Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More Art

More of my art! This is drawn on the computer, with a tablet. I'm not really happy with it - mouth is too small and the neck is off - but meh! It gets me out of having to actually write something for my blog!

Orissa Burning

Thomas Peters has the story.

I strongly suggest that you ask Ss. Francis Xavier and Thomas the Apostle, patron saints of India, to intercede on behalf of all Christians there. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Smidge O'Me'Art

While the shoulder is off on this, I very much like the expression captured and the lines of the forehead.

Open Minds Turned Towards the World

I've recently visited a Catholic group whose charism focuses on personal experiences, understanding why those experiences affect you, and what one can make of it. The purpose, it seems to me, is to draw our gaze from the experiences up towards the loving Father who permits us - sometimes for mysterious reasons - to experience them.

But - this causes some of the charism's followers to (I think) mistake emphasis on personal experience for a denial of the real value of abstract thought, of philosophical or theological enquiry. That is, I think, partly an allergic reaction to people claiming to be Catholic intellectuals who compartmentalize their beliefs in such a way as to rationalize opposing ones while ignoring the reality of the situation (that abortion is a grave sin, for example). And if you look around the world, you see many people engaged in rationalizing everything that our experience as Catholics tells us is wrong.

However, you have to have a criteria for judging your experiences - any experience from saying that chair is green to saying "daaaayyyyeeem - dat is a fine portrait you might say."

Criteria of judgment is not embedded in experience. In experiencing green, your eyes detect a certain wavelength, etc., etc. But to say that something is green, you are making a mental judgment (logically speaking, you're predicating the color green of some object) - and a judgment is a proposition that is either true or false. We can affirm a false proposition, we can deny a true one.

How do you know that your judgment is sound?

Over time we experience much many things. We may mistake a straight stick for a bent one under water the first time we see it - but we (hopefully) won't make the same mistake twice. We may mistake a turquoise for a green until we look at a color chart. Our personal experiences are exceedingly valuable because they help us to make sound and sounder judgments about the reality that we encounter. This is all, by the way, politely ignoring all that messy Cartesian distrust of the senses.

Notice, however, that we abstract from reality to get concepts of color and distortion - abstract thought is part and parcel of judging, it is fundamental, though it takes those experiences as its basis. So - abstract thought does not stand in opposition to the personal experiences we have. It accepts those experiences as its basis and builds on them. From many simple propositions we may form more complex ones - "Mary is the co-redemptrix," "Actuality precedes potentiality," "The Pope is Infallible," etc.

These propositions are not known or given by the experiences we have - these things are drawn out of our experience of Christ and the world around us - or the experience that others had with Christ and the world. If we deny that these propositions arrived at through careful and abstract thought hold any value for us, then we eliminate not only important truths of faith, but we also cast aspersions on those promoters of the faith who are named Doctors of the Church.