A Dinner Monologue in Three Parts
The exercise of meditation is an attempt to control inner discourse, in an effort to render it coherent. The goal is to arrange it around a simple universal principal: the distinction between what does and does not depend on us, or between freedom and nature. Whoever wishes to make progress strives, by means of dialogue within himself or with others, as well as by writing, to "carry on his reflections in due order" and finally to arrive at a complete transformation of his representation of the world.
During the first glass of wine:
It's not that I think that math and science are inferior forms of knowing. Not at all. It is just that I have come to the conclusion that that is the only knowledge that our society will acknowledge, and from there comes our problems. We live in the intellectual dictatorship of quantity, and that ultimately has nothing to do with truth, and everything to do with facts.
True enough, I do not have a knack for math and science, and perhaps that gives me some bias in these things. I have a real problem dealing with quantitative reasoning. But to have to develop an apologia for math and science in our day and age is a bit like all the Catholic theologians trying to develop a "theology of the body". Sex in and of itself is its own apologetic. People will not stop having sex if you don't develop a theology for it. People, however, will stop praying if you don't develop a theology for it...
It's an issue of balance. It is because we have marginalized and ceased to develop the intuitive side of thinking that we are in the impasse we are in now. We have completely excluded the metaphysical from any form of certainty, and thus we really don't talk to each other anymore. We merely batter each other with facts. Therefore, nothing can any longer be determined. Not the sanctity of human life, nor what the proper end of man really is. It is a matter of developing all aspects of human thought, not just of emphasizing those which our society excels at.
Me veo puro polvo
Cruzando la llanura
Las vacas las casas la lejania
Polvo de sol que no soporta el ojo vivo
Hundo el pie en el agua invisible
Que de repente brota y corre
Sobre la arena
En el cuenco de mis manos
Subo el agua hasta mi boca
Lo que bebo es una estrella pulverizada
-Luis Garcia Morales, De un sol a otro
(I see myself as pure dust
Crossing the plain
The cows the houses the distance
Sun-dust that cannot stand the living eye
I dip my foot in the invisible water
That suddenly flows out and runs
On the sand
In the hollow of my hand
I bring the water to my mouth
That which I drink is a pulverized star)
On glass of wine #3:
...The attitude of any thinking Catholic in this day and age must be one of humility. That I think is what the Second Vatican Council taught, and I think that is the non-controversial aspect that we all must agree on. If I have problems with a very small sub-sect of Catholic discourse (mostly on the Internet) it is with people who do not seem to understand this. When the Vatican has shut down the Inquisition, the laity must not take it upon themselves to fill in the perceived gap. Dialogue with the world must mean a profound discernment on how we approach people. [Note: If people are belligerently anti-Catholic, I am of course not against charitably pointing out the errors and prejudices in their reasoning.] The fact is, we are living in an extraordinary time, and pretending to re-erect the intellectual bastions of Counter-Reformation Catholicism will only serve to make us seem like ostriches sticking our heads in the sand. The Counter-Reformation is over. Get over it...
For me, if someone is looking, that is what is most important. If someone has the smug attitude that they have "found it", or even worse, they don't care, that is what is most worrisome to me. The heroes of the Gospel were all seekers. When they found the truth, they clung to it [or Him]. But we are always in the process of finding. We are always the Phoenician woman, the Greeks, the Samaritan woman, the Good Thief...
Siento a Dios que camina tan en mí,
con la tarde y con el mar.
Con él nos vamos juntos. Anochece.
Con él anochecemos, Orfandad...
Pero yo siento a Dios. Y hasta parece
que él me dicta no sé qué buen color.
Como un hospitalario, es bueno y triste;
mustia un dulce desdén de enamorado:
debe dolerle mucho el corazón.
Oh, Dios mío, recién a ti me llego,
hoy que amo tanto en esta tarde; hoy
que en la falsa balanza de unos senos,
mido y lloro una frágil Creación.
Y tú, cuál llorarás tú, enamorado
de tanto enorme seno girador
Yo te consagro Dios, porque amas tanto;
porque jamás sonríes; porque siempre
debe dolerte mucho el corazón.
(I feel God walking in me
As with the afternoon and the sea.
With him we all go together. It becomes night.
With him we set. Orphanhood.
But I feel God. And it almost seems that he
Is dictating to me I don't know what good color.
Like a nurse, he is good but sad;
He gives forth a sweet disdain of a lover:
his heart must ache much.
O my God, I have only recently arrived at you,
Now that I love you so much this evening; today
In the false balance of breasts,
I measure and weep a fragile Creation.
And you, which one will you weep for, love-struck
From such an enormous twirling chest,
I consecrate you God, for you love so greatly;
for you never smile; for your heart
Must always ache much.)
Glass of wine #4.5
God doesn't make my life make any more sense than someone's who doesn't believe in God. Water is not more wet, nor are colors more vivid. To believe in God is a decision. Yes, after you make an act of faith, everything begins to make more sense on one level. But on another it can make things seem more absurd.
The smallness and absurdity of the universe for me at least is not an intellectual barrier but rather an intellectual starting point. That's where I begin to believe. The fact that I am a small, mortal carbon based organism standing on some lukewarm rock floating in a seemingly infinite universe is the reason I believe in God. Unlike the positivists of the nineteenth century and those who think that only those who do not have electricity should believe in a God, I know that my intellect is no match for this physical cosmos I see around me. I am a profoundly limited being, and I have to grope around to try to make some sense of it all...
I guess it's easier for me since I grew up in a profoundly Catholic atmosphere. The Truth was passed down to me as was language, foods, and other family traditions. In that sense, I can be very tolerant of unbelievers since I have always been around them but still anchored in my heart to the Faith of my home. I assent to it now because I have justified it to myself intellectually, but only because I have reflected on what the Delpic Oracle said: Know thyself. And for me that is why I am Catholic: it is the most human religion. I know, a Hindu could also easily say that. But we have a religion that says that the fundamental way to understand this cosmos is through love, that God is love. How we think and how we feel in our heart is the secret to unlock everything. That is love. That is the Cross, a sacrificial love. We are the answer. It's right in here. [Pointing at my chest]
A voice from the corner of the tavern last night
Called, "Sins are forgiven. Drink wine."
The Divine Pardon performs its own purpose:
The Guardian Angel causes good news of compassion to come.
God's grace is more than our sin.
Why do you divulge a sealed subtlety? Keep quiet!
This raw sense to the wine-shop take,
From the ruby wine to bring its blood to the boil.
Although union with him is not to effort granted,
O heart, try you all that you can.
It's a case of, my ear and the curl of the friend's tress;
My face and the dust of the wine-seller's door.
Hafiz's licentiousness is not a hard sin
For the ruler's fault-concealing kindness;
Arbiter of the Faith, Shah Shuja, he who made
The Holy Spirit the earringed slave of his command,
O King of the Throne of God, grant his wish,
And from the danger of the evil eye preserve him.
-from the Collected Lyrics of Hafiz of Shiraz translated by Peter Avery