Thursday, 19 June 2008

Be Warned - You might regret reading this....

An Epistemological Nightmare
Raymond M. Smullyan, 1982

Scene 1
Frank is in the office of an eye doctor. The doctor holds up a book and asks "What color is it?" Frank answers, "Red." The doctor says, "Aha, just as I thought! Your whole color mechanism has gone out of kilter. But fortunately your condition is curable, and I will have you in perfect shape in a couple of weeks."

Scene 2
(A few weeks later.) Frank is in a laboratory in the home of an experimental epistemologist. (You will soon find out what that means!) The epistemologist holds up a book and also asks, "What color is this book?" Now, Frank has been earlier dismissed by the eye doctor as "cured." However, he is now of a very analytical and cautious temperament, and will not make any statement that can possibly be refuted. So Frank answers, "It seems red to me."

Epistemologist:
Wrong!

Frank:
I don't think you heard what I said. I merely said that it seems red to me.

Epistemologist:
I heard you, and you were wrong.

Frank:
Let me get this clear; did you mean that I was wrong that this book is red, or that I was wrong that it seems red to me?

Epistemologist:
I obviously couldn't have meant that you were wrong in that it is red, since you did not say that it is red. All you said was that it seems red to you, and it is this statement which is wrong.

Frank:
But you can't say that the statement "It seems red to me" is wrong.

Epistemologist:
If I can't say it, how come I did?

Frank:
I mean you can't mean it.

Epistemologist:
Why not?

Frank:
But surely I know what color the book seems to me!

Epistemologist:
Again you are wrong.

Frank:
But nobody knows better than I how things seem to me.

Epistemologist:
I am sorry, but again you are wrong.

Frank:
But who knows better than I?

Epistemologist:
I do.

Frank:
But how could you have access to my private mental states?

Epistemologist:
Private mental states! Metaphysical hogwash! Look, I am a practical epistemologist. Metaphysical problems about "mind" versus "matter" arise only from epistemological confusions. Epistemology is the true foundation of philosophy. But the trouble with all past epistemologists is that they have been using wholly theoretical methods, and much of their discussion degenerates into mere word games. While other epistemologists have been solemnly arguing such questions as whether a man can be wrong when he asserts that he believes such and such, I have discovered how to settle such questions experimentally.

Frank:
How could you possibly decide such things empirically?

Epistemologist:
By reading a person's thoughts directly.

Frank:
You mean you are telepathic?

Epistemologist:
Of course not. I simply did the one obvious thing which should be done, viz. I have constructed a brain-reading machine--known technically as a cerebroscope--that is operative right now in this room and is scanning every nerve cell in your brain. I thus can read your every sensation and thought, and it is a simple objective truth that this book does not seem red to you.

Frank (thoroughly subdued):
Goodness gracious, I really could have sworn that the book seemed red to me; it sure seems that it seems read to me!

Epistemologist:
I'm sorry, but you are wrong again.

Frank:
Really? It doesn't even seem that it seems red to me? It sure seems like it seems like it seems red to me!

Epistemologist:
Wrong again! And no matter how many times you reiterate the phrase "it seems like" and follow it by "the book is red" you will be wrong.

Frank:
This is fantastic! Suppose instead of the phrase "it seems like" I would say "I believe that." So let us start again at ground level. I retract the statement "It seems red to me" and instead I assert "I believe that this book is red." Is this statement true or false?

Epistemologist:
Just a moment while I scan the dials of the brain-reading machine--no, the statement is false.

Frank:
And what about "I believe that I believe that the book is red"?

Epistemologist (consulting his dials):
Also false. And again, no matter how many times you iterate "I believe," all these belief sentences are false.

Frank:
Well, this has been a most enlightening experience. However, you must admit that it is a little hard on me to realize that I am entertaining infinitely many erroneous beliefs!

Epistemologist:
Why do you say that your beliefs are erroneous?

Frank:
But you have been telling me this all the while!

Epistemologist:
I most certainly have not!

Frank:
Good God, I was prepared to admit all my errors, and now you tell me that my beliefs are not errors; what are you trying to do, drive me crazy?

Epistemologist:
Hey, take it easy! Please try to recall: When did I say or imply that any of your beliefs are erroneous?

Frank:
Just simply recall the infinite sequence of sentences: (1) I believe this book is red; (2) I believe that I believe this book is red; and so forth. You told me that every one of those statements is false.

Epistemologist:
True.

Frank:
Then how can you consistently maintain that my beliefs in all these false statements are not erroneous?

Epistemologist:
Because, as I told you, you don't believe any of them.

Frank:
I think I see, yet I am not absolutely sure.

Epistemologist:
Look, let me put it another way. Don't you see that the very falsity of each of the statements that you assert saves you from an erroneous belief in the preceding one? The first statement is, as I told you, false. Very well! Now the second statement is simply to the effect that you believe the first statement. If the second statement were true, then you would believe the first statement, and hence your belief about the first statement would indeed be in error. But fortunately the second statement is false, hence you don't really believe the first statement, so your belief in the first statement is not in error. Thus the falsity of the second statement implies you do not have an erroneous belief about the first; the falsity of the third likewise saves you from an erroneous belief about the second, etc.

Frank:
Now I see perfectly! So none of my beliefs were erroneous, only the statements were erroneous.

Epistemologist:
Exactly.

Frank:
Most remarkable! Incidentally, what color is the book really?

Epistemologist:
It is red.

Frank:
What!

Epistemologist:
Exactly! Of course the book is red. What's the matter with you, don't you have eyes?

Frank:
But didn't I in effect keep saying that the book is red all along?

Epistemologist:
Of course not! You kept saying it seems red to you, it seems like it seems red to you, you believe it is red, you believe that you believe it is red, and so forth. Not once did you say that it is red. When I originally asked you "What color is the book?" if you had simply answered "red," this whole painful discussion would have been avoided.

Scene 3
Frank comes back several months later to the home of the epistemologist.

Epistemologist:
How delightful to see you! Please sit down.

Frank (seated):
I have been thinking of our last discussion, and there is much I wish to clear up. To begin with, I discovered an inconsistency in some of the things you said.

Epistemologist:
Delightful! I love inconsistencies. Pray tell!

Frank:
Well, you claimed that although my belief sentences were false, I did not have any actual beliefs that are false. If you had not admitted that the book actually is red, you would have been consistent. But your very admission that the book is red, leads to an inconsistency.

Epistemologist:
How so?

Frank:
Look, as you correctly pointed out, in each of my belief sentences "I believe it is red," "I believe that I believe it is red," the falsity of each one other than the first saves me from an erroneous belief in the proceeding one. However, you neglected to take into consideration the first sentence itself. The falsity of the first sentence "I believe it is red," in conjunction with the fact that it is red, does imply that I do have a false belief.

Epistemologist:
I don't see why.

Frank:
It is obvious! Since the sentence "I believe it is red" is false, then I in fact believe it is not red, and since it really is red, then I do have a false belief. So there!

Epistemologist (disappointed):
I am sorry, but your proof obviously fails. Of course the falsity of the fact that you believe it is red implies that you don't believe it is red. But this does not mean that you believe it is not red!

Frank:
But obviously I know that it either is red or it isn't, so if I don't believe it is, then I must believe that it isn't.

Epistemologist:
Not at all. I believe that either Jupiter has life or it doesn't. But I neither believe that it does, nor do I believe that it doesn't. I have no evidence one way or the other.

Frank:
Oh well, I guess you are right. But let us come to more important matters. I honestly find it impossible that I can be in error concerning my own beliefs.

Epistemologist:
Must we go through this again? I have already patiently explained to you that you (in the sense of your beliefs, not your statements) are not in error.

Frank:
Oh, all right then, I simply do not believe that even the statements are in error. Yes, according to the machine they are in error, but why should I trust the machine?

Epistemologist:
Whoever said you should trust the machine?

Frank:
Well, should I trust the machine?

Epistemologist:
That question involving the word "should" is out of my domain. However, if you like, I can refer you to a colleague who is an excellent moralist--he may be able to answer this for you.

Frank:
Oh come on now, I obviously didn't mean "should" in a moralistic sense. I simply meant "Do I have any evidence that this machine is reliable?"

Epistemologist:
Well, do you?

Frank:
Don't ask me! What I mean is should you trust the machine?

Epistemologist:
Should I trust it? I have no idea, and I couldn't care less what I should do.

Frank:
Oh, your moralistic hangup again. I mean, do you have evidence that the machine is reliable?

Epistemologist:
Well of course!

Frank:
Then let's get down to brass tacks. What is your evidence?

Epistemologist:
You hardly can expect that I can answer this for you in an hour, a day, or a week. If you wish to study this machine with me, we can do so, but I assure you this is a matter of several years. At the end of that time, however, you would certainly not have the slightest doubts about the reliability of the machine.

Frank:
Well, possibly I could believe that it is reliable in the sense that its measurements are accurate, but then I would doubt that what it actually measures is very significant. It seems that all it measures is one's physiological states and activities.

Epistemologist:
But of course, what else would you expect it to measure?

Frank:
I doubt that it measures my psychological states, my actual beliefs.

Epistemologist:
Are we back to that again? The machine does measure those physiological states and processes that you call psychological states, beliefs, sensations, and so forth.

Frank:
At this point I am becoming convinced that our entire difference is purely semantical. All right, I will grant that your machine does correctly measure beliefs in your sense of the word "belief," but I don't believe that it has any possibility of measuring beliefs in my sense of the word "believe." In other words I claim that our entire deadlock is simply due to the fact that you and I mean different things by the word "belief."

Epistemologist:
Fortunately, the correctness of your claim can be decided experimentally. It so happens that I now have two brain-reading machines in my office, so I now direct one to your brain to find out what you mean by "believe" and now I direct the other to my own brain to find out what I mean by "believe," and now I shall compare the two readings. Nope, I'm sorry, but it turns out that we mean exactly the same thing by the word "believe."

Frank:
Oh, hang your machine! Do you believe we mean the same thing by the word "believe"?

Epistemologist:
Do I believe it? Just a moment while I check with the machine. Yes, it turns out I do believe it.

Frank:
My goodness, do you mean to say that you can't even tell me what you believe without consulting the machine?

Epistemologist:
Of course not.

Frank:
But most people when asked what they believe simply tell you. Why do you, in order to find out your beliefs, go through the fantastically roundabout process of directing a thought-reading machine to your own brain and then finding out what you believe on the basis of the machine readings?

Epistemologist:
What other scientific, objective way is there of finding out what I believe?

Frank:
Oh, come now, why don't you just ask yourself?

Epistemologist (sadly):
It doesn't work. Whenever I ask myself what I believe, I never get any answer!

Frank:
Well, why don't you just state what you believe?

Epistemologist:
How can I state what I believe before I know what I believe?

Frank:
Oh, to hell with your knowledge of what you believe; surely you have some idea or belief as to what you believe, don't you?

Epistemologist:
Of course I have such a belief. But how do I find out what this belief is?

Frank:
I am afraid we are getting into another infinite regress. Look, at this point I am honestly beginning to wonder whether you may be going crazy.

Epistemologist:
Let me consult the machine. Yes, it turns out that I may be going crazy.

Frank:
Good God, man, doesn't this frighten you?

Epistemologist:
Let me check! Yes, it turns out that it does frighten me.

Frank:
Oh please, can't you forget this damned machine and just tell me whether you are frightened or not?

Epistemologist:
I just told you that I am. However, I only learned of this from the machine.

Frank:
I can see that it is utterly hopeless to wean you away from the machine. Very well, then, let us play along with the machine some more. Why don't you ask the machine whether your sanity can be saved?

Epistemologist:
Good idea! Yes, it turns out that it can be saved.

Frank:
And how can it be saved?

Epistemologist:
I don't know, I haven't asked the machine.

Frank:
Well, for God's sake, ask it!

Epistemologist:
Good idea. It turns out that...

Frank:
It turns out what?

Epistemologist:
It turns out that...

Frank:
Come on now, it turns out what?

Epistemologist:
This is the most fantastic thing I have ever come across! According to the machine the best thing I can do is to cease to trust the machine!

Frank:
Good! What will you do about it?

Epistemologist:
How do I know what I will do about it, I can't read the future?

Frank:
I mean, what do you presently intend to do about it?

Epistemologist:
Good question, let me consult the machine. According to the machine, my current intentions are in complete conflict. And I can see why! I am caught in a terrible paradox! If the machine is trustworthy, then I had better accept its suggestion to distrust it. But if I distrust it, then I also distrust its suggestion to distrust it, so I am really in a total quandary.

Frank:
Look, I know of someone who I think might be really of help in this problem. I'll leave you for a while to consult him. Au revoir!

Scene 4.
(Later in the day at a psychiatrist's office.)

Frank:
Doctor, I am terribly worried about a friend of mine. He calls himself an "experimental epistemologist."

Doctor:
Oh, the experimental epistemologist. There is only one in the world. I know him well!

Frank:
That is a relief. But do you realize that he has constructed a mind-reading device that he now directs to his own brain, and whenever one asks him what he thinks, believes, feels, is afraid of, and so on, he has to consult the machine first before answering? Don't you think this is pretty serious?

Doctor:
Not as serious as it might seem. My prognosis for him is actually quite good.

Frank:
Well, if you are a friend of his, couldn't you sort of keep an eye on him?

Doctor:
I do see him quite frequently, and I do observe him much. However, I don't think he can be helped by so-called "psychiatric treatment." His problem is an unusual one, the sort that has to work itself out. And I believe it will.

Frank:
Well, I hope your optimism is justified. At any rate I sure think I need some help at this point!

Doctor:
How so?

Frank:
My experiences with the epistemologist have been thoroughly unnerving! At this point I wonder if I may be going crazy; I can't even have confidence in how things appear to me. I think maybe you could be helpful here.

Doctor:
I would be happy to but cannot for a while. For the next three months I am unbelievably overloaded with work. After that, unfortunately, I must go on a three-month vacation. So in six months come back and we can talk this over.

Scene 5.
(Same office, six months later.)

Doctor:
Before we go into your problems, you will be happy to hear that your friend the epistemologist is now completely recovered.

Frank:
Marvelous, how did it happen?

Doctor:
Almost, as it were, by a stroke of fate--and yet his very mental activities were, so to speak, part of the "fate." What happened was this: For months after you last saw him, he went around worrying "should I trust the machine, shouldn't I trust the machine, should I, shouldn't I, should I, shouldn't I." (He decided to use the word "should" in your empirical sense.) He got nowhere! So he then decided to "formalize" the whole argument. He reviewed his study of symbolic logic, took the axioms of first-order logic, and added as nonlogical axioms certain relevant facts about the machine. Of course the resulting system was inconsistent--he formally proved that he should trust the machine if and only if he shouldn't, and hence that he both should and should not trust the machine. Now, as you may know, in a system based on classical logic (which is the logic he used), if one can prove so much as a single contradictory proposition, then one can prove any proposition, hence the whole system breaks down. So he decided to use a logic weaker than classical logic--a logic close to what is known as "minimal logic"--in which the proof of one contradiction does not necessarily entail the proof of every proposition. However, this system turned out too weak to decide the question of whether or not he should trust the machine. Then he had the following bright idea. Why not use classical logic in his system even though the resulting system is inconsistent? Is an inconsistent system necessarily useless? Not at all! Even though given any proposition, there exists a proof that it is true and another proof that it is false, it may be the case that for any such pair of proofs, one of them is simply more psychologically convincing than the other, so simply pick the proof you actually believe! Theoretically the idea turned out very well--the actual system he obtained really did have the property that given any such pair of proofs, one of them was always psychologically far more convincing than the other. Better yet, given any pair of contradictory propositions, all proofs of one were more convincing than any proof of the other. Indeed, anyone except the epistemologist could have used the system to decide whether the machine could be trusted. But with the epistemologist, what happened was this: He obtained one proof that he should trust the machine and another proof that he should not. Which proof was more convincing to him, which proof did he really "believe"? The only way he could find out was to consult the machine! But he realized that this would be begging the question, since his consulting the machine would be a tacit admission that he did in fact trust the machine. So he still remained in a quandary.

Frank:
So how did he get out of it?

Doctor:
Well, here is where fate kindly interceded. Due to his absolute absorption in the theory of this problem, which consumed about his every waking hour, he became for the first time in his life experimentally negligent. As a result, quite unknown to him, a few minor units of his machine blew out! Then, for the first time, the machine started giving contradictory information--not merely subtle paradoxes, but blatant contradictions. In particular, the machine one day claimed that the epistemologist believed a certain proposition and a few days later claimed he did not believe that proposition. And to add insult to injury, the machine claimed that he had not changed his belief in the last few days. This was enough to simply make him totally distrust the machine. Now he is fit as a fiddle.

Frank:
This is certainly the most amazing thing I have ever heard! I guess the machine was really dangerous and unreliable all along.

Doctor:
Oh, not at all; the machine used to be excellent before the epistemologist's experimental carelessness put it out of whack.

Frank:
Well, surely when I knew it, it couldn't have been very reliable.

Doctor:
Not so, Frank, and this brings us to your problem. I know about your entire conversation with the epistemologist--it was all tape-recorded.

Frank:
Then surely you realize the machine could not have been right when it denied that I believed the book was red.

Doctor:
Why not?

Frank:
Good God, do I have to go through all this nightmare again? I can understand that a person can be wrong if he claims that a certain physical object has a certain property, but have you ever known a single case when a person can be mistaken when he claims to have or not have a certain sensation?

Doctor:
Why, certainly! I once knew a Christian Scientist who had a raging toothache; he was frantically groaning and moaning all over the place. When asked whether a dentist might not cure him, he replied that there was nothing to be cured. Then he was asked, "But do you not feel pain?" He replied, "No, I do not feel pain; nobody feels pain, there is no such thing as pain, pain is only an illusion." So here is a case of a man who claimed not to feel pain, yet everyone present knew perfectly well that he did feel pain. I certainly don't believe he was lying, he was just simply mistaken.

Frank:
Well, all right, in a case like that. But how can one be mistaken if one asserts his belief about the color of a book?

Doctor:
I can assure you that without access to any machine, if I asked someone what color is this book, and he answered, "I believe it is red," I would be very doubtful that he really believed it. It seems to me that if he really believed it, he would answer, "It is red" and not "I believe it is red" or "It seems red to me." The very timidity of his response would be indicative of his doubts.

Frank:
But why on earth should I have doubted that it was red?

Doctor:
You should know that better than I. Let us see now, have you ever in the past had reason to doubt the accuracy of your sense perception?

Frank:
Why, yes. A few weeks before visiting the epistemologist, I suffered from an eye disease, which did make me see colors falsely. But I was cured before my visit.

Doctor:
Oh, so no wonder you doubted it was red! True enough, your eyes perceived the correct color of the book, but your earlier experience lingered in your mind and made it impossible for you to really believe it was red. So the machine was right!

Frank:
Well, all right, but then why did I doubt that I believed it was true?

Doctor:
Because you didn't believe it was true, and unconsciously you were smart enough to realize the fact. Besides, when one starts doubting one's own sense perceptions, the doubt spreads like an infection to higher and higher levels of abstraction until finally the whole belief system becomes one doubting mass of insecurity. I bet that if you went to the epistemologist's office now, and if the machine were repaired, and you now claimed that you believe the book is red, the machine would concur.

No, Frank, the machine is--or, rather, was--a good one. The epistemologist learned much from it, but misused it when he applied it to his own brain. He really should have known better than to create such an unstable situation. The combination of his brain and the machine each scrutinizing and influencing the behavior of the other led to serious problems in feedback. Finally the whole system went into a cybernetic wobble. Something was bound to give sooner or later. Fortunately, it was the machine.

Frank:
I see. One last question, though. How could the machine be trustworthy when it claimed to be untrustworthy?

Doctor:
The machine never claimed to be untrustworthy, it only claimed that the epistemologist would be better off not trusting it. And the machine was right.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Be ye perfect...


May the grace of God preserve me from :
A comfort-loving life,
An unrestrained tongue,
A dissipated mind,
An unexamined conscience,
Slothful prayers,
Slovenly sacraments,
An esteem of myself, and
A love of anything short of God.

Amen


[F. W. Faber]

Jealous...

Regrettably last Saturday we had two members of our department off work ; so I was unable to attend the Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Rite [or should I now say Gregorian Rite ? such a wonderful name ! The watcher's rite - so symbolic of our transcending space and time to calvary itself !!] at Westminster Cathedral.
Many Catholics in the blogosphere attended and their blogs are laden with details.
The words of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyas in the interview prior to the Mass brought me to tears ;

Many of the difficulties come out because they don’t know the reality of the Gregorian Rite – this is the just [correct] name for the Extraordinary Form, because this Mass was never prevented, never.
Today for many bishops it is difficult because they don’t have priests who don’t know Latin. Many seminaries give very few hours to Latin – not enough to give the necessary preparation to celebrate in a good way the Extraordinary Form.
Others think that the Holy Father is going against the Second Vatican Council.
That is absolute ignorance.
The Fathers of the Council, never celebrated a Mass other than the Gregorian one.
It [the Novus Ordo] came after the Council … The Holy Father, who is a theologian and who was in the preparation for the Council, is acting exactly in the way of the Council, offering with freedom the different kinds of celebration.
This celebration, the Gregorian one, was the celebration of the Church during more than a thousand years … Others say one cannot celebrate with the back to the people. This is ridiculous. The Son of God has sacrificed himself to the Father, with his face to the Father. It is not against the people. It is for the people …

[notice the re-affirmation of the true notion of a sacrificial shepherding ordained priesthood ?]

When our illustrious Damian Thompson asked :
So would the Pope like to see many ordinary parishes making provision for the Gregorian Rite?
His Eminence's reply:
All the parishes. Not many – all the parishes, because this is a gift of God. He offers these riches, and it is very important for new generations to know the past of the Church. This kind of worship is so noble, so beautiful – the deepest theologians’ way to express our faith. The worship, the music, the architecture, the painting, makes a whole that is a treasure. The Holy Father is willing to offer to all the people this possibility, not only for the few groups who demand it but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

It's Back !!! After decades of suppression - it's not going away - all we had hoped for but would never have dreamed of envisaging only a handful of years ago - has happened !!! This is the guarantee of Peter.

...of course the 'Tabletista' did their 'Rumpelstiltskin routine' in the shape of that grande-dame Eleni Curti :
Your Eminence, I think many Catholics are rather confused by this new emphasis on the Tridentine Rite, mainly because we were taught that the new Rite represented real progress, and many of us who have grown up with it see it as real progress, that there are Eucharistic ministers, women on the sanctuary, that we are all priests, prophets and kings. This new emphasis to many of us seems to deny that.

His Eminence countered:
What is progress? "Progredire", means [offering] the best to God… I am surprised, because many young people are enthusiastic with the celebration of the Gregorian Rite …

In the Motu Proprio, the Pope's emphasis is on one Rite and two forms, and he describes the Tridentine Rite as "extraordinary". Extraordinary therefore means exceptional, not something that we celebrate every Sunday.

Not "exceptional". Extraordinary means "not ordinary", not "exceptional."

Should it therefore supersede the new Rite? Should we go back?

It is not going back: it is taking a treasure which is present, but was not provided.
… But it takes time.
The application of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council took years. It takes time to understand the deep profundity of the old Rite.
The Holy Father is not returning to the past; he is taking a treasure from the past to offer it alongside the rich celebration of the new Rite. The second Eucharistic prayer of the new Rite is actually the oldest one [in the Church’s entire liturgy]. It’s not a matter of confrontation but of fraternal dialogue.

Now this is only the end of the beginning : Rough times lie ahead ; battles will be fought, personalities will clash; and power-struggles will ensue . Already Bishop Thomas MacMahon appears to have gone on an all-out massacre of the idea by sharing out churches/altars and pulpits with the anglicans ; something so redolent of our present Cardinal's nefarious and sacrilegious machinations of nearly twenty years ago when he was in charge of Arundel and Brighton - but the Bishops , recalcitrant clerics and the professional laity who feel all their power and vaudeville antics are soon to become 'historical anachronistic emotional spasms ' - cannot be allowed to suppress, shanghai or thwart the wishes of Holy Mother Church.

Now one thing really got my goat : Ms Curti's depiction of us all as 'Priests/Prophets/Sovereigns'
In other words , we're the Church now and Rome can get stuffed !
I answered this on Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke Blog:

We are anointed as priest, prophet and king solely because we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ , The Church.

This anointing invokes duties and responsibilities afforded by the consequences of Baptismal Grace from which the benefits are solely directed toward a salvific end.

NONE of us are priests, prophets and sovereigns with any autonomy outside the directives of Christ and the Church.
When we indiscriminately defy the church through thought, word and deed ; most significantly through the teaching [and publishing] of heterodoxy, heresy, apostasy and immorality ; by purporting it to be authentic Christian praxis and the ways of 'future-Church'; we renege on everything our anointing calls from us - we alienate ourselves from Christ.

The bitter irony of a 'tabletista' invoking the anointing which they abrogate at every turn to vindicate, excuse and equivocate their reprehensible agenda is arrant derisory hypocrisy ; and how anyone in this thread can accommodate such a perspective , and launch volleys against our host to defend mzzzz Curti's presumption is beyond me.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Novena to The Sacred Heart + Please Remember to Constantly Pray for Priests

http://www.worldpriestday.com/
World Prayer for Priests day was last Friday; but let's remember
that among us all it is our priests who desperately need our prayers.


Divine Jesus, You have said, "Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you." Behold me kneeling at Your feet, filled with a lively faith and confidence in the promises dictated by Your Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary. I come to ask this favor: (Mention your request).

To whom can I turn if not to You, Whose Heart is the source of all graces and merits? Where should I seek if not in the treasure which contains all the riches of Your kindness and mercy? Where should I knock if not at the door through which God gives Himself to us and through which we go to God? I have recourse to You, Heart of Jesus. In You I find consolation when afflicted, protection when persecuted, strength when burdened with trials, and light in doubt and darkness.

Dear Jesus, I firmly believe that You can grant me the grace I implore, even though it should require a miracle. You have only to will it and my prayer will be granted. I admit that I am most unworthy of Your favors, but this is not a reason for me to be discouraged. You are the God of mercy, and You will not refuse a contrite heart. Cast upon me a look of mercy, I beg of You, and Your kind Heart will find in my miseries and weakness a reason for granting my prayer.

Sacred Heart, whatever may be Your decision with regard to my request, I will never stop adoring, loving, praising, and serving You. My Jesus, be pleased to accept this my act of perfect resignation to the decrees of Your adorable Heart, which I sincerely desire may be fulfilled in and by me and all Your creatures forever.

Grant me the grace for which I humbly implore You through the Immaculate Heart of Your most sorrowful Mother. You entrusted me to her as her child, and her prayers are all-powerful with You. Amen.

My God, I offer You all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the intentions for which He pleads and offers Himself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in thanksgiving for Your favors, in reparation for my sins, and in humble supplication for my temporal and eternal welfare, for the needs of our holy Mother the Church, for the conversion of sinners, and for the relief of the poor souls in purgatory


‘O Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds of Thy Divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John who stood at the foot of the Cross; priests: who as a pledge of Thine own most tender love will lovingly give Thy Divine Son to the souls of men.

May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church, as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house. Taught by this loving Mother who suffered so much on Calvary, may they display a mother’s care and thoughtfulness towards Thy children. May they teach souls to enter into close union with Thee through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven, is specially the guardian of the treasures of Thy Divine Heart.


Give us priests who are on fire, and who are true children of Mary, priests who will give Jesus to souls with the same tenderness and care with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.

Mother of sorrows and of love, out of compassion for Thy beloved Son, open in our hearts deep wells of love, so that we may console Him and give Him a generation of priests formed in thy school and having all the tender thoughtfulness of thine own spotless love.’ [St Therese]

Belated Birthday Wishes 2 - 1st June - Deborah Scalise Ukok






A barrel-load of prayers and good intentions to
one of our best catholic bloggers ; especially considering the way she can raise our spirits when life has thrown more than a fair share of adversity at both her and her family.



Anyway as she's invariably spreading the love around ; I thought I'd do her meme, especially when e-mails ask the questions and I ignore them - will bite the bullet and say an act of humility.








What time is your alarm clock set to? Well Jay has the alarm clock as I sleep through alarms [I could sleep through the march on Stalingrad !] and he wakes me at around 5.30 a.m. I have to ensure I maintain a sleep pattern in order to rise; this week I was up all night on two separate occasions with Rowan and then Jonathan being violently sick and unable to reach the bathrom in time - after six hours scrubbing the stairs and hallway have never been cleaner or more sterile !! [groan!] No matter what time I awake I'm invariably late for work anyway. I'm late for everything.

What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? It's never one thing : Working in a shop I have to deal with many female customers and you have to quickly deduce all manner of things from their demeanour and speech intonation - and consequently how to act [with humour, empathy or apologetically -sometimes conspiratorially] . If the question is about what attracts me, it's hair, eyes and voice.

Do you think people talk about you behind your back? What's it Oscar Wilde says ? The only thing worse than people talking about you is their not talking about you. I think people do - I'm a disappointment to many, am never the most reliable, and have a predilection to rub people up the wrong way; together with having a vast array of faults and deficiencies I have to guess they do. Although I've been lucky enough never to overhear it - I have little confidence and I think I would scar me for life. I can cope with the obvious fact that people do; but couldn't really cope with the reality of it.

What movie do you know every line to? Well my memory's failing but I could have a good crack at huge chunks of : Spartacus, Some Like it Hot, Sons of the Desert, Carry on Screaming/Spying , Random Harvest , Operation Crossbow, Orphee, The Ninth Gate, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music plus a few foreign ones. Embarassingly I can sing the Disney 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' from start to finish [It was Jonathan's favourite film for years !]

What is your favorite movie? Three Colours: Red [my mate Dean thinks I say this because I'm pretentious - but it really is my favourite - even if I regulate my watching of it in order not to spoil it . I watch Nightwatch and Hero regularly

Is anyone in love with you? Pass. Can we ever be sure ? Whatever the answer I know I don't deserve it. I am told I am loved and hope it's the case.

Do you eat breakfast daily? A Grande-Tasse of Coffee every morning, two coffees mid-morning, coffee, vitamin pills and maybe cereal or a cheese sandwich early afternoon after work - I don't really eat [maybe a cooked meal twice a week -and that's forcing myself]


Do you sleep on your side, stomach or back? On my side in the foetal position.

Who was the last person to make you mad ? Well do you count the half-dozen who have already enraged me on radio 4's today programme or people I interact with ? If it's the latter it has to be work colleagues : Not the lazy ones [I can cope with that] ; it's the uncaring and thoughtless ones. Even though I'm a rampant leftie virtually anyone from new labour makes my blood boil ; and Tony Blair and his entourage of reprobates makes me rend my shirt even more than Thatcher ever could.

Are you a lover or a fighter? Both -all the time ! Is it ever possible to be one and not the other ?

Are you a morning or evening person? Neither: I'm a night person.

Are you a cuddler? Ask anyone - I'm always the first to hug. I think it's the only aspect of my children's lives I've personally nurtured.

Are you a perfectionist? Well I'm an enigma anyway: In some things I will be a hyper-perfectionist to the point of obsession ; in others I'm either more laissez-faire or full of good intentions but incapability prevents its fulfillment.

Have you ever written a poem? Yes : stupid comic things at school ; narcissistic sesquipedalian tomes later on, silly rhymes for the kids. Must have written dozens over the years but now thankfully they have either been consigned to the flames or the landfill.


Do you have more guy or girl friends? Um , I don't really have any friends - work associates, yes; people from the distant past with whom I keep in contact ; but regular hang-around friends ? Sorry, just not a very social person.



How many tickets have you gotten? Um - Gotten ? Are we back at the peasants' revolt ? Sorry just hate americanese like buoy [boo-wee] , acclimate and debark. None: Can't drive - Nicky's never received a ticket though.



Piercings? Had my ear pierced for a few months when I was nineteen ; but having a father who thinks having a ponytail is akin to being found in bed with the milkman I let it heal over when I returned home.



Do you have a tattoo? No ; but have worn fake chinese/ethnic and henna tattoos all over in many designs for years.



Are you patient? Depends: I tend to be of extremes in this regard. I have no qualms waiting for hours in a queue or for someone else - but when the broadband is slow I want to put my fist through the monitor.



Do you miss anyone right now? I miss everyone - kids when they're at school, Nicky when she's at work, family, people I haven't seen in decades [even those who hate my guts] I really miss my friend in Japan; but I don't like to think about it as some people were really close friends and then moved away and forgot me. It happens ! What's more frustrating is when people 'mis-remember' or deliberately choose to forget past relationships - it's the way it goes. One person in particular thinks I'm some sort of satan-spawn and I have no idea why - it's sad.



Tea or coffee? Coffee: too much coffee.



Regularly burn incense? Yes; but always the fresh citrus/alpine type or ylang-ylang/patchouli . Hate the spicy/musky ones and the chocolate/coffee ones are just awful



Ever been in love? Never been out of it [for my sins]



Best room for a fireplace? Would like an open fire in every room [except maybe the toilet]



What do you do when you’re sad or upset? Resort to legal stimulants, read my favourite books , re-enact it out in the mirror , visit the cemetery and talk it out with relations, clean the house or sort out the bookshelves. Spend a long time doing logic puzzles



Afraid of heights? Terrified ; except when I'm climbing .



Can you change the oil in your car? I don't even know how to open the bonnet or boot - I can just about fill it with petrol



Favorite flower? Don't know what they're called ; think the name begins with an A ; but they've really dark green and white petals.


Favorite hangout? Home [playing boardgames with the kids] or Coffee shop [reading something academic] or reading novels under any available tree



Middle name[s]? Ivan James Christopher Harkins



Most romantic sounding language? Ayrshire accent: French language



Ever been overseas? Lived in Ireland, travelled round Northern Europe with school , Lived in USA

Belated Birthday Wishes: 1 G K Chesterton

Last Thursday, 29th May was Gilbert's 134th birthday - Our country's last 'Defender of the Faith' ; the greatest writer in english of the 20th century ; probably one of this country's greatest thinkers - ever !

{I chose this as I felt it was pretty relevant regarding tonight's 'Apprentice' [fingers crossed Lucinda gets through] together with my only claims to fame being the plagiarising of the 'last man standing' and 'martyr' fallacies from his writings}

The Fallacy of Success

There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men. They are much more wild than the wildest romances of chivalry and much more dull than the dullest religious tract. Moreover, the romances of chivalry were at least about chivalry; the religious tracts are about religion. But these things are about nothing; they are about what is called Success. On every bookstall, in every magazine, you may find works telling people how to succeed. They are books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books.


To begin with, of course, there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey. Any live man has succeeded in living; any dead man may have succeeded in committing suicide. But, passing over the bad logic and bad philosophy in the phrase, we may take it, as these writers do, in the ordinary sense of success in obtaining money or worldly position. These writers profess to tell the ordinary man how he may succeed in his trade or speculation—how, if he is a builder, he may succeed as a builder; how, if he is a stockbroker, he may succeed as a stockbroker. They profess to show him how, if he is a grocer, he may become a sporting yachtsman; how, if he is a tenth-rate journalist, he may become a peer; and how, if he is a German Jew, he may become an Anglo-Saxon. This is a definite and business-like proposal, and I really think that the people who buy these books (if any people do buy them) have a moral, if not a legal, right to ask for their money back. Nobody would dare to publish a book about electricity which literally told one nothing about electricity; no one would dare to publish an article on botany which showed that the writer did not know which end of a plant grew in the earth. Yet our modern world is full of books about Success and successful people which literally contain no kind of idea, and scarcely any kind of verbal sense.

It is perfectly obvious that in any decent occupation (such as bricklaying or writing books) there are only two ways (in any special sense) of succeeding. One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating. Both are much too simple to require any literary explanation. If you are in for the high jump, either jump higher than any one else, or manage somehow to pretend that you have done so. If you want to succeed at whist, either be a good whist-player, or play with marked cards. You may want a book about jumping; you may want a book about whist; you may want a book about cheating at whist. But you cannot want a book about Success. Especially you cannot want a book about Success such as those which you can now find scattered by the hundred about the book-market. You may want to jump or to play cards; but you do not want to read wandering statements to the effect that jumping is jumping, or that games are won by winners. If these writers, for instance, said anything about success in jumping it would be something like this: "The jumper must have a clear aim before him. He must desire definitely to jump higher than the other men who are in for the same competition. He must let no feeble feelings of mercy (sneaked from the sickening Little Englanders and Pro-Boers) prevent him from trying to do his best. He must remember that a competition in jumping is distinctly competitive, and that, as Darwin has gloriously demonstrated, THE WEAKEST GO TO THE WALL."


That is the kind of thing the book would say, and very useful it would be, no doubt, if read out in a low and tense voice to a young man just about to take the high jump. Or suppose that in the course of his intellectual rambles the philosopher of Success dropped upon our other case, that of playing cards, his bracing advice would run—"In playing cards it is very necessary to avoid the mistake (commonly made by maudlin humanitarians and Free Traders) of permitting your opponent to win the game. You must have grit and snap and go in to win. The days of idealism and superstition are over. We live in a time of science and hard common sense, and it has now been definitely proved that in any game where two are playing IF ONE DOES NOT WIN THE OTHER WILL." It is all very stirring, of course; but I confess that if I were playing cards I would rather have some decent little book which told me the rules of the game. Beyond the rules of the game it is all a question either of talent or dishonesty; and I will undertake to provide either one or the other—which, it is not for me to say.

Turning over a popular magazine, I find a queer and amusing example. There is an article called "The Instinct that Makes People Rich." It is decorated in front with a formidable portrait of Lord Rothschild. There are many definite methods, honest and dishonest, which make people rich; the only "instinct" I know of which does it is that instinct which theological Christianity crudely describes as "the sin of avarice." That, however, is beside the present point. I wish to quote the following exquisite paragraphs as a piece of typical advice as to how to succeed. It is so practical; it leaves so little doubt about what should be our next step—

"The name of Vanderbilt is synonymous with wealth gained by modern enterprise. 'Cornelius,' the founder of the family, was the first of the great American magnates of commerce. He started as the son of a poor farmer; he ended as a millionaire twenty times over.

"He had the money-making instinct. He seized his opportunities, the opportunities that were given by the application of the steam-engine to ocean traffic, and by the birth of railway locomotion in the wealthy but undeveloped United States of America, and consequently he amassed an immense fortune.

"Now it is, of course, obvious that we cannot all follow exactly in the footsteps of this great railway monarch. The precise opportunities that fell to him do not occur to us. Circumstances have changed. But, although this is so, still, in our own sphere and in our own circumstances, we can follow his general methods; we can seize those opportunities that are given us, and give ourselves a very fair chance of attaining riches."

In such strange utterances we see quite clearly what is really at the bottom of all these articles and books. It is not mere business; it is not even mere cynicism. It is mysticism; the horrible mysticism of money. The writer of that passage did not really have the remotest notion of how Vanderbilt made his money, or of how anybody else is to make his. He does, indeed, conclude his remarks by advocating some scheme; but it has nothing in the world to do with Vanderbilt. He merely wished to prostrate himself before the mystery of a millionaire. For when we really worship anything, we love not only its clearness but its obscurity. We exult in its very invisibility. Thus, for instance, when a man is in love with a woman he takes special pleasure in the fact that a woman is unreasonable. Thus, again, the very pious poet, celebrating his Creator, takes pleasure in saying that God moves in a mysterious way. Now, the writer of the paragraph which I have quoted does not seem to have had anything to do with a god, and I should not think (judging by his extreme unpracticality) that he had ever been really in love with a woman. But the thing he does worship—Vanderbilt—he treats in exactly this mystical manner. He really revels in the fact his deity Vanderbilt is keeping a secret from him. And it fills his soul with a sort of transport of cunning, an ecstasy of priestcraft, that he should pretend to be telling to the multitude that terrible secret which he does not know.

Speaking about the instinct that makes people rich, the same writer remarks---

"In olden days its existence was fully understood. The Greeks enshrined it in the story of Midas, of the 'Golden Touch.' Here was a man who turned everything he laid his hands upon into gold. His life was a progress amidst riches. Out of everything that came in his way he created the precious metal. 'A foolish legend,' said the wiseacres of the Victorian age. 'A truth,' say we of to-day. We all know of such men. We are ever meeting or reading about such persons who turn everything they touch into gold. Success dogs their very footsteps. Their life's pathway leads unerringly upwards. They cannot fail."

Unfortunately, however, Midas could fail; he did. His path did not lead unerringly upward. He starved because whenever he touched a biscuit or a ham sandwich it turned to gold. That was the whole point of the story, though the writer has to suppress it delicately, writing so near to a portrait of Lord Rothschild. The old fables of mankind are, indeed, unfathomably wise; but we must not have them expurgated in the interests of Mr. Vanderbilt. We must not have King Midas represented as an example of success; he was a failure of an unusually painful kind. Also, he had the ears of an ass. Also (like most other prominent and wealthy persons) he endeavoured to conceal the fact. It was his barber (if I remember right) who had to be treated on a confidential footing with regard to this peculiarity; and his barber, instead of behaving like a go-ahead person of the Succeed-at-all-costs school and trying to blackmail King Midas, went away and whispered this splendid piece of society scandal to the reeds, who enjoyed it enormously. It is said that they also whispered it as the winds swayed them to and fro. I look reverently at the portrait of Lord Rothschild; I read reverently about the exploits of Mr. Vanderbilt. I know that I cannot turn everything I touch to gold; but then I also know that I have never tried, having a preference for other substances, such as grass, and good wine. I know that these people have certainly succeeded in something; that they have certainly overcome somebody; I know that they are kings in a sense that no men were ever kings before; that they create markets and bestride continents. Yet it always seems to me that there is some small domestic fact that they are hiding, and I have sometimes thought I heard upon the wind the laughter and whisper of the reeds.

At least, let us hope that we shall all live to see these absurd books about Success covered with a proper derision and neglect. They do not teach people to be successful, but they do teach people to be snobbish; they do spread a sort of evil poetry of worldliness. The Puritans are always denouncing books that inflame lust; what shall we say of books that inflame the viler passions of avarice and pride? A hundred years ago we had the ideal of the Industrious Apprentice; boys were told that by thrift and work they would all become Lord Mayors. This was fallacious, but it was manly, and had a minimum of moral truth. In our society, temperance will not help a poor man to enrich himself, but it may help him to respect himself. Good work will not make him a rich man, but good work may make him a good workman. The Industrious Apprentice rose by virtues few and narrow indeed, but still virtues. But what shall we say of the gospel preached to the new Industrious Apprentice; the Apprentice who rises not by his virtues, but avowedly by his vices?

The "Middle Wife" by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years.
I have two kids
myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own
second grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few
sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually,
show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model
airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never,
ever place any boundaries or
limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk
about it, they're welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing
kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a
pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. "This is Luke, my baby brother,
and I'm going to tell you about his birthday."

"First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad
put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for
nine months through an umbrella cord."

She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not
to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching
her in amazement.

"Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, 'Oh,
Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. "She walked
around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!' (Now this kid is
doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

"My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't
have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mom to lie
down in bed like this." (Then Erica lies down with her back against
the wall.)

"And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case
he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like
psshhheew!" (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming
water flowing away. It was too much!)

"Then the middle wives starts saying 'push, push,' and 'breathe,
breathe.' They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then,
all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff
that they all said it was from Mom's play-centre, (placenta) so there
must be a lot of toys inside there."

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her
seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it's
show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another "Middle
Wife" comes along.

Now you have two choices...laugh and close this page or pass this
along to someone else to spread the laughs. I know what I did!!!

Live every day as if it is your LAST chance to make someone happy!