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Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

I’ve read a little bit more and talked to some people about vegetarianism, and I’ve clarified my ideas a little more. The section of AC that I quoted is about the commandment not to eat blood with flesh, since that would be to mix what is holy (blood) with what is profane (flesh) – representatively speaking. This is the next number, AC 1003:

From these things it is now evident that “not to eat flesh with the soul thereof, the blood thereof” is not to mingle profane things with holy. Profane things are not mingled with holy by one’s eating blood with flesh, as the Lord clearly teaches in Matthew:

Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man; for the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart (Matt. 15:11, 18-20).But in the Jewish Church it was forbidden because, as has been said, by the eating of blood with the flesh there was then in heaven represented profanation. All things done in that church were turned in heaven into corresponding representatives-blood into the holy celestial; flesh, outside of the sacrifices, because it signified cupidities, into what is profane; and the eating of both into the mingling of the holy with the profane. For this reason it was then so severely interdicted. But after the coming of the Lord, when external rites were abolished, and thus representatives ceased, such things were no longer turned in heaven into corresponding representatives. For when man becomes internal and is instructed about internal things, external ones are of no account to him. He then knows what the holy is, namely, charity and the faith therefrom. According to these are his external things then regarded, that is to say, according to the amount of charity and faith in the Lord there is in them. Since the coming of the Lord, therefore, man is not regarded in heaven from external things, but from internal ones. And if anyone is regarded from external things it is because he is in simplicity, and in his simplicity there are innocence and charity, which are in his external things, that is, in his external worship, from the Lord, without the man’s knowledge.

The thing that struck me about this particularly are the Lord’s words in the New Testament that declare that what goes into a person does not defile him I think this is important, and it’s convinced me even more that eating meat is not a sin.

Does this mean my newfound vegetarianism is doomed to die an early death? Nope. This is because I still like the attitude that it describes the Most Ancient Church as having: regarding animals as useful providers, rather than as sources of meat, and regarding their products and the products of the vegetable kingdom as food. I don’t think it’s a doctrinal thing, and I don’t even think it’s a conscience thing for me now that I’ve read a little more – it’s more just an attitude toward the world that I’d like to adopt.

I think one of the main problems with vegetarianism is that it can go along with a sense of merit and superiority. That’s also one of the main problems with being Coleman. I don’t think the former will be nearly as hard to deal with as the latter is.

* Edit 10 June 2008 – As I mentioned in a comment to this post, I stopped being quasi-vegetarian shortly after I started.  The comment explains why. *

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Vegetarianism

How would you react if someone told you that in itself, eating meat is profane?  If someone had said this to me yesterday, I think I probably would have said, “Well, it was for the Most Ancient Church, but things have changed, so it’s not really the same thing.”  As it happens, though, someone DID tell me that, and that someone was a pretty good authority.  This is AC 1002 in its entirety:

Shall ye not eat. That this signifies not to mingle together, follows from what has just been said. Eating the flesh of animals, regarded in itself, is something profane, for in the most ancient time they never ate the flesh of any beast or bird, but only seeds, especially bread made from wheat, also the fruit of trees, vegetables, various milks and what was made from them, such as various butters. To kill animals and eat their flesh was to them a wickedness, and like wild beasts. They took from them only service and use, as is evident from Genesis 1:29-30. But in process of time, when men began to be as fierce as wild beasts, and even fiercer, they then for the first time began to kill animals and eat their flesh; and because such was man’s nature, it was permitted him to do this, and is still permitted, to this day; and so far as he does it from conscience, so far it is lawful for him, since his conscience is formed of all that he supposes to be true and thus lawful. No one therefore is at this day condemned because of eating flesh.

I’ve read this before, and it actually led to me not eating meat for about a month or so.  I had forgotten how strongly it was worded, though: it says that eating meat, regarded in itself, is profane – not corresponds to profanity or used to be profane.  It was permitted, and it seems to maintain its status as a permission, rather than the Lord’s will.  So how do we respond to this?  The Lord did eat fish while in the world, and presumably ate lamb at Passover, which leads me to believe that eating meat is not at all a sin.  But at the same time, this passage reminds me of the Lord’s words in the New Testament: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so.”  I’m not trying to equate eating meat with adultery but rather trying to point out that the Lord does allow things in His laws that are not actually His will if these things would be too hard or would turn people away from Him.

It is something of a leap to say that this is one of those cases, but that is how it seems to me.  I don’t want to say I’m a vegeterian (although I was telling people that earlier today) because I might make exceptions in certain social situations, but as a general rule I’m going to stop eating meat.  I certainly don’t look down on anyone who doesn’t draw the same conclusions I do from the passage, but it would also be a mistake – and not in good conscience – for me to ignore my thoughts on what the passage means.

Note: I don’t think that the eating of flesh being “profane” means that it involves profanation, i.e. the mixing of holy things with unholy things; I think in this case it means “completely worldly”, and the commentary on this statement seems to indicate that it means this with negative connotations.

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Laws Against Blasphemy?

This is from Divine Providence, n. 136:2 (emphasis added):

The external cannot compel the internal, but the internal can compel the external. Who can be compelled to believe and to love? One can no more be compelled to believe than to think that a thing is so when he thinks that it is not so; and one can no more be compelled to love than to will what he does not will, for belief belongs to the thought and love to the will. There is, however, an internal which may be restrained by the external from speaking ill against the laws of the kingdom, the moralities of life and the sanctities of the Church. To this extent the internal may be compelled by threats and punishments; and it, moreover, is compelled and ought to be. This internal, however, is not the human internal that is properly so-called: it is an internal that man has in common with beasts; and beasts can be compelled. The human internal has its seat above this animal internal; and it is the human internal that is here meant, and it cannot be compelled.

So, should we have laws against speaking against the U.S. law, morality, and religion?  I’m not sure – I’m just putting this out there to hear what other people have to say.

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I don’t want this blog to turn into a Ron Paul fansite, but I keep coming across Paul-related things that I want to post about.

 Anyway.  A lot of my political thinking is based on a passage from The True Christian Religion, which states in part,

Anyone can see that there is no empire, kingdom, duchy, republic, city or house which lacks the support of laws, to impose order and so control the form of its government. In each case the laws of righteousness occupy the highest place, political laws the second place, and the laws governing the economy the third. If we make a comparison with a man, the laws of righteousness are the head, those of politics the body, those of the economy the clothes. That is why these last can be changed, like clothes. (n. 50)

When I’m deciding who to vote for, policies or beliefs that have a genuine moral element trump the lower policies.  For example, even if Candidate A’s budget-balancing plan is far superior (in my opinion) to Candidate B’s, I’ll vote for Candidate B if Candidate A would support a law that I view to be truly unrighteous.

Now, I think that for the most part, the laws of righteousness are universally agreed upon.  They are fundamental principles, such as the idea that it is wrong to murder.  But there are a few cases where candidates do have different beliefs about laws of righteousness.  And the candidates opinions on these laws trump all the other positions and platforms they might have.

This brings us to my specific point.  I believe that the principle of never attacking until you are attacked is a law of righteousness.  And no matter what a candidate’s other opinions on economic or political policies, this principle takes precedence (unless, of course, their policies would break another law of righteousness).  This is why I will vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary, and why I will probably vote for the Libertarian or Constitution Party candidate if Paul is not the Republican candidate.

This has always been true.  It’s why I voted for the Constitution Party candidate, Michael Peroutka, in the last election, even though I hated his policy on immigration.  But something Ron Paul said earlier tonight in the Republican debate made me appreciate him more than before.  Wolf Blitzer asked him, “What’s the most pressing moral issue in the United States right now?”  Ron Paul replied,

I think it is the acceptance just recently that we now promote preemptive war. I do not believe that’s part of the American tradition. We in the past have always declared war in the defense of our liberties or go to aid somebody, but now we have accepted the principle of preemptive war. We have rejected the just- war theory of Christianity. And now, tonight, we hear that we’re not even willing to remove from the table a preemptive nuclear strike against a country that has done no harm to us directly and is no threat to our national security!

I mean, we have to come to our senses about this issue of war and preemption and go back to traditions and our Constitution and defend our liberties and defend our rights, but not to think that we can change the world by force of arms and to start wars.

I might disagree with him about some of his foreign policy, I might have some doubts about his economic policy, but what matters more to me is his position on preemptive war, and on this issue we’re right on the same page.

(I got his response from The New York Times’ transcript of the debate.  Printing transcripts is the best thing newspapers ever do.)

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Virginia Tech killer

In chapel yesterday, Dean Carswell talked a little bit about the killer at Virginia Tech.  He talked about the ways that letting resentment and anger boil inside of you can take you to a point where you explode, and about the desire to control other people and to “fix” what’s wrong with them.  It got me thinking about how a person could get to that point.

 First, a caveat: it’s possible that the killer, Cho Seung-Hui, had severe mental illnesses that he could not control.  No one can judge whether he will go to heaven or hell, as tempting as that might be.  But even if he was acting from a natural insanity, his natural insanity gives a saddening reflection spiritual insanity – i.e. evil.

 In his insanity, Cho seems to have believed that he was exercising justice.  He believed he was taking “just revenge” on the rich kids for their expensive and hedonistic lives.  Evil thinks that revenge and hatred are synonymous with justice.  Arcana Coelestia n. 1079 says,

Where there is no charity, there is the love of self, and therefore hatred against all who do not favor self.  Consequently such persons see in the neighbor only what is evil, and if they see anything good, they either perceive it as nothing, or put a bad interpretation upon it.  It is just the other way with those who are in charity.  By this difference these two kinds of people are distinguished from one another, especially when they come into the other life; for then with those who are in no charity, the feeling of hatred shines forth from every single thing; they desire to examine everyone, and even to judge him; nor do they desire anything more than to find out what is evil, constantly cherishing the disposition to condemn, punish, and torment. But they who are in charity scarcely see the evil of another, but observe all his goods and truths, and put a good interpretation on what is evil and false. Such are all the angels, which they have from the Lord, who bends all evil into good.

I don’t think many of us are where the angels are; but it isn’t until you see something like what happened at Virginia Tech that you really see how heinous the other point of view is.

 And although it certainly wasn’t his intention, it’s fascinating to me that Cho wrote “Ismail Ax” on his arm and “A. Ishmael” on the package he sent to NBC in light of what Arcana Coelestia says about the spiritual meaning of Ishmael in n. 1949:

[Ishmael signifies rational truth apart from good]. It seems incredible that rational truth when separated from good should be of such a character, neither should I have known this to be the case unless I had been instructed by living experience. Whether you say rational truth; or the man whose rational is of this kind, amounts to the same. The man whose rational is of such a character that he is solely in truth – even though it be the truth of faith – and who is not at the same time in the good of charity, is altogether of such a character. He is a morose man, will bear nothing, is against all, regards everybody as being in falsity, is ready to rebuke, to chastise, and to punish; has no pity, and does not apply or adapt himself to others and study to bend their minds; for he looks at everything from truth, and at nothing from good. Hence it is that Ishmael was driven out, and afterwards dwelt in the wilderness, and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt (Gen. 21:9-21); all of which things are representative of one who is endowed with such a rational.

Cho seems to have been in this state to the extreme.  He spent all his time alone, not talking to anyone; perhaps he spent lots of time studying or reading – he certainly wrote a lot.  I don’t know whether his insanity was a result of this or its cause or some of both; but its clear to me that it is related.

The really frightening thing, a thing that’s hard to admit, is that to a small extent I can relate to him.  I’ve been in states before where I spent most of my time alone, reading the Word and the Writings, writing a lot, trying to shut people out because I thought everyone was evil.  It wasn’t nearly to the same extent, but it was insanity.  And I think one of the good things we can draw out of a tragedy like this is to see what happens when this insanity is taken to its extreme and shows itself for what it really is – hell on earth.

 Finally, and I think this is important to notice, Cho compared himself to Jesus.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that someone so possessed of evil spirits as Cho seems to have been would profane something so holy.  This isn’t going to convince anyone who doesn’t believe in the Lord that evil and profanity are connected; but to those who do, it’s an illustration of the truth so often mentioned in the Word and the Writings that evil spirits love nothing more than to attack what is from the Lord.  Not that Cho knew that, and maybe he wasn’t even conscious that it was happening; but the evil spirits that were infesting him, whether it was in a physical malady or spiritual insanity, clearly showed their faces in his profanity.

My natural inclination is to want to feel anger at Cho; but I think the right thing to try to do is feel pity.  Maybe that seems wrong when there are so many families and friends suffering from his actions.  But his actions didn’t spring from himself.  He was attacked and waylaid by evil spirits, poisoned with revenge and hatred, his connection to other human beings completely cut off.  His life was miserable, and it may continue to be miserable to eternity.  Why would anyone choose that?  I don’t know.  I can only hope that there was something wrong with his brain, that when he wakes up in the other world he will open up his eyes and be able to see and think clearly for the first time, that he will learn what it is to be human, that he will learn to love the Lord, and that he will leave his demented physical brain behind and live a life in heaven as a blessing to others instead of a curse.  It’s hard for me to hope that, but to wish him any evil would be to fall prey to a lesser degree of the same insanity that led him to do what he did.

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