Saturday, November 04, 2006

Politics: The Eighty Percent Pay Cut

Politics: The Eighty Percent Pay Cut

by John Michael Greer

How exactly our economy manages to truck along, and the consequences of that economy are certainly worth investigating for anyone who cares about political life. Surely we cannot merely be complacent and assume that "all is ok with the world" while enjoying the benefits of the system.

Do cries that the wealth of certain First World countries is gained through injustice false? Should we be allowed to exploit as we please, so long as we can find those who are willing to be exploited?

At what cost?

From Dr. John Hittinger's political philosophy course at ICU:

Husband/wife - (see POL I.12 and Simon p60 ST I.92.1.ad2 man woman in innocence)

This relationship is constituted among free and members for a common good; the difference in rule stems from function and excellence. According to Aristotle the husband rules a one permanently in office, thus initiates common action, with the consent and possible resistance of the wife. He also demarks various spheres of influence, assigning the domestic to the woman. Obviously this ia most controversial part of Aristotle's teaching. But it must be observed that he does not equate women to slaves or children. He claims a natural basis for this rule on the function of reason; he claims that men have a more decisive reason and women a weaker rational power. Again whatever we are to make of this claim, Aristotle is honestly dealing with the question of the body and the limits of politics. The household is devoted to the generation and preservation of life. The biological necessities of the generation of life places greater burdens upon the mother; and by the same token, the preservation of life, the defense from physical harm up to and including war, places greater burdens upon the man. Again perhaps modern technology has equalized this factor. How much does a full equality as sameness for women demand release from childbearing responsibilities? That is do contraceptives and abortion condition such political claims? And also has technology equalized men and women in terms of service in the Armed Forces? Yves Simon points to the need for new forms of discipline and service as we become more liberated from nature (PDG 9-10, 18). In any case, it is important to note that Aristotle designates the relationship of husband and wife as political - ie it requires discussion and consent.

More liberated from nature, but through what means? Through more advanced technology, but upon what does this technology depend? The consumption of limited resources, like fossil fuels? And does an economy that relies heavily on such technology ultimately exploitive? (If not at home, then overseas? Both of human beings and natural resources?)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Christianity and Other Religions

Christianity and Other Religions, by Bernhard Blankenhorn, OP

Derveni papyrus

Review of Gabor Betegh, The Derveni Papyrus. Cosmology, Theology and Interpretation.
(Richard Janko's bio)

The Derveni Papyrus in the Homeric Scholia
The Derveni Papyrus and the Homeric Scholia

From Dissoi Blogoi:
Judging On the Merits
On the Difficulty of Understanding Papyri

Ellopos Blog

Holy See Address on Promotion of Human Rights

Code: ZE06103022

Date: 2006-10-30

Holy See Address on Promotion of Human Rights

"The Time Has Come to Apply Principles of Authentic Religious Freedom"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2006 ( Here is the address delivered last Friday by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, to a General Assembly committee. The panel was reflecting on the "Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms."

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election and leadership of this Committee and thank the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for her report on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance.

Three of the themes considered during her June 2006 visit to the Vatican merit particular attention, namely, the coexistence of different religions and religious communities, the propagation of religion, including the sensitive issue of proselytism, and the relationship between freedom of expression and religion. My delegation shares the Special Rapporteur's position that the need for interreligious dialogue at all levels is of crucial importance not only for resolving disputes, but also for fostering peaceful coexistence that enables all religions to live side by side and in mutual respect.

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, my delegation is seriously concerned that freedom of religion or belief does not exist for individuals and communities, especially among religious minorities, in many parts of the world. We are also concerned that the high level of religious intolerance in some countries is leading to an alarming degree of polarization and discrimination. We share a grave duty to work together to reverse this trend.

While religious tolerance is sometimes characterized as accepting or permitting those religious beliefs and practices which disagree with one's own, the time has come to move beyond this type of religious tolerance, and to apply instead the principles of authentic religious freedom.
Hrm... authentic religious freedom eh? And in what is this rooted? Dignitatis Humanae could be reconciled with the Tradition, especially since it's concession to the public good leaves a lot of wiggle room, imo.

Religious freedom is the right to believe, worship, propose and witness to one's faith. It grants the opportunity and creates the occasions for people to profess freely the tenets of their faith. Furthermore, it includes the right to change one's religion and to associate freely with others in order to express one's religious convictions. Religious tolerance is simply a starting point, a basis for universal religious freedom and there cannot be full religious tolerance without an effective recognition of religious freedom.
But: are there limits to this right or freedom? Is any faith permissible? Or only that which is compatible with "natural religion"?

We know well that, historically, tolerance has been a contentious issue among believers of different faiths. However, we have come to a turning point in history which demands more of us, including a commitment to interreligious dialogue. At the same time, my delegation is increasingly convinced of the indispensable importance of reciprocity, which, by its very nature, is apt to ensure the free exercise of religion in all societies.

So is this more of a diplomatic statement, like certain parts of DH, or a theological one?

The Holy See continues to be concerned by a number of situations where the existence of enacted or proposed legislative and administrative measures for placing limits on the practice, observance or propagation of religion are a reality. Likewise, the Holy See is concerned with those situations where religion or freedom of religion is used as a pretext or a justification for violating other human rights.

Furthermore, there appears to exist a recurring case of intolerance when group interests or power struggles seek to prevent religious communities from enlightening consciences and thus enabling them to act freely and responsibly, according to the true demands of justice. Likewise, it would be intolerant to denigrate religious communities and exclude them from public debate and cooperation just because they do not agree with options nor conform to practices that are contrary to human dignity.

National and global decision making, legal and political systems, and all people of good will must cooperate to ensure that diverse religious expressions are not restricted or silenced. Every individual and group must be free from coercion and no one should be forced to act in a manner contrary to his or her beliefs, whether in private or public, whether alone or in association with others. It is important here to pay particular attention to the needs of the weakest groups, including women, children, refugees, religious minorities and persons deprived of their liberty. The disturbing signs of religious intolerance, which have troubled some regions and nations, at times affecting even majority religious groups, are much to be regretted.

Free from coercion--this is to be found in DH. But what of rightful suppression of religion? Is there such a thing?

Part of the founding ethos of the U.N. is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Therefore, it is this Assembly's duty to continue to provide the leadership that ensures and protects these fundamental rights and fosters full religious freedom in every land.
Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion: there can be no legislation of what goes on in the "internal forum"--our thoughts and desires. But outward observance and communication--there can be legislation regarding these actions, can there not?

In our diverse and ever-changing world, religion is more than an internal matter of thought and conscience. It has the potential to bind us together as equal and valuable members of the human family. We cannot overlook the role that religion plays in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick and visiting the imprisoned.

Nor should we underestimate its power, especially in the midst of conflict and division, to turn our minds to thoughts of peace, to enable enemies to speak to one another, to foster those who were estranged to join hands in friendship, and have nations seek the way to peace together. Religion is a vital force for good, for harmony and for peace among all peoples, especially in troubled times.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Original text in English; adapted]

Notes on Aristotle

Indication that the Prime Mover is not only the Ultimate Final Cause but also the First Efficient Cause? Movement of Animals, Book I, 1
(see Broadie)
Whether soul is moved (On the Soul I 3-4); how the First Mover moves it (Metaphysics Book Lambda, 7) -- final cause only?

Nature of light:
On the Soul II, 7 (necessity of a medium)
Is speed of light instantaneous? Is this what Aristotle is arguing here against Empedocles? If this is the position of Aristotle, is it consistent with what he says about change?

See Richard SORABJI, "Aristotle on colour, light and imperceptibles,"Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies (Bull. Inst. Class. Stud.) ISSN 0951-1253

2004, no47, pp. 129-140 [12 page(s) (article)]University of London, Institute of Classical Studies, London, ROYAUME-UNI (1984) (Revue)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Stuff on torture

At Against the Grain:
The Torture Debate: Part 1, 2, 3, 4
(Dave Armstrong participates in the comments.)
Dave Armstrong's own blog

Fr. Harrison, O.S.: LT118, 119
Tom McKenna
Rerum Novarum

Plus: Cardinal Dulles on the death penalty
McGinley lecture
First Things (An exchange between Cardinal Dulles and his critics)
His review of Noonan's A Church That Can and Cannot Change

On touch

An addendum to the sex post which Sarge found so shocking...

The hands (and fingers) are the tools for touch manipulation. The hand is proportioned for these functions. I don't think the same can be said for the tongue.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Theologians to Discuss the Economy

Theologians to Discuss the Economy

ROME, OCT. 29, 2006 ( A theologians videoconference organized by the Congregation for Clergy will be held this Tuesday on the theme "Economy: Love of God, Production and the Free Market."

It will mark the 50th such worldwide videoconference organized by the Vatican dicastery. The monthly videoconferences over Internet link theologians from around the world.

The conference can be followed live, beginning at noon (Rome time), on the dicastery's Web page, Texts of the talks will be posted there later.

Internet users must install "Real Player" in their computer to follow the event with images and audio. The organizing dicastery's Web page gives the link to download it.

Speakers will include Bishop Gerhard Müller of Regensburg, who will address the theme "Model of the 'Social Market Economy' and Its Roots in the Social Doctrine of the Church," and Monsignor Michael Hull of New York, who will talk about "Moral Criteria of the Managerial Function."

Is everything really ok between a married couple?

Warning: this post is somewhat explicit.

Many Catholic theologians and apologists claim that so long as the placement of the sperm within the vagina is not thwarted or replaced by something else, then anything goes--anal sex, oral sex, etc.

For examples, this seems to be a typical response over at the EWTN Q&A section:
The rationale for the Church's stance that deliberate sexual stimulation (of any type, not just oral sex) outside of completed marital intercourse is wrong is, in part, because it is inherently selfish. Rather than giving completely of themselves to the other, the couple is using each other for sexual satisfaction while avoiding the responsibilities involved (e.g., complete unity, openness to new life).
The implication is that deliberate sexual stimulation within completed marital intercourse is ok, when used as a means to an end. Similarly:

To make it absolutely clear:a couple can never have oral sex as a replacement for normal sex.

Oral sex is only allowed as a prelude to normal sex. I suggest you get Christopher West's book, "Good News About Sex and Marriage." It's available through It would be good for both of you to read it.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

I need to read Love and Responsibility, but I doubt that John Paul II directly addressed the question of oral sex and anal sex. Some, however, have used what he has written to justify oral sex. From a blog, Catholic Writings:
Before he was elected Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla wrote in his book “Love and Responsibility” that in an act of sexual intercourse, the couple should strive to attain climax at the same time. This highest point of the sexual union between husband and wife should be shared by both.

This ideal certainly is hard to achieve, given that, as said above, men reach orgasm much quicker than women. It is therefore the husband’s responsibility to slow down and “read” his wife’s body language, which will tell him when she is about to climax.

This is one area when oral sex is allowed between husband and wife - to help the woman to climax at the same time as the husband.

However, in the event that the man does climax first, it is also his responsibility to ensure that his wife also climaxes during this act of sexual intercourse by physical stimulation.

If the husband is engaged in coitus with his wife, how is he going to give oral sex at the same time? Manual stimulation, perhaps, but oral sex seems to be physically impossible, even for a contortionist.

Again, over at EWTN:
Dear Fr.:

In a recent post, you answered that oral sex deviates from the unitive and procreative aspects of the marriage act. However, I think some detail must be made clear to arrive at the fullest picture of truth, otherwise incorrect conclusions might be drawn and sometimes those incorrect conclusions can bring great sorrow to the marriage bed and that's not what the church intends.

Although oral sex may not be licitly performed to completion, as that inhibits the procreative aspect of married sex, it should be noted that 1) oral sex as a prelude to intercourse is licit and 2) the statement is only fully true when discussing oral sex from wife to husband; oral sex to fulfill sexual pleasure for a husband TO his wife actually aids in the unitive aspect of married sex. As long as the completed sex act end with sperm ejaculated into the vagina, other techniques for aiding the wife's sexual pleasure are actually encouraged, be it oral or manual. John Paul II wrote as much when he spoke of the obligation of a husband to give his wife sexual pleasure in Love and Responsibility. It is no secret to know that very many women simply cannot achieve orgasm with direct intercourse alone. For a wife to be left without this unitive aspect of lovemaking is actually against the teachings of the church. If you think about it, it's basic biology as God created us and human body parts are part of His design (a theology of the body, so to speak): God created a man with one sexual organ, a penis, and it allows the man to assist in procreation and it gives the man (and woman, to a lesser extent) sexual pleasure. God created a woman with a vagina for procreation and a clitoris that does nothing else but give the woman pleasure. For all parts of the body to be used as God planned it surely is good.

However, having said that, it is quite clear that oral or manual sex in place of completed intercourse is always sinful. In this day and age, when we are bombarded with deviant sexual behavior in and out of marriage, it is imperitive that clear teaching of Catholic sexualtiy not be shyed away from, as that is what will keep marriages strong. (By they way, I got much of this information from the previous priest who did the Q&A for the EWTN NFP forum; it's legit, I promise!)

Pleasure is the unitive aspect of lovemaking? Unitive in an equivocal sense, or common in praedicando. What is actually unitive is coitus itself, when a man and woman join as one flesh.
Is pleasure the purpose of coitus? Or is it, as Aristotle teaches, the completion of the act? I think the reason we have problems understanding traditional sexual morality is because we are so engrossed with pleasure, and don't understand its place within natural teleology.

This is almost as bad as the position which says anything is ok between two consenting adults.
Where does this confusion arise? Perhaps it is an attempt to reconcile proportionalism (or a system that focuses exclusively on the intention) with the Church's teachings about contraception and sex (in so far as they remain 'physicalist'? or so the critics would say), leaving as much freedom as possible for the moral agent. (The "new" casuistry.) Or perhaps it arises from some form of "personalism" (though it is not clear to me that personalism has different historical sources and causes as proportionalism).

The Church's teachings against artificial contraception are on solid ground; but it seems to me that many of the explanations offered to defend her teachings do not pay sufficient attention to the morality of the external act, and its object. Is it commensurate for the penis to be put anywhere other than the vagina? It seems to me that the answer is no.

Certainly, there are health risks associated with anal sex? Frequent anal sex can lead to incontinence after the loss of muscle tone and the diminished ability of the sphincter muscle to contract, etc. But it seems that arguing anal sex is wrong based on future consequences is a consequentialist argument. It is not the same as pointing out that there is an affinity between the penis and the vagina, in so far as there is natural lubrication provided by secretions, and protection against friction given type of cells constituting the vaginal wall, and so on? There are all sort of physiological details that reveal it is proper for the penis to be in the vagina, in contrast to the anus, where there is no lubrication and the muscle wall is rather thin and susceptible to tearing, and so on.

What about the use of the hands for manual stimulation? It seems that between a married couple, the use of the hands to caress, excite and please is ok, so long as the marital embrace is not frustrated or replaced. What of the mouth? There seems to me to be a difference between kissing as a sign of reverence, and using it as a tool for stimulation. And then of course there is the women using her mouth as a substitute vagina. As for men "giving oral sex," one notes that the [chauvinistic] Greeks thought that this practice was unmanly.

While the use of the hands to stimulate the genitalia seems ok, it does not seem to me that the same can be said of using the mouth and tongue. It may be difficult to formulate an argument why, beyond 'modest repugnance,' but as evidence I would point to the fact that the sense of taste has for its organ the tongue, and the sense of smell often works in conjunction with the tongue (and its organ, too, is located in the head, on the face). Given the proximity of the components of the reproductive system to those of the urinary system, without an adequate cleaning of the genital area, one suspects that through the two senses just mentioned there would be sufficient reason to be repulsed from following through on the act.

Of course some may point to homosexual behavior among animals--but it is neither that common nor that dominant within a species; the strength of the desire for pleasure (or in the case of males to ejaculate?) -- can lead to certain acts, but this does not mean that they are "in accordance with nature" except in so far as they proceed from the sense appetite.

Small wonder that the missionary position is the favorite among women -- it fosters intimacy, parity between man and woman. Many of the other positions seem to play to a focused on the self, especially when the male is at advantage -- pleasing him or his ego, or lording his supposed sexual prowess over the female. One comment heard in the past is that certain positions are rather animalistic, since they are those used by brute beasts (and missionary is physically impossible for them); while between human beings, the missionary position does seem optiumum, especially since it fosters communication between two spouses in a way that respects both the complementarity of male and female and the equality based on their nature. Other positions that foster face-to-face orientation seem to be better for that reason--communion, relating to the other at all levels, and promoting what is proper between rational animals, rather than to brute beasts.

This too might be an argument against oral sex; when one is performing oral sex, there is no longer face-to-face parity between the two spouses. How would I otherwise respond to the argument that the man giving oral sex is being "generous" in trying to please his wife? Perhaps
the key is, again, this possibly narrow focus on pleasure. Of course, we tread a minefield when dealing with the statistics behind vaginal versus clitoral orgasms; there is plenty of polemics one both sides, though many argue that only a clitoral orgasms is possible for most women. One wonders if men were more considerate and attentive to the rhythms of their wives that the occurence of vaginal orgasms would be more frequent. Would it not be better to recommend that the husband spends more time preparing himself and his wife for the conjugal act, and spends a little time afterwards embracing her and communicating with her to show his love and affection? If women do not derive much satisfaction from sex and instead look forward to the cuddling, would it not be a sign that sex should be more like cuddling?

(Can a Catholic couple read the Kama Sutra?)

I wonder about the credibility of women who claim they like other positions -- have they been degraded either through abuse or voluntary acts? Or is their response due to a lack of self-respect; they see themselves as nothing more than sex machines and give the response they think males want to hear?

(Dr. Laura unfortunately also believes that anything goes between a married couple, and I believe she is in error on this point.)

Some websites where the answer no is given:
Christdot forum
Presentation Ministries:
Does the Church say that oral sex as foreplay in marital relations is OK?

No, the Church has never said anything officially on this. So the Church has not said oral sex followed by vaginal sex is OK, nor has the Church said it is not OK. In this case we must apply basic moral principles without the help of the Church's specific guidance. In all marital relations, each spouse should have a profound respect for the other. All marital relations should ex-press the total self-giving of the spouses to each other. Therefore, lust, which by definition focuses on self-gratification, is contradictory to love. Also, the natural functions of our bodies should be respected; so unnatural acts are wrong. Applying these principles, I believe that oral sex in marriage is wrong and sows seeds of destruction which will eventually undermine a marriage. Because of this, pastors and caring people should bring up this subject rather than let spouses sow the seeds of destruction in their marriages.

On the Impossibility of Same-Sex Marriage