Near Death, Nearer to God

by Joseph Pearce

I would not describe myself as a mystic, nor would I say that I am particularly attracted to mysticism. On the contrary, I tend to shy away from such things. I would even go so far as to say that I have a sneaking sympathy for Ronald Knox’s quip (or was it Newman’s) that mysticism begins in mist and ends in schism.

It’s not that I don’t respect mysticism—as long as it is grounded in orthodoxy. I have a great love for the mystical meanderings of St. John of the Cross, and who but a fool does not have profound respect for the feisty spiritual levitations of St. Teresa of Avila?

It’s just that I have always been more comfortable with the union of faith and reason to be found in Augustine or Aquinas than in the surrender of the sense and the senses to transcendental flights of selfless self-discovery.

There are exceptions. I can lose myself in the presence of beauty, be it the beauty of nature or the beauty of art, as Hopkins does, or as the great Romantics do: losing myself in the beauty so that I can discover God’s presence there, and, in so doing, find myself more deeply through the very losing of the self in the transport of delight.

In any event, this rather perambulating preamble serves to illustrate, I hope, that I am uncomfortable with any feeling that could be labeled as “mystical.” And yet, a few days ago, I had a near-death experience that can only be described as deeply mystical in a really life-changing way. Indeed, I will never be the same again.

waspIt all began in the early evening as I was weeding kudzu from the woods on our property, a worthy but wearying endeavor that can be likened to the Long Defeat of which Tolkien writes. Suddenly I was aware of dozens of needles shooting searing pain into my body. I had disturbed a wasps’ nest. Somehow the vesperish hordes had managed to get inside my clothing and were venting their venomous spleen on my defenseless skin. Needless to say I beat a hasty retreat to my home and removed the items of clothing as expeditiously as possible.

The worst was now over—or so I thought….

Read the original article here

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50 Responses to Near Death, Nearer to God

  1. It was Monsignor Ronald Knox who said, “Mysticism begins in mist and ends in schism.”

    Maybe he should have added, “Sometimes.”

  2. Robert says:

    His experiences match those of the Southampton Hospital study and where Consciousness exists after death. Its hardly new and is found for instance in Homer Iliad with Achilles and Patrocolus. Why call this mystical? The Bible is replete with raising from the dead sic Elias and the widows Son. Jonah’s story was confirmed by Our Lord and expressly refered to by Him.
    The Sacraments are just taken for granted but their Supernatural character is forgotten What is so correct here is that the author is finding God in His Creation, in His works.
    This is the error of modernism for all its rationalism and scientific research it denies the works of the Author and Creator. Modernism begins in rationalism and ends in atheism.

  3. GC says:

    It’s just that I have always been more comfortable with the union of faith and reason to be found in Augustine or Aquinas than in the surrender of the sense and the senses to transcendental flights of selfless self-discovery.

    However, Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón, the general of the Jesuits and, like Toad, a son of the province of Palencia in Castile and León*, had this to say:

    (Religion is less a code of doctrines and moral teachings than it is a sensitivity) to the dimensions of transcendence that underlie our human experiences, , , , (Nicolás linked this sensitivity and openness to) transcendence, depth, gratuity, and beauty to the appreciation of music.

    . . .Religion is first of all very much more like this musical sense than a rational system of teachings and explanations . . .

    . . . We are not in education for proselytism . . . but for transformation. We want to form a new kind of humanity that is musical, that retains this sensitivity to beauty, to goodness, to the suffering of others, to compassion. . . . But of course, this is a sensitivity that is threatened today by a purely economic or materialist mindset which deadens this sensitivity to deeper dimensions of reality.

    Nice to see the general of the Jesuits agreeing with me and putting reason in its place.

    *Toad was probably adopted, though.

  4. Robert says:

    Its called Faith a belief in things unseen.
    The Apostles Creed

  5. johnhenrycn says:

    Joseph Pearce has an interesting history that I wasn’t aware of until today:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Pearce#National_Front

  6. Tom Fisher says:

    That’s interesting JH, by coincidence I’ve recently bought Small is Still Beautiful from Amazon (it should arrive in NZ by late 2020) – I take some comfort in this line from your link:

    He attributes his subsequent religious conversion, from a culturally-Protestant agnosticism, to reading G. K. Chesterton, of whom he wrote a much-praised biography. He now repudiates his earlier views, saying that his racism stemmed from hatred, and that his conversion to Christian belief completely changed his outlook

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    Hi, TF: You’re right to mention his conversion. Pearce admits with candour his mistakes as a younger man and, by all accounts, he’s made many positive contributions since turning away from them. For most people, not just Pearce, the path to righteousness is a long and winding on.

    Pearce has written an autobiography Race With the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love, which one reviewer describes as written “with the throbbing pace of a Graham Greene novel” and which another praises for showing how “the dividing line between good and evil does not run through nations or parties but through the soul of every human being”; and in expiation for my oversight in not mentioning it in my original comment, I’ve placed it on my wish list. Cheers.

  8. toadspittle says:

    “…Religion is first of all very much more like this musical sense than a rational system of teachings and explanations..

    Absolutely right. That ‘s why some people think Elvis is The King, while others think Elgar is a bit more worth while listening to. (although, in that case, for a very minority audience – certainly.)

    All a matter of taste – very largely dependent on what your Mum and Dad thought. That’s where we get virtually all our rock-solid “faiths” from, isn’t it?
    Quite right too. And it’s just as good a way as any.

    If we, all of us, had been born in Mecca to Muslim parents we wouldn’t be bloviating here on CP&S in the first place, would we? We’d all be on IslamP&S, shooting our mouths off, wouldn’t we?
    And that is an unvarnished fact, I humbly suggest.
    Religion is more a matter of geography and history than “reality,” I further suggest. If I’d been unfortunate enough to have been born in Mexico in 1491, I’d have been an Aztec – or something equally daft – playing football with other people’s heads. Would that be my fault? (Yes, Toad.)

    But I might be wrong, as usual.

  9. toadspittle says:

    ….and where Consciousness exists after death. Its hardly new…”

    [Moderator – How many times do you have to be reminded that this is a CATHOLIC blog, Toad? One sentence removed for its “twaddle”]

    Rogebert – when we die – that’s it. We are longer related to life as we know it.
    …Even you.
    For all I know, all manner of strange things may happen to me after my death. Or, possibly, none at all. I don’t know which. And there is no sensible way of knowing. So we, and I, must wait and see.

  10. Tom Fisher says:

    How many times do you have to be reminded that this is a CATHOLIC blog, Toad? One sentence removed for its “twaddle”

    What was the sentence?

  11. Michael says:

    Religion is more a matter of geography and history than “reality,” I further suggest.

    The hows, wheres and whys of where particular religions emerge have no bearing on the truth of what they claim for themselves. The question of how people are dispersed around the earth, and what a lot of them therefore end up believing, is a valid one, but this has nothing to do with whether any particular religion does or does not testify to ultimate reality.

    when we die – that’s it. We are longer related to life as we know it.

    And how do you know that? Given that you’ve often criticised others for claiming we can know that there is life after death in some way continuous with this life, how can you claim with such certainty that there isn’t?

    As for Epicureanism, I think a passage from the article JH linked to provides a fairly good critique:

    The point of life was pleasure, by which he meant not luxury and excitement but the purring detachment of a somewhat self-satisfied philosopher. The roots of this doctrine are philosophical, though in Lucretius the philosophical patter largely serves one of those consolatory versions of the art of living that are hard to distinguish from do-it-yourself religions.

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad said something yesterday at 20:14 that’s garnered 5 down votes, referring to his ‘observation’ that people born into a given faith tradition are likely to remain part of it for life. I think most accept the truth of that revelation, however trite, but it ignores the essential and easy-to-prove point that rates of conversions from one religion to another are statistically significant. It is not “all a matter of taste” nor of “geography and history” as Professor Toad would have us believe:
    A Wind In The House Of Islam: How God Is Drawing Muslims Around The World To Faith In Jesus Christ.
    Meanwhile:

    ”It is a fact that Islam is growing rapidly in the West. In the U.S. alone the number of Muslims has risen dramatically, from about 10,000 in 1900 to 3 million or more in 1991 (some authorities say 4.5 million). Most of this growth is due to recent immigration and the high birth rate of Muslims … Still, the number of those who convert to Islam is significant. In the U.S., the majority are African-American…but there have also been significant numbers of Anglos to convert as well, many of them well-educated… “

    WhyAre So Many Westerners Converting To Islam?

    In short: religion switching – sometimes good, sometimes not – is frequent, indeed commonplace.

    Another essential point in reply to the Perfidious Professor’s platitude about natural born Aztecs (or whatever) being virtually locked into their religion is that whether evangelism is effective or not, we have been commanded to engage in missions. The actual number of people fearless enough to convert from Islam to Christianity is irrelevant when considering whether or not to obey Our Lord.

  13. kathleen says:

    That’s a really interesting comment, JH, with some equally interesting links. Well, well – so it is the modern systems of communication that are the princiiple evangelising ‘tools’ bringing knowledge of Christ to people denied Him!

    There are most likely a far greater number of Muslims who would like to reach out to embrace Christianity, but who dare not or who cannot, either for practical reasons, or for fear of reprisals for themselves and their families. Do you remember this CP&S post that was a ‘top story’ on our blog for many months?
    https://catholicismpure.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/jesus-instead-of-jihad-every-year-six-million-muslims-convert-to-christianity/
    GC thinks the figures are exaggerated – they surely are – but certainly the true figures are nonetheless a lot higher than the official ones given… perhaps as a method of protecting the societies where most of the converts reside.

    Afro-Americans gave perceived “racism” as their reason for embracing Islam; IOW, as a sort of protest for being marginalised by whites – or so they appear to see it! Really?
    The main factor given by one of the Anglo-Americans for converting to Islam from Christianity, was for Islam’s “direction and discipline”! What? Is there neither “direction” nor “discipline” in the fullness of Christianity, i.e. Catholicism? Of course there is, and with far greater raison d’être for both than in Islam, a religion based solely on the irrational ravings of a bellicose tyrant. But then I suppose this person was coming from a watered-down type of Christianity, a feminised, uninspiring version of true Christianity which perhaps he never had the chance to discover – what a shame!

  14. toadspittle says:

    “And how do you know that? Given that you’ve often criticised others for claiming we can know that there is life after death in some way continuous with this life, how can you claim with such certainty that there isn’t?”
    Fie, Michael! I don’t know it! Read it again. Maybe I should have said, “When we die, we are no longer in a position to speculate on the hereafter. (At least, not in the same position) ” I didn’t say I knew for certain what will, or won’t, happen. Any more than you do.
    As to certainty, I’m fairly certain it doesn’t exist.

    “Afro-Americans gave perceived “racism” as their reason for embracing Islam; IOW, as a sort of protest for being marginalised by whites – or so they appear to see it! Really?”
    Yes, really, Kathleen. A few blacks exchanged one form of racism – as they saw Christianity – for a less unacceptable one – Islam (or at least their own weird reading of it). They really did. They linked Christianity with their earlier slavery in the U.S. Can’t think why.
    Can you?

  15. toadspittle says:

    Professor Toad did not say it was all a matter of geography and history, JH. – a very great deal of it, certainly* possibly 80% – 90%? But, yes, he certainly did say it is all a matter of taste.
    Because it is.
    It was to your taste to become a Catholic. So you did. Perfectly OK. Millions of people do, or have done, likewise.

    *!

  16. kathleen says:

    Toad @ 6:12 declares:

    As to certainty, I’m fairly certain it [the hereafter] doesn’t exist.

    Well, you don’t have long to wait now, old buddy, to discover your mistake!😉

    Reminds me of the story of the woman who confronted Padre Pio proclaiming boldly, “You can’t scare me; I don’t believe in Hell!” He looked deep into her eyes and replied sadly, “Well, you will when you get there.”

    Let’s not ‘waste’ our precious time on Earth resisting the Beloved’s constant knocking at the doors of our heart, calling us towards Him. Pray for the gift of Faith.

  17. Michael says:

    Fie, Michael! I don’t know it! Read it again. Maybe I should have said, “When we die, we are no longer in a position to speculate on the hereafter.

    Mea culpa Toad – to be honest, I realised my mistake almost as soon as I’d hit ‘post comment’, but I thought it’d be interesting to see the result. I’m pleased it resulted in at least one representative example of (tongue-in-cheek) toadality (c.f.; ‘As to certainty, I’m fairly certain it doesn’t exist.’) at any rate🙂

    Professor Toad did not say it was all a matter of geography and history

    Yes, but he did seem to greatly overstate the effects these things have, to the point of saying that it has more to do with them than with ‘reality’. And now you really have claimed that it is all a matter of taste, which is even more nonsensical – are you really suggesting that people convert to one religion or another simply because it suits their preferences, in the same way that people might, for example, choose one flavour of ice-cream over another? This doesn’t seem to fit with the great many sacrifices people make as a result of those conversions, or even with the persisting in a religion they received from their parents (e.g.; Christians in Muslim countries).

  18. kathleen says:

    “Afro-Americans gave perceived “racism” as their reason for embracing Islam; IOW, as a sort of protest for being marginalised by whites – or so they appear to see it! Really?”
    Yes, really, Kathleen. A few blacks exchanged one form of racism – as they saw Christianity – for a less unacceptable one – Islam (or at least their own weird reading of it). They really did. They linked Christianity with their earlier slavery in the U.S. Can’t think why.
    Can you?

    Oh come on, Toad… you are falling for the “victim chip-on-shoulder” fallacy! Plenty of horrendous evil is done in the name of perceived grievances of this sort. The Catholic Church has never condoned slavery, although there were certainly Christians in name (Protestants mostly) who took part in the deplorable slave trade of Africans in past centuries. There were plenty of white politicians, missionaries, saints too like St Peter Claver, who fought these evil laws, or cared for the slaves.
    Perhaps you are unaware that many black Africans themselves helped in the tyranny of the slave trade?

    Of course there are white racists, but being a racist is not solely a white man’s crime! There are black racists too, and brown, and yellow….. Did you really not know that? In the case mentioned above, it is clear to anyone (of a non-amphibian brain that is) that this complaint of “racism” was simply an excuse, nothing more, to ‘switch religion’. No mention of philosophical reasoning was given.

    As to slavery – no other religion on Earth has ever made (and still does) slavery so much a part of its practice as Islam. Thousands of people, mostly Christians, have been driven into slavery by this perverse faith system… whilst the voices of ‘moderate Muslims’ calling for an end to these atrocities committed in the name of their religion are quite (ahem) ‘deafening’ – in their utter silence!

  19. Michael says:

    Kathleen @ 09:52, August 28th:

    Very good points! I would also add, to supplement in particular what you say about racism not being limited to one group of people, that a great many African-Americans* who have converted to Islam joined black-supremacist movements like the very anti-white ‘Nation of Islam’ – a movement which disallowed fraternising with white people on the basis of their being ‘blue-eyed devils’ – and the ‘Five-Percent Nation’, which also promotes anti-white views and ‘racial purity’.

    *Most famous of these being Muhammad Ali, who was essentially used as a puppet by the NoI to give their views a larger platform. He later converted to Sunni Islam, but before this made many statements about not wanting to ‘live with the white man’ and suchlike.

  20. toadspittle says:

    …are you really suggesting that people convert to one religion or another simply because it suits their preferences, in the same way that people might, for example, choose one flavour of ice-cream over another?”
    Of course not, Michael. Choosing ice cream is a serious matter.
    Whether it’s better to choose to be a Calvinist than a Quivering Brethren is entirely another thing.
    Surely you agree?

    “Perhaps you (Toad) are unaware that many black Africans themselves helped in the tyranny of the slave trade?” No Kathleen, I am aware of that. That’s what makes it all OK, really, doesn’t it? Or there would be no point in you bringing it up, would there? Does anyone else on here, apart from Kathleen, of course – think Toad has a good word to say for Muslims, black, green, or otherwise? If, so let me disabuse them.

    Lots of whining on here about people being intolerant of Christians, Catholics in particular, naturally. Also lots of intolerance of anything non-Catholic – Islam in particular, with Henry Vlll running a close second. No harm in that – but it opens us to the charge of hypocrisy. Not that we care.

  21. kathleen says:

    Side-stepping the argument (as usual) Toad @ 13:52 proclaims:

    “Perhaps you (Toad) are unaware that many black Africans themselves helped in the tyranny of the slave trade?” No Kathleen, I am aware of that. That’s what makes it all OK, really, doesn’t it?

    No, Toad. Only for you perhaps, seeing as how you seem to think all whites are bad, and blacks can do no wrong. How about greens?

    Lots of whining on here about people being intolerant of Christians, Catholics in particular, naturally.

    Are you really so utterly indifferent to the suffering of countless Christians at the hands of Islam? Do you honestly think we are simply “whining” by denouncing these crimes and in our distress at witnessing so much evil aimed at our fellow Christians by these followers and imitators of Mohammad?

    Truly, you have a heart of stone.

  22. toadspittle says:

    Anyway, Kathleen, tell me which argument I sidestepped and I’ll wade right in. I promise!

  23. toadspittle says:

    If I’m to be constantly “moderated” until The End of Time – well OK. Anything for a quiet life, it seems. Tying my hands behind my back. (metaphorically, of course) certainly(!) does help to make the debate a little less one-sided.

  24. Michael says:

    Lots of whining on here about people being intolerant of Christians, Catholics in particular, naturally. Also lots of intolerance of anything non-Catholic – Islam in particular

    Perhaps that’s because Christians are by far the most persecuted group in the world today, that a great deal of this persecution takes place in Muslim countries, and that both of these facts continue to be steadfastly ignored (for the most part) by the leaders and media of the West. The following article might help put things in perspective (and bear in mind that it was written in 2013 – since then, ISIS and Boko Haram have made the situation a great deal worse):

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9041841/the-war-on-christians/

  25. toadspittle says:

    Perhaps that’s because Christians are by far the most persecuted group in the world today…”
    Certainly no arguing with that. Getting kicked round the park all right. And what’s it all about? It’s all about “My God is better than your God,” isn’t it? And where did all this nastiness start? In the Bible, with the Jews and their numerous enemies. But killing Philistines* was all right, apparently. Kind of set the trend for the next few thousand years.
    …Or is Toad side-stepping the issue yet again?
    (People may also be interested to know CP&S killed a post on here because – well, I don’t really know why. Kathleen didn’t like it, probably, not because it was untrue, blasphemous, obscene or whatever. Cowardice and guilt, in fact. Still, as long as she read it first. But I dare her to run it. And God knows when this post will ever see the light of day.)

    *I gather Philistines were early Palestinians.

  26. kathleen says:

    Toad complains:

    People may also be interested to know CP&S killed a post on here because – well, I don’t really know why. Kathleen didn’t like it, probably, not because it was untrue, blasphemous, obscene or whatever.

    The Moderator must have removed it, Toad! It clearly was either “untrue, blasphemous, obscene or whatever” for him/her to have done that. Amazing how many of your untrue-blasphemous-obscene-or-whatever comments do make it through though…. many ‘approved’ by yours truly when I see them sitting there forlorn and forgotten in pre-moderation.😉

    Oh, and by the way, there is only One God (in case you didn’t know) and only One True Church which is His Bride on Earth. Other Christian churches contain some of this Truth (in varying degrees), but also varying heresies, and therefore errors. Non-Christian religions are even further away from Truth.

  27. Michael says:

    Amazing how many of your untrue-blasphemous-obscene-or-whatever comments do make it through though

    Agreed. Based on what does make it through, I reckon the judgement to block whatever didn’t see the light of day is almost certainly a sound one. It must have been pretty powerful stuff though, in order for its removal to lead Toad to accusing someone who has been very patient towards him on these threads of ‘cowardice and guilt’ though.

    Or is Toad side-stepping the issue yet again?

    Yes, very much so – instead of actually engaging with the points raised (raised in direct response to your query about why there is so much ‘whining’ about the fate of Christians), you choose to fall back on the stock, ‘religion causes violence’ line of argument, despite having the flaws in such arguments pointed out to you many times and even appearing to concede their lack of real explanatory power on a few of those occasions.

  28. toadspittle says:

    “It must have been pretty powerful stuff though, in order for its removal to lead Toad to accusing someone who has been very patient towards him on these threads of ‘cowardice and guilt’ though.”
    “Powerful stuff” ? From a mere Toad, Michael? Unlikely, I’d say. When did you ever read anything “powerful” from me?
    Still, we’ll never know what I said now, will we – because I’ve forgotten. That’s how “powerful” it was.

    “…you choose to fall back on the stock, ‘religion causes violence’ line..”
    No I don’t.
    Religion “causes” nothing. It’s the way deranged people interpret it that causes the violence. Agreed?

    Anyway, Kathleen, my grovelling apologies – I thought you had spiked the comment yourself.

  29. toadspittle says:

    “Oh, and by the way, there is only One God (in case you didn’t know) and only One True Church which is His Bride on Earth. Other Christian churches contain some of this Truth (in varying degrees), but also varying heresies, and therefore errors. Non-Christian religions are even further away from Truth.”
    (Does anyone else on here ever wonder if Kathleen, au fond, suspects that everyone in the world who’s not a CathoIic (and a Trad one at that) – Hindu, Moslem, Atheist, Calvinist, Pagan – you name ’em – secretly “know” that only Catholicism is true, but refuse to admit it – even to themselves – for some obscure, and probably sinful, reason?)

  30. Tom Fisher says:

    suspects that everyone in the world who’s not a CathoIic (and a Trad one at that) – Hindu, Moslem, Atheist, Calvinist, Pagan – you name ’em – secretly “know” that only Catholicism is true, but refuse to admit it – even to themselves – for some obscure, and probably sinful, reason?)

    That’s a very interesting question (in the abstract, not related to Kathleen). If you dip into some of the polemical literature from the early Church, the Heretics are almost always described as liars and deceivers but almost never as sincerely mistaken — And Richard Dawkins has described Creationists as either wicked or stupid — I suppose that once a conviction is held deeply enough, it becomes very hard to fathom that intelligent, sincere people of goodwill can hold a contrary opinion.

  31. toadspittle says:

    “I suppose that once a conviction is held deeply enough, it becomes very hard to fathom that intelligent, sincere people of goodwill can hold a contrary opinion.”
    Precisely what Toad would have said, if he were not so thick himself.
    “What others are capable of believing is often near impossible to get our heads around; whereas what we lot believe is, well, obviously true – innit?”
    Causes a fair bit of trouble, that mindset, too. So, while we Catholics are having a good laugh at the silly old Mormons, they may well be having a good laugh at silly old us. (Just something to consider.)

    [Moderator writes – Second half of this comment has been deleted for its blasphemous content.]

  32. Robert says:

    The Natural Law is common to all men and is found whether Man is found. God placed knowledge in Creation its Creatures and in Man. Aquinas took the Rational knowledge of the Ancient world and fused this with Revelation.
    Toad “..Rogebert – when we die – that’s it. We are longer related to life as we know it.…Even you..”
    That’s disproven by the Communion of Saints. The Church (militant on Earth, Suffering in Purgation, Heaven). The existence of the Sacraments in this veil of tears is itself evidence that the Church is related to Life including and especially in this veil of tears.
    We have Free Will which ultimately will choose between Life (Heaven) and Death (negation of Heaven Hell). Two choices that’s it.
    The Church is the mystical Body of Christ and this putting on of Christ means acknowledging Our Natural Father (God) . Rational and materially denies God and leads to Death.

  33. toadspittle says:

    Post-Mass apologies for the rather rude comment above. True though it is.
    But – blasphemy? In the mind of the beholder, surely? I’m reminded of Tiberius (non-Catholic, unfortunately) when opting not to have a man tried for blasphemy (must paraphrase, as can’t find the text)“What he said is between the gods and him. If the gods don’t like what he said, they can sort him out for themselves.”
    Not a bad decision, it seems to me. Bit presumptuous to do otherwise?
    No? OK.

  34. Tom Fisher says:

    Moderator writes – Second half of this comment has been deleted for its blasphemous content

    This is very frustrating. It is impossible to respond to Toad if a Censor is second guessing every sentence.

    This new approach is cowardly. ‘Toad’ is a civilised and morally serious man; please let people express their thoughts.

    TF

    [Moderator writes – The deleted part of Toad’s comment contained a blasphemous attack on the Holy Trinity. We are pretty tolerant on CP&S, allowing for a variety of discordant views, but there are limits nobody will be permitted to cross.]

  35. johnhenrycn says:

    Tom at 04:55 today:

    That reminds me of a recent article posted over at The Imaginative Conservative ( a website introduced to us – or to me anyway – by our friend, Michael) Agreeing to Disagree, and the loss of civility and the rise of intolerance between persons holding different opinions:
    blockquote>”To be sure, toleration, both legally and socially, has always had limits. Consider John Milton’s “Areopagitica,” perhaps the most stirring celebration of freedom of the press ever composed. Hear, my friends, these noble words: “And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?” But then just a few lines later: “I mean not tolerated Popery, and open superstition, which as it extirpates all religions and civil supremacies, so itself should be extirpate.” Milton reassures us that when he advocates freedom of speech he certainly doesn’t mean to include Catholics, whose words should be forcibly snuffed out.”
    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2015/08/agreeing-to-disagree.html

  36. Tom Fisher says:

    JH,

    I love Milton, even when he is a bigot. Isn’t the following the most beautiful expression of anti-Catholicism you’ve ever seen? Seriously, anyone who doesn’t get the power of that verse has no sense of literature

    White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery.
    Here pilgrims roam, that strayed so far to seek
    In Golgotha him dead, who lives in Heaven;
    And they, who to be sure of Paradise,
    Dying, put on the weeds of Dominick,
    Or in Franciscan think to pass disguised;
    They pass the planets seven, and pass the fixed,
    And that crystalline sphere whose balance weighs
    The trepidation talked, and that first moved;
    And now Saint Peter at Heaven’s wicket seems
    To wait them with his keys, and now at foot
    Of Heaven’s ascent they lift their feet, when lo
    A violent cross wind from either coast
    Blows them transverse, ten thousand leagues awry
    Into the devious air: Then might ye see
    Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tossed
    And fluttered into rags; then relics, beads,
    Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
    The sport of winds: All these, upwhirled aloft,
    Fly o’er the backside of the world far off
    Into a Limbo large and broad, since called
    The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown
    Long after; now unpeopled, and untrod.

  37. toadspittle says:

    ” ‘Toad’ is a civilised and morally serious man; “

    No he’s not Tom – he’s nothing but a toad. Thanks for the kindly thought, though.
    Yes, its all a farce these days, isn’t it?
    Wasn’t always.

  38. Tom Fisher says:

    The deleted part of Toad’s comment was a blasphemous attack on the Holy Trinity

    Fair enough then. But still.

  39. toadspittle says:

    Did Tom, or anyone on here, know that Milton more or less snitched the whole idea from an Italian called Salandra*? But Milton’s version, is far superior. Natch. He’s a Brit.
    Is suggesting the that idea – of one God being divided into three persons – is a bit odd, a blasphemous idea, then?
    How?
    If CP&S is/are missionaries for Catholicism, theoretically at least, would it not be better to just explain simply and clearly how this can be, instead of blue-pencilling everything?
    It begins to stink of fear and repression to me. But no doubt I’m wrong, as usual.

    * Says Norman Douglas, in “Old Calabria.”

  40. Michael says:

    “Powerful stuff” ? From a mere Toad, Michael? Unlikely, I’d say.

    What I meant was (as I’m sure you know really) is that its removal seemed to get you so riled (to the point of flinging accusations around) that you must have felt your point to be pretty notable.

    “…you choose to fall back on the stock, ‘religion causes violence’ line..”
    No I don’t.

    You know (or should know) precisely what I mean. Instead of engaging with the actual issue, you bring up the question of, how shall we put it…religiously-influenced violence instead. The fact that religion, in and of itself, can cause nothing without its interpretation and application of that interpretation by an agent or agents, is by the by.

    So, while we Catholics are having a good laugh at the silly old Mormons, they may well be having a good laugh at silly old us. (Just something to consider.)

    If you’re under the impression most people haven’t considered this fact, then I would venture to say you’re wrong – it is not really news. The point at issue is whether there are any means of adjudicating between different positions, or whether there is any such thing as Truth at all – two questions to which I would reply in the affirmative, and you would, I presume, deny.

    blasphemy? In the mind of the beholder, surely?

    a.) This is a Catholic blog, which you are well aware of, so you should also be aware that certain, well-defined things would be considered blasphemous here.

    b.) Not in the mind of the beholder, no. Affirmations made about God are either substantially true, or false, and so, in the final analysis, statements made to undermine those affirmations are either blasphemous or not. What you really mean is that we can’t possibly know either way of course, but in ontological terms some things really are blasphemous, regardless of what the beholder might think.

    If CP&S is/are missionaries for Catholicism, theoretically at least, would it not be better to just explain simply and clearly how this can be

    If this was a blog dedicated to apologetics – that is, to explaining the basics of the Catholic Faith to those unacquainted with it, you may have a point. But, as far as I can tell, this is not the central aim of CP&S at all, and, if you are really interested in finding out about these things, there are a vast array of resources available, both online and in print, to avail yourself of. The point being, this is not really the place to debate fundamental articles of Christianity – their truth is assumed, and that is, I think, part of the ethos of this blog.

  41. Robert says:

    Here is the problem.
    The limitations of the Creature called Man. The limitations of the Creature called Angel. These limitations are in trying to judge and comprehend the Creator, that is incomprehensible to Created Creatures.
    Our Lord revealed the Trinity which wasn’t comprehended before it was revealed.
    With Our Lord we have True God and True Man that incomprehensible hypostatic Union.
    Modernism and Science is far below revelation. So atheist scientist ignore revelation and guess what Rome starts to rewrite revelation! This was condemned by St Pius X, Is condemned by the Gospels. Yet today Revelation is being shed and shredded by Atheist Science and guess what a generation that considers itself Catholic has ditched Tradition.
    Fatima and the dance of the Sun! The Gospel and Our Lord calming the storm. St Francis and His living Faith in seeing the Creator in His works. That’s Nature, the Heavens creatures etc..
    The Apostacy of the 20 century is this treating revelation as Aesops Fables.
    Death in the Faith is finding eternal Life. Death outside of the Faith is eternal death. Heaven and Hell. Hell shown to the children at Fatima.
    Near Death? What does this mean? Nearer to God is dying in Christ and Eternal Life. But exclude God and that dying is the road to Hell.

  42. toadspittle says:

    “The point being, this is not really the place to debate fundamental articles of Christianity – their truth is assumed, and that is, I think, part of the ethos of this blog.”
    That is a very good point, Michael, and I will take notice of it – and amend my commenting accordingly.
    Plenty of other meaty stuff to chew over.
    Such as Robert – do you personally believe that damned souls will literally spend eternity being prodded by gleeful demons with pitchforks – in an everlasting bonfire?

    “…whether there is any such thing as Truth at all – two questions to which I would reply in the affirmative, and you would, I presume, deny.” says Michael. No, I agree there are many truths.
    Mathematics, geometry, water boiling at 100 centigrade, poison can kill you, etc.
    I believe Darwin’s theory is true, although it is metaphysical. You may, or may not, agree. It was once true that the sun went round the earth. I don’t think angels are true. But I might be wrong.

  43. GC says:

    @Michael, August 31, 2015 at 10:18

    If this was a blog dedicated to apologetics – that is, to explaining the basics of the Catholic Faith to those unacquainted with it, you may have a point. But, as far as I can tell, this is not the central aim of CP&S at all, and, if you are really interested in finding out about these things, there are a vast array of resources available, both online and in print, to avail yourself of.

    Quite so, Michael, and that point has been made more than often enough. Still it appears toads think they may ignore such advisories and carry on regardless up the khyber on CP&S, with the full support of, I must say, extremely antipodean joined-at the-hip-to-toads angler type folk. Thoroughly reprehensible behaviour, in my view, for which we have never seen an ounce of remorse on either of the parts of these miscreants. Let this pair relocate, or would that spoil both their funs?

  44. johnhenrycn says:

    But, Toad (11:01) – Water doesn’t always boil at 100°C, which is why Rebekah Scott-O’Gara’s pasta dishes cooked in Moratinos, Palencia, Spain are never al dente, according to most pilgrims passing through.

  45. toadspittle says:

    I didn’t say water always boils at 100. JH. Only at sea-level. Which we are not – being way up on the Meseta.
    Anyway, Toad does most of the cooking, rotten though it is.
    Which is why I put the bit about poison in. I can kill the pilgs – but generally don’t.

  46. kathleen says:

    To my explanation about “Only One God” @ 11a.m. 29/8, – Toad @ 18:08 says:

    Does anyone else on here ever wonder if Kathleen, au fond, suspects that everyone in the world who’s not a CathoIic (and a Trad one at that) – Hindu, Moslem, Atheist, Calvinist, Pagan – you name ’em – secretly “know” that only Catholicism is true, but refuse to admit it …

    Oh come on, Toad… not even you can be that ingenious, surely!
    I was replying to you, tongue in cheek, stating a basic CATHOLIC TRUTH that every Catholic knows, or should know of course…. especially a cradle Catholic like you! I spoke like one does to a child – something you most definitely ain’t! IOW, I was teasing you (or being cheeky, if you prefer). Did you really not realise that?

    Anyway, thanks for your “grovelling apologies” for accusing me of behind-the-scenes manipulations.
    _______

    Michael @ 13:54, also on 29/8

    Thank you, my gallant, chivalrous defender! 😉

    And your reply to Toad at 10:18 today was just BRILLIANT.

  47. Michael says:

    No, I agree there are many truths.
    Mathematics, geometry, water boiling at 100 centigrade, poison can kill you, etc.

    What I’ve never understood is the arbitrary limiting of one’s knowledge to such things. If you were a straightforward positivist I could understood (whilst disagreeing with that position), but once you’ve decided to accept the dependability of human reason in areas like mathematics and geometry (manifestly non-empirical ventures), then why not accept reason can be used to discover other kinds of truths?

    I believe Darwin’s theory is true, although it is metaphysical.

    Why the acceptance of this one ‘metaphysical’ claim – perhaps because it is actually a claim made by inference from empirical observation, that has potential metaphysical implications, rather than being a metaphysical theory per se?

    And furthermore, why accept what Darwin outlined in his Origin of Species but not what he went on to propose in his Descent of Man, given that the latter conclusions follow perfectly naturally (and logically) from the former?

  48. Michael says:

    Kathleen @23:15, August 31st:

    Thank you🙂 (I don’t know how to do the ’embarrassed’ emoticon…)

  49. Michael says:

    GC @ 18:53, August 31st:

    I am going to use an acronym that I am not particularly fond of (mainly because I don’t know any other ones that fit the bill) – ‘LOL’🙂

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