Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pope puts Piux XII on sainthood path, angers Jews

Response to National Post Article

I suppose from a realpolitik viewpoint, we should welcome the canonization of Pope Piux XII. Just as much as the elevation of Arafat to the Nobel Peace Prize discredits the value of that award, I cannot imagine that Pope Pius XII's elevation will furnish honour to this Catholic practice.

Regardless of whose history one reads, it is quite evident that Nuncio Eugenio Pacelli, with the blessing of the Vatican, in its Konkordat with the Nazis and with the deafening silence afterward, was quite willing to sacrifice the truth, the right and the welfare of its people in Germany and in Europe for the survival of the institution of the Catholic Church.

There is no mystery to this. For if the Rock by which Christ was to build his church was the Apostolic succession (the Papacy), then safeguarding it at all costs makes sense.

I cannot help but believe that this same motivation (safeguarding the reputation of the institution of the Catholic Church) is behind the worldwide cover up of the Sexual Abuse cases. It seems unfortunate that the Catholic hierarchy did not heed Christ's words that "what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs".

It is quite evident that the Catholic hierarchy had no real trust in the God they profess to honour. If its leaders truly believed, then rolling the dice and pursuing a policy of all-out Christian-type opposition to this monstrous tyranny, even at the sake of the temporary destruction of the institution of the organized Church, if not honoured in the heart of God, would certainly would have been honoured in the hearts of men. The anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa certainly survived the incarceration of Mandela. The Human Rights movement in the Soviet Union survived the latter's persecutions.

However, before picking on the Catholic Church, let's acknowledge that very few hands were clean then. In the German Protestant Church, so infected with liberal theology, doubt in core Christian beliefs was too endemic. Those so inflicted as to be uncertain of their own salvation, would not be bold enough to provide resistance and sacrifice of their welfare and their lives.

However, most Germans, though nominal Christians, were infused with a secular spirit, dating prior to WW1. (No more than 10% were regular attendants of the Churches) Thus, if this secular German was not a true believer in Nazism, he either went along with it, seeing personal advantages to the regime he acknowledged as in the main detrimental. Or he hoped to merely survive it, keeping his head down so that the Nazis wouldn't come after him.

Nevertheless, the canonization of Pope Pius XII would be indecent. He did not distinguish himself as being the salt separate from the earth he was supposed to have salted.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Philosophic Skepticism

Philosophic Skepticism or Doubt is based on the premise that man is incapable of knowing all things (lack of omniscience), necessary to categorically ‘know’ anything absolutely. Man, in his short duration on earth, cannot master the knowledge of the quadrillions plus pieces of datum within that duration. Any conceptual truth man asserts may be found wanting by some unknown piece of datum that he has yet to have digested. For instance, we know not if the laws of physics apply inside a Black Hole or any other physical phenomena, encountered or constructed by scientific speculation. Therefore, we cannot ascertain with certainty that any law of physics, so discovered, is indeed a universal law, true at all places, in all times and under all conditions. Unless every i is dotted and every t crossed, we cannot be sure of anything.

Even the verity ‘man is incapable of knowing all things’ itself needs to be a qualified assertion under Skepticism. According to this thesis, we will not know that even this truth; that of man’s finiteness to knowledge, will hold out before species annihilation; that is, until the last man breathes their last. Even then, we may speculate that perhaps there was such a man with omniscience but who was too modest or for reasons of his own, declined to make that attribute known.

Omniscience itself becomes suspect. How would an omniscient person know that they know everything that is to be known; know that he was indeed omniscient? Would it not be necessary to have evaluated an infinite number of possibilities of untruth as well as that of truth? Ought he not be suspicious that his claim to infinitude was itself suspect? That is, he does not know what he does not know. Even omniscience would have reason to doubt its capacity for certainty of knowledge of the truth.

Thereby does Philosophic Skepticism become the perfect sophistry.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When Did Equality Before the Law Become a Principle of the Far Right?

But there is nothing out of keeping with our legal traditions--contrary to the ravings of far-right wingers--about special penalties for hate crimes.

Some twenty-five years ago, rearing two and three year old boys, I received my comeuppance from my two year old. Though fervently believing in equality of treatment, I also subscribed to dealing with each child according to their personality. The elder of the two had such a tender conscience or need to be in the good graces of his parent, that whenever he broke the rules, he would more often than not bash himself, sometimes physically, for his transgression. The younger sibling didn’t seem to care. Therefore in meting out discipline, I was loathe to add insult to injury to the eldest’s self-flagellations while the younger would receive the customary correction. That is until I heard one of toddler’s favorite phrases “that ain’t fair”.

I have to believe that my two year was not that sophisticated to incorporate the intricacies of a far-right winger political worldview. And I am not clever enough to indoctrinate a two-year old whose vocabulary may not exceed a hundred words. So where do such sentiments emanate?

What I did learn is that such inequality of treatment, even if motivated by intents like equality of outcome or by nothing more than to do whatever necessary to ensure order, could undermine the moral authority of my position as a parent. I would always appear as playing favorites. My parents certainly thought so.

As a young pup, and incurring the wrath of the conservative element, I detested these greater punishments for assaulters of police. Furthermore, lenient jury decisions regarding errant cops galled my internal sense of justice. Rather than being excused for their behaviour because of the peril of the occupation for the public good, I believed that having to execute the law, they should be expected to abide by that which they execute. General reverence for law is undermined when the legislators and exactors of law fail to practice what they preach. Besides, the police, being of the same flesh and blood, are not, by nature, superior in virtue to the rest of society.

Minimally, increased sanctions against violence against police set a dangerous precedent. Well, the fester of this precedent is certainly reaching cancerous proportions.

Equality of treatment, perhaps originating as a Jewish idea in history, but surely elemental in man’s soul, was taken up by the West and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution to counter the preferences, that Kings and Nobles among others with influence, gave unto themselves.

But just as basic is man’s cri du coeur for justice is his propensity for seeking advantage. However, there is no justice to be found in special sanctions against intemperance towards special groups. Indeed there is no such thing as real justice in this age. For such to occur, there would need to be a coherent body of laws in which one could detect a rational balance and consistent thread. No, justice is no more than which is defined by whichever lobby group garners the most political clout and presents the more cunningly sophistic argument.

Punishments against rape, the most vital property possessed by a person often results in considerably lighter sentences than other forms of theft, because of the needs of capitalist entities. We have witnessed a decades-long campaign towards criminalizing tobacco while a corresponding movement is afoot to decriminalize marijuana although the latter contains many of the same cancer causing substances, usually in higher concentrations as well as psychosis-inducing elements.

Should two of my children, one gay and the other an intellectual nerd got to fisticuffs, one calling the other “f…ing fag’ and the other calling ‘f…ing browner’, each scratch each other eyes out and blood is spilt, can you honestly expect me to excuse the one and punish the other? Is the hate that one temporarily (hopefully) manifests for the other any different than the other, both on an individual level and towards the ‘group’ to which the other belongs? Isn’t hate manifested in all violence and murder? Isn’t there always that sentiment “that that other person is not fit to live” down in the depths of our nature that we tend to look away from, when we cave in to our violent urges? Why are we differentiating the quality of hate on the basis of which type of persons are in vogue at any given time?

Rather than sending a message to our society’s miscreants, hate laws breeds a general contempt for law and in my case (being Canadian) the Constitution for its inequity.

Friday, October 2, 2009

In Detestation of Niceness

Nice people, being so worried about offending others, don’t upset the applecart. They will shrink from uttering truth or what needs be said or entering into any conflict.

Kind people speak the truth but in a manner most amenable as possible. The recipient of the speech may take offense but that offense will be directed against the content of the utterance and not in the manner of its delivery.

Nice people’s concern for immediate social peace paper over conflict. They strive to maintain this counterfeit peace, only delaying the inevitable boiling over of the festering conflict. The delay itself often makes the eruption the more bloody. I am not saying that delay is necessarily always a bad thing. Delay can often give time to all parties to arrive at a compromise or conviction that satisfies the underlying values and concerns that animate all parties. However, nice people tend to want to deny the existence of conflict or denigrate its importance.

The motivation for nice people in being nice is that this niceness reflects upon themselves in the eyes of the other. Those who are kind know who they are and their kindness is a reflection of their concern for the other’s welfare.

Nice people are boring and unmemorable. There may indeed reside a richness of thought and passion in such a person. But who would know the better?

Niceness is inauthentic. It is all too often the shell of civility coating a heart of animosity.