Thursday, December 06, 2007

Awareness and Resolve

I believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. It is all a matter of will. Of course I'm not talking about physically impossible things or other impossible things, I'm talking about anything within the realm of reasonability.

I am a strong believer in "mind over matter". If I really want to do it, then there is a good chance that I can do it. However, my resolve must last from the beginning to the end of the thing I wish to accomplish. That is often where I fail -- I have great inspirations or ideas, and I act on them, but then all too soon find that I really am not interested in following through.

We must all have our reasons for doing what we do, and we should take time to reflect on our reasons/motivations. As Descarte once said, "I think therefore I am," and it must be admitted that we are primarily aware of ourselves first and foremost. It is this awareness that we often fall back on for our motivations.

It is good and noble and true to strive to get beyond our self-awareness to be aware of other people. And the ultimate step is to let the self be forgotten and be totally aware of others. This is what heaven will be - total awareness of God and others with minimal awareness of ourselves.

If we want to experience heaven on earth, all we need to do is be completely aware of others and not of ourselves. Easy to say, not so easy to do, because we must be resolved from beginning to end.

My Will

If I fail to make a will before my death, everything is to go to my wife. :)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

JPII TOB and Christopher West

There is no doubt that JPII was a genius in philosophy and theology. The Theology of the Body is a testament to his genius. However, his reasoning tends to be above what most people can handle, mainly because of his advanced education. I, however, contend that JPII wrote in a fairly approachable manner. I don't think that his ideas are so vague or lofty that the ordinary person cannot read them directly.

It is interesting to note that English was not the language used by JPII when he presented the TOB - he used Italian. But what is language? It is a tool to express ideas. JPII did not write the English translation directly, nor that of nearly all the other various translations. So who wrote the English translation? I'm not sure, but does it really matter? As long as the ideas are properly expressed, everything is ok. I contend that the English translation is generally good, but not great. Whoever translated the TOB into English must have had an incredibly large vocabulary that most Americans do not possess. Additionally, they must have possessed an extensive background in theological writing. All of these factors result in a fairly unapproachable English version of TOB - more unapproachable than the original JPII TOB.

Christopher West has become a popular authority on TOB. However, I'm not a fan because of one main point. He interprets the English translation of the TOB. Also, he uses popular U.S. media examples to frame various parts of the English translation of the TOB. First of all, while it can be fun, entertaining, and memorable to use modern media for examples, I believe they fail to convey the full picture. Secondly, he is using the English translation as his source, which I think also leads to problems. I think it is better to teach the language and framework of JPII and let people read TOB for themselves, rather than providing an interpretation. The original will always be better, and the original in the original language is even better yet. I think what we really need is a new English translation from the original language that TOB is written in - perhaps a translation that uses more approachable language. But a translation, not an interpretation.

But in contrast to my personal preferences, it is commendable that someone is making an effort to make TOB understandable, especially for young people who lack the ability to grasp the concepts in raw form. However, it is too easy for adults to take the easy way out and latch onto West’s TOB interpretation. I think that adults should not be so lazy as to be spoon fed by someone else’s interpretation. We have the same problem with scripture, do we not? People often do not read the Bible; instead they read commentaries on the bible, or mediations and reflections on the bible. Are these bad things? In and of themselves, no. But when they are substituted for the Bible, then yes, they are not a good thing. Nothing should replace reading the Bible itself. Of course children cannot grasp the concepts in the Bible, so we make children’s Bibles.

Why should we treat TOB any different? It is not a good thing to completely substitute reading the TOB itself with commentaries on TOB, like West’s. However, until we get a new English translation what can most people do? I think it is acceptable to use tools like West’s to help grasp the concepts, but then I expect adults to go the rest of the way and make an attempt at reading the actual text. Don’t sell yourself short.