Following the Morally Talented
Pops and I had one of our unending discourses last evening, and I was interested to hear his wariness of judgment. While I stayed away from the direct arguments and themes of my Peasant Theory, I did end up asking him a question about the elite vis a vis the mind of God. I had a couple ways of expressing this concern which I will now try with you. But first a little background.
He opened the discussion by telling me that he is considering remaking the Stations of the Cross into contemporary form, and asked me if I remembered whether there were 12 or 14. I hadn't thought about the Stations of the Cross in many years, but I knew beyond a doubt that the answer was 14, even though I went to the web to verify my answer. I was right. And then went searching for the music and lyrics to that song which begins 'At the Cross her station keeping' and finally found the melody on YouTube. It was difficult to find that exact melody and there were not many hits. And so I was reminded what troubled me about all the conveniences we have - and the implications of his dumbing down that Mass for the masses.
So I began with the quote from Stephenson who put words into Leibniz' mouth, the wit of which is the following:
“So I ventured into that library which had been closed up since the death of my father and still smelled like him. It might seem funny for me to speak of the smell, but that was the only connection I could draw at the time. For the books were all written in Latin or Greek, languages I did not know, and they treated of subjects with which I was completely unfamiliar, and they were arranged upon the shelves according to some scheme that must have been clear to my father, but to me was unknown, and would have been beyond my ken even if someone had been there to explain it to me.
“Now in the end, Monsieur Fatio, I mastered that library, but in order to do it I first had to learn Greek and Latin, and then read the books. Only when I had done these things was I finally able to do the most difficult thing of all, namely to understand the organizing principle by which my father had arranged the books on the shelves.”
This is the point. It takes effort to understand the mind of God, but progress can be made and understanding can be gained. Dumbing it down for the masses, is this useful? This begs several Lutheran questions, but we didn't go that way, primarily because he began to argue that in the hands of man, the words, will and mind of God becomes corrupted into such a state that no matter what the man's intention it becomes a project of Man at which point the Devine is lost.
So I pointed out all of the albums we were listening to and asked him to consider musical talent. I said that if you were to find the world's most talented composer, would it raise any concern if in the entire life of that artist he never considered writing sacred music and was never inspired by God. He said it wouldn't trouble him in the least. Wow. So I put it another way.
If I found the two most morally advanced men on the planet, both studying for decades, of equal intellect and one said that he had nothing more any man could teach him, and thus should be the moral authority of the planet. The other said he too had nothing more any man could teach him but humbled himself before God thus claiming he had more to learn. Which would you follow? He said it didn't matter.
Then I took two albums out, one from Herbie Hancock and another from Lisa Lisa & Full Force. I placed them five inches apart and analogized the implication of his arguments (which I do not do full justice in this abstract). That if you looked at the most talented musician in the world and the least
My argument is that I accept that any human healthy enough to survive has enough moral acuity to survive as well. It is a natural endowment. (via Spinoza, meaning it is a gift of God). That this acuity may be improved upon and expressed as law, and that this moral law is permanent and unchanging. Christianity may have 10 Commandments, but that is as insufficiently complete as a human with 10 words in his vocabulary. That for the sake of argument there are 10,000 moral laws analagous to a 10,000 word vocabulary with which we can all acquire full literacy and understanding.
I will have to leave it at that for the moment.