Sorry, I encountered unexpected delays in writing (but not in reading). I have been deeply delving into a lot of primary source and secondary source material concerning the Atonement and also concerning distributism, social teaching and economics. I am leaving town tomorrow for 10 days, but I look forward to hitting the grindstone here as soon as I get back. Blessings to you all, and may God be praised!


The Holy See has posted the latest encyclical from His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, entitled “Caritas in Veritate” [Charity in Truth]. Please feel free to comment upon it here and we will discuss it together.

I have been away for a while handling personal and medical issues, and thanks to everyone for their prayers. I anticipate being able to write more regularly now and return to some neglected themes soon. God bless all my readers!

Once a man was walking his usual route to work. He worked at a mid-sized law firm in Ohio. He wanted to help bus drivers get better pay and benefits. Unfortunately, there was a bus line which crossed the crosswalk he used every day at the same time, since he was a punctilious soul. He had, in many meetings with the bus drivers’ union, told them repeatedly about the buses crossing the crosswalk against the light, sometimes causing him to have to step back and wave his fist at the passing buses. The drivers, though, had been trained to watch the traffic light above and not the white pedestrian light to the side, which they could not see nearly as well, and sometimes the green light was on at the same time as the white light. Also, in regular meetings with the drivers and the management, he repeatedly cozied up to the management, often calling the drivers “the hired help,” thus causing the drivers some measure of ire and mistrust. He explained that this is what they in fact were, and they should not be offended. He meant them well, after all, despite not actually accomplishing anything for them, and unwittingly (perhaps) working against their interests in dealings. Well, one day the lawyer had had enough. He saw the bus coming at full tilt toward the crosswalk. He raised his fist in defiance and hollered “Maniac! Hired help! How dare you!” And he stepped onto the street at the last possible moment in front of the bus. Of course, the driver did not suddenly realize the error of his ways, magically stop the bus,  and thank the lawyer very much; rather, events conspired to bring the demise of the lawyer.  The lawyer may or may not have been right, but he was, in the end, imprudent. And very, very, dead. And the union took a pay cut and a few were laid off. The end.

Having read much lately around the web concerning presuppositionalism, scripturalism, evidentialism, justified true belief, Gettier problems, undefeatbility, and so on, I thought I’d take a moment to hearken back to the priority of ontology vis-a-vis epistemology.

St. Thomas, following Aristotle, teaches that the intelligible being, the intelligible reality, existing in sense objects is the first object of the first act of our intellect, i. e.: that apprehension which precedes the act of judging. Listen to his words: “The intellect’s first act is to know being, reality, because an object is knowable only in the degree in which it is actual. Hence being, entity, reality, is the first and proper object of understanding, just as sound is the first object of hearing.” (‘Primo in conceptione intellectus cadit ens; quia secundum hoc unumquodque cognoscibile est in quantum est actu; unde ens est proprium objectum intellectus et sic est primum intelligibile, sicut sonus est primum audibile.’ Ia, q. 5, a. 2. Cf. also Ia, q. 85, a3; Ia IIae, q. 94, a. 2; Cont. Gent.: II, 83; De veritate, q. 1, a. I.)

-Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange, Reality: a Synthesis of Thomistic Thought, ch. 4

Our thoughts about truth are thoughts about objects of truth. That is, they are about objective reality. Reality, of course, is that which exists; that which is most or most truly real is that which exists in actuality and not in potentiality. So, the most real is that about which (Whom, actually) it cannot be stated that A) it is in some way not (about which, more, presently), B) it is in some way in potentiality, C) it is in some way contingent, and D) it is in some way terminable.

We think, which is action. Our thoughts are thus real, because they happen; they do not reside in some “potentiality.” I am not sure when people first started proposing or believing (also actions, of course) that thought was less real, not real, or the like. I don’t think it’s debatable that angelic forces are the impetus for such proto-gnosticism. We contend with principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12) who, as we also read in chapter 23 of Garrigou-LaGrange’s book, are described thus: “The nature of his ideas, at once universal and concrete, make the angel’s knowledge intuitive, not in any way successive and discursive. He sees at a glance the particular in the universal, the conclusion in the principle, the means in the end.”

For the same reason his act of judging does not proceed by comparing and separating different ideas.  By his purely intuitive apprehension of the essence of a thing, he sees at once all characteristics of that essence, for example, he simultaneously sees all man’s human and created characteristics, for instance, that man’s essence is not man’s existence, then man’s existence is necessarily given and preserved by divine causality.

Why this immense distance between angel and man? Because, seeing intuitively, the angel sees without medium, as in clearest midday, an immensely higher object, sees the intelligible world of spirits, whereas man’s intellect, the most feeble of all intellects, having as object the lowest order of intelligibility, must be satisfied with twilight glances into the faint mirror of the sense world.

A further consequence is that the angel’s intuitive vision is also infallible. But while he can make no mistake in his natural knowledge, he can deceive himself in the supernatural order, on the question, for example, whether this or that individual man is in the state of grace. Likewise he may deceive himself in forecasting the contingent future, above all in attempting to know the future free acts of men, or the immanent secrets of man’s heart, secrets which are in no way necessarily linked with the nature of our soul or with external physical realities. The secrets of the heart are not fragments of the material world, they do not result from the interplay of physical forces.


TF recently posted this. Relying on secular media accounts while not utilizing good critical thinking skills seems to have recurred as a theme.

There is a large measure of infection of enlightenment and protestant weltanschauung in modern Catholicism because the same enemy who attacked the Church to subvert it with doctrinal chaos is still attacking it for the same reason. The fact that there are orthodox Catholics and unorthodox Catholics says nothing about the regula fide of Catholicism. You have asserted that but not demonstrated it. The contention that sola scriptura as a regula fide, however, leads to disunity and doctrinal chaos can be and has been demonstrated (because of its very nature). Your argument, such as it is, hangs on the premise that doctrinal disunity among Catholics is among Catholics who share the same faith and understand and adhere to it equally; this is qualitatively different from protestants who understand and adhere to sola scriptura protestantisms equally yet arrive at wildly disparate conclusions.

Dim Bulb posts a great sermon of St. Thomas Aquinas in anticipation of Pentecost. I am going to revise the sidebar link to direct readers to his most recent website. Make sure you peruse DB’s stuff: it’s a goldmine, folks.

This made me chuckle. Because what Madrid did is totally different from, you know, establishing a blog on the internet and publishing on controversial topics and then requiring registration, heavily screening, and refusing to publish a significant amount of critical comments from numerous readers while choosing to remain pseudonymous and refusing to provide credentials. It’s completely different! Wholly unlike that other thing altogether, I tell you! Not even in the same ballpark. No sir.


I respond to a recent criticism by TF (responding to a criticism of mine).
It’s my position that Luke 1:45 refers to the gracious bestowal of perfect knowledge to Mary by “the Lord.” Mary then proceeds to respond to this exclamation made by Elizabeth who was “filled with the holy Ghost,” by elaborating exactly that which was delivered to her by the Lord and on which she believed. The content of that includes the makariousin which is an indicative future 3 person plural active voice verb, as I am given to understand it. This is done immediately after Mary’s imperative to Elizabeth (idou = “be cognizant,” “be aware,” “behold,” “be perceiving”). It is also my position that in light of that imperative, Mary was expressing an aspect of that part of the deposit given to her by the Lord (by way of the angel Gabriel). This deposit was later recorded by Luke under inspiration as well. In your parsing of it, you split it up into bits which you wish to consider inspired and bits which you wish to characterize as “possibly” “hyperbolic.”

A number of questions arise. Are there grammatical concerns which would have rendered a second imperative in v. 47 awkward, improbable, impossible? Is it more reasonable to consider the remark (makariousin) in the context I have just laid out as also inspired or more reasonable to consider it uninspired? The entire passage of Luke 1 makes it clear that the makariousin ought also to be considered both inspired and imperative, despite your objection in isolating the parsing of the Greek word as being definitive for your case. That’s what I meant by pedantic and disingenuous. Not that you were dealing in trivia (for we are not) nor that you were being dishonest (for I don’t believe you were). Rather, you were concentrating on the trees and missing the forest.

My knowledge of Greek is not spectacular. I am not a trained scholar. You haven’t given us any reason to think you are either. Perhaps to clarify you could offer credentials, and also address my questions above. I use various resources to help me in my Scripture studies. Among them are texts of Greek instruction, but I am no expert and am an autodidact. You may respond or not as you wish.

I want to set up the next series of investigation by quoting Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange:

 2. Angelic Knowledge

There are three orders of knowledge: human, angelic, divine. The object of knowledge in general is intelligible reality. The proper object of human intelligence is the intelligible being of sense objects, because the human intellect has as its proportioned object the lowest order of intelligible reality, the shadowy reality of the sense world. By opposition, then, the proper object of angelic intelligence is the intelligible reality of spiritual creatures. Hence, the proper intelligible object of each particular angel is that angel’s own essence, just as God’s proper intelligible object is His own divine essence. [600].

This position granted, let us see its consequences. The human idea, by which man knows, is an abstract and universal idea, drawn forth, by the intellect agent, from particular sense objects. But the angelic idea, not being drawn from external sense objects, is a natural endowment of the angelic intellect, infused into it by God at the moment of creation. Hence the angelic idea is at once universal and concrete. The angel’s infused idea of the lion, say, represents not only the nature of the lion, but all individual lions that either actually exist or have in the past been objects of the angel’s intellect. Angelic ideas are thus participations in God’s own creative ideas. Infused ideas, then, which Plato and Descartes falsely ascribed to men, are, on the contrary, an angelic characteristic.

Thus these angelic ideas, at once universal and concrete, represent whole regions of intelligible reality, and each angel has his own distinctive suprasensible panorama. The higher the angel, the stronger is his intelligence and the fewer are his ideas, since they are more rich and universal. Thus, with ever fewer ideas, the higher angels command immense regions of reality, which the lower angels cannot attain with such eminent simplicity. [601] A human parallel is the sage, who, in a few simple principles, grasps an entire branch of knowledge. The stronger is the created intellect, to say it briefly, the more it approaches the preeminent simplicity of the divine intellect.

A further consequence. The nature of his ideas, at once universal and concrete, make the angel’s knowledge intuitive, not in any way successive and discursive. He sees at a glance the particular in the universal, the conclusion in the principle, the means in the end. [602].

For the same reason his act of judging does not proceed by comparing and separating different ideas. [603] By his purely intuitive apprehension of the essence of a thing, he sees at once all characteristics of that essence, for example, he simultaneously sees all man’s human and created characteristics, for instance, that man’s essence is not man’s existence, then man’s existence is necessarily given and preserved by divine causality. [604].

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I was reading Reginald de Piperno yesterday about the “Liars at the door.” Later, I stumbled on an article in which Elizabeth Shipp, the political director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, was quoted as saying “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Gov. Palin sounds remarkably pro-choice,” in response to remarks that Gov. Palin had made here in Indiana at a recent pro-life event. Gov. Palin had indicated that “for a fleeting moment” she had considered and then dismissed abortion when she discovered that her son Trig had a chromosomal abnormality.

As a human person, with human failings and human emotional conflicts, I would imagine that Gov. Palin probably did have abortion cross her mind. How could a woman in 21st century, post Roe v. Wade America not have it enter her consciousness, however briefly? To insinuate that this somehow makes her “pro-choice” is typical of the lying advocates of murder at the aforementioned organization. Which brings up an interesting point: anyone notice their shiny, new moniker? “NARAL Pro-Choice America.” I remember what NARAL stands for, because they used to be comfortable advertising it: the National Abortion Rights Action League. (They briefly flirted with the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, but apparently they realized that “reproductive rights” conjures up images of, well, reproduction, i.e., little babies. Little baby people. Little itty-bitty human people. Like the ones GE’s Voluson 4D ultrasound imaging medical device shows clearly. Just formless, lifeless cell masses, folks, nothing to see here, move along. It’s above our paygrade, anyway. Clearly it’s a matter of faith as to when human life begins. Oops! Dang! Ka-pow! As the GE video says at one point, “let your eyes decide.”) But I suppose focus-groups told them that the new name had more broad-based appeal. You know. The better to solicit funds from. (But they’re not about making money, folks, they’re about “protecting freedoms.” And I’m the greatest guitarist on the planet. No, really. Check out my vast array of studio work as a fill-in for Page, Clapton, Vaughan, and Beck. All me.)

What really gets me is crap like this:

In 1973, the Supreme Court guaranteed American women the right to choose abortion in its landmark decision Roe v. Wade. In Roe, the Court issued a compromise between the state’s ability to restrict abortion and a woman’s right to choose.

Some compromise! This is exactly like saying that income taxation is a compromise between the individual’s right to keep his earnings and the state’s desire to redistribute wealth. (If you don’t like taxes, don’t pay them. It’s voluntary.)  Oh, but wait, noone is forced to “choose” abortion, Syzygus. No, that’s the difference. Perhaps. For now. But let’s see what happens when “universal healthcare” (an inevitability) is enacted, and bureaucratic ethicists are the ones informing the people who make decisions about “healthcare,” shall we? Let’s see: we’ve rescinded the Mexico City policy. We’ve lifted restrictions on federal funding of abortions and embryonic stem-cell research (despite the utter failure that avenue has proven to be, and in the face of the numerous successes of adult pluripotent stem-cell research, which does not destroy human life). Does anyone seriously believe, in the face of shrieking radicals like Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, that the status quo is even possible? 

Then there’s this gem: “Even with Roe v. Wade’s protections still in place, 87 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider.” All because those “furiously working anti-choice” zealots are tirelessly trying to make abortion access impossible. Doesn’t have anything to do with most doctors realizing a fundamental disconnect between helping people, saving lives, providing good healthcare and the provision of abortion. No sir. Or ma’am. Or [insert term-of-choice for your transgendered status here].

And I like this one, too:

RU 486 should not be confused with emergency contraception, also known as the “morning-after” pill, which is a basic form of birth control that prevents pregnancy and does not cause abortion.

Howler! Mifepristone is RU-486, and mifepristone is also a “morning after pill.” But they’re not the same; you see, one acts an abortifacient, and the other (same) thing doesn’t. (Of course, either way, a conceived human person is prevented from being allowed to have its rights of choice, etc., but what are you, some kind of extremist?)