Friday, November 7, 2008

Still more mindreading

Still more mindreading.

There is a slight refinement amid the usual ESP, though. It is the claim that our actions by themselves are worship, even though that is not our intent. Unfortunately that seems to be enough to condemn us.

Sadly for the author's argument, however, that is not how Elijah addressed Naaman.
And Naaman said: As thou wilt: but I beseech thee, grant to me, thy servant, to take from hence two mules' burden of earth: for thy servant will not henceforth offer holocaust, or victim, to other gods, but to the Lord. But there is only this, for which thou shalt entreat the Lord for thy servant; when my master goeth into the temple of Remmon, to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand: if I bow down in the temple of Remmon, when he boweth down in the same place, that the Lord pardon me, thy servant, for this thing. And he said to him: Go in peace.
[2 Kings 5:17-19]

In this case, Naaman says in advance, "I intend to worship the LORD and only the LORD for the rest of my life. But when I go to this idol's temple with my king, and he kneels and expects me to do the same, I'm going to have to do it. Please pray for me, because I am not worshiping the idol at all."

And Elijah blesses him: "Go in peace."

So Naaman is going to bow down before an acknowledged idol, but has no intention of worshiping that idol. And Elijah blessed him: the prophet knew that this man had no intention of worshiping the idol, even though his external actions would seem to be those of an "idolater."

It's unambiguously obvious that intentions matter. Even if an action is done in an idol's temple, and even if it's an action that is normally a part of the worship of that idol - even then, an action is not intrinsically an act of worship. Period. Full stop.

But we Catholics are (so say the anti-Catholics) guilty of "worshiping Mary," even though we don't intend to do so and even though we're not even kneeling before an idol, and even though we're not in an idol's temple.

It must be great to be a mindreader. If you can actually do it, anyway.

Meantime, we Catholics don't worship Mary - no matter what Joe Anti-Catholic says.

Bonus problem: Naaman wants dirt from Israel. Why? He says he has no plans to offer sacrifice to false gods anymore. The implication is that the dirt is related to his plan to offer sacrifice only to the true God - i.e., that he plans to build an altar using it.

So here's a man who intends to do what is explicitly forbidden by God (building an altar other than the one in Jerusalem or the Tabernacle) for making offerings to God...and he is blessed by God's prophet.

But Catholics, who have no intention of worshiping the Saints, are supposedly guilty. Um...No.


Rickson said...

Tweleve Days since the last article. Please keep 'em coming. I visit your blog through a proxy site as blogs are banned in the enterprise in which I work. but I enjoy every minute of what you write. You are truly a humble diligent defender of the Church and God will repay you in Heaven. I had even asked you for your contact for personal correspondence but you denied. May be in heaven, we could meet usually how I put it with a few friends when we can't make ends meet in our own ways). there have been numerous times when i wished to put comments, Like the times when you wrote to aplonio, also with turriftain, I think he is a protestant when you were writing on involuntary sin and another time on thessalonians. The thessolonians (St.Paul saying keep the fast unto the gospels ect) was very heated. I see your point, often it not so important to convince as to clarify that this is where we stand. For many don't even know each other's stands and ignorantly rant about each other glorifying their own. Catholicism is a treasure, something i have realized in the past year. Since then reading Aquinas, CCC and other blogs have been just a joyride. Your blog is often my coffee break. What would I do if I had not stumbled on your blog when I was all confused and dismayed at knowing: God does not change his mind, everything is foreordained.

Only one thing was going through my mind: What's the point of praying then, if what is going to happen, is going to happen. That day, I was dejected. I couldn't even pray to our Lady, wondering if everythign is foreordained, then what autonomy does she have to decide what prayers to take to God and everything was just snowballing until I found some refuge in your blog on Human Will.

Thanks Reginald! Which country are you from? Have you finished theology? Are you a student or married? I am from India as I have mentioned in other comments. I used to visit the Opus Dei in One city of India but I have moved now due to work . Opus Dei was my channel for "the encounter" with Truth. There, I found God and then found myself. (I know you had a duel with another catholic I think on philosphia perrenis even on "encounter". Let me tell you how wonderfully you wrote, with pure reason and analogies of average joe who needs the church's help on what he should do and should not do when the fella from PP claimed that people should not expect the church to tell us everything. you are right, Not all of us have theologians for friends. That is just intellectual snobbery. Anyways I think i have written too much and too long for a comment that has commented on a host of blog posts. I liked the one on conscience of Aquinas too where you mentioned that Aquinas says even if the conscience is wrong, the person is bound to do the wrong thing as he is bound to conscience. Wow! that was just amazing. I have a philosopher for a friend and he unravelled the world of Aquinas to me. Your blog was just time to peak! God gave special grace to Aquinas. How else could he write voluminous contents in a span of 20 years. Truly he and St. Augustine are luminaries of the Catholic Church. May God be glorified in them.

If it is anything to you, your style is similar to Aquinas in ways...

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hello Rickson,

Thank you for your very kind words. I appreciate it. Please understand that I have specific reasons why I choose to write anonymously. Really, it doesn't matter a whole lot who I am anyway. I am entirely insignificant. Honest. :-)

With regard to some of your questions, however: I am American. As a Protestant my education was largely devoted to theology and biblical studies, and these have remained a subject of great interest to me as a Catholic.

With respect to prayer: it is important that we pray because God works out his purposes in answer to the prayers of his people (as we see many times in Scripture): ordinarily, God makes use of secondary causes when accomplishing his will. He can, of course, act directly (and sometimes he does: and we frequently describe those occasions as "miraculous"); but ordinarily he works through secondary causes. And he is pleased also to answer our prayers. But it's best not to worry too much about this stuff, in my opinion, because it's over our heads. We have a free will, but God is sovereign over all. This is a great mystery. Certainly it's more than I can master :-)

I am grateful and honored (and humbled) that my meager efforts here have been helpful to you. I'm quite certain I do not measure up to the standard of my patron St. Thomas, but I try to write as clearly as he did. How nice to know that perhaps I'm succeeding in some small way.

God bless you,