Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Meet Your Match

I have several purposes for joining the blogosphere. To challenge myself to create, to contribute to the world outside myself. To provoke critical thought and discussion. To entertain. To aid my fellow man (and woman).

My fellow man (and woman), do you despair that life passing you by, blessed as you are with sunsets, operas, and Family Guy, yet missing out on the bliss of having a soulmate to share it with? You might feel this way, but you should not. The internet is replete with resources that can end your misery.

Ladies, look no further than Mail Order Husbands, Inc. You can peruse listings of some of the most eligible bachelors worldwide, or take their proven compatibility test to find the best man for you.

Gentlemen, I direct you to Oksana Love. There you can meet women like Dinara, who not only speaks English, German, Kazakh, and Russian, but also English (beginning). She's outgoing and domestic, and she never drinks or smokes! (You'd better know what you want from the relationship, however, as she is none too patient).

All I ask is that you invite me to your wedding.

Success has never been so sweet (or convenient).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Deus Caritas Est

Today, Pope Benedict XVI issued his first encyclical. An excerpt:

...First, there is a certain relationship between love and the Divine: love promises infinity, eternity—a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence. Yet we have also seen that the way to attain this goal is not simply by submitting to instinct. Purification and growth in maturity are called for; and these also pass through the path of renunciation. Far from rejecting or “poisoning” eros, they heal it and restore its true grandeur.

This is due first and foremost to the fact that man is a being made up of body and soul. Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united; the challenge of eros can be said to be truly overcome when this unification is achieved. Should he aspire to be pure spirit and to reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone, then spirit and body would both lose their dignity. On the other hand, should he deny the spirit and consider matter, the body, as the only reality, he would likewise lose his greatness. The epicure Gassendi used to offer Descartes the humorous greeting: “O Soul!” And Descartes would reply: “O Flesh!”.[3] Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united, does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love —eros—able to mature and attain its authentic grandeur.

Concretely, what does this path of ascent and purification entail? How might love be experienced so that it can fully realize its human and divine promise? Here we can find a first, important indication in the Song of Songs, an Old Testament book well known to the mystics. According to the interpretation generally held today, the poems contained in this book were originally love-songs, perhaps intended for a Jewish wedding feast and meant to exalt conjugal love. In this context it is highly instructive to note that in the course of the book two different Hebrew words are used to indicate “love”. First there is the word dodim, a plural form suggesting a love that is still insecure, indeterminate and searching. This comes to be replaced by the word ahabĂ , which the Greek version of the Old Testament translates with the similar-sounding, which, as we have seen, becomes the typical expression for the biblical notion of love. By contrast with an indeterminate, “searching” love, this word expresses the experience of a love which involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the selfish character that prevailed earlier. Love now becomes concern and care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking, a sinking in the intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.

Read the rest here.