Confounding all distinctions

This is one of my favourite passages from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and it comes back to my mind a lot in these days:

On doctrinal points the Catholic faith places all human capacities upon the same level; it subjects the wise and ignorant, the man of genius and the vulgar crowd, to the details of the same creed; it imposes the same observances upon the rich and the needy, it inflicts the same austerities upon the strong and the weak; it listens to no compromise with mortal man, but, reducing all the human race to the same standard, it confounds all the distinctions of society at the foot of the same altar, even as they are confounded in the sight of God. If Catholicism predisposes the faithful to obedience, it certainly does not prepare them for inequality; but the contrary may be said of Protestantism, which generally tends to make men independent more than to render them equal. Catholicism is like an absolute monarchy; if the sovereign be removed, all the other classes of society are more equal than in republics.

I was so pleased to see that Peter Kwasniewski quoted it in his beautiful piece, “How the Traditional Liturgy Contributes to Racial and Ethnic Integration.”

There is much more to say on this, but it’s late and I wanted to post something quick, so enjoy Tocqueville and Peter’s piece.

Pathos and Sympathy

The other evening I attended a talk on Abraham Joshua Heschel. The speaker touched on his book The Prophets, which prompted me to reflect on this particular excerpt: 

The nature of man’s response to the divine corresponds to the content of his apprehension of the divine. When the divine is sensed as mysterious perfection, the response is one of fear and trembling; when sensed as absolute will, the response is one of unconditional obedience; when sensed as pathos, the response is one of sympathy.

Continue reading “Pathos and Sympathy”

Existential Alphabet

Wrote this several years ago and was reminded of it today: 

Existential Alphabet

A is for Angst, that Dizzying Freedom
B is for Being, its Possibility and its Tedium
C is for the Character of Conscience as Call
D is for Dasein, almost Any Existence at All
E is for Existential, it’s What We Are 
And E is also for Experience –in the World, not as Brains Stuck in Jars 
F is for Flungness and Throwness, experienced by the Knower
And G is for God who just might be the Thrower 
H is for the Actual Historicity of Truth 
And I is for the Immanentizing Ideologies of Untruth
J is for Judgments, we make these by Thinking 
K is for Kenosis, when our own Will starts Shrinking
L is for Logos, we’re talking the Divine Ground 
And M is for Mystery, since it’s not just Lying Around
N is for Nihilism and No Objective Morality 
O is for Ontology and Openness to Reality 
P is for Problematizing, my least favourite Verb 
And Q is for Questioning, which is much less Absurd 
R is for Relationship to the Other Man
And R is also for Recognition that should be Reciprocal, if it can
S is for the Separateness in the Human Condition of Plurality
And T is for Transcendence Beyond Worldly Temporality 
U is for Utopia and All such Prideful Conceits 
V is for this Will replacing Vision Not even being Discreet
W is for World, with a Structure quite Complex 
X is for Xenophon, ’cause his Name starts with ‘X’
Y is for ‘Youth’ and ‘Old Age’, Historical Metaphors that have Misled
And Z is for Zoomorphism, ’cause that starts with ‘Zed’
Now I think I know my existential alphabet… Next time will this be a waste of time, in retrospect? 

Book: Letters to a Young Muslim

Today I finished reading Omar Saif Ghobash’s book Letters to a Young Muslim. Ghobash is the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to France and former U.A.E. Ambassador to Russia (2008-2017). Through this book of letters addressed to his sons, Ghobash explores his family history, upbringing, and experiences that have led him to “see the world through the prism of responsibility.” Ghobash was born in 1971, the year the UAE was founded. His father had become minister of state for foreign affairs for the country in 1974 and was killed in a terrorist attack three years after that. Ghobash’s mother is Russian and descended from Orthodox clergymen. Growing up, Gobash spoke Russian at home, English in school, and eventually learned Arabic and French, too. In light of all of this, he offers some unique perspective. Below is an excerpt I found particularly interesting: Continue reading “Book: Letters to a Young Muslim”

Culture and the Sacred

This evening, I’ve been reading some sections from Cardinal Sarah’s latest book The Day is Now Far Spent in which he addresses many contemporary issues.

In a chapter on “Europe’s Crisis”, Cardinal Sarah discusses how a multicultural society can only flourish if there actually is a culture. And, as Josef Pieper explains so well in Leisure the Basis of Culture, culture is always connected to worship, to the sacred. If nothing is sacred within a society, then Cardinal Sarah says, “Relativism feeds on the negation of values in order to establish its deleterious influence” and this negation of values always poses threats to human life. Continue reading “Culture and the Sacred”

Three Summer Opportunities

These are three phenomenal summer opportunities for which the deadlines to apply/register are quickly approaching.

I cannot emphasize how much Acton University and the Hildebrand Seminars, in particular, have been transformative to my personal development and have fundamentally given direction to my life, education, and work. I have also met some of my best and most enduring friends at these conferences and seminars. Getting involved with Acton and Hildebrand opens entire worlds. The cost is modest and the value is high. If you’d like any more information on any of these, please feel free to reach out to me. Continue reading “Three Summer Opportunities”