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Monthly Archives: August 2010

On Those European Bus Signs…

calling for women’s ordination, I have an equally valid and just as likely idea for a marketing campaign:

What never ceases to grind my gears about this whole deal is that some continue to think the Church’s position on female clergy is a matter of policy, such as mandatory celibacy for diocesan priests, and thus subject to change.

It isn’t. Even if, somewhere down the line, the Spirit appointed a pontiff sympathetic to the cause, he would have as much power to change this dogma as he would the Christian dogma on the Trinity.

We live in strange times. On the one hand, there is a legitimate, constant need to defend Truth and Virtue in the public square. On the other, there’s this disingenuous notion that if you clamor loudly enough for something, you can change Truth and Virtue.

New Film: Pope Michael

“Pope Michael” Trailer from Pope Michael Documentary on Vimeo.

Looks entertaining, in the kind of way which has allowed me to enjoy the wacky, quaalude-driven world of William S. Burroughs.

Stupid Headline, Stupid Thoughts

Via Mark Shea, this pearl of a headline: Brain unable to understand existence of God: expert

To which I automatically say, “Of course!”

But then the article starts, and I do a facepalm:

One of the world’s foremost neuroscientists is about to tell some of the world’s foremost theologians the bad news: God may exist, but the human brain is simply not capable of knowing that for sure.

Gorsh! O RLY?

Of course, “the world’s foremost theologians” have been saying the same thing.

For thousands of years.

It’s a simple logical deduction. The brain is matter, and that which is material cannot deduce the totality of that which is immaterial. And if we were able to pin down God in a lucid moment of “Aha! I understand the totality of God’s nature!” then what we would be describing is decidedly not an infinite, limitless being.

I’m willing to give neuroscientist Greg Northoff the benefit of the doubt; it sounds like he’s just explaining the limited potential of the brain in this matter.

To suggest that this is a revolutionary concept, or a triumphant moment of victory for science over theology, however, is a completely disingenuous move. As a matter of fact, score one for the theologians who had this covered ions ago.

For evidence, start with one of my favorite theologians. Start with Aristotle.

I have studied both neuroscience and theology; would that we could say the same about others who write on such things.

My Beef With Twilight

Bloggers elsewhere have already said a great deal about Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight series, and why it is so troublesome. You can find a great analysis from David P. Goldman here, which  sums up some of the more destructive elements at work in the series.

I’m also concerned about the Twilight series because of what it seems to represent, both from a literary and a cultural perspective. Since Goldman addresses the issue of sex, I’ll table that issue and look at one that really grinds my gears: the depiction of the vampire.

It’s Meyers’ depiction of the vampire that ultimately bothers me the most. Vampires are evil creatures. Most depictions put them in a league with the damned, demons and other residents of the underworld. Once human, they are now Something Else, and it is generally accepted that this Something Else is irredeemable.

What’s most important about the vampire is that they may look human, but their humanity has been destroyed. Some of the most intelligent vampire figures ever crafted are locked in a constant battle with a desire to regain some of their humanity, against the ever-present reality that they can never be what they once were.

Even the “good” vampires are objectively evil figures, insofar as anything can be, when evil is a perversion of the good. This is why vampires like Bill of True Blood and Ann Rice’s creations appeal and captivate. There’s no going back, and the vampire struggles to come to terms with that.

Twilight vampires don’t fit the tradition. At times, they seem more human than the humans. They’re vegetarians. They don’t feed off of human beings. They’re physically beautiful, perfect in every way. They… sparkle.

And personality wise, they remind me of emo kids always wrapped up in the pettiness of teenage problems. Difference is, they occasionally break out of their life-for-us-is-hard whining to battle werewolves and interact with other vampires.

Looking at a Twilight vampire, who wouldn’t want to be one of these guys? They’re not monsters, not objectively evil creatures. They can live forever, and seem to retain the fullness of their humanity. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

It’s an ironic – yet fitting – artistic move for Meyers, who crafts her ultra-human vampire in an age where that which has always been considered morally problematic is now acceptable, even lauded. The vampire no longer serves as a cautionary figure; he no longer stands as an example of the darkest parts of human nature and perversion: the vampire is now something it’s fine to be.

A perfect (though unintentional) commentary on the state of our ailing cultural, political, and moral values.

I leave you with this video, which wraps up everything else wrong with the series: