Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kraftwerk - Das Model

Kraftwerk - Das Model:
After thirty years, Kraftwerk's "Das Model" is still a popular song, and not just in electronic music circles. In fact, metal groups like Rammstein have covered the song, as well as alternative groups like The Cardigans. Even so, the song is considered by many to be a harbinger in the genre of electronic music. Much like The Beatles' song "Hello Goodbye," this song speaks to how human beings perceive one another. And for that reason, "Das Model" is highly existential in its overall tone. The lyrics talk of how a model has to quickly change her entire disposition whenever there is a camera present. She has to contain a split personality in order to survive the brutally critical world of modeling. She is deeply self-conscious about her appearance and overly self-confident in her talents; a contradiction in outlooks to say the least. Yet the ability of the model to straddle both her personal world and the modeling world is precisely what attracts the singer to her. What's ironic here is that whenever Kraftwerk performs the song, they are in the spotlight just as models are. As a result, the band itself has to adjust to being viewed by hundreds, if not thousands, of pairs of eyes all at once. Certainly, that kind of pressure makes one question the true extent of his or her capabilities.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Conscience of an Atheist

The Conscience of an Atheist: Is the human conscience fundamentally opposed to atheism? It's difficult to see how a rational person could devote full attention to both his conscience and atheistic outlook. The human conscience is, at bottom, wholly oriented toward God. To be clear, every person is naturally endowed by God with a conscience. Like ideas and words, the human conscience has evolved. The question then becomes whether each individual chooses to utilize his conscience. In choosing not to utilize his conscience, man embarks on a basic separation from God. And it's precisely this separation which pushes man to develop ardent beliefs in the material world. Yet atheists believe in more than just matter. They believe in time, energy, mortality, and rationality. To suggest that theists do not hold these beliefs as well is simply ludicrous. Even so, Article 20 of the Catholic Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) states, "Favoring this doctrine [atheism] can be the sense of power which modern technical progress generates in man." This statement effectively captures the origins of atheism; the Industrial Revolution. In short, without God, there would be no atheists, because (a.) He would not have been there to create them in the first place, and ( b.) there would be no One for the atheists to oppose.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Heinrich von Kleist and German Romanticism

Heinrich von Kleist and German Romanticism: As one of the most prodigious authors in the literary genre of German Romanticism, Kleist often lived in the shadows of bigger names like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. He constantly felt pressure to write short stories and perform plays at his very best, especially since most of his critics seemed to express a perpetual disregard for his works. Probably his two most reputable works include Penthesilea (1808) and The Marquise of O (1808). One of Kleist's favorite literary techniques involved the insertion of an anachronistic idea into a historical situation, which could leave the reader both bemused and intrigued. In fact, Mark Twain adopted this technique to write A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889). Above all, Kleist's work epitomized not only class consciousness and misogyny in the Napoleonic Era, but also a distinct penchant for Counter-Enlightenment thinking. In a series of philosophical pamphlets such as On the Gradual Production of Thoughts Whilst Speaking, Kleist advocated the idea of acting before thinking, which certainly qualified as both anti-intellectual and hyper-romantic at the same time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mark Twain: American Cynic

Mark Twain: American Cynic: Twain, whose birth name was Samuel Clemens, once said that "No one but the dead have free speech." Through his notebook, which was published posthumously in 1935, one can peer into the mind of probably the most cynical American literary in the nineteenth century. Some people consider his work to be quite humorous while others find it somewhat troubling. Either way, Twain had a knack for systematically dissecting whatever was most common in American folkways and laying them out for all to see their true colors. Any conventional pattern of behavior or quirky mannerism that held some peculiar value in American society was up for criticism and scrutiny from Twain. Perhaps Twain's staunch cynicism was precisely what drove his literary genius forward. It was undoubtedly the prime catalyzing force behind his 1873 satirical play entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today whereby he sought to expose the vast extent to which avarice had infected postbellum America. In a way, Twain was a true activist. Even though his cynicism was what encouraged him to act in many instances, he certainly did possess the proper intentions when attacking a particular social stigma. And given that Twain lived in what was possibly the most dynamic period of change in American culture, one can better understand his avid skepticism. With so much change, there was bound to be those who doubted and scrutinized; Twain simply made a living out of it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Edgar Allan Poe and Poetry

Edgar Allan Poe and Poetry: The man for whom the word "poetry" is named; well not exactly, but it's an interesting coincidence nonetheless. Along with German existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Poe qualifies as one of the most "insane" writers of the nineteenth century. And it was this insanity which helped him produce some of the most brilliant pieces of writing in the modern literary world. For starters, his poem entitled A Dream within a Dream is eerily similar in content and context to that of Die achte Elegie (The Eighth Duino Elegy) by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and yet, Poe's poem came about seventy years prior. Both poems are wonderful examples of how poets possess the keen ability to trace the gods, and thus, build a bridge between the world of mortality and that of the hereafter. In a sense, one must be able to read Poe and realize that his language is highly theosophical. That is, it contains a vibrant mix of both theological and philosophical sentiments. For instance, in his epic "prose poem" entitled Eureka, Poe seeks to formulate a comprehensive understanding of the universe through a wide variety of intuitive suggestions. Think of it as a massive plate of food for thought. Even so, Poe's food is apparently quite tasty, as there is a plethora of scholars dedicated to studying his works.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Facing the Consequences of Being

Facing the Consequences of Being: Breathe! Not too much though, for you might inhale some of the carbon monoxide coming from that flaming car! What a way to go out! Smoke inhalation - isn't that nice? And yet it is happening all the time to those who smoke cigarettes. Ah, the consequences stemming from human actions are dreadfully serious, but when is man going to realize this rather mundane fact? Where is Mr. Discipline when you need him? It seems to me that he has been on a permanent vacation to Never Never Land since the end of World War II. The fate of Western civilization rests on the shoulders of Mr. Discipline. He taught us how to export more than import. He taught us how to produce more than consume. And he taught us how to win more than lose. Perhaps Mr. Discipline was wearing a mask when he taught us Westerners how to thrive. Maybe his real name is Confucius, and quite frankly, the way the Chinese are prospering these days, that idea would not be all that unbelievable. Even so, as a self-indulgent individual who comes from a decadent Western society, I tend to endorse the notion that once man starts something, he simply cannot help himself to stop.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Mighty Blackstone River

The Mighty Blackstone River: Is there any part of modern living today that does not reap the benefits of industrialization? It was so keen how rivers (Nature's highways) had flooded the lands so they could be made fertile, and yet today, man seeks to control the river with his intricate methods of irrigation. But what about the process of industrialization? Why did man betray the river? Rivers used to make lands naturally arable. Now, man makes the river work for him by harnessing its great powers for industrial gains like electricity. Where is the divine justice for Nature? Could it be held in the dreaded flood? Or the bitter yet subtle existence of erosion? Floods and erosion never used to be seen as a problem. That's because property was never considered valuable if it was located on a river's flood plain. When did value get assigned to property that exists on risqué grounds - like those multi-million dollar mansions that sit on canyon cliffs in Malibu, California? Aside from floods and erosion, it was the sheer force of a river's current that drove the early mill wheels of American industry. And ultimately, Americans can trace their collective industrial heritage back to the mighty Blackstone River and the factory-infested path that it carved through the rocky ledge of Southern New England.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Roentgen's X-ray Radiation

Roentgen's X-ray Radiation: In late 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-ray radiation. This discovery would eventually land him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. At the time, many people did not quite understand the magnitude of Roentgen's achievement. Yet it soon became clear that he had stumbled upon something vastly significant for the advancement of not only medicine, but also for science as a whole. Comprehending the physics behind such a discovery is mind-boggling, but then again, so is the physics behind most of mankind's everyday appliances like the microwave and the television. And that is one area where modern-day society is falling apart. Man is no longer required to possess a working knowledge of the complicated technologies that surround him on a daily basis. Fifty years ago, people understood how their cars operated. It was a typical father-son bonding experience to get out there and change the oil of the family Oldsmobile. Nowadays, changing the oil is a highly sophisticated process with strict environmental regulations due in large part to the increased use of computers in cars. When will the final straw break? When will man realize that the more he employs advanced technologies, of which only a select few understand, the more he will increase his chances of creating what Heidegger calls the "Supreme Danger?"

Monday, September 1, 2008

John-Paul Sartre and Sickness

Jean-Paul Sartre and Sickness: Classically absurd and yet classically French are two characterizations often attributed to Sartre's first novel Nausea. Published in 1938, it is widely regarded as a quintessential work in existential literature. In fact, the protagonist, Antoine Roquentin, finds it increasingly difficult to define himself as a human being in the circumstances surrounding modern life. He is eerily similar to the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Roquentin sees other people living according to the way in which they perceive themselves in the mirror every morning. The superficiality behind such actions truly starts to affect him in a nauseating, albeit existential, fashion. So what is the cure to this nausea that masquerades among inanimate objects and presents itself on the breaths of other people? There is no cure. People like Roquentin try to seek refuge in the domain of their inner Selves; however, that just leads to more sickness. Perhaps Sartre said it best when he stated that "Genius is what a man invents when he is looking for a way out." This statement surely encapsulates a variety of sentiments echoed throughout existentialist literature. And even Sartre himself refused to be labeled anything other than a pure exception, as he declined the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Complete Justice = Complete Catastrophe

Complete Justice = Complete Catastrophe: Ecophilosopher Garrett Hardin considers this equation as central to its core principles. In his 1968 essay titled "The Tragedy of the Commons," Hardin explains how every rational being will seek to maximize his or her gain in the event that everything becomes the common property of all. Some see this notion as a seething critique of communism, and in particular, the Soviet farming policies related to collectivization. One way to solve the problems stemming from common ownership is to advocate a policy of privatization whereby only a limited number of people have access to certain resources. Given that the world itself possesses only a finite body of goods, man must put into place a series of control measures with respect to the environment. For Hardin, an area in dire need of regulation is the burgeoning growth of human population. He firmly believes that the freedom to breed, as laid out in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), is an insidious concept. The primary basis for his reasoning stems from the fact that those who have many descendants are actually doing a serious disservice to society in the sense that they consume more resources in safeguarding their well-beings. Although people have characterized Hardin as being both aloof and cynical, he has certainly hit upon something important (like the Malthusian limit).

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ontology vs. Technology

Ontology vs. Technology: In Martin Heidegger's essay The Question Concerning Technology (1950), he refers to nature as "The Enframing" whereby a systematic ordering of the landscape by mankind has resulted in a seemingly unrecognizable and irreversible situation that constitutes our present condition in the world. Not being able to recognize and understand the changes brought by technology to the Earth and to the Self holds drastic consequences for the future. Today, mankind can operate a high-definition television or a super-charged automobile without having to comprehend even an inkling about the physics behind their respective operations. And this is precisely where the fields of science and technology have come to supplant the most basic and primal elements of man's being-in-the-world. For example, the above picture is the Sylmar Cascades in Southern California, which serve as the Los Angeles Aqueduct's terminus. Without the Sylmar Cascades, which require vast amounts of energy to pump mass quantities of water through the Newhall Pass, more than ten million people in Los Angeles County would be facing a serious water crisis (not that they already are). And how many Angelenos truly understand the survivalist implications of such a technological apparatus?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ludwig Wittgenstein and Wonderment

Ludwig Wittgenstein and Wonderment: In his Philosophical Investigations (published posthumously in 1953), Wittgenstein offers a variety of novel interpretations regarding the true nature of analytic philosophy. Concerning philosophy itself, Wittgenstein claims that all philosophical problems stem from a mere misunderstanding of language. What one person means by the word "phenomenology" for example, may be radically different from what another person means by it. Although there may be a general, philosophical definition of the word "phenomenology," the definition is postulated with a set of words that inevitably projects a so-called "meaning" onto it. Therefore, one cannot actually satisfy the logical conditions necessitated for a "meaning" rooted in language, especially since language itself constitutes an ever-expanding group of words with meanings that often presuppose their use(s). In this instance, Wittgenstein demonstrates how the "meaning" of any particular word presupposes our capabilities of using it to articulate or develop an effective manner of communication. Thus, even though language is fundamentally a public phenomenon, as one person utilizes it to communicate with another person, it is ultimately formulated in the private constructs of the mind.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Ineffability of Modernity

The Ineffability of Modernity: What's that sound? That sound that eerily creeps up behind you when you walk down the street. Is it the sound of urban sprawl? Is it the sound of reindustrialization? It's catching up with you every moment of your existence on the Earth. There is no exit. Nobody can escape the sound. It's delicate and ineffable at the same time. It masks itself as progress. Machines working hither and thither, cars traveling to and fro, planes taking off and landing, but it's all helter-skelter in the end, right? Yet we are creatures of the 21st century. And what does that mean? In a way, man has certainly lost his ability to know himself. Likewise, Articulating what it means to be a human being in the 21st century has become nearly impossible. People who define themselves by their material possessions only get distracted and lost in them over the long term. Thus, man has created the infamous Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), just as he has with various other social anxiety disorders. But it's that SOUND which clouds each one of our individual concerns, and until we learn to transcend that SOUND, we will be locked in this vicious cycle of modernity.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Origins of Mechanized Warfare

The Origins of Mechanized Warfare: Achtung - Panzer! is a book by long-standing German General Heinz Guderian. First published in 1937, the book remains stalwart in the face of contemporary military strategy whereby the deployment of mechanized, armored divisions is central. The prospect of marrying army divisions with tanks, mortars, and other forms of mechanized artillery was a rather novel concept at the outset of World War II in Europe. Similar calls for mechanization were asserted by French commander Charles de Gaulle in the 1930s, but those calls were not heeded in France like they were in Germany. And it is fair to say that these innovative war tactics, embraced by the Germans, were a major reason why the Battle of France (Fall Gelb) lasted a mere two months in May and June 1940. As a result of Guderian's treatise on mechanized warfare, the German Army fashioned a series of Panzer Korps in order to bring his war theories to fruition. These Panzer Korps were outfitted with German Panzer and Tiger tanks which relied more on speed and nimbleness instead of armor and defense like the French FT-17.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Ripples of Divine Revelation

The Ripples of Divine Revelation: The penultimate Pastoral Constitution to originate from the Second Vatican Council in November 1965 was Dei Verbum (Word of God). And in this fundamental Catholic document, the Church discussed the nature of God's Word, as revealed to man in the form of Sacred Scripture. Karl Barth, who was a Protestant theologian of Swiss heritage, explicated much about the nature of divine revelation in his thirteen-part volume Church Dogmatics. For the most part, Barth claims that theology itself is NOT the Word of God, but rather Christ-in-the-world embodies the Word of God. To him, the Church was the eyewitness of Christ-in-the-world, or what Kierkegaard referred to as "The Instant." From the moment Christ set foot on the Earth, divine revelation began rippling outward in all directions, like when somebody throws a rock into a pond. In reference to Dei Verbum, the Catholic Church saw the existence of Christ in human form (and in history) as the glowing beacon to which all people ought to aspire. But this Christlike model depends on the fact that it was God with whom man was communicating. And like Barth said, "The goal of human life is not death, but resurrection." This statement blissfully encompassed all there ever was and all there is to be in this world.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Business Ethics

Business Ethics: It seems to me that there is a contradiction in the term "business ethics." On one hand, "business" implies a certain degree of self-interest while on the other hand, "ethics" calls for a universal recognition of proper behavioral practices. Therefore, business ethics is fundamentally about finding an appropriate balance between the self-interests of business and the universal interests of ethics. Yet how does one come to find this balance? Well, for one thing, locating this delicate balance must come from within the individual. That is, a person in pursuit of business ethics must possess faith in the virtue of justice. Having even a limited understanding of the role that justice plays in the business world will put a man leaps and bounds ahead of his so-called "uninformed" colleagues. In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004), the concept of business ethics has become distorted by the postmodern drive for commercialism in the world's industrialized nations (G8). Perkins highlights the issue of giving monetary aid to the Third World in the form of categorical grants and strings-attached loans. To burden the Third World with debt is to control their resources, and thus, control their people.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Native American Bind

The Native American Bind: How have the Native Americans found themselves in a serious bind today? Well, if we look to history, we find that there was not much a choice for these people. Native Americans, on the whole, see themselves as integral parts of the land, not as superior beings who challenge nature through reason, science, and the will to power. Right here, we find our first fundamental tenet of Native American culture which appears to be at odds with the Western (Christian) world. Whereas Christians view the world and everything in it, including plants, animals, and other resources, as existing for man's use; Native Americans attempt to live in harmony with the Earth by not altering it in any significant fashion. An example that speaks greatly to this contradiction is the natural phenomenon in weather known as a drought. When a drought, or lack of water, becomes a problem in the Western world, rivers are dammed, canals are constructed, and aqueducts are laid so as to prevent any sort of recurring water shortages. For Native Americans, a drought is a natural component of the land, and therefore, it should be handled in a harmonious manner. Although Native American methods for managing natural catastrophes tend to be labeled as "primitive," many of the so-called environmental crises in the Western world, like toxic waste, are complete non-issues for Native peoples. Thus, Western man has in fact created a lot of his own problems.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Secularization of Original Sin

The Secularization of Original Sin: In Section 38 of Being and Time (1927), German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger offers a secularized version of the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. Just as the birth of every Christian is fundamentally marked by sin, so to is the birth of every human being. Yet sin is not the term used to describe this affliction, since it is religiously loaded. For the most part, Heidegger asserts that man finds himself "thrown" into his worldly existence and that his subsequent life is "entangled" in a number of predetermined features like race, class, and gender. The two German terms Heidegger uses in his writing are Verfallenheit (Entanglement) and Geworfenheit (Throwness). Both terms are related to the basic element of chaos (non-existence) that constantly hangs over every human life. And it is precisely this notion of chaos which pushes man into a state of anxiety (Die Anfechtung) over his seemingly finite, fragile, and solitary existence in the world. For Christians, however, the sacrament of Baptism is the manner through which this Original Sin is wiped clean. Even so, Heidegger claims that man can never fully eliminate the affliction of anxiety in his life, especially since it constitutes an elemental aspect of being-in-the-world. In short, man is always on the verge of non-existence, and therefore, he will consistently find anxiety waiting to consume his everyday state-of-being.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Either Faith or Reason or Both?

Either Faith or Reason or Both?: It would seem, at least on the surface, that faith and reason are two fundamentally incompatible concepts. Faith begins precisely where speaking ends. And if the spoken word is one of the major signals of reason, then it would appear that faith constitutes a diametrically opposing idea to reason. In fact, faith is often viewed as a primary tenet of the irrational side to the human experience. Aside from speaking, faith also begins where thinking ends. In effect, the mind has to shut out all possibilities of the "other" in order to engage fully in the process of faith. Defining the "other" is important insofar as it relates to faith. Basically, the "other" is anything that seeks to attack, disprove, or unravel faith. Scientific proofs and other forms of hard data are the common ways that humans attempt to shake and test faith. For this reason, it is rather simple to see the rise of science and technology as a potential barrier to building and growing one's faith. And if what French mathematician and Catholic apologist Blaise Pascal says is correct, then God is "infinitely incomprehensible," and therefore, Christians cannot rationally defend and/or explain their faith.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Schopenhauer the Hedgehog

Schopenhauer the Hedgehog: In 1851, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer expounded his conception of "The Hedgehog's Dilemma" in his work Parerga und Paralipomena. For the most part, this dilemma is concerned with the idea that hedgehog's can only get so close to one another before they inevitably hurt each other with their spiny backs. (In fact, just for clarification, hedgehogs do not possess "large" spines on their backsides. There might have been an error in translation from the German to the English with regard to porcupines and hedgehogs.) Regardless, Schopenhauer takes this apparent paradox in the animal rationale and applies it to the human condition. That is, when two people become close with each other, most likely married couples or good friends, the potential for hurting one another is a lot greater than if the two people were unacquainted. At the same time, if two people who know each other well remain apart for a long period of time, then the mental anguish of loneliness may start to consume them. In coping with this dilemma, man is often inclined to turn inward and become anti-social, as this act appears to be the best way of safeguarding his dignity. Needless to say, the hedgehog's dilemma has become a popular concept in psychology, as couples seeking marriage counseling are made aware of this contradiction. The ultimate solution to this problem of human interaction seems to involve the locating of an optimal distance between subjects. In other words, finding a so-called "comfort zone" is the key to coexistence.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Zion and Its Elders

Zion and Its Elders: Pictured above is Theodor Herzl, the man who is often considered the primary founder of modern Political Zionism. He was a Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist living in the latter half of the nineteenth century. At the time, Europe saw the rapid growth of anti-Semitism in numerous countries like Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Russia. Even France could not eradicate its virulent anti-Semitic forces, as it plunged into a decade-long dilemma known as the Dreyfus Affair. It was this incident in France that caught the attention of Herzl. As a result, he decided to dedicate his time and effort to the creation and promotion of a back to Palestine movement (Zionism) for the Jewish peoples around the world. Such a concept was not new, it had existed ever since the days of the Jewish diaspora. However, the most novel feature of this movement was the fact that it contained vast socio-political implications for the European Jewry. As the rise of nationalism swept over Europe throughout the nineteenth century, the Jews were consistently set apart from any sort of grandiose nationalistic vision, which tended to be vaguely "Christian" in nature. And since they were frequently seen as a nation within a nation, European Jews needed a refuge where they could be free from the persistent persecution that they faced in the form of pogroms. Unfortunately for Herzl and other Zionist leaders, securing a place for the Jewish people in an area that was dominated by Muslims of the Ottoman Empire would prove quite difficult.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Defense or Healthcare?

Defense or Healthcare?: In the United States today, there is an overgrown elephant in people's living rooms that nobody is discussing. This elephant is draining the economic resources of the country at an increasingly rapid pace. But who is this elephant and when did he arrive in Americans' living rooms? Well, his name is the War on Terror and he showed up shortly following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Back then, the U.S. economy was thrown into a recession, and some economists would argue that the increase in defense spending after 2001 helped the economy to recover by early 2003. Nevertheless, as this national security crisis lingers over the U.S., there looms another major dilemma and it is called healthcare. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals, doctors, and drug companies are dropping on an annual basis. Millions of Americans cannot afford adequate health insurance. So, how should the U.S. arrange its priorities in the not-so-distant future? Should it choose a strong national defense or a strong healthcare system? Is national security the best way to ensure freedom or is good health the greatest form of wealth?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Catholicism and Monarchy

Catholicism and Monarchy: Any Catholic ought to understand the innately monarchical structure under which the Church operates. And as the period of Lent approaches, it becomes important for Catholics to reflect on the nature of the Church. Why is it inherently exclusive? Why is it so slow to change its Catechism? Why is the Pope the "Supreme Pontiff"? These questions beg American Catholics to ponder their ultimate allegiance. As a Catholic in the U.S., with whom should I side? The President or the Pope? Democracy or Monarchy? Is there truly a middle ground? Wars have been waged over these kinds of questions. Take King Henry VIII in England for example. He did not see eye-to-eye with the Pope, especially when it came to the sacrament of matrimony. As a result, he broke away from the Catholic Church and formed the Anglican Church, or what is known as the Episcopalian Church in the United States. The English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of the seventeenth century essentially occurred in reaction to Henry VIII's controversial maneuver. Even so, where does the Pope derive his monarchical authority? In effect, every Pope, who is ironically "ELECTED" by the College of Cardinals, assumes the throne given to Simon Peter by Christ. Therefore, Simon Peter (Saint Peter), one of Christ's Twelve Apostles, was ordained the first Pope by Christ himself to spread the "Good News" of the Gospels. And Peter was subsequently crucified (upside down at his request) for the role he played in promulgating Christianity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Carl Jung's "Collective Unconscious"

Carl Jung's "Collective Unconscious": Grappling with the collective unconscious is particularly difficult for the white man. In effect, the collective unconscious is an idea put forth by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (pictured above c.1910) and it constitutes a memory bank of all human experiences. As a result, every rational being has access to this unconscious storage place. Unfortunately for the white European, certain dark areas of his history have left indelible scars within the collective human psyche. Slavery serves as one dark area with which the white man must deal. Today, whenever a white man encounters a black man with an ostensibly Anglicized last name like "Smith" or "Bond," an eerie feeling creeps down the white man's neck for this is a tell-tale sign of a lineage of slavery. And although the white man did not personally participate in the forced bondage of the black man, he cannot help but feel the guilt that is inevitably thrust upon him by the collective unconscious. In many respects, the collective unconscious acts as a constant reminder of all past human experiences, and for the most part, it works through a series of what Jung called "archetypal images." An image, such as a black man hanging from a tree by a noose, triggers a visceral reaction to the atrocities of the past, and thus, a process of reconciliation between whites and blacks ought to ensue as a result.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Catholicism as Cannibalism?

Catholicism as Cannibalism?: When Catholics receive the "Body of Christ" in the form of a consecrated piece of bread, they assume Christ-like qualities. That is, through the ingestion of the sacramental bread (host), Christians become infused with the Holy Spirit, and thus, attempt to recenter their lives on the principles of love, forgiveness, and humility. To some non-Christians, however, the symbolic eating of Christ's body appears as a cannibalistic act. Ingesting the body of God is certainly a unique feature of Catholic Christianity. Other Christian sects view this act as blasphemous, especially considering the presumed arrogance of someone to think that he or she is worthy of consuming a piece of the Divine. Even so, for Catholics, the sacrament of the Eucharist is the source of all life, and thus, the most important part of weekly mass celebrations. Also referred to as the "Lord's Supper," Catholics gather in Church to seek unity with Christ. This union of the human and the Divine, of the finite and the Infinite, of the temporal and the Eternal, is an essential part of the "Mystery of Faith" whereby the bread on the altar effectively becomes God through the process of transubstantiation.