Ipsane Res Loquitur?

My atheist buddy Peter (who long-time readers might remember as Theomorph) has provided a lot of food for thought recently. I’d like to know what my theist readers think of his ruminations.

Atheism & Charity

From Sam Harris‘ new book, Letter to a Christian Nation, page 46:

“Countries with high levels of atheism are also the most charitable both in terms of the percentage of their wealth they devote to social welfare programs and the percentage they give in aid to the developing world…”

…Why is the United States alone among the developed Western nations both in its religion and its violent crime rates? Why do the so-called ‘red states,’ where Christianity is more popular, have higher violent crime rates? Why are the percentages of atheists in prison so low? Just something to think about.

Classed with Fables

Thomas Jefferson once wrote,

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

What if it were today?

I’m reminded of something C.S. Lewis wrote.

“If I met the idea of sacrifice in a Pagan story I didn’t mind it at all: again if I met the idea of a god sacrificing himself to himself I liked it very much and was mysteriously moved by it. Again, that the idea of the dying and reviving god similarly moved me provided I met it anywhere except in the Gospels. The reason was that in the Pagan stories I was prepared to feel the myth as profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp even though I could not say in cold prose what it meant. Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened. One must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s myth where the others are men’s myths; i.e. the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of the poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’ namely, the actual incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.” – C.S.Lewis letter to Arthur Greeves, October 18, 1931

Perhaps it’s not directly relevant, but it came to mind and I wanted to share it anyhow.

Catholic Sexism

The discussion in the comments after a previous entry leads [me to] pose this question to Funky Dung (or anyone else who has an answer):

How can you justify completely excluding from the priesthood a class of persons for which there is no other reasonable, objective definition outside of biological sex, but claim that such exclusion is not sexist?

Be obscurely theological if you need to be, as I am confident in my ability to sort out the subtleties as they are presented to me.

Until now, the only argument (presented in the comments at the link above) has been that there is some ontological difference between men and women that makes the former eligible for the priesthood and excludes the latter. Is it mere coincidence that this alleged “ontological” difference is one hundred percent coextensive with the biological sex difference? If you plan to suggest as much, be forewarned that you will have a serious credibility problem to overcome.


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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

54 thoughts on “Ipsane Res Loquitur?

  1. BV

    “Until now, the only argument (presented in the comments at the link above) has been that there is some ontological difference between men and women that makes the former eligible for the priesthood and excludes the latter.”

    This statement seems illogical to me: as if ontology weren’t sufficient reason. Ontology, by definition, deals with “what is”–the “truth of being”. And if “what is” isn’t sufficient reason, I’m not sure what else to say.

    The flaw I see with some of the arguments in the comment thread is that they confuse biology for reality. Biology is not reality. This is not to say that biology is not real, but rather that it does not pronounce the whole of reality. Consequently, you cannot argue that one’s chromosomes or particular bodily features are what define them as male or female (else you’re left with the confusing mess so well described).

    I hope there’s no disagreement that men and women are different, and that maleness and femaleness are different. As Stuff said, the fact that He created them ‘male and female’ suggests that they aren’t the same (otherwise there wouldn’t be a distinction). We see echoes of this in the natural world, though they do not give us the answer, but merely help us to recognize the question.

    In understanding the difference between maleness and femaleness, I think meditating on our Lord and Lady can be a guide for us. This conversation has already started to tend in that direction. We can truly say that Jesus is male, and Mary is female. I might even go so far as to say that Jesus is what it means to be male, and Mary is what it means to be female.

    The Church recognizes that all are called to share in some way the priest, prophet, and king role of Christ. She also recognizes that in God’s design, the ministerial priesthood is connected to maleness, in imitation of her High Priest. It is not the Church which institutes this practice, but God, as can be seen in the person of Christ, in the Apostles he chose, in the revelation he has given the Church, and through the Spirit which has guided the Church.

    As Stuff has mentioned, this in no way degrades the role of women. It is wrong to argue that differences imply inequality. The Church is a family, and we necessarily each have different roles to live out to get this ark to heaven.

  2. Mary

    The reason females are excluded from preisthood is that Jesus Christ, the founder of our religion, was a male.

    There is also reson for him to be a male. A major point of our faith, if not the major point, is that God sacrificed his only son to save us. In the time period where Jesus lived it was much worse to lose a son than to lose a daughter. That is becuase a son could help you when you were older, and would carry on your family name. A daughter, however, would only be married off to someone else. When a son died, it was a extremly sad event. If he was an only son, it was worse. That is sexist, but that is how it was back then.

    Not to mention, if you asked, you would find that most women don’t mind not being able to be ordained. I certainly don’t, if I want to devote my life to God I can become a nun. That is what they are there for. The few women that are upset mostly just want to become a preist becuase they think it will bring them power. This is wrong, becoming a preist is a life-changing, humbling expeirience. I do think that before you try to change the roles of women in the Church, you should ask them if they WANT change.

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