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”

Heschel on the epidemic of injustice

“Rabbi Heschel is one of the persons who is relevant at all times, always standing with prophetic insights.” – Martin Luther King Jr. 

I’ve just read this 1963 address that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel gave at a conference in Chicago at which Martin Luther King Jr. also spoke. Here are several of the most striking quotations from it that I’m now contemplating:

1. “Racism is satanism, unmitigated evil. Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how universal an evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking. Perhaps this Conference should have been called ‘Religion or Race.’ You cannot worship God and at the same time look at man as if he were a horse.”

2. “What is an idol? Any god who is mine but not yours, any god concerned with me but not with you, is an idol.”

3. “In several ways man is set apart from all beings created in six days. The Bible does not say, God created the plant or the animal; it says, God created different kinds of plants, different kinds of animals (Genesis 1: 11 12, 21-25). In striking contrast, it does not say, God created different kinds of man, men of different colors and races; it proclaims, God created one single man. From one single man all men are descended. To think of man in terms of white, black, or yellow is more than an error. It is an eye disease, a cancer of the soul.”

4. “Who shall prevent the epidemic of injustice that no court of justice is capable of stopping?”

5. “Indeed, the major activity of the prophets was interference, remonstrating about wrongs inflicted on other people, meddling in affairs which were seemingly neither their concern nor their responsibility. A prudent man is he who minds his own business, staying away from questions which do not involve his own interests, particularly when not authorized to step in -and prophets were given no mandate by the widows and orphans to plead their cause. The prophet is a person who is not tolerant of wrongs done to others, who resents other people’s injuries. He even calls upon others to be the champions of the poor. It is to every member of the community, not alone to the judges, that Isaiah directs his plea:
Seek justice, relieve the oppressed,
Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Isaiah 1:17″

6. “The prophet is a person who suffers the harms done to others. Wherever a crime is committed, it is as if the prophet were the victim and the prey. The prophet’s angry words cry. The wrath of God is a lamentation. All prophecy is one great exclamation: God is not indifferent to evil! He is always concerned, He is personally affected by what man does to man. He is a God of pathos.”

7. “Humanity can thrive only when challenged, when called upon to answer new demands, to reach out for new heights. Imagine how smug, complacent, vapid, and foolish we would be, if we had to subsist on prosperity alone. It is for us to understand that religion is not sentimentality, that God is not a patron. Religion is a demand, God is a challenge, speaking to us in the language of human situations. His voice is in the dimension of history.”

Not all are mourning

The picture above is from a wedding I attended in Israel. I’m thinking about this experience in particular because today I had a Zoom reunion with the participants with whom I travelled on that trip. This Philos Project trip was specifically devoted to exploring and encountering Christian minorities (plural) within Israel. I gained a much more nuanced understanding of the various situations facing Filipino migrant workers, Muslim converts to Christianity, Aramean citizens of Israel, West Bank Palestinian Christians, Gazan Christians as well as clergy from around the world studying and serving in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Continue reading “Not all are mourning”

The Cooper Incident

Christian Cooper’s video he posted on Monday has been viewed 4.5 million times on his Facebook page along and probably millions and millions more times across other social media platforms.

The New York Times headline about this story is “White Woman Is Fired After Calling Police on Black Man in Central Park.”

Two different Robert Georges have offered this commentary on the incident between Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper.

Robert A. George, writing for the New York Post in an article titled, “Cooped up: A shameful Central Park encounter demands all New Yorkers be better people,” says:

In the latest episode of the everyday-fresh-hell that is New York City under quarantine, one white female, Amy Cooper, was caught on video calling the cops on one black male, Christian Cooper. Sorry, folks, I’d encourage everyone to push back on the reflexive instinct to make this into a story about racism as it’s more a modern parable of bad behavior between two individuals.

Robert P. George has written on his own Facebook page:

The “Karen” concept seems to be but another flagrant example of Woke hypocrisy. It combines (and, with impressive efficiency, I suppose, does it in a single word!) racism, sexism, and ageism. A “Karen” is, I’m told, “white.” Her race, for some reason, matters and matters so centrally that someone can’t be a “Karen” unless she’s of that particular “race.” In addition, a “Karen” must be a female. Her sex centrally matters too. (Or should we say her … what’s that word they like so much and often insist on? … oh yes, her “gender.”) When we ridicule her we’re to note that she’s a white *female*. And, finally, she’s a white female *d’un certain âge*. She’s a woman who has reached the age in which, in our culture women, are regarded as declining in sex appeal, attractiveness, and (therefore) value. So we’re supposed to take note of that “decline” in holding her up to scorn.

But isn’t racism supposed to be bad? Sexism too, right? And ageism, surely.

Stereotyping! Stigmatizing people for their “statuses,” and “identities”! Those things are supposed to be bad too, right?

Or are they only bad when they are indulged in by the “wrong” people, or the “wrong sort” of people, or people with the “wrong” views and values? Are racism, sexism, and ageism fine and dandy when indulged in by Wokesters in furtherance of the Woke agenda?

There is a lot of stereotyping, ideologizing, attempted political point-scoring, and head-shaking amid this. I think there’s a lot to unpack in this incident and that a reflective small group discussion, perhaps in a classroom, would be much more conducive to analyzing it that the impulsive tweets of the past week. There is so much to grapple with about empathy, civility, dignity, respect, but I have deliberately excluded a photo of those involved here because ultimately, such viral stories seem only worth sharing to the extent that we work to find the way in which they personally confront, concern, and challenge us.

Moralizing sadists

“Moralizing sadism” is borrowed from Foucault. I have found it invariably to be true that, when reading the moralizing sermons of politicians, their intentions are sadistic; they know perfectly well that the recipients of their exhortations are not going to be improved (who is?), and at best the intended audience will be ashamed or at least saddened and hurt by hearing a sermon that points out their failures to measure up. Hence the sermonizer’s sadism.” – Barry Cooper

In the image above, a bouncer outside of a newly reopened sporting goods retailer near my home has just shouted at this father, saying:

“Sir, step back. I’m going to need you to read all of the signs. They’re there for a reason, you know.”

“I know the drill; we were here just yesterday.”

“Never mind. I need you to walk back so I can see you read the signs.” Continue reading “Moralizing sadists”