Catholicism’s Uphill Battle

29 02 2008


Although I tend not to post things on “relevant” topics, the recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s survey has really got me thinking on many topics dear to my heart. As you may know, the survey confirms many things that we already know: that Americans shop around for their religion, and one of the largest religious groups in this country are ex-Catholics, at an estimated ten percent of the population. On Catholic radio this morning, it was said for every convert that enters the Catholic Church, four leave. The only reason the Church is maintaining its numbers is through immigration. (Yes, you can all thank us later.) Read the rest of this entry »


28 02 2008


Modernity dethrones humankind. It reduces all our thoughts, purposes, and hopes to the object of scientific inquiry. It makes laboratory rats of us all. Spinoza actively embraces this collapse of the human into mere nature. Leibniz abhors it. Even more than he wants to convince us that God is good, Leibniz intends to demonstrate that we are the most special of all beings in nature. In the entire universe, he says, there is nothing more real or more permanent or more worthy of love than the individual human soul. We belong to the innermost reality of things. The human being is the new God, he announces: Each of us is “a small divinity and eminently a universe: God in ectype and the universe in prototype.” This is the idea that define’s Leibniz’s philosophy, and that explains the enormous, if often unacknowledge, influence that his thought has wielded in the past three centuries of human history.

-Matthew Stewart, The Courtier and the Heretic

SFSU Chamber Singers sing Tristis est anima mea by Johann Kuhnau

26 02 2008

“Intelligent Design”

25 02 2008


A Failure of the Christian Imagination

With the advent of Catholic radio here in the Bay Area, I have become a Catholic radio junkie. Not that I listen to it all the time. But when confronted while driving with the options of listening to the classical music station (overly commercialized for the most part), public radio (one of the things white people like), the Mexican station (I don’t like my people that much), and the hip-hop station (no comment), I would much rather be edified than entertained. And Catholic radio is edifying, even if it is not my particular onda, as they say in Spanish. It is nice to hear people talk about the Faith in such an enthusiastic manner, and I have to say it helps us to remember God in our lives so full of noise and distraction. Read the rest of this entry »

Un beso

23 02 2008


Ayer te besé en los labios.
Te besé en los labios. Densos,
rojos. Fue un beso tan corto
que duró más que un relámpago,
que un milagro, más.
El tiempo
después de dártelo
no lo quise para nada
ya, para nada
lo había querido antes.
Se empezó, se acabó en él.

Hoy estoy besando un beso;
estoy solo con mis labios.
Los pongo
no en tu boca, no, ya no
-¿adónde se me ha escapado?-.
Los pongo
en el beso que te di
ayer, en las bocas juntas
del beso que se besaron.
Y dura este beso más
que el silencio, que la luz.
Porque ya no es una carne
ni una boca lo que beso,
que se escapa, que me huye.
Te estoy besando más lejos.

-Pedro Salinas

Yesterday I kissed you on the lips.
I kissed you on the lips. Dense lips,
red lips. It was such a short kiss
that it lasted longer than a lightening bolt,
longer than a miracle, longer.
I didn’t want time
at all anymore
after giving it to you,
I didn’t want
it at all before.
It started, it ended with it.

Today I am kissing a kiss;
I am alone with my lips.
I don’t put them
On your mouth, no, not anymore
-where has it escaped me?
I put them
on the kiss that I gave you
yesterday, in our mouths joined
on the kiss which they kissed.
And this kiss lasts longer
than silence, longer than light.
Because now it is not flesh
or a mouth that I kiss,
that escapes me, that flees me.
I am kissing you even further.

The Sacred as the Foundation of All Things

21 02 2008


Later in the Commentary on the Parmenides, Proclus gives a more philosophical account of the journey to God.  The ultimate reality is the single transcendent God.  However, the One cannot be the sole form of divinity.  If it were, the universe would be left devoid of God’s proximate presence.  For Neo-Platonists, this would be totally catastrophic.  Divinity is not simply a religious entity: it is the foundation of every existent, from cosmic forces to mortal creatures and inanimates, like stones.  Unity is the centre of being. 

-Lucas Siorvanes, Proclus: Neo-Platonic Philosophy and Science

All things are suspended from the gods, some irradiated by one god, some by another, and the series downwards to the last orders of being…’all things are full of gods,’ and from the gods each derives its natural attribute. 

-Proclus, The Elements of Theology


Of course, to the modern eye, this seems pantheistic and smacks of New Age mumbo-jumbo, but for this rationalist age, a little exaggeration wouldn’t hurt. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, with the deaf you have to yell, and with the blind you have to paint with broad and sloppy strokes of the brush. It’s the only way that anyone will understand.

Daniel Variations by Steve Reich

20 02 2008

From a British documentary

La Part Maudite

18 02 2008


I will simply state, without waiting further, that the extension of economic growth itself requires the overturning of economic principles—the overturning of the ethics that grounds them. Changing from the perspectives of restrictive economy to those of general economy actually accomplishes a Copernican transformation: a reversal of thinking—and of ethics. If a part of wealth (subject to a rough estimate) is doomed to destruction or at least to unproductive use without any possible profit, it is logical, even inescapable, to surrender commodities without return. Henceforth, leaving aside pure and simple dissipation, analogous to the construction of the Pyramids, the possibility of pursuing growth is itself subordinated to giving: The industrial development of the entire world demands of Americans that they lucidly grasp the necessity, for an economy such as theirs, of having a margin of profitless operations. An immense industrial network cannot be managed in the same way that one changes a tire… It expresses a circuit of cosmic energy on which it depends, which it cannot limit, and whose laws it cannot ignore without consequences. Woe to those who, to the very end, insist on regulating the movement that exceeds them with the narrow mind of the mechanic who changes a tire.

Georges Bataille

I read Georges Bataille’s book, The Accursed Share as a teenager when I was on my Nietzsche tear. (Really, anyone who can read Nietzsche with a straight face after the age of twenty still has a lot of growing up to do.) I remember being fascinated by the idea that any society must necessarily produce waste; that societies that function best are not necessarily the societies that are the most efficient. One interesting fact I learned from this book, for example, was that up to forty percent of men in pre-communist Tibetan society were unproductive monastics who obviously neither worked nor reproduced. Another example of waste that Bataille goes into is the polatch of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. The idea that one throws many of society’ resources out the window, not just in the capacity of “recreation” in the modern sense, but in a burst of creative and destructive energy, has held my imagination ever since. Read the rest of this entry »


17 02 2008


Gee, Arturo, why another blog? Yours was doing so well. Well, for starters, I think the aim of the Sarabite  has run its course. For those who have been with me since the beginning, you know that I have been through a lot, and have been a lot of people. The blog was really a way of working my way through a lot of issues, and I have since settled down quite a bit. So this blog will hopefully have a more mellow, if equally untame, character.

I have full knowledge that in spite of any talents for writing I may or may not have, this blog will always have a relatively small readership. That is primarily because I simply don’t see things as most people do, and I take pride in being as eclectic as possible when it comes to many of my interests. I would not want to write any other way.

But for the few and the strange who do read this blog, it is hoped that you will find the new blog more user friendly and pleasing to look at. I hope to have all of my links well organized, and I would hope that all of you will change over to my new address if you do link here.

 The name, “reditus”, comes from the Latin terminology of the Neoplatonic design for all existence: things come forth from God (“exitus”) only to return to Him (“reditus”). The “aesthetic Christianity” stays, since it is still my concern to begin to understand Christianity with the eyes and the heart rather than with the rational and calculating mind.

Anyway, here goes…