Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why is the Dog Happier???

St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that good signifies “perfect being” and evil signifies “the privation of perfect being”1, so when a thing lacks a perfection it ought to have, we perceive the deficiency as an evil. When something is just how it ought to be we call this “good”.

The dog is happy living in the present moment, just being with “the pack”, even if the pack consists of only the dog and his master. This is “perfection” for the mind of a dog. The human is besieged with worldly thoughts; he is not content just being in the present moment. Being a child of God made in the image and likeness of God does not satisfy, even if this “Good News” is made clear to him as a Christian. The intellect dimmed by original and personal sin is obsessed with earthly thoughts and is easily distracted from the source of true happiness. This is an evil or a “privation of perfection” for the human mind.

We could speak of our lives in terms of two aspects, secular and spiritual. Our secular side refers to all the practical and worldly things we deal with and learn about to help us function in our communities, homes, and jobs. We need to pay attention to secular things. The spiritual side is about the Good, the Beautiful and the True and the meaning behind it all. If we get these last things right, the rest of life falls into place. Our spiritual life needs to be foremost in our mind.

Where do your idle thoughts go? What would happen if you put God at the absolute center of your thoughts? What we think ultimately translates to what we do. Since the intellect informs the will, we would end up doing the will of God. We would experience peace, become centered and "detached". Our spinning mind would no longer control us; no longer exhaust us.

In the end only one thing is necessary. It is the “one thing” spoken of at the house of Mary & Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha might think that she or Mary could love God above all other things and at the same time be constantly preoccupied with worldly things, but Jesus made it clear that she could not do both perfectly; imperfectly she could, but not perfectly.

It is the nature of the secular life to begin and end in our lifetime. Not so, however, of the spiritual life; it begins in this life, but lasts without end. The best is truly yet to come. As the Lord said to Martha, it is the part that shall never be taken away; because that perfect moment of being which can begin for us here will last without end in heaven.

“God wants us to live in the moment because we can only sanctify the present moment. We can’t change the past or control the future. The chance to do good or bad resides in the right here, right now.”2

  1. St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas’s Shorter Summa (Manchester: Sophia Institute Press, 2002), p. 125.
  2. Karee Santos and Manuel Santos, The Four Keys To Everlasting Love (Ave Maria Press, 2016), e-book, p. 15.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Data Died on Election Night

No, not this Data…

I’m talking about polling data.

The previous post on this blog predicted that Trump would lose at about the same margin as Mitt Romney did in 2012, even though the candidates and the race itself were very different. No matter what electoral map you looked at in recent weeks, it was not reasonable to think that a blue state would magically turn red or a red state would magically turn blue. Even if Trump picked up one or two blue leaning states, he still would have needed all or most of the toss up states, which may have been about ten states depending on when you looked and with what map. If a toss-up is truly a toss-up, then it’s like flipping a coin. Flip a coin 10 times in a row and see if you get something like 8-10 heads. It’s possible, but actually try it and see if it happens. I’ll bet good money that it won’t.

If the polling data is wrong, then a prediction that flows from said data must obey the universal law of “garbage in, garbage out”. There was obviously a large group of people more interested in just voting for Trump than being polled about it. I suspect a lot of pollsters will be eating crow in the days to come with plenty of beaks and feathers to spare.

But can Trump make America great again? Depends on how we define greatness and what we are comparing it to. Maybe the economy will get better and the border will be less porous and maybe other nations and peoples around the world will “fear” us more, but is this true greatness?

Doing God’s will on Earth is what the Kingdom of God on Earth is all about and thus what greatness is all about. So what are the ways in which we do not do the will of God on Earth? Most dissent from Catholic teaching involves something to do with human sexuality and I’m afraid many of our newly elected or re-elected leaders care little about such things or all the data that surrounds them. Maybe these issues are seen as nothing to do with politics, but deep down they must know that politics and life are joined at the hip.

Abortion, homosexuality, contraception, fornication, marriage, divorce and remarriage all have an aspect of sexuality to them. Consequently, many, if not most, of the ills in our society can be traced back to these points of sexual confusion or dissension. What is the data surrounding all the unwanted pregnancies and the resulting increase in poverty and single parent homes? How about the number of unborn children being killed and that will be killed in the future? Think of the impact from broken homes due to divorce? Ignorance and dissent about the true purpose of sex also brings us pornography, sexual addictions, molestation, sexually-transmitted diseases and marriage confusion. The amount of emotional pain due to fornication is probably not considered by most as something that will impact the rest of the culture in any significant way, but think of the huge number of people bonding and breaking up with different sexual partners over and over again and how this impacts their character? How then, does their character impact everyone else around them?
The only way to make America great again, or great at all, is to actualize the prayer we say at every Mass. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So as the dust settles on this particular election cycle, let’s continue to pray for that.