Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Same Key

“To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.” - A Buddhist proverb quoted by Richard Feynman.

The key is called human freedom.

Ground of Being

Jesus said unto them: "Who do you say that I am?" And they replied: "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships ". And Jesus said, "What?"

- Written on a wall at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia
I'd expect nothing less from the Jesuits.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Baby in the Well. The Case Against Empathy.

Below are my ruminations in reference to the article, The Baby in the Well. The Case Against Empathy, by Paul Bloom, which was published in The New Yorker, May 20, 2013.

The point of the article is that empathy is not very helpful unless it is coupled with values and reason. Empathy is something that I was ignorant about until I was in my early 30's. I thought it was something that women did! Of course in hindsight, I had experienced empathy before then, especially from my mother when I was a child, but I was not able to put a name on it. Until my early 30's, I had chosen an approach to life that was rigid and overly intellectual. Of course, I always had the same human need for empathy as everyone else, but I was lost in the wilderness. As I grew up, I chose a rather stoic, 1950's male approach to life, coupled with a wildly overdeveloped superego. As per what I have learned from Fr. Luigi Giussani, the purpose of feelings in humans is to draw our attention to what is important.  That makes perfect sense to me. And using a metaphor from Giussani, feelings are the like the lens of the eye or a camera. To see clearly, the lens must be focused. Feelings inform our reason, and for our reason to function at its best, the lens of feelings must be properly focused.  The last sentence of The New Yorker article reads, "But empathy will have to yield to reason if humanity is to have a future."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rescuing the Book of Genesis from the Fundamentalists

Watch the video, Misreading Genesis, where Father Barron talks about the problem of treating Genesis as a science text. People need to be aware of the genre of what they read. The author of Genesis did not intend to write a science textbook. In fact, modern science as we know it did not even exist until the late 16th or early 17th  century.  Rather, Genesis is a great humanistic text.

In almost all of the ancient cosmologies and creation myths, order results from a conquest or act of great violence. In contrast, in Genesis, the world is created through a non-violent act of speech. Further, [my assertion] the creation of Adam and Eve as the pinnacle of creation and in the image of God show the exalted value of humanity.
"God has imbued all things with intelligibility. Adam, noticing the intelligibility, names them, gives them their proper title. Who is he? The church fathers read him as the first scientist. He is the first philosopher. He is the human being in his proper role as the steward of creation and the one who names and orders all things according to God's creative intention." 
"Adam and Eve who are kind of, 'at play in the fields of the Lord:' That stands for science, for art, for politics for conversation, for friendships--all these forms of human flourishing, under the Lordship of God."
  No, Genesis is not an attempt at science but an exquisite theological reflection on the origin of all things.