Thursday, February 13, 2014

Highest Cause

Last night while reading a book (yes, to review) on St. Thomas Aquinas, I was reminded of an amazing insight. It's actually from Aristotle. He says that what makes a person wise is his knowledge of primary causes, rather than lower or intermediate causes.

In Christian terms, you could say that this would be the difference between knowing that it is snowing today because clouds of sufficient thickness have gathered overhead and that there is a certain amount of barometric pressure, etc., and knowing why God wants it to snow today. In other words, the meaning of snow rather than a scientific explanation of snow.

I find that the issue of levels of explanation constantly comes into my mind when I am writing for LifeSiteNews. Why a thing is happening or should happen, is constantly being batted around, but I find people's explanations reveal, not wisdom, but a preoccupation with lower-levels of causation.

Take, for instance, the story I worked on today about the Quebec Secular Charter. Specifically, two judges disagree with the constitutional validity of the proposed legislation. Of course, what is really going on, is one likes it and the other doesn't - but they can't say that. It's not about legality; it is about whether they think it will have positive consequences or not. This is remarkable, really, and astonishingly illegal. But it is commonplace in jurisprudence today. Judges interpret the law according to what they want it to say, not according to what it actually intends. And, as a journalist, I can't say that is why they are saying what they are saying. That is frustrating for me - and that is why I run to the blog.

But I don't mean to just single-out this one instance.

Why do people say 'gay is good'? Do they have hard science to back this up? Of course not.

And, back to the judge, does the matter-of-fact reason that burqas facilitate gender inequality, mean that they should not be permitted? They also facilitate sexual modesty. This is 'lower-level' reasoning. The question that really should be asked is, what is the good? But we don't permit that question in a secular state, and so we will never really have any consistent political improvement.

How much time do we spend on the lower level? God wants us to be occupied with the higher level. It is our basic human vocation.

Even when you pray - do you ever just think about God? Not this bit of Scripture, or this virtue, or why you committed this sin, or asking for this favor, but God in Himself?

I don't want to go out on a limb here (yes, I do), like I'm a theologian or something (yes, I am), but I am going to say that prayer is supposed to be primarily this, thinking about God. I will even say, it is not even talking to God primarily, it is opening yourself up to Him so that you may contemplate Him.

The corollary: stop thinking cause-and-effect style. Or, limit that, anyway, to your day job.

It snows because God is trying to tell you something.
You have a hang nail because God is trying to tell you something.
But even these things are not best: stare into God's face!

No comments:

Post a Comment