. That doesn’t mean SHE doesn’t have any empirical evidence. (Or that I don’t.) Empirical evidence is not evenly distributed through time and among observers. Nor does it require the same unassailable, absolute certainty as mathematical proof. Everything that happens is evidence of something.

              As for analytical statements, I think you mean that by definition her father wouldn’t be her father unless he were older than her. Thus the statement “this woman’s father is older than she is,” is a tautological statement.

              If you are going to make this paralell to any statement regarding God, it would not be “God exists,” but rather, would have to be the statement, “The Creator is prior to the creature.” This is also tautological, obvious, analytical, whatever.

              And it is enough to infer the existence of a Creator. Regard: the only way this statement would not be true is if no creatures existed. If no creatures existed, then everything that DOES exist would be self-existent. Since we know, empirically, that such is not the case, we know that everything around us is created and thus have enough to infer the existence of a creator. It’s not that hard; 99% of people through history have thought this fact to be obvious. So today’s spate of atheists is similar to today’s spate of homosexuals or other abnormally-minded people – the obvious result of the degeneration of humanity.

              Like

            • I was right there with you, A. R., until the last sentence. “Spate of homosexuals” troubles me with its connotation. How about “intolerant gay-rights activists”?

              Like

            • Albit, I am not identifying evil people or people to blame or people who deserve punishment. I am identifying people with abnormal mental development. Both atheism and homosexuality are examples of this. The fact that their numbers have risen so quickly and so much in revent decades is, to me, evidence that we, the human race, have compromised the very essence of our humanity by abandoning belief in God’s goodness.

              So I stand by my statement. The unfortunate person whose experienced sexuality is at war with his physical sex is in a similar condition to the unfortunate person who is not certain he is a creature, or who knows himself to be a derived being but is not certain that whatever he is derived from has personhood or goodness.

              Like

            • pancakesandwildhoney,

              Within the Orthodox tradition the certainty that God exists as a person and can be known that way is quite explicit. Such knowledge is not the knowledge of the essence of God (forever and completely unknowable) but inter-relational. It is the foundation of our sacramental life in the Church (Liturgically and inter-personally). God can be known in this way because He become man and dwelt among us and because “He is everywhere present and fills all things….”

              Thus we pray to a God we know and who knows us. It is intimate and deeply personal. Our theology is designed to tell us (in part) what to avoid as we approach God–what/who is not God.

              I would not be a Christian today, let alone an Orthodox Christian, if I had not had an encounter with Him who saves. Most of my fellow parishioners are the same way. Such an encounter need not be (and rarely is) the type that St. Paul had, but it is nonetheless real and deeply known and often comes out of doubt, but an open doubt.

              A catalog of such encounters is found in the lives of the saints. I particularly enjoy the modern saints and am reading the life of one such currently: St. Luke, the surgeon who reposed in 1960. St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, reposed 1966; St. Raphael of Brooklyn, reposed 1915; St. Silouan, the Athonite, reposed 1938, as well as many 20th century Greek elders such as Paisios, Sophrony, Porphyrios, whose writings and lives are well known and documented. The list is extensive. Here is one such relatively brief account from a little further back: http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/wonderful.aspx Or here that is quite contemporary: http://silouanthompson.net/2009/12/with-my-own-eyes/

              Of course, knowing that God exists does not convey instant holiness for the demons know He exists as well. It is what one does with that knowledge in the way one loves others, repents and allows the Holy Spirit to conform one’s life to God’s love. It is for that reason that the most frequent prayer in the Orthodox Church is “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.”

              Yes, pancakesandwildhoney, their is a God whose life and love both creates and sustains ours and from whom all goodness flows with a sweetness that exceeds even wild honey and who desires above all that we know Him.

              Like

  2. AR, I heartily recommend a book by a Christian man who has struggled with homosexual temptation all of his life: Washed and Waiting, by Wesley Hill. While some of his approaches and conclusions are problematic, his description of the struggle is quite honest and revealing. He admits that he is ‘abnormally minded’ even ‘abnormally hearted’ if you will and that such abnormality is not God’s will for any. He can only cling to the hope of the restoration of fullness for which he waits in faith.

    A beautiful, honest and thought provoking book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael, I have taken care to inform myself about the plight of such people, even if I haven’t read that particular book.

      No homosexually-inclined person needs to appease me by confessing to any abnormality of heart. For all I know, any given person who is so afflicted may have a far better heart than I have. The abnormality for those who feel that they have always been this way and can’t help it, is located specifically in sexual development, which is something that people have little to no control over. I think it is wrong to make or allow such people to feel that something is essentially wrong with them. To stand by the Christian conviction that orgasmic activity between two people of the same sex is unnatural, does not require us to see the person as “abnormally-hearted.”

      If you simply mean that such a person is a sinner, I agree that he is a sinner like any of us. Unfortunately, the homosexual as such is probably the victim of general societal evil, so in a sense he becomes a sort of living sign of the unnatural departure from God, our soul’s true lover, our true East, that pervades the body human more and more.

      That is why I do not agree when people say that homosexuality is an orientation. The nature of orientation is that there can only be one – just as there is only one Orient, or East. Homosexuality as experienced by many people today is a DISorientation. In the past, it may have more often been a simple choice on the part of a person to engage in orgasmic activity with the nearest warm willing body (with men being willing more often than women) or (as in ancient Greece, Japan, victorian-era Germany, etc.) an addiction based on the idolization of the male form as engaged in by men who were severely chauvanistic.

      However, even today people do it for many reasons. Some of them are despicable.

      Like

      • AR, I agree, it is just than Mr. Hill’s book is totally at odds with the rest of the homosexual propaganda. He sees himself as ‘out of phase’ somehow. He described himself pretty much the way I did.

        I spent a lot of time in my younger years in semi-professional theater and dance. I met quite a number of homosexuals (male and female). Even at the time, the thing that impressed me most (in my pre-Christian days) was the depth of pain and loneliness that radiated from them in waves. Only Christ can heal such separation.

        There are some homosexual men in my parish. Since they receive communion on regular basis, I have to assume that they are celibate. There is less of the sense of separation with them than in the people I knew in my youth.

        Of course, God’s call is the same to each of us: Chastity and celibacy before marriage; faithfulness and chastity after marriage.

        Like

        • Out of phase – as in, developmental phase? That’s a very interesting idea to me. I think the despair and frustration of many sexually abnormal people could be eased if they could gain the humility and good fortune to see themselves as simply undeveloped, rather than insisting on their experience of sexuality as indicating something absolute about themselves. At the same time, I have as much reason as anyone to know that poor development produces results that feel as unalterable as nature itself, perhaps because the mechanisms of devlopment are, themselves, nature.

          I totally believe what you are saying about homosexuals and pain. I have seen that as well.

          The idea that, by virtue of belonging to the Orthodox Church, I might be in communion with actively homosexual people is deeply distressing to me, but I suppose in reality I am already in communion with lots of adulterers, incestuous people, and prostitute-users as well. I wish that I could be certain that eucharistic discipline is actually practiced in this Church. Sexual sins, because they involve physical communion, are problematic in a eucharistic setting, in additional and different ways than other sins.

          Like

          • I should add, as I always try to do in these discussions, that I disagree with the assumption one sees everywhere, that every homosexual experience is the same. (None are addictions, or all are addictions; none are unalterable, or all are… etc.) It seems clear to me that there are many reasons for, many ways of, going off that particular rail. It just seems like the developmental one is really widespread in our society right now. The reason I think so is precisely because it’s so common to hear, “I can’t help how I feel,” and also because you do see a lot of stories of people who, as far as one can tell, just grow out of it.

            Like

          • Eucharistic discipline is up to each bishop. It will never and should never be uniform except for recognized heretics and schismatics. I trust my bishop to do what is right and loving for each person. I have been the recipient of his loving discipline so I know that it is not always as it seems from the outside and cannot always be the same for each person in what appears to be similar situations.

            Part of communion is bearing one another’s burdens, a big part. We help each other bear our cross as Jesus’ was helped and He helps each one of us. In the Liturgy we pray, Lord have mercy on US, yet we pray the Creed and the Communion prayer as “I”.

            I know I am a deeply sinful man. I ask God to forgive and I try not to spread my sin around too much. As a result, it is easier for me to forgive others and to admit when I am wrong and ask for forgiveness for the hurts I cause. Still, I often prefer the sin to virtue because of my twisted development. I am amazed that I am allowed to receive the Body and Blood but am always deeply grateful that I am.

            We are all in different states of dysfunctional development. We are, after all, the maimed, the halt and the lame since the “good ones” refused to attend the banquet.

            One of the fascinating parts of Mr. Hill’s book is that as he is addressing homosexuality, he addresses the nature of sin in general (I am not sure he knows this however): the loneliness that it creates as it separates us from each other and from God; how it leads us despise ourselves rather than the sin; and how much we need each other to allow the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ to work in us. The difficulty, particularly in our culture to see intimacy as anything other than sexual.

            The only homosexuals who bother me in the Church are those who are unrepentant. I’ve never met any like that and I doubt that they would long stay in my parish if they refused to repent and wanted to publicize their refusal to repent. I cannot speak for any where else.

            Like

            • I don’t argue with anything you’ve said here – it’s insightful, encouraging, and clarifying. There was that guy on Fr. Stephen’s blog a while back who was saying that lots of openly gay people, including couples, commune at Orthodox Churches in California. That’s where my sense of disappointment comes from. To corroborate that, I read recently that the bishops did a survey which indicates that the majority of Orthodox faithful in America approve of “gay marriage” so-called.

              Anyway, I agree emphatically about not minding repentant homosexuals. However, my concern about sexual sins and communion is not about the developmental idea. It has to do with what we discussed in the other post – St. Paul’s admonition that if you join yourself to a harlot and then to Christ, you’re defiling Christ’s members. So, sexual sins may be equivalant to other sins as sins, but as obstacles to communion they are particularly concerning. If we allow unrepentant, unconfessed habitual transgressors of sexual purity to commune with us, we are defiling ourselves – we are partaking in that unholy sexual communion, because we are making ourselves one body with that transgressor, through the Eucharist! It’s a dreadful abuse of the holy mysteries.

              I would venture to say that a Church allowing into communion practicing gays or others who join themselves to someone other than an ecclesiastically lawful spouse (aside from the repentant who have stopped transgresing) is a worse sin than the one originally committed by the transgressor.

              Like

            • AR, I think you are correct in what you say about the nature of sexual sins but who gets communed is not up to you or me. The bishops who allow such things will have a heavy burden on them.

              Change of subject: I like good poetry but I don’t seem to have the ability to read very much of it at a time. Perhaps it is like exercise — one has to work at it consistently while increasing one’s endurance? Any tips.

              I love Shakespeare’s plays but not his Sonnets and dramatic poetry in general if that gives you a clue where I’m at. The Psalms are incredible.

              Like

            • I suppose that’s how it is, then. In the scriptures we seem to see that the whole local Church is responsible (I’m thinking of the scandal in 1 Corinthians) but perhaps things have changed since then. I’m not the clearest on ecclesiology.

              More on poetry in a bit.

              Like

            • We are responsible –all of us but not equally. We can only be responsible for what is at hand. You can bet I would question my priest and my bishop if I thought something was out of line. I have done so but I learned along time ago to question with faith.

              It works.

              The local church is local.

              Like

            • Poetry: like chocolate, a little goes a long way. It’s meant to be read aloud and savored. People talk about how poetry is dying, but we moderns don’t treat it with respect. Poets churn out poetry, but no one reads it with proper elocution, to a musical accompaniment, at an hours-long banquet. (Like the ancient Greeks.)

              So, instead of reading every day, find something that fills you with enthusiasm, read aloud till you are full, (perhaps while listening to music) and then stop till you are hungry again. Good poetry does require effort, it’s true, but I don’t think it should be forced. If you follow your enthusiasm, or your delight rather, I think you will cultivate good poetic taste. Poetry nowadays is very abstract and tends to lack context, to lack music, to lack respect for beauty. So, you have to dig a bit.

              When I read poetry, I tend to look for the little lyrical gems. Perhaps I’ll do a little series of just posting my favorites, and music that goes well with it, and pointing out their virtues briefly. I could call it “Poetry Friday” or something equally unimaginative. Gosh, I’m sleepy.

              Thanks for the conversation, all.

              Like

            • Although. Michael, I have to say that if you are capable of enjoying Shakespeare’s drama and the Psalms, as poetry, then you really are not doing badly! Some people, like my husband, are incapable of enjoying anything other than the very best. And hardly anyone really enjoys all sub-genres. So, you may be fine. 🙂 I’ll still post some of my favorite little lyrical poems. That’s my favorite sub-genre.

              Like

            • I acted in a few Shakespeare plays seen performances of more– the words and the rythmn are almost intoxicating.

              I irritate people when I start reciting my favorite portions. For some reason I delight in the exchange between Ophelia and Hamlet:

              How does my Lord Hamlet?

              Well, well, well.

              In context it is a dramatic turning point and somehow the exchange contains a powerful fore-shadowing of the deep sadness and grief that is to come.

              Portia’s speech in The Merchant of Venice is without parallel in the English language.

              ” The quality of mercy is not strained…..”

              Christ is Risen!

              Like

            • Well, yes, Shakespeare’s poetry rolls over everything in its path (I almost said “like a tsunami,” but that would be trying too hard to talk like a poet). What I’d rather say about the everyday here-and-now world of poetry, the non-shakespearean world, Michael, and you A,. R., too, of course, although you probably have heard, or even said yourself, before, something like this: what I want to say about reading poetry is, imagine a voice deep inside, not your voice but one that might sound like yours if you were praying, or crying, or proclaiming to a silent stunned audience of one (you). Or might sound like a kind of prophet. Or even a priest.

              That’s the voice that speaks poetry. That’s the voice you have to hear when you read poems–and not just Shakespeare’s, but almost anyone’s who knows that praying or crying or proclaiming are perhaps the most human things we do, and who respects the reader, trusting that these special words, precise images, musical lines will be received patiently, in inner silence, and most of all with an appropriate (i. e., secular, but not only that) reverence.

              I am guessing that, with your interest in theatre, this is not new to you–so just consider it a reminder. We all need them, me especially. The real trick is to find poems to read.
              ,
              Here’s one to start with (if I may, A. R. – and if I may not, just omit this comment and I’ll try again when not influenced by the late night hour and its freedoms)

              It’s in a recent book called BEWILDERMENT by David Ferry. I recommend the whole book. It will last.

              POEM

              The mind’s whispering to itself is its necessity
              To be itself and not to be any other,
              If only for the moment as it passes.
              It eats what it needs from the world around itself.
              Slowly it makes its way floating through temperatures,
              Degrees and other degrees of light and dark.
              It moves through all things by virtue of its own
              Characteristics. Mainly it is silent.
              But when it utters a sound it is a sound
              That others find hard to interpret, and that’s known,
              It supposes, only to another creature
              It dreams of, so similar to itself as not
              To have an entirely separate identity.
              Somewhere there may be such a creature.
              Emerson said: “They may be real; perhaps they are.”
              Yet it also thinks it’s the only one, and is lonely.
              It can be silent and unknown except
              To itself or not even known to itself for long
              Periods of time in sleepless reverie.
              It is never asleep during the long nights of sleep.

              Like

            • Albit, David Ferry’s poem you’ve posted here reads really well.

              Yes… without imagination – the ability to hear and see in one’s mind, the responsiveness to the suggestions and connections of the poem – you aren’t really getting the poem, just the verbal skeleton!

              “Praying, crying or proclaiming are perhaps the most human things we do…”

              At least, among the most human things we do. I agree. I would add singing. I think poetry has to be half-sung but it should be written almost musically, too.

              My husband always says that writing is a spiritual activity and I think that fits with a lot of what you’ve said here.

              I guess I would add that a profound respect for the physical is necessary. The less we abstract a poem – the more we keep it close to our body through speaking, through emotions, through gestures – the more we respect its true nature, I think.

              Like

            • I haven’t read all of Shakespeare’s plays yet… actually only a few… but Merchant of Venice I’ve read several times. It has several passages that are really wondrous. The exchange between Jessica and Lorenzo, “On such a night as this…” is practically one of the cornerstones of my literary imagination, not to mention my romantic imagination! I practically lived on it for a while in my mid-teens, LOL.

              As for Hamlet – you’re right, that’s a terribly human, terribly accurate portrayal. So dramatic, so breif. And she, so timidly enquiring after his wellbeing, so modestly veiling her own desire, and he, not returning the greeting with anything but distracted conventionalities. Why should he say it three times if it’s true, one feels!

              I’ve just puchased C. S. Lewis’ collected poems for my Kindle so we’ll see if there’s anything great in there.

              Like

            • I said “not minding repentant homosexuals,” but my actual feelings are more like “welcome them eagerly.”

              Like

      • I understand better now the title of your blog, A. R. – Your directness is engaging, along with your honesty about convictions. You challenge me to think clearly. I appreciate that. I disagree with the position you have expressed about homosexual inclinations (which I prefer to “orientation,”), and I think your concern about a recent increase in the number of persons who experience these is unfounded – 1 to 2% is not a spate – still your point about what is natural holds up for me. And yes,”orgasmic” homosexuals are sinners, but so are celebrate ones. (Have you read this: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/orthodox-celibate-gay-and-thats-ok/ ) – like the rest of us.

        Like

        • Well, that’s a nice way to put it. Thanks. 🙂

          Which position did you disagree with exactly? Of course it’s fine for us to have differing viewpoints on this question – neither one of us is the Church entire. What we must do, both of us, though, is to take into account the Church’s traditional convictions on this matter. They are pretty stable through history! However, I think there is room to understand their relation to our present difficulties creatively – we are not preaching the gosepl in ancient Rome, after all!

          I really don’t trust the numbers that are usually said to represent the recent increase in homosexuality. Mainly because the numbers from whenever they first started counting are usually projected back into history by those who assume that the overall number would have to be stable – in other words, by those who already assume that what we are experiencing is normal. Circular reasoning, you know?

          My point in using the word “orgasmic” is that I refuse to call what goes on between two men “sex.” Sex is an activity that is, by definition, sexual! And sexual activity is, by definition, activity that expresses human sexuality. And human sexuality is, by definition, the division of the human species into two complementary sexes. (Not all species have the same sexual division, as I’m sure you know!) So, hijacking the orgasmic response for something that is clearly not sexual is not “sex.” It’s just orgasmic activity.

          So, I was not using the term to distinguish active from celibate.

          I agree, everyone is a sinner just like everyone else, and we are all responsible for a lot of shared evil that goes around. But not every sin is the result of mind-blindness and I think that mind-blindness in the sexual arean and in the theological arena are related. Still, you don’t have to agree. I could be wrong.

          I did read the article you linked to. Of course the testimony of someone who has personal experience is relevant. However, it is possible for someone like that to assume or misunderstand something. I was pretty much fine with everything I read there (other than the massage suggestion – what?) He does suggest that gay celibate Orthodox-Jewish men develop deep non-physical relationships with other men. What do you think about that?

          According to the development-phase theory that Michael and I are discussing, this might be helpful, but I would suggest that it might be most helpful to seek such a relationship with a relative, especially an older relative who is happily married. This would remove the sexual temptation while addressing the develpmental need to connect deeply and ultimately identify with one’s same-sex parent (which is how normal sexual development, in my understanding, allows a person to see the opposite sex as “other.)

          Like

          • “What we must do, both of us, though, is to take into account the Church’s traditional convictions on this matter. They are pretty stable through history! However, I think there is room to understand their relation to our present difficulties creatively”

            This almost exactly how I would put it. I am aware of a rather limited ability to explain my intuitions and understandings; emotions and personal experiences usually make their presence known, and I am conditioned (or maybe “prefer” is more accurate) to see the world, even to know it, that way rather than through analysis – which may be why I can write poems easier than essays, and letters or short blog comments more eagerly than thorough explanations .

            On the other hand I have great respect for history and for writings (which for me include rituals, beliefs, values) that have stood the test of time. I love the idea of the Orthodox church for that reason. Well, I treasure it; I am learning to reserve “love” for spiritual/religious uses. So even though my best friend is gay (such a cliche, but true), I have not accepted the contemporary interpretations of gayness. But that is also why I responded so immediately and enthusiastically to ” there is room to understand. . . creatively.” Now I know that we don’t disagree all that much.

            The only thing that still puzzles me is why you focus on genital expressions of intimacy as the essence of homosexuality (and this is what gayness is about, I have come to believe – intimacy, not ecstatic self satisfaction). I think I know why the Church does, and it is not for Theological reasons only. As far as I can tell, masturbation, sodomy, and any other variation on the natural sex act are all empty of meaning other than as desperate searching for gratification–which doesn’t make them immortal except on so far as they enhance selfishness or abuse others.

            Of course this could lead to a much longer discussion, and I don’t mean to invite you into that, mostly because I fear that I won’t be able to hold up my end of the argument–so I should leave it alone. But I do value your ideas (and, if I might add an encouragement for more, your poetry).

            Like

            • To make it less fearful, we’ll just exchange views, rather than advance arguments, OK? You can quit any time, if you like.

              I do understand the highly intuitive approach you describe. Most of my friends are of a similar type to you. I seem to get along really well with INFJ and INFP types. I think that intuition and feeling are valid ways of reasoning. I don’t believe in the primacy of logic! Reasonability is a much more complex affair, IMO.

              To respond to your comments; it seems clear to me that all homosexuality is not “gayness.” That is a purely contemporary phenomenon. The only thing that ties together all the different kinds of homosexuality over the millenia is the act itself. Also, I think it’s important that we condemn the act, and not the person, and therefore we focus on the act that defines the transgression, rather than making the person’s “way of being” a transgression, which really would be cruel.

              If it’s true that contemporary gayness, however, is usually about intimacy then I would guess that the real, secret culprit here is the whole modern attitude to intimacy. Generally speaking, people seem to feel that all intimacy has to be expressed sexually, except within the immediate family. Even within the family, some people do not allow for any non-sexual intimacy. It’s almost a lost art. So perhaps many “gay” peeople are those who, develpmentally, have a missing intimacy or abnormal relationship with the same-sex parent, and in that craving for intimacy, it just goes right to sex, or rather, to orgasmic activity.

              I will try to post more poetry when I can. I have horrible writer’s block right now. Everything comes out all,

              Devlitry and devotion
              Gallantry and commotion
              beeswax and becoming
              forestry and foaming

              (In case you are wondering, no, it does not mean a thing!)

              Like

            • I linked to this article once on another post, but you might want to skim it. Here a man describes how he became gay because that’s what you do if you want to get a job at the BBC. So, I am sure some people are seeking intimacy or whatever, but on the other hand, we shouldn’t be so naive as to buy all the propoganda. (I think gay people themselves often buy propoganda about themselves.) Recruitment happens; there is such a thing as the “gay mafia.”

              Here’s the article. It also describes one of those “growing-up” moments I referred to.

              http://www.peter-ould.net/2010/01/18/the-day-i-decided-to-stop-being-gay/

              Like

            • This is a wonderful piece! I am so happy to have had the chance to read it. Thank you! Our exchanges are becoming more & more. . .. No, I should say, your blog entries are. . . enriching. I almost feel like revelations might be happening. Really.

              This person’s account of his development turns my own “orientation” towards homosexuality (as an empathetic observer) upside down. I would share this with my best friend if I thought it would add more intimacy to our relationship but I fear that he would miss the point. Anyway he’s beyond conversion and I am not interested in anything other than love, the truest kind, God-encompassed.

              Like

            • Good for you, Albit. May God bless your compassion and true friendship; may He bless your friend. My concern is primarily with what we do and believe in the Church – toward those outside we can only offer the gospel and Christ’s love.

              I also appreciate our exchanges. You have suggested things to me and challenged me as well.

              Like

  3. It is interesting to note that St. Thomas, once he had his doubts answered became a courageous evangelist who traveled further than any other Apostle and into a far different culture–India. The Church he established is still there and alive. The Portuguese explorers where quite shocked when they found Christians in the land.

    Like

  4. Analytic statements are statements that are true by definition. That is, if know the meaning of the words, then I know that it is true. Such as “All bachelors are unmarried” and so forth.

    No, of course, it isn’t the same as mathematical certainty, that’s kind of my point. If the argument wants to establish an empirical conclusion, then it must use inductive reasoning, which means that it is not certain, because it is not completely deductive at every step.

    Well, while we are talking about it, I don’t think there is any deductive argument for God’s existence either. As for empirical evidence, I wouldn’t mind seeing it. That’s the funny thing about empirical evidence, everybody should have access to it. Otherwise, we are not talking about evidence verifiable by observation or sense experience. We would be talking about revelation or some other such thing.

    Wow, I am not an atheist or gay, a quick perusal of my blog would convince you of that fact, but that was one of the ruder things I have heard on the blogosphere. However, you will find that your premises do not entail your conclusion. For starters, (1) you are begging the question. Another reason is that (2) if no creatures existed, then no creatures exist. So…yeah. Maybe you meant to say that if God exists, then creatures must exist. That’s affirming the consequent, however. (3) Self-existence is a metaphysical attribute of God. I can’t see that it makes any sense bringing it into play here. That said, I don’t know why contingency (I assume this is what you were getting at) requires dependence on other things. I see nothing inherently or logically wrong with saying “The universe has always existed and will always exist” being contingent, for example, because our universe could logically have not existed but a different universe existed instead. Finally, (4) it falls prey to the fallacy of composition just because every being is dependent, it does not follow that there must be one self-existent independent being.

    Like

    • The title of my blog should have tipped you off, P. I love whatever is good and substantive; I am tender with whoever is vulnerable. But I do not suffer fools gladly.

      What you have offered here is an apologetic for ignorance, which is absurd and has nothing to do with the faith of Christ. Get off my blog – I will not have it subverted to a platform for those trying to corrupt the simple goodness of the faithful. Nor will I allow in any measure any egalitarian non-judgment between your truncated religion and the faith of this woman who is living a life of self-sacrifice because of her confidence in the goodness of God. The arguments of your sophisticated doubt are drowned out by the howling of your orphan spirit – I can hear it from here.

      Like

      • I wasn’t chastising the poor woman. She finds comfort in her faith and who am I to condemn her for that. In fact, from what little I know about her she seems to be very brave. But to talk of being certain about God’s existence is to push the conversation into epistemic waters. However much you don’t like that.

        Other than that, what do you know about me? You don’t know anything about me other than a few comments on your blog. How dare you set yourself up as some paragon of virtue while attacking my character, a person of which you know next to nothing. Of course, when the conversation degenerates into ad homs I know it is time to take my leave.

        Like

          • I apologize if I upset you. Honestly, I did not comment in order to start a fight and I was not trying to belittle the faith of that woman or of her mother. If it seemed that that was what I was trying to do, know that that was not my intention. I can assure you. I was genuinely attempting to engage in dialectic. Nothing else.

            Once again, mea culpa.

            Like

            • The genuineness of your attempt to engage in dialectic does not interest me. I do not have a zero-tolerance for people who try to start fights and I have traded arguments on this blog with many people who utterly despise faith. I am no so easily offended as you seem to think.

              I thank you for your attempt to make peace. Without rancor, I still ask that you not comment here anymore.

              Like

            • If that’s what you want, I’ll comply. One question though: why, if I have not offended you in any sense, are you asking me to leave for good? It’s your blog of course, but I can’t see that I have violated any rules of this blog or of civil discourse more generally. And, if I have, I apologized for it. Last comment. I’ll read your reply, but will not comment further.

              Like

            • Well, P, if you had offended me personally I fervently hope that I would have had the grace to overlook it.

              You’ve identified yourself as a theist – but most people who believe in Christ God don’t have the philosophical chops to qualify as theists. They are simply Christians. Such Christians naturally expect that Christian philosophers have a more intellectual than, but essentially identical faith to, theirs. Many of them experience deep certainty about God, completely bypassing the sophisticated, intellectual and philosophical considerations that lead you to conclude that what they have is impossible. Some others of them, younger, or more troubled, have some confidence in God, but have not achieved certainty yet. They are vulnerable. They are children in the faith, or impaired.

              Remember what I said about my attitude to the vulnerable?

              When I read your arguments, their rational incoherence is apparent to me. However, if I am unable to make that incoherence apparent to my readers (whether through exhaustion, or because you won’t recognize reason, or because some things literally make too little sense to argue with) then I become responsible for the apparent success of your arguments. So a vulnerable Christian who comes across my blog could read the comments and get the impression that really intellecutal, really smart people believe that it’s impossible and even contemptible to think that one could have full faith – the kind with certainty. They might even think that it’s been somehow proved, in a way they can’t understand, that God doesn’t exist in any way that actually involves God really existing.

              I hope you understand this point: How could a non-philosopher distinguish between the statement that it’s impossible to know that God exists and the statement that he might not exist? For that matter, if you don’t believe the second, why would you state the first? Don’t answer that, I’m not interested. It’s the possibility that matters.

              Because this blog is under my sole authority, I’m responsible if that confusion happens.

              So, to sum up, I refuse to allow my blog to become a platform for your sophisticated expressions of religious doubt. I won’t cooperate as you spread the corruption that afflicts you – your despair, your compromise with the presuppositions propogated by the enemies of our souls, and your rejection of the element of certainty that is a normal component of mature faith.

              That’s why I’ve asked you not to comment here anymore. Thanks for your cooperation, and best wishes in your life journey.

              Like

            • A clarification: I have traded arguments with many atheists on my blog, and tolerated unbelievers who have contempt for faith. It is your unfaith, your projection of doubt disguised as genuine and original Christian belief, that I cannot give a platform to here.

              Like

  5. Okay, I don’t think we can have that sort of absolute certainty about anything except some analytically true things, and Quine would say not even there. I accept a certain amount of practical certainty about everyday beliefs. For instance, while I cannot know with absolutely certainty, that the sun will rise tomorrow or that a meteorite will not strike my apartment complex tomorrow, I can be, more or less, certain, almost certain, that the sun will rise tomorrow and that a meteorite will not strike my apartment complex tomorrow for good inductive reasons based on past experiences and vast amounts of evidence.

    The problem is that the confidence in God’s existence cannot be as high as the confidence that I have hands or that “All bachelors are unmarried” or that the sun will rise or that a meteorite will not strike my apartment and so on. To prove this point, try to convince yourself that you don’t have hands. Now try to convince yourself that God doesn’t exist. Which one could you not do, at least not in any serious way?

    There are some good inductive arguments for God’s existence, of course, but the conclusions of those arguments are not as nearly certain as other inductive conclusions. So, really all we are entitled to say is that God probably exists, that is, if you find the arguments compelling, as I do.

    The rest of your comment is about intuition, which is great, but has very little to do with empirical evidence or logic.

    Like

  6. Michael, I don’t discount what you said, but it has very little to do with empirical evidence or logic.

    Like

    • Like most empiricists, you discount as evidence anything you don’t believe (ironic no?). Empiricism is a nihilist’s excuse to be selfish, cold and unfaithful.

      Logic is based on non-empirical assumptions.

      If your assumption is God is a figment, then your logic will reflect that and you will fail to see what is right before your face. And you lie, you discount everything I say.

      God Bless you and may He open your heart to see.

      Like

  7. AR and Albit, best poetry class I’ve ever had. Most are so ‘technical’ like an autopsy. The reading out loud is critical. Speaking Shakespeare or the Greek plays is the only way to begin to get them. For me, as a bass, it literally vibrates throughout my entire body.

    Ever listen to the recording of Paul Robeson’s Othello?

    Like

Chime In!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s