If there is a God

a) there is no sense in getting angry at him.
b) we ought to know better than to get angry at him.
c) there is no harm in getting angry at him
d) there is no choice but to get angry at him.


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    This doesn’t sound like the return of the mere ‘middling interrogator’; this is more like the real inquisitor — not the character from Ivan Karamazov’s story, but Ivan himself.

    Challenge accepted.

  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    In answering the above quiz, are we limited to natural theology and philosophy? Or may we have recourse to divine revelation?

    If you’d accept a distinctly Christian answer, Thomas More’s English translation of some lines from Pico della Mirandola (a few of which lines were previously featured here) strikes me as a good place to start:

    Consider, when thou art movèd to be wroth,
    He who that was God and of all men the best,
    Seeing himself scorned and scourgèd both,
    And as a thief between two thievès threst,
    With all rebuke and shame; yet from his breast
    Came never sign of wrath or of disdain,
    But patiently endurèd all the pain!

    This is the God Who spared Isaac’s Abraham’s [korrekted —AN, Esq., OP] son but not His own. This is also the God Who became fully human, and took on an incalculable load of physical and psychic torment despite deserving none of it.

    That’s one possible starting point. I think it excludes ‘Option D’ and will probably end up at ‘Option A’ and/or ‘Option B’ (which could coexist).

    And there is still the option of trying to answer the question with natural reason alone.

    Either way, I hope this discussion continues.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      Further along the same lines, see this stanza, selected by Mr JOB from this Milosz poem linked by Mr Finnegan:

      Don’t think, don’t remember
      The death on the cross,
      Though everyday He dies,
      The only one, all-loving,
      Who without any need
      Consented and allowed
      To exist all that is,
      Including nails of torture.

    • I’m pretty sure that I have never been mad at Jesus. I have been angry with God. I’m not sure if by that I mean God the Father explicitly or the entire Trinity (I think not.), or just God in His impassibility, or some great amorphous force–Fate maybe. In all probability, it is not, “… the God Who spared Isaac’s Abraham’s [korrektedAN, Esq., OP] son but not His own. This is also the God Who became fully human, and took on an incalculable load of physical and psychic torment despite deserving none of it,” but some false image of God that is planted someplace in the hidden recesses of my mind.

      Not that this happens much anymore, but it’s not unknown. The odd thing is that I never get mad about the things one might expect, say for instance a tree falling on my house. It’s always some small, stupid frustration, or a series of them.


      • Thank you kindly, all. I struggle of late with the notion of God as perverse: creating creatures whose sole purpose in life is to glorify his name and then hiding himself from them. Yes, yes, I know – the Fall, the twin darknesses of sin and ignorance, etc. But he built us to know by our senses, while He himself is insensible. (Here the Dominican will note that he built as rational animals, capable of reasoning to His existence from the things we sense. Well and good. But here we are now, more often than not it seems reasoning in the direction of his unexistence. At which point, the Franciscan reminds me of the Incarnation, the Divine Condescension that put a human face on the hidden God. Well and good. But here we are now, putting our faith in the testimony of the ancients, etc. Anger is probably beyond me – I’m a meek little Irish boy. But yeah, Janet – small, stupid frustrations? Those I can manage, God help me.

        • I mean, the same God who built us to know through our senses said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” The virtue lies in not exercising our natural, God-fashioned selves. Instead, we have to put our trust in our fellow man telling us that he saw God, even though the Bible warns us about putting our trust in men.

          I realize I sound like a snot-nosed punk, and I’m sure I am easily dismissed, most likely by the notion that we are made for love and that love is the surest guide. But there it is and here I am.

          • He built us to know him through our senses,yes, and also our faculties working in perfect harmony–through a body and soul that are perfectly integrated. We don’t have that anymore.


            • We haven’t had it for a while. Psalm 42!

              As the deer pants for streams of water,
              so my soul pants for you, my God.
              My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
              When can I go and meet with God?
              My tears have been my food
              day and night,
              while people say to me all day long,
              “Where is your God?”
              These things I remember
              as I pour out my soul:
              how I used to go to the house of God
              under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
              with shouts of joy and praise
              among the festive throng.

              Why, my soul, are you downcast?
              Why so disturbed within me?
              Put your hope in God,
              for I will yet praise him,
              my Savior and my God.

              My soul is downcast within me;
              therefore I will remember you
              from the land of the Jordan,
              the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
              Deep calls to deep
              in the roar of your waterfalls;
              all your waves and breakers
              have swept over me.

              By day the Lord directs his love,
              at night his song is with me—
              a prayer to the God of my life.

              I say to God my Rock,
              “Why have you forgotten me?
              Why must I go about mourning,
              oppressed by the enemy?”
              My bones suffer mortal agony
              as my foes taunt me,
              saying to me all day long,
              “Where is your God?”

              Why, my soul, are you downcast?
              Why so disturbed within me?
              Put your hope in God,
              for I will yet praise him,
              my Savior and my God.

              • No, of course not. Nor will we have it in this life, although the saints get pretty close, and we can get much closer than we are, but not, probably, by reason.


        • Hi Matthew,

          My humble thoughts on this are below, though I would begin by saying that the issues you are facing are probably more of a pastoral than intellectual nature. I’ve faced my own, rather pathetic, mini “dark nights,” and I think the only answer ultimately is to redouble our efforts at sanctification, and to humble ask for the grace to believe. One can always dismiss anything as a coincidence, etc., but I have to say that relatively recently I was facing such a mini-crisis and basically just asked for a sign, please, one that I could recognize as such, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before, and I received it that very day while… well… watching “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” Recognizing it was heartening, but it’s not what got me out of the rut, but rather a determination to throw myself at the love of God. The rut has given way to a period where I feel not unlike I did in the honeymoon period after I first really fell in love with the faith. It won’t last, of course, but that’s not the point. The point is I have to take this opportunity to make as much headway as I can to be what I was made to be. Now some comments on what you said specifically:

          “I struggle of late with the notion of God as perverse: creating creatures whose sole purpose in life is to glorify his name and then hiding himself from them . . . But he built us to know by our senses, while He himself is insensible”

          OK, I think I see several fallacies here. First, while it is true that ultimately everything we know comes through the senses, God did not create us to know him through our senses. God created us to LOVE him (which, as Aquinas explains, happens to also be the best way to come to know what is higher than you), and as regards that, any atheist can tell you that the religious impulse is written into our genetic makeup (and they think, the poor souls, that this is an argument *against* God). You yourselves have touched on that when you quote Bob Dylan (“gotta serve somebody”). So it’s not like he dropped us into a situation where everything depends on finding him and yet not giving us any tools for doing that, for our longing itself is a clue. As for “hiding himself from them,” it really depends what you mean by that. I think the question you would need to ask yourself is what would happen if God showed himself to us in what we might call an “obvious” way in our current fallen state. Because whenever I’ve asked myself that question I’ve always concluded that it would make no sense for him to do so. I forget who it was who put it this way, but a formulation that surely you’ve heard, and which has always made sense to me, is that he provides clear enough signs for those who wish to know Him, but not so much to compel into belief those who would rather have nothing to do with Him. The world is not lacking in miracles for anyone who cares to look. I’ve told you about one of these in my own family, as you may recall, confirmed by many witnesses, which if it had not happened I would simply not be here. To disbelieve that for me would take the sort of skepticism that would ultimately lead me to complete solipsism.

          “But here we are now, more often than not it seems reasoning in the direction of his unexistence.”

          Again, I find this unconvincing. If there are many people today turning to atheism, it seems to me little connected to their *reasoning* and very closely connected to their disordered desires, which their reasoning follows and serves. Not saying there are absolutely no honest atheists out there, but you seem to be talking about the culture as a whole, and as regards that, I think what I say holds, and holds rather obviously.

          “But here we are now, putting our faith in the testimony of the ancients, etc.”
          Two things. First, I think what were putting our faith in is not “in Men” but in the Church itself, which is the mystical body of Christ. Which is made of men, sure, but they’re not men on their own. What I mean is that the life of the apostles, as well as their deaths and their legacies, seem inexplicable unless they were, in fact, acting as part of this body. Second, you’re acting as if God had basically left us alone since the time of Jesus. There have been many supernatural signs since that time, up to the present moment. Not to mention the signs that the saints themselves are. All that said, I would strongly recommend reading “Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology” by Fr. Roch Kereszty. It’s a rather academic book, but still approachable to a well-read non-theologian, and it is a real tour de force. The reliability of the Gospels really shines through the work.

          Finally, something I heard in the homily this week, when my pastor quoted Lumen Fidei: “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light. In Christ, God himself wishes to share this path with us and to offer us his gaze so that we might see the light within it. Christ is the one who, having endured suffering, is “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2).”

          Anyway, hope that helps a bit.

          • Thank you, Bernardo. Not gonna dig into argument at the moment, but I do want to respond at least to your mention of the personal story you related to me. I would not ever want you to think that I am dismissive towards your own experience in this regard. I was, and remain, grateful for it. It is one of several that I try to keep in mind.

          • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

            ‘Pastoral’ is my new favorite euphemism.

        • Boy this conversation is getting hard to follow. This is when I wish for a room with a big table.

          Anyway, what you say about God being perverse, Matt, reminds me of A Grief Observed.


      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

        I realize I sound like a snot-nosed punk, and I’m sure I am easily dismissed […].

        I say bravo to that snot-nosed punk. Let’s be open and clean. Let’s drag this out into the light and discuss. Let’s not be glib or dismissive; let’s articulate the issues.

        Janet and Bernardo both raised important points I’d like to highlight and expand upon later today, given a chance.

        But first: Since no-one has done so yet, let’s get this out of the way. (CAUTION: Bad wordage.)

        • Easily a top-five B movie, and a brilliant use of late-period Pacino.

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          Really quickly:

          First, thanks to Janet for the reminder of the danger of setting up a ‘false image’ of God in the recesses of our minds — whether that image be the object of our affection or our anger.

          Second, following up on these words from Bernardo:

          As for “hiding himself from them,” it really depends what you mean by that. I think the question you would need to ask yourself is what would happen if God showed himself to us in what we might call an “obvious” way in our current fallen state.

          At the risk of Panglossianism, I have to ask: Have you given serious thought to what sort(s) of alternate world(s) might satisfy you, as a rational animal who longs to know the infinite, ineffable God? That’s a real question, not a rhetorical one. It seems to me that, if you suspect God of perversity, you implicitly have some notion(s) of a better or more self-consistent world than the one that actually exists — notion(s) that form one or more ‘standards’ from which God is deviating; standard(s) that God is perverse for not adhering to. Is that a fair assessment, or no?

          To end this hasty comment (but not, I hope, the conversation), here’s a snippet of Blessed Cardinal Newman’s Sermon 6, ‘Miracles No Remedy for Unbelief’:

          Now let me say something in explanation of [the], at first sight, startling truth, that miracles on the whole would not make men in general more obedient or holy than they are, though they were generally displayed. It has sometimes been said by unbelievers, “If the Gospel were written on the Sun, I would believe it.” Unbelievers have said so by way of excusing themselves for not believing it, as it actually comes to them; and I dare say some of us, my brethren, have before now uttered the same sentiment in our hearts, either in moments of temptation, or when under the upbraidings of conscience for sin committed. […]

          [Witnesses of a miracle] would be very much startled and impressed at first, but the impression would wear away. And thus our Saviour’s words would come true […]:—”If they hear not Moses and the Prophets,” He says, “neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” Do we never recollect times when we have said, “We shall never forget this; it will be a warning all through our lives”? have we never implored God’s forgiveness with the most eager promises of amendment? have we never felt as if we were brought quite into a new world, in gratitude and joy? Yet was the result what we had expected? We cannot anticipate more from miracles, than before now we have anticipated from warnings, which came to nought.

          More later, if time permits.

          In any event, thank you very much for your candor here. This conversation has already brought forth a few ‘korrektivs’ for my own thinking; since your difficulties occasioned the conversation, I really hope it’s helping you, too.

          • Matthew Lickona says

            Aw, c’mon Angelico – if you believe already, you can always play Newman’s game here. How do we know no one would be persuaded even if one rose from the dead? Because Jesus said so, and we believe Jesus is God.

            Newman senses this and so he goes for the rhetorical backup, but in doing so, he conflates intellect and will, no? Let’s suppose a man commits a crime that he does not know was a crime and goes to jail for it. After he is released from jail, he may commit the crime again – such is the will. But that won’t change the fact that he knows it is a crime now. That much he won’t forget – such is the intellect.

            Pope Benedict said (and I tend to agree) that Christianity “is not a new philosophy or a new form of morality. We are only Christians if we encounter Christ, even if He does not reveal Himself to us as clearly and irresistibly as he did to Paul in making him the Apostle of the Gentiles. We can also encounter Christ in reading Holy Scripture, in prayer, and in the liturgical life of the Church – touch Christ’s heart and feel that Christ touches ours. And it is only in this personal relationship with Christ, in this meeting with the Risen One, that we are truly Christian.”

            Emphasis mine. The one who seeks, finds? Not looking for a changed world. Looking for a personal encounter. Paul got one in his current fallen state. Not to say that I’m after anything as dramatic as what Paul got, though obviously, that’s not my call.

            Janet is of course correct to note the danger of setting up a false God in our minds – cf. Screwtape’s bit on prayer: “For if he ever comes to make the distinction, if ever he consciously directs his prayers ‘Not to what I think thou art but to what thou knowest thyself to be,’ our situation is, for the moment, desperate. Once all his thoughts and images have been flung aside or, if retained, retained with a full recognition of their merely subjective nature, and the man trusts himself to the completely real, external, invisible Presence, there with him in the room and never knowable by him as he is known by it-why, then it is that the incalculable may occur.”

            So it may be the silliest of errors to want God to be the Father who gives the bread of His felt presence instead of His stony silence, but then again, maybe not the silliest. Bernardo’s quote from Lumen Fidei mentions an accompanying presence in the midst of suffering. It’s a strange line to read, since my precise suffering is the perceived lack of presence.

            • Matthew Lickona says

              And yes, right – “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” He spared his Son nothing, so we ought not expect to be spared. Mother Teresa got 50 years of the Dark Walk, and she was who she was and I’m not that. Bernardo is of course correct to note that the best thing to do is to get to work on loving God and my neighbor. But that doesn’t help much when the terrors hit in the night.

              • Ah Matt, that is the pits. What do you do when the terrors hit in the night?


                • Matthew Lickona says

                  Suffer dumbly, mostly. It is, to use Bernardo’s term, pathetic. (I mean that sincerely.)

                  • Well, I hesitate to offer advice when I barely know someone, and in a public forum, but do you ever try offering it up for your kids? I would hate to see all that good suffering go to waste.

                    I know those night terrors well, but it was long ago, and probably the most I can offer is that you get to the other side. Nobody can really give you THE answer because it’s such an individual experience. You can’t really reason it out, either, because Screwtape is working overtime to twist your reason and he is a much smarter than you are.

                    I will pray for you, and though I hate to sound too much like Lady Marchmain, if I wake in the night, which I always do, I will pray for you then, and I mean that sincerely.


                    • Matthew Lickona says

                      Hah! Lady Marchmain. Actually, when you talk of all that good suffering going to waste, you sound more like The Wife. And she’s right, and so are you. Thanks for your kind word, and your kind prayers.

            • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

              Newman certainly was preaching — to a congregation, if not just the choir — but I didn’t mean to use that quotation from Newman’s sermon (or Newman’s own [ha!] Gospel-quotation within the sermon) as an appeal to any authority, whether Newman’s or Jesus’s. Rather, I thought it neatly described a truth of psychology/human nature that seemed relevant to the question of what might satisfy you — or any of us — in the search for God. That psychological truth is one that Matt Weiner keeps coming back to in Mad Men, especially with Don and Roger: People have ‘peak’ experiences, resolve to change and believe they will be changed, but then, very often, lapse back into the old habits of their past life.

              If I understand correctly the will/intellect distinction you draw, you’re saying that even if, after a putatively life-changing event, a person slips back into the same old habits of his past life, he has at least been changed by the event intellectually, whether or not that intellectual change leads him to act differently.

              I acknowledge that point, but I don’t think that intellectual change counts for very much (which, I suspect, is why Newman doesn’t bother to distinguish intellect and will in his discussion): In our current state — whether or not it’s ‘fallen’ — will and intellect are often opposed, and will has the upper hand: Sometimes by mental acts, and sometimes by slothful avoidance of mental acts, we can and do will ourselves to ignore or act contrary to what we know or have good reason to believe. Even the subjective consolation that comes with knowing some good fact can dwindle to practically nothing, if we ignore or suppress our knowledge of that fact.

              But your comments since 7:17 this morning have shed much more light on what’s at issue here — both in terms of the problem(s), and possible directions toward a solution, even if the solution itself is unattainable in this life. Speaking as someone who has also been through the night terrors and who, like Janet, has come out on the other side (for now), I know what she says is true: Nobody can give you THE answer. But I will try to clear some of the debris from your path.

              Finally, a little Waugh to round things off for now:

              ‘In what Mgr. Knox calls “the 4 a.m.” mood a sense of futility creeps in, a suspicion that the Christian system does not really hang together, that there are flaws in the logic, and adroit shifting about between natural causes, revelation and authority, that there are too many unresolved contradictions. And there are some, perhaps many, to whom it is nearly always 4 a.m.’

              Waugh, Evelyn. Review of The Hidden Stream, by Ronald Knox, Duckett’s Register, December 1952, pp. 153-54. Collected in A Little Order: Evelyn Waugh: A Selection from His Journalism, Donat Gallagher (ed).

              • I don’t know why I can’t reply to your comment, but anyway, the only Wife I know is the Wife of Bath.


              • Matthew Lickona says

                “Rather, I thought it neatly described a truth of psychology/human nature that seemed relevant to the question of what might satisfy you — or any of us — in the search for God.”

                The search is possible. Why must there be a search again? To respect human freedom? If what you say about our ability to ignore what we’ve seen is true, and of course it is, then it sounds like we’d still be free even if we each had a vision of our Guardian Angel at our Confirmation.

                The funny thing is, the search wasn’t required for Father Abraham, who started this whole personal relationship wtih God thing. Nor for Paul. Nor for any of the other folks who have received private visions of God. So it seems that the search is not entirely essential in order to respect human freedom.

                All this is partly about terrors in the night – and thanks much for the Waugh quote, one wonders if he ever read Fitzgerald’s “In the real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning.” – and partly about other stuff. Camus was wise to put the death of a child front and center in The Plague.

                Thanks for your efforts with the debris.

                • Well, I’m not sure you can make that assumption about Abraham and Paul. Who knows what Abraham was thinking when he was wandering around, letting Pharaoh think that Sarah was his sister and all that. And what kind of terrors do you think he was having when he was getting ready to sacrifice Isaac? Do you think that the enemy of his soul was giving him some kind of break at that point?

                  And what was going on with Paul before his vision? We don’t know.


                  • Matthew Lickona says

                    Apologies if I was unclear. I don’t mean to suggest that Abraham and Paul didn’t struggle. I just mean that they were permitted a direct, immediate revelation.

                • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                  I’ll try to follow up this weekend.

  3. Option d).

    Curse God and die.

  4. Jonathan Potter says


    ‘Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself.’ -Isaiah xlv. 15

    God, though to Thee our psalm we raise
    No answering voice comes from the skies;
    To Thee the trembling sinner prays
    But no forgiving voice replies;
    Our prayer seems lost in desert ways,
    Our hymn in the vast silence dies.

    We see the glories of the earth
    But not the hand that wrought them all:
    Night to a myriad worlds gives birth,
    Yet like a lighted empty hall
    Where stands no host at door or hearth
    Vacant creation’s lamps appal.

    We guess; we clothe Thee, unseen King,
    With attributes we deem are meet;
    Each in in his own imagining
    Sets up a shadow in Thy seat;
    Yet know not how our gifts to bring,
    Where seek Thee with unsandalled feet.

    And still th’unbroken silence broods
    While ages and while aeons run,
    As erst upon chaotic floods
    The Spirit hovered ere the sun
    Had called the seasons’ changeful moods
    And life’s first germs from death had won.

    And still th’abysses infinite
    Surround the peak from which we gaze.
    Deep calls to deep, and blackest night
    Giddies the soul with blinding daze
    That dares to cast its searching sight
    On being’s dread and vacant maze.

    And Thou art silent, whilst Thy world
    Contends about its many creeds
    And hosts confront with flags unfurled
    And zeal is flushed and pity bleeds
    And truth is heard, with tears impearled,
    A moaning voice among the reeds.

    My hand upon my lips I lay;
    The breast’s desponding sob I quell;
    I move along life’s tomb-decked way
    And listen to the passing bell
    Summoning men from speechless day
    To death’s more silent, darker spell.

    Oh! till Thou givest that sense beyond,
    To shew Thee that Thou art, and near,
    Let patience with her chastening wand
    And lead me child-like by the hand
    If still in darkness not in fear.

    Speak! whisper to my watching heart
    One word–as when a mother speaks
    Soft, when she sees her infant start,
    Till dimpled joy steals o’er its cheeks.
    Then, to behold Thee as Thou art,
    I’ll wait till morn eternal breaks.

    —Gerard Manley Hopkins

    • Right. Hopkins asked for one word – one word. He did not get it.

      We walk by faith and not by sight
      No gracious words we hear
      From him who spoke as none e’er spoke
      But we believe him near

      That poem is amazing. Thank you.

  5. Jonathan Potter says

    O My God

    Everyone I know is lonely
    And god’s so far away
    And my heart belongs to no one,
    So now sometimes I pray
    Please take the space between us
    And fill it up some way
    Take the space between us
    And fill it up some way

    O my God you take the biscuit
    Treating me this way
    Expecting me to treat you well
    No matter what you say
    How can I turn the other cheek
    It’s black and bruised and torn
    I’ve been waiting
    Since the day that I was born

    Take the space between us
    And fill it up some way
    Take the space between us
    And fill it up some way

    The fat man in his garden
    The thin man at his gate
    My God you must be sleeping
    Wake up it’s much too late

    Take the space between us
    And fill it up some way
    Take the space between us
    And fill it up some way

    Do I have to tell the story
    Of a thousand rainy days
    Since we first met?
    It’s a big enough umbrella
    But it’s always me that ends up getting wet


  6. Jonathan Potter says
  7. Jonathan Potter says
  8. What seems (to me) worth noting is that we obviously are (or at least are capable of, have been, or will be) angry at him.


    • Jonathan Potter says

      I would recommend Friendship with God by the Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP. Fr. Sweeney is an extraordinary preacher and speaker. He always startles me awake with his starkly human simplicity and absence of false piety. The surprising smell of truth pervades so much of what he has to say. One of the more surprising passages on this CD is where he talks about extending our forgiveness to God.

  9. All the cameras and files
    All the paranoid styles
    All the tension and fear
    Of a secret career
    And I think in your heart
    That you’ve seen the mistake
    But you let it go
    Ya Hey, Ya Hey, Ya Hey

  10. Is this multiple choice? I was assuming it was all of the above.


  11. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    e) there is no sense in being ungrateful to him.
    f) we ought to know better than to be ungrateful to him.
    g) there is no harm in being ungrateful to him.
    h) there is no choice but to be ungrateful to him.

  12. Doesn’t Thomas say that the only fitting response to authority that does not act on its authority is sorrow?

    I seem remember that coming up at some point in a discussion about the moral paralysis of the U.S. Bishops…

    I could be wrong, though. In which case, feel free to be sad anyway…


    • Concerning the U.S. Bishops, moral cowardice seems to be the sin of the age. For clergy and laity and everyone else too. Part of the problem is that everyone has a hand in the federal honey jar.

      But, here’s some hope:


      Forgive me Matthew for the digressions. Great post.

      • So have the bishops done something recently that we are upset about–I’m living in a place that has no access to media whatsoever (this isn’t bad), so I might have missed something–or is this just a general type of comment.


        • General type of comment, although I think the bishops probably scored a big miss by going with the modernist tendency to reduce Catholic teaching to matters of religious freedom (which some would argue flies in the face of tradition – (fans of “Dignitatis Humanae,” y’all can hush, ‘kay?)) in the face of this HHS crap.

          But yeah just a general sense of overall sadness at the failure to act on several fronts… But three in particular that come to mind: John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi. I’d say, Uncle Joe Biden, too, but it’s not clear he’s a sane man…

          (They’re all Dems, but they need not be – plenty of GOP guilty of the same, of course.)


        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          I’m a tad cheesed that Bishop Flores isn’t updating his blog on a daily basis.

          In particular, I am upset that we haven’t gotten to see more of his work along these lines!

  13. I think if it made sense, any sense at all….faith would be meaningless.

    • Mel, I have to think this is your way of looking the Dominican and his “Veritas” motto square in the eye and saying, “Come at me, bro.”

      • Yeah I guess so. ;). I think ultimately how hard we try to say what God is will always be undone by what God does. I think Mercy in the end overcomes Justice. That’s the cross right? So some sort of suffering and dying is necessary. Not because it’s just, but because it’s merciful.
        It’s how we are redeemed. Thats why we cannot make sense of this world because we only understand Justice with our reason. We have not one clue about Mercy.

        • I always liked to think it was both – the vertical beam of mercy and the horizontal beam of justice: + . This is drifting into the unpopular Catholic doctrine of atonement through blood, though – an uncomfortable place for a lot of people who would rather have their God served up with a big heaping side of nice…


          • Or wait, that’s the vertical beam of justice and the horizontal beam of mercy.

            Something like that, anyway…


            • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

              Something very much like that indeed. The trusty Catholic both/and.

              • Oh yes, both/and is my motto.

                I read recently a passage by Fr. Garrigou-LaGrange in which he talked about how all our conceptions of God are indirect in that they are not real perceptions but created ideas, and we take God to pieces to be able to understand Him (that’s my wording, not his) and so we experience justice and mercy as separate things, when they are really completely integrated with one another in a way that is beyond us to understand. He says, “Our created ideas of the divine attributes are like little squares of mosaic which slightly harden the spiritual physiognomy of God. When we think of His justice, it may appear too rigid to us; when we think of the gratuitous predilections of His mercy, they may seem arbitrary to us.”

                I love this passage because even though it was written long before anyone had seen a digital image, it describes exactly what happens when we enlarge a picture to try to see it more clearly, and end up with a bunch of squares that don’t coalesce and leave us with a poorer idea of what we are seeing than we had before. And so it is sometimes when we try to understand God. Our intelligence post-Fall, concupiscent and dis-integrated from our other faculties, just doesn’t have a high enough resolution, so to speak, to get a clear picture.

                And Matt, having a daughter who is a TAC grad, I have seen that as valuable as I think that kind of education is, it sometimes looms too large and obscures the whole picture. I don’t know if this is the case with you or not, but it might be something you should consider.


                • Oh darn, that’s long.

                • Yes both/and or I would even risk saying one and the same…(oh dear God the heresy). Because here’s the thing I’m thinking, our anger with/at God does usually rise from our sense of “injustice”. Right? Whatever form that may take ie our own personal suffering that we feel somehow righteously indignant about. But it has many forms. Ok. Here’s the thing though, as a creature in relation to his Creator, what meaning does our sense of justice even have? I mean isn’t God looking down at us and going “really people?”
                  There’s just no equitability here. There is no “measure” upon which we can base any sort of real sense of justice on. It’s all mercy from day one. Our very existence is mercy. It’s only our egotistical sense of our selves that makes us think we are righteous in some way and deserving of anything. Our existence, our relationship with God, it’s all based on His great love for us which it is impossible for us to fathom and it’s ALL good. This is how I see it, I’m not trying to preach Catholic Doctrine. I think what the Saints do right is, they get that we have to be completely humble in the face of it all. Because its all mercy. It’s all a gift. There cannot and never will be balance. God is too great. And we are too small.

                  • The Saints Must Be Crazy (And I say this by way of agreement.)

                  • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says
                    • Matthew Lickona says

                      Graham Greene: A Life in Letters

                      ed. by Richard Greene

                      (Little, Brown, €27.80 hb / Abacus, €11.50 approx. pb)

                      Aubrey Malone

                      Graham Greene had an alternatively playful and tortured attitude to his Catholicism, the latter most evocatively portrayed by the character of Scobie in his novel The Heart of the Matter. Either way it had a huge influence on his life.

                      ”Greeneland” was both a religious and anti-religious place, but never an unreligious one, as is testified to by these fascinating letters, which also chronicle his literary, romantic and political leanings.

                      Many of them are written in a very sober style, but let’s not forget this was a man who played ”Russian Roulette” in his youth to rouse him from depression. (He tried to poison and drown himself at other periods of his life).

                      In one of the letters, consoling a friend over bereavement, he writes, ”My faith tells me death is not the end of everything and when my belief wavers I tell myself that I am wrong. One can’t believe 365 days a year, but my faith tells me my reasoning is wrong. Even when I doubt I go on praying my own kind of prayers.”

                      Pope Paul VI read The Power and the Glory. When Greene reminded the Pontiff that this book, arguably his most famous, had been condemned by the Holy Office, he replied, ”Parts of all your books will always offend some Catholics and you shouldn’t pay attention to that.” An enigmatic Papal reprieve . . .

                      Greene remarked elsewhere: ”I disagree with a good deal of what the Pope has said and done, but that doesn’t mean I have left the Church. I would call myself at the worst a Catholic agnostic!”

                      His encounter with Padre Pio in 1949, he said: ”introduced a doubt in my disbelief”: that grudging double negative was all he would allow. In old age he kept ”one foot in the Church”, finding much he liked in the radical writings of people like Hans Kung, whom Pope John Paul II stripped of his licence to teach theology after Kung questioned the idea of papal infallibility in 1971.

                      Greene was a complex man who had a special affinity with Ireland and his sojourns in Inishbofin and Achill Island calmed his demons for intervals at least. He found his time here with Catherine Walston as ”edenic”, to use the editor’s term, and told Evelyn Waugh in 1947 that he considered living here permanently (a choice Waugh weighed up as well).

                      ”I like the Irish,” Greene told Waugh, ”and approve so strongly of their recent neutrality [in World War II].” However, in a later letter to a woman called Eva Kearney he writes: ”I think in Ireland you have always been rather black Catholics if you will excuse my saying so.”

                      What he meant by this is that he felt we were unusually susceptible to scruples over what he deemed insignificant ethical considerations.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

        Must… not… feed… troll….

  14. I’d like a dog with big floppy ears and sticks it’s head out the passenger side window. Just saying.

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