That’s just prideful.
That definition is a key phrase, “considered in terms of pleasant sensations” and it provides us with a logical course for the second image:
There are many reasons this may be of concern to a Christian, but I want to lay aside the first one: Hedonism is not only about anti-Christian moral choices. Once can find intrinsic pleasure in long periods of silence, luxurious polyphony, Gregorian or Byzantine Chant, religious art is all kinds of expensive and collectible, religious garb is pricier than even the most expensive of bespoke hipster clothing, one can enjoy the health benefits of a feast/fast cycle, and there are even fetish clubs celebrating celibacy and enforced chastity. One can be a Christian for purely self-interested, hedonic reasons. There are a lot of “Church Shoppers” who make very hedonistic choices in their churches: better music, better choirs, better sermons, better people, better coffee hours, better Sunday Schools, better parking, better service times… I rarely hear “better theology” as a reason but when I do hear bout theology it’s most often “I’m XYZ and I need a church that won’t judge me for that.” Churches are “shopped” for hedonism all the time.
We make the same choices in clothes, sex, food, housing, bank accounts…
Choice is the problem, really; and freedom of it.
Christianity asks us to make a choice – any choice – for another reason: St Paul asks us to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling”. Every choice we make is part of that. This homeless person in front of me now? This argument with my spouse? This supper with my parents? This meeting at the office? This random flirtation on the subway?: This invitation to a Christmas party? This job interview? This customer service phone call? This customer call me at work? This is the tool God has given me right now for working out my salvation here and now. The choices I make will echo through eternity as either steps forward or backwards.
Which shall it be?
Hedonic choices would have us decide based on what makes me feel good. Christianity asks (compels?) us to make choices based on what is true. Additionally, Christianity posits Truth not on doctrinal points or moral regulations but on relationship: Truth is a person, Jesus Christ. Any action of His is True, and any true action on our part is His. Since Jesus Christ is God, is Love: Truth is Love, not an offensive or defensive proposition or exclusive fence, but an embracing, engaging Divine Person. Mind you, I’m not saying that ordering the steak over the pasta is a choice for or against salvation. But why did you decide to go out at all?
One of my own personal struggles is acceptance of what’s in front of me. A daily morning prayer has us ask God for the grace to accept what he sends but how many times do we just go out looking for something else? When Jay and Sean-Franc got me a new phone for Christmas last year how long was it before I was looking for something new? When the house is full of food, why do I go out to eat? Because there’s nothing here I want right now.
Clothes? Why do I have so many clothes above and beyond what I need to wear: because they look nice, they make me look nice and because they make me feel good about myself. Clothes let me do that? Yup. I don’t think I really know what is going on on my brain – beside hedonism – when I turn to clothes to make me feel good about myself.
We want to include sex in the envelope of love, but is it? Remember Truth is relationship and Love: not lust, not the grinding need to get off that allows us to use another person as a toy. Our society floats something called “Sex Positive” attitudes. Certainly sex-negative attitudes provoke judgmentalism, but promoting sex as a positive and always good – because it feels good – is equally abusive to the most intimate relationship into which we can enter. But what happens when the person in front of me is there for these sexual reasons? Do I turn him or her away out of charity or out of judgement? Do I deny any intimacy because it might lead to sex, rather than learning to walk the moral tightrope? Do I cave in to “it feels good” or do I run away and hurt others? Both propositions seem damaging to my soul and to others. That same prayer I cited earlier asks God for the ability to “act firmly and wisely without embittering or embarrassing others”. So often it is far easier to embitter and embarrass others and feel just a little bit superior at the same time in an act I like to think of as eremitic masturbation. It’s just as hedonistic as if you had jumped in the sack together: it feels that good.
I prefer to eat green, organic, locally produced, vegetarian fed, everything. Farm-fresh food, veggies hand-harvest and raw, beer locally brewed with hops grown in the back yard of hippies I love and pigs slaughtered after being pre-mourned by the children of Farmers I watched grow up. There’s honey grown in hives fed on flowers hand-watered by the ladies up the street and Meyer lemons rolling down the walk way in my garden along with bitter oranges that make for excellent marmalade for topping the local artisan bread raised up on the native yeasts of the Bay Area. Life is good, especially at dinner time.
The thing is: picking the thing that feels good is usually the easiest! We are so focused on here, now, make me feel good, that we forget the long term effect. Just today I heard a podcast daring Urban Activists to stop focusing on smaller is better and realize that combining more people in sustainable ways in large cities is greener than letting the population run wild everywhere: but that might mean my housing prices collapse! Al Gore admits Ethanol is a bad idea, but that the time getting Iowa farmers behind him seemed like a better presidential option.
It feels good now, but it’s gonna suck later always seems like the better option over it sucks now.
I hear a lot of talk among the conservative folks about sex. Increasingly, though, I think the sex issue, the divorce issue, the abortion issues, the gay marriage issue: these are all symptoms of the same thing that keeps us fat, that addicts us to drugs of all kinds from caffeine to adrenaline and endorphins, from pot, alcohol to scary movies and roller coasters (which are, admit it, rather like publicly acceptable porn). We wear immodest clothing because it makes us feel good – even when we are chilly. Seems we have built a society designed to satisfy our every desire – for good or ill. You know how easy it is to care for the poor? You never even have to see them.
Again, when you either mistype the intended email address or else wilfully give the wrong email address you share personal information. Full stop.
A pagan holiday is one that is non-Christian, or Pre-Christian and, usually, localized: there was no pre-Christian religious tradition that was pan-European. There were Celts and Romans and Greeks, there were Scythians, Gauls, Goths, Visigoths, Egyptians, etc. Each one of these ethnic groups would have had pagan holidays.
Stealing our holiday means exactly that: moving in, remaking and rewriting it until it matches our pattern not yours.
It is my assertion that the celebration of All Hallows eve is Christian; that is was never Pagan; and that it is, in fact, the Pagans who are stealing holidays.
Let’s first take a look at three parts: the Eastern Christian, the Western Christian and the Non-Christian.
Festívitas ómnium Sanctórum, quam in honórem beátæ Dei Genitrícis Vírginis Maríæ et sanctórum Mártyrum Bonifátius Papa Quartus, cum templum Pántheon tértio Idus Maji dedicásset, célebrem et generálem instítuit agi quotánnis in urbe Roma. Sed Gregórius item Quartus póstmodum decrévit, eándem festivitátem, quæ váriis modis jam in divérsis Ecclésiis celebrabátur, in honórem ómnium Sanctórum solémniter hac die ab univérsa Ecclésia perpétuo observári.
The Festival of All Saints, which Pope Boniface IV, after the dedication of the Pantheon, ordained to be kept generally and solemnly every year on the 13th of May, in the city of Rome, in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy martyrs. It was afterwards decreed by Gregory IV that this feast, which was then celebrated in many dioceses, but at different times, should be on this day kept by the whole Church in honour of all the saints.
(From the Internet Archive.)
Bad Victorian Mythology
Most of the secular holidays that happen now – from Christmas to Easter to Halloween – are decidedly not Christian and should be avoided. The revelries that happen on this night are lewd, crude and are often designed to mock Christianity. That is Satanic. But bobbing for apples, trick or treating – or using this day and season to commemorate the dead and the departed are not Satanic at all. In fact, it’s an Orthodox practice that is so evidently healthy that even the pagans took it over: All Saints Day (and the vigil) and All Souls Day and the whole month of November. Should the kids be allowed to have that fun? Well, that’s up to the parents.
What do you think it might mean to “be” something?
In Irish when one is greatly wanting food, one says “Ta ocras orm.” In English we say “I am hungry” but the Irish say “there is hunger upon me.” The English seems to say “I have become this thing in my being.” We use the same form in discussing just about everything: religion, politics, sex, race, sexuality. We do say “I have a cold”, but we go right back to beingness in our jobs, our marriages… Divorces. Just noticed that we say “I am divorced” but not “I am broken up.” (Of course, we do say ‘I’m all broken up’ in another context that is also a good example of what I’m thinking about.)
So, why is it that, consciously or not, we put our being, our very being, into such a linguistic change cycle every time we enter into description?
What do these statements have in common? How is it possible that we use the same words for these things? Do we mean the same thing?
I am married.
I am Republican.
I am Black.
I am English.
I am gay.
I am baptized.
I am drunk.
I am hungry.
I am somebody.
From one angle, of course, we’re using shorthand: “I am Republican” is short for “I am a registered member of a specific party.” But we don’t say that. What we say is that “In the same way that God self-referentially said, ‘I am what I am’ I refer externally to something other than myself to say ‘I am a Communist’.”
But is that what we mean?
I note that this is different from saying “I am doing something”. I am running means that the being I – whatever that is – is involved in this process of whatever it might be. Only in the most vague newage spiritual language would we ever say “I am batting’, meaning ‘I have become batting in my being, as we “unify” the self with the sport. We usually only mean “I am batting.” I am walking.
The Abrahamic Hindu and Buddhist teach teach very important doctrines about the being of the person and while they have only the sketchiest of common threads, they do rather insist on the being as an ontological closed point, at least as part of the path towards whatever. English ignores all that and says the being has no being but rather fluctuates between this state and that state and this other state where what “I am” today is not what “I am” tomorrow.
How can this possibly be?
I have been lucky to have some very awesome Bosses, from Constancio and Mark and Br. James and Pat at the Church Center, Joan L at Borders, Jeff at Gay.com and Vern, Tom and Jim at Swain, John in Buffalo and Eric, Thomas, Sejal and Phil here at Zoosk…
My bosses challenge me, encourage me and force me to grow.
AMONG My earliest childhood memories (which start around age 2) is Grandpa cooking breakfast. When I would stay with my Grandparents, I slept on the sofa in the living room. Grandpa would get up very early in the morning and make himself breakfast. It was always the same thing, and I can see him sitting at the head of the table in the kitchen (all one room with the living room in their trailer). It’s dark outside and there’s just a gold-coloured light coming from the one overhead fixture. One pancake, some juice and percolated coffee. Sometimes, if I woke up he would make me a pancake as well. His was adult sized while mine was kid-sized.
Lately, I’ve been remembering his recipe – which I’ve never used, if I’m honest. Mixes and Bisquick took over long before I could cook. But scratch seems like the best option:
- 1 Egg
- 1/4 Cup milk
- 1/4 Cup self-rising flour.
That’s it. Don’t over mix. He always fried it up in corn oil: makes the edges very crispy. If you’re making another, there’s enough for two pancakes there, really. But you can add another 1/4 cup each of the flour and milk and do well. This recipe also works well with self-rising cornmeal: try it with 1/4 of meal or 1/4 each flour and meal.
- 1 Pepper-marinated loin of pork. (Rolled in cracked pepper, marinated. It came from the store this way.)
- 1 Can of Cheerwine
- 1 Crockpot.
- Put the loin in the crock pot.
- Pour the Cheerwine on top.
- Cover and slow cook on high for 4-5 hours. The pork will fall apart.
I did realise that this would require some experimenting. I found a recipe that started with cocoa powder and adjusted it: the Xocolatl already has some sugar in it. So I took out some sugar from the recipe and added some extra cocoa powder. Then I played with everything to get it balanced…
I assert ownership to this recipe: I made it up, it’s mine. Ok? You use it, I get credit!
For the Brownies
- 1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Butter, Melted
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 1 Tsp Vanilla
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Flour
- 1/3 Cup Dagoba Xocolatl
- 1 Tbs Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Cup Pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 325° with rack in centre of oven.
- Line a 9″x9″ pan with tinfoil.
- Combine melted butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs in a bowl. Stir until thoroughly blended.
- In a separate container, combine flour, Xocolatl, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
- Add the dry to the wet and incorporate completely. Do not over-mix!
- Reserve 1/2 cup of this batter and pour the rest in the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle pecans on top of the batter.
For the Cream Cheese Topping
- 8 Ounces Cream Cheese
- 1/3 Cup Sugar
- 1 Tsp Vanilla
- 1 Egg
- Beat the cream cheese with the sugar.
- Add the vanilla and the egg.
- Blend thoroughly.
- Pour this over the brownie batter (and nuts)
- Place the reserved batter in small dollops on the top.
- Use a knife or an spoon handle to swirl the two batters without mixing them.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 mins or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges of the brownies are just beginning to brown.
Chill for at least two hours before cutting into squares.
One other option: instead of cream cheese, try moscarpone!