A humility that shocks the world

Ever since he was elected to the See of Peter in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has constantly been compared with Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine, with no account made of their vastly different characters.

Alas, it seems that the nerdy Pontiff has finally outfoxed all his internet critics in an act of shocking humility - the abdication of his Petrine Ministry and from the office of Pope. The full text of his abdication now follows:

Dear brothers,

I have convoked you to this consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which, in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on April 19, 2005, in such a way, that as from Feb. 28, 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of St. Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry, and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the holy Church to the care of our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the cardinal fathers with her maternal solicitude in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, February 10, 2013


I must tip my hat to LarryD over at Acts of the Apostasy, who gave me the first word on this very shocking announcement. It seems that everyone was stunned, even many within the Vatican, and considering that the last Pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415, very near to 600 years ago, it's no surprise that wer are all surprised. I know I am, and saddened too.

But on reflection, for this to come like lightning from a clear sky is perhaps the wiliest move by the Pope. His Holiness was under no great pressure on any issue to resign, and so no one can claim that this resignation as a victory for a particular scandal, abuse or corruption, even if it is greeted by the many enemies of the Church with cheers and joy (for that us but a reaction, and thus they are reduced to mere spectators of this ancient tradition's robust continuation). Thus, while it opens the precedent for his successors to follow on and abdicate, it does so without any hint or suggestion that one might be forced from the Papal office by so many stinkmakers, be they of a sedevacantist or liberal bent.

It is also worth reflecting on the Pope's previous actions and statements. Scott Hahn has noted how often Pope Benedict has (unnoticed) sought the intercession of Pope Celestine V, who was the first Pope to officially resign, and who was placed in Hell by Dante and Heaven (by canonisation) by the Church. It is also noted by the BBC that his schedule had been pared back, while also his remarks in the book Light of the World are indicative of his attitude towards a possible resignation, as he stated that if a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.

The act is also a recognition of the adaptations the Papacy has made to the modern world, specifically in the form of increased visibility and accessibility. The Mad Monarchist laments the decision, and points out that previous Popes didn't even leave the Vatican City, and yet still effectively led the Universal Church. However, this fails to account for the enormous charisma and legacy of Blessed John Paul II, whose willingness to travel brought the Faith all around the world, and especially to the young through World Youth Day. Ergo, I believe His Holiness is making a prudent decision, for the mere physical demands of the job have increased beyond what was in the past expected.

And so it is worthy of looking at the humility of these two men - Benedict XVI and John Paul II. John Paul II, in humility, maintained his post and his calling, while Benedict XVI, in humility, gave it up. Perseverence in holiness and detachment from power are the marks of great humility, and well worth venerating and imitating. Aggie Catholic has even more on this.

And so the reign of Pope Benedict XVI shall come to an end, and a new Pope shall be elected to continue the race. While all I really remember of Pope John Paul II was the old, infirm man who I could barely even hear speak, Benedict's sparkling liveliness shall always be fondly recalled in my heart. I remember at World Youth Day Madrid, when he recieved a ten-gallon hat, that he put it on sideways, and how, on the Friday of that week, I was so close, but a few metres away, and how he stopped a short way down to bless a baby, to the cheers of all around me.

As a nerd and a geek, he was exactly my kind of Pope. I'm sad that he has made this choice, but I rejoice in what he has done. When he was elected, I was as Catholic as most politicians. Now, I might dare to say, I've found a path to sainthood.

So farewell you great and geeky Pope! You are much loved, and your wit shall be greatly missed. May your shocking and great humility inspire us all for the greater glory of God.


Those of you familiar with the standard motivations know that the number that forms this post's title is the number of seconds contained within each 24-hour day. It is, on reflection, worth asking where they all go.

It's been a very long time since I have made any effort with this blog. It didn't even make my list of New Years Resolutions, not that I really had one given that our new year is really quite arbitrary. Truly, what's so special about January 1? Apart from it being Federation Day.

But in more serious tones, it is time I made an effort with this blog. So perhaps I might do a word adventure some time soon. Indeed, I think it is fitting. Certainly, there are quite a few words I'd like to learn about, but that will be for another time.

As it stands at present, however, I am simply reminding eveyrone that I am not dead and that all rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated and spread solely to get you to come and read this post (oh wait, I wasn't supposed to say that). In point of fact, I had a very busy November, and have been keeping myself busy since with a few other little projects. I can honestly say that being a teacher seems to suit me, though it remains to be seen how well I'll do on my own in the classroom.

In addition to my practicum, I managed to hit another victory in NaNoWriMo, which makes three for three. I'm quite pleased with myself, even though it left me utterly exhausted, for it proved to myself that I could actually pull off all that work, almost to spite my tendency to procrastination.

December was quiet by comparison, but still busy, as there was the purchasing of the various Christmas presents and concomitant preparations, as well as work on a new Superman costume, entirely made by yours truly. I also gave a Latin Mass at St Benedict's on Broadway a shot, and I just managed to work out how to follow it all. I'm able to see why some people might get alienated by the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, but I found it an interesting experience. I'd certainly like to go again, maybe this time to one of the FSSP Masses offered a little further west.

Christmas and January has been, of course, a lazy time, and while I said I didn't really bother with New Years Resolutions, I am aiming to have read 52 separate books this year. I'm afraid I'm being a bit inconsistent, but alas, such is life. One settles into a routine only with the greatest of difficulty, but reading is the key to all creativity, and I can already count myself as having finished G.K. Chesterton's wonderful biographical sketch of St Thomas Aquinas and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #49. Fulton J. Sheen's Life of Christ will soon follow, and I'm sure there's much else to do.

So that's largely what I have been up to of late, but a word adventure is certainly in order. I can think of a few, then. Stay tuned for more.

I've been busy...

I'm afraid that university has left me tired and busy and thus I have had little time for much word play or commentary here. However, some of what I have done has been extra-curricular, and I do still have my down time on the internet. To start with, I give you The very model of an amateur grammarian, and interesting take to be sung to a possibly recognisable tune. Just a brief enjoyment.

I also delivered a speech as part of the ACU Oratory Competition on the question Does social media create genuine community? There were eight speakers in total, and we all had very different approaches. For some, it was a matter of referring to personal experience. For me, though, I took a far more abstract and intellectual approach. Below is what I typed up to say (and when you're doing an oratory competition, what you write and what you say don't always perfectly match), as I think it may be revealing of how I see things. Truth in advertising and all that jazz.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

We are witnessing today the advent of new forms of communication, and we are rightly concerned as to whether or not these communications that we have collectively dubbed the social media are conducive or opposed to the formation of true communities. Many welcome the social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others – as catalysts for revolution and mass action on a scale and time period unknown in ages past. But to the question as to whether the social media can create a genuine community, I must answer no.

To find out why, let us first look at what it is to be human. A body obviously has something to do with it, but if we only consider the body, then we very quickly find something missing. So too does what we commonly call the soul seem to be related to our humanity, especially should we define the soul to incorporate our intellect and our free will. But again, this cannot be the full essence of our humanity. If we were to consider body and soul together, then we arrive at something that explains simultaneously our love of beautiful things and our desire to eat. Both nourish us in ways that we don’t always fully understand, but nourish us nonetheless they do.

Therefore, all human desire is ordered towards nourishment – towards fulfilment. The very fact that we need to eat means that we are not fulfilled within ourselves, or put another way, we do not contain within ourselves the fullness of our physical existence. So logically speaking, if our bodies are not fulfilled, neither are our souls, for the two are intrinsically linked. The question naturally arises as to how we nourish our soul, and the answer is this thing we call community.

Community means literally “shared unity”, and this concept finds great expression in the Catholic understanding of the Holy Eucharist, which is also known as Holy Communion. It does not mean that a community destroys the individual. A community is not the Borg Collective. But neither can a group of individuals unbound by common understandings of morality as Nietzchian supermen ever form a community. A community arises from the dynamic interplay of the individuals and their common core of unity. Both the individual and the group must be confirmed and valued, or else the community dissolves into nothing.

Social media, by their very nature, are incapable of creating a nourishing environment for the human soul. First of all, the communications are often impersonal, being sent out en masse as a tweet or a wall post. Also, the interactions are not in real time, which means that the reactions of recipients may be far removed from the actual event. Additionally, we have the phenomenon of the internet troll to deal with, and while such trolls could exist in a more physical community, the lack of anonymity would work against them catastrophically.

But even used well, social media is still very inefficient at nourishing our souls. Only about 5% of what we mean to say is communicated by the words we use. The rest is conveyed in body language and vocal tone, neither of which is conveyed in social media. It is simply impossible to adequately nourish our souls without also including our bodies in the process, and so it is always folly to try and substitute a brief string of words for a truly heartfelt friendship.

G.K. Chesterton noted that many people in his own day found other humans to be terrifying things, which saw them abandon deeper friendships in favour of less intimate contact. How much the truer today, when we sadly choose to trade deep, lifelong relationships for 140 characters of cowardice.

Thank you.

I'm not the only one

I am heartened to see that I am not alone in my insistence on the proper use of words and language. Though I know I had nothing whatsoever to do with these articles, it's always helpful to know that I'm not the only one who has seen this problem (which alos means that it's a real one).

So, to start with, let us look at this article about an employer who won't hire people who can't use grammar properly. This is only partly about words, with much more consideration being given to the unpronounced symbols that specify the meaning of what we're communicating. For example, it's is the contracted form of it is, while its is the possessive form of it. Grammar augments and specifies our meanings, and should be well used. Wanton cruelty to the common comma is exactly what a mastery of grammar should help us to avoid (or at least make highly amusing).

For a somewhat more controversial example, let us now turn to look at the marriage wars. I'll admit, I'm treading on hot coals here, but let's just focus on the definitions. Robert George writes that the traditional definition of marriage as a reproductive union founded on the complementarity of the sexes is ignored by those who favour legalising same-sex "marriage" and not well understood by those who oppose them. This is a good case study of what happens when words that describe certain things have their meanings divorced from what they are describing, and exactly how language can degenerate into the easily abused morass that we have today in much of the English-speaking world.

Finally, let us turn to Marc Barnes (whose Bad Catholic blog on Patheos is one of my personal favourites) as he holds forth on beauty once more. Here he meditates on how the word priceless has been degraded in our materialist culture and how it actually points to a supernatural reality through the ancient rubric of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. In this case, Marc focuses on how Beauty is priceless and is thus infinite. With no possibility of the infinite being natural, we must either surmise that our experience of the universe is pretty much rubbish, or that there exists an infinite supernatural reality (or in simpler terms, that Beauty points to God by being infinite). This is much of the essence of what I will try to get at in the word adventures to come.

As a parting note, I am aware that I have been very remiss in posting of late. University is back and I have a lot of hobbies and duties to attend to. Even so, there is still more than enough time for me to write posts, and I shall endeavour to provide more essays, meditations and word adventures. I know I have the time; all that is left is to use it and use it well.

God bless.

Word Power

The favoured instrument of communication since time immemorial is the word, be it spoken, written, drawn or conveyed by signs and gestures. While body language accounts for nearly three quarters of our communicative ability, and we all know the famous phrase that a single picture speaks a thousand words, we cannot live without words. Without words we could not exercise the higher orders of the mind. But today, we have a problem: for all the ubiquity of words with the rise of the internet, we seem to have forgotten their purpose in communication, and neglected to understand their meanings, and thus have come to misuse them.

Consider this – words have meaning, and we use that meaning to communicate ideas and visions and perspectives. All of the memes, the philosophical, psychological, sociological, theological and scientific ideas that form the collected mass of human knowledge and thought, are communicated primarily by words. Our words are imperfect – of this, there can be no doubt. If they were perfect, we would only need one word. So we string together words to convey an image of an event: the boy bit the dog. “The boy” conveys an image of a male child; “the dog” is an animal we are all familiar with; “bit” tells us what the boy did to the dog and when he did it. In that single sentence of five words, I have conveyed a scenario into your mind, one weird and wonderful for its very peculiarity. In this image, I convey a historical event.

Another example we can draw from the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” “In the beginning” tells us when this event occurred, “God” denotes the actor, “created” was the action, and “the heavens and the earth” were the result. This image conveys two perspectives – one is broadly historical, that God created everything; the other is broadly theological, that God transcends and exists outside of creation.

Perhaps another, in the language of mathematics. E=mc2 is perhaps the most famous physical equation, known even to small children. What does it say? That energy (E) and mass (m) are equivalent in proportion to the square of the speed of light (c). This conveys a scientific image, and with the recent work at the LHC, we might now be able to go both ways – not just deriving energy from fusion and fission, but creating matter as we desire. But I digress.

One can see then the power of language and the symbols and words that we use to communicate, even if that language is mathematics. And you see how the meaning of the words is so necessary to understanding their arrangement. Only by understanding the words in the sentence might we understand what the sentence is trying to convey. Certainly, it can be boring. But it can also be extremely exciting. Take, for instance, a sentence that you didn’t understand, but which experience and time have granted you insight into. If you’re anything like me, that insight is profoundly gratifying and exciting, and it can only come when we actually understand the words being used.

But today we have an unfortunate habit of misusing words. Particularly, we use words that do not accurately describe what we are trying to convey and so we use language imprecisely.

Now, this is not to be  considered some screed against the natural evolution of language. The word quiz, for instance, referring to a short test of an intellectual nature, started out (if legend is to be believed) as London graffiti, which was the talk of the taverns as everyone tried to guess what it actually meant. Possible etymologies aside, this story is widely held to be the origin of its modern widespread use.

A fuller example of this is the word nice. Nice comes to us ultimately from Latin, via French and Middle English, with the root ultimately being ne scire. Scire may already be familiar to you, and is the root of the modern English word science. Scire, in Latin, means knowledge, usually with connotations of practical importance; what one might call today common sense. Therefore, ne scire must therefore mean no knowledge, as the negative ne implies (and if you haven’t already noticed, look at the first two letters of negative to get a hint for its meaning). Ne scire then becomes nescius, meaning ignorant. Allow two thousand years of contraction and passage through half a continent, and you get nice.

But we don’t often use nice to mean ignorant today. We use it to mean pleasant, generous, kind and other such positive traits. How did this come to be so?

Miss Ann Barnhardt rightly traces the origins of the modernuse in that nice was used to describesomeone who was agreeable by virtue of their ignorance. Though largely archaic and discarded, this understanding of nice to mean ignorant, but agreeable is still implicitly understood. “That’s nice dear” is almost universally recognised as an answer of the ignorant, uncaring and inattentive. This change, however, is not as recent as Miss Barnhardt presumes, as G.K. Chesterton’s Heretics, particularly its introduction, provides ample proof that this had largely become common currency in Mr Chesterton’s youth in the latter part of the 19th Century.

Thus, quiz and nice can easily be considered as some of the natural accretions and changes in language that occur over time as languages change and develop. I could produce a thousand more examples, falling over myself in semantics and turn a lifetime’s worth of habits of speech on their head in a day. But this is more about linguistic abuse, and believe me, it is happening.

Consider the word gay, originally meaning happy and carefree. A hundred years ago, a playing child could have been described as gay and it would have been correctly understood in that original meaning. Today, it is synonymous with homosexual, having been seized by the homosexuals as a self-descriptive banner for their exclusive use, and its original meaning is almost completely lost under a torrent of sexual innuendo and insult. Not only that, but the exclusivity was deliberately designed to normalise homosexuality, though alas, as Cardinal Pell says, the poor fellows aren’t actually gay in the original sense; they’re just as miserable as the rest of us.

This is not something that is peculiar to homosexuals though – Richard Dawkins has been suggesting that atheists use the self-appellation bright to demonstrate their enlightenment and intelligence, and has responded to criticism by suggesting that theists and other such believers should take up the self-appellation super, to denote their belief in the supernatural. I react to such a suggestion as follows:

It is this misuse of gay and the potential misuse of bright and super that worries me. It leaves me wondering what precisely is wrong with the terms homosexual, atheist, and theist, all of which are perfectly descriptive of the beliefs of the people they are used to describe. I can find no problem with them off the top of my head, and so must conclude nothing to be wrong with the words themselves. Rather, it seems that there is an attempt afoot in the English speaking world to present things in a manner that, technically speaking, is not descriptive.

Allow me to explain. All societies are based upon a fundamental cosmological perspective which underpins that society’s views of humanity, the universe, and the forces at work in both. In the West, this is largely provided by Christianity, however consciously or unconsciously it is acknowledged. For over fifteen hundred years, Christianity has provided the cosmological perspective that has underpinned the entirety of the West and its success, including the development of science, equality before the law, the value of education, among many more, even if said philosophies do at times seem to conflict with Christianity.

Over the past half-century however, there has been an almost unprecedented falling-away of almost the entire society from Christian morality, and as the morality has passed, so too have other elements whose success was derived from the Christian perspective waned and declined, including education in the face of equality, equality of the law in the face of multiculturalism and relativism, and much else besides. However, in spite of this passage, the cultural influence of Christianity is deeply rooted in the Western psyche. The third ring of the phone is ripped straight from the Resurrection (which is only the most famous of many other examples). When dealing with non-Christian faiths, we very often reduce them to Christian tropes – the god of the dead takes the role of Satan, the king of the gods is held as God, and it all goes on.

And so too, it can be said that the morality is still there, just beneath the surface. My previous post on coincidences and conspiracies demonstrates an observation of this lingering sense in ourselves, as though we know there is a spiritual realm, even when no one teaches us anything about it. Catholics term this, in the moral sense, as the Natural Law, and it is this that, though on the surface abandoned, still lies as a steady undercurrent which cannot be ignored, and against which no ship can sail.

If this is indeed the case, as I believe it to be, then we can see that the need for homosexuals, atheists and the like to justify their behaviour must lead them either to self-honesty, in which they accept that these things feel a forced and unnatural, which contains in itself the seeds of change, or to self-deception, whereby they label, justify and excuse everything they can. Can theft be justified? Of course – just call it redistribution of wealth and watch the support swell. Can murder be justified? Sure – a foetus isn’t really a human you know, and neither are newborns or vegetables, and besides, some people might want to die to escape the pain, which after all is something we have a right to not endure. What about sex with whomever I want? Oh sure, if you love them.

These are actual arguments that are being made today. Theft and murder are justified by the use of other terms. As I said earlier, sodomy seeks to be normalised by the appropriation of gay, and now Dawkins wants atheists to join the fun with bright (though thankfully, many atheists are responding with an admirable sense of intellectual honesty).

Ultimately, this comes back to a failure to understand the very nature of our humanity. Those who claim to love someone are also, sadly, very fast to leave them for someone else, no more in their mind than a broken toy. It’s almost perverse that the language of rights which is derived from our inherent dignity is being used to demean that very same dignity, and we say it is our right to look at others not as people of inherent dignity with all the same rights as us, but rather as an apparatus to be used and discarded at our pleasure, or a source of money for our own enrichment.  It is a disgusting view, and one which we can only justify through lies and ignorance.

That is my issue with this – we are lying, to others, but most grievously to ourselves. My intent here is to expose this deception of self into which we, as a society, have fallen in our rush to abandon Christianity. We lie in our very words, in the way that we communicate, and the lie has been so effectively inculcated that it is almost unconscious. I do not grieve for the changes that naturally occur in language – all things must eventually pass, and so too English shall one day pass into another language. But I am aggrieved by our lies, and the corruption that results in this twisting of language, and in frustration, as a broken record, I repeat those famous lines from the cliff-top:

So do not be afraid to describe yourself as you are. Honesty is the virtue of the honourable, and I should rather be arguing with honest and honourable sinners than dishonest peddlers of distortions, whose tricks and turns of language would frustrate me in their iniquity. To aid in this end, I conceived of the word adventures, to explore the origin and etymology of the words we use, to hunt down their meanings and how they have changed over time, and how we might play with them today. For language ought to be a precise instrument, to communicate succinctly and exactly what we mean. Therefore, it is important that we know what the words we use mean, and hold such meanings in common. No word can ever mean what any individual wishes it to mean, because, for all the pride of those who claim such authority, they would only end up recreating, by their own hand, the results of Tower of Babel, and with it, the same disintegration of the bonds of community that the Biblical legend so described.

And I will not have it, for then all the nations our ancestors built, all their legacy of freedom that they bequeathed to us, would be lost as all came crashing down around us. If a meme cannot be communicated, it dies, and so too with the understanding of the cosmos that we in the West possess. And I will not have it. Not ever.

So I shall take up the first duty of the gentleman, and restate the obvious, as many times as need be. Words have meaning, and should be used appropriately, even if it is only to say, “Your boy bit my dog!”

Coincidental Conspiracies

Murphy’s Law has an irritating habit of striking when we least desire it. You’re desperate to get home and you get all reds, or miss your train by a quirk of fate. You’re in a tearing hurry and drop your toast buttered side down on the carpet. Or in my case, you relaunch the blog and find that, the next day, your computer has ceased to function.


Of course, we noticing things that go awry is nothing new. Since the dawn of man, things have gone for and against us in varying degrees. We do like things going for us, but when things go against us, how often do we say “This always happens,” when in point of fact it doesn’t? How often do we look at something bad occurring and wonder why nothing good ever happens? The answer is simple: good things do happen to us. We just don’t notice them, and we hardly ever have.

But good things are not particularly my concern here. Nor too, specifically bad things, though bad things are more illustrative of my point. My point is more along the ideas of coincidence and conspiracy. Coincidence is the occurrence of two or more events, in close proximity in time, that occur by simple chance. For example, a coincidence would be you running into a friend on the way to university, or work, or the pub without there being any contact between you and said friend. Conspiracy is a series of actions willed by a group of conspirators for the purpose of bringing about a result, usually of a nefarious nature. A benevolent example of this would be the throwing of a surprise birthday party – everyone is in on the conspiracy except the one who is being surprised, namely the birthday boy (or girl).

As with all things, one can never rule out either conspiracy or coincidence. In the case of my computer, my graphics card decided it preferred death to continued service. There are three possible explanations that present themselves to my Catholic mind:
  1. Pure and simple coincidence: the graphics card is now about five years old. These things do have a limited lifespan, and my card just reached the end of its span.
  2. A conspiracy of diabolical spirits (more popularly known as fallen angels, or devils), permitted by the Divine, to test my patience and fortitude through the malfunction of my computer’s graphics card.
  3. A conspiracy of the Divine Will and its servants (the Heavenly Host and the Church Triumphant) to bring about conditions favourable to my progression on the road of salvation.
 Three possibilities, two of which are conspiracies, and none of which I can declare the absolute and utter truth.

You see, the precise cause of this malfunction does not really matter to me. The specific causes and players are by their nature unknown to me. The only thing that matters is what I do now with my broken computer. You see, it could only be option one. But it could be two, or even all three. Frankly, my computer has been something of a plague on my life, exacerbating my spiritual form of Asperger’s syndrome (Ooo! Shiny!). Thus this occurrence has been rather providential in providing me some breathing space to push my life a bit further along. I must therefore hold that none of these options are exclusive of the other two, and therefore, cannot eliminate any causes from conspiracy or coincidence, either in timing or in intent.

Now, I know this talk of angels and devils has something of an appearance of madness to it, but let me consider then the alternate views that are espoused. I know some of these views – I used to hold them, and to some extent still do.

The first of the two alternate views is the one that I held. Namely, I did not acknowledge Divine Will or diabolic influence, and so I eventually developed two options when whatever computer I was on malfunctioned:
  1. Mere coincidence,
  2. The computer itself had some form of sentience and was thus liable to be truculent unless dominated.
It is well to note that the second option is what leads to the phenomenon of percussive maintenance. As we shout and strike at disobedient children, and so we do the same to the computer. We strike it and shout at it as though it were sentient, even when it isn’t even turned on, as though we might cow it into doing our bidding.

In short, we acknowledge a ghost in the shell without acknowledging the ghost, and thus those who hold this view, regardless of their actual religious belief (or lack thereof), may be roughly termed Pagans. Many people hold this view because they have given it little to no thought at all. I did not come to view angels and devils and the Divine as active until I started to learn about my faith and how the material and spiritual creations interact. In fact, largely, this is indicative of the reality of a spiritual creation beyond the experience of our five senses, as largely this view arises by instinct unexamined by intellect. Instinct only arises where there is some reality to respond to. If there were no spiritual realm, we would therefore have no cause to anthropomorphise our computers (or to make gods of the weather, for a more ancient example).

This view is most likely the view most people today hold. But there are also two more options, more purely material. I refer, in this case, to the Conspiracy Theorists and what I call the Coincidentalists.

Both Conspiracy Theorists and Coincidentalists would present two options once again for the malfunction of the computer:
  1. Pure coincidence
  2. Malevolent conspiracy for world domination and conquest of which the person whose computer has malfunctioned is aware and who is in danger of being silenced by the malevolent conspirators who have sabotaged said person’s computer.
It is worth noting that those who view things in purely material terms can be almost perfectly split between Coincidentalists and Conspiracy Theorists. For the Coincidentalists, everything is coincidence, random chance, pleasant or unpleasant, not to be dwelt upon but merely accepted in resigned powerlessness. For the Conspiracy theorists, the simple occurrence of a computer malfunction acts as proof of the conspiracy’s reality. No innocent explanation of the occurrence will do because, if you’re in on the conspiracy, you would say that, wouldn’t you?

And that is why Chesterton is so refreshingly lucid in Orthodoxy, by declaring these people to be the true madmen. Their madness is not a loss of reason, but rather a loss of everything but reason. All sense of perspective and knowledge of human nature is ignored in favour of a self-centred worldview in which the theorist becomes the hero of some international best-selling thriller novel along the lines of The Da Vinci Code (which I am still yet to read. The Divine Comedy doth beckon first!). They prefer a worldview so material, so reasonable, so logical, so realistic, that it can only be described as unrealistic fictional, for alas the world is not reasonable, or particularly logical by the everyday sense of the term. It is a mistake committed also by the Coincidentalist to just as sad an end, though the mistake itself occurs at a lesser degree.

Take, for instance, any field of physics with “quantum” in the field title. It is bound to be at times illogical and unreasonable. Empty space is abuzz with imaginary particles that exist without existing. Science herself screams that the universe conforms to a logic and reason that does not correspond to our own everyday concepts of these words. Science demands order, and there is order in the universe, for by its nature, without order, there could only be nothingness. But that order, as scientists have come to find over the last century, is one that does not conform to any logic that we could have easily devised or expected. Though this is far truer of physics and mathematics than it is of chemistry and biology, even biology itself must admit that the logic of evolutionary theory and the origins of life baffle our forms and methods of logic.

I will not accord to God what science may yet discover about the origins of life. Coincidence and Divine will are, as I have said earlier, non-exclusive possibilities, and I will not know the full truth of the matter unless and until I am with Him who made me. It should be interesting to know the process, for it would be and undoubtedly beautiful thing to know. But we should certainly accept that logic and reason as we know it in our everyday lives does not so well apply to the universe at large.

But my ultimate point here is not what the particular options are insofar as computers and the malfunctions are concerned. Though I am a Catholic and was once in ignorance of spiritual realities, in neither case did the actual possible causes of my computer difficulties and malfunctions cause me any great angst or loss of time. In short, I, consciously or unconsciously, acknowledged the influence of the Divine and diabolical in my computer in some way, but never allowed it to subtract from my life (or at least, not very much). Either way, it was a healthy view to take, and whether your view is Catholic or Pagan, so long as it is one of these, it is still quite healthy as you take neither a denial nor too great an interest in such influences diabolic.

No, the unhealthy views are those of the materialists, the Conspiracy Theorists and the Coincidentalists. The Coincidentalists close their minds and thus close themselves, shutting up the fullness of their own life and retreating behind a wall of solitude. They are deserving of pity, for they ultimately accept only despair in the face of random chance or predestination, neither of which they can see themselves opposing. It leads one ultimately to a nihilism and a view of pointlessness to existence.

But the Conspiracy Theorist has by far the least healthy view on these matters. They simultaneously deny the spiritual reality of the diabolic (or the ghost in the shell; however one phrases the view, the underlying concept is ultimately still the same), while at the same time taking far too great an interest in the effects of these same spirits in the disconnected and disparate actions of people whom the conspiracy theorists accuse of being conspirators in their narrative. Truly, C.S. Lewis was right to say that the devils are pleased by either error (of disbelief in their existence, or too great an interest in them) but I doubt even Lewis could have foreseen that the materialist would someday find some way to commit both errors at the same time.

Ultimately, the fruits of these perceptions are the true test of their healthiness for us. Those of us who acknowledge some spiritual reality that impinges on and influences our own material reality, however unconsciously such a view is held, are those who are well adjusted people, often quite sociable: ourselves; our families; our neighbours; our friends. Whether Catholic or Pagan, it matters not; it is more natural for us to live with an acknowledgement of the spiritual realm than it is to live without. To deny the spiritual creation in materialist reduction, one is left unfulfilled or paranoid, completely overthrown in the intellect regardless of one’s final position, which leads to despair and withdrawal. Humanity is made for communion. I should expect even an atheist to concur. And from that, we can see that the fruits of the materialists are far poorer than those of even the most unconscious of the pagans.

Welcome to the New Review

Welcome to the New LAWW Review. I think a few explanations are in order, but first, let's get some music going.

And now, with some accompaniment, let me begin by the obvious changes I have made - the visual ones. Largely, this is why I put off my relaunch by a week. I am, by no means at all, done with my visual changes, but the most dramatic ones have already been made. Let's start with the background.

In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said: Be light made. And light was made. -- Genesis 1:1-3

I think that this little spot from the Bible should be quite enlightening of my mind regarding the background. You can tell I have a star floating over what appears to be an ocean, but I have named this particular background "The Primordial Sea" in deference to this passage from Genesis. Quite simply, the meaning ought to be plain - my blog is undergoing a process of creation. I am starting from nothing, and am thus going to be continually adding to and ultimately perfecting this blog. So naturally, things will change, as all things do. I hope that in all that change, it all ends up making this blog more enjoyable, more open and more fun to read and visit.

Obviously, I've redone my title header using a favoured font of mine (it's called Battlefield, if you're interested), and older readers may recognise it from Colony Wars and G-Police. I would have liked to do the whole site in this font, but alas, I am unable to. We shall see what becomes of it.

I would also like to draw your attention to the dedication at the bottom of the blog. I have certainly become very much religious than when I started this blog in 2008 for my senior year of quantum mechanics, and I feel it right to declare that all I do here is for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. Hence, all the Biblical meaning embedded in the page. With that in mind, what greater intercessors can I have than Jesus and Mary?

This said, I should point out that I'm not going to be doing very much with my general intent for this blog. I still intend to try and observe, reflect on and change the culture in which I live, and after some contemplation, I have determined that there are two things whose interplay gives rise to culture - perception and communication.

Perception roughly covers all elements of philosophy, science, faith and spirituality. It is all about how we perceive the world around us, its makeup, its mystery, its origins and its ends.

Communication covers all aspects of communicating these ideas, philosophies and perceptions. In short, it is all about language, and how we use it.

In light of this, you will be roughly able to divide all my posts now into three groupings - the cultural, the perceptive, and the linguistic. The cultural posts will generally observe elements of our culture and how the interplay of words and ideas is expressed. This will take the form of reviews and reflections on the expressions of the ideas of our culture in the form of books, movies, series, and the like. The perceptive posts will be more inclined towards observing the ideas and attempting to determine their worth. I being a Catholic, I find that ideas are well worth judging. It is not evil to judge an idea to be wanting, or a philosophy to be deficient. Therefore, I shall be doing these in essays on various trends in ideas and linguistic use. Those essays on linguistic use overlap with the final category of linguistics, which will delve into the origins, meanings and use and misuse of words in the past and today. Particularly, I am keen on a little thing I call a Word Adventure, wherein I would trace the origins of a word, its use and misuse, in what I should hope to be as interesting a form as possible, thus enlivening the English language and making up for what can only be described as a deficient English curriculum these days (there - I judged that now didn't I?).

Unlike the past, I shall not hold myself to any sort of timetable for these posts. I tried that, and wound up delivering a great quantity of posts of mediocre quality. Now, I'd rather be a bit more quality focused, and push myself to do things not because of some arbitrary deadline but rather out of a sincere desire to share some very exciting and interesting thoughts. If I might borrow from Michael Voris, timetables will indeed be open to interpretation (which is why I need the prayers of Jesus and Mary if this blog is to get anywhere).

Now, I did also hint that I am something of a binger when a deadline approaches and I promised a brief explanation on that. Simply put, I was doing my Biblical studies subject for my teaching diploma and I had to go through the entire unit in about a week. Which I did. Then I had to do a research essay on Luke's infancy narrative and the Old Testament motifs present therein, which I did over the next week. Suffice it to say, I described this as my Jesus Binge, and while that does draw many negative connotations, and it did at times very much hurt my brain, it was certainly well worth it - I'm looking at an HD in Biblical Studies, and so I'm naturally quite pleased.

So, that why I was late. Seems a perpetual thing for me, but alas, that is another post. For now, it is enough for me to say to you, Keep calm and carry on, and to myself, Keep calm and make it so.