Friday, February 28, 2014

Plato's Republic / Upon Reflection

I haven't had time to re-read the Republic, but I have had time to ponder it.

Let this image stand for several things.  One, the Greek ideal of beauty and truth. (See the Hellenized David.) We'll also remember that Plato would have whipped the youth above  into shape, and with sufficient indoctrination and gymnastics, they would definitely not have looked like the post-McDonald's David.  In fact, this second David is about as un-Greek as they come. 

In contrast, the Bible does not lay such stress on physical beauty. Prophets had all sorts of short-comings.  The Messiah was going to be distressing to look at.  Moses could not speak.  Many of them started out as shepherds. -- Diet was strictly controlled but exercise was probably had naturally with all the manual labor and walking and riding around, as well as fighting off enemies.

Alright, this for slightly goofy introduction.

What does Plato mean to me now?

While some of the secondary commentaries, as far as I  have peeked at them, say that Plato's Republic is a bit of a hodge-podge of ideas, and he is certainly not being clear on the role of women;  still, I find it actually unified in many respects.  And this is how I would summarize it:  Tyranny is bad.  The Public Tyrant is the most unhappy person in the world.  Immorality does not pay;  you will be badly sorry for it and the most unfortunate of all creatures.  Take responsibility for how you live.  Apply some good taste and some morality to your life.  Also balance it with beauty, music, literature and exercise.  As with the individual, it goes with the State.

Under this overarching idea with have sub-ideas.  All of it is really an attempt at rooting out immorality and promoting a vigorous society, thereby.

1.  In older age, how do you want to look back upon your life?  Is it better to be good and poor, than comfortable with a unjust riches gathered through favoritism?

2.  What is the difference between the King and the Tyrant?  How is a good King formed and how is a Tyrant formed?  What should be the education of the youth?  What is it like to live under either a King or a Tyrant (or other forms of government)?  Who will be happy?  The good or the bad?

3. Warfare, dialectics and philosophy are necessary.

4.  Women are supposed to participate in all of the above.  Upper class women, should be free from child-care responsibilities, yet, they also should have children at the front of the war, so they can learn warfare.   And so on. -- As we said, what he says about women makes not much sense. 

5.  The ruling class should be well-educated.  They should refrain from love of gain, be free to focus on their callings.  Ruling requires good thinkers with backbone and philosophy.

6.  Those who seek honors and riches in this life while indulging in frivolity and favoritism are putting their focus on the wrong things.  There is something higher and better than these paltry, worldly pursuits.  Justice is much better.  Seek it.

7.  The Greek gods and their stories seem to be too sordid for Plato.  The constructive stories only should be retold.  Homer's Iliad seems to be some kind of Bible, with the qualities of oracle and authority.  Other stories, on the other hand, that do not build up the youth properly, should be banned.  There is quite a lot of censorship and control advocated.  Poetry, or certain kinds of it, seems to be in opposition to decent philosophy.


There, that is what I got out of it.  

We see that  Plato is really trying to improve things.  He sounds like a kind of decent Reformer, in places.  Of course, he is a Pagan, and there is a lot he does not understand.  We cannot blame him entirely for that sort of thing.

It seems to me that he would have approved of the Christ.  Here we have a King who sought what was higher, a kingdom, not of this world; one who sought justice and did it without tyranny.  He showed the way through his suffering and dedication, righteousness and morality incarnated.  I think if Plato had known Him, he would have followed Him.  No wonder the Greco-Roman world was ready to hear about Christ.  It only had half-baked philosophical ideas about this ideal ruler and State, while the gods where a complete mess. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Selected Facebook

The Republic / The End

While I colored my hair, I finished Plato's Republic, yesterday.  I read all the way to the end and then I read the end back a bunch of pages and then I read it forward again to the end, and I underlined and made some notes in the margins, because it had to do with fate and necessity and choosing, a perennial question with no answer.  We see, with Plato, the gods are not to blame, it is our choosing, and we are supposed to gather up gifts and spoils in the contest of living a good and righteous life.  We chose our life.  Hm.  But we can't remember the choosing.  Hm.

Once it's chosen, it cannot be altered, but we must try and be just. It's seems kind of a round-about-way to take 400 pages to get to that.  "Be just."  "Be good."

Goethe said:  "Edel sei der Mensch, hilfreich, und gut."  --  "Let a man or woman be noble, helpful, and good."  Ah, yes.  Indeed.

It had struck me, that throughout the whole book I had underlined nothing at all, up till now.  I am thinking about why that is.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

C.S. Lewis and Plato / Love and Marriage... and the end of the books

This will be the last post with a quote from C.S. Lewis "The Four Loves".  We have also come nearly to the end of Plato's Republic.

--The Republic seems a bit of a marathon, but there are only 20 pages left, now.  It seems to me to be saying--on one level--that justice in affairs of the soul and the State are to be preferred to injustice.  You would think this might be obvious, but with human beings we have a rampant "justification" of "injustice", or immorality.  And indeed, what what be new about that.

There is injustice, and then we defend it; we try and make it look good.  It is the way of the world, no doubt about it.  And we have seen it in our own souls and the those of our companions.  This self-defense is our natural habitat.

Onto this mess, the Republic tries to impose some order, some education, some restraints, some good thinking and reasoning.

Fine.  One could debate the specifics of this.

What strikes me as odd, is the view of women, and this is how it has been for me all along. One thing about the Bible is that, though many would not find it always women-affirming in the way they would like, it still understands them.  It is a real book about real people with families and tribes that needed to stick together in harsh environments.  There needed to be survival and there needed to be love of God and man.

Above the love of philosophy.  We have here no nice little city state, but desert, enemies within and without, a continual testing of the moral fiber, and a frequent failing. All the foibles are related in very human fashion.  We recognize ourselves and the situations.  We do not have people sitting in market places discussing the most recent ideas.  We have the polar opposite.  We have the nitty-gritty.

And this is how Genesis grips us at the very beginning with its profundity, with the fall, with the curse, with the punishments and the starting over. It is not written by a mere man, by a Plato or a Socrates, or even a Moses.  It grips us in our deepest meanings and resonates.  This is what makes it the sacred scripture.  It is alive.  It is true.

Plato does not seem to get women.  Or maybe it is Socrates talking.  Whoever.  Both of them.  In the relationship to women, we really do have a test of a man.  There many be many tests of a man, but here we have one.  In wanting to eschew domestic entanglements, or on the other hand disorder, they seem to have no clue as to how to deal with women.

There is the talk of the "higher", the just vs. the injust, which does not seem to include anything related to domesticity or faithfulness or plain kindness.

Which brings me back to the last thing I wanted to mention from C.S. Lewis.  In regard to the last two posts, one on Christ's command to "hate" your family when needed, and one the Pagan attitude of being someone rather than letting God, we have Lewis stressing a side point:  this "hatred" something to be avoided.  We make every effort to try and circumvent it.  It happens at times where it has to happen, but never by design.-- It occurred to me afterward that this was an important point.

One page 150 Lewis has just discussed that this commanded "hatred" comes more easily to some than others.  Some will be practically torn to shreds over it.  It is very unnatural to them because of compliant natures.  But ideally it should not come to such divisions.

"How this could come about we may see on a far lower level when the Cavalier poet, going to the wars, says to his mistress:  I could not love thee, dear, so much Loved I not honour more.  There are women to whom the plea would be meaningless.  Honour would be just one of those silly things that Men talk about;  a verbal excuse for, therefore an aggravation of, the offence against 'love's law' which the poet is about to commit.  Lovelace can use it with confidence because his lady is a Cavalier lady who already admits, as he does, the claims of Honour.  He does not need to 'hate' her, to set his face against her, because he and she acknowledge the same law.  They have agreed and understood each other on this matter long before.  the task of converting her to a belief in Honour is not now--now, when the decision is upon them--to be undertaken.  It is this prior agreement which is so necessary when a far greater claim than that of Honour is at stake.  It is too late, when the crisis comes, to begin telling a wife or husband or mother or friend, that yourlove all along had a secret reservation--'under God' or 'so far as  higher Love permits'.  They ought to have been warned;  not, to be sure, explicitly, but by the implication of a thousand talks, by the principle revealed in a hundred decisions upon small matters.  Indeed, a real disagreement on this issue should make itself felt early enough to prevent a marriage or a Friendship from existing at all. The best love of either sort is not blind.  Oliver Elton, speaking of Carlyle and Mill, said that they differed about justice, and that such a difference was naturally fatal 'to any friendship worthy of the name'."   (pp. 151, 152)

Ok, I don't get all the references, but we are seeing here that the commitment to a higher "love", or the allegiance to Christ as Lord, needs to be stated at the outset, not kept hidden to sprung on people until it is too late to deal with emotional or erotic attachments that have developed.  In any case, you want to live in such way, even in mundane matters that this allegiance is apparent and palpable in a variety of matters. -- Indeed, this would seem fair, and "just".

So much about that.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

C.S. Lewis / "The Four Loves" / What the Pagan does not conceive--jolly beggars

"All those expressions of unworthiness which Christian practice puts into the believer's mouth seem to the outer world like the degraded and insincere grovellings of a sycophant before a tyrant, or at best a facon de parler like the self-depreciation of a Chinese gentleman when he calls himself  'this coarse and illiterate person'.  In reality, however, they express the continually renewed, because continually necessary, attempt to negate that misconception of ourselves and of our relation to God which nature, even while we pray, is always recommending to us.  No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is Love, but because we are intrinsically lovable.  The Pagans obeyed this impulse unabashed;  a good man was 'dear to the gods' because he was good.  We, being better taught, resort to subterfuge.  Far be it from us to think that we have virtues for which God could love us.  But then, how magnificently we have repented!  As Bunyan says, describing his first and illusory conversion, 'I thought there was no man in England that pleased God better than I.'  Beaten out of this we next offer our own humility to God's admiration.  Surely He'll like that?  Or if not that, our clear-sighted and humble recognition that we still lack humility.  Thus, depth beneath depth and subtlety within subtlety, there remains some lingering idea of our own, our very own, attractiveness.  It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us.  Surely we must have a little--however little--native luminosity?  Surely we can't be quite creatures?

For this tangled absurdity of a Need, even a Need love, which never fully acknowledges its own neediness, Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our Need, a joy in total dependence.  We become 'jolly beggars'.  The good man is sorry for the sins which have increased his Need.  He is not entirely sorry for the fresh Need they have produced.  And he is not sorry at all for the innocent Need that is inherent in his creaturely condition.  For all the time this illusion to which nature clings as her last treasure, this pretense that we have anything of our own or could for one hour retain by our own strength any goodness that God may pour into us, has kept us from being happy.  We have been like bathers who want to keep their feet--or one foot--or one toe--on the bottom, when to lose that foothold would be to surrender themselves to a glorious tumble in the surf."  (pp. 158, 159)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

C.S. Lewis / "The Four Loves" / Love and Hate

"As so often, Our Lord's own words are both far fiercer and far more tolerable than those of the theologians.  He says nothing about guarding against earthly loves for fear we might be hurt;  He says something that cracks like a whip about trampling them all under foot the moment they hold us back from following Him.  'If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife... and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple'  (Luke 14:26).

But how are we to understand the word hate?  That Love Himself should be commanding what we ordinarily mean by hatred--commanding us to cherish resentment, to gloat over another's misery, to delight in injuring him--is almost a contradiction in terms.  I think Our Lord, in the sense here intended, 'hated' St Peter when he said, 'Get thee behind me.'  To hate is to reject, to set one's face against, to make no concession to, the Beloved when the Beloved utters, however sweetly and however pitiably, the suggestions of the Devil.  A man, said Jesus, who tries to serve two masters, will 'hate' the one and 'love' the other.

...So, in the last resort, we must turn down or disqualify our nearest and dearest when they come between us and our obedience to God.  Heaven knows, it will seem to them sufficiently like hatred.  We must not act on they pity we feel;  we must be blind to tears and deaf to pleadings.

I will not say that this duty is hard;  some find it too easy;  some, hard almost beyond endurance.  What is hard for all is to know when the occasion for such 'hating' has arisen.  Our temperaments deceive us.  The meek and tender--uxorious husbands, submissive wives, doting parents, dutiful children--will not easily believe that it has ever arrived.  Self-assertive people, with a dash of the bully in them, will believe it too soon. That is why it is of such extreme importance so to order our loves that it is unlikely to arrive at all.  (pp. 149-150).


It happens quite a bit, probably more often than we could know that certain relationships just don't happen, flourish, get started... because you have set out to follow Christ.  It is just too annoying for some people to fathom, and any kind of piety is a stink to them.  This can be obvious, or not so obvious.   And then there are those who purpose to irritate you and draw you away from your faith.  Foremost of all we remember Job's wife for saying:  "Curse God and die."

On the other hand, we can have to most intimate friendships with a huge variety of people.  Acceptance and love and community in Christ opens just so many doors to people's hearts and minds.  There is Agape and Philia, etc.  and there is the Lord right in the midst of us.  And this makes up for everything.

It has to.  Some relationships just can't be had.  They have to go.  That is the 'hate'.  Can't have it both ways.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Plato cont.

We've made it to page 310 in Plato's Republic.  The discussion centers now around different forms of government, the oligarchy having come up first and its problems exposed.

I don't know what to say about it, except at times the book reminds me of Hitler's Nazism, with its indoctrination of youth and education of young "heroes" and mindless followers.  At other times, it reminds me of the Reformation call:   "We must educate the citizenry so we can have a decent country and able leadership."  (The Germans living something like "pigs" at the time...  All of this beginning with a catechism for the youth.)

I can't really forgive Plato for the suggesting that women and children be held in common, though we see now, that, among other things, he wants to oppose the oligarch, who would hoard his wealth and women in a private castle.

This attendant problem of achieving great riches, reminds us of Solomon who did just such sort of thing, heaping up luxuries and concubines; -- not too wise of him, after all.  Good days seem to lead to such collecting for one's own glory or pleasure.  Plato's Guardians were not to be such people.  Women were supposed to participate in the work and be freed from the labor of child care.  (I am not sure Plato and Socrates really asked women what they thought about it.)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Diaconate / Christian Women Leaders / Love

The role of women in the church is always divisive discussion material.

A book seems to have become available on the diaconate in the early and medieval church.   It is said to be a "fascinating" study, but there seems to be no summary of it available, and the book is not inexpensive...

There definitely needs to be a discussion around vocations.  I will be looking for it.

At the same time here are lists of 200 contemporary Christian women leaders and writers in Canada and the United States, -- with whom I can't say I am familiar.  One suspects that a few of them are not orthodox in their outlook, but the basic message of Love and Welcome has to be paramount.

I did watch this video by Becca Stevens:  " Love is the Most Powerful Force for Social Change."

We need to occupy ourselves with this subject matter.  We cannot be catechists without having love in Christ at the center.   And orthodox women can't be the only ones who don't get to say something. 

Saturday Morning

Relaxing Saturday morning.  Ahh.  Finished the paper and other items.

On abortion by George Jonas in the National Post.
Sound logical points.

On Internet Trolls in Mother Jones.

We've met a few.  Let us examine ourselves.
I do love a little debate myself, but I tend to be very earnest about the issue.

Friday, February 14, 2014

C.S.Lewis/ "The Four Loves" / Love is not a safe investment

"There is no safe investment.  To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;  avoid all entanglements;  lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change.  It will not be broken;  it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.  The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God's will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness.  It is like hiding the talent in a napkin and for much the same reason.  'I knew thee that thou wert a hard man.'  Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness."  (pp. 147, 148)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

C.S. Lewis/ "The Four Loves" / Hierarchy of loves

"But to have stressed the rivalry earlier in this book would have been premature in another way also.  The claim to divinity which our loves so easily make can be refuted without going so far as that.  The loves prove that they are unworthy to take the place of God by the fact that they cannot even remain themselves and do what they promised to do without God's help.  Why prove that some petty princeling is not the lawful Emperor when without the emperor's support he cannot even keep his subordinate throne and make peace in his little province for half a year.   Even for their own sakes the loves must submit to be second things if they are to remain the things they want to be.  In this yoke lies their true freedom;  they 'are taller when they bow'.  For when God rules in a human heart, though He may sometimes have to remove certain of its native authorities altogether, He often continues others in their offices and, by subjecting their authority to His, gives it for the first time a firm basis.  Emerson has said, 'When half-gods go, the gods arrive.'  That is a very doubtful maxim.  Better say, 'When God arrives (and only then)  the half-gods can remain.'  Left to themselves they either vanish or become demons.  Only in His name can they with beauty and security 'wield their little tridents.'  The rebellious slogan 'All for love' is really love's death warrant."  (p. 144, 145)

What does this mean?

We are just reading Plato, and we find that the philosophers there want to banish all the literature with the gods and demi-gods participating in questionable behavior.  Instead, there is to be some sort of sanitized religion.  The half-gods go and the gods arrive?

But instead of abolishing what appears inferior, too human, too "ungracious", really these loves, passions, demi-gods, princelings must be brought willingly into subjection to the higher. They find their true calling in a free obeisance.

Let them be redeemed.

Plato / Socrates / Lebensborn

In Plato's "Republic",  I have almost made it to the middle.  

I don't really know what to make of it so far.  The whole thing seems to be set up as a thought experiment.  Were they serious?  Are these people ever serious?

 But now, our philosophers have a plan to get the "guardians" involved in a kind of breeding  that truly must remind one of the Nazi's and their program "Lebensborn".   Breeding a super race was definitely an objective;  --people would rather walk through fire rather than have their daughters confiscated for such breeding service.  They hid themselves and their families in forests and so on.  It was abhorrent.

It makes me wonder if the eugenists of the 19th and 20th centuries got their ideas from Plato.   There is more than one parallel between this organized state and the so-called Third Reich, its indoctrination and hero worship, it's cultivation of taste and domination of the media.

Strange stuff.

Monday, February 10, 2014

C.S.Lewis/ The Four Loves / Charity 1

"William Morris wrote a poem called Love is Enough and someone is said to have reviewed it briefly in the words  'It isn't'.  Such has been the burden of this book.  The natural loves are not self-sufficient.  Something else, at first vaguely described as 'decency and common sense', but later revealed as goodness, and finally as the whole Christian life in one particular relation, must come to the help of the mere feeling if the feeling is to be kept sweet.

To say this is not to belittle the natural loves but to indicate where their real glory lies.  It is no disparagement to a garden to say that it will not fence and weed itself, nor prune its own fruit trees, nor roll and cut its own lawns.  A garden is a good thing but that is not the sort of goodness it has.  It will remain a garden, as distinct from a wilderness, only if someone does all these things to it.  Its real glory is of quite a different kind.  the very fact that it needs constant weeding and pruning bears witness to that glory.  It teems with life.  It glows with colour and smells like heaven and puts forward at every hour of a summer day beauties which man could never have created and could not even, on his own resources, have imagined...

... to liberate that spendour, to let it become fully what it is trying to be, to have tall trees instead of scrubby tangles, and sweet apples instead of crabs, is part of our purpose.

But only part.  for now we must face a topic that I have long postponed.  Hitherto hardly anything has been said in this book about our natural loves as rivals to the love of God.  Now the question can no longer be avoided.  There were two reasons for my delay.

One--already hinted--is that this question is not the place at which most of us need begin.  it is seldom, at the outset, 'addressed to our condition'.  For most of us the true rivalry lies between the self and the human Other, not yet between the human Other and God.  It is dangerous to press upon a man the duty of getting beyond earthly love when his real difficulty lies in getting so far.  And it is no doubt easy enough to love the fellow-creature less and to imagine that this is happening because we are learning to love god more, when the real reason may be quite different.  We may be only 'mistaking the decays of nature for the increase of Grace'.  Many people do not find it really difficult to hate their wives or mothers.  M. Mauriac, in a fine scene, pictures the other disciples stunned and bewildered by this strange command, but not Judas.  He laps it up easily. "  (p. 141-144)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Plato and Adam and Eve

As it is the weekend, I managed to read a little Plato to the dear husband.  We thought it might work as a putter-to-sleeper, but as a matter of fact, I think the husband enjoyed himself.  We were reading somewhere in Book 2 to about page 70 of 400.

Basically, they decided to investigate justice from the larger to the smaller, so therefore, they were going to look at the State first.  In delightful detail, they build up the state from all the different people who contribute to society with their work.  In the end they also needed to add in luxuries, such as couches and lotions, to be able to get more easily at abuses and injustices.  But we didn't get that far.

After all that, we were ready to go to sleep.

I do wonder that righteous behavior is being looked at from the perspective of the state first rather than the individual.  How is this different from another approach?

Of course, justice and righteousness are continuously treated in the Bible.  But here we start with Adam and Eve.  The first pair messed up straight away by not listening to a righteous God's words.  It begins with God, with an external information that speaks to the conscience.

Luther has speculated that perhaps Adam might not have fallen, if his wife hadn't first, since he thinks that the woman is weaker.  Well, I don't know, it always takes two to tango.  Adam could have said something.

The Ten Commandments, however, were given to a whole nation-- once there was one.  There are some commandments that only make sense in the larger communal setting, which we all generally find ourselves in.  In any case, any moral laws were always dealt with in connection to an Almighty God whom we are to fear and love, at the same time.

Friday, February 7, 2014

C.S. Lewis / "The Four Loves" / Eros must be under control, read Anna Karenina

"Thus Eros, like the other loves, but more strikingly because of his strength, sweetness, terror and high port, reveals his true status.  He cannot of himself be what, nevertheless, he must be if he is to remain Eros.  He needs help;  therefore needs to be ruled.  The god dies or becomes a demon unless he obeys God.  It would be well if, in such case, he always died.  But he may live on, mercilessly chaining together two mutual tormentors, each raw all over with the poison of hate-in-love, each ravenous to receive and implacably refusing to give, jealous, suspicious, resentful, struggling for the upper hand, determined to be free and to allow no freedom, living on 'scenes'. Read Anna Karenina, and do not fancy that such things happen only in Russia.  The lovers' old hyperbole of 'eating' eat other can come horribly near to the truth."  (p. 140)

Well, dear Anna Karenina, we read the book last year and there also was a new movie, and feminists have to comment on this sort of thing, too.  If we don't look to God first, there will be endless things to eat us up.  Better to follow Christ.  To me it goes back to the garden of Eden.  Your desire will be for your husband,and he will rule over you.


Plato / Socrates / Jesus / 4

Rummaging through some family record files, yesterday, I chanced upon this card from my grandfather.   

                              "But One Thing is Needful",  said Jesus to Martha.

I always loved that, because I was raised to read and memorize vocabulary, and I have never taken very much to manual work, except lately to knitting.  I have never felt totally right unless I was reading or discussing, preferably Luther, who is always talking about Jesus. 

Plato and Socrates also thought it was important to pay attention to the word, to teaching, thinking, talking, sorting things out, matters of justice and kindness.  But I am not sure they would have said it to a woman.  

And here we have the living  Word, Jesus Himself.  He was more than once caught talking to women about religion, morality, and salvation.  There were even the Samaritan ones. There were the prostitutes.  How could he speak with them?  And he spoke with them about matters that were important to them.  Husbands, housework, hosting, living water, learning, focusing on important matters, hope in God.  

I wonder about Greek women.  Roman women--for sure had no say--the Pater Familias had power over life and death.  

Socrates joked about his wife Xanthippe:  "Which woman do you speak less to than your own wife."  No doubt, she had many reasons to complain with a philosopher for a husband.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Plato / Socrates / Jesus/ 3

I don't know why I am reading Plato, after all.  I've got to page 40 and he is wearing me.

What was purportedly shown, so far, was that the "just" man is happy and good, and the "unjust" is immoral and unhappy.  But then, Socrates said: -- fun that it was, this debate, nothing was explained because we still have not defined "justice." -- Goodness gracious.

So, I jumped ahead to Wikipedia, and found out in the end that the whole solution to the problem is that the state ought to be run by philosophers and that women and children should be held as a common good.

Wow.  Sounds like the first hippie commune.  Maybe they got rid of Socrates for good reason, after all.   Here my heart was bleeding the last time I read the account of his Hemlock death.  I nearly cried.

Contrast this with Judeo-Christianity:  "Walk humbly with your God and look after widows and orphans".   And be faithful to your own spouse, valuing each person as a brother and sister in Christ, imbued with eternal value.  All the same.

This is what the early Christians did and this is how they distinguished themselves from Pagan society.  People did not all like it.  Some where put to death, like our poor and dear St. Valentine, whom we honor this month.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Plato / Socrates / Jesus / 2

I read a little more in Plato coming close to the end of book one, (there are 10), and I have these images in my mind.

This is obviously a study in similarities and contrasts.  Jesus welcomes the little children that others tried to shoo away.  The Greek philosophers seem to me to have been old men talking with other men.

But Jesus, he does not send away the little children.  He teaches them.  He blesses them.  He loves them from the heart.  Out of the mouth of babes, he has perfected praise.  If I have to chose masters, I will chose him.  Or rather, he has chosen me,  not because I am a smart and hard man, which I am not,  like those in Socrates' and Plato's school;  I am acceptable to God due to his tender mercies--male, female, young, old, smart, feeble-minded, slave or free, hip or stodgy, hard-nosed or wimpy...  The diversity in Christ's kingdom is stunning and yet he is the head.

I wouldn't make it into Plato's school.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Plato / Socrates/ Jesus

Yesterday, I was shopping and stopped in at the used book store to check the children's section. -- And the classics.  I have to check the classics. -- Well, what  did they have (it is a small store), but Plato's "Republic".  It seemed to me that when discussing things, it is Plato who comes up quite a bit these days.  Plato came home with me.

As a child I learned about Socrates, his death, his wife, the Peloponnesian war and his soldiering.

Recently I read some Plato and realized that the man could write.  Very well.  Very, very, very well.

I am sure the "Republic" is already squeezed into some anthology in the house.  But this "Republic" has 400 pages, decent size print and notes down the side.   Very nice.  I lunged into the first 10 pages and recognized the Plato I had met before.  It was quite exciting, yet, I am not sure I will be make it through the entire thing.

The first discussion is of the principle of "love your friend and hate your enemy".  It turns out that though the principle is pretty much considered "just", that enlenchus wise, it is not.  Jesus would have agreed.  That's how I read it, at first lunge in.  Loving God and neighbor does not mean loving your friends and hating your enemies.

Good for Plato and Socrates, we have to say, because at least they have a point.  So far so good.  Their arguing makes at least some sense.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Relationships in Early Childhood

I watched this video tonight:  "The Power of Relationships in Early Childhood."

Through their interactions with their primary caregiver, infants develop exceptions, patterns and patters.  How they are treated is the information they have of how they should feel.  It defines their core. They will elicit what they expect.

Positive:  Trust.  Competence.  Confidence.  Flexibility.  Capacity to relate.

Factors:  Temperament.  Constitutional contributors.  How do they experience stimulation?  What do they make of the relationship?  What is the right amount of stimulation for one is not the same for another.

Intrusion vs. comfort. Frustration. No predictor.  A hard to soothe baby is not predicted to have poor development.

Parent may feel less competent.  Parents ability to adapt:  effect on development.

Capacities of Babies:  actively seeking stimulation. -- Primarily:  Faces.  Perfect vision at a certain distance.

Preferred sound:  familiar voice;  high pitched;  mother/daddy--eeze.  Across genders and cultures the same:  sing-song, repetitive, high-pitched.   Babies attend to all that is human.  They learn to tell differences between different humans.

By three months of age, babies have developed different expectations, depending on with whom they are interacting.

Babies don't know how to distinguish between good and bad caregiving.   They only know what they receive, which shapes them.

Empathy is the capacity to put ourselves into the place of another.  First we must know how we feel.

Babies:  I have the capacity to relate and can form intimate, emphatic relationships.  Learned through the behaviors of others.  My positive expectations are met.

Impediments:  A parent does not meet needs.  The child only knows its experience.  Expect what they receive.   Self-doubt.  Adults are not there when you need them. I am not a good expressor of my needs. The world is not a good responder to my needs--is what is learned.

Book:  Mental Health Consultation in Child Care--Transforming Relationships among Directors, Staff and Families.  

See also this slide show:  "Ordinary Magic:  the power of relationships to build a better brain."

C.S. Lewis on Eros / "The Four Loves"

In reviewing C.S. Lewis' "The Four Loves", I seem to have been mostly stuck in the "Friendship" section.  We will have to move on.  I will mostly skip over Eros, since we are pretty familiar with it.  Almost every secular song seems to deal with it.

Just this, Lewis seems to accuse Plato and Shaw of an "erotic transcendentalism" which cannot help a Christian.  We are not worshipers of the "Life Force".  And this:  "Our conditional honour to Eros will of course vary with our circumstances.  Of some a total renunciation (but not a contempt) is required.  Others, with Eros as their fuel and also as their model, can embark on the married life.  Within which Eros, of himself, will never be enough--will indeed survive only in so far as he is continually chastened and corroborated by higher principles.  But Eros, honoured without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon.  And this is just how he claims to be honoured and obeyed.  Divinely indifferent to our selfishness, he is also demoniacally rebellious to every claim of God or Man that would oppose him."   (pp. 133-134)

Oh, well, while we are at it, this is quite good:

"Theologians have often feared, in this love, a danger of idolatry.  I think they meant by this that the lovers might idolize one another.  That does not seem to me to be the real danger;  certainly not in marriage.  The deliciously plain prose and business-like intimacy of married life render it absurd.  So does the Affection in which Eros is almost invariably clothed.  Even in courtship I question whether anyone who has felt the thirst for the Uncreated, or even dreamed of feeling it, ever supposed that the Beloved could satisfy it.  ... The real danger seems to me Not that the lovers will idolize each other but that they will idolize Eros himself." (p.135)

i.e.  We don't love the beloved as much as we love simply being in love. Because it feels great.

And that is not love, just a demon, possibly, as it asserts itself wrongly.