Humanum, a current interfaith conference on marriage and the complementarity of the sexes.

Aristotle on Number Theory

For class on Aristotle’s Categories I was asked to research his theory of numbers. Though preliminary, here are my findings. It’s a fascinating topic.

Part of the difficulty of determining whether Aristotle is talking about abstract numbers or things-as-quantified in the Categories is the phrase τα πεντε. It could be translated as “five” or “five things.” Is he talking about mathematical objects? Ideal numbers? Physical objects? None of these? Physical objects certainly hold some manner of position (θεσις) towards each other – Aristotle denies that number does so he can’t be talking about physical objects qua physical objects. Aristotle seems to say that numbers as mathematical objects has an ordering (ταξις), so is his theory of number about non-ideal mathematical objects?

In Physics 219b5-9, Aristotle distinguishes 2 senses of “number”: (1) what is counted or countable [physical referent] and (2) what we count with [mathematical object]. (Annas, 97)

(1) seems to mean some element of a thing’s, or a group of things’, existence, inhering in the objects themselves and enabling it to be counted. Continue reading

Porn Strangles Our Capacity to Experience Beauty

“[Porn] creates desensitization to beauty, robbing boys of their innocence through the elimination of the mysteries of the heart, severely impairing their ability to be awed or find pleasure in the beautiful. Jaded spirits are not very susceptible to formation. […] Pornography eradicates mystery, and without mystery, boys will lose their ability to wonder, and in a large part, their ability to become wise—which is the work of education.”

Boys, Porn, and Education

Blogging Through Pope John XXIII: Part Two – Trust as the Basis of a Life

[Continued] While we flounder between our existential need for love and our desire for certainty, Angelo Roncalli was peacefully submitting his mind, will, and heart to God through the Church. Individual judgment was, for him, a fount of error wherein heresies and error lead people to lose their communion with the Church. Individual judgment, for Roncalli, had to be intimately united with the informing influence of the Church. Did he ignore this tension? Was he simply not aware of it?

No, Roncalli was certainly aware of it, but he also was not a reactionary. If I can venture a bold claim, it seems to me that Roncalli’s primary mode of living was trust. In 1925, when he was made a Bishop in order to go to Bulgaria, he wrote, “I insert in my coat of arms the words Oboedentia et pax […] These words are in a way my own history and my life.” (p. 206) Later, in 1962, while on retreat in Castel Gandolfo, Pope John XXIII wrote,  “The short Psalm 130 has always made, and still makes, a great impression on me.” (p. 312) Psalm 130 reads: Continue reading

Blogging Through Pope John XXIII: Part One – The Tension between Faith and Reason

I started my project of blogging through Pope John XXIII wondering whether this biography would explain or suggest why Vatican II was started. Could the Pope’s journals provide a lens through which to see the Council? Yes, but not the type I was expecting. What I discovered I was looking for was a “reason” – some type of argument for why the Church needed a council. But Pope John XXIII does not provide any argument.

Yet not having an argument did not meant it was an arbitrary decision for him. Pope John XXIII said, in his opening speech of the council on October 11, 1962:

“As regards the initiative for the great event which gathers us here, it will suffice to repeat as historical documentation our personal account of the first sudden bringing up in our heart and lips of the simple words, ‘Ecumenical Council.’ […] It was completely unexpected, like a flash of heavenly light, shedding sweetness in eyes and hearts. And at the same time it gave rise to a great fervor throughout the world in expectation of the holding of the Council.”

He goes on to say that the purpose of the council was not to change or advance doctrine by altering or clarifying confused matters. Continue reading

First Document from the Synod on the Family

For those interested, here is the first (and predictably controversially received) document from the Synod on Marriage and Family at the Vatican:

Peruse away.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to?

The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.

You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

How to Believe in God by 11:00 AM

Humane Pursuits was kind enough to publish my recent essay here.

Also, I am luck enough to be attending a screening of Calvary with Patrick Cassidy, who composed its soundtrack. His music has been used in Tree of Life, he has produced the only symphony in the Irish language, and wrote “Children of Lir” – a Narrative Cantatas based off of the famous Irish legend. He will be frequenting the pub in Mercato with us – what an opportunity.


“What a wealth of children!” – Makes one think of Ave.

From Pope John XXIII’s 1961 letter to his family:

I bless you all, remembering with you all the brides who have come to rejoice the Roncalli family and those who have left us to increase the happiness of new families, of different names but similar ways of thinking. Oh the children, the children, what a wealth of children and what a blessing!

Makes one think of Ave Maria. I think, at one count, we had 80 children on one block in the neighborhood? Truly a “wealthy” neighborhood in Pope John’s sense.

Also, prayers are out tonight for John Zambo. He is a student at Ave Maria who was in a car accident and is currently in the Intensive Care Unit. A zealous Catholic who will hopefully speed along on the road to recovery.

Blogging Through Pope John XXIII: What is Worth Anything in God’s Sight?

am working on the next post in my Blogging Through Pope John XXIII series, but in lieu of a completed essay, here is a rather remarkable quote from Bishop Angelo Roncalli:

“What does it matter in any case, this little more or less that I can do in the service of Holy Church in my present ministry? Or even in other ministries which might be entrusted to me, but of which I do not and will not think; what is it all worth? In the eyes of God nothing more than the inner disposition of my soul, known to him even in secret; in the eyes of men, ‘a mist that appears for a little time’, often a snare and a delusion.” (p. 220)

Think of the political consequences of that position. Bishop Roncalli was writing that being President, Cardinal, Community Organizer, CEO, CFO, C-whatever-else-O, means nothing unless it is God’s will, and you are living in humble obedience to it.

He writes immediately after:

“When the Father’s voice was heard expressing his pleasure, Jesus had as yet done nothing in his life except live in obscurity, in silence and humble prayer, doing the humblest work. Oh what great comfort there is in this teaching!” (pg. 220)