True believing zealots are always victims of their own prejudices. Things are a certain way because things have always been so.
“Always” is usually limited to one’s own brief lifespan and narrow experience. Pretty much all the rest must be taken on faith. (Jesus of Nazareth probably didn’t have a birth certificate.)
Refusal to read history is worse than historical revisionism, especially if you believe nothing that Fox News hasn’t got on video.
How many Catholics know that their basic rituals — the ones I learned as an altar boy — were lifted from ceremonies glorifying Roman emperors as gods? Or that the bedrock of their religious philosophy is based on supposition popularized by Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine? (Jesus got back-burnered somewhere in the Fourth Century when the marketing guys staged a corporate takeover.)
I’ve been reading Aquinas’ seminal (more on that later) “Summa Theologica” since 1959.
Here’s a quote from my freshman high school textbook: “In the face of widespread (Protestant) denial of the power of the human intellect to reason to the existence of God, the Vatican Council solemnly defended the validity of intellectual knowledge as distinct from sense knowledge and defined not only that God can be known by reason, but also how ‘through those things that are made,’ i.e., from His created effects. This definition is a restatement of the teaching of both the Old and New Testament (Wisdom 13, 1; Romans 1, 20).” (O’Connell, David, “Notes from the Summa on God and His Creatures,” Providence College Press, 1956. at 33).
Thomas Aquinas, purely through internal supposition, presumed to read the mind of God. Primitives have been doing the same for millennia. Worship the sun, the moon, stars, trees, rocks, things that go bump in the night, anything you don’t understand.
Voltaire once said that God is a comedian playing to an audience afraid to laugh. She played a long-distance joke on dear ole St. Tommy. The punchline came about 700 years after he died. One of Aquinas’ five suppositional proofs for the existence of God lies in observance of order in the universe. (Fr. O’Connell would probably call it “sense knowledge.”)
Alas, pesky scientists figured out that chaos is exactly how our particular corner of reality is organized. The only people with perfectly orderly brainwaves are the criminally insane. Regular folks are a chaotic bunch, just like the observable physical universe.
Father O’ and St. Tom get further lost in space when it comes to sex.
“It is evident that the intellective principle in man is a principle transcending matter, for it has an operation in which the body does not take part. And therefore it is impossible that the power which is in the semen be productive of the intellectual principle.” (Fr. O’Connell’s translation of Summa Question 118, article 2)
“Thus, every child is more God’s than the parents’, since in His government of the world He produces the human body mediately, i.e., through second causes” [called parents], “but the human soul immediately,” O’Connell instructed us horny teenagers. (“Notes” at 166)
St. Tom continues, “The body has nothing whatever to do in the operation of the intellect.” (Brain waves caused by chemical electricity were apparently unknown in the 13th Century.)
“Therefore, the power of the intellectual principle, as intellectual, cannot reach the semen. Hence the Philosopher (Aristotle) says ‘It follows that the intellect alone comes from without.’”
What devilishly convenient circular logic. The intellect comes from God (Aquinas was all intellect), and sweaty bodies are mere husks, vehicles, instruments, sexual objects. Thus, as Monty Python sang it, every sperm is sacred.
Here’s the capper from St. Tommy hisself: “It is therefore heretical to say that the intellectual soul is transmitted with the semen.”
How does he know that? Why, intuitively. Suppositionally. Superstitiously. Faithfully. Intellectually. Out of thin blue air.
Thus was spawned the twisted rationale against birth control which is all over the news yet today.
I’ll give the prodigious priest some credit, though. Aquinas never looks for legitimacy by asserting that he had some psychedelic vision, at least not until the end.
While saying mass not long before he died, a great change came over him.
“All I have written seems as straw,” Aquinas said.
His last writing was ironically a commentary on the sexy biblical Song of Solomon, composed at the request of Cistercian monks, historically the most physically deprived order of the church. (“Aquinas I,” Brittanica Great Books, at v)
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Andrew Barbano is a 43-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.