Saturday, April 11, 2009

What else dies with Christ?

Several years back, I overheard a fellow making light of the Easter event. Speaking on the phone to another, he rhetorically asked, “isn’t that [Easter] the day you celebrate when your god popped out of the ground?” Now, I’m sure the person on the other end was no learned theologian, and I have no idea what he thought or how he responded, but in my mind was almost instantly conceived the other side of my irreverent friends’ logic, which a-priori allows for no such miracle. For I immediately thought, well, then, what else has just popped out of the ground, so to speak, which my friend would have us bury beneath the dirt of trivialization? If a God does not exist - who, in principle, is able to do such a thing - then what of worth and value is there left not to shovel into meaninglessness?

Indeed, the choices seem simple to me. Either, (1) God exists, therefore purpose exists, or (2) God does not exist, and therefore life is meaningless. If the first option is the case, then why would we restrict God’s right possibly to act in such a way as Christians believe He has through Christ? But let me not stray too far from the main point, which must be a defense of what I said are the two simple choices; for all too often the reaction to this black and white statement is that the reader thinks it’s too black and white. Here, then is my reply.

As rational beings, our first-person perspective is governed by the laws of logic, which are universal. We know, therefore, that another person, who violates logic, is wrong – we can thus, at times, speak universally. If there are two apples on the table, two on the chair, and two on the floor, we know there are six apples in the room, and that anyone and everyone who says there are five is wrong. Well, we can likewise speak universally about the connection between moral acts, universally, but only if the object, or goal, is the same for all people. For moral acts are always made with some end in mind; as Aristotle said,

[W]e call that which is in itself worthy of pursuit more final than that which is worthy of pursuit for the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable for the sake of something else more final than the things that are desirable both in themselves and for the sake of that other thing, and therefore we call final without qualification that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else.

He then goes on,

Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for this we choose always for itself and never for the sake of something else, but honour, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed for themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should still choose each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness, on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in general, for anything other than itself.

But if there is no actual, eternal end, or goal, which is the cause of our desire for happiness, and which will grant us happiness once we’ve attained it, then this moral relationship to others, which is a perception of a logical connection based on this goal of our rational existence, is all meaningless illusion.

If choices, and courses of action, cannot be judged by reason according to an actual standard to which all are bound, and are, instead, a matter of individual taste, or what we call preference, then no one can say a choice or a course of action is really right or wrong, only that, based on feelings, one prefers this or that choice or course of action. This would mean, in real terms, that a sick-o child molester is no more wrong in his acts than you are for not wanting the child molested, or, put conversely, that you are no more right in not wanting the child molested than he is in his acts.

It seems, therefore, that my friend would bury more than just a belief in Christ, and that meaning itself depends upon his rising from death – and from the dirt of trivialization.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Who killed Christ?

When watching a movie like the Passion of Christ, or reading the gospel stories of the Passion, some people miss the personal dimension, thus the personal impact, and instead blame the Jews. Be we have to remember Aristotle's four causes here. The four causes are the material cause, the efficient cause, the formal cause, and the final cause. In short, the matter involved, the performers involved, the plan involved, and the purpose involved. Related to our subject, the material cause of Jesus' death is things like the cross, nails, and such. The efficient cause of Jesus death were, indeed, the Jews involved (whom Christ forgave as he died) -- and the Romans. The plan involved was God's plan. However, every single individual being is the final cause, for the purpose was to enable Christ to save us from sin; since we engage in sin, then WE are the very purpose for all the rest. We, therefore, have crucified Christ. I weep as I watch the Passion of Christ because I am doing those things to Jesus.