Personalism in architectureWhat is it in the architectural styles of our old Dutch cities that so charms the visiting stranger? What else but the infinite variety in width or narrowness, the looseness of twists and curves, the pointed and obtuse angles of even our most elegant canals that tell you that they were not made but grew. It is as if a mysterious history speaks to you from every curve and narrows. You can immediately tell that no shoddy, money-hungry developer threw up that line of houses but that every dwelling is the fulfillment of a personal dream, the precious product of quiet thrift, based on a personal plan and built slowly from the ground up. Those tufted, tiered, triangular and shuttered gables ere not symmetrically measured with a level but reflected, every one of them, the thinking of a human being, the whimsicality of a somewhat overconfident human heart. The motley collection of houses bespeak a city full of architects, and precisely in that teeming variety you sense the vigor of folk life as in earlier centuries it throbbed only in the heart of Holland’s free citizens.
Uniformity: The Curse of Modern Life
Jan. 27, 2012, at 9:16am
It's always jarring to hear moral indignation and moral terminology being deployed in the defense of moral evil. Here is National Organization for Women President, Terry O'Neill, answering a reporter's question about whether the President has a right to dictate that faithful Catholics pay for emplyees' contraception and sterilizations through their health care plans. In fact, she asserts righteously, President Obama has "an obligation" to force them.
One can't listen without feeling,
1) that this is a wretchedly unhappy woman.
2) that she supposes she has just delivered a crushingly dispositive argument instead of a steaming mass of moral confusion.
But, the state of culture and …continue reading
Jan. 25, 2012, at 7:00am
Editor’s note: What follows is the eighth of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.
I began my last installment by saying that personalist philosophy can go astray in different ways, and I proceeded to show how in the contemporary world it commonly goes astray by becoming too individualistic. Now I want to begin the present installment by mentioning a deviant form of personalism that will come as a surprise to most of my readers: Personalism commonly goes astray by becoming too …continue reading
Jan. 24, 2012, at 3:52pm
I just received an email from Catholics for Israel with its January line up of articles. Among them is the amazing and beautiful conversion story of friend and Personalist Project member Ronda Chervin.
I love the incipient personalism of her existential questioning even at a young age.
Junior High School English class. The assignment: write a page about what you want to be when you grow up. It had to be done on the spot. "How can I know what I want to be, if I don't know the meaning of life?" I wrote spontaneously. I don't think I would have remembered this precocious philosophical question, a prophecy of my later choice to become a philosophy professor, had the teacher not graded it A …
Jan. 23, 2012, at 1:38pm
T.S. Eliot once wrote, "man cannot bear too much reality."
I've been meditating on this a lot in recent years--realizing its truth more and more, and finding it a key to understanding various human situations I come across.
In his post on forgiveness below, Michael Healy mentions one especially common case of reality avoidance: the dishonesty of the wrong-doer about his responsibility for the wrong.
A searing article on Roe v. Wade at realclearpolitics.com (hat tip Barbara Nicolosi) today shows that it happens not only on an individual level, but also at the communal level. [My bold]
If human embryonic life is morally worthy of protection, we have permitted sixty million murders under …
Jan. 23, 2012, at 9:40am
The 39th sorrowful anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is a good occasion for high-lighting an important paper by friend and fellow personalist, Peter J. Colosi. In it he cautions pro-lifers against a growing trend in the movement, viz. a too exclusive reliance on empirical science to the neglect of deeper, philosophical issues. He freely grants that scientific developments making it undisputably evident that even the tiniest zygote is a distinct and absolutely unique human being have been a great benefit to our cause.
Nonetheless, the trend to use the force of that argument as the sole argument is dangerous, for it tends to miss important dimensions of reality related to the meaning of …
Jan. 21, 2012, at 9:10pm
As the title implies, I want to offer two thoughts on forgiveness.
First, forgiveness is really not complete until the full trust of the love relationship is reestablished. Thus there would seem to be two main stages or challenges to the process of forgiveness: 1) achieving (and extending) forgiveness in the first place for a serious wound or offense and then 2) achieving the rebuilding of the full bridge of mutual love and trust. If you have forgiven a person or persons, but no longer rejoice in their presence the way you once did, no longer have an intimacy and openness with them as you once did, keep them at arms’ length emotionally, much less if you do not want to even be with …continue reading
Jan. 21, 2012, at 12:33pm
I appreciate Jules' wonderful quote from Newman (below) on the education of adolescents! It is of prudential importance for universities and their student life policies, of course, but also for all parents, most of whom have a natural tendency toward overprotectiveness. But it is especially relevant--I would think--for homeschoolers.
Perhaps in the modern day, however, it is important to clarify what Newman is talking about when he refers to Aristotle's comments on the "Lesbian Canon" from Nicomachean Ethics, 5, 14. Thus I append the explanation below with a line from the text and the accompanying footnote by Francis Lieber:
chapter xxix.: advantages of institutional government, …continue reading
Jan. 21, 2012, at 8:27am
A discussion we had in our class on Courtship in the Christian Vision, made me go back to this great quote from Newman, which I found in Fergal McGrath’s Newman’s University: Idea and Reality (pp. 338 – 339). It is far too good an example of Newman’s personalist wisdom not to share it here.
I will not comment on the passage other than by fully agreeing with McGrath, who introduces it by saying that “lengthy as the passage is, it deserves quotation in full, as saying about all that is worth saying of the difficult and ever-recurring problem of combining liberty and discipline in adolescent education.”
It is assuredly a most delicate and difficult matter to manage youths, and those lay …
Jan. 19, 2012, at 8:23am
One of my New Year's resolutions was to publish at least three articles beyond the Personalist Project. One down, two to go.
It's short and incomplete in various ways, but it makes a point that is all too easily overlooked when Christian leaders teach about courtship: viz. that the love between a man and a woman is a gift and a mystery, not a creation of the will.
Jan. 18, 2012, at 7:00am
Editor’s note: What follows is the seventh of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.
Personalist philosophy can go astray in different ways; in the contemporary world it commonly goes astray by becoming too individualistic. This happens when I think of persons too much in terms of the rights with which each person is armed, and when I think of others mainly as potential intruders into my sphere of rights, so that I approach them with suspicion and mistrust. As an individualist of this kind, …continue reading
Jan. 16, 2012, at 7:07am
One day this past week, after morning Mass, a friend and fellow professor from Franciscan University of Steubenville casually remarked that this year (2012) marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. I responded, “That’s horrible! Don’t tell me that!” He was a bit shocked until I told him it wasn’t Vatican II that was horrible, but the fact that I can remember it—first hand! I’ll turn 62 later this year. I didn’t want to be old enough to remember the 50th anniversary of anything!
I immediately had two other thoughts. First, in 2 more years we’ll be subjected worldwide to the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania. I still recall vividly my sister and me sitting …continue reading
Jan. 14, 2012, at 10:54am
According to the conventional wisdom, it is easy to love oneself and hard to love others, and it is easy to hate others but impossible to hate oneself. But I have in mind a certain self-hatred that afflicts almost everyone, and a certain self-love that is every bit as difficult as the most generous love of others. Pope Benedict was pointing to this natural self-hatred and this difficult self-love when he wrote: “Is it good that I exist? Is it good that anything at all exists? Is the world good? How many persons today would dare to affirm this question from the heart–to believe it is good that they exist? That is the source of the anxiety and despair that incessantly affect …continue reading
Jan. 13, 2012, at 10:24pm
Further Reflections after 35th Wedding Anniversary. When I first read Von Hildebrand’s Transformation in Christ at age 21, I was immediately struck by the title of Chapter 12: “Holy Patience.” The beauty and appropriateness of the conjunction of those two words have stayed with me ever since. Von Hildebrand unfolds in the chapter that impatience is a form of self-indulgence and is rooted in an illegitimate claim to sovereignty of the self. Patience, on the other hand, is opposed to all petulance and quarrelsomeness; it is also opposed to fickleness and inconstancy—e.g., if a task or goal seems to require commitment over a long period of time. True patience recognizes the sovereignty …continue reading
Jan. 12, 2012, at 12:02pm
Thanks to a Maggie Gallagher post at the Corner, I learn that the USCCB has issued an inter-faith letter calling for the promotion and protection of marriage. It's an important document. Here's the beginning.
The promotion and protection of marriage—the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife—is a matter of the common good and serves the wellbeing of the couple, of children, of civil society and all people. The meaning and value of marriage precedes and transcends any particular society, government, or religious community. It is a universal good and the foundational institution of all societies. It is bound up with the nature of the human person as male and female, and with …
Jan. 11, 2012, at 7:00am
Editor’s note: What follows is the sixth of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.
We live as persons by acting through ourselves in freedom: This is the aspect of Pope John Paul II's personalism that we examined in the last installment. John Paul also teaches that there is a law of freedom, which he calls the "truth about good." Though people are afraid that this law will interfere with their freedom, it is in fact the basis for living in freedom, as we shall try to show in the present …continue reading
Jan. 10, 2012, at 10:22am
Lately I've seen a lot of the term sanctimony. Over at Ricochet, a site dedicated to "center/right" conversation, I've been involved in a number of knock-down, drag-out debates about same sex marriage, wherein I am routinely dubbed "sanctimonious" for defending the permanent, pro-creative bond of a man and woman in marriage as indispensable to the common good.
The other day a facebook friend (Colin, how could you?) called Rick Santorum "a sanctimonious toad." I can't understand that. Is he deemed sanctimonious for defending life and marriage? I don't see him preening. To me his attitude toward his own family life is one of manifest gratitude, not smugness.
Is defending the …continue reading
Jan. 10, 2012, at 8:26am
Facebook friend, Patrick, links today a beautiful and moving reflection about growing older, by Fr. Patrick Hannon. It's funny and thoughtful and deeply human. Also personalistic. He writes about his fear of losing his memory, which he supposes would be like losing his self.
Memories allow me to believe — humbly, fervently — that I am in no small way important, that my little life has meaning, that I am part of a grand story, that I am an actor — leading, supporting or otherwise — on an impressive stage. Memories, these enduring imprints of faces and places and fragrances and melodies and textures and tastes, stand prepared to remind us that we are human persons, each of us with a …
Jan. 8, 2012, at 6:13pm
Fidelity, faithfulness, constancy—these words imply an entire worldview or personal orientation toward reality. In classical times, such words also implied strength and virtue, something to be celebrated. In modern times, unfortunately, fidelity is sometimes ridiculed, as if fruitlessly binding me to a reality which is no more, e.g., in Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘60’s pop hit Release Me, wherein the crooner, pining for a divorce, sings “to waste our lives would be a sin, so release me and let me love again.”
However, Gabriel Marcel, in his chapter on “Obedience and Fidelity” in Homo Viator, as well is in a separate article on “Creative Fidelity” from the book of the same name, points out …continue reading
Jan. 6, 2012, at 11:28am
In preparing for tonight's First Friday Reading Circle gathering, I came across a passage in Liturgy and Personality that strikes me as especially von Hildebrandian--that seems almost to capture the essence of his sense of human life: its "metaphysical situation", its vocation, its fulness. It is a passage about reverence:
Reverence is the mother of all virtues, of all religion. It is the foundation and the beginning because it enables our spirit to possess real knowledge, and primarily the knowledge of values. It is that fundamental attitude toward being in which on gives all being the opportunity to unfold itself in its specific nature, in which on eneither behaves as its master, nor …