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Today’s Randomness – Philosophy & Theology and Rush & Tebow

December 12, 2011

So I had my Intro to Philosophy final today, such a relief. This class covered ancient and medieval philosophy, basically the Greeks to Aquinas. I hope I did better on the final than I did on the mid-term; the instructor is a stickler for details spelled out exactly his way even though I get the gist of the subject matter. Setting aside the grade though, I learned so much in this class. It put a whole new light on the secular vs. religious debate, the faith vs. reason debate.

As St. Augustine said in his Confessions, “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” God made us for himself and so we are restless until we find our way back to Him. The Greek philosophy evolved over the centuries, one philosopher building on the next, all the while though they depended on human reason and experience to explain reality. Some of their view points are startlingly close to Christian thought, almost like they had a bit of divine revelation. Even St. Augustine’s eyes were opened to the Trinity by seeing the parallels between the prologue of St. John’s gospel and Plotinus’ explanation of Being.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.( John 1:1-5)

1. The One is all things and no one of them; the source of all things is not all things; all things are its possession ….

But a universe from an unbroken unity, in which there appears no diversity, not even duality?

It is precisely because that is nothing within the One that all things are from it: in order that Being may be brought about, the source must be no Being but Being’s generator, in what is to be thought of as the primal act of generation. Seeking nothing, possessing nothing, lacking nothing, the One is perfect and, in our metaphor, has overflowed, and its exuberance has produced the new: this product has turned again to its begetter and been filled and has become its contemplator and so an Intellectual-Principle.

That station towards the one [the fact that something exists in presence of the One] establishes Being; that vision directed upon the One establishes the Intellectual-Principle; standing towards the One to the end of vision, it is simultaneously Intellectual-Principle and Being; and, attaining resemblance in virtue of this vision, it repeats the act of the One in pouring forth a vast power.

This second outflow is a Form or Idea representing the Divine Intellect as the Divine Intellect represented its own prior, The One.

This active power sprung from essence [from the Intellectual-Principle considered as Being] is Soul.

….. (Plotinus, Six Enneads, #5)

The “only” thing missing in Plotinus’ view point is the Incarnation. But the parallels are there. Human reasoning can take us far along the path of understanding reality, but still, it can only take us so far. After all, we are not God. We can’t comprehend at the same level that He can, and if we get lost along the way we begin to distort reality and pride and sin set in. As class taught us via Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, we are creatures of our Creator and we are nothing without Him. We must continuously call to him for guidance and give thanks and praise; otherwise our fallen nature falls even further.

So how do Rush Limbaugh and Tim Tebow fit into this thought process? On my ride home from class I turned the radio on to check the traffic report and there was Rush ranting about something. He segued to Tim Tebow, the give-glory-to-God football star. Then a caller made a comment – what if the Republicans had a Tim Tebow like leader? I thought it was a great comment. Rush didn’t get it, of course. Most public people these days are so secular, and all success and prosperity is about personal hard work. Of course we need to work hard, but life and its successes are still gifts from God. I’m sure Rush is aware of Tebow’s public displays of Christianity, but it sounded like he just thinks the skills that Tebow brings to the game are plain old leadership qualities; it has nothing to do with his relationship with God. On the contrary it has everything to do with his relationship with God. And based on the successes of Tebow’s team, it sounds like he’s rubbing off on his teammates as well. If we constantly keep in mind our total dependence on God for everything, and we return to Him that which he gives us, then life becomes more bearable, more understandable, and it is easier to share our life with others.

Aristotle said the desire to know is our primary purpose in life. Augustine countered with our primary purpose is to love and be loved; knowledge must give way to love. We still need to know and understand our God and the world, but love is the secret.

UPDATE: Just found some interesting information on Tebow’s father’s ministry. Very sad.

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