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Devra Torres

Joined: Feb. 26, 2012

Bio:

Roman Catholic of Jewish background; Master of Philosophy turned homeschooling mother of eight. Freelance writer, editor, and translator.  Studied at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and later at the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein. Happily married to Max Torres; happily settled, God willing, in unexotic Ann Arbor, Michigan after stints in Israel, Rome, Liechtenstein, and Barcelona. Beginning to emerge from intellectual semi-hibernation with the impending maturity of my littlest boy, who has now attained the ripe old age of six.


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Factions

Oct. 20 at 11:39pm | Comments: 1 | Most recent comment: Oct. 22 at 9:24am

                               The Synod is over!  The Synod is over! Relieved or dismayed, euphoric or alarmed, we can take a deep breath and relax. (No, not really: now it’s time to begin sifting through the results and preparing for the real Synod.) The commentary has ranged from distraught to elated, but one recurring idea is that it’s been good to get...

The Synod: Caricature and Reality

Oct. 13 at 2:00pm | Comments: 0

This is not a post about the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. You can learn about what’s actually going on there elsewhere. (Here’s Katie on Pope Francis’ opening remarks and here's the document that's causing today's uproar). No, this post is about the caricature of the Synod, which you can all too easily bump into--by reading only headlines, or reading entire articles uncritically, or reading them critically but failing to consider the source.   ...

How I Spent My Autumn Vacation

Oct. 2 at 11:07pm | Comments: 1 | Most recent comment: Oct. 5 at 1:37pm

At considerable inconvenience and expense to many generous people, I just spent a week flying to and riding around New England to see nearly every single member of my very extensive extended family. I flew down to Baltimore (because that’s where Southwest likes to take everybody, regardless of their chosen destination) and then up to New Hampshire. I stayed with my parents and then with my sister’s family, which includes not only nine children and one...

The Trouble with Hagiography

Sep. 20 at 12:49pm | Comments: 5 | Most recent comment: Sep. 25 at 4:30pm

The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God is a book that was on my meaning-to-read list for months. I’m only partway through the introduction, but already there's a lot to like. The book is a collection of letters from Ruth Pakaluk, a woman I knew slightly when we lived in New England. In fact, we were sent to visit Ruth and her husband right after our marriage by a priest friend who thought it would be good...

“Soft Addictions”

Sep. 13 at 2:02pm | Comments: 1 | Most recent comment: Sep. 15 at 9:07am

Browsing through the library one day, I happened on a book about “soft addictions.” It belonged to the self-help genre, and I don’t remember what kind of treatment the author recommended, but it was an interesting idea: the causes and effects, not of physiologically addictive substances, but of relatively innocuous habits like overeating and nail-biting. (This was a long time ago, so electronics were not on the list, but I have no doubt they would be...


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Re: Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

Sep. 26 at 3:09pm | see this comment in context

...and we are free, personal beings, also. Our actions depend on our choices and are not predetermined or ultimately subject to impersonal forces. Even the free, personal choice of Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree might have been otherwise, and God's decision to shield us from its consequences was a free, personal choice on His part.

Well, I hope all of this has addressed something of your meaning! In any case, welcome to the conversation.

Re: Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

Sep. 26 at 3:05pm | see this comment in context

If the meaning of karma is that our actions, whatever they are, have an equal and opposite reaction, then I don't see how we could ever know, or "prove" whether this is true. In the Catholic understanding, we take seriously the passage of Scripture that says God will "render to each man according to his deeds"--but also the one that says: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap." Gpd is just, and He is also generous, so that it's not just a question of a perfect balance, but of human beings receiving--if we freely cooperate--far in excess of what we "have coming to us."

Original sin is understood as a hinderance to both our knowledge and our power to do good. It doesn't cancel out our free will, but it's an obstacle to the exercise of it.

I think what's distinctive about the Christian understanding of the ego, original sin, and the workings of justice as applied to our actions and their consequences is that it's so personal. God is a personal being who chooses to create the universe in a certain way.  (conintued) 

Re: Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

Sep. 26 at 2:53pm | see this comment in context

Peter, please excuse the delay! I was traveling, and then when I finally got back online I wanted to do justice to your comments, rather than whipping off a quick response.

I won't pretend to be very familiar with the concept of karma. or with Meister Eckhart. I do tend to be skeptical about the idea that different religious traditions are ultimately saying the same thing, but in different ways. There's certainly overlap, but there are also substantial differences.

If, in general, you mean that "what we do comes back to us," I would say, yes and no. In the Catholic understanding, no thought or deed of ours is ever hidden from God, even those that seem to us most private and secret. And the moral weight of our own deeds is known only to God, not even to us, so only He is "qualified" to see to the balance of our actions and that which happens to us. As for our own free decisions, we are called to "do unto others as we would have others do unto us," but of course sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. 

Re: The Trouble with Hagiography

Sep. 25 at 4:30pm | see this comment in context

Katie, yes, the same thing struck me, though I haven't finished the book yet. Reagan, Solidarity, the Equal Rights Amendment--it all seems so long ago, but it really wasn't. 

Re: The Trouble with Hagiography

Sep. 25 at 4:26pm | see this comment in context

Jules, thank you! Gary, yes, I've been rethinking how I explain these things to my children, even the very young ones: rather than speaking as if "bad people" go to hell and "good people" to heaven, I emphasize living as a friend of Jesus and staying close to Him, and always remembering that even if you do something very, very bad, you can always, always, say you're sorry and start over. And if you don't feel sorry or you feel worried about your ability to start over, you can always ask for help. On the other hand, I don't encourage living your life badly and imagining you'll be able to pull off a deathbed conversion at the last minute, without the help of good habits and without being used to thinking of God as a person you can come to and ask for help from.

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