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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rage, Epictetus and Benedict

Tomorrow has been declared a "day of rage", which begs the question, After Friday's 'Day of Rage,' then what?

Mohammed at Iraq The Model has a must-read post (emphasis added): When will we be ready to accept criticism? and asks
So why don't we admit that the "other" is better than us at responding rationally when criticized? Why don't we learn from others?
When we closed our ears to anything that doesn't match our beliefs and refused all criticism wasn't that enough reason for the deterioration of our civilization?
You must read every word, as cutting-and-pasting would not do the post justice.

The Anchoress, a much more insightful and spiritual woman than I, points out in another post that
I would say what we need now is an understanding by all of God's religions that God is big enough to take an insult and can deal with insults quite justly without our bloody intercessions.
And what is all the Pope-speech-flap about?

The Pope, in his Address at University of Regensburg, "Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization" (yes, that's the much-maligned and very little read address that has been making the headlines this week. GO READ IT), actually said,
Not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.
I repeat:

Pope Benedict's been getting a lot of flack for reminding us. Mind you, this is not a new concept. The concept's been knocking around for thousands of years.

Epictetus (c.55 - c.135 C.E.), a Roman slave who later had his own school of philosophy and was not a Christian, believed that
Someone who seeks to make progress as a Stoic (a prokoptôn) understands that their power of rationality is a fragment of God
These are Epictetus's very words (emphasis added):
Are these the only works of Providence in us? What words suffice to praise or send them forth? Had we but understanding, should we ever cease hymning and blessing the Divine Power, both openly and in secret, and telling of his gracious gifts? Whether digging or plowing or eating, should we not sing the hymn to God -
Great is God, for that He hath given us such instruments to till the ground withal:
Great is God, for that He hath given us hands, and the power of swallowing and digesting;
of unconsciously growing and breathing while we sleep!
Thus should we ever have sung: yea and this, the grandest and divinest hymn of all: -
Great is God, for that He hath given us a mind to apprehend these things, and duly to use them!
What then! seeing that most of you are blinded, should there not be some one to fill this place, and sing the hymn to God on behalf of all men? What else can I that am old and lame do but sing to God? Were I a nightingale, I should do after the manner of a nightingale. Were I a swan, I should do after the manner of a swan. But now, since I am a reasonable being, I must sing to God: that is my work: I do it, nor will I desert this my post, as long as it is granted me to hold it; and upon you too I call to join in this self-same hymn.
Bear that in mind when you read about the upcoming "day(s) of rage".

Update Cobb's take on the subject, via Kesher Talk
Update 2 Popes, Despots, Americans And Jews, Cap'n goes Int'l, Hugo goes home, Press goes missing touch on the subject.
Kobayashi Maru explains how reason itself is at war with the forces of chaos.

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At 10:02 AM, Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

You know, 'rage' is not a political expression.

Pretending that it is just that makes about as much sense as poking ourselves in the eye, and then wondering what we are doing that makes us so blind.

Logic too, is part of a classical education.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Fausta said...

The way that the manipulated "rage" is being portrayed as a valid means of expression, and how many people in our societies are condoning it is a disqueting trend.
I see it as part of the "feelings are all that count" mentality that you and the Sanity Squad frequently write about.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Dymphna said...


I hope you wander over to read my post on Benedict's address. I go thru it pretty thoroughly -- mainly because I realized how many similar theology classes I'd attended that treated similar material (minus the Muslims, back in those days).

The addendum to his speech, posted on the Vatican website (they really need to get a better webmaster) says there will be a bibliography/footnotes to follow. I hope so. He makes one passing reference to J. Monod, and unless you travel in those esoteric circles, no one would be familiar with ol' Jacques.

Monod wrote "Chance and Necessity." He was a scientist of the first order, but his grim view of our "chance" existence, which is in line with French existential thinking and not particularly scientific at all, since he never questions his own givens, has been made passé by chaos theory.

Scientism as a religion reigns in this country...in fact, in the West in general, which, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, has been exposed to such a mild version that it's immune to the real thing.

Fortunately, theology/cosmology must follow physics and physics gets weirder and more sacred all the time. The physics are our poets. Who else could come up with "strange attractors" as a concept.

BTW, Muslim rage is like opera: stylized emotion staged for the benefit of the audience. It can be quite entertaining, except when the crazies go off the rails and start killing nuns.

Maybe it's a Middle Eastern thing and we don't understand. One thing is for sure, though: none of those disturbances happen without the permission of the state. These are not democracies doing this...this childish display. Personally, I think they do a form of rage, rinse, repeat --- in the attempt to soften us up. You see something often enough, you become inured. So they slowly ratchet it up.

Coming soon to a Turkey near you: rage and assassination. That sets us up for an attempt on Bush.

Paranoid? Maybe. But they sure have done it before and now there are mainstream books and films depicting these acts. Doesn't take muc of a push to make the fantasy a reality. The Turkish press is full of hope.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...

Shoot...I forgot to give you the link to my Benedict post:

That Was No "Blunder." It's Just An Excuse to Kill Infidels

Sorry for the omission.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

Bravo, dear. Nicely put. I have nothing to add. Epictetus has said all that need be said.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Fausta said...

Corrected link to Dymphna's post, which is an excellent post on the issues.


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