Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Force

Yes, I mean that the Force.

Bear with me, Catholics. I haven't become a Gnostic.

Yes, I love Star Wars. I am into the novels and shows and all that. But - I think it is obvious, but perhaps I should say it anyway - I am still a Catholic theologian who understands the differences between the Star Wars world and the actual world God created and governs.

Nevertheless, there are occasional convergences between the two - that is what makes of SW good story-telling. One specific one that I have been thinking about recently is that indicated by the second trilogy about Anakin's birth as a result of a convergence of midichlorians (tiny organisms that indicate how much of the Force is present). In the movie, Phantom Menace, it is depicted as a sort of immaculate conception. In the novel, Darth Plagueis (reviewed by me in CRB Winter, 2015), it is indicated that this was a sort of reaction in the Force to the amassment of power by Darths Sidious and Plagueis. This, I think, ceteris paribus, is a point of convergence between SW and Catholicism. But I will have to explain.

Image result for unlimited power star wars

By 'Catholicism' I mean the actual world, not an explicitation of Catholic doctrine.

I have noticed that on both the level of individuals and of groups of people reactions like this are a common occurrence. I first noticed the social importance of this phenomenon a few years ago when I was on a committee and found that the more I pushed an idea the more resistance to it grew. What the precise reason for this was is important, of course, but secondary to the fact itself. Was this more because they resented me or resented a position being pushed upon them? Likely, it was a combination of the two, but the fact remains, I believe that, regardless of the person behind the position, there will be a reaction somewhere against a destabilization. I don't believe that the people on that committee hated me or hated the idea that I was championing. It doesn't have to be that strong. I don't believe they particularly liked me, but the fact that my idea was a good one means that some explanation for their voting against it is required.

That's just what got me to thinking. Experience in general has tended to reinforce this specific experience of mine. I once had the naive idea that I could make a difference in the Church / world. What I failed to really bear in mind (because I was too young to take it seriously enough), was that the world will always push back. When I jump in the air that is me pushing against the world. The world is effected, yes, but it is me who does the physical moving, not the world. All evangelistically-minded people need to bear this lesson in mind.

Let me give a concrete example of this. A young evangelist believes he will put ideas into a vacuum. He will first need to recognize that he will not speak into a vacuum, but a marketplace. Still, not even this recognition is good enough - after all, I studied philosophy and history at a secular university in order to equip myself for that context. It's not enough. It's not simply a marketplace where people will rationally chose the best buy - the best thing for lowest price. Economics itself, after all, recognizes the important place of psychology in its discipline. So too ought evangelists. There are very few rational consumers in the marketplace of ideas. There are some - like Justin Martyr, John Henry Newman, and even people like Sargon of Akkad (no equivocation implied here!), but these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Here's my concrete example: "God loves you," proclaims the evangelist.

  • To this the feminist says, "Your patriarchal god bent on subjecting women."
  • The Marxist says, "Fables to keep the poor down."
  • The atheist says, "Superstition soon to be superseded."
  • The social justice warrior says, "Euro-centric bigotry against Muslims."
  • The sociologist says, "Aha, just like the fertility cults of place and time X."

Aquinas' Five Ways are never referenced and the Christian idea of love is never explored so as to be appreciated so as to lead to conversion.

It doesn't matter that the first four reactions incorporate ad hominem errors and the fifth the genetic fallacy. It doesn't matter because, again, these people are not given to reason to any sufficient extent. I think that far more often than places are converted by rational persuasion by people like Newman in Oxford and Augustine in North Africa, they are converted by hospitals, soup kitchens and other instances of diaconia (service). It's hard for feeling people to argue against the good feelings these service elicit. Still, some will, as we have found out in the case of some of the secular assessment of Mother Teresa's life.

But let me get back now to my point about reaction / counter-reaction.

Racism in the US, some have observed, has never been more of a problem than after eight years of a half-black president. 99% of the so-called racism is a fiction brewed up by Marxists, BLM, the Democratic Party and the MSM. Of the actual 1% that exists now, 99% was not there before but was an effect of those groups having called conservatives, whites, and Christians racist for eight years now. Reaction / counter-reaction.

Christianity grows when you make it illegal; it shrinks when you leave it alone; it shrinks even faster when you force it on others. By shrinking, I am not concerned with the statistics about external profession, but with its power of influence in people's personal lives - stats can't measure that. Similarly, Marxism began to die the moment Lenin (and especially Stalin) began to make the people suffer on account of it, rather than in those 'exciting' days of the Revolution when it was viewed as a liberating force.

The fact is, the leftists went too far in the US and resentment against them grew; Canadians are slower, and so a reaction vs. Trudeau and Wynn will be slower in coming; it seems to be growing in Europe too. You can't mandate loyalty.

Dark Side users of the Force force things, Light Side users do not. Power is inevitably fleeting. The description of the Jedi philosophy is much more similar to our understanding of God's providence in the world.

The moral of the story (actually, a distortion of the moral of the story) is that if I wanted that committee to do what I wanted, I should have championed the opposite. But that's manipulation unworthy of a Christian, nay, unworthy of a Jedi.

Image result for unlimited power star wars


I should make one final point, I guess (the great thing about blogs is that they never end, and so there are no truly final, final points).

My non-final final point is this: because human interactions incorporate this action / reaction dynamic there is no end-point. At the heart of Marxism is their distorted Christian belief in progress and that we can attain a final state of excellence. Funny that relativists believe in such an objective state of affairs, but anyway, it is a state where everyone is financially equal and everyone approves of the life-style everyone else has chosen.

How would all men react to being equal with men they do not deem their equals? How would all men judge a world that taught them that things they find intrinsically obnoxious were as worthwhile as those they consider intrinsically superior? You can't be educated against believing that the things you like are not intrinsically better than the things you don't. 

When states of affairs are altered attitudes change, because attitudes are formed in part in light of how states of being are interpreted. For instance, recently, atheists have become warmer to Christians because the social status of Christians has noticeably declined. Not everyone likes a winner; not everyone loves a loser. 

Thus, there will never be an end to politics.

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