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I think that somewhere along the way Americans have lost sight of the fact that people don't generally come with a strong sense of what it means to be free, even if freedom is a right granted by nature. Freedom is, to put it Thomistically, a habitus which is formed in communities starting at a young age based on natural inclinations which can just as easily be vitiated by servility.

One of the only good arguments against the mass immigration of Europeans into the United States was the sense that these people were servile, used to obeying priests and princes and therefore ill-suited to our republic. I wonder whether there wasn't something to that argument when I look at the declining value we as a society place on liberty and freedom.

Authorities are instantly obeyed, presidents are fetishized as saviors, freedoms are traded away in exchange for new titilations in our increasingly trivial society. I think it starts when kids are young, with teachers, who are agents of the state in many cases, set up as miniature despots and children are told the whole of their lives - social, intellectual, and monetary, depends on their obedience regardless of whether the rules conform to logic, reason, law, liberty, revelation, tradition, or common sense. When such unthinking obedience is enforced in school, is it a wonder that conformity, anonymity, and mediocrity become values, or that virtues like the fortitude to stand on principle (even against principals) or the refusal to compromise self-determination are considered wicked and disruptive? Even worse, people who don't conform find themselves alone and filled with self-loathing, turning to digital delight, drugs, or even suicide to achieve artificially the deadened worldview which has become the hallmark of their supposed peers.

Most pernicious is that businesses, the Church, the universities, and governments all cooperate with this vitiation, preferring drones to leaders and leaving critical thinking and principles for those who can afford them (or worse, the Congress). We are a people unable to be led because will not go anywhere, preferring the unthinking, challenge-less life of slavery to the prospect of a change in the precious status quo people will pay so very much to protect.

This isn't limited to the large institutions of society - debate teams and WoW guilds and livejournal communities are the domain of those who care nothing for liberty, ignoring rights and duties in favor of control. It perverts us every time we assent to authority which does not accord with our reason and our conscience, and we become that little bit less free, that little bit more willing to sacrifice our self-determination and the pursuit of our own excellence on the heathen altar of slavish expediency.

We are a nation founded on revolution, when men of great learning dared to demand liberties which were their birthright and so effected the first separation of a colony from an Empire in the history of the modern world. It was the first in a great series of the triumphs of liberty over totalitarianism, but it seems that America, the mother of Republicanism, stands in need of her own Prague Spring, another rededication, even at the cost of blood, to the proposition that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with certain, inalienable rights, lest the experiment we brought into the world fail, and our way of life perish from the Earth in favor of rule only by those who can find it in themselves to care about anything but their own delight.
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1. Is it possible not to have a specific vocation?

2. Does the Church want to say that Homosexuality is an inclination or a tendency?
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These from countrysoaper and sadrach

1. Why do men like having beards?
They don't, shaving just sucks.

2. Is there somewhere else in the world that you would like to visit or live? If so, have you begun making plans to go?
The next place on my list is to go to the Philippines with Neil, which will happen once he has money (i.e. never). Beyond that, I'd like to go back to Rome.

3. What's your pocket issue?
They can never hold all the things I want to put in them.

Seriously, it's education, because I believe education is prior to all other questions about the long-term health of the state.

4. Which Shakespearean character do you relate to the most and why?
Hmmm...Prospero, I think. Alex says Benedick, after he gets over his commitment issues.

5. What is a list of traits that you'd like to find in your ideal partner? Organizing by importance is not necessary.
Hmm. This is by no means exhaustive

A sharp, inquisitive mind
A willingness to play and be silly
A high tolerance for my bullshit without being willing to take any of it he shouldn't
An Interest in science fiction
An interest in caring for others

Bonus Question:
6. What is your favorite holiday and why?
My favorite religious holiday is the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. My favorite secular holiday is Halloween, because of the time of year, and because I had an amazing one my sophomore year.

1) Do you think you are destined to be happy?
No, almost certainly not. If God's will is expressed in what he creates, my skepticism is justified.

2) What do you find most interesting about other people?
The things I reflect on more than they do, and the things they don't tell people right away, or things that tend to go unsaid.

3) If you could teach one class on the university level, what would it be?
Theology of Popular Culture

4) Favorite TV Show of all time, and why?
That's really hard...West Wing, perhaps?

5) Your opinion on drugs, prescribed and not.
Prescription drugs for physical problems are good almost all of the time.
Prescription drugs for psychological issues are problematic - the side effects are often terrible, and they can impede normalcy as much if not more than what they treat.
Narcotics impede contemplation by making everything seem amazing or making nothing seem it - this necessarily contorts the will for the sake of a useless pleasure. This to say nothing of destroying lives and communities. The appetite for them is best satisfied by lighting some candles, playing some good music, eating something delicious, drinking a glass of wine, reading a good book, or watching your favorite movie, or just playing with someone you love intimately (or 13 someones, this ideally on a large lawn under a tree in mid-autumn). No good comes from them, period.
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Anyone want a google wave invite?
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Rwanda joined the Commonwealth yesterday, essentially as a giant bird-flip to the French for their part in the genocide. I consider dissing the French a pretty good reason for almost any international policy.

In reading about it, I'm fairly sure the US is eligible for membership. That would be awesome.

From [ profile] miafeliz

1. As gay marriage is legal in Mass. Do you see yourself getting married one day?
I can't ever get married, not really. No matter what, I'm quite keenly aware of that fact.

That said, I'll do it for health insurance purposes or something like that. My mom wants me to have a real wedding with a laicized hippy priest, because that's how her faith rolls.

2. If you didn't debate, what do you think you'd do?
Probably tech for theatre productions, though I might write for the school newspaper and be perennially disappointed by our cowardice in not criticizing the administration.

3. Tell me about life as a native Bostonian.
Boston is a mentality, a way of life. It is the irrational junction of Puritans and Papists, Italians and Irish, Federalists and Liberals. There's a kind of xenophobia about the place - not enough to be hatred, just enough to find outside things suspect. It's intensely seasonal - the summers are hot enough to be real summer, when it snows it snows, and I think everyone feels keenly the loss of fall as it becomes colder.

There's a really high population of college students and academic types as a population of the city, and that's constantly in tension with old traditionalists who strongly oppose anything as progressive as extending the hours of the T.

I think there's just a weird logic to the city - the streets are only navigable if you already know where you're going, the whims of the people aren't consistent with outside philosophies, and you kind of have to be there to get how a population can be so Catholic, so pro-Gay Rights, and so insistent that the bars close early at the same time.

4. Which Dr. Who is your favorite and why?
Tom Baker, because that's who my dad watched when I was a kid most often.

5. Who is your favorite romantic poet?
Keats, but only because Tennyson isn't technically. I think I probably know more bits of Tennyson than Keats, though.

From [ profile] charged_chaos

1. Can you see yourself being satisfied and fulfilled in a career that has absolutely nothing to do with theology or philosophy?
Yes, if you take Philosophy somewhat broadly - I could easily do work in education theory and policy, or Law, or perhaps even politics. I mean, I'm probably going to end up being a speechwriter for the state Democratic party (which I might even finally feel the compulsion to join), at least temporarily.

That said, I don't think I can ever be satisfied in any job that doesn't involve calling down fire on heathen idols, and that industry died out a long time ago.

2. How is your relationship with Alex going and do you see yourself with him in five years?
It's a little up and down - a lot of "Go away so I can want you to come back" on both of our parts. But we've been together for over a year now (scary thought) and yeah, I think it's at least possible we stay together that long. We still really love being together.

3. You have mentioned how you have become disillusioned with the Church's position on natural law. What disillusioned you and what is your view of natural law now?
I've always thought the natural law was a shaky topos for making arguments of any kind (eg Aquinas' entire logic for forbidding homosexuality is factually inaccurate), and I sort of still think it's a fake intellectual construct which stems from Greek xenophobia as much as everything else. That said, on the strength of tradition I've accepted a mostly Augustinian account of Natural Law, such that it exists but doesn't really do very much in terms of the life of the human person or the life of the state.

4. When was the last time you laughed so hard you nearly cried and what was so funny?
I don't remember, but it might have been Tufts finals, which was a round about whether you should steal Adolf Hitler's wallet.

5. Do you actually have personal and powerful experiences that affirm your faith that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, or is it more so an intellectual assent or a leap of faith (I for one find God perpetually absent and/or distant)?

I find God a distant intellectual abstraction as well. My faith came from an assent to the Thomistic account of virtue and the human person which is really the only rational and coherent one I've found. I still don't have much taste for metaphysics, as the above answer would suggest, and most of the rest I believe because the Church does. I never had the ah-ha moment, just a lot of misery that I needed to explain somehow.


Nov. 27th, 2009 10:49 pm
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I feel like I've run out of words. I'm having trouble talking to anyone, having trouble formulating anything to write or say. Nothing is interesting, or funny, or satisfying, and nothing holds my attention longer than a few minutes.

Some days I'm desperately afraid that I will never recover what I've lost - that I'll always be this manic depressive malcontent with a second rate mind cured to remember first rate glories. I fear that the best of my output was squandered on D&D campaigns and a school committee that never listened anyway, and nothing remains for me to build a life on. I know people feel burned out and used up, but do they usually feel like that at 20? I've got 50 more years of this, most likely, and I don't know if I'll ever have friendships as good as I had, or writing as prolific as I did. I think I've settled into the rut of illness and what I don't have I'm not going to have again. And that scares the everliving shit out of me.
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For the first time in the modern history of the chamber, a group other than Her Majesty's parliament took to the green benches. About 600 11-18 year debated university fees, youth crime, and the voting age.

Several things are evident:

1. Like Bard debaters, the youth of the UK are unable to warrant the merits of socialism, and simply accept it on religious-like faith.
2. APDA could do this better.
3. The youth of the UK ain't bovverd.

I think that APDA ought to have an event where we sit as a body and make pronouncements on the issues of the day. Clearly we need to take over some legislative chamber for this purpose. As a matter of fact, I think we have a moral duty to do this, since everyone is entitled to our opinions.
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"I can't be scene, I'm a theology major."
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I'm going to go through questions people have asked in bits and pieces, starting with [ profile] cinchntouch and [ profile] paedraggaidin.

1. Whether he will state his engagements for Thursday, November 26th?

I had meetings with gastronomic colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the house, I shall have further such meetings later today.

[ profile] cinchntouch:

2. Have you always been religious or did you have a conversion

I had a conversion. I don't remember when it happened. One day it all just clicked, without any particular impetus or feeling of having seen the light. Before that, I was pretty oppositional to religion.

2. What is your best LJ experience?
I have no idea. Livejournal is certainly important for how I process things, but I can't point to a moment as particularly worthy of mention apart from the whole.

3. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I never want to grow up. It seems to suck pretty hard.

4. Since you asked me, I will ask something in a similar vein, other than Aquinas, what philosopher/theologian has influenced you the most?
Would it be cheating to say Aristotle?

Probably Sartre or Kierkegaard. I find existentialism fascinating, although it shows through less in my writing.

5. Who do you think is the most over rated philosopher/theologian?
Descartes. "Oh, I'm not going to believe in anything! OH NO, I'M NOT LISTENING!" is the stuff of bad trolls, not lovers of wisdom.

[ profile] paedraggaidin

1. What is your least-favorite heresy of all time?
Social Darwinism, because I think it cheapens humanity the most. Of the declared heresies, Albigensianism, for similar reasons.

2. What's your favorite place to hang out in the Boston area?
Harvard Square. It has a metric crapton of memories because it's where many, many things happened, starting in middle school.

3. Which Neil Gaiman book did you like best?
Night Watch, though Reaper Man was also excellent.

4. Star Trek: Enterprise - good show or waste of time?
Profound, colossal waste of time.

5. What about the British Empire appeals to you?
The culture, the poetry, the mythos. I know that empires aren't unproblematic and that colonialism and imperialism are not answers, but the fantasy captivates me such that the realities can't tarnish it.
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Leave me a comment saying "Resistance is Futile."
I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can satisfy my curiosity
Update your journal with the answers to the questions
Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions

Questions from [ profile] sonria.

Are you theologically conservative or liberal? I know you're socially liberal but I'm still trying to figure out the rest. :)

I'm neither politically nor theologically liberal, nor am I politically or theologically conservative.

In terms of the disputes that usually define the Conservatives vs. Liberals dichotomy in the Church I'm essentially a strict constructionist. When there is significant dissent, either within the college of bishops or among the faithful over any issue, it cannot be settled but by the bishops in council or a dogmatic declaration of supreme pontiff and calling it dogmatically certain in the absence of such a final deliberation borders on heresy. In the same way, the suggestion that the faithful owe religious obedience to the hierarchy on such uncertain questions does extreme violence to the doctrine of the sensus fidelium.

I usually get called a liberal because my positions put me in that camp, but I consider it a kind of extreme conservatism in that it holds the authentic tradition of the Church in highest regard, and seeks to resist modern usurpations of the ecclesial order.

What in the heck does your journal title mean?

It's a play on "Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam" which means "To the Greater Glory of God" and is a motto of the Jesuits. Philologi has multiple meanings - it is literally "Lover of words" and in practice means "bookish person" or more loosely, nerd. At the same time, it can also be translated as Lovers of the Logos, or of Christ.

That's how it translates. What it means is that I'm a big ole' geek.

You list "candles" as an interest. How do you use them and when?

I use them at prayer all the time, and also a lot of the time when I hand-write anything. I'm also one of those people that feels compelled to light a candle when churches have them out.

Where can I find your fan fiction?

There are a few things over on [ profile] ludi_literarum, but in general only on my external harddrive - I had some stuff on some now-defunct archives, and I deleted my account many, many moons ago.

If you weren't in school where would you be and what would you be doing?

That's hard to answer. If I could graduate tomorrow I'd be working as a legislative aid, running for town meeting (if not school committee), and putting off deciding whether theology is going to be my life. If I'd never gone to school, I'd probably be looking at monasteries to join. Life is funny like that.
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The universe is silly. The only thing that could make it worse is people....

Oh, too late.
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What makes you happy?
napoleonofnerds: (Default)
It's 2 am. My laptop ate a paper I have to write again. Kevin got what may be the worst song ever recorded in English stuck in my head.

That is all.
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Alex wants to try more sci-fi. He's read some random works, but we're trying to fill in gaps.

He's liked:
All of Vonnegut
All of Bradbury
Ender's Game
The Dispossessed

If you have ideas, throw them out there, but I've got a good handle on it, I think. What I'm really asking, oh wise LJ-ans, is this:

If one hadn't heard of Isaac Azimov until a half-hour ago, should one start with Foundation, or with something else?
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From the Duggars to the Child-free
from the Amazon to the Nile
A breeder's a breeder
no matter how fertile.

I'm feeling much better. I'd be better if Ireland hadn't caved to the EU and if our President weren't still totally gutless and ineffective, but hey, it could be worse.

I have a plan to move to Canada and guilt them into electing me to the House of Commons, where I would make a career out of switching from Opposition party to opposition party and asking scathing questions about the various Prime Ministers. The major flaw is that I would have to learn to sometimes do it in French.
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My sister's roommates just pulled a my-roommates and tried to kick her out of her apartment. While she's sick. And in Boston.

People are shit. I hope they get stuck with the Clark equivalent of Anna Sabia.

Ama Teppy, and whoever else, she's pretty shook up, so she could use some prayers. They found her a new living situation which is good, but she's still crushed.
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I am so bored it isn't funny.

I am currently catching up on Animorphs: The Radio Drama, having blown through The IP Colloquium, some Sliders torrents, and all the videos I hadn't watched on Parlidebate. Oh, also Question Periods from the Canadian House of Commons.

So suggest something. A webseries, a torrent, a blog, a webcomic, or a podcast - whatever you like, whatever makes you smile, whatever captures your interest.

I love these posts mostly because so many other people find interesting things when they read the comments.
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Since I'm bored and there's no flamewar for me to join, I think I'll recap the Smith trip that put me in this position.

Alex, me, and a couple of other people on the team drove up with Allegra, a Brown debater I haven't seen in a year because she's been in France striking, eating cheese, and bitching about the EU. We talked about how crazy the French are, how Allegra is still a morally suspect socialist, and in general about the progress of our lives over the summer.

We arrive slightly late to the tournament because Allegra lightly rear-ended an old man, but here's one important thing to know about Smith: It has never run on time in living memory. I'm dead serious, last year the third round, which was meant to start at 9 PM was over at 2:30 in the morning or thereabouts.

Round 1 is against some very bad Yale novices, one of whom is wearing a pink shirt and tie and talks with a lisp. We run a case inspired by the Veronica Mars episode "Meet John Smith" which revolves around the question of whether you ought to reveal to a high school freshman that the father he thought was dead was in fact a post-op transsexual. We were defending not telling the kid and suggested, among other things, that learning that information at that time with no preparation might result in some identity crises, and therefore you should wait and try to get the kid ready. This argument is, in the mind of the Yale novice, the EXACT SAME as saying that no gay people should ever come out and therefore I'm a homophobe. At this point the judge, who is a friend of mine bursts out laughing because a) I'm debating with my boyfriend, and b) because I'm starting to turn red as if I'm one step away from going Bruce Banner on the other team. We win, I get shorted on points.

Round 2 was a shitshow about Israel. You know how threads on LJ about Israel never go well, even among people of good-will? The exact same is true of debate. We drop.

Round 3 we are fairly high in the 1 and 1 bracket, meaning we hit a team low in it - the Bard/WestConn hybrid. Neither of these teams debate much at all on the circuit, and this was another pair of freshman queens. They run the infamous "manbortion" case, ie that Men ought to be allowed to sever their parental rights within the time-frame women have to legally abort the baby. This case is retarded on many levels, not least that men will no longer need to take any responsibility and instead we'll further perpetuate the idea that whole groups of people should get on the dole as infants and never leave, which is bad for those people and a violation of their dignity*. They tell me I have an antiquated and hetero-normative view of the family. I just got called a homophobe a second time, and at Smith no less.

During that day we saw a demo about the Ursula K LeGuin story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, and whether it's morally permissible to stay in a society which reaps massive benefit from the torturing of an innocent scapegoat. Gov argued it wasn't poorly, picking the preservation of innocence as their Kantian moral paradigm, which is a dumb moral paradigm. Everyone's lives (and rounds) would be better if they were Aristotelians.

Round 4 was a loss because Alex wanted it that way and I let him.

Round 5 was about whether Willow should have brought Buffy back from the dead (clearly no, by the way). We lost because the judge was a moron, meaning I went 2-3 for the first time in a year. I don't feel bad because Alex is new to the activity, but it stings we lost when we should have won. Luckily the other team didn't have a strong grounding in the Buffster, otherwise I probably would have been told I was oppressing Willow's lesbianism.

We stayed through finals. All those rounds were silly except for the last one, which in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day was: The US Congress should grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal to private ships to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Awesome round, even though both sides made up many truthy but ultimately false things about Maritime law.

So, now somebody go start a flame war, because I'm bored again.

*As a side note, yes I do use Aristotle and Catholic Social Thought in rounds. It's more fun than always talking about social utility.
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So yeah, I was exposed in Northampton, Massachusetts (which is mostly sad because it means I was in Northampton, Massachusetts) and am now in Boston for a few days trying to sleep it off.

I can't really walk much without being drop-dead tired and getting irrational muscle aches. Also I can't talk.

It's rather a nice set up: I am upstairs alone, since nobody else wants this. I lay on my bed or the day-bed in the front room where the little TV is. Every couple of hours Mom or Dad comes up, says hello, has a conversation with me for a few minutes, refills my tea, and goes away to bathe themselves in Purell.

In between I read for school and sleep a whole lot.

I've decided on a title for my next writing project - The Year-Long Flu.
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