Everyone’s a Bit Knotty

Finally getting back into writing. Please read my latest post published at Dead Philosophers Society and Catholic Exchange…

“I don’t think it accidental that this image of Mary’s fingers passing from knot to knot in our lives is similar to how our fingers pass from bead to bead in meditating on the life of Christ in the mysteries of the Rosary. Mary’s hands are waiting to give your strained fingers a rest.” (Read More Here)

How Wonder Courts Wisdom

Here is my project for Epistemology on wonder with Professor Yates.

ppt: Wander2Wonder

movie, presentation with voiceover (requires Quicktime): https://www.dropbox.com/s/h09m6or4xe8xpe4/Wander2Wonder.m4v?dl=0

Here is my Analysis of the project:

I first chose this project because Gallagher piqued my interest in wonder in his book The Philosophy of Knowledge in the first chapter “The Status of Knowing.” It is fitting that his book begins with wonder, since it is indeed inherent in philosophizing. I suppose I find this so interesting because I am a mother, and I have experienced that wonder through the eyes of my children who often prompt me to take a step back away from the familiar. Through them I have experienced this realization that common sense is not always the most intelligible explanation.

It is interesting that wonder causes us to philosophize because the most wondering of all creatures are children. In truth, we are born philosophizing because we are born wondering. As children, we see the world as full of mystery, and there’s something magical about our existence and the world around us. They have this thirst that cannot be sated, as they persist in an endless string of “why’s” in response to our explanations. Wondering is something that is specifically human, for God possesses all wisdom and cannot wonder, and angels have an infused intellect with sufficient knowledge for their missions. If wonder and philosophizing go hand in hand, then it must be part of our nature to philosophize. C.S. Lewis describes humans as amphibians because we are both body and spirit. It is our souls that long for wisdom that is beyond the sense experience. Indeed, sense experience even often points beyond itself. There are moments in life though which cause us to wonder again—whether by reading philosophy or poetry, viewing art or a beautiful sunset, or experiencing love or death of someone close. Pieper also delves into the importance for leisure, which makes room for this kind of philosophical inquiry. If we are always bogged down by work, and we have no time for active leisure, which is not wasted in frivolity, then we will be impoverishing our spirits, though our bodies might be stuffed with food or drink or other pleasures.

I am happy I chose this project because I got to read Pieper’s two essays: “Leisure: The Basis of Culture” and “The Philosophical Act.” I read these almost a decade ago, but I didn’t really take the time to ponder it. I was too busy in the world of work for college. This is why I think reading good books in our leisure is vital for a healthy spirit. I look forward to filling my summer reading list with more books that will promote this sense of wonder. It is when we wonder and philosophize that we feel most alive, and though we can’t remain fixed under the stars, it is necessary to look up every now and then. I also learned a great deal about the connection between philosophy and theology, and I have a greater appreciation for philosophy. Though this precise topic wasn’t immediately relevant to the topic of wonder, it was included in my reading. I learned that although we have the revealed Truth, and all we need for salvation, it is vital to continue to philosophize because it is a part of our created nature. We long to come to a deeper understanding of truth, and though it is not vital for our salvation or for our survival, it is vital to live as a human being was created to live.

School Musings

I just wanted to let anyone interested aware that I’ve posted my blog posts (serving as my final for my Church History course) can be viewed over at Historical Happenings. I highly suggest this course taught by Professor Voccola at Holy Apostles College for anyone interested (or uninterested for that matter, this will get you interested!) in Church History of which I was previously totally ignorant. I am still quite ignorant, but I at least have some solid footing concerning the history of the Church, which is incredibly important for a comprehensive understanding of our Catholic faith today.

Epistemology Annotated Bibliography

Why Wonder Begets Wisdom

Wonder that arises from the everyday world in which we live is what leads man to dispel his assumptions so as to be receptive to the impression of the wholeness of reality upon his mind. While the initial cause of this shock of wonder is doubt, it is a fruitful and hopeful one which allows us to know that we do not know so that we may seek to truly know. Therefore, this wonder makes us aware of the mystery of being, which not only is the beginning of philosophy but also the motor behind man’s pursuit of knowledge–not for utilitarian ends, but for its own sake.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Kenneth T. Gallagher. The Philosophy of Knowledge. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1982).
    • Gallagher opens his book with a treatise on wonder as the basis for Philosophy and how it establishes doubt not to lead to skepticism but to lead onto further investigation in order to pursue knowledge
  • C.S. Lewis. The Weight of Glory. (New York: HarperOne, 1980).
    • Lewis demonstrates this very wonder that can be inspired within by the everyday environment, which then leads us onto transcendent truths
  • Josef Pieper. Leisure: The Basis of Culture/The Philosophical Act. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1963).
    • Pieper establishes that active Leisure is a vital escape from the prevailing utilitarian ideology which impoverishes man spiritually and kills philosophy. He also proposes that wonder is the foundation for all philosophical inquiry.
  • Frank Sheed. Theology and Sanity. (London: Catholic Way Publishing, 2014).
    • Sheed delves into the ways in which we come to know, expounding upon the nature of mystery, which is in fact intimately linked with the nature of wonder.

Why Ash Wednesday Brings Nine Inch Nails to Mind…

Ash Wednesday always reminds me of Nine Inch Nails, weird huh? More specifically, I think of Johnny Cash’s cover of their song “Hurt,” and the video that goes along with it. These lines are what I conjure up seemingly every Ash Wednesday:

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt.

After all, what do we hear in Mass today but words recalling the verse of Ecclesiastes 3:20, “All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.” Ecclesiastes is also where we hear, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” A nihilist reading of this could make us fret about life, “So, what’s the point?” And that’s just it; without God, there’s really no point to life because He is the point. In God we discover our origin and our aim. We could build empires like the Romans (or Johnny Cash), but it’s all turned to dust in the end. However, there is something that will endure the tests of time, and that is Christ’s Church. We are His Church, and we are eternal. Our bodies will be turned to ashes, but they will be raised on the last day. The wealth we accumulate, the pleasures we chase, the power we pine after—these are the ashes. Our work on Earth is meant to cultivate a “civilization of love” as Pope John Paul II called it. At the Final Judgment, what will Jesus say of the righteous? “For I was hungry and you gave me food…” (Mt 25:35-40). Life is about love; it’s about going beyond the ego and reaching out to other people. It’s never too late to start, as long as you have a beating heart within.

While this song may seem to be nothing but a nihilistic ode to despair, the final lines provoke that feeling we sinners have all felt before:

If I could start again
A million miles away
I will keep myself
I would find a way.

This is where Christians like Johnny Cash pick up the song and finish the story. Jesus offers us this chance to “start again,” to restore us to ourselves. This is what Lent is all about. We are not defined by the sins of our past; with Christ we can be born anew. Is there a sin you’ve been struggling to overcome? Well, here is your chance to get serious. Remember, some demons can only be expelled by prayer and fasting (Mt 17:21). So, challenge yourself this Lent. Go outside your comfort zone because that is where you will find growth. The way we care for our bodies is akin to how we care for our spirits (Christ gave us the Eucharist as bread for our souls). If you lift the same set of weights at the gym all year long, you’re not going to see progress. We can always take on more in our spiritual lives and cut out the spiritual junk food. Don’t be fooled by the “all or nothing” attitude either, and accept that failures are stepping stones to success. Even if you slip up during Lent, renew your efforts as soon as possible. You’re human, you will slip up, but you’re also a child of God, and with Him anything is possible.

I try to take a three-fold approach to Lent. (1) I give up one thing that is hindering (or simply not helping) my becoming the best version of myself. (2) I take on something new that will help me to be a better me. (3) I do a joint sacrifice with my family. I’ll join the chorus of other bloggers throwing out ideas; here are just a few of my favorites:

1. One random act of kindness a day/week (be realistic about your goals)

2. Write down a different thing you’re grateful for every day; so, on Easter you can read through the list you’ve made to see how blessed you truly are

3. Find a new Saint to learn about and find prayers to him/her to say each day (Don’t have time to research? Do this Saint generator.)

4. Read a Bible verse each day/week and make it your focus

5. Do daily mass/adoration/rosary however many times a week is reasonable (Mary and The Eucharist will change your life if you let them)

6. Start going to confession weekly/biweekly

7. You could start 33 Days to Morning Glory consecration to Mary, which has a start date coming up soon

8. My personal favorite, TV and/or movies (perhaps making exceptions for Christian stuff)

Whatever you decide to do, keep your goals manageable. Also, make them tangible, not something like “I’ll be more joyful, more thankful, etc.” If you want to work on being joyful or grateful, that’s wonderful, but figure out some concrete way to put it into practice so that you can track your progress.

It’s never too late to start again, so let’s take the opportunity we have in Lent to do so. The Devil would like us to believe there’s a point reached where we are beyond salvation, but it’s only by believing such nonsense that we effect the very thing we fear. Christ told Saint Faustina: “Tell souls not to place within their own hearts obstacles to My mercy, which so greatly wants to act within them. My mercy works in all those hearts which open their doors to it. Both the sinner and the righteous person have need of My mercy. Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of My mercy.” We know something the writer of the song “Hurt” didn’t, so let’s take advantage and start anew each and every day. We have been given a treasury of armor and weapons to equip us for the daily battles; stop trying to go it alone and wondering why you’re failing. Let’s make Lent a time to refocus, putting all of our human effort into spreading His Kingdom rather than attempting to build our own fleeting “empires of dirt.”