Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ongoing Dialogue, Part III

Okay, so we exceeded 200 comment in the last post (please make sure to hit "load more" so that you get those 13 comments that came after 200). So, let's continue in the comment box:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ongoing Dialogue, Part II

Let's continue the discussion (from Part One) here, since Blogger is a pain to load after 200 comments. Okay, back to the comment box:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ongoing Dialogue with Matt, an atheist

I'm so excited to start the Ongoing Dialogue post with my friend Matt! He is my college roommate's husband, and he is an atheist who is kind enough to come to the Bubble and debate the concept of Truth and see where that leads. You all are welcome to join in or just read along, and if you would like more information about what we are doing, read this previous post.

Matt and I agreed to start by putting out an "opening statement" about Truth, and we did not consult each other when writing our statements. We will use these thoughts as a springboard as we jump into the comment box.

First, my thoughts on Truth:

For the purposes of this conversation, when I speak of "Truth", I am not talking about subjective truth, such as whether you prefer red wine to white, or what you think of grandma's new hairdo. 
I am talking Objective Truth. Truths that are true no matter what you or I think.  
Truth cannot contradict itself. So, it's either true that murdering innocent human beings is wrong, or it's not. It's either true that rape is wrong, or it's not. It's either true that God exists, or it's not. It can't be "your truth" or "my truth" on these types of issues. 
Objective Truth exists outside of ourselves and will remain true even if the whole world doesn't believe it. Truth is not ours to determine, it is ours to seek and find and receive.  
Believing doesn't make something true. But, if something is true, it is right to believe it. 
Truth is what is real. 
Truth would exist even if we didn't. 

Now, Matt's opening thoughts on Truth:

Leila, thanks for your kind words and the invitation to square off with you on your blog. The question of what "truth" is, and how we know or trust that something is true, is of course a topic that philosophers have gone back and forth on for thousands of years. But in simplest terms, I think I'd say that something is true if "it conforms to a fact in reality". C. S. Peirce noted four methods of deciding what is true: tenacity (we're just comfortable believing it), authority (we're told to believe it), a priori, or the scientific method. I don't believe there's a legitimate supernatural method for this.

Thanks, Matt! I like that we both agree that truth is what is "real".

Okay, my first question to start the dialogue is below in the comments, and please remember that I do not expect either of us to change the other's mind, nor am I looking for consensus. Here is the philosophy of the discussions on this blog, for those who might be new:

Don't forget to subscribe to the comments so that you don't miss any of them (they will come straight to your email address), because once we hit 200 comments, things get messy on Blogger, unfortunately. In the meantime, hopefully we will all learn a lot through this respectful dialogue!

*We cut it off after 220 comments (to time-consuming to load the last 20), so continue with the discussion, here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Well done, good and faithful servant!"

I know those are the words that my beloved cousin and friend Michelle heard as she went to God this morning. She was not afraid to die. She carried her heavy cross with grace and love and without complaint. She was ready, although it pained her greatly to leave her daughters behind.

Michelle was a holy woman who loved Our Lord and Our Lady more than her own life, and who craved virtue and truth above any earthly thing. She is my role model in the Faith.

I want to write a fitting tribute to Michelle in time, but for now, I will just be missing her beautiful smile and musical laugh.

Please pray for the repose of her soul, and for the comfort of her three teenaged daughters, her parents, and her siblings. She will be missed more than words can say.

I love you, my dear friend. I cannot wait for the heavenly reunion.

Michelle Habra
1970 - 2015

Requiescat in pace

Monday, April 6, 2015

So, we are going to try something new here, soon!

Well, maybe it's been done elsewhere before, but I am really excited to see how it plays out here.

The strength of this blog, I believe, is the dialogue that often follows the original post. It's meaty stuff, while at the same time being respectful and conversational. Many of you have told me that you enjoy the dialogue in the comment sections so much that you break out the popcorn and spend the evening reading through. That makes me very happy. And, it makes me very happy when I hear that you have learned a lot from the discussions. That is what I've always hoped for this blog!

So, over the years I have had some private debates with my college roommate's husband, Matt. He is an intelligent and committed atheist. We disagree on many things. But there is good will between us, and if I don't blow it, there will be good will as we begin this new experiment for the Bubble.

I'm going to call it the "Ongoing Dialogue" post.

I will start by publishing opening statements about Truth, one from Matt and one from me. Then, we will start a casual but coherent dialogue in the comment section. It will be just like what you are used to in the Bubble, the only difference being that it won't have to slow down or end when I publish another (regular) post.

So, the "Ongoing Dialogue" post (or posts, if we are successful and want to start new such posts with different topics, or even different people) will be something you'll want to subscribe to via email so that you'll never miss a comment.

I'm still not sure how to deal with Blogger's 200 comment limit before it makes you "load more" (which is a colossal pain), but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Meanwhile, look for regular posts as always, but also look for the "Ongoing Dialogue" post coming soon. I need to make a logo for it. Isn't this fun?? Maybe this concept will fall flat, but hopefully it will enlighten us all and bear good fruit!


And if you could please storm Heaven for my cousin Michelle who is still suffering from advanced cancer. Choose your best intercessors for this wonderful single mom, who is not just my cousin but a cherished friend. Thank you so much!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Christ is Risen!

Indeed He is Risen!

The tomb is empty and death is vanquished!

Rejoice in the Risen Lord, dear friends! Let the Easter Season begin!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday meditation

Background and Part I, here.
Part II, here.
Part III, here.
Part IV, here.
Part V, here.

Continuing with Lenten meditations on the Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues, by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

The Fourth Word:
"It is consummated … Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

The Corresponding Virtue:
Justice and Charity


Excerpts from Sheen's March 22, 1940 address:

This is Good Friday -- the day when freedom revolted against Truth, and nailed it to a Cross. It is not a history everyone likes to hear recalled, and generally those who most shrink from the sight of the Saviour on the Cross are the very ones who delight in the grotesque murder stories in our tabloids and follow with bold interest in the harrowing details of a sex crime. Why is it that the lover of horror cannot stand the sight of the Crucifix? Why is it that the fanatics of murder stories are so cold to the story of the world's greatest sacrifice? The answer is that unlike all other crimes the Crucifix is self-accusing. 

We can look on other scenes of injustice without feeling we are involved in them; but we cannot look on a Crucifix without feeling that we had something to do with it, either for better or worse; either as a robber brought before his victim for judgment, or as a drowning man brought before his rescuer for thanks.

In the Crucifix is symbolized the perennial crisis in the soul of every man, the choice between the illusory end of time and the imponderable ends of eternity. Here are focused all the microscopic conflicts of good and evil that go on in every conscience; or, to put it another way, every man's soul is Calvary written small. That is why the Crucifix is inescapable; we either shrink from it or we embrace it; but we are not indifferent to it. 


For those who are brave enough to look at the Crucifix there is a revelation of the moral order -- not a moral order based on abstractions, theories and hypotheses, but a moral order revealed in a Person of absolute goodness who has met the impact of human evil and sin. It is more like a mirror than a scene, for it reveals not something unrelated to us, but ourselves, our moral beggary, our perversities and our defeats. 


Like nothing else in all the world [the Crucifix] seems to ask the questions: "Where do you stand?" "Which side do you propose to take from this moment on -- My side, or the side of moneyed Judas, cowardly Pilate, crafty Annas, or lustful Herod?" We cannot escape an answer. If on that Cross were someone who himself had been wrong and failed and had compromised with goodness, we could plead and excuse. But here neutrality is impossible, because there is no question of something more good or less good -- there is only right and wrong.… We cannot be on both sides, anymore than we can be in Light and Darkness at the same time.

The [empty] Cross they can look at, for that might be only a symbol of the contradictions of life; but the Crucifix -- they call it 'horrible' when they mean it is accusing. They may run away from it during life, but they will meet it at the Eternal Judgment when the Son of Man shall come bearing the Cross in triumph in the clouds of heaven to render to every man according to his works. It is better to face it now. 

The modern mood of mutilating the Gospel, choosing some texts and ignoring others, makes men miss the purpose of the life of Christ. He came on earth not primarily to preach, but to redeem. He came less to live than to die. His mission was not one of mere benevolence, nor to create a revolution in politics or economics, nor to heal, nor to leave a humanitarian ethics -- all these were secondary to the one absorbing purpose of His life, the redemption of man. 

What happens often in the economic order, happened in the moral order; man contracted a bigger debt than he could pay. A sin against Divine Love is greater than man alone can repair. But if God undertook to forgive the debt through mercy, justice would have been unrequited. God of course could pay the debt of man's sin, but He could not in justice do it apart from man. 

God could not pay our debt unless He became in some way involved in it. This the Son of God, Jesus Christ, did by becoming man, assuming a human nature like unto us in all things save sin. He did not merely substitute for us, nor take our place; there is an identification of Him with us. He is the Head of our sin-laden race. In a certain sense He and we are one Person -- the new Adam. Strictly speaking, Our Lord is man in an absolute sense, no just a man; His humiliation was not so much in assuming a human nature, but in making Himself one with us in the sinful conditions which we created. 

The Cross was not merely the outbreak of human passion -- it was the violent expression of anti-God. It was sin in its essence -- the attempted destruction of Divinity. Sin is self-mutilation, the destruction of personality -- when it takes the form of pride, it crowns Goodness with thorns; when it takes the form of dishonesty, it nails hands to a Cross; when it takes the form of hate, it blasphemes the dying; when it takes the form of lust, it crucifies. Nothing less than bloodshed could have been sin's worst crime and registered sin's deepest hurt.

Evil must work its power to the bitter end, use all its hatred, exhaust all its deceits, unsheathe all of its bloody swords, that being exhausted Goodness may be revealed as triumphant. And now that evil was spent in the final act of crucifixion, seeing that in Justice the last farthing was paid in the red coin of His blood and the mortgage against man paid back, He uttered His Cry of Triumph: "It is consummated … Father into thy hands I comment my spirit." All history, pagan and Jewish, looked forward to this moment; Heaven and earth were separated -- now they could be united. The Pontiff or Bridge-builder has spanned the shores of eternity and time, and the Bridge is the Cross. The last rivet has been put in place; the last nail driven; there is no "unfinished symphony"; with Him -- It is consummated.

It was the beauty and loveliness of the God-Man Christ which on the one hand made the crime so great, and on the other hand made the Divine forgiveness so final and so certain. That Figure on the Cross bore to the full not only the physical effects of sin which any man might suffer, and not only the mental effects of sin which all of us ought to feel, but the spiritual effects of sin which only He could feel because being sinless He was not part of it. Only the sinless know the horror of sin.

If you can stand the gaze of a Crucifix long enough you will discover these truths. First, if sin cost Him, who is Innocence, so much, then I who am guilty cannot take it lightly; second, there is only one thing worse in all the world than sin -- and that is to forget I am a sinner; third, more bitter than the Crucifixion must be my rejection of that Love by which I was redeemed.