--1--The semester is dead. Long live the new semester! And speaking of long-lived endeavors, it sounds like the request for a 1-year extension on my dissertation has been unanimously approved by my committee. Here's hoping that I have a Ph.D. by year's end.
--2--I'm noticing a whole lot of blog about purity/virginity/chastity/abstinence posts popping up all of a sudden. There are too many to be worth linking from here, and as always, there are at several sides (broadly):
- One side--which seems largely to consist of hedonists, but includes a few folks who are simply shocked by the admission of a certain human-trafficking victim--equates chastity/virginity with purity/abstinence and rejects all of these.
- Another side, consisting principally of somber moralists and certain Christians, reduces virginity and chastity to purity and abstinence, and thus defends the latter as the ends while not really embracing the former at all.
- A third side, which seems to largely by the orthodox Catholics and a few other good Christians, divides these and embraces chastity and virginity while rejecting purity and abstinence as ends though not necessarily as means.
--3--In a related vein, there are moral prescriptions and proscriptions, there is the question of whether or not we adhere to them (both intellectually and in the will), and then there is the attitude by which we adhere to them. All three are important. The first is simply "right and wrong," and so ought to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. This is what it means to be moral. When we adhere to morality, we are moral persons, and to do this we must know right from wrong (intellect) and then desire to do right and to avoid wrong (will). The attitude by which we do each matters too, however. I can desire to do right or to avoid wrong for several reasons. For one, I may fear punishment or the loss of some reward; or I may have a more perfect desire--doing right because it is right, avoiding wrong because it is wrong--by which I would do right or avoid wrong even if there were no punishments or rewards attached. And I can act cheerfully or begrudgingly or sorrowfully or joyfully. For example, I may sorrowfully do a wrong because I am unable to do otherwise (see Romans 7:14-25), or joyfully do right because I know that this is good. I think that these attitudes are also an important part of being not merely moral but actually virtuous, and certainly saintly. For example, in my previous take case 1 is an example of cheerfully advocating immorality, case 2 of begrudgingly advocating morality. When we are left with the choice between 1 and 2, most people will choose 1 without looking back.
--4--Another example of this can be found in this post by fellow IT columnist TJ Burdick, to wit:
"If one truly wants to help the homeless, giving them clothes designed by a shallow ignoramus for the sole purpose of sticking it to that same shallow ignoramus has no value. In fact, it insults the impoverished, hardcore, and ultimately does not achieve the desired ends. The act of using the powerless to demean the elite and calling it “charity” robs the poor of their most prized possession- their dignity. They are not pawns in a political game of social class, they are human beings who deserve our love, not our narcissism....The whole notion of #FitchTheHomeless is layered in shades of egotistic superiority and promotes a twisted sense of societal justice. If you really want to help the poor, don’t give them A & F clothes, give them their dignity."The guy who is organizing #FitchTheHomeless is certainly cheerful about it, and it does have the dual good results of clothing the naked and rebuking sinners (the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch), but it also does risk treating the homeless as mere pawns, as Mr Burdick notes, That is, even if the original intent isn't to treat the homeless as mere pawns--and it's hard to come to this conclusion given the video and the background to this whole movement--it is one of the effects. Further, it is debatable as to whether this is meant as a rebuke of a sinner (an act of mercy) or as a way of "sticking it to the man," which may be cathartic but is not actually virtuous.
--5--From Fr Selman's summary of the thought of Aquinas (Aquinas 101):
"The greatest evil today is not physical pain, as is often thought today, but guilt, because what harms the soul is worse than what harms the body. Thus, to not think that evil is evil is a greater evil than any sorrow or pain, because this springs from a lack of judgment and right reason. To be deprived of these is an evil, because rationality constitutes the good of human nature."I leave it as an exercise for the reader to see how this excerpt is related to the previous take(s). Also, I'd say that Fr. Selman's book is a fairly good (though brief, like so many other) introduction to the thought of Saint Thomas for people with minimal philosophical background.
--6--A puzzle from my thesis-writing:
Let's just say that it isn't figure 2.4 anymore.
--7--Last weekend was mother's day, and so we went down to Sweetberry Farm to pick strawberries with the Elsters. This weekend's plans are relatively low-key. My wife is hosting a recital for her music students, and I'm hopefully going to go see Iron Man 3 with some friends. It's also the last round of RCIA for the year. Next weekend will be a bit more hectic, starting Wednesday when the family flies in, continuing through the Thursday/Friday festivities into my brother's wedding on Saturday, and then our daughter's baptism on Sunday. Good thing it's a three-day weekend.
Seven Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Mrs Jennifer Fulwiler at her Conversion Diary blog.