Conclusion on My Posts Responding to Macklemore’s Same Love II: A Necessary Scolding for Catholics for Equality

I am assuming that a lot of people found my argument against the WBC to be, at the very least, adequate. I have sent them a copy of the post and the link if they wish to make a response, but I highly doubt that they will take that into consideration. I find it funny, in addition, that they have a list of times when “God” and “hate” are mentioned in the Bible and the only mention of that in the New Testament is in Romans 9, where St. Paul is quoting from the Old Testament (so, no original mention of “hate” in connection to God in the New Testament) and the point he is making is about the Patriarchs of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and how Jacob was chosen even though Esau was the oldest brother. Now, if you keep reading Romans 9, the very next thing St. Paul talks about is about how God would be completely justified in unleashing His wrath on humans (because, remember, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God), but He does not, in fact, do that, rather showing His great mercy. In that context, the whole thing WBC is going for is rather awkward at best and, at worst, highly dishonest.

However, this post is not about the WBC (one can only beat a dead horse so much and the WBC’s Theology and Philosophy are as dead as the dry bones in Ezekiel before God brings them back to life). This is about the shadowy “other side” that nearly no one is talking about. Of course, we must incite this group to consider what exactly “love” means, because to love someone is to hate what is the contrary to them and the opposite of being (which comes from God) is non-being (which is the absence of God). This is, of course, nothing more than a restatement of St. Augustine’s point that you should love the sinner but hate the sin. It’s not that this is St. Augustine’s personal preference, or that it is just a “choice” to behave in this manner, or that this is a propensity reserved only for relationships between Catholics. That axiom is the only way to love someone in the way God loves them (agape). It is not an option; it is, unequivocally, a requirement.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. In any good philosophical enquiry, we should first define our terms, so, without further ado:

1) To be a Christian means, for the purposes of this post to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the World, that He truly died on the cross for our salvation and that He rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures. In addition, it means that the Bible and only the Bible is the infallible and authoritative Scripture.

2) To be part of one of the Tradition-based (Apostolic) Churches means that you believe that the interpretation of the Bible is not up to the individual, but is interpreted by the living Tradition of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit. If you are part of this group, it is most likely that your local bishop can trace, through the chain of ordination, his succession back to the Fathers who approved the Cannon of the New Testament. Though no one Father is infallible, to be part of this group means that you believe that the interpretative Tradition of the Church, as a whole, guided by the Holy Spirit, infallibly explains the Bible (thereby receiving its infallibility from the Bible and not as a competitor to it) and that the decisions of the assembly of the whole Church (also guided by the Holy Spirit) are infallible.

3) To be a Roman Catholic means that you believe (we’ll leave off the other doctrines that don’t pertain to the subject) in the infallibility of the Pope whenever he speaks ex Cathedra or invokes Apostolic authority in addition to the infallibility of the living Tradition (the Pope, in this version, is what gives the Councils, etc. their infallible status). To be a Roman Catholic is to truly believe all the dogmas that have been declared infallible by the Magisterium.

In addition, we must consider what exactly is sinful pertaining to this case.

1) To experience same-sex attraction (most commonly termed “to be gay”) is not sinful, since, according to Aquinas (et al. as well as common sense) feelings, being by definition irrational, do not constitute sin.

2) To, however, make the conscious choice to positively respond to those feelings; to choose to have sex with someone of the same sex is sinful. Of course, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so this sin, too, is forgivable, as long as a person as the good-will to follow the teaching of God and accept the challenge to rise above their sexual attraction.

3) To be “gay” shall be referred to here (and only for the purposes of this post), as fully accepting one’s same sex attraction and believing that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to positively respond to it habitually. In other words, people who are gay are 1) experiencing same-sex attraction and 2) habitually responding to it. This is also sinful.

Lastly, let us consider the position of the Catholics for Equality. Rather than give you my analysis, I’d rather just show you what they stand for through their own material:

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 12.17.31 AMWe can see, from this document that, Catholics for Equality clearly stands in support of the same-sex marriage laws in the US. This, of course, is rather worrying if you are going to argue that you are a Catholic.

But let’s stop for a moment. Some of you, who perhaps see where the argument is going, may, at this point, say something like this:

“Modern Platonist, you old devil. What is it that you actually want? On the one hand you try to lull us with what seemed to be a very liberal doctrine, on the other you seek to institute laws affecting Christians and non-Christians alike which fit your ideology, but not necessarily that of all. What next? ‘Non-Catholics need not apply’?”

Of course, that is not what I am arguing for. As far as I am concerned, I do not see the issue of same-sex marriage as an issue on which my stance is defined by my Christian faith. Nonetheless, I would plead with anyone who on any issue stands with the Church solely through religious reasoning to not try to affect the legal structure of this or any other country, whether it be concerning same-sex marriage, or concerning abortion, or anything else. That means, if you cannot make a secular non revelation-based argument, don’t ask for any law to be changed, on any subject whatsoever. Do not campaign, do not set up rallies and so on. However, be that as it may, being a Christian requires you to believe that same-sex marriage is sinful, as is abortion, as is divorce (unless there is infidelity), etc. This means that you believe that those actions are sinful regardless of who commits them. Something that many Catholics need to understand is that non-Catholics are not, somehow, excluded from sin. When a non-Catholic proceeds to answer their same-sex attractions, they sin as much as a Catholic would. Abortion for a non-Catholic is just as sinful as for a Catholic and so on and so forth. If you are unclear about this, don’t take my non-Catholic word for it, look to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the statements of various Popes, the Tradition of the Church, etc (until recently, I’d say ask your diocesan priest, but I have refrained from saying that).

That said, the question before us is whether it is correct for any Catholic (and by extension any Christian) to say that they support people who experience same-sex attraction to be married under secular law. My analysis finds that it is wrong for Catholics specifically and Christians in general to support same-sex (secular) marriage for two reasons: 1) because (though I said before that Christians should never try to affect secular laws unless the have secular reasons for them) Christians should always believe and uphold the teaching of the Church (or at least the Bible) and 2) because Christians are commanded to love their neighbor.

First, Christians cannot argue for a position contrary to the teaching of the Lord. It is one thing to try and affect law and policy because of your religious beliefs, but it’s another thing to be asked what your stance on an issue is and to assert a view contrary to doctrine. If you are asked to vote, being a Christian, you must vote in accordance to doctrine, not because doctrine can overrule your reasoning, but because being a Christian means precisely that you believe in what Jesus Christ taught. In this case, you are not asserting your Christian views upon others, but having been asked for your own view, you being a Christian, you should show what you truly believe, which is the teaching of Christ. If you do not agree with the teachings of the Magisterium (and more than one Pope and more than one Magisterium has taught about this issue) then cease from calling yourself a Roman Catholic. If you do not agree with the living Tradition of the Church, then stop associating yourself with the tradition-based Churches. If you disagree with what the Bible teaches (and the New Testament is very clear on this matter), then be honest and stop calling yourself a Christian.

Second, and entirely more importantly, Christians have the duty to love their neighbor.  I just cannot emphasize enough how important this is within the Christian understanding. As St. John reminds us, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8) It is important to understand that the word used in the Greek, Agape, entails that you love everyone, because the love of God is not a limited love, but a love which encompasses everyone and everything (refer to Matthew 5 if you think this is something that I made up). If, someone, then, does not love all around him (this to be distinct from some abstract love of “humanity”), then they do not know God. However, I think that Catholics for Equality (et al) would argue that they do, in fact, love their brothers and sisters affected by same-sex attraction and it is I (and others like me) who look down upon them, because we don’t want them to be happy.

The truth is just the opposite. St. Irinaeus tells us that the glory of God is a life fully lived. However, we should ask ourselves what that means. What does “a life fully lived” actually mean? It, again, has to do with what sin means. A life fully lived is a life without sin, because to sin is to separate yourself from God, which means you are separating yourself from Life. The Greek word which means sin, hamartia, literally means missing the mark. Of course, if you know that Christ is considered the Perfect Man under Christianity, then it should not be obvious to understand how a fully lived life precisely does not include sin. Sin, then, is not just an offense to God, it is an impediment to ourselves. Sin invites bondage. It is precisely out of the slavery of sin that Christ uses His own precious Blood to rescue us. To call someone out of sin, then, is not to hurt them in any way, but to save them. Those who have argued against same-sex marriage love our brothers and sisters affected by same-sex attraction truly, because we, rather than choosing to instantly please them, hope that they will see the light.

Let’s consider this scenario. You are a doctor and you have a child. Your child is addicted to prescription medication, specifically medication for which you are authorized to fill prescriptions. It is not your job to go and actively pursue to end all abuse of prescription drugs unless you have a particular reason for it (i.e. that’s your job and you have the expertise in the matter), but if your child is asking you to fill out for them a prescription for these drugs and you love your child, it follows that you will not fill out that prescription. Quite the contrary, if you did not love your child, you would most likely give them the prescription, because it would look to them as if you loved them (and they’d probably be much more thankful to you for it), whereas by not giving them what they want, though you know that they might hate you for it, it is more important for you to ensure the well-being of your child (with the hope that, at some point, they will understand your motivation for denying them what they want and understand that you love them).

The issue with same-sex marriage is the same. We Christians, being certain in the truth that Christ preaches, knowing the reality of the Last Judgment and believing that we should pursue for ourselves and help others to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, which is to say to pursue perfection, should, when it is our time to speak, always argue against (in this specific case) same-sex marriage, knowing that homosexual relations are sinful. By doing this, though our brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction may see us as their enemies, as hateful, we do all we can to help out in their salvation. Surely, if we persist in our prayers for these our brothers, then hopefully some of them will see that what looked liked opposition and oppression was really love, but tough love.

Of course, perhaps they will never change their minds, however, if we state our views respectfully and nicely and showing that we are, before everything else, whether they are ready to accept the teaching of the Church or not, always ready to be a shoulder for them to cry on. We must be a friend and a sibling for them and they will hopefully not see us as hypocrites or as their enemies, but rather see us as people who, despite having very different opinions, are people with whom they can coexist not just peacefully, but lovingly. Remember that Christ did not stay with the priests and the Pharisees, but made it a point to engage the most ignored members of society. He showed them love and mercy and was always willing to address their questions and concerns. Christ did not use any fancy arguments to change Zacchaeus’ mind by fancy argument, but by coming at his house for dinner. If only we followed Christ’s example.

However, “Let him without sin cast the first stone” is not completely unless you add the infinitely less popular “Go your way and from now on do not sin again.” Let us not confuse preaching the Gospel with our whole selves as opposed to simply our mouths with enjoying ourselves. Christ, for all his love and mercy, got a crucifixion as his reward. In fact, not just most of his followers, but eleven of the twelve Apostles He chose left Him. One among them betrayed Him, another one denied Him. The other nine forgot all He said and went back home as He was being tortured. The one who remained, St. John, did so because, being the youngest of the Apostles, he probably did not understand how close he came to his own execution. Picking up your cross and following Christ is not a move that will gain you popularity. Most likely, it will gain you opposition, ridicule and hatred, but Christ already warned us of this. He said, “if they have hated Me, they will hate you; if they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you.” If any Christian is not prepared to endure ridicule and opposition and much worse for his faith, then let him repent, because whoever is ashamed of Christ, Christ will be ashamed of in the Judgment.

Conclusion on My Posts Responding to Macklemore’s Same Love I: Differences with WBC

For quite some time now, since I wrote my two (people often forget the second) posts on Macklemore’s “Same Love” and the underlying issue of same-sex marriage both as a Christian and as a Platonist, the first post has been one of my more popular ones. However, I think, from the broader trends of our society (I was once told by a friend of mine that anyone who had an argument against same-sex marriage was hateful; she changed that position afterward) and out of the rather long comment that I answered in the first post, the author of which called my arguments “hateful” I need to explain a few things further. Of course, arguments, if they are valid, cannot be hateful. In fact, even if they are invalid, it does not follow that necessarily the person putting forth the arguments was doing so out of a desire to hurt the interlocutors and, as so, cannot be deemed hateful without additional information.

I think, however, that a very big part of why it is that most people today think that all who oppose same-sex marriage do so out of hatred for gay people is the Westboro Baptist Church and other similar pseudo-Churches. In this post, I will seek to conclusively disprove, based on the Bible alone (so as to satisfy their Protestant leanings) their position on issues such as salvation, whether God hates the US, etc., do not correspond with Scripture. Because I have heard that in some of their videos they complain about erroneous translations of the Bible, I will not use any translation, but will cite the original Greek (except I will give the quotations in English, because I am bamboozled by the Greek numbering system and suspect that the WBC may be just as lost as me in trying to decipher it).

1) Whether God wants all people to be saved.

This is an easy argument to make. I will give out the argument in syllogism  form and provide a short explanation afterward.

P1: God is perfect. (Basic premise of Christian theism)

P2: God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

1 Timothy 2:4–ος παντας ανθρωπους θελει σωθηναι και εις επιγνωσιν αληθειας ελθειν; “… who wants all humans to be saved and to come into the knowledge of the truth.”

P3: The believer must be perfect as God is perfect(Matt. 5:48)/The believer can truthfuly quote Galatians 2:20 about himself/herself.

Matthew 5:48–εσεσθε ουν υμεις τελειοι ωσπερ ο πατηρ υμων ο εν τοις ουρανοις τελειος εστιν; “Be ye perfect as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect.” (note the difference between the usage of τελειος as opposed to ἄριστος)

Galatians 2:20–ζω δε ουκετι εγω ζη δε εν εμοι χριστος; “I, then, do not live at all, but Christ lives in me.” This is to say that the will of the believer and the will of Christ have no distinction. (which is to say the the believer is τελειος–finished, complete, perfect)

—————————–

C: Therefore, the believer must want that all humans be saved.

This does not mean that God will save all humans (presumably some against their desire) or that it is the job of people to save all humans, but that the believer, like God, should will that all men be saved. That is to say, the believer must do everything they can in order to make it as easy as possible for the people around them to be saved. We see this logic in Acts, in the Council of Jerusalem, where St. James says that the Gentiles need not adhere to Jewish dietary laws et al (except for some things, such as eating meat sacrificed to the idols) so that they may not make is unnecessarily hard for the people of God to be saved. As to how the WBC fails this standard will be discussed after all the points are made.

2) Whether it is necessary that the believer should love his neighbor (i.e. whoever he is engaging in any way).

Luke 10:27,  cf. Matthew 22:37-39– … αγαπησεις τον πλησιον σου ως σεαυτον; “love your neighbor (the person close to you) as your own self.” The parable that ensues explains this axiom. However, if some people claim to be confused about what this means, let us look at another point in which Christ explains whom to love.

Matthew 5: 43-47

ηκουσατε οτι ερρεθη αγαπησεις τον πλησιον σου και μισησεις τον εχθρον σου

 εγω δε λεγω υμιν αγαπατε τους εχθρους υμων ευλογειτε τους καταρωμενους υμας καλως ποιειτε τους μισουντας υμας και προσευχεσθε υπερ των επηρεαζοντων υμας και διωκοντων υμας

οπως γενησθε υιοι του πατρος υμων του εν ουρανοις οτι τον ηλιον αυτου ανατελλει επι πονηρους και αγαθους και βρεχει επι δικαιους και αδικους

εαν γαρ αγαπησητε τους αγαπωντας υμας τινα μισθον εχετε ουχι και οι τελωναι το αυτο ποιουσιν

και εαν ασπασησθε τους αδελφους υμων μονον τι περισσον ποιειτε ουχι και οι τελωναι ουτως ποιουσιν.

“You have heard that it has been said, ‘love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you: love your enemies, speak well of those who curse you, do good to your enemies, and pray for those who threaten and persecute you (this is a longer version, the standard version is: αγαπατε τους εχθρους υμων και προσευχεσθε υπερ των διωκοντων υμας; “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”), so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven who makes His sun rise upon the base and upon the good and [causes it to] rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous. For, if you love those who love you, you do not have any reward[.] Even the tax-collectors do this. Also, if you welcome your brothers only you do nothing that is remarkable[.] Even the tax-collectors do this to them [i.e. their brothers].”

In this passage, therefore, Christ clearly erases the “and hate your enemy,” part and instructs His believers that they should always love whomever they interact with (i.e. the person close to them), regardless of whether they are good or bad, righteous or unrighteous, just as God, it seems, treats the good and the base, the righteous and the unrighteous the same. Christ clearly states that if they love only the people who love them and behave in a welcoming way only to those whom they perceive as their brothers, they do no more than the tax-collectors and should, therefore, not expect any reward for it.

As if this point needed any more fleshing out, I will also add another verse.

1 John 4:8–ο μη αγαπων ουκ εγνω τον θεον οτι ο θεος αγαπη εστιν; “The one who has not loved (from the word agape) does not know God, because God is love (agape).”

This, taken in connection with the other two passages above connotes that unless a believer love all people (i.e. everyone with whom he/she has ever come to contact with), they do not know God. Please consider the fact that one can only love by God’s love, agape, if one loves all people, as instructed in Matthew 5, in a perfect manner. To subtract anyone from this kind of love would be to depart from the manner which God loves and, therefore, to not love according to agape.

3) Whether God is merciful toward His creation.

I feel sad that I should bring this into contention. The evidence that Christ came to this world so that the sins of all those who believe in Him are forgiven (as long as they are repentant of said sins) should itself seal the deal (because Christ did not need to come to our world to die, except that, because He loves all humans and desires that all humans should be saved, He gave His life so that we may have new life, or as  St. Athanasios said, God became man so that man may share into the Divine Life). However, some people miss this point, so let us try to show, by means of events in the Bible, that this principle is true.

(I will paraphrase here because this story is quite long) When Jonah came to Nineveh to deliver to them the message that, if they did not change their ways, God would destroy them, they did not repent. Jonah, therefore, left the city and sat on a hill to witness the city’s destruction. As he was sitting on the hill, God made a tree grow, so as to provide Jonah with shade (and, allegedly, welcomed-for back support). However, God did not destroy the city, so Jonah became angry onto death, because God did not destroy the “keep his word.” God, then, caused the tree that was providing Jonah with shade to wither. Seeing this, Jonah was angry onto death with God, because He destroyed the tree that was providing him with shade. God, then, pointed out to Jonah that that tree, which God had made appear in one single night and with which Jonah had been  for one single day, was dear to the prophet, even though he had not created it, nor labored in order to shape it. Nonetheless, he expected God to destroy the city, each of whose people God had created and labored in shaping.

Of course, Jonah forgot here that God was merciful with him when he disobeyed God and that He did not kill him for disobedience when he was thrown into the sea, but saved him.

God, is, therefore, merciful to his people, because they are His creatures, the works of His hands. Also, we ourselves must not forget that we have been forgiven of our sins, so we should never be hypocritical about demanding God to punish other sinners even though He has shown mercy and forgiven us (regardless of the fact that most of us go on to sin again).

The combination of these three points clearly shows that the WBC falls short of the standard of Christianity.

1-2) The Christian must want all humans to be saved and act out according to that act of the will (that is, by definition, what an act of the will is). In other words, the Christian must make it as easy as possible for other people to be saved, not put stumbling blocks in front of them. It is quite clear that, through their pickets, the WBC does nothing more than polarize people and make it harder for those who struggle with same-sex attraction to listen to the Christians who want to show them the truth of Christ and, at any rate, be a shoulder for them to cry on when they are in need. Of course, some may say that I, in my posts where I argue against same-sex marriage, am doing the same as these people, but I would call, in my defense, the fact that I am offering arguments, not publicly blaspheming God (which is what saying “God hates f*gs” is, because hatred is the correct response to sin, not people). I for one, believe that gay people are not defined by their sexual preference and, though I hope that they will come to the truth and choose to be brave and resist their attraction (which does not mean that they need to marry someone of the opposite sex or behave as if they are not attracted to the same sex. They simply need to not give into the temptation to have sex with someone of their same gender), but whether they ever reach that point or not, I am perfectly willing to love them and be a shoulder for them to cry on whenever they need it, though I disagree with a part of their decisions. I do this not because I am a particularly good person, but because it is my duty to do it. I have no say-so in the matter. Christ said, “if you love me, obey my commandments” and He was very clear that the Christian should love his neighbor always, be he a Samaritan or a gay person.

3) God is ever-merciful. God does not hate people or countries. As the Psalmist says, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities…” Though in the Old Testament, in preparing the people of God for the coming of the Messiah, God is often seen ordering violence and death both from the Israelites to other peoples and from other peoples to the Israelites (just like a father may spank his young child), upon the coming of Christ, who, in the words of St. Paul, is the unveiling of the veil, the full icon of the Father, the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and the perfection of the covenant between God and His people (the New Israel, those who are children of Abraham through faith) clearly shows that God, in His totality, is merciful and does not want any of His creatures to perish. In fact, those humans who go to Hell do not go the the place prepared for them; Christ, time and time again, says that Hell is the place prepared for the devil and his angles, not for men. Indeed, God shows His mercy even through the fact that people can go to Hell, for, as C. S. Lewis put it, He allows in those who bow to Him and say, “Your will be done,” or He bows to those who do not and says, “your will be done,” which is to be away from God, so they go to the only place where God is not.

The question as to whether Hell is a permanent place is a question to which there is no answer. Some notable Fathers, St. Gregory Nazarenes for example, have believed that all souls, eventually, understand their mistakes and come to Heaven. Of course, that is a matter of speculation and, if I may say so, one that we should not spend much time speculating, lest it take precedent over our job in this world, which is to be perfect. Perfection entails that we have proper reactions to all things, which means that we should hate what is supposed to be hated, which is sin (that is to say, un-being, but one should never hate being, which is the creation of God).

Therefore, for my part, I beg forgiveness of my gay brothers and sisters if my posts come off as offensive to them. I do not mean to offend them, but I do hope that they will consider what I am saying and, at least, ponder on whether (assuming that their sexual attraction and sex life is the second most important thing in their life) anything finite is a very small sacrifice for the most important thing in life, which is the love of and relationship with God (which is infinite).

That said, it is objectively true (I do not say this, God says this), that WBC commits a greater and graver sin by being, first, hateful toward people, and, second, by making it harder for people who are gay to find the courage and warm embrace of the Church and the knowledge that God and His mystical body on earth, the Church, will always be there to support them and love them regardless of how many times they fall short. God and those who love God, the Church, will be there to extend to them a hand with nothing other than love whenever they fall, never giving up on them. Because the WBC performs actions completely antithetical to this, their sin is greater than the one they seem to be so concerned with. Of course, Christ predicted this, because not for naught did He caution us to ever remove the plank out of our own eye before seeking to remove the speck in our brother’s eye.

I for one, however, love even the people of the WBC, though I hate the philosophy and theology of the WBC and hope that they will go back to the Word of God and discover for themselves the richness and beauty of truth and the healing of the true faith in Christ and let go of their false teachings. Of course, while I say this, I realize that I am a greater sinner even than them, because they, though with false teaching and spreading false messages, do much more (though what they do is wrong) than I do, who, by no other accident than being born into the “right” family, have come to know the truth faith and the fulness of the teaching of Christ, so, for my part, I beg the forgiveness of all humans, even the people of the WBC, for not doing more to spread the truth of Christ.

The Half-Nude “Artist” and The Ridiculousness of CMU’s Response

Recently a 19 year-old art student was arrested because she had paraded half-naked dressed like a Pope from the waist up and in her birthday suit from her waist down. Her pubic hair was shaved in the shape of a cross and she was handing out condoms to everyone. Alright, nothing controversial there, so why am I babbling about it?

Well, the problem is that she was not, in fact, arrested for dressing half-naked as a religious figure, but simply for disorderly conduct. In fact, the Carnegie Mellon President says that she will face no disciplinary repercussions, because the incident sets at odds “competing values.” Seriously, what does that even mean? If we are actually talking about “values,” what used to be called Moral Laws, until Hume came along, then they cannot contradict if there is an objective basis for morality. If we are talking about value-opinions, then CMU’s President and the rest of CMU need to be open to the fact that one of their value-opinions, seeing how it contradicts another, might be wrong. I will come back to this later, but for the time being, this is a quote from CMU’s statement, “While I recognize that many found the students’ acts deeply offensive, the university upholds their right to create works of art and express their ideas. But, public nudity is a violation of the law and subject to appropriate action.” Well, why is this different from other cases, say, the student from the University of South Carolina, who nearly got in a lot of trouble for flying a Confederate flag until they found out he was African-American. Now, I really don’t have an opinion on the USC case, but my issue is that the CMU is classifying this incident as a “freedom of expression” issue, which I think is a big lie. Imagine if the USC student had been white and that he had been hanging the Confederate flag out of hatred for African-Americans and, suppose that while people we coming to talk to him he had blackface on. Doubtless, he would have been in a lot of trouble and I think he would have deserved every last bit of it. How awkward do you think it would be if he then turned around to say that his blackface and his hanging the Confederate flag by his window was “artistic expression”?

My question is, in what ways is this different? Obviously, the African-American community has been oppressed in this country, but that does not mean that that is why it is legitimate for people to be reprimanded when carrying out such acts. The Jewish community was not oppressed in this country, but if someone were to shave their pubic hair in the shape of a swastika and hand out fliers or something else of the sort asking for a new genocide on Jews, would they not be reprimanded? Well, what about Christianity. This episode of “freedom of expression” featured the girl shaving her pubic hair into the shape of a cross and then putting on a cardboard mitre and Papal staff in addition to a “chasuble,” with a cross on it, which only covered her breasts, handing out condoms. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t see much intellectual expression there. Of course, I am very much for protecting her ability to be opposed to the Catholic Church, but there’s a not-so-fine line between being intellectually opposed to an idea or even an institution and profanely parodying and insulting them. One is perfectly permissible, the other one isn’t.

Strange as this sounds, there is actually a parallel to this coincides with Socrates’ lifetime. During the Peloponnesian War, all the penises of the Herms (blocks of marble depicting the god Hermes’ head up top and his penis half-way through; it makes perfect sense why Socrates didn’t agree with the state religion) in Athens were broken, an act seen as great sacrilege in Greek religion. Alcibiades (you’ll know about him if you’ve read the dialogues) was found to be guilty, but because he was rich, he escaped with his life. This is in contrast with Socrates himself, who opposed Greek religion on account of the things it attributed to the gods (by the way, it is not true that Socrates/Plato was an atheist, if anyone disagrees, they should read the Phaedo and the Timaeus), was put to death. I think we have the same situation here. Anytime someone makes an intellectual argument (as opposed to the stupidity and futility of people like the ones associated with the Westboro Baptist Church) against gay marriage or abortion, they are labelled hateful, close-minded, bigoted, and the rest of the list of epithets. However, when someone does something like this girl, it’s “artistic expression.” Perhaps that’s the same argument Alcibiades used to keep his life in Athens. The only problem is that here it is not the student herself that is making this argument, but the school that is handing this argument to her, the same school that is supposed to teach her to become a good and honorable human being (that is the point of liberal education in case you had missed it).

An Open Response to Macklemore’s “Same Love”

Many years ago, in Ancient Greece, philosophers and poets (that is to say, artists) were in a constant battle. In fact, they often walked to an alternate route if they saw someone from the opposite ‘faction’ on that way. For the most part, this enmity has fallen out of favor these days. For one, I think singers and philosophers can peacefully coexist if both groups keep to their respective spheres. Now, there’s been trespassing on both sides, but this new fad with singers and artists in general is something that I cannot help but address.

I was annoyed way back when when Lady Gaga posted a video which I happened to come across, where she was, I think, addressing Congress or something in favor of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Now, I was completely for repealing it, but she did not make one good argument, rather it was all rhetoric and b.s. I have mentioned this is another post, but I find it very enraging when people 1) ‘argue’ for positions without offering proper arguments for them (“I want to repeal X, because I’m famous and I can sing, pretty please bend over for me.”) 2) speak outside of their field of expertise (being a celebrity/artist/singer/w.e. does not make you a guru nor give you perfect wisdom). Imagine how silly it would be if I, having absolutely no experience in music, were to start arguing that Macklemore needs to do this or that in order to make his product better. I think we’d all see the stupidity of that scenario.

Well, a similar thing has happened on reverse. I am picking Macklemore at this point in lieu of all the singers and artists who think it good to speak out and, by that act, exert their influence over their whole fandom without themselves understanding the issues at hand. Of course, it could be that some of them are doing it as a publicity stunt and I think that is even more lamentable, but I digress.

What often confuses me about people (in general) who are involved in the gay marriage debate is that they do not keep it strictly in civic and legal terms, but, instead, take the offensive into arguing against the Christian principles which many people accept in order to deny gay marriage. The question is then, not whether it is acceptable to make gay marriage legal, but whether it is consistent with Christian theology and morality to allow gay marriage. If that is what Macklemore and others want, then that is the issue we are going to argue.

I find it extremely amusing that, in the end of the video, they say “love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4), because it seems that Macklemore and the people around him do not understand that it is this same St. Paul, in the same letter,  very clearly states that gay sex is not permissible (1 Cor. 6:9-10). It’s almost funny to think that people presume to make arguments (a stretch, I know) from the Bible, when most likely they have heard the one verse of Scripture they are going to use either in some sermon in passing or otherwise have googled for it, without bothering to read what is going on around that one particular verse.

That said, let’s go into proper arguments for why, under Christian morality, homosexual sex could never be permissible.

First of all, as mentioned above, St. Paul explicitly presents as revelation that anyone who has homosexual sex (and does not repent) cannot enter Heaven. Now if he was literally wrong in this case and he presented it as revelation, there are two options to explain this: 1) he did not know what he was doing, i.e. he was crazy, or 2) he knew exactly what he was doing, i.e. he is evil. It is quite easy to drop off the crazy idea, because someone who was crazy could not done what he did nor written what he has written. That said, if you think he were evil and the people who compiled the Canon of the New Testament were wrong about picking his letters to be included in the Canon, then what keeps us still sure that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the right choices for Gospels? If they made a mistake once, why could they not make a mistake again in including one of those four Gospels instead of, say, the Gospel of Truth, or the Gospel of Judas, or the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, or the Gospel of Mary, and so on and so forth. Then, the question becomes not about homosexual sex, but about whether we know anything about Christ and, if not, whether anyone today is a Christian.

Second, within Christianity, marriage and sex in general is not seen as a means of recreation, but a means of procreation. This is the principle behind the Church’s stance against contraception. Because homosexual sex cannot be a means of procreation, it cannot be permissible.

Third, specifically about gay marriage,the Church is in disagreement in terms of parental imagery. One thing we often confuse in our minds is that we are not, in fact, the concrete entities to which God is being compared in the Bible, it is the other way around. That is to say, when God is called Father, it means that the earthly father is supposed to be a symbol and an image of the Father. In a similar way, our earthly mother is supposed to be an imagery of the Church. You can see how that could be a problem when two males adopt a child. As far as Christianity goes (and we may be able to treat the question in secular terms either, but this is not how Macklemore framed this debate), the ability for gay married couples to adopt and raise children would be a big problem.

That said, in the song, Macklemore talks about how some people think homosexual tendencies can be cured. I do not know whether it is possible for a person to wholly get past those tendencies, but I think people who argue that gay people need to be “cured” either don’t understand the issue or don’t understand human psychology. Even if homosexuality is a natural tendency, that does not mean that it is good. I have a natural tendency toward anger and pride, but I work (though admittedly not enough) to suppress those feelings. Of course, many people would agree that this would be the correct path to take against feelings of anger and pride, but if feelings have to do with sex, then they’re sacred? How silly. By definition, feelings are irrational. They must be judged by reason and only be allowed to become actions if they benefit the person (eating, for example is a very good feeling to hold on to). However, if, as any Christian would, you believe that sin damages your soul (and thereby your whole person and even the whole world) then it is a no-brainer to suppress those feelings.

Finally, a word to other people who oppose gay marriage. There are many out there who are preaching the Christian dogma as is, which, since last time I checked, included the separation of the sinner from the sin and hating the sin, not while, but because you love the sinner. Nonetheless, gay people are being treated as if they are guilty of a sin that is somehow special. I find that hypocritical and un-Christian. If you look at the quote from St. Paul (there are others, but 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is the most direct), gay sex is condemned together with fornication, adultery, thievery, greed, drunkenness, etc. I do not know of one person today in the US who can say they have steered clear of all of these things, especially consider that in Matthew 5 Jesus says that if you have ever thought of adultery with someone else’s woman or fornication and the like, it is the same as if you had actually done it. If there is such a person, another response form the Gospels is indicative, specifically when Jesus tells the rich young man to give up everything and follow him. Long story short, if you think Christianity is comfortable, you are doing it wrong. Myself, I have more than one gay friend, which may sound very surprising to some people reading this post. They know my position and I respect the fact that they kindly decline to accept my views. After all, there is no forceful conversion into Christianity, they may choose not to obey the tenants of the faith. Of course, I pray that they will see the light of Christ sooner or later, but I am not going to stop being their friend or stop loving them simply because they are not Christian and neither should you, that also was ordained in the Bible.

For those who disagree with this last paragraph, I invite to offer me a Biblical argument (since I don’t think you can go anywhere in this direction with Tradition) to show where it says that it is not permissible to hate both the sin and the sinner in any other case, but that this case is somehow special. In the meantime, I would humbly advise them to pray for discernment in the choices they are making and, as a consequence, misrepresenting the Church. It goes back to what I was talking about in the beginning, namely, if you are not qualified to do something, wether that be to argue either for or against gay marriage, you should not do it, if only just to spare the side that you presumably support face when your arguments are refuted and your hypocrisy is revealed.

Women’s Ordination: Seriously?

In advance, I’d like to apologize to everyone who has heard enough about this topic and would just wish it to go away already, I understand the proverbial horse has been beat unto death, buried, and then its place of rest has been beaten and pummeled to a pulp, but it seems some people still don’t get it, so this goes out to them.

I decided to write this post because I recently saw a video on YouTube, “Ordain a Lady” and figured that someone needed to speak on this yet again. It is rather sad, because I am not Catholic, but it seems (as will become apparent) that I’d be more qualified at becoming a priest. After the Pope and about everyone under the Sun who actually is a Christian has spoken against this preposition, it seems that perhaps if some people who are not even Catholic speak on it, the issue might get solved. That’s my hope, at any rate.

First, let us go through the lyrics (and the video):

I had a dream as a girl
Like Therese of Lisieux

That’d be St. Therese of Lisieux (correct titling is very important). Now, I had to do some research on this one, because I am not familiar with her story, but here’s what it is referencing. St. Therese of Lisieux (declared by John Paul II a Doctor of the Church, which will be important later) published a autobiographical book Story of a Soul, before she died at the age of 24 from T.B. in a French monastery. The quote proponents of women priests (let’s refer to them correctly from this point on, priestesses) use is the following, “If I were a priest, how lovingly I would carry you in my hands when you came down from heaven at my call; how lovingly I would bestow you upon people’s souls. I want to enlighten people’s minds as the prophets and the doctors did. I feel the call of an Apostle. I would love to travel all over the world, making your name known and planting your cross on a heathen soil.” (courtesy of womenpriests.org). However, this quote does not say that St. Therese wanted to be a priest, simply that if she were a priest (but she is not) she’d do the duty correctly. That’s like me saying, “If I were Pope, I’d always wear red shoes.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to be Pope, it’s a simple counterfactual statement. What she does say is that she wants to be an Apostle, she wants to preach to the masses and, guess what, the Church has no problem with that. In fact, there were, very early on and throughout history, great women to whom the title is-Apostolon (as the Greek refers to them) was granted (i.e. Equal-to-the-Apostles), St. Thecla I think is the first (and she was shoulder to shoulder with St. Paul). That’s totally fine, but what the Church speaks against is women being priests, not being propagators of the faith (you can’t really be an “Apostle” per se, that’s taken to refer only to the Twelve).

Another episode from the Saint’s life they refer to as in favor of their argument is:

“My child”, the Pontiff said. “Do as your Superiors [i.e. the Mother Superior of the convent] decide”.

“But, Most Holy Father”, Thérèse insisted, “if only you would say ‘yes’, everyone else would agree too.”

Leo XIII looked at her and said: “Come, come, your wish will be granted if God so wills”. While he raised his hand in benediction, two of the papal guard led her away in tears.

Somehow, the author uses this a comparison, however, the issues are not parallel. First, the age at which someone can join a monastery or convent is up to the Superior of that monastery or convent, which is what Leo XIII tells her. Second, making a major life decision at fourteen may be considered premature by some (I wanted to study chemistry at fourteen, look where I ended up), but is not a matter of dogma. Third, it is true that if the Pope had put in a good word (except he did not think it was his prerogative, rightly) she would have probably been let in, but what he could not do is to infallibly declare that all fourteen year-old girls that want to join a convent must be allowed to. Doing so would mean that he is falsely declaring new doctrine, which would get him a latae sententiae excommunication. So, obviously, he didn’t do it. Lo and behold, Therese later did join the convent. That said, we move on.

I need to give this whirl

Well, that stopped fast. You don’t give the priesthood, “a whirl.” It’s not a ride at Six Flags. Imagine if someone said, “I want to be a nuclear physicist, I need to give it a whirl,” would you think they were serious about it?
So I can lead the way

Oh c’mon! Look, the priesthood isn’t about leading, it’s about serving. It’s not about power, it’s about humility. If only you’d remember that one of the titles of the Pope is servus servorum Dei, you could figure this out.

Woman priest is my call

About the video at this point. You are wearing the stole over the chasuble. Seriously, it takes going to one Catholic Mass to figure out that it is the other way around. I guess this is what you end up with once you give the priesthood a “whirl.”
Women preaching for all
Don’t listen to St. Paul

Wait, what? That is definitely not ok. Telling someone to disregard St. Paul and then going ahead to call him “St. Paul” is a little awkward, but that’s only the smallest glimmer of problems with this. If you say, “Don’t listen to St. Paul,” we have a serious problem, because not only are his writings the earliest Christian writings, but they were included in the Canon of the New Testament, that’s why we have them today. If the Fathers selecting the Canon made a mistake here, then what’s to say that they did not make a mistake somewhere else? What if Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the ones who got it wrong and the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, etc. are the ones we are actually supposed to be using? Do we even know Jesus Christ, or just the hoax that the people we regard as the Evangelists created? You see the problem. Doubt the decision to include one part of  the New Testament and and it gives reason to doubt the decision about everything else, too. So, I think I’ll stick with St. Paul on that one, because if not, then the issue is no longer about priestesses, but about whether Christianity as we know it has any ground to stand on.

‘Cuz I can lead the way

My ministry is growing
Excommunication? I’m still glowing.
M.Div, chasuble flowing

Don’t even talk about that…
Where you think the Church is going?

Nowhere, that whole Matthew 16:18 bit.

Hey, I was baptized, and this is crazy,
But God just called me, so ordain a lady!
Justice doesn’t look right, with only male priests,

That’s a category confusion.
But God just called me, so ordain a lady!

Hey, I was baptized, and this is crazy,
But God just called me, so ordain a lady!
All the other Churches, try to schmooze me,
But I’m a Catholic, so ordain a lady!

My call is a fact, but some Pope in a hat,
Closed discussion on that, and now he’s in my way

Who exactly was this “Pope in a hat”? John Paul II. Yes, that’s right, John Paul II, the same guy who named St. Therese a Doctor of the Church, the same guy who felt a great devotion to Mary, the same guy whose motto was totus tuum, i.e. “wholly yours” [to St. Mary]. Other side achievements include bringing down communism, etc, but that’s beyond the point. The point is that if priestess were to seek to be in the Catholic Church, they’d have to take a vow of obedience to the Pope, so you can see how that’s a problem. Now, there have been cases where people in the Church have disagreed with the decision of someone above them in the Hierarchy of the Church and have fought for their belief. However, they have stayed in the Church and not acted on their conviction. Usually, the issue was resolved by a Council, or, for Catholics, by the Pope speaking infallibly. If you do not believe the Pope is infallible about matters of faith, then you cannot be a Catholic. However, that is exactly what they are doing. If they are right, we’re in big dodo, because then every infallible proclamation from a Pope could be wrong. In addition, any future infallible proclamation from a Pope can be wrong, which means it’s not infallible. But if there is no way to get an infallible decision in the Church, then who’s to ever decisively solve any dispute? Agree to disagree doesn’t really work in these cases. In addition, it would mean that the Holy Spirit really isn’t guiding the Church through a defined person, so the institution of the Popes would be unnecessary. However, saying that the institution of the Pope is unnecessary precludes you from being a Catholic (and an Easter Orthodox Christian).

I pray, sing, and feel

Feelings, a great foundation to build theological dogma on. If you review the documents of the Council of Nicaea, a lot of the Fathers talk about their feelings regarding whether Jesus is divine or not, true story.

At first communion it’s real
I but I refuse to kneel,
To Patriarchy’s way

Again, problem about vow of obedience.


With women priests in my life, I was so glad

There were never women priests in actual reality, so this confuses me.

I missed them so bad, I missed them so, so bad

You cannot miss something that’s not there.

With women priests in my life, I was so glad
We want our Church back, we want it all, all back

The Church is not yours, that’s sort of the point. The Church is Christ’s. Saying you want your Church is asking for something other than Christianity, which, last time I checked, precludes you from being Catholic.

That said, most proponents of priestesses would say that analyzing a song is not really a good way of arguing against an intellectual issue, which I accept, I just wanted to show some of the problems behind the mentality that at leas the people who made that video.

Therefore, let us look at why priestesses are asking for priesthood.

First, they feel a calling. There is no way for me to disprove that they feel that way, but I think I can prove that they’re wrong. Someone may feel that it is God’s will to come to Church naked, but it does not mean they are right. However, for the sake of not repeating myself, I’ll go back to this later.

Second, there seems to be an argument that Hebrews 7 nullifies the requirement for a priest to be male. I don’t see it. Hebrews 7 talks about how Christ is the Eternal High Priest according to the Order of Melchizedek. Who Melchizedek actually is is an interesting question, because (in Genesis), His full title is, Melchizedek, King of Salem. Salem means “Peace” and “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness” and He brings to Abram bread and wine, and St. Paul (in Hebrews 7) says that He is greater than Abraham, so you can probably figure out what I am hinting to at this point. (“Before Abraham was, I AM” and all that) That digression made, Hebrews 7 talks about the setting aside of the Levitical Priesthood by Christ, but does not say that women can be priests (or even hint it). Ironically, this is the same St. Paul that we are supposed to not listen to.

In the end, arguments for priestesses come down to, “why not?” Scripture (seemingly) does not explicitly deny that women can be priests, so what is the problem?

Well, I accept the burden of proof that they lay on me and proceed to prove why not.

First, the priests of Christ are picked by Christ. “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16) At the Last Supper, at the institution of the Eucharist, there were only the Twelve. When Christ first came to the Apostles, where He told them that whosever’s sins they forgive are forgiven, there was only the Twelve. Christ picked the Twelve for this job. “Incidentally”, they were all males. Also “incidentally” they only picked males to be Bishops/Priests, such as picking James to be the Bishop of Jerusalem and the four Deacons. There is a point where there’s too much “incidentally” for something to actually be a coincidence. As far as the Levitical priesthood is concerned, only men of the tribe of Levi could be priests. Did God then discriminate against the other eleven tribes? How silly! If God wants only red-haired men under 5’3” to be His priests, then only red-haired men under 5’3” can be His priests. When people who were not from the tribe of Levi tried to perform priestly duties, Moses warned them to stop, when they did not, the ground opened up and swallowed them whole. (Numbers 16) These people “felt the calling,” but they were wrong. When they did not listen to Moses’ preaching, they died. Was God, then, unrighteous when He punished them thus? If you respond yes, you are not a Christian (or a Jew). Christ only picked males as His representatives and they only picked males in return. The descendants of the Apostles say women cannot be priests, what do you think is the correct way to respond?

Second, why would Christ only pick males? Proponents of women’s ordination say that he bowed down to social norms. I think this comes from ignorance of the Gospel. In Matthew 15:20, Christ says “… to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man,” thereby going against tradition. For God’s sake, every time He says, “I AM…” He is going against tradition (Orthodox Jews to this day will not say the word Yahweh, which means “I AM”). When He heals people on the Sabbath He is going against tradition. When he testifies to Himself (i.e. whenever he says, “Truly, truly…” usually, Rabbis would say things and people would respond with “truly” or “Amen” after they said it, He turns this on its head). It seems that Christ breaks just about every other tradition, but He decides to keep this one. Why, because He got one pass and this was what He used it on? Once again, that’s silly. So, why did He do it, then? The true reason lies in the symbolism of priesthood. When a priest says, “This is My Body…” he is standing in persona Christi. He is a living icon of Christ. However, it does not make sense to stop there. Christ is a male, but He is also a first century Jew, etc. Why is Christ’s being male, then, unlike His other qualities? It is unlike his other qualities because Christ’s maleness points to the Father’s masculinity (the Father is not a male, He does not have a body, but he is masculine). In the Old Testament as well as in the New, God the Father is always referred to as He, He is never referred to as “she.” Still, why so? The reason for this is sexual symbolism. God in the Old Testament is referred to as King, Hunter, Husband, etc., all male imagery. This is because He is the initiator. Just like a male needs to enter the woman’s body for bodily impregnation, so God needs to enter the bride’s (i.e. every Christian’s) soul for spiritual impregnation. Because this relationship asserts that God is the First Mover, God must be referred to as masculine and Christ is male because of this quality of God and, therefore, because it is necessary that Christ is male as an icon of the Father, so it is necessary that a priest, standing in persona Christi, be a male. Still, proponents of women’s ordination may argue that we see things this way because of our imperfect nature. However, this argument relies on the idea that we are the concrete reality, which we then transfer onto imagery of God. The Bible tells us it is the opposite. God is the concrete one and His imagery is transferred onto us. The male needs to enter the female’s body not because he is better than the female, but as a symbol and reminded to both the male and the female that God, the true masculine, needs to enter both their souls for spiritual impregnation.

Third, the Church has spoken, the case is closed. If proponents of women’s ordination want to remain Catholic, then they must accept that the Pope is infallible in matters of faith. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have spoken authoritatively on the matter. Even if a future Pope were to try to speak infallibly on the matter on the opposing side, he would be latae sententiae excommunicated, because he would be pronouncing new doctrine.

Fourth, such a move would produce great problems in the Church. If a Pope (somehow) allows women’s ordination, there would be extensive problems. For one, people today against women’s ordination would use the argument above to form a breakaway Church. For those that are undecided, questions would arise whether a baptism by a woman priest or a priest ordained by a female Bishop would be valid as well as whether a Mass celebrated by a woman priest or a priest ordained by a woman Bishop would be valid. This argument is stated last because it is a pragmatic argument, of which I am usually not fond of and I am perfectly willing to give it up and just go on the above-stated three.

Lastly, this idea that people have some “right” to priesthood is absolutely insane. Men can and do get denied entry into seminaries and into priesthood, when the people responsible discern that they are not fit to be priests. There is, has never been, and will never be a right to the priesthood, not in the Church of Christ. In another Church, perhaps, but not in the Church of Christ. As St. Paul says, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:27-30) That is the end of it.

On an unrelated side-note: the priestesses in the video, while in full vestment, dance. I think one of them even does a booty shake. That is another violation of the sanctity of priesthood. If a (male) priest did the same thing, he would be sinning. If he did it in public/post a video of it on Youtube and his Bishop saw it, he, too, would be sinning if he did not reprimand the priest in question. Have these women been reprimanded by their pseudo-superiors for doing that? I do not think so. They also fail to properly cross themselves. In the video, time and time again, they go from their head, to their torso and then the arms, the correct form is from the head, down to the abdomen, then the arms. This is something parents teach their five year-old children, someone who wants to be a priest should have already graduated this level of Christian knowledge.

On Why It Is Hard for Modern Americans to Relate to Aragorn

Hey everybody, this is a paper I submitted for one of my classes. If you like Lord of the Rings, you’ll like this. None of the LoTR quotations are footnoted, sorry about that, but we were not required for the class. Without further ado, enjoy!

 

Among the many difficulties that the modern American faces in reading The Lord of the Rings, the issue of Aragorn is worthy of note. He is almost too good to be true. There are moments where he afraid or doubts his choices, most notably during the portion of the journey between Moria and Lothlórien, but even then he is automatically recognized by the other members of fellowship as the natural choice as a leader after Gandalf. One thing is for sure, the closer he gets to the completion of his destiny, the more insufferable he becomes. Indeed, he even dares to show himself on the Palantír to Sauron, inciting the latter to attack Gondor faster than he desired. The purpose of this paper is to show that it is Aragorn’s heredity and magnanimity rather than arrogance or a flaw on the part of Tolkien in creating too perfect of a character that fuels his actions.

There is no greater marker of how far modern American public opinion is from the personality of Aragorn than the radical change of character he received in the Lord of the Rings movies. Whereas in the books Aragorn, though afraid, has total faith in what he seeks to accomplish, in the movies he needs the constant push from other characters—most notably Elrond in bringing him Andúril in Rohan—to fulfill his destiny. In addition, his authority is challenged more than once, such as in the siege of Helm’s Deep by Legolas, whereas in the books it is only Denethor that truly challenges his claim. The character of Aragorn may be the key to detecting a problem in modern Western culture. The way he is presented in Tolkien’s books he is incompatible with the way of thought of most people today. The question is whether Aragorn should be brought down to fit into the categories of the modern West or the modern West be brought up so as to be able to fit Aragorn in its categories.

Differently from Peter Jackson, I believe that the problem with Aragorn has nothing to do with Aragorn himself, but rather with his audience. Aragorn would fit into a more ancient way of thought. I am speaking, of course, of Aristotle. One of his eleven virtues in the Nichomachean Ethics is magnanimity, which is a very unpopular virtue in today’s modern West. It is not arrogance that fuels his action, if one is to define arrogance as the over-exertion of one’s self and his or her abilities. It is hard for one to argue that Aragorn is arrogant, because he does everything he sets out to do. One of his most daring actions in the book, namely the aforementioned confrontation of Sauron by means of the Palantír, is successful. The only recourse a person has in arguing that Aragorn is arrogant is to say that the casting of his character was an error on the part of Tolkien, but I believe that there is another, more consistent, explanation for his personage that does not, alas, have to amass an attack on Tolkien’s literary ability.

Let us first examine his heredity. Aragorn can trace his lineage back to Elendil, the leader of the Faithful of Númenor and the First High King of Gondor and Arnor, and King of all the Dúnedain. A long title indeed and a farcry from the lineage that most people today can trace back. That is, however, only the beginning of his story. On his father’s side Elendil is the descendant of Elros, the son of Earendil the Mariner that chose to be human. Earendil is the son of Tuor, who is descendant of the second and third ruling families of the original Three Houses of the Edain (Men), and Idril, the descendant of Finwë, the first High King of the Eldar, the high eleves. On his mother’s side, Elendil is related to Elwig, the granddaughter of Lúthien Tinúviel and Beren the One-Handed. Beren was the descendant of the ruling family of the first House of the Edain. Luthien was the daughter of Thingol, the King of Gondolin and Melian the Maia. Thingol is the original king of the Sindar or Teleri Elves and one of the ambassadors of the Elves to Valinor. Melian, on the other hand, is a Maia, which is the same classification of being as Gandalf, Sauron, and the Balrogs (though the last two are fallen). In short, Aragorn’s lineage can be traced to the very beginning of the existence of Elves and Men. He has, in his family tree, all three ruling families of the original subdivisions of Men, the original rulers of two out of the three subdivisions of Elves, a Maia, Beren and Luthien, and Earendil, the only man to have ever arrieved corporealy in Valinor, just to name a few[1].

With a family history of these proportions, it is not hard to see why the modern man despises Aragorn. Granted, very few people who do not have a deep love for Tolkien’s work would have put all that together, since it is scattered in the many pages of the Silmarilion for the most part, but «I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor,» is enough of a prelude to cause hatred. As to how deep one’s envy has to run in order for them to hate a fictional character for his lineage I cannot tell. One thing is for sure, the modern man has lost his appreciative love. Upon hearing a lineage of these proportions, a more ancient man may have been glad even though he knew he could never measure his lineage up to him. It is better that such a man should exist, though the person may not be him.

The problem is that people today cannot trace their lineage back to even a country of origin, much less to a particular family. I remember a conversation with a Harvard student who was puzzled by the innability of some Sicilians (she had recently been to Sicily through a Harvard program) to understand, when she was asked where she was from originally that African-American was not a sufficient answer. In addition, one my my History teachers in High School, Br. Oxx, wanting to surprize his father for his birthday, used a (bogus) «Coat of Arms» website to trace his name back to a Medieval knight. Unbeknowest to him, his brother had done the same thing through another site and, though both sites assured the total accuracy of their findings, the two Oxx knights that their family was apparently traced to had absolutely nothing in common except their name and, conviniently, were recorded nowhere but the respective databases of the sites. Where they got their findings from, one is left to ponder. The empirical fact that those websites are alive and well shows that there is a multitude of, at least Americans, who seek a glorious character to whom to trace themselves. It seems that the mixture, in one hand, of the insecurity of heritage for Americans, and the desire, on the other hand, to trace their lineage back to some notable ancestor is toxic and its fury is turned to Aragorn for the fact that he is in secure possession of something they cannot have.

As the descendant of Elendil through his son Isildur, Aragorn is entitled to certain privileges. For one, he is the legitimate bearer of the shards of Narsil, the sword of Elendil, which is later re-forged into Andúril, by whose power he is able to call the army of the dead[2]. Aragorn tells the Doorward of Theoden that the penalty for anyone who touches it except for its rightful owner is death.

Aragorn is also the rightful owner of the Palantírs. This relates to one criticism of Tolkien in relation to Aragorn, i.e. that he made Aragorn too powerful. A conversation in Lord of the Rings is enlightening as to exactly what this entails. Gimli, alarmed at learning that Aragorn has looked in the stone, says, “You have looked in that accursed stone of wizardry! … Even Gandalf feared that encounter.” Aragorn’s response is indicative. He says, “… Nay Gimli, I am the lawful master of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use it, or so I judged. The right cannot be doubted.” It is clear that Gandalf, a wizard, which is to say, a Maia, is afraid of using the Palantír and Saruman, another Maia, is corrupted through it. Though Aragorn is a distant relative of a Maia, it does not make sense that she should have greater power than an actual Maia.

The answer to this seeming incongruence is Te. Even though Gandalf, on the whole, is a higher being and more powerful that Aragorn, Aragorn has the power of right claim over the Palantír, which is superior against even the power Sauron. It is hard to explain exactly how it works and Lao Tzu is not exactly a great help if one is looking for logical proofs, but there is something about the bond between an object and its rightful owner that is broader than just Lao Tzu. The sword in the stone responds to Arthur’s touch, the golden bough in Cumae responds to Aeneas’ touch, and so on and so forth.

In addition, he has the healing power of the King, the only cure to the Black Breath. He is the inheritor of the curse of Isildur and the Black Stone of Erech, the ownership of which he uses to summon the Oath-breakers to himself and, ultimately, to save Gondor through them. Lastly, it goes without saying, he is the legitimate King of Gondor and Arnor, the greatest kingdom in Middle-Earth, to which the Kingdom of Rohan has certain duties, since it was the rulers of Gondor that granted Eorl the Young the land that would later become Rohan. In return, Eorl swore that he (and his descendants) would come to Gondor’s aid in time of need.

This list of his privileges is very long, but with so many privileges comes much responsibility. Many of Aragorn’s trials are not recorded in the text proper of the Lord of the Rings, though some of them appear in the appendices and the rest are mentioned in other books. After Gandalf, Aragorn is the person with the greatest part in the overthrow of Sauron. Frodo’s part is very close to being greater than his and, in the end, my judgment for putting Aragorn over Frodo is the fact that Aragorn’s guidance and protection of the hobbits from Bree to Rivendell and Aragorn’s self-sacrifice in front of the Black Gate (though he survives the battle) is instrumental to the completion of Frodo’s quest. His responsibilities continue once the quest of the destruction of Sauron is completed, in that he is now the King of Gondor and Arnor and as Shakespeare reminds us, “Heavy is the head that bears the crown.”

The intersection of Aragorn’s heritage and identity and his privileges and abilities with his responsibilities and the fact that he is able to carry his responsibilities through show that Aragorn is a magnanimous man. Magnanimity is hereby to be defined as correct estimation of one’s ability and worth, as opposed to self-doubt. One thing is for sure, Aragorn knows who he is, where he comes from, and where he is going. His identity is sometimes intentionally hidden in order to aid him in his quest, most notably in Bree, where most of the people know him as “Strider.” Once his true identity is revealed, however, in Gandalf’s letter to Frodo, he proclaims the rhyme that comes with his name. This is another scene that is cut from Jackson’s adaptation of the books.

It does not take much insight to see how this could infuriate a modern Western reader. Our culture is plagued by self-doubt, insecurity about whether we can know objectively who one is and what he or she is supposed to do. We have Justice Kennedy to thank for part of that feeling, in the famous Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, which said, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.[3]” This statement goes not only against Christian teaching, but also against secular Classical wisdom. Aristotle points out that the teleology of any being is not self-appointed, but rather comes as “part of the package” with the nature of each thing. It seems as if, on the whole, the modern man has dismissed the age-old quest, set on by Socrates, to objective self-knowledge. Instead, he has decided to appoint subjectively and, quite frankly, violently[4] his own meaning to his life, which, so far, does not seem to have had much success. Not so for Aragorn.

The modern reader joins with Éomer in saying, “It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange…. How shall a man judge what to do in such times?” Perhaps this is the core of modern man’s problem and the root of his confusion with himself and the world. In today’s school system we have “Critical Thinking” classes, which teach students how to analyze information and set up their problem and then simply tell them to solve it. That is, in mathematical terms, tantamount to having a whole class dedicated to how to read problems, how to gather the given information, how to set up the equation and then, simply tell the students to solve it. The obvious question is, “Solve it, how?” The reason, at least in my mind, for who professors in those classes do not and, indeed, cannot give an objective answer to that question is because they either do not rightly know themselves, or, otherwise, believe that it is not correct for them to project their own views to their students, because they are relativists, the poison which C. S. Lewis says “will certainly damn our souls and end our species[5].”

The end product is people who have a great skill set in setting up logical and ethical problems, but who have no clue how to solve them. Unsurprisingly, people devoted to such a school of thought tend to make a lot of mistakes in life. The reason for that is that what they have learned is equivalent to gathering the best-trained army in the world and furnishing it the best and most advanced equipment and then making it follow, without question, the orders of a child in battle. Their discerning skills in life are equivalent to a child’s skills in battle, since they were never allowed to learn the hard principles of logic and morality in the first place. As if that was not enough, however, they have a very important difference with Éomer.

Whereas Éomer, at this point, has had no training in correct judgment or otherwise has forgotten what has been taught to him due to the calamities that have befallen him, he is an honest seeker. His question is not rhetorical. He truly does not know what the right thing to do is, but if he knew it and if he knew the way to find it, he would find it and do it. In other words, Éomer does not know, he knows that he does not know, and is not content with it. The modern man is too proud to ever accept that. He asserts himself to be the child of the Enlightenment, the true descendant of Socrates and of all the great minds of the world, but he knows neither Socrates nor light and yet he does not even know that he does not know. Herein lies the problem of our age. It is perfectly fine to be ignorant of how to reach the right choice; that problem can be solved by use of a teacher. In the case of Éomer, Aragorn solves that problem. The matter of communicating, however, to someone that their problem lies not with their reason but with their will is much harder.

It is not that the modern man needs to read more of Plato, or Augustine, or Aquinas, or any other author that could aid them in their quest, it is the matter of wrenching their will away from their accustomed relativism to the true search for the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That is why Aragorn’s response does not “stick” and why Peter Jackson found it necessary to take it out of the movie. Aragorn says, “As he has ever judged…. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.” Because Tolkien is using Aragorn to stab directly at the heart of the modern man’s strongest conviction, it is understandable that he hates Aragorn.

Another factor is the overarching incorrect sense of humility that plagues popular culture and beyond. It is nearly impossible to miss it if one turns on their television. The same people that would never be able to get over the fact that they did not win an award or get recognized for something are the people who speak of how humbled they are by how much people seem to recognize their small and menial doings. This comes from a sense of humility misunderstood. Whereas true humility is self-forgetfulness, it has a certain facet of being proud (as opposed to prideful) for their accomplishment, while at the same time realizing that it is God that is the chief conspirer in every good deed. If a work is truly deserving of recognition, if it is truly good, in whatever way it fits that category, then it deserves its proper recognition. As St. John the Chrysostom reminds us, “… every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from You, the Father of lights.” Because every “good gift,” that is to say, among other things, every valuable skill set, comes from God, anything that is produced through it is worthy of recognition, through us, to God, who is the ultimate cause of it. From this, it follows that if a person belittles any of their accomplishments, it is God’s gift they are belittling.

It is worth noting that Frodo is as magnanimous as Aragorn[6]. Yet, most modern readers can relate to Frodo more easily than with Aragorn because his priviledge, the sourse of his psychic superiority to them is subtle, but to see it would make them hate Aragorn and Frodo alike and, perhaps, Frodo a little more. Of course, Frodo is not sold on the idea from the very beginning and it takes some convincing to have him realize who he truly is, but, eventually, Frodo makes a jump into his own and does not look back. Frodo’s responsibility is quite clear, but he shares a privilege with Aragorn that has not been yet treated. The genious of Tolkien, among other things, lies in how well this is disguised throughout the book, in that one that was not specifically looking for it or reading closely could—and many have—managed to miss it entirely.

That privilege has to do with the one character that is never talked about in the book, that never speaks—at least directly—and that is never directly involved in any event, but His hand can be seen working throughout much of the book in how well all the necessary events line up in order to bring forth the success of the quest. That character is Éru (the One), Ilúvatar (the Father of All), or God. The privilege that Aragorn and Frodo both share is His Providence. One can see that Frodo’s character is custom-fitted for the quest of the Ring because, even when he is not terribly excited with the idea of going off to a quest, he still has the unquenchable desire that once plagued Bilbo to go beyond the small doings of the Shire. A comparison between all the other privileges that Aragorn has and this is a comparison between the infinite and a multitude of finite things. Of course, Frodo’s magnanimity is much more subtle, because other than Divine Providence, the only other privilege that Frodo has is his being the true heir of Bilbo and it seems that Tolkien is trying to tell the reader a thing or two about himself if he does manage to miss it. It should be noted that the importance of Aragorn’s inheritance does not come because he is the biological descendant of everyone in his family tree, but it has something to do with the spiritual dimension. Therefore, even though Frodo is not the biological son of Bilbo, he is his true heir and descendant.

The emblematic moment when Frodo, “comes into his own” in a sense, when he finally makes the switch into his magnanimity is at the council of Elrond, when he says, “I will take the Ring … though I do not know the way.” One of the moments when Divine Providence is most clearly exhibited is just above it, when Frodo “wondered to hear his own words, as id some other will was using his small voice.” In truth, this fact should be more annoying to the modern reader than the issue with Aragorn. When it comes to Aragorn, the problem is that he seems to be above to reader, but when he finds out that has been “deceiving” him into falling in love with Frodo, who seems to be a hero of the proletariat, but is one of the people that God most commonly aids, he will not be happy indeed.

Needless to say, the modern reader’s frustration, failure to connect, and dislike of Aragorn and Frodo at this point happens because of another of his chief problems. The modern West seems to be ever gravitating away from Christianity. It is no secret to all but the most oblivious of Tolkien’s readers that he is a devout Christian. In realizing this, the modern man realizes that Frodo and Aragorn are much more superior to him than he ever could have imagined. They have the aid of a Perfect, Omniscient, All-Good God at hand when they need it, whereas he has no such thing.

Aragorn and Frodo both have a very great responsibility to take upon themselves. However, in real life Christians have the even greater responsibility of being a Christian, which is emulating the light of Christ in the world. The quest to destroy the Ring and overthrow Sauron pales in comparison to it. No doubt, their quest is extremely difficult, but, in the end, a good secular person can realize that he needs to fight against evil (in the physical form),  can proceed to do so, and win just as well as a Christian can. Not all who fought against Hitler in World War II were devout Christians. His victory will not be complete, but neither is the Fellowship’s quest successful in wiping out all evil. Defeating external evil, physical organizations that are fueled by evil, in the end, is much easier of a quest than trying to follow, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 48)

Because the Christian’s quest is much harder and if one is to take Christ at his word, possible, though it is logically impossible that the fallen human being can be held to the same standard as the Perfect God, the only way in which it can be completed is through a much more extensive gift of grace and, therefore, a much higher degree of Divine Providence. The Christian has no reason to feel inferior to Aragorn, because he realizes that Aragorn is a brother-in-arms to him, he is the ward of the same power, striving toward a quest that originates from the same Being as him. This is without considering that the Christian would not feel envy but love toward Aragorn. His existence, albeit fictional, is beautiful and the knowledge that the thought of anyone could create a person with such an extensive and important background is impressive.

Of course, the Christian’s heritage is infinitely more impressive. In the end, Aragorn is the descendant of Finwë and the rest, but the Christian is the adoptive son of God, through the sacrifice of Christ. St. Paul, when he points this out is writing within the context of Roman legal practice, which puts adoption on a very high pedestal. It was fairly easy for a Roman pater familias[7] disown and disinherit one of his biological sons or grandsons, but it was nearly impossible to do the same to an adopted child or grandchild. The bond that St. Paul is thinking of when he speaks of Christians as the adopted children of God was one of the strongest and hardest to break in all of Roman legal practice.

Lastly, it is important to point out that, even though Aragorn treats different people in different manners, it does not constitute snobbery or elitism. One example of this would be the treatment that the innkeeper gets when Frodo and the rest are at The Prancing Pony. The modern reader might see Aragorn’s treatment of Barliman as snobbery and plain rudeness, but there are two factors that make it not so. First, Aragorn’s need for haste should not be overlooked. The Black Riders are at hand and things need to move quickly if Frodo is not to be caught like a fly in a trap. Second, Barliman is an innkeeper and, in matters of war, his opinion is not worth much. That is a very undemocratic thing to say and many people would be offended for me saying it, but it is true nonetheless.

The issue here is not whether Aragorn is “better” than Barliman or whether he thinks he is “superior” to Barliman. If the issue of organizing rooms of the Prancing Pony were at hand, the situation would be reversed. Aragorn’s superiority to Barliman, here, is not on terms of socio-economical class or any such reason, but in terms of expertise. Aragorn knows who the Black Riders are, he is experienced in war, and he knows what to do to escape them. Barliman knows none of these things. Therefore, his opinion is less valuable than that of Aragorn.

Most people would not doubt this idea if the issue at hand concerned the body. A doctor’s opinion is superior to a carpenter’s when it comes to health questions. Yet, the logic is the same, but whereas we trust our doctors, we do not trust our leaders. “What does Aragorn know, anyways?” may be what the modern man is thinking. Nonetheless, he has nothing but an a priori suspicion about Aragorn’s expertise to fall back on. It is also important to note that though Aragorn tells Barliman off, he has sacrificed many years of his life to keep Bree and, by association, Barliman safe. The effects of the Rangers’ presence in Bree is not truly understood or appreciated until they leave it. In addition, Aragorn walks willingly to the Black Gate in what he expects to be his death so that the people of Middle-Earth, Barliman among them, may live untroubled by Sauron. In short, though Aragorn’s opinion is more important than Barliman’s in certain cases, it does not mean that Aragorn is, on the whole, more important than Barliman and Aragorn both understands and believes this principle.

In the end, it comes down to whether the reader sees Aragorn, and by extension Tolkien, as trustable and trustworthy and is willing to concede to him that it is not “will to power” that guides Aragorn to self-sacrifice. Therefore, one must not overlook the words that Frodo speaks in his first encounter with Aragorn, after the letter from Gandalf surfaces, “I think one of his spies would—well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.” That is to say that Aragorn seems foul, but feels fair.

The meaning of the word “feel” here is not to be taken in the same way as “feeling hungry” or “feeling sad” or “feeling happy.” It is not an emotion. It is to be taken in the same meaning as “feeling a table.” The responsibility for it is not an irrational emotion but the noetic faculty, “the eye of the heart.” It is through this faculty that man can perceive the uncreated light, the glory of God. It is featured in the Patristic writings of the Eastern Church, especially in the writing of the Athonite monks, specifically St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain. It is, however, hinted at in Plato, in that there needs to be a faculty of the soul that learns truth instantly and super-logically. The Fathers defined this process possible through the remembrance of the perfect image of God, in Whom there is perfect truth.

It is also through this faculty that a person can gauge the moral character of others, though it cannot be logically explained or defined. Because the noetic faculty, which is related to the will, has the image of God, it can distinguish between those who seek Him and those who do not. The Noetic monks in Mt. Athos and elsewhere have great capabilities of discernment and are often able to offer detailed advice to people who come to them without much previous conversation about the person. I do not know whether Tolkien was familiar with this concept, but there are many who recognize that there is some thing or another in the human soul that is able to process information super-logically.

Because noesis resides in the will, its power is dependent on the cleanliness of the will of the person. It is possible to make it fade. The modern reader is very skilled in this regard; he has long made his “philosophy” dependent on his lifestyle, instead of letting philosophy guide his life. Now, the modern man has no need for it, because his logic and wisdom are so extensive that they can pierce into the depths of his own soul and rearrange and revamp the same structure that some of the most profound minds to ever exist have held to be the image and likeness of God.

In short, Aragorn produces much grief to the modern reader because he is an older kind of man and is designed not to be the reader’s friend, but the reader’s leader. In the question of whether Aragorn should be brought down to fit the categories of the modern man or whether the modern man should seek to raise himself so as to be able to fit Aragorn into his categories, the correctness of the second option is unquestionable. The modern reader challenges Aragorn in his seeming lack of humility, but, in truth, he does not understand humility and he does not understand why it is that Aragorn behaves the way he does, namely, because he knows who he is and has the correct knowledge of what the extent of his powers is. In most critiques, it seems that Frodo is left out, because his magnanimity is made to be subtler due to its cause, Divine Providence. However, if one were to take Divine Providence out of it, Frodo’s decision to be the ring-bearer is the most pretentious action in the book.

The modern reader feels himself to be inferior to Frodo and Aragorn because whereas they are guided and guarded by the Divine, not only exhibited in Gandalf, but by God’s invisible hand, his philosophy has no space for such a, in his mind, “silly” Being while his heart aches from the God-sized hole that he cannot fill no matter how hard he tries. In the end, the question of Aragorn comes down to whether we can take any of the things he says or does, i.e. the things that Tolkien has him say and do, at face value. The underlying question is whether one can ever know if they can take anyone at face value. The answer to both questions is a complete “yes,” but with one qualification. It seems that the human soul has been equipped with the image of God, which it can use to have access to truth super-logically and to sense whether the soul that comes in contact with them is in tune with that image or not. The access to such a powerful tool, however, is dependent on whether one’s will is pure. Of course, the soul of the modern man has no need for such nonsense, he is perfectly happy with what he can access due to his own powers. He is the child of the Enlightenment and that “light “is good enough to him.

We, however, can see that his “light” is not true light, in fact, that it is its opposite, darkness. Ever since we turned from seeking wisdom to seeking the conquest of principalities, ever since we turned the ongoing submission of ourselves to the Father to the desire to make nature submissive to us, all has gone amiss. Machiavelli has given us men and women who lust for power and conquest; Bacon has given us “men-without-chests.” With these results at hand, one has to wonder whether we have made a wrong turn.  Aragorn is a constant reminder of who the modern man could have been if he had not taken that wrong turn. Each of his powers has been given to us through science. We have Andúril, weapons that can pierce through the enemy’s defenses, but are they in the hands of the “heirs of Elendil”? Are they used only against those about whom no other solution than death can be found? I think not. We have equivalents to the Palantírs, but does the modern man use his unprecedented means to information and impact for the good of the whole? I think not. Many have Aragorn’s healing properties; modern medicine has progressed far beyond what people as much as a century before us would have dreamed of, but have we been able to see medicine as more than just business? I think not.

On the spiritual level, the same is true. We have the spiritual Andúril, the Church, but we have thrust Her aside in favor of a thousand new heresies. We have the spiritual Palantír, the image of God inside us, but we have thrust it aside in favor of the belief that our own self-conceit is better. We have the spiritual healer of all wounds, Christ, but we have thrust Him aside, espousing instead our pop-psychologists and relativists, who tells us to make our own path, that we live in a glass palace, when in reality we have steeped in greater darkness than ever before.

It is easy to see how one could despair under these conditions. In that case, Gandalf may aid us one more time. His words ring clear now as when he spoke them to Theoden, “Not all is dark. Take courage…. No counsels have I for those that despair. Yet council I could give, and words I could speak to you. Will you hear them? They are not for all ears.”

First, all is not dark, for “the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it,” (John 1:5) and there is “light and high beauty forever beyond [the darkness’] reach.” Second, despair is no solution. St. Paul reminds us, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31) In the end, Christ’s resurrection triumphs over Hades and it is laid bare before His glory. Therefore, because He was triumphant over death and because He promised us that he would give us anything we ask for in His name, we can overcome even Hell through him. To despair would be to fail to take Christ at His word. To those that do not take Christ at his word, there is no counsel, because if they do not believe in Him who worked wonders like no other had ever done, they will not listen to reason.

Yet, there is counsel to hear, but it is not for all ears. That is because entering into dealings with God is very dangerous. Says Gandalf, “Dangerous! … And so am I, very dangerous…. And Aragorn is dangerous, and Legolas is dangerous. You are beset with dangers … for you are dangerous yourself.” Too often have people have people approached God expecting to find “our grandfather who is in heaven,” but once they have drawn close enough to Him, have ran away. Christians, true Christians, are the most dangerous thing that still walks the Earth today. They are beaten but not defeated. They are killed but they do not perish. They are persecuted, but they spread even faster. When met with insult, they respond with a smile. When met with violence, they respond with love. When killed, they are given eternal life and great power and come back to aid those who are still in this world with miracles. Therefore, to seek to join with Christians is risky, because one might even achieve a state eternal bliss through their teachings, which instruct to sacrifice the finite things of this world for the infinite things of the next world.

If modern man is to have any hope, he will have to pull the veil of darkness off his eyes and allow himself to see, “the true Light which enlightens everyone who comes into the world.” (John 1: 9) Then, he will remember his own strength and see that he has tarried too long in the darkness of men’s misguided thoughts. Then he and the Chrisitan will sing with one voice, “This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)


[1] The list would take a few pages if all the people worth mentioning were mentioned. Among them are: Fingolfin, Turgon, Huor, Tuor, Barahir (who is given the ring that Jackson puts in the movie in the hand of Aragorn, but in the

books is given to Arwen as sign of her betrothal to Aragorn), the Kings of Numenor up to Tar-Elendil, and all the Lords of Andúnie, the leaders of “the Faithful,” the Numenorians who did not give in to the worship of Sauron and Morgoth.

[2] That is only the tip of the iceberg regarding Narsil and Andúril. It was forged during the First age by the same smith that forged the knife Angrist, which Beren used to cut one of the Silmarils from the crown of Morgoth and was considered its “cousin.” It was imbued with magical powers and the word “Narsil” itself is a combination of the Elvish words for “sun” and “moon.” Andúril means “the flame of the West,” and, at several points during the book, its mesmerizing flash is described in great detail. The story of Narsil/Andúril is more extensive than many plots in today’s literature.

[3] Planned Parenthood v. Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992)

[4] “Violently” here is not supposed to be taken in its popular meaning, but rather in Aristotelian term, specifically referring to violent motion.

[5] C. S. Lewis, “The Poison of Subjectivism”

[6] I will not entertain at length the point about Gandalf’s magnanimity, because it is rather blindingly obvious and because the modern reader can reconcile with it on account of Gandalf being a wizard.

[7] The title refers to the oldest male of a family, most commonly the pater familias and the father of the youngest generation were the same person, but sometimes the pater familias was the grandfather of the youngest generation. Lit. “father of the family.”

Jesus and Plato

Hey everybody, sorry for the long absence. I have been working as a counselor in the middle of the wilderness, so there was no chance for me to post a blog entry. However, I’m back now and that’s all that counts.

I opened the admin page today for the first time in a while and I noticed that one of the most recent searches was “was Jesus a Platonist?” For the record, you opened the doorway to me speaking about Christianity this time, so I must oblige. Of course, I must make a few comments on the phrasing of the question before I give my two cents about it. I have a problem with using the verb “was.” At some point, one of my philosophy professors gave a pop quiz (it did not end up being graded) which asked to list the ten greatest men alive. The point of the quiz was not to really find out which ten men students found most worthy of recognition, but whether they would remember that Jesus Christ is, in fact, a living man alive even today. So, that being said, I will set out to answer whether Jesus is a Platonist or not.

Of course, in order to answer this question, we must first define our terms. Namely, we must explain what we mean by “Platonist” and what we mean by “Jesus.” Among these terms, the first is way easier to answer than the second. In the most rudimentary sense, a Platonist is a person (a philosopher if we want to be technical) who aligns himself with Plato’s philosophy/metaphysics/ontology/psychology. In other words, a Platonist is a follower of Plato (getting right to the heavy stuff, aren’t we?). What that means in a deeper sense is far more difficult. Those familiar with the Platonic corpus would know that there is a very obviously missing dialogue to the Statesman and Sophist duo, namely a dialogue about the philosopher. Unless we want to say that either Plato died before he could finish up the trio or otherwise that the third dialogue is mysteriously lost to us (in the same way the “Holy Grail” is lost), there is only one solution to where the third dialogue of the set must be, that is, the whole corpus. The idea is, “What makes a sophist a sophist?-Let me look at that dialogue,” and so on and so forth, but, hopefully, what makes one a (Platonist) philosopher is the whole Platonic corpus, otherwise Plato owes me many wasted hours.

Of course, as is true of any profound work, there is a very stark difference between reading it and understanding/living it. I have met people that have a much more detailed knowledge of everything that Plato wrote and can readily quote things that I need a little bit of time to find in Plato’s writing, but who have not even begun to understand him. This is not to say, but the way, that I am the end all be all of understanding Plato, but I am not “out there” either. I have always found (and I have an earlier post on this) the section in Phaedrus where Socrates talks about the dangers of writing very intriguing and believe that it is one of the points to understand in order to understand Plato. Esentially, one of the points made is that writing, unless the living, breathing Socrates, cannot defend itself, so it can be used incorrectly. The obvious question then is why Plato would put that in his writing. The answer which I offer to the table is that the Platonist reader is to not simply read the text the same way they read most other books, but to have Socrates talk to them. I believe the overall goal of the Platonic corpus is to make the reader into a little Socrates. That is why the dialogues move from Socrates disproving the arguments of his opponent and not coming to a definition (the dialogue ends with negative knowledge), to Socrates coming up with a definition of the thing being examined in the dialogue, to Socrates appearing as a minor character to not at all in the dialogue. By the end, at the third stage of the dialogues, the reader himself is invited to step into Socrates’ shoes and evaluate each speaker’s arguments.Then, a Platonist must be a person who has read and understood the Platonic dialogues, which have not only taught him Platonic philosophy but also the ability to form and evaluate logical arguments.

Now, the hard part. Who is Jesus? For myself, I can guarantee you that I am by no means qualified to answer that question. I wonder whether whoever was looking for an answer took Jesus at His word for who He was, but I, for my part, will. For the purpose of this post, we will define Jesus Christ (that is, to distinguish from any other Jesus, I hope that the person who search was looking for an answer regarding this Jesus and not any other) as the Son of God, (begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, true God of True God, of one essence with the Father…), and as “the Way, the Truth, the Life.” (John 14:6) This second addition may be surprising to some, but it is absolutely necessary to answering the question before us. The first shocking thing that Christ points out in this quote is that He is “the Way.” What does He mean by “way?” The only logical conclusion is that He is the Way to Salvation (which Plato defines as riding in harmony with the chariots of the gods). Second, He says He is “the Truth.” It is rather shocking to see here that truth is identified as a person rather than an abstraction. Plato may have argued that this was a category confusion, since truth is not a living being but an act (congruency with ultimate reality), but in the Timaeus, there is a puzzling point made about a God that existed before all else (the Alpha and the Omega principle) and that created everything, called the Demiurge in that dialogue, but “the Good” in the Kaliopolis, where all Forms (and thereby all truth) are rooted. So, it is not unreasonable that (after much dialogue) Plato may agree that Truth could be a living Being. Finally, “the Light.” If one is familiar at all with the Gospel of John they will realize that the light is often a metaphor for Christ as wisdom and revelation, so we will take “Light” to mean just that.

Having defined those terms in that way, it is clear that Jesus cannot be a Platonist. That would be like asking whether an ocean was a puddle. However, it seems that there could be a connection between the two nonetheless.

Let us reverse the question. Was Plato a Christian?

In the direct sense, obviously not. Seeing how Christ was to be born three centuries later, Plato would need a lot of foresight to be a Christian. Clearly, there is no line in all the Platonic corpus which says, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,” but then, there is no such line in the Old Testament. In a deeper sense, I would argue the positive position. Is Plato a Christian? Sure, he did not know it, but if we are to believe that Plato sought the truth in earnest and had being in harmony with the Divine as the goal of his life and Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, the Light, though Plato was most certainly blindfolded, he was walking down that Way, sharing in that Truth, and being enlightened by that Light.

That being said, the fact that there is a very deep connection between Platonism and Christianity is not that surprising. Of all ancient philosophies, Platonism shares the most things with Christianity, while Christianity reveals points which make philosophy as a whole far more important and meaningful (for example, in the Phaedo, where Socrates identifies rebirth as the act opposite to death, which means that we get unlimited tries to becoming one with the Divine, Jesus Christ reveals that the opposite of death is, in fact, the resurrection of the body, whether for eternal bliss in Heaven or eternal punishment in Hell being the result of how well one has joined with the Divine). It is quite easy to call Platonism (among other things) natural theology, i.e. a science which discovers what can be found out about the Divine through reason alone, not through revelation, to be completed and expanded by revelation, or “the unveiling of the veil” as St. Paul puts it. The combined power of Christianity and Platonism has produced some of the most beautiful works of the Fathers of the Church, starting with St. Justin the Philosopher (known in the West as Justin Martyr), to St. Augustine, to the Cappadocian Fathers, and so on and so forth.