Thursday, December 25, 2014


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

side notes: the incarnation and the cross

In the medieval times there was a dispute between the Franciscans and the Dominicans. Would God have become man if man had not fell from God?

I admire the Franciscan way of thinking about the incarnation. From the beginning God planned to communicate his divine life to humanity, to enter into fellowship with us, and with all his creatures. Thus, the World of God would have become man even without the original sin. In a way, let's say, incarnation is the whole point of creation.

The Franciscan way is very appealing because it shows that God wants to be close to his creation.
And what a better way to bring humanity into divine life than God assuming human nature?

This is the first assumption, and it seems true to me. The second assumption, however, is that the original sin could have not happened. I have my doubts about that.

This is Metropolitan Anthony of Sourorzh quoting Archiprest Avvakum when he talks about the harmony of the Trinity:
God says to his Son, 'My Son, let us create Man!. And the Son replies, 'Yes, Father!' Then, revealing the future mystery, the Father says, 'Yes, but Man will sin and fall away from his calling, and his glory, and You will have to redeem him on the Cross.' And the Son says, 'So be it'.                                                                 (-- Encounter p70--)

So maybe this is true. Being human, entails the possibility of sin. Thus, from the beginning it was foreseen by the Father that the man will fall. In a way, it might have been too much to expect that the full human race, being made of imperfect rational beings, depending on the senses, would not ever have turned away from God.

At the end, the discussion between Franciscans and Dominicans may have been about an hypothetical that could not have been realised.

Could we conclude then the following? In the creation both the incarnation and the cross are included. All because God wants to be all in us.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hourus Ruins Christmas

For a more serious approach to this tale of Hours is Christ see Jim Akin here

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

side notes: walking on the street

I came across a homeless women walking with a sleeping bag, unfolded, holding it with one dirty hand and, in the other, a can of beer.

She tries to get the attention of people by telling them how being ignored annoys her. Indeed, almost everybody is trying hard not to take notice.

I say: Hello. And she says: You are not like the other ones. You are nice. Do  you have some coins? She will play the same strategy with every one who sees her.

Later on, I see her again.  I know you, she tells me, while everybody else ignores her. You are the man with the hat. I say yes and I hold her hand for a second. 

I have seen her dirty hand but held it. I could have been days since she had any sort of human touch. Then I leave, and I wish I didn't feel like I needed to clean my hand immediately.

Poor woman, says someone in passing. And I feel, suddenly, all the strangeness of this sentence. I can't possess it. It asks for consent, but, even as I try, my whole self screams out against it. I can't own it and it blows up my mind. It is weird but it is related to the fact that I like her. I like her and I like the homeless I find.

René Girard may be right and this sentence means "I am lucky that I am not in her place". It is a way to gain our identity by placing ourselves over against someone else, trying to avoid the position of shame. But this is the position that Jesus have come to inhabit, the place from which he comes to us with his good news.

Of course I want her to be better off. But even so, I like her right now. In her see a shared humanity.   My desire of being regarded with love. The fragility of the human being. My fragility. The beauty of the creation. Our utter dependence on God.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

side notes: Bonaventure imagination

"Since imagination aids understanding, I have arranged in the form of an imaginary tree the few things I have collected among many [about the life, passion and glorification of Jesus]...
.... Picture in your mind, a three whose roots are watered by an ever-flowing fountain that becomes a great and living river with four channels to water the garden of the entire Church. From the trunk of this tree, imagine that there are growing twelve branches that are adorned with leaves, flowers and fruit. Imagine that the leaves are a most effective medicine to prevent and cure every kind of sickness, because the word of the cross is the power of salvation to everyone who believe. Let the flowers be beautiful with the radiance of every color and perfumed with the sweetness of every fragrance, awakening and attracting the anxious hearts of men of desire. Imagine that the tree has twelve fruits... 
About those fruits, which are twelve points of meditation on the live of Jesus, Bonaventure wrote to us with poetic language and spiritual insight.

Prologue: The Tree of Live, from The Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press, 1978 (reprinted) p120 (emphasis from translator removed). 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Seven Quick Takes on Friday

Here some interesting things not (all) on theology.
For more takes you can go to ConversionDirary

------- Can you walk on a straight line? ----


---- What is depression----

From Hyperbole and a half.  Permission to post in FAQ      
Allie has made a very interesting cartoon explaining what is depression. Check it here.

------ Do you want to fold a letter medieval style? -----

"Letterfolds are the folds you make so that the contents of a letter cannot be seen. The simplest letterfold is to fold a sheet in half. A common letterfold is to fold a sheet into thirds so that it fits into a standard-size envelope. However, there2 are other clever ways to fold a letter to give it a touch of charm."
You can find some nice letter folds here. I like the Florentine one. 

--------- How to become a Catholic --------

WikiHow has a four part process cartoon description to become a Catholic.

Well, I'm missing three takes, but no-one is perfect. Come to visit next Friday and we'll see.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Science, evolution and God is not a being, in other words, standard theology from pope Francis

A translation from Francis speech, from a comment on here, in a discussion of science, evolution and God is not a being.

You are dealing with the highly complex theme of the
evolution of the concept of nature. I certainly won’t get into it – you know it
well – into the scientific complexity of this important and decisive question.
I only want to highlight that God and Christ journey with us and are present
even in nature, as the Apostle Paul affirmed in his speech at the Areopagus:
“for ‘in him we live and move and have our being.’” (Acts 17.28) When we read
in Genesis the creation account we run the risk of imagining that God is a
magician with a magic wand allowing him to do all kinds of things. But this is
not how it is. He created the beings and he let them develop according to the
internal laws which he gave each of them so that they would develop and come to
their proper fullness. He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the
same time in which he guaranteed their continuing presence, giving being to
every reality. This is how creation has gone on for centuries and centuries,
millennia upon millennia, until it became what we know today. This is precisely
because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to
everything that is. The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos which
must have its origin elsewhere, but it derives directly from a supreme
Principle which creates through love. The Big Bang, which today is posited
as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine creating action but
requires it. Evolution in nature is not at odds with the notion of creation
because evolution presupposes the creation of the beings that are evolving.

As regards man, on the other hand, there is both change and
newness. When, on the sixth day of the Genesis account, the creation of man
happens, God gives the human being a different autonomy, an autonomy different
from that of nature. This is freedom. And he tells man to name everything and
to move forward throughout the course of history. He makes man responsible for
creation, even to subdue creation, so that he might develop it until the end of
time. Therefore, to the scientist, and above all to the Christian scientist,
corresponds the attitude of questioning about the future of humanity on the
earth, and as a free and responsible being, contributing to it, preparing it,
and eliminating from it environmental risks, both natural and human. But, at
the same time, the scientist must be moved by the fidelity that nature hides in
her evolutionary mechanisms, by the ability of intelligence and freedom to
discover and actuate, to come to the development that is in the Creator’s
design. So, although limited, human action participates in God’s power and is
capable of building a world adapted to human life, which is both spiritual and corporeal.
This human action is capable of building a human world for all human beings and
not for one group or privileged class. This hope and trust in God, Author of
nature, and in the capacity of the human spirit, are able to give the
researcher a new energy and a deep serenity. But it is also true that human
action, when his freedom becomes autonomy – which is not freedom, but autonomy
– destroys creation, and man take the place of the Creator. And this is the
grave sin against God the Creator.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Migrant Jesus, at the border

Kim Fabricus has composed the following hymn, which we could start using at church. 
Migrant Jesus, at the border,
refugee of fear and hate,
you’re a threat to law and order,
     nightmare of the nation-state.

Child of Israel, fleeing soldiers,
     from the Jordan to the Nile,
were your parents passport-holders,
     were you welcomed with a smile?

Home from Egypt, Spirit-breathing,
     in the towns of Galilee,
how you had the people seething
     when you preached the Jubilee.
Ease our fears, forgive our hatred
     of the other and the odd;
help us see the single-sacred:   
     face of stranger – face of God.
See the full hymn here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Was Jesus Married? Discussion point by point

Unexpectedly, some weeks ago I entered into a discussion about whether Jesus was married or not, and if so, could it have been with Mary of Magdala?

I am convinced that the traditional understanding that Jesus was single is very correct. Yet, for the sake of the discussion, and edification of others, I post here, in a nutshell, what I found to be the main related arguments of this topic (as I understand them), and my answers (in scare quotes).

Point 1:
Jesus was a Jewish rabbi and as such it would have been very unexpected that he would not have married. He was expected to marry.  All the rabbinic literature endorses marriages and indeed the Torah command it (Gn 1:22, be fruitful and multiply).
Actually, during the time of Jesus, it was not that uncommon for a Jew to be unmarried. For instance, Paul himself was unmarried (1 Co 7:7). And there is also the group of the Essenes, who were known for their emphasis on celibacy (Josephus, Antiquities; Jewish War; Philo, Hypothetica 11.14-18). [cited here ] Basically, although most Jews were married, some were not. It is possible that Jesus saw his celibacy as a dedication to announce the Kingdom of God.

Point 2:
The wedding at Cana is in fact the wedding of Jesus and Mary of Magdala. At Jesus time the broom was expected to provide the wine and this is what Jesus did at Cana. 
This is a quite extravagant reading of John 2;1-11. The plain reading is clear: Jesus, his mother, and his disciples were invited into a wedding party that runs out of wine. Prompted by his mother, Jesus tansformed water into wine, providing the first sign of who he was. This was done discretely, not in front of everybody. Because of this miracle the disciples believed in him. As for Mary of Magdala, she is not even mentioned in this passage, as she will only encounter Jesus later in the gospel.

Clearly, this story is not evidence for Jesus marrying Mary of Magdala. If you want to read Jesus wedding into this text, well, that is your call, but you have to force this interpretation into into the text. 

Point 3:
The gospel of Philip have a passage where Jesus kisses Mary of Magdala. And there is also the gospel of Jesus' wife.
The gospel of Philip would have been written more than two hundred years after the death of Jesus. In comparison the canonical gospels written only a few decades after Jesus' death.  It is easy then to realise which ones are more reliable. The particular passage in Philip's gospel, even if unreliable as historical witness, could just read that Jesus have kissed Mary's hand and the disciples got upset by that (see wikipedia). Finally, as for the gospel of Jesus wife, which is not really a gospel, but more like a paragraph, it seems it is a forgery. The reason is that the document have been provided by an "anonymous" person, who moreover had also been demonstrated to provide other forgeries. That the person cannot be traced back, and that other material he or she provided is demonstrably forged makes the case very suspicious. Weight the evidence against the whole of the canonical gospels and there is no case.
Point 4:
The disciples didn't want the people to know that Jews was married, but there are hints here and there. You don't want to see them because you are a doubting Thomas.
It seems to me that the only way to criticise the solid evidence of of Jesus being single, is by buying into the conspirational theory. This is to claim that the disciples knew the truth, but didn't want people to know. This is much more than to say that the disciples might have been mistaken about such and such particular issue, but is to say that they were dishonest. That they sold a lie. At this point I start to wonder if some people are not deceiving themselves here, that there is something more here than trying to study and learn from history. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dorthody day, the old lady and diamond story.

Tom Cornell, who was an editor of the Catholic Worker paper, wrote once this story about Dorothy Day.
One day a woman came in and donated a diamond ring to the Worker. We all wondered what Dorothy day would do with it. She could have one of us take it down to a diamond exchange and sell it. It would certainly fetch a month's worth of beans. That afternoon, Dorothy gave the diamond ring to an old woman who lived alone and often come to us for meals. "That ring would have paid her rent for the better part of a year," someone protested. Dorothy replied that the woman had her dignity; she could sell it fi she liked and spend the money for rent, a trip to Bahamas, or keep the ring to admire. "Do you suppose God created diamonds only for the rich?"  

This story reminds me quite well another one story in the gospels where Mary pours a whole bottle or very expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus.

Dorothy Day Selected writings p xlii

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Atonement explained with chairs

Here a very nice video explaining the theories of atonement from the Evangelical and Orthodox standard perspectives. The Orthodox view is as well an acceptable position for Catholics. Enjoy!

 Did you find it interesting or helpful? Please comment.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How natural law could favour homosexual acts

This is my answer to Marc Barnes post on homosexuality,

It seems to me that Marc Barnes might be answering to weaker (and somehow stereotyped) arguments instead of to the stronger case one might find. In particular I would like to comment on his reading of Paul in Romans, and on the natural law. So this is my answer to Marc Barnes:

Prologue: the silence of Jesus

As you mention, it is true that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, or about rape, or genocide, or suicide, or paedophilia, or crystal meth; and that it would be silly to assume Jesus approval for everything he doesn't mention. However, all this is already know by the well minded and intelligent people on the pro-homosexual side of the argument, so there might be more to the argument than what meets the eye.

I believe that the silence of Jesus is a good point on which to start the discussion about homosexuality. Jesus was quite vocal about issues which he seemed to consider important: hypocrisy, for example, or lack of commitment to righteousness, or the failure to embrace outcasts and foreigners. That Jesus was not at all vocal about homosexual acts suggests that the particular issue about sex between men (or women) was not at the core of his doctrine. It may follow from his teachings that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, but whether it follows or not is a matter for further interpretation.

For some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people that have perceived the Church basically as being a bunch of people obsessed about sex and about prohibiting same gender relationships, the fact that Jesus was silent about homosexual acts comes as a good news. In the same way, for some LGBT people, the ones hate themselves for being queer, the fact that Jesus didn't speak a world of hate to them should also comes as a good news.

To summarize this section. The silence of Jesus can be a positive point to be made, as it tells us that the first word of Jesus to us, is not about sex. From this it can be learned, that the first word from the Church to LGBT people is not (and should not be) about sex. For many people this is good news.

Part 1: homogenital acts and the natural law in Paul
A careful reading of the argument you develop from the letter of Paul to the Romans (chapter 1) seems to go as follows:

    a)  Paul is not talking about same-sex committed relationships but about same sex genital acts
    b)  Paul claims that same-sex genial acts are contrary to the natural law
    c)  Acting contrary to the natural law is always sinful
    d)  Therefore, same-sex genital acts are sinful even if performed within a committed relationship.
I think that the problem with your argument is an equivocation of terms. It seems you are using here the concept of natural law as it was used in the middle ages and famously championed by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). I would claim that this understanding of natural law cannot simply be forced onto the term "unnatural" [para physin] that Paul uses in his letter. In other words, to understand Paul's actual argument, we need to stablish what *Paul* means by the term "unnatural."

The best way to know the meaning of a word is to study its use in context. There are several times where Paul uses the term natural/unnatural, which include the following:

             Letter to the Romans chapter 11:13b 23a,24
             Now I am speaking to you Gentiles, ... [regarding Israel] God has the power to graft them in again. For if you have been cut from what is by nature [kata physin] a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature [para physin], into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural [kata physin] branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.
             Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11:14-15
             Does not nature [physis] itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him,  but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?          

             Letter to the Romans, chapter 1:26b-27 (which is what we are discussing here)
            Their women exchanged natural [physiken] intercourse for unnatural [para physin] , and in the same way also the men, giving up natural [physiken] intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another.

From this we learn that the term "contrary to nature" or "unnatural" [paraphysin] is a term that 
       *  can be applied to some kind of intercourse
       *  can be applied to something that God can do.
and that "nature" [physis] is a term that 
       *  denotes the rational basis for knowing that having long hair is degrading for men.

It seems to me then that the appropriate the meaning for the Greek words for "nature" [physis] or "natural" [kata physis, physiken] should be related to something as it is *expected* to be, that is, that which is apparently common-sensical, the socially standard. In the same way, the term unnatural [para physin] in Paul would be related to something that appears contrary to what is expected of it: non-standard, uncommon, even socially unacceptable, but not necessarily morally bad (since God can do it, and God is Good)

Part 2: homogenital acts and the natural law   
I hope I have shown that Paul cannot be used to prove that homogenital acts are always sinful. Maybe you have read into Paul a different argument, an argument that the Church seems to make, and that I want to explore now.
Once again, the argument:

    a)  Let's focus not on same-sex committed relationships but about same sex genital acts
    b)  Same-sex genial acts are contrary to the natural law
    c)  Acting contrary to the natural law is always sinful
    d)  Therefore, same-sex genital acts are sinful even if performed within a committed relationship.

I don't think that focusing on same-genital acts without taking into account their context is a good starting point in a discussion, but this is what is advocated in point a), which seems inappropriate to me for the following reasons:
1- Pastorally, moral issues are commonly discussed within a context. Not allowing for the context to enter into this particular discussion, while at the same time keeping attention to context as an integral part of other pastoral discussion, seems difficult to justify a priori.
2 - It might be true that same sex genital acts are always wrong regardless of the context, but this independence from the context should be the result of the argument, to be found in the conclusions, rather than in the premises.
3 - I suspect that it is impossible to talk about natural law disregarding the context as a starting point since natural law, by definition, requires the use of reason and the actual observation of the world. Basically, without observation (and thus without at least in some sense, a context) we cannot know the natural end of beings. Natural law seems to require then, some sort of consideration for the context.

So, what is natural law?
Using some quotations from your blog, I would explain it in the following way:
Natural law comes from Aristotelian metaphysics. It is the idea that all things and all organisms have a natural end (telos), which can be deduced from reason and observation. "Situations and actions can be decided as contrary to an organism’s natural end based on their effects upon that organism", and consequently should be avoided. "For example, putting a rosebush in a closet leads to the withering of the rosebush. To wither is not the natural end of the rosebush. In fact, inherent in the rosebush’s biology is its natural goal of growth and reproduction. Therefore, rosebushes should not be placed in closets." In the same way. "Humans are meant to be happy. Good actions will ultimately make human beings happy, bad actions won’t. If an action is seen to be detrimental to the human person — that is, if it ultimately leads to unhappiness — then that action can be defined as contrary to our nature," and thus should be avoided.

In other words, arguments about natural law, are arguments about flourishing, about what a good life is meant to be. Situations and actions that are detrimental to the flourishing of the human being (and thus its end) are to be avoided, while actions that foster it are to be promoted.

The question is therefore the following: do same-sex genital acts (in a committed long term relationship) foster or diminish the flourishing of the human person?

And previously, or simultaneously, we could also ask: do same gender committed relationships foster or diminish the flourishing of the human person?
The natural end of a person is union with God, which is happiness. The well being of a person, the fact that it is growing into happiness, into its natural end, is shown by the fruits of the Spirit, which (according to Paul in his letter to the Galatians) are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." This is what flourishing looks like for a human being.
Paul's words are moving and beautiful, but they are not the source of our understanding of natural law. To the contrary, for Aristotle and Aquinas, and for the Church's teaching on natural law today, what constitutes human flourishing is not a matter of divine revelation, but a matter of observation and reasoning. That is why, once the principle that every being has a natural end is accepted, then natural law becomes the framework to argue morality in the public forum, where not everyone is a follower of Jesus.

Now, do same-gender committed relationships foster or hinder a growth in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

And, in particular, does sex within same-gender committed relationships foster or hinder a growth in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
My answer is that yes, same-gender committed relationships foster and help in the flourishing of LGBT people, and this is the reason I support them. I came to this conclusion from my experience; from knowing loving and caring people in relationships who have shown me this.
Yours in Christ,


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

School to Prison Pipeline

Tolerance zero policy for schools end up treating children like criminals. This needs to change.

The goals of Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track are:

To document and expose the use of zero tolerance and other harsh disciplinary policies and the “School-to-Prison Pipeline";
 To develop and implement school discipline reforms on the local level that will serve as models for other communities;
To strengthen the capacity of the youth and parents involved in this work to become engaged citizens and agents of change;
To impact the national conversation about this issue in order to facilitate broader reforms.

See more

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Understanding Orthodoxy

I have collected some links about Eastern Orthodox theology:

Scholarly Notes

a) The Filioque controversy and its implications. A very good technical text that helped me a lot to understand it. The full book from Laurent A Cleenwerck can be bought here.
(I may be wrong but I think Laurent was my teacher of an online greek course I took in New York!)

b) Perry C Robinson in his Energetic Procession blog on Orthodoxy explains why he chose Orthodoxy over Catholicism basing himself on systematic theology. I found it very interesting, and gave me food for thought. He has other interesting posts like this on Diothelitism.

c) Orthodox Teaching on Personal Salvation. A comprehensive text, and possibly a good review. The few introductory paragraphs maybe have a more negative view of the person that I think I found in other orthodox documents, though.  

Testimonials that choose Eastern Orthodoxy rather/or than Roman Catholicism:

a)  Robertbar finds the Catholic Church too medieval, with the papacy and the dogma of transubstantiation ad odds with the Early Church. He considers the Novus Ordo Mass an innovative major break in the Church liturgy, and worries that the Catholic Church is going too liberal.
b) Michael Whelton explains how he doesn't like liturgy innovations and the papacy.  
c) Nick explains why he is Catholic and not Orthodox. Ordodox don't agree of whether Catholic have valid holy orders or other sacraments. Some EO would even re-baptise a Catholic. He also find suspicious that Orthodoxy didn't manage to have an ecumenical council in a 1000 years.

Random documents
Website with links explaining or helping you to become Orthodox

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

War against homeless

I don't know where it is, but it could easily be New York, London or Barcelona. But notice as Mark Shea says:

At least one homeless person will come again to judge the living and the dead

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The significance of a plot without conflict

In the West, plot is commonly thought to revolve around conflict: a confrontation between two or more elements, in which one ultimately dominates the other. The standard three- and five-act plot structures—which permeate Western media—have conflict written into their very foundations. A “problem” appears near the end of the first act; and, in the second act, the conflict generated by this problem takes center stage. Conflict is used to create reader involvement even by many post-modern writers, whose work otherwise defies traditional structure.
The necessity of conflict is preached as a kind of dogma by contemporary writers’ workshops and Internet “guides” to writing. A plot without conflict is considered dull; some even go so far as to call it impossible. This has influenced not only fiction, but writing in general—arguably even philosophy. Yet, is there any truth to this belief? Does plot necessarily hinge on conflict? No. Such claims are a product of the West’s insularity. For countless centuries, Chinese and Japanese writers have used a plot structure that does not have conflict “built in”, so to speak. Rather, it relies on exposition and contrast to generate interest. This structure is known as kishōtenketsu.
You can read more here

Monday, May 19, 2014

Like a good summary?

Posted with permission. You can by a signed print here

Monday, May 12, 2014

Gödel's proof of God existence, does it work?

Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978) was an Austrian, and later American, logician and philosopher. One of the best mathematical minds of the 20th century. And he was brave enough to advance this ontological proof of God existence


\text{Ax. 1.} & \left\{P(\varphi) \wedge \Box \; \forall x[\varphi(x) \to \psi(x)]\right\} \to P(\psi) \\

\text{Ax. 2.} & P(\neg \varphi) \leftrightarrow \neg P(\varphi) \\

\text{Th. 1.} & P(\varphi) \to \Diamond \; \exists x[\varphi(x)] \\

\text{Df. 1.} & G(x) \iff \forall \varphi [P(\varphi) \to \varphi(x)] \\

\text{Ax. 3.} & P(G) \\

\text{Th. 2.} & \Diamond \; \exists x \; G(x) \\

\text{Df. 2.} & \varphi \text{ ess } x \iff \varphi(x) \wedge \forall \psi \left\{\psi(x) \to \Box \; \forall y[\varphi(y) \to \psi(y)]\right\} \\

\text{Ax. 4.} & P(\varphi) \to \Box \; P(\varphi) \\

\text{Th. 3.} & G(x) \to G \text{ ess } x \\
\text{Df. 3.} & E(x) \iff \forall \varphi[\varphi \text{ ess } x \to \Box \; \exists y \; \varphi(y)] \\
\text{Ax. 5.} & P(E) \\
\text{Th. 4.} & \Box \; \exists x \; G(x)
Godel's ontological proof of the existence of God (from wikipedia)

This proof uses modal logic and a very similar versions of it are explained in detail by Christopher Small here (with no previous background needed) and in this pdf.  Thanks a lot to Christopher for his good job in explaining the ontological proof.

Now, I have to say that I still need to get a deeper understanding of the proof as it is not clear to me if claiming that necessary existence is a positive property, as Gödel does (in Ax 5), is begging the question. But Gödel was a very clever guy so I need more time to think on this.

Extra notes:

St Anselm's ontological proof of God's existence is similar to Gödel's. To me, what St Anselm achieves is to clarify that, if it is possible for God to exist, then it necessarily exists.  This is basically what happens with platonic forms and mathematical theorems too. The hope is that Gödel would make a better case for the plausibility of God existence (as oppose to conceivability), and then apply Anselm's machinery to proof its existence. It is not clear to me however that Gödel have achieved the first part by means of introducing the concept of a positive property. This needs more investigation from my side.

In any case, at this stage I find Aquianas five ways far more convincing than Godel's. Aquinas doesn't go to ontological argument (and rightly criticises "Anselm's" way as a proof), instead he goes from physics, to metaphysics to God. Inductive method. Hurray for Aquinas.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Let the kids come near the Pope

This video is a divertimento, but a sweet one.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Catholics: we are born again the biblical way

We are born again with spirit and water; through baptism we become members of the Church.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jesus on the cross: take this one

From nakedpastor
We have abandon Jesus. So often we tend to sacrifice others for our interests. Who are my victims?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Meditations on God in Thankfulness

Meditations on God in Thankfulness 

In silence, invisibly,
Your form came upon mine.
Unable to resist,
I came to know you.

In knowledge I grew
Through wisdom new,
To Truth.

Soft petals of fragrance blending
Sweet thoughts and love unending.
Hidden beauty I find,
In Mary, so kind,
Through faith and silence you come.


(from a -anonymous- friend of mine, reproduced with permission). 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saint of the month: Frances of Rome

The random saint generator of Jenifer Fulwiler gave me this saint:

Frances of Rome, (1384 – March 9, 1440) is an Italian saint who was a wife, mother, mystic, organizer of charitable services and a Benedictine oblate who founded a religious community of oblates, who share a common life without religious vows.

An interesting life that you can read in wikipedia or here

What I can learn from this saint is the desire of follow God's will, and the ability to do so in a lay world. She spent much in alms and helping the poor in time of crisis. A proper example, specially for this time of lent.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Never seen before: the pope makes me want to go to confession.

In another of his spontaneous acts, Francis has again astonished everybody by kneeling and going to confession there and then. Obviously, popes go to confession, so it should not astonish us to see it, but it has never seen before. It make me want to go to confession too.

As Roco Palmo tells us: 
The footage is indeed unprecedented – while John Paul II routinely heard the confessions of 12 laymen every Good Friday in St Peter's and B16 spent some time administering the sacrament in a Madrid park at World Youth Day 2011, no Pope has ever been seen as a penitent.

After his turn on the other side of the sacrament, Francis spent another 40 minutes hearing confessions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lent News: letter from the death raw

Some fragment from the letter from Ray Jasper, a man to be executed by the State of Texas.

I think 'empathy' is one of the most powerful words in this world that is expressed in all cultures. This is my underlining theme. I do not own a dictionary, so I can't give you the Oxford or Webster definition of the word, but in my own words, empathy means 'putting the shoe on the other foot.'

Empathy. A rich man would look at a poor man, not with sympathy, feeling sorrow for the unfortunate poverty, but also not with contempt, feeling disdain for the man's poverish state, but with empathy, which means the rich man would put himself in the poor man's shoes, feel what the poor man is feeling, and understand what it is to be the poor man.

Empathy breeds proper judgement. Sympathy breeds sorrow. Contempt breeds arrogance. Neither are proper judgements because they're based on emotions. That's why two people can look at the same situation and have totally different views. We all feel differently about a lot of things. Empathy gives you an inside view. It doesn't say 'If that was me...', empathy says, 'That is me.'

What that does is it takes the emotions out of situations and forces us to be honest with ourselves. Honesty has no hidden agenda. Thoreau proposed that 'one honest man' could morally regenerate an entire society.

 Under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution all prisoners in America are considered slaves. We look at slavery like its a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery. That was the reason for the protests by prisoners in Georgia in 2010. They said they were tired of being treated like slaves. People need to know that when they sit on trial juries and sentence people to prison time that they are sentencing them to slavery.
And more
If a prisoner refuses to work and be a slave, they will do their time in isolation as a punishment. You have thousands of people with a lot of prison time that have no choice but to make money for the government or live in isolation. The affects of prison isolation literally drive people crazy. Who can be isolated from human contact and not lose their mind? That was the reason California had an uproar last year behind Pelican Bay. 33,000 inmates across California protested refusing to work or refusing to eat on hunger-strikes because of those being tortured in isolation in Pelican Bay.

I think prison sentences have gotten way out of hand. People are getting life sentences for aggravated crimes where no violence had occurred. I know a man who was 24 years old and received 160 years in prison for two aggravated robberies where less that $500 was stole and no violence took place. There are guys walking around with 200 year sentences and they're not even 30 years old. Its outrageous. Giving a first time felon a sentence beyond their life span is pure oppression. Multitudes of young people have been thrown away in this generation.
 Read the full letter here.
May God have mercy on us.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

God's World and Holdman Christian Standard Bible won the prize.

In most bibles, the famous verse in John 3:16 is translated this way:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life." (NRSV)

Yet, when I ask my friends what this so loved means, they invariably answer that it means that God loved the world so much that He gave his Son. This is, God loves the world a lot.

Well, there is no doubt that God loves the world a lot, but that is not the intended meaning of the verse. Here, the verse in greek:

οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ1 ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

However οὕτως, for what I know of greek, in this sentence would be adecuately translated by "this way".  So the two translations that won the prize are:

"God loved the world this way: He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not die but will have eternal life." (God's World)

"For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (HCSB)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lent News: prison system.

Prison in US is a very profitable industry, making a lot of money. No wonder that more and more prisons are being constructed. Interesting poster here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Deliverance of God. Richard Beck Summary

I have just brought "The Deliverance of God: An apocalyptic rereading of Justification in Paul" by Campbell. The reading of Campbell shows that Paul presents a gospel centered in Christ. The good news of a liberating God through the faithfulness of Jesus. This is better news than the most common reform reading, and arguably much closer to Paul teaching.  Here, I recover a wonderful series of posts by Richard Beck on this book.

Part1: Justification Theory
Part2: Intrinsic Problems of Justification Theory
Part3: Systematic Problems of Justification Theory
Part4: Empirical Problems of JustificationTheory
Part5: Justification Theory in Reformation
Part6: The Unholy alliance of Justification Theory and Modernity
Part7: Attacking the Citadel
Part8: The False Gospel
Part9: The False Gospel, Continuation
Part10: The deliverance of God
Part11: Father Abraham
Part12: The Rethorical Reading of Romans 1-4

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saint of the month: Joan of Valois

The random saint generator of Jenifer Fulwiler, gave me this female saint: Joan of Valois.

That is what wikipedia says:

Joan of France (French: Jeanne de France, Jeanne de Valois; (23 April 1464 – 4 February 1505), was briefly Queen of France as wife of King Louis XII, in between the death of her brother, King Charles VIII, and the annulment of her marriage.
After that, Joan retired to her domain, where she soon founded the monastic Order of the Sisters of the Annunciation of Mary. From this Order later sprang the religious congregation of the Apostolic Sisters of the Annunciation, founded in 1787 to teach the children of the poor. She was canonized on 28 May 1950 and is known in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Joan of Valois, O.Ann.M.

St Joan of Valois, pray for us. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

More doodlings: how my friends see me

A doodle from Kim Fabricus that I find easily to relate to:

Doctrinally, on the Trinity, original sin, and the resurrection, liberals condescendingly consider me conservative; on inerrancy, penal substitution and hell, conservatives consider me anathematisably liberal. Similarly, ethically, on abortion and assisted suicide – ultra conservative; on divorce and re-marriage, let alone same-sex relationships – ultra liberal; while my pacifism – “unrealistic” – bemuses or infuriates liberals and conservatives alike. God Hates Tags.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saint of the Month: Bernard of Menthon

This is my second month choosing a random saint to be inspired by, and the chosen one this month is: Saint Bernard of Menthon. This is what the Catholic Encyclopedia says:

Born in 923, probably in the castle Menthon near Annecy, in Savoy; died at Novara, 1008. He was descended from a rich, noble family and received a thorough education. He refused to enter an honorable marriage proposed by his father and decided to devote himself to the service of the Church. Placing himself under the direction of Peter, Archdeacon of Aosta, under whose guidance he rapidly progressed, Bernard was ordained priest and on account of his learning and virtue was made Archdeacon of Aosta (966), having charge of the government of the diocese under the bishop. Seeing the ignorance and idolatry still prevailing among the people of the Alps, he resolved to devote himself to their conversion. For forty two years he continued to preach the Gospel to these people and carried the light of faith even into many cantons of Lombardy, effecting numerous conversions and working many miracles.
Continue reading here

Friday, January 24, 2014

Teaching and Love

What does it mean to live a good life?

Wright's Law from Zack Conkle on Vimeo.

We need models in our life. This teacher could be one of them! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

What does theodicy, christology, inerrancy, monasticism have in common?

What does theodicy, christology, biblical inerrancy and the new monasticism have in common? The answer: Kim Fabricius doodlings. Here a sample of them :-)


… Finally, the devil took Jesus to Lisbon and Auschwitz, to Haiti and the World Trade Center, to Tōhoku and Sandy Hook, and said, “See all this devastation and death, bodies crushed and bloated, burned and blown away, thousands, millions, children. Why? You are the Son of God. Go on, give us a theodicy.” Jesus said to him – nothing whatsoever. He remained silent. Then the devil left him, and became a frequent visitor to philosophy and theology departments.

biblical inerrancy

Mark Twain famously quipped that he could remember anything – whether it happened or not. Rather like the authors of the biblical narrative – as pudd’nhead biblical literalists would do well to recognise.


The New Monasticism shares three main marks with the traditional variety: (1) mutual accountability and the sharing of resources; (2) hospitality to the stranger; and (3) beer.


Jesus was sinless, okay, but that means he was perfectly obedient, not that he made no mistakes, let alone that he was successful. After all, he ended with a microchurch of two (and only one convert). And you and me – if there is any good in us, any growth in us, we owe it all to our failures.

Again: Did Jesus know about the boson before Higgs? Could he have run a marathon in under two hours, leaving Phidippides in the dust? Or delivered the Sermon on the Mount in German or Swahili? More somatically still, after a hard day’s healing, did our Lord stink? If your answers to the first three questions are Yes, and to the last question No, you get a Christology Fail (for Docetism).

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saint of the month: Giuseppe Moscati

Using the random saint name generator of Jenifer Fulwiler I've got a saint to reflect upon, pray, and grow in love this month. The previous saint I got was St Fhilip Neri, who sometimes to humble himself only shaved half of his beard! 

For this month the random saint is: saint is Giuseppe Moscati: here is what the wiki says;
Saint Giuseppe Moscati (July 25, 1880 – April 12, 1927) was an Italian doctor, scientific researcher, and university professor noted both for his pioneering work in biochemistry and for his piety.[Moscati was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1987; his feast day is November 16.