Jun. 6, 2009, at 5:23pm
A questioner at the talks the other night asked the speakers to give examples of things that are prudish and things that would not be prudish. I doubt he was completely satisfied with the response he got, which offered cases that were too obvious to be helpful for those trying to judge borderline cases in the here and now.
But there’s an reason for the speakers’ vagueness, which goes to the heart of things. Prudishness, like chastity and salaciousness, has an inescapable subjective dimension. Since it is often hard to know what is really motivating ourselves, never mind others, we cannot easily judge from the outside whether a given comment is coming from prudishness or salaciousness or a an entirely wholesome attitude toward sex.
I am reminded of those who demand examples for what does and does not counts as a “serious reason” for postponing pregnancy through NFP. I have heard people ask: “Is finishing my education a serious reason?” and I have heard Christian teachers say, “Finishing your education is not a serious reason.” I think both the question and the answer betray an externalist tendency that violates the spirit of the Church’s moral teaching in this area.
In truth, for the same thing (a desire to finish one’s education, for example )can be in the case of one couple a deeply serious reason and in the case of another an unserious one.
Thanks for your practical insights, Derva. I have been re-searching Maritain's Education at the Crossroads for a maxim that is most relevant to your sharing: "The unbending quality of the the simplest natural truth" . I think it was in the context of manual work.
I once worked with a cabinet maker of sorts and my measurements were off only slightly but it still ruined the work. Despite the fact that I'm a good person there was no pity! It had to be done over!
Despite the fact that Thomas Merton was a man of God, his gentlest touch on an exposed electric wire electrocuted him.
Such, from one perspective, is the way of truth!
Apr. 17 at 11:55am | See in context
Patrick, I read Brian's article, with great interest. I've heard some responses to it, the gist being that many of the gnostic elements he identifies are not exclusive to gnositicism, and are motifs used by the Church, espeically early on. I found the responses quite convincing, though not entirely. I thought the movie was very thought-provoking, but I do think it's a mistake to let ourselves get sidetracked by lining up as pro- or anti-Noah, or any other movie. Even with something like Passion of the Christ, about which there was a lot more unanimity among Christians, I didn't like the way people were sometimes pressured into seeing it, or the way it was treated as a litmus test.
Apr. 10 at 4:49pm | See in context
Yet St. Paul has counseled: "Test everything; retain what is good."
As to the movie itself, or the Catholic 'approach' to it,
"The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: “it’s a conversation starter,” “at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,” etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for “not following the Bible”…
Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces."
To me, the matter is simple: why do we even need to bother with something like Noah? If it is as described above, and it comes down to entertainment vs. no entertainment (of this variety), I would rather suffer with none. It is just clutter in my soul at that point. Noise.
Apr. 8 at 10:15am | See in context
Kate, thank you! If you do change your mind and see Noah, you'll enjoy it a lot more if you read Fr. Ed Fride's take on it, and Patrick Coffin's, to head off possible misunderstandings. But of course nobody has to see it--I'm even having second thoughts about writing about it, not being someone who thrives on conflict!
Apr. 6 at 4:41pm | See in context
I like this blog article. Devra makes some wonderful points about faith and art while she invites Flannery O'Connor and C. S. Lewis to the discussion table. I'm still not going to see Noah, but I am grateful to Devra for introducing me to the persona list project.
Apr. 6 at 9:43am | See in context
Wait! Don't forget that, according to von Hildebrand, there's an even more important sense of good than "beneficial", there's "valuable".
Marriage is just pleasant; it isn't just good for us; it's good in-itself.
The distinction between "beneficial goods" and "intrinsic value" is one of von Hildebrand's most basic and important contributions to the perennial philosophy.
Mar. 26 at 3:57am | See in context
Kate, you are correct, God does exist outside time. God, uncreated and eternal existed before time. Your mangled explanation,like mine, is due to trying to explain the supernatural in the language of the natural. We do have free will and God does know the past,present and future of all our actions. God created time and all the laws of the universe. Everything within the universe is knowable and explainable. Nothing can be known of that which is outside the universe. Explaining that which is Divine is therefore mangled.
Alice v H. taught me the meaning of "good". Good can mean "pleasurable" or "beneficial". Many people define marriage as good,meaning pleasurable. In the long history of marriage; the institution has always been defined as beneficial. I believe there is a serious intentional corruption of the definitions of words like marriage, love, family,person, man, women, life... God/god. Words that were ez to define are now very complected. The confusion is everywhere. To combat this we must live the good life with the understanding that good means beneficial. We need to think less short term self-interest and more long term best interest for all.
Mar. 25 at 6:33pm | See in context
In terms of the science of marriage I do think the concept of work is needed to balance the idea of falling in love. One of the problems I have with DvH's science of marital love is the seeming absence of the necessity of this dimension. But as is so accurately noted, even with the best of intentions on both sides Gordian knots slip in.
Mar. 25 at 9:05am | See in context
When you're open about a topic like this—share a personal experience, or just (like Simcha) demonstrate awareness and empathy for a particular kind of suffering and situation—the candor and openness you reap in private is beautiful and heartbreaking.
Mar. 23 at 1:51pm | See in context
One thing I wish that young woman understood is how much pain her naivete must cause couples whose marriages are struggling, or spouses who were betrayed.
In the last year, while someone close to me is going through divorce, my eyes have been opened to a lot of suffering marriages.
In many cases, we are speaking of couples who were full of the same kind of hope and confidence that she has when they started out.
There is an ineradicable tragic dimension to human life.
Mar. 23 at 12:59pm | See in context
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