The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Saturday, November 10, 2007

On Definitions

Sometimes your problems do not end by defining something. They only begin.

When the sages had reassembled in Yavneh after the destruction of Jerusalem they said: "The hour will come when someone will seek a word from the Torah or tradition and will not find it." They decided to collect all the discussions and preserve them, together with the names of those who handed them down. Binding decisions should then be made by the majority. But why, they asked, are the minority voices preserved, even if it be the voice of a single sage? One thought that it was in order to deprive them of their influence by recalling and refuting them. But Rabbi Yehuda said: "they are preserved so that one may be able to rely on them when their hour has come."

-quoted in Klaus Schatz's Papal Primacy, p. 175

Due to our fragile condition as rational animals, the process of obtaining the truth cannot be conceived of simplistically as the Triumph of the Right crushing the Wrong. Our own limitations as mortal and sinful creatures should make us wary of making absolute statements that bind all people to belief in this generation and for generations to come. In every error on this side of death there is a seed of truth. And in every truth there is the seed of its own destruction. To want to consider something as absolutely right and another as absolutely wrong can thus cause all sorts of problems.

I am not saying that we must not have firm convictions. I am saying that we should be aware of ourselves as bearers of these convictions and of our own place in history and in the world.


At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don' worry I will not do a post on the triump of right and wrong being Biggie v. Tupac
or even the Beatles v. Rolling Stones
or Chocolate v. Vanilla.

HOWEVER, in Veritas Splendor there should be a CLEAR right and wrong and TRUTH.
ALSO, is not your above and last post a dangerous slipperly slope to relativism.
Shouldn't we at least search for truth and admit that there is truth (absolute, objective and eternal truth) (although some schools of thought do not believe in those three adjectives to truth but view God, reality and truths as verbs and changing maybe not in the same way as moral relativists)
Isn't the Search for Truth the point of ALLEN BLOOMS: CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND
or that Objective truth exists and can be found logically the point of
MORTIMER ADLER esepcially in his book on GOD, Truth in Religion

I realize the counterpoint is the extermism of people who equate Catholicism with a certain type of external worship or prudential decision rather than the true substance and internal truth.

Objective, Eternal and Absolute Truth
Do you believe in it?
Is it the Catholic Church?
Is it God?
Did God become Man and that Man/God become Bread and Wine.

At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

Let's see, what do I believe in a nutshell:

I, Arturo Vasquez, with a firm faith believe and profess each and everything which is contained in the Creed which the Holy Roman Church maketh use of. To wit:

I believe in one God, The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets. And one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Apostolic and Ecclesiastical traditions and all other observances and constitutions of that same Church I firmly admit to and embrace.

I also accept the Holy Scripture according to that sense which holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, and to whom it belongeth to judge the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

I also profess that there are truly and properly Seven Sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all are necessary for everyone; to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the accepted and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

I embrace and accept each and everything which has been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that a conversion takes place of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either species alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

I steadfastly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful. Likewise, that the saints, reigning together with Christ, are to be honored and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated. I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the Mother of God, ever virgin, and also of other Saints, ought to be kept and retained, and that due honor and veneration is to be given them.

I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.

I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church as the mother and teacher of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent, and by the ecumenical Council of the Vatican, particularly concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching. I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the Church hath condemned, rejected, and anathematized.

This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, which I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, I do so profess and swear to maintain inviolate and with firm constancy with the help of God until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and professed by all those over whom I have charge. I Arturo Vasquez do so pledge, promise, and swear, so help me God and these Holy Gospels of God.

At least that's the Readers' Digest version.

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

I should say, however, that this very precise confession of Faith should not close our eyes to the world, but rather open them.

Take that for what it's worth.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come none of you guys did any blogging on the Papal visit of the Catholicos of all Armenians in the United States???

Arturo--you are in California certainly you have interacted with Armenians.

You want to see some good visuals, vestments, icons.

At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arturo, you are my hero, you are amazing.
On what other Blog do you have Snoop Do blogging and other major people.
I want to believe what you believe.

At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:26 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

Do any of you people have anything better to do on a Saturday night than to comment on my blog? Sheesh!

The only reason I'm on it is because it is a cold and rainy night here in Berkeley, and going out wasn't a pleasant option.

At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course Thor doesn't exist. I hope that G.K. Chesterton, a man of common sense, got the message of this post. There is real wisdom in the words of Rabbi Yehuda in that quote. There is involved a great deal of humility in recognizing that there are things in this world that cannot be explained or justified and that the answers aren't always so clear cut as absolutely right or absolutely wrong. This is a much stranger world than we think it is and more often then not, it doesn't work in a desired mechanical fashion. There are paradoxes, riddles, and enigmas everywhere. That's apart of the beauty of it.

I find it very amusing that Mr. Vasquez spoke the Creed. In the words of G.K. Chesterton himself in his book, 'The Everlasting Man':

"This is the mighty and branching tree called mythology which ramifies round the whole world, whose remote branches under separate skies bear like coloured birds the costly idols of Asia and the half-baked fetishes of Africa and the fairy kings and princesses of the folk-tales of the forest, and buried amid vines and olives the Lares of the Latins, and carried on the clouds of Olympus the buoyant supremacy of the gods of Greece. These are the myths: and he who has no sympathy with myths has no sympathy with men. But he who has most sympathy with myths will most fully realise that they are not and never were a religion, in the sense that Christianity or even Islam is a religion. They satisfy some of the needs satisfied by a religion; and notably the need for doing certain things at certain dates; the need of the twin ideas of festivity and formality. But though they provide a man with a calendar they do not provide him with a creed. A man did not stand up and say 'I believe in Jupiter and Juno and Neptune,' etc., as he stands up and says 'I believe in God the Father Almighty,' and the rest of the Apostles Creed. Many believed in some and not in others, or more in some and less in others, or only in a very vague poetical sense in any. There was no moment when they were all collected into an orthodox order which men would fight and be tortured to keep intact. Still less did anybody ever say in that fashion: 'I believe in Odin and Thor and Freya,' for outside Olympus even the Olympian order grows cloudy and chaotic. It seems clear to me that Thor was not a god at all but a hero. Nothing resembling a religion would picture anybody resembling a god as groping like a pigmy in a great cavern, that turned out to be the glove of a giant. That is the glorious ignorance called adventure. Thor may have been a great adventurer; but to call him a god is like trying to compare Jehovah with Jack and the Beanstalk. Odin seems to have been a real barbarian chief, possibly of the Dark Ages after Christianity. Polytheism fades away at its fringes into fairy-tales or barbaric memories; it is not a thing like monotheism as held by serious monotheists."

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

"Moderator" here:

If anyone posts under the name of a famous person/personage/personality, expect the post to get deleted.

If any "wannabe" posts about rap music, hip-hop, or other aspects of black culture, or about Indian culture, in a desire to appear cool, expect the post to get deleted.

And if anyone questions my moderation, expect that to get deleted too.

In other words, act like mature adults and behave yourselves.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...


"Moderator" is not me, Arturo Vasquez. This individual is someone who has taken it upon his/herself to moderate this blog for me. He/she has my full cooperation in this endeavor.

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

"What is the nexus of "black"/hip hop and Indian (East Indian?) culture?"

Moderator writes:

This is irrelevant to the discussion. Such posts get deleted.

At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, find a playground to play in.

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