End of 2018

Howdy, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It’s been a busy 2017 and 2018 and here is to hoping 2019 is a bit more relaxed. New Year’s Goals:

  • Learn Latin (already started through Senior Learn)
  • Study Peter Lombard’s Sentences (Got the complete set from my wife for Christmas)
  • Write every day on my story, Moloch Rising
  • Write at least weekly in this Blog
  • Restart the podcast My Stogie Mystagogy
  • Last, but not least: Make sure The Puppycat knows she is loved

So, again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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My Stogie Mystagogy – Episode 47

The State of Social Discourse

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First Podcast of 2018!


So, here it is March, and just now getting to the first podcast of the new year.

This week’s topic: Everyday Carry and Prayer (and cigars and stuff)

Click to go to podcast

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Final Podcast of 2017

And looking forward to 2018

In this podcast we discuss cigars, Christmas family traditions, and the Incarnation.


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The Supreme Dominion of God

Error in Prayer

In a previous post regarding prayer, I commented on the proper disposition to prayer.

However, what triggered that post  was a woman’s concern over obtaining verification that her prayers were heard. So now I would like to address this proof we want that our prayers will be answered.

The woman had mentioned a book she read. She felt the book implied that if she was “praying right” she would receive proof her prayers had been heard. If in fact the book implied that, it is wrong.

If we think the success of our prayer is dependent upon our efforts, that is not faith.

At its root, prayer is surrender to God’s supreme dominion.

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But, What If I Really Am Doing What I Don’t Want To Do?

BY: Frater Bovious

(CARROLLTON, TX – Cradle of Civilization) I need to make clear that the two previous columns specifically did not address addiction.

With regard to addiction, I am very specifically qualifying my statement that we sin because we want to as follows:

  • Sin requires a deliberate act of will by a knowing subject; addiction compromises brain function and thus culpability for actions. I am narrowing this comment to the topic of sin, not the topics of crime and punishment.
  • Because of the significant interference addiction causes to normal brain chemistry, there is a qualitative difference between addiction, habit, and virtue.

Yet, the will is still involved, even in addiction.

From the Catholic News Agency, I found the following quote in this article on addiction:

“He said basically we have this desire, and our desires are insatiable. So God made us with this desire for more more more, and with that desire we can do one of three things…we can become a stoic, an addict or a mystic.” – Dr. Bottaro quoting from a talk by Christopher West

A stoic, an addict, or a mystic. Intriguing. I see these as three dispositions toward reality.

I will add this simple observation, and then explore a bit what it may mean. People do recover from addiction. People quit smoking, they quit heroin, they quit drinking. They even quit meth. I think these are among the most addictive substances on the planet. And people do quit.

How? Why?

Plato likened the intellect to the charioteer guiding a team of horses. These horses are dark and light, and represent the mortal and immortal realities of man. (NB – not, as one might think, the good and bad realities of man. The mortal and immortal realities of man are both goods.) It is the job of the intellect to unite these two realities into an harmonious whole.

If the intellect fails in this task, then one response to reality is addiction.

In my case, preventive education helped to keep me away from illegal drugs. I was, simply, too afraid to try illegal drugs. And that seems to have been a rational fear, and has saved me from a lot of grief. And so a common prescript for avoiding sin applies to addictive substances – avoid the near occasion of addiction.

Avoiding the near occasion of addiction is incredibly critical as one exposure can trigger a brain chemistry response that overwhelms the intellect, leaving the will to choose, again and again, the apparent good of the next high.

So, how do people quit?

I read this article in Psychology Today. The article had a sub-heading: “The antidote to addiction is learning to tolerate reality.”

I was surprised and encouraged by this statement in the article:

For, as AA has long rightly recognized thanks to psychiatrist Carl Jung’s influence on its founder, alcoholism and other addictions are at least as much sicknesses of the soul, psyche or spirit as of the physical body and brain.

The author was, in part, speaking against the current positioning of addiction as a disease, as opposed to a disorder (both of which are sicknesses.) The problem of styling addiction as a disease is that a disease is something that happens to us, something for which it is difficult to blame ourselves. Whose fault is it when we get the mumps? Calling addiction a disease implies that it is not our fault. It puts the cause, and therefore the cure, outside of us. And therefore the culpability is outside us.

Yet, even when we are sick with a physical ailment, something that happened to us, we still have the ability to make a choice, and that choice is to say “yes” to treatment. And so, if styling addiction as a disease allows someone to seek treatment who otherwise would not, there is some value to that paradigm.

But the author of the article feels that the efforts to effect a “cure” are hampered by the fact the underlying issues responsible for the behavior that lead to addiction may not be addressed. While it is true the physical addiction must be addressed, if the underlying mental issues are not addressed, the cycle will begin again.

The author’s summary paragraph states that:

“The antidote to addiction is learning to tolerate reality. Little by little. That is what sobriety really is. This is what the recovering addict needs the most assistance with: soberly dealing with inner and outer reality. And part of existential reality involves personal responsibility.”

Later in this paragraph is this interesting statement, “What the addict needs to discover is that reality is bigger than we are.”

Yes, indeed.

However, tolerating reality would seem to be the Stoic response. I would suggest a slight modification to the subtitle of the article: “The antidote to addiction is falling in love with reality.” How does one do that? By falling in love with Truth.

I suggest the proper response to reality is to become a mystic. And that is an act of will. The proper response to our desire for our good.

Posted in Philosophy, Reality, Reason, Truth | 1 Comment


What Do You Want?

BY: Frater Bovious

“Tell me who your friends are,
and I will tell you who you are.”
“Tell me whom you chose as your friends,
and I will tell you who you chose to be.”

(CARROLLTON, TX, Cradle of Civilization) This is a follow up to the previous post, The Truth About Willpower. In that post I argue that our wills function as designed, and that when we sin, it is not because we have weak wills, it is because, on the contrary, we have wills that function as designed, and that we sin because we will to do so – because we want to do so.

I thought of a couple of objections to this idea that should be addressed. One objection is potentially valid, and the other is just wishful thinking. I will deal with wishful thinking first.

This objection is dependent on a fundamental dishonesty in ourselves. This dishonesty is simply stated: “I don’t sin because I want to, I sin because ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.'” This objection would seem to have Biblical support, both from Jesus himself and from Paul. It seems to say, “I don’t want to sin, I just can’t help myself. It’s not my fault.”

But there is a problem. Mortal sin is defined in the Catechism:

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. (Emphasis mine)

Here is the kicker:

Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

That’s probably worth reading again.

Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

If it was really an issue of ‘willpower’ then there would be no mortal sin. Personal choice is an act of will. Pretending it is not increases culpability. So, what to make of this idea that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”?

It’s sort of just right there – a breakdown in what is supposed to be a unity of spirit and flesh. The soul knows what it wants. Not being material, it does not want for material things. It wants for God. But we are embodied spirits.

Our bodies, being material, have legitimate material needs. Our will, a power of the soul, is supposed to seek out those things which are desirable – but this is a properly focused and ordered desire. The sensible things, the things we can see, taste, touch, there is nothing inherently wrong with these things.

It is a question of integration of body and soul such that the will is focused on it’s true end. We are body and soul – what is good for one should be good for both. Thus we eat when we are hungry – it is good for body and soul.

“But,” one can object, “We were damaged by The Fall. Our wills have become disordered.” For me this was a potentially relevant objection. However, scripture does not support this objection:

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. – Gen 3:6

This was before The Fall. Was Eve suffering from a lack of willpower? No. Note that the tree was “good for food”, a “delight to the eyes”, and “was to be desired to make one wise.”

Was to be desired…

The big lie about willpower is that it is some sort of power over the will. It is not. Willpower is simply the power to choose. Choosing is a proper exercise of the will. It is a power of the will. And we all retain this power in apparently full force. Eve had the power to choose before The Fall. We retain the power to choose after The Fall.

In order to blame our peccadilloes on our weak willpower, we have to pretend that we don’t have the power to choose. This is a lie, from the father of lies. We have to accept the fact that we choose to sin. Which requires that we have a sense of sin, something the Accuser has been pretty successful suppressing in our culture. But, from the Catechism:

1848 As St. Paul affirms, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”118 But to do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts and bestow on us “righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin:

Conversion requires convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgment of conscience, and this, being a proof of the action of the Spirit of truth in man’s inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Thus in this “convincing concerning sin” we discover a double gift: the gift of the truth of conscience and the gift of the certainty of redemption. The Spirit of truth is the Consoler.

Our wills focus on what is in front of our faces. What we need is a properly formed conscience. We don’t suffer from weak wills. We suffer from nearly inert consciences.

In order to benefit from the grace which abounds, we need to stop feigning ignorance, and hiding behind a lack of willpower. Every time you think or hear “willpower” think and hear instead, “power to choose.” And recognize you are making those choices. And ask for Grace and a properly formed conscience.
Addendum – there remains one more area for discussion. Addiction. How does will fit into addiction? How does a heroin addict overdosing square with this idea that the will pursues the good? To be discussed in Willpower, Part 3.
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