Wednesday, May 21, 2008

For Contemplation...

Fr. Jonathan Tobias' blog, "Second Terrace," is one of the more intellectually stimulating blogs I read-and at times the strangest. The man has been gifted with a staggering intellect and creativity (which sometimes blows right past me). Here's an excerpt from a post some time ago:

Q: What is blasphemy?

A: Saying, humanly speaking, any of the following:

"I am what I am."

"It is what it is."

"I tell it like it is."


"God really messed up. This is God's fault. Inshallah."

"That's your problem."

"What can I do?" or it's cognate "What can you do?"

-- to be accompanied with the ritual shrugging of shoulders, about the only secular liturgical gesture there is -- a physical devotion, if you will, to the abyss of totality, or the nihilist horizon

"Oh well."

-- ditto

"Oh well, that's just me."

-- who else can it be, pray tell?

"I speak my mind."

"I say what I want."

-- note the opportunistic ambiguity that conflates the two possible connotations: "I say whatever is passing for thought in my cerebral apparatus," or "I am committed to the expression of my wants, and I have substituted my true logos and telos with the acquisition of my demands ... I have become a Ferengi in my soul"

"My feelings are important."

"Me time."

"Celibacy is the cause of scandal."

-- celibacy, by definition, cannot ever be the cause of pedophilia: there are other reasons, but not celibacy, and female ordination will not help, either.

"Chastity is impossible. Asceticism is impossible. Effectuality and righteousness and sacrament are all unrelated. Prayer is just, you know, an intrapsychic epiphenomenon within a closed biological and predictable system."

-- what matters today is not atheism so much, nor immorality, nor wahhabist sharia, nor even globalized idiot quotidianism: what matters today is today's complete renunciation of Christian prayer -- for prayer is, after all, predicated on the union of the Divine nature with the human, the intersection of eternal predestination with psychic freedom: if there is no prayer, there is no remembrance of the Incarnation, and the spirit of antichrist will coalesce into identity and cultural power: "When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith?"

"We need progressive religion. We need church to meet our felt needs."

-- the single greatest heretical challenge against apostolic, Nicene Christianity. It is the slogan for the establishment of autonomy in opposition to ecclesial authority.

"We all worship the same God."

-- uh, no, we don't.

"We all worship."

-- uh, no, we don't.

"I feel that ..."

-- the conflation of feeling and thinking is one of the great strategic triumphs of the dark age.

"I am entitled to my opinion."

-- well, yes, but what of it? The road to hell is NOT paved with good intentions, because goodness is never oriented to hell, or present in hell. Dr. Samuel Johnson (blessed be he) and St. Bernard are wrong in saying so, because hell admits no goodness, not even in mere intentional form.

Hell, rather, is paved with opinions, and the "road to hell" (i.e., its rehearsal in history and eschatological anticipation) is asphalted black with opinion. The devil started his comet-like career with opinion, not good intention. Heresy starts with opinion. Liberal Christianity starts with opinion, not reality or vision. Materialism (capitalism and marxism) starts with a blinkered, prejudiced and jaundiced opinion that excludes all metaphysics.

So yes, you can have your opinion, and you're welcome to it. But heaven doesn't rejoice at your having an opinion. Even rocks and snails have an opinions, but they are not too interesting (although they would probably get a lot of votes). Human nature, though, ought to gain knowledge of reality that stretches beyond perception. When examined in the light of day, opinion is of a rather lower, more pedestrian, quality. The freedom to foster opinions is like saying, "Yes, Adam, you can sin, but it sure as hell isn't good for you." But to know the truth, the gospel truth -- as opposed to mainline opinion -- is to be set free.


  1. Anonymous Lutheran said...

    Wow, this is the first time I've ever been acused of blasphemy. My profile says "I am what I am."

    I'm having a difficult time understanding the intent in describing this as blasphemy, unless he is assuming I intend the phrase in the same way as the biblical phrase.

    Quite to the contrary, when I use this phrase in my profile, it's an acknowledgement that I am the person God is shaping me into--and who am I to question Him or try to make myself something different? Maybe it would be better to say, "I am what God has made me," but it looks like he'd object to that too. Can't win, it would seem. =P

  2. Christopher D. Hall said...

    First time, eh? It's always humbling the first time :)

    Seriously, I believe what Fr. Tobias is getting at is that the phrase, "I am what I am" either is, as you suppose, using the name of God for yourself, or it is an implication that what you are is good, and that there is no changing you.

    But I also think that he is using the word blasphemy in a more expansive sense. FWIW.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Anastasia Theodoridis said...

    I also stand accused.

    Oh, but skip that! This reminds me of a distant cousin of mine named Jimmy. At a party, somebody asked why Jesus had died, and Jimmy, just for the shock value of it, said, "Because He was stupid!" and went from there, becoming ever more outrageous.

    His mother, highly embarrassed, chastised him after the rest of the company had left, and his reply to her was, "But it's my OPINION!" Like that was something sacred.