Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Law, Sit Up Higher: Richard Hooker and the Natural Law, Part 1

THE "JUDICIOUS HOOKER" IS HOW THE ANGLICAN Richard Hooker (1554-1600) came to be cited by those writers of the natural law, political science, and constitutionalism, including John Locke whose writings influenced the American Founding Fathers and whose words--life, liberty, and estate"--, with but slight Jefferson variation, were to grace our Declaration of Independence as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." In the next series of blogs, we will focus on Richard Hooker, in particular his theory of natural law as expressed in his most famous work, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Before we start on that discourse, we ought to spend a little time reviewing Hooker's life and the background of his most famous work.

Portrait of Richard Hooker

Hooker flourished during the literary tempus mirabilis and theological ferment that was the Elizabethan era. Shakespeare, Spenser, Marlowe were Hooker's contemporaries. The learning, balance, sense of fairness, and prudence exhibited by Hooker in his great work Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (or Politie) earned him great praise. As one example of many encomia that could be cited is the comment of Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605) , who is reported to have said in 1597 in the presence of the English Cardinal William Allen (1532-94), that the Protestant Hooker's great work"has in it such seeds of eternity that it will abide until the last fire shall consume all learning." (Alexander S. Rosenthal, Crown Under Law: Richard Hooker, John Locke, and the Ascent of Modern Constitutionalism (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2008), xiv & xxviii n. 3; see also Walton, 84).

It is perhaps evidence of the fires of relativism and secularism consuming all learning that most moderns are clueless of Richard Hooker, much less of his work. So we will start off with a brief biographical sketch of this man. Born at the town of Heavitree in Exeter, Devon in 1554 from a family neither noble nor wealthy, Richard Hooker attended school at Exeter, and later attended Corpus Christi College at Oxford, largely as a result of the financial largess of Bishop of Salisbury, John Jewel, who supported his education. One of his earliest biographers, describes the young Hooker as "an early questionist, quietly inquisitive." (Izaak Walton, 8) At Oxford, his tutor was John Rainolds (Reynolds), a clergyman and scholar of decidedly Calvinistic, even incipient Puritan leanings. Hooker obtained his master's degree in 1577, and became assistant professor of Hebrew. In 1581, Hooker became an Anglican clergyman, and married Jean Churchman from whom he eventually obtained six children. It was as a result of the obligations imposed upon him by this marriage that, in the words of Walton, Hooker "was drawn from the tranquility of his College; from that garden of piety, of pleasure, of peace, and sweet conversation; into the thorny wilderness of a busy world; into those corroding cares that attend a married priest, and a country parsonage; which was Drayton-Beauchamp in Buckinghamshire, not far from Aylesbury, and in the Diocese of Lincoln." (Walton, 31)

In 1585 he was appointed Master of the Temple Church which allowed him to be the spiritual guide of the Inns of Court in London, and exposed him to the English legal community. Hooker's appointment as Master of the Temple Church, "was the very beginning of those oppositions and anxieties" that came from engaging in theological controversy. (Walton, 34) His first theological controversy was battling the extreme predestination of the stern Calvinist theologian Walter Travers. After his first controversy, Hooker "grew daily into greater repute with the most wise and learned of the nation." (Walton, 67) Hooker became a stalwart defender of the Elizabethan settlement, and took the side of the Anglican conformists against the non-conforming Calvinists and Puritans, the latter movement which was just then budding. He was later appointed Subdean of Salisbury Cathedral, and Rector of St. Andrew's Boscomb in Wiltshire in the Diocese of Sarum.

In 1593, Hooker published the first book of his Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. (Subsequent volumes were published thereafter, with three volumes published posthumously.) In it he sought to defend the episcopal form of government of the Church of England against the presbyterian ideas of the Calvinists and the even more radical ideas of church government advanced by the Puritans. Though it would seem that the controversy that gave rise to Hooker's work would limit its applicability in the area of natural law and political philosophy, that is not the case because Hooker starts his work with fundamentals regarding law, order, and governance. And these fundamental principles apply regardless of whether one is analyzing ecclesiastical or civil law. In the area of the natural law, Hooker's importance is derived from the fact that his work "was deeply influenced by the medieval scholastic tradition represented by St. Thomas Aquinas, even while adapting this tradition to confront the new challenges of early modern political life." (Rosenthal, xvi) He is thus a "transitional figure" (Rosenthal, xvi) between the medieval and Enlightenment concepts of law and order, and a middling figure between the perennial Catholic doctrine of natural law and the more radical Protestant rejection of that doctrine, partial or entire, by Luther, Calvin and their followers.

Title Page of Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, Hooker's Magnum Opus

After the publication of his first volume of his famous work, Hooker was appointed Rector of St. Mary's in Bishopsbourne in Kent, near Canterbury, in 1595, in which appointment he remained until his death. Hooker died there in Bishopsbourne in 1600, and is buried in the Churchyard of St. Mary's.

We may adequately enough summarize Hooker's contribution to the natural law and political science by quoting a recent scholar of his work, Alexander Rosenthal:
Upon his death in 1600, Hooker left a long and distinguished legacy. All sides of religious and political controversy in seventeenth century England recognized Hooker as a major figure whose authority could be employed to settle difficult disputes about theology. During the Restoration era, Hooker was essentially canonized as an almost infallible saint and doctor of the Anglican Church. Meanwhile, Whigs like Algernon Sidney, James Tyrrell, and especially John Locke turned to Hooker for their own, quite different, purposes. Hooker's status as a luminary of Anglican theology was more or less secure through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with Tractarians like John Keble (who guided a new publication of Hooker's works) and John Henry Newman celebrating Hooker as a proponent of the Via Media between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Meanwhile, Hooker's contribution to Whig constitutionalism was generally accepted (albeit in an often unreflective way) during this period.
(Rosenthal, xv)

The Natural Law scholar, A. P. d'Entreves classifies Hooker as a "sixteenth-century Anglican example of seventeenth-century Catholic scholasticism." (Rosenthal, xiv)

The poet Sir William Cowper wrote Hooker's epitaph:

Though nothing can be spoke worthy his fame,
Or the remembrance of that precious name,
Judicious HOOKER; though this cost be spent
On him that hath a lasting monument
In his own books; yet ought we to express,
If not his worth, yet our respectfulness.
Church ceremonies he maintain'd; then why
Without all ceremony should he die?
Was it because his life and death should be
Both equal patterns of humility?
Or that, perhaps, this only glorious one
Was above all, to ask, why had he none?
Yet he that lay so long obscurely low,
Doth now preferr'd to greater honours go.
Ambitious men, learn hence to be more wise,
Humility is the true way to rise:
And God in me this lesson did inspire,
To bid this humble man, 'Friend, sit up higher.'

The natural law doctrine is a philosophy of law that urges human law and human order to humble themselves and thereby to "sit up higher," to set their eyes on their fundamental source, and their fundamental end, namely, God and the Eternal Law, and to thus recognize both their fundamental limits and divine pedigree; at once to realize their humble limits and constraints with the glorious dignity and heights from whence they come and whither they go; to realize that, like all things human, they find their dignity and limits in the reason and will of the God most high.

Statue of Richard Hooker

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 11

IN HIS AUTO SACRAMENTAL, A Dios por razón de estado, the Catholic playwright Calderón has expressed a vision of reason at odds with those of the Protestant reformers, and, a fortiori, the modern secularist progeny spawned, albeit unintentionally, by the Protestant reformer's theological and moral teachings. Calderón insists that reason is human ("Ingenio soy humano"), a faculty by which man participates in the divine, and which is not entirely destroyed by the Fall. Man's reason therefore plays an important role in the discovery of Truth, and this whether philosophical, moral, or religious. Through the use of reason, man can attain a knowledge of God through natural theology, a knowledge of good through the natural law, and can attain sufficient knowledge so as to guide him even up to the threshold of the Christian Trinitarian and Incarnational Faith. While reason cannot take one beyond Faith's threshold into the bosom of the Church--that requires Faith a gift of God and is a product of Grace--reason can be used as a means to determine which religions are unreasonable and therefore do not merit belief. As Fiore puts it, "Calderón demonstrates that man can know God through natural reason's observance of the governance of things--the natural law. That knowledge is then perfected by written law and faith." (34) Thus, right reason will take one to the conclusion that--since Christi's coming, redeeming passion and death--the Catholic Faith is the most reasonable of the three great monotheistic religions, promotes the greatest good, and is the only that religion merits being the basis of establishing a government that promotes the common good. The reverse side of this coin is that governors must respect that their authority comes from God, that it ought to be exercised for the common good, and that they themselves are limited by the moral teachings and religious precepts of the Catholic Faith.

The use by Calderón of the notion razón de estado is itself interesting and warrants further study. It probably plays at least two roles in Calderón's message. First, it refers to yet another of the Thomistic proofs of God or ways of knowing God exists, this one relating to St. Thomas Aquinas's fifth proof based upon the existence of order or governance. Second, it is meant to criticize Machiavellian politics, which insinuated a division, a separation between the practical politics required to run a State and the virtues of religion.

With respect to the first use, as a reference to St. Thomas Aquinas's fifth proof, we might simply begin by quoting Fiore (33-34):
Thus Calderón, following the precepts of natural law, demonstrates that man, through natural reason, can come to know and believe in God por razón de estado if not by faith. . . . With the statement por razón de estado, Calderón refers to Aquinas's fifth demonstration of God which has to do with the governance of things.

St. Thomas Aquinas's fifth "proof" may be quoted here in full:
The fifth proof arises from the ordering of things for we see that some things which lack reason, such as natural bodies, are operated in accordance with a plan. It appears from this that they are operated always or the more frequently in this same way the closer they follow what is the Highest; whence it is clear that they do not arrive at the result by chance but because of a purpose. The things, moreover, that do not have intelligence do not tend toward a result unless directed by some one knowing and intelligent; just as an arrow is sent by an archer. Therefore there is something intelligent by which all natural things are arranged in accordance with a plan---and this we call God.

Quinta via sumitur ex gubernatione rerum. Videmus enim quod aliqua quae cognitione carent, scilicet corpora naturalia, operantur propter finem, quod apparet ex hoc quod semper aut frequentius eodem modo operantur, ut consequantur id quod est optimum; unde patet quod non a casu, sed ex intentione perveniunt ad finem. Ea autem quae non habent cognitionem, non tendunt in finem nisi directa ab aliquo cognoscente et intelligente, sicut sagitta a sagittante. Ergo est aliquid intelligens, a quo omnes res naturales ordinantur ad finem, et hoc dicimus Deum

[S.T. I, q. 2, art. 3]

The fact that there is an Eternal Law under whose governance, that is, God's Providence, the entire world thrives, has great implications for human government. Man and his governments participate in God's government, participate in His providence, and so can never act at odds with it without "kicking against the goad." See Acts 9:5, 26:14. Thus human government is both empowered and limited. It finds justification in participating in the loving Providence of God.

A Dios por razón de estado defends the medieval idea of a universe ordered by eternal law (Hillach 95). Because the eternal law informs all that stands beneath it in the fourfold hierarchy, this defense bears on the laws and the reason of state through which govern their communities on earth. Calderón appeals here to the Neoscholastic concept of law in order to refute the postulates of Machiavellian statecraft and to question the assumption of realist political thinkers that the Christian prince may isolate a limited field in which he is free to proceed according to the demands of secular politics. Calderón’s strategy of applying reason of state to divine positive law denies the autonomy that Machiavelli claims for the political sphere, but it is consistent with the Neoscholastic view that all law are ranged in a single coherent hierarchy. And the proposition that reason of state enjoins obedience to the eternal law has clear implications for those who preside over human society. In this auto, as in many political comedias of the period, the law stands as the pattern of a beneficient order, and human actions are just to the extent of their conformity with higher laws. Through this argument Calderón offers an astute and sophisticated defense of the central axiom of ethicist political thought: that true reason of state cannot be separated from the orders of law and of providence. He sustains this anti-Machiavellian position throughout his political theater, both by exploring the haste with which the procedures of realist politics descend into a self-replicating tyranny and by aligning the institutions and diplomacy of the Hapsburg monarchy with the cycles of providential history. In the affairs of a Christian state, as in the spiritual life of an individual believer, fidelity to the law secures human participation in the order of Creation.”

Rupp, 76.

The term razón de estado may literally find its genesis in Machiavelli's "Ragion de Stato." But one must not think thereby that Calderón intended it in a Machiavellian sense. Indeed, the truth is exactly the opposite. Calderón's use of it was precisely anti-Machiavellian, in line with, for example, the Italian Jesuit Giovanni Botero's (c.1544–1617) use of it, or in the sense of the myriad Spaniard theologians or political philosophers, an example of which may the Spanish Jesuit Pedro de Rivadeneyra (1527-1611). Rivadeneyra wrote his Tratado de la religión y virtudes que debe tener el Príncipe Cristiano para gobernar y conservar sus Estados (Treatise on the Religion and Virtues that a Christian Prince Ought to Have to Govern and Conserve his States), published in 1595, clearly against Machiavelli's immoral concepts of political virtú. Machiavelli was referred to by Rivadeneyera as an "hombre impío y sin Dios, así su doctrina," an "impious man without God, and similarly so his doctrine." Rivadeneyra argues that Machiavelli's political theory is nothing other than the Averroist philosophical "double truth" theory applied to politics. But Rivadeneyra insisted that, in writing against Machiavelli, he was not to be understood as rejecting the reality of reasons of state; rather, the notion of reason of state had to be understood not as being against the natural law and religion, but consistent with it.

Ante todas cosas digo que hay razón de Estado, y que todos los príncipes la deben tener siempre delante de los ojos, si quieren acertar a conservar y gobernar sus Estados. Pero que esta razón de Estado no es una sola, sino dos: una falsa y aparente, otra sólida y verdadera; una engañosa y diabólica, otra cierta y divina; una que del Estado hace religión, otra que de la religión hace Estado; una enseñada de los políticos y fundada en vana prudencia y en humanos y ruines medios, otra enseñada de Dios, que estriba en el mismo Dios y en los medios que Él, con su paternal providencia, descubre a los príncipes y les da fuerza para usar bien de ellos, como Señor de todos los Estados. Pues lo que en este libro pretendemos tratar es la diferencia que hay entre estas dos razones de Estado, y amonestar a los príncipes cristianos y a los consejeros que tienen cabe sí, y a todos los otros que se precian de hombres de Estado, que se persuadan que Dios sólo funda y los da a quien es servido, y los establece, amplifica y defiende a su voluntad, y que la mejor manera de conservarlos es tenerle grato y propicio, guardando su santa ley, y obedeciendo a sus mandamientos, respetando a su religión y tomando todos los medios que ella nos da o que no repugnan a lo que ella nos enseña, y que ésta es la verdadera,cierta y segura razón de Estado, y la de Maquiavelo y de los políticos es falsa, incierta y engañosa. Porque es verdad cierta e infalible que el Estado no sepuede apartar bien de la religión, ni conservarse sino conservando la misma religión.

Before all else, I say that there is such a thing as reason of State, and that all princes ought to always have it before their eyes, if they desire to assure the conservation and governance of their States. But this reason of State is not one, but two: one false and apparent, one solid and true; one tricky and diabolical, the other certain and divine; one where the State makes religion, the other which religion makes the State; one taught by politicians and founded in vain prudence and in human and ruinous means, the other taught by God, which is founded upon the same God and in the means which He, in his fatherly providence, unveils in his princes and gives them the power that He, as Lord of all States, gives them to use for good. So what we will address in this book is the difference that exists between these two reasons of State, and we admonish Christian princes and their counselors and all those who fashion themselves as men of State, that they persuade themselves that God only upholds them and and their power to serve, so long as it establishes, amplifies and defends His Will, and that the best way of conserving the State is by staying in his grace and favor, guarding his religion and taking all the means that religion provides, and not running afoul of it, and that this is the true, certain and secure reason of State, and that of Machiavelli and those of the politicians is false, uncertain, and deceiving. Because it is certain and infalible truth that the State cannot separate itself from the religion, nor conserve itself without at the same time conserving the same religion.

Thus through the natural law and the moral guidance it gave, Intellect was able to see what was true in the Gentile's religion, and what was corrupt. He was able to reject the polytheism and the pagan gods because their immoral behavior, which offended the natural moral law, and was not consonant with the perfection required by the First Cause. Intellect could also reject Atheism, as simply unitellectual and unreasonable. Similarly, Intellect was able to understand that God as First Cause implied that there was governance and order, and therefore there had to be Law. Without Law there was no God, and God's existence implied Law. Though he found what was true in Africa's faith, namely its monotheism, appealing, reason eventually led him to reject Africa's faith before the coming of the prophet Muhammad as vacuous. The natural moral law also allowed him to reject the anticipated prophet himself, as the law he revealed allowed for polygamy, something that violated fundamental precepts of contract and justice, even love, as found in the natural law. Finally, reason allowed Intellect to appreciate the law of the Jew, and see how its completion was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Through reason, he was able to see that the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation were not repugnant to reason. He was also able to appreciate the Law of Grace. The Law of Grace aided men to comply with the Decalogue, which was nothing other than an enumeration, an amplification through Revelation, of the natural law. Thus reason would find nothing unwanting and untoward in Christianity, and though reason alone may not be able to elicit and Act of Faith, it could bring a man sufficiently close to Faith's threshold so as to say that the existence of one God, and the binding nature of the Natural Law and the Decalogue apply universally to all men, because of razón de estado, because of the reason in the way things are, that is, the way things have been Created and the way things are ruled by the loving Providence of God.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 10

THE SYNAGOGUE THREATENS PAUL AND INTELLECT, but they recruit the protection of Gentility. The Synagogue respects Gentility's power, as she is crowned with the laurel of the power of the Emperors of the Roman Empire. Jerusalem, Synagogue concedes, is a colony of the vast Roman Empire. But why is she here to protect Paul when she usually governed by the local vice-regent, leaving Palestine more-or-less in benign neglect? Gentility brings its troops to assure that Synagogue does justice. This is an implied reference to Gentility's earlier threat to Thought and Intellect that Gentility would destroy he who was responsible for the earthquake and other prodigies. The emperors Titus and Vespasian were involved in the Jewish wars that resulted in the destruction of the Temple.

Paul finds it fitting that Gentility should defend him against the hostility of the Synagogue.

Porque la predicación
Hoy de la tercera ley,
Que á la gentilidad pasa.
Con esto explicada esté.

Because the preaching
Today of the Third Law
Which passes to the Gentiles
With this I will explain myself.

What Third Law? Synagogue asks. Gentility is similarly interested in what Third Law Christ intended to introduce. Synagogue suggests that this Third Law is none other than her own, which is the Natural Law as raised by the Divine Law, from two precepts to ten.

La ley
Misma que yo me tenía
(Como ya dije) en Moisés,
Creciendo la natural
De dos preceptos a diez.

The same law
That I had
(as I've already stated) in Moses,
Growing from the natural law
Two precepts to ten.

The Natural Law, Gentility asks, what law was that? The Natural Law itself will tell you, Synagogue defers, and points to the Natural Law at the foot of a tree which is wrapped about by a serpent. The Natural Law speaks at Gentility's approach:

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

De las malicias del mundo,
Huyendo el vago tropel,
Vuelve á pisar mis umbrales?

Of all the evils of the world
Fleeing from the uncultivated heap
Comes now to step on my thresholds?

Gentility answers:

Quien de tí intenta saber
Los fundamentos que Dios
Puso en tu primero ser.

He who intends to know of you
The foundations that God
Put in your first being.

The Natural Law responds:

Que amase á Dios más que á mí,
Y á mi prójimo después
Como á mí, cuyo suave
Yugo, paz y sencillez
Se perturbó en este árbol,
Pues desde entonces quedé
Sujeta á las inclemencias
De saber del mal y el bien.

That you love God more than yourself,*
And then your neighbor as
Yourself, which gentle
Yoke, peace and simplicity
Became disturbed in this tree
And since that time I remained
Subject to the inclemencies
Of the knoweldge of good and evil.

(*Natural Law uses the first person in Spanish, but it is clear she is reciting the first principles as if it is what Gentility should say, in a fashion that one may read a Catechism to a Catechumen (otherwise she would be saying that Gentility ought to love God more than the Natural Law, and then love one's neighbor as one loves the Natural Law, which is clearly nonsense). Perhaps the author was trying to emphasize the personal nature of the Natural Law. I have translated it into second person as if the Natural Law is speaking to Gentility. )

The Natural Law here speaks of Adam's fall, and how the knowledge of good and evil obtained as a consequence of the Fall, has disturbed man's ability to know the Natural Law and to follow it.

From these two precepts of the Natural Law, those that were later obtained, what are they? Gentility asks. Paul lets the Written Law speak for itself, for that Law apears on a crag, with tablets in hand, and a serpent of brass, not unlike Moses is depicted.

Moses with Law and Brazen Serpent

Sí haré,
Pues á la Ley Natural
Seguir la Escrita se ve,
No tendrás ajeno Dios,
Ni el nombre jurarás del;
Santifícale sus fiestas;
Honra á quien te ha dado el ser;
Ni homicida ni lascivo
Seas; el ajeno bien
No envidies, ni quieras de otro
La hacienda ni la mujer.

I will,
Now from the Natural Law
One sees the Written follow,
You shall not have alien Gods,
Nor shall you swear before God's name;
Keep Holy his feasts;
Honor those who have given you life;
Be not murderous, nor lascivious
Do not envy the other, nor desire
Another's home or woman.

What, Gentility asks, did Christ add or take away from the Natural Law and the Written Law? Hereupon comes the Law of Grace, with a cross in hand, and its eyes bound, like Faith is typically depicted.

Eso yo lo explicaré,
Pues por Ley de Gracia soy
La superior á las tres.
No sólo esos diez preceptos
Confirmó en mí; mas porque
Su cumplimiento tuviese
Fianza á no fallecer,
Los fortaleció de siete
Sacramentos, que allí ves
De la Fuente de la Gracia
Perennemente correr.

This will I explain,
As Law of Grace, I am
The superior of the three.
Not only are the ten precepts
Confirmed in me; but because
There was need for confidence that
Compliance with them would not fail,
He strengthened them with
Seven Sacraments, which you see
From the Fount of Grace
Perenially flowing.

The Seven Sacraments of the Law of Grace

The Seven Sacraments--Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, Extreme Unction, Orders, Matrimony--then introduce themselves, each holding in its hand a white sash, that reaches, like pipes or tubes, toward the Eucharist, as if all grace comes from that preeminent Sacrament.

Intellect then summarizes the import of these three laws, the Natural Law, the Decalogue, and the Law of Grace:

Hasta aquí todo tan justo
Y tan suave yugo es
El de una ley que conserva
Los preceptos de las tres,
Que debe el ingenio humano,
Restituido al papel
De Dionisio Areopagita,
Llegándose á convencer
De la doctrina de Pablo,
Con la experiencia de que
Nada su ley nos propone,
Que bien á todos no esté
El creerlo y el amarlo,
Llegando á amar y creer
Por razón de estado cuando
Faltara la de la fe.

Until this point everything is just
And so light a yoke
As one law that conserves
The precepts of all three.
What should human Intellect
Reestablished on the writings
Of Dionysius the Areopagite
Coming to convince itself
Of the teachings of Paul
With the experience that
Nothing that his law proposes for us,
Is not good for all
In believing it and loving it
Coming to love and believe
For reason of State when
Fails that of the Faith.

Synagogue, and likewise Africa, will not accept Intellect's summary, and would rather see the world end. Atheism and Gentility stand by Intellect. And Paul suggests that even Synagogue and Africa will follow, when the world comes to an end, and there is only one Shepherd and one Flock.

Thought, silent until know, suggests that the Truth of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Natural Law, the Decalogue, and the Law of Grace be celebrated, with feasts and with rejoicing. And all now join in unison:

Y contigo
Todos diciendo otra vez,
Que debe el ingenio humano
Llegarlo á amar, y creer
Por razón de Estado cuando
Faltara la de la fe.

And with you
All of us saying once again
That the human Intellect ought
To come to love and believe
For reason of State when
Fails that of the Faith.

Calderón de la Barca

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 9

PABLO, POR QUÉ ME PERSIGUES? Paul, why do you persecute me? both Intellect and Thought hear amidst the thundering roar as they see Paul of Tarsus thrown from his horse, foot in stirrup, being drug to certain death. Thought, faster than Intellect, lends Paul a helping hand, but needs Intellect's greater strength, to lift the shaken Paul to his feet.

Caravaggio's Paul in Damascus

Out comes Synagogue concerned about its favorite child.

Si Pablo muere, yo muero:
¿Qué es esto, Pablo?

If Paul dies, I'll die:
What's this, Paul?

"I've fallen into Thought, and then Intellect," he tells Synagogue, and he is physically blind, but he sees more than he has ever seen before in his life.

Ciego estoy; pero mal digo,
Que nunca he llegado á ver
Más que cuando estoy más ciego.

Blind am I, but I would be lying
If I didn't say that never have I been able to see
More than when I have been blind.

Synagogue wants to know what it is that his favorite son sees, but Paul stammers. It is hard to say what it is hard to know. All he can say is that he has gone about it backwards. Whereas others fall when climbing, he has climbed while falling. He claims that he went to the Third Heaven, whether in body or spirit he does not know. (cf. 2 Cor. 12:2-4).

Synagogue is solicitous, asks Paul to come to him for rest, but Paul has changed, and sees Synagogue as untrustworthy:

La acción deten,
No halagüeñamente fiera
Te acerques.

Stop now!
Do not come near me
You flattering fiend.

Paul flees the embrace of the Synagogue, and the disbelieving Synagogue asks if Paul flees him:

Sí, escandalosa; sí, infiel;
Sí, tirana; sí, alevosa;
Sí, traidora; sí, cruel.

Yes, scandalmonger, yes, unfaithful on,
Yes, tyrant, yes, treacherous,
Yes, traitor, yes, cruel one.

Is this Paul? No, it is no longer Paul. Who then?

Cristo es el que vive en mí.

It is Christ who lives in me.

It is Paulus Christianus, not Paulus Judaeus. Synagogue is flabbergasted. Is this not the very same Christ against whom Paul was sent to battle? But Paul has learned, through God's grace, that the Christ that was crucified was, in fact, truly the Son of God. Synagogue's flabbergastedness turns to fury, but she stays her hand because her favorite son is blind. And Intellect seizes the opportunity to address Paul to see if he can convince him on behalf of Synagogue, only to become convinced of Paul's faith himself. And so the following dialogue:

Intellect: The Crucified One, you say that he was the Son of God?

Paul: Yes.

Intellect: Well, is there more than one God, then?

Paul: No.

Intellect: Well how is he Son of God without being God as well?

Paul: He is also God.

Intellect: How, if he is also God, is the one God two persons?

Paul: More than two, because there are three.

Intellect: Three, and yet one God?

Paul: Yes.

Intellect: How?

Thought interjects to the audience that it is important to attend to the conversation that follows, because Intellect here is now the Dionysius that Paul historically converted in the Areopagus. Paul then enters into a Trinitarian theology: God, who is all good, must needs communicate his infinity. Since God is infinite, however, he cannot communicate himself fully to an finite being. So it follows that God, in his infinity, must communicate to someone with infinite nature as well. If he could not communicate with someone perfectly, then he would be imperfect. So the perfection of God requires that there be another infinite person in God with whom he fully can communicate his infinity. Thus, it was part of God's essence, and a perfection of God's being, that through an infinite act of understanding, he engendered a Son, that is the Son, to whom communication was infinite. The Father, then, who saw the Son, and the Son who saw the Father, shared in the infinite and faithful love for each other, which is nothing other than the Spirit who, being infinite, is equal to the Father and the Son, proceeding from them both. None of these persons was before or after any other, first or last relative to each other, greater or lesser between each other, but they are all equally and substantially God. And so the dogma that Paul saw in the Third Heaven:

Una en los tres la deidad,
Uno en los tres el poder,
Uno en los tres el amor,
Y uno en los tres el saber,
Cierto es que en la esencia es uno,
Siendo en las personas tres.

One and three in Godhead,
One and three in Power
One and three in Love,
And one in three in Knowledge,
Certain it is that they are in essence one
Being in persons three.

The Intellect is absolutely not offended by this mystery, as it does not contradict any tenet of reason:

Sobre la natural luz
Del Ingenio, que al fin es
Parte del alma, he quedado
Satisfecho, al parecer,
Hasta aquí.

With regard to the natural light
Of Intellect, which in the end is
Part of the soul, I remain
Satisfied, it appears,
Up to this point.

Even Synagogue is not offended by this doctrine, as it accords with the faith of Abraham:

Y hasta aquí yo
Poco me debo ofender,
Pues ver tres, y adorar uno,
Me enseñó de Abraham la fe.

And to this point
I also am little offended,
In that seeing three, but adoring one
Is what Abraham taught of the faith.

Abraham Entertains Three Vistors, Father, Son, Holy Spirit

(The reference is to Genesis 18:1-3:

1 And the Lord appeared to him in the vale of Mambre as he was sitting at the door of his tent, in the very heat of the day. 2 And when he had lifted up his eyes, there appeared to him three men standing near him: and as soon as he saw them he ran to meet them from the door of his tent, and adored down to the ground. 3 And he said: Lord, if I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away from thy servant.
This is a classic Trinitarian source text. As one example of many, one may quote St. Augustine's exegesis on this passage in his On the Trinity (De Trinitate):

But since three men appeared, and no one of them is said to be greater than the rest either in form, or age, or power, why should we not here understand, as visibly intimated by the visible creature, the equality of the Trinity, and one and the same substance in three persons?

Cum vero tres visi sunt nec quisquam in eis vel forma vel aetate uel potestate maior ceteris dictus est, cur non hic accipiamus visibiliter insinuatam per creaturam visibilem trinitatis aequalitatem atque in tribus personis unam eandemque substantiam?

On the Trinity (De Trinitate) II.X.20)

Intellect the asks about the purpose of the Son's coming to earth. To which question Paul replies that, in offending against God, man's fault was infinite. Infinite man could not render satisfaction for an infinite offense. It was out of the bounty of God's mercy that the Son came to make infinite satisfaction for man's sin. Incarnate of the Virgin Mother, who was Virgin ante partum, in parto, post partum, without breaking, in the most delicate language, by the "rude pride of human contact, the purity of the white lilly, nor of carnation's hood." (Grosero cierzo de humano / Contacto la candidez / Del botón de la azucena, / Ni el capillo del clavel.)

This also does not offend reason, and Intellect is able to go this far. Likewise, Synagogue accedes, though it believes it will occur in the future, though it has not yet. And still, Paul insists, the Messiah is come.

At this point in the play, Synagogue and Paul get into a religious dispute, almost a litany of opposition, in fact what is technically known as a stichomythia, about whether Jesus Christ is the Messiah, largely based upon whether or not he met with scriptural prophecies concerning the Messiah. It is obvious that neither is making progress convincing the other, and finally Intellect interrupts. At its kernel, Synagogue's grievance is that Christ, being man, claimed to be the Son of God. And Intellect obtains concessions from Synagogue that, beyond this claimed sin, Christ's life was without obvious flaw. One would think, Intellect reasons, that someone who made this claim duplicitously would show in other behavior the effects of have a duplicitous heart. Yet, Synagogue is unable to proffer any evidence of such.

And so Intellect is ready to render his judgment, and he calls Gentility, Atheism, Africa, and Synagogue before him. "Why do you call us again?" they ask:

Para que todos notéis,
Sin que ninguno alegar
Pueda ignorancia después,
Que el Dios ignoto pasible,
Que ojos, manos y oidos es,
Y primer causa de causas,
En boca de Pablo hallé.

So that all of you may note,
Without any of may assert
Ignorance at a later time,
That the unknown, passible God,
That is eyes, hands, and ears,
And that is First Cause of all causes,
I've found in the mouth of Paul.

By ‘doctrine’ and ‘experience’ [Intellect] accounts himself obliged to love and believe in the deity whose ‘law’ has established a rational order beneficient to all humanity. And he now perceives the law in its fundamental unity. The various kinds of laws discovered in the final apariencias are all specific manifestations of the eternal law through which God has created and ordered the universe. The auto’s procedure of applying reason of state to the diverse laws of human religion has ended in an apprehension of the one supreme law. Because reason disposes the human soul to put itself in harmony with the eternal law, this procedure alone is sufficient to lead man to God. Dionysius has turned to the Christian confession for reasons of state, in an act that parallel's Paul’s conversion for reasons of faith

Rupp, 75.

Natural reason accepts the Apostle's preaching as not against reason. Synagogue is incensed, draws forth a sword, and threatens to slay both Paul and Intellect, when Paul and Intellect seek out the protection of Gentility.

Calderón de la Barca

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 8

SYNAGOGUE IS CLOTHED AS A JEW, and Paul, as yet unconverted, dressed in Roman garb. This is Paul, "a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God." Acts 22:3. Synagogue is speaking frankly with Paul about the crucifixion of Christ. Synagogue is amazed at the centurion's comment ("Indeed this was the Son of God," see Matt. 27:54) after Christ's death, and is similarly amazed at the Penitent Thief's remarkable conversion and statement ("Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom," see Luke 23:42). Christ's death itself, and the sorrow it brought enlightened men, similarly tugs at him. From a natural perspective, these things are marvelous, Synagogue concedes. But he will not yield to these, and must remain firm in his resolve against Christ's teachings. And this is why he speaks with Paul.

pues muerto ha de ser mayor
contra cuantos promulgar
su Ley intentan; y así,
Pablo, pues de ti me fío,
toma este decreto mío.

Even dead, we ought to take greater
Actions against those who
Intend to promulgate his law; and so,
Paul, well in you I trust,
Take this decree of mine.

He instructs Paul to depart to Damascus, as he has heard that four humble fisherman, disciples of Christ, are there preaching the bizarre errors of Christ's law, "los extraños errores de aquella ley."

Paul Learning from Gamaliel, St Mary's, Melton Mowbray.

Paul accepts the honor and the charge, and informs Synagogue that he may consider it as good as done. He will squash the inchoate Christians. He will do so in his capacity as Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin and as Roman citizen, to the applause of both Jew and Gentile. Paul is extremely dubious that God and Crucifixion are signs of God, and he begs to be granted leave so as to be, to the dismay of this errant band of fishermen, the lightning, thunder, and ray against the new faith.

As Synagogue and Paul take leave of each other, Thought and Intellect begin to speak, and Thought suggests that Intellect speak to Paul his old friend. But Paul is in too much a hurry to speak to Intellect. He cannot be detained by Intellect, they must speak another day. He knows that he is distancing himself from Intellect, but justifies it because of the alacrity associated with his charge:

Ya lo veo, mas hoy
déjame, Ingenio, que voy
tan veloz que hacer quisiera
que mi pensamiento fuera
mi caballo.

I am aware, but today
Leave me, Intellect, in that
I go so quickly that I wish
That my thought was my

Thought chimes in. Vulgar is Thought that leaves Intellect behind, "bruto es el Pensamiento de quien el Ingenio va atrás dejándose."

Unmoved by Intellect and Thought's efforts to delay him, Paul exits, and Intellect decides to converse with Synagogue, as he is marveled by him. Synagogue is clearly unsettled, however, by the prodigies that have occurred, and, as if with bad conscience, wants to be told that the earthquake, eclipse, and lightning and thunder have nothing to do with its role in Christ's crucifixion and its rejection of his Messianic claims. Synagogue perhaps seeks Intellect's enlightenment. But Intellect was seeking the same from Synagogue, as he has not the answer. Intellect thought that the world was ending or the Creator was suffering, but as the world seems to be continuing, and so he is leaning toward believing that the world's Creator suffered. But Synagogue resists such an idea because of its implications:

No ha sido, no ha sido,
si ya no quieres que sea
autor suyo un sedicioso
nazareno, escandaloso,
que en Palestina y Judea,
en Samaria y Galilea,
predicando aquestos días
dio a entender que era el Mesías,
Hijo de Dios verdadero,
que ha tantos siglos que espero.

It was not, it was not
Unless you want your creator
To be a seditious
Nazarene, a scandal-monger,
Who in Palestine and Judea,
In Samaria and Galilee
Preached these last days,
And gave to understand he was the Messiah,
Truly the Son of God,
Which for many centuries I've expected.

But Synagogue is anxious, if for no other reason than because the signs that all are speaking about and trying to explain occurred contemporaneously with Christ's death. And this linkage Intellect finds compelling him to believe that it was not chance that tied them with Christ's death. Synagogue suggests that Intellect may be unfaithful in leaning in that direction, daring to doubt Synagogue's divine election, so as to throw himself to believe that Christ was the Messiah.

Marc Chagall's Praying Jew

Synagogue then undertakes a long and thorough explanation of why her rejection of Jesus as the Messiah was justified, beginning with her election, her divine pedigree, her Mosaic experience, the divine grant of the Promised Land, and all the divine favors--manna from heaven, water from rock, the Red Sea miracle. How could the recipient of such divine favor err in regard to the Messiah? Synagogue then throws in some technical arguments: that the weeks of Daniel and the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the Messiah were arguably not fulfilled. Synagogue pays short shrift to the miracles of Jesus, suggesting that they were nothing but magical arts. Synagogue also wonders how Jesus could save others if he could not even save himself from the ignominious death on the Cross. And he ends his discourse with a threat:

no en el eclipse me arguyas,
que habrá para ti también
otro rencor, otra ira,
otra saña, otra esquivez,
otro azote u otro acero,
otra cruz u otro cordel.

Do not argue with me about the eclipse
Or there will be for you as well,
Another resentment, another anger
Another malice, another disdain,
Another scourge, another steel,
Another cross, and another cord.

Synagogue leaves, and Thought and Intellect converse. Thought notes that the Synagogue has the two indicia Intellect sought in his search for truth:

Que has hallado
en la Sinagoga ley.
Que adora a un Dios primer causa,
que ojos, manos y oídos es,
y con todo eso te queda
de averiguar y saber
lo que a lo posible toca.

That you have found
In the Synagogue law.
That it adores one God as First Cause,
That he is eyes, hands, and ears,
And with all this yet it remains
That you want to investigate an know
Things that may be possible.

All this is true, but Intellect is troubled. If the Synagogue awaits the Son of God, how can there be one God? Does this not suggest two? And why, to what effect, asks Intellect, would God send his Son as Synagogue believed? And how would this be done? If he came as man, would not that mean he was both God and man? How, moreover, could Jesus have introduced himself as both God and man? And if he was not both God and man as he claimed, how explain the darkness over earth's green carpet and the sky's blue canopy, that were concomitant with his funeral rites? Who was there, Intellect frustratingly asks Thought, who can answer these questions?

Lightning flashes, thunder sounds again, and a voice from the Heavens states, "Paul." Thought and Intellect by some miracle find themselves on the road to Damascus.

Calderón de la Barca

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 7

AFRICA IS DRESSED AS A MOOR, accompanied by men and women, feverishly dancing, perhaps not unlike David before the Ark or as a whirling dervish, as music sings the following refrain, one may imagine in the strains of the muezzin to come:

Bailad, africanos, bailad,
que ya se os acerca el profeta
de Alá.

Dance, Africans, dance,
As soon to you is coming the prophet
Of Allah.

Africa, we learn, has misconstrued the prodigies that accompanied the death of Christ on the Cross, and erroneously interpreted them as signs of the coming of its anticipated prophet, Muhammad.

Intellects asks her:

¿Cómo, África hermosa, el día
de tan grande sentimiento
en tierra, agua, fuego y viento,
celebras con alegría?
¿Qué causa te mueve?

How is it, beautiful Africa, in a day
Of such great expression
On earth, water, fire, and wind
You celebrate with happiness?
What is it that moves you?

Whirling Dervish

Africa recalls meeting Intellect, but cannot recall his name, and admits she does not know him well. Intellect, in a self-deprecating way, suggests that few men know him well: El Ingenio soy humano. And that introduction refreshes Africa's memory.

Africa remembers knowing Intellect in the house of Abraham, who worshiped one sovereign God, and remembers him in Ishmael, source of her monarchy. But from the time Ishmael was cast out from Abraham's tribe because he fancied some idols, she no longer remembers knowing him. Idolatry, Intellect points out, is inconsistent with his presence. But the days of idolatry appear cast aside, as Africa worships one God.

Que un Dios se ha de venerar
ni lo niego ni lo dudo.

That one ought to venerate one God
I neither deny nor doubt.

And this warms Intellect heart to Africa, so that he asks what feast they celebrate, and Africa's answer spills over into her history. She is a descendant of Ishmael and Hagar, both Ishmaelite and Hagarite, who now shuns idols and worships but one God, and yet she has no law. She worships

sin preceptos, porque espero
que de este Dios verdadero
un profeta me los dé,

Without law, because I await
That from this true God
A prophet will give them to me.

So she has been promised by her wise men(morabitos sabios). She celebrates in anticipation of this prophet's imminent coming. So the earthquake, thunder, lightning, all assuage the confident yet anxious anticipation of Muhammad's birth. After patient listening, Intellect states that if that is so, then Africa still does not know him (or his companion Thought) well.

ÁFRICA: ¿Por qué?
INGENIO Porque si buscando
hoy a un Dios vamos los dos,
adonde no hay ley no hay Dios,
y pues le estás esperando,
es precisa consecuencia
que mientras sin ley estés,
estés sin Dios, con que es
más justo hacer de ti ausencia
que no asistirte.

INTELLECT: Because if today us two
Are looking for one God,
Where there is no law there is no God,
And so it is that you are awaiting it,
And the precise consequence is
That while you remain without law
You are without God, in which case
It is more just for us to absent ourselves
And not assist you.

(Calderón here displays a knowledge of Islam. Generally speaking, in Islam, the only law, Shari'a (شَرِيعَةٌ), is God's revealed or positive law as contained in the Qur'an (القرآن‎ al-qur’ān) and the Hadith (الحديث al-ḥadīth) as may be interpreted by religious authority. All law is revealed. All law is will. Law is good because commanded by Allah. It is true that in the 9th century, the mu`tazilah or mutazilite school (المعتزلة al-mu`tazilah) advanced the concept that good and evil were intrinsically so, and not simply because commanded so. They saw some behaviors as good or bad in themselves, and indeed bad or good by their nature, even prior to the divine law that commands them or forbids them. The mutazilites believed that human beings could know by reason good and bad, and so it may be said that they recognized a natural law. However, this school represents a small minority in Islam. The Ash’ari school or asharites (الأشاعرة al-asha`irah), which are dominant in the Sunni orthodoxy, support a contrary theory. They propose a theory of moral occasionalism, do not recognize any consistency in nature, advance the notion that only the positive revelation of God defines good and evil, the just and the unjust, and so do not believe in the natural law. Following the majority school, then, there could not have been a natural law prior to the coming of Islam. Law only came with Muhammad. Prior to his coming, all was a state of ignorance, of Jahiliyah (جاهلية). So Intellect is right according to Islam's own teaching, Africa is worshiping one God in ignorance since they do so, in this point in history, without Law.

Africa's worship of God without law in the times of the Jahiliyah were thus, in Intellect's view, in error. "A donde no hay ley no hay Dios," where there is no law there is not God. That is as true as the Latin statement, ubi caritas, ibi Deus est, God is where love is. Thus, the presence of both love and law is evidence that God is in the room.)

Africa is, however, satisfied in her present state of lawlessness, and retreats into relativism to justify her condition. But Intellect will have none of that. If God is one, there can only be one law. He cannot be served by the anticipated law of the Muslims on the one hand, and the law of the Jew on the other or any other law for that matter. If there is one God, there must be one Law, as the law points to an end, and if the end is the same one God, all law must be one. And so for Intellect there is no cause for celebration. Africa, however, disdains argument:

A mí
no me toca disputar
ley, que espero no tener;
sólo el acero ha de ser
el que la ha de sustentar;
y así, si apurar no quieres,
mira, has de ver y callar,
vuelva a cantar y bailar
cada uno con sus mujeres.

To me
I am not disposed to dispute
Law, which I expect not to have;
Only steel is what ought to be
That which should sustain;
And so, if you do not wish to hurry,
Look, you ought to see and hush,
Return to singing and dancing,
Each one with his women.

Women? Intellect asks. Africa explains that his rite allows for polygamy, that any man may marry as many women as he can support. Thought thinks (with sarcasm? and maybe lasciviously or with incipient chauvinism?): ¡Linda ley! "Pretty law!" This concept offends the more sober Intellect, as it is to him against the natural law, nay, against even love itself, to support a contract wherein a man expects each woman to give her entire self to him, and he gives her but a portion.

Si es contrato natural
amor que confirma el trato,
¿cómo puede ser contrato
lícito el que no es igual?
¿Yo he de querer y ofender
a sus ojos lo que quiero?
¿Pues cómo ofendida espero
que no ofenda la mujer?
Si aun obligada no es prenda
segura en ellas amor,
¿cómo lo será el honor

If it is a natural contract
love that confirms the agreement,
How can it be a licit contract
When it is not equal?
I ought to both love and also cause offense
To the eyes of the one I love?
How, love and fairness offended, can I expect
That such a contract will not offend the woman?
Though she is obligated, she has no surety
Of love in such contracts.
How can it be with honor offended?

African polygamist

Intellect then asks Africa if the anticipated prophet will change or will preserve this barbaric law.

INGENIO ¿Y este precepto también
has de conservar en ti
venido el Profeta?

INTELLECT: And this precept will also
be preserved in you,
the Prophet having come?

This clinches it for both Intellect and Thought. Not only is Africa operating under no law, and acting against natural law principles in their marriage customs, but the very prophet that they anticipate will confirm them in their barbarism.

PENSAMIENTO Y aun hongo.

THOUGHT: What is this?
THOUGHT: And yet still a sickness.

Africa resumes her singing, refusing to entertain any more argument, and sings for the coming of her anticipated prophet, Thought joins, and Intellect mutters:

¿De un abismo en otro abismo,
dónde, Pensamiento, vas?

From one abyss into another abyss,
Where, Thought, are you going?

Thought observes that Africa has one and only God. Yet Intellect insists that they are without Law, and that is equivalent to not having God. To which Thought suggests they pay visit to the Synagogue, as it has both one God and one Law. And they see Synagogue and Paul (before his conversion) advancing.

At first, Intellect is pleased, as he remembers Paul who was his faithful friend when he studied at the school of Gamaliel. But Intellect sees Paul speaking with Synagogue enveloped in anger and zeal, and he wisely decides it is not time to speak, and retires. Thought ends the scene saying:

No es bueno lo que hablan, pues
el Ingenio se retira.

What they are speaking about is not good, as
Intellect retires.

Calderón de la Barca

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 6

THE INTELLECT DECIDES TO WAKE SLUMBERING ATHEISM, an Atheism that is completely unperturbed by the world's suffering. Awakened, Atheism does not recognize Intellect.

¿Al Ingenio no conoces?
Bien se ve cuán bruto eres.

You don't recognize Intellect?

Well now do I know how obtuse you are.

Intellect wants to elicit Atheism's opinion of the natural phenomena they have witnessed. In short, he wants Atheism to explain suffering. In Intellect's effort to search for truth, he is willing to listen to Atheism's views. In response, Atheism likens the Cosmos to the human body, composed of different qualities, the four humors, and subject similarly to sickness and disease. Like the human body, the Cosmos, a universal body, is subject to the heat or cold of distemper. The world is subject to grippe. Atheism is therefore not surprised by the distempers of the time. They are no more surprising to him than the common cold, and for this reason he was able to sleep during their occurrence.

Calderón de la Barca

Intellect asks Atheism whether he has given thought to how his theory tallies with the notion of a First Cause.

ATEÍSMO: ¿Quién primera causa ha sido?
INGENIO: Un dios, que vamos buscando
por todo el mundo los dos.

ATEÍSMO: ¿Un dios?


ATEÍSMO: ¿Qué cosa es Dios?

INGENIO: Eso voy investigando.

ATHEISM: What is the First Cause?
INTELLECT: One God, Whom we two
are seeking
all around the world.


ATHEISM: What sort of a thing is God?

INTELLECT: That's what I'm investigating.

This is one search Atheism has never bothered with, because he presupposed that he would not, indeed could not, find such a Being.

How, then, Intellect, challenges, does Atheism explain the existence of the World? The World apparently exists. Who, then, made it? Intellect asks.

Atheism's answer is that the World made itself: Él se hizo. How then explain the order in the World, its regularity? The fact that the Sun sets in the West, and not the East? All, this, Atheism suggests, is happenchance. Uno y otro sería acaso.

And so, Atheism's life, his being, his soul, his eyes are the result of happenchance?

Y di, ¿el acaso podía darte
a ti vida, alma y ser?

Quien dio ojos para ver
todo ojos no sería.
¿Quien dio oídos, todo oídos?

ien manos, ¿manos todo?
¿Y de aquese mismo modo
es todos cuantos sentidos

con superior armonía

le dieron ser al no ser?

And tell me, could chance give
You life, soul, and being?

Who gave you eyes to see
Wouldn't it be one who is all-seeing?

Who gave ears? The all-hearing?

Who gave hands? One that is all-hands?
And in the same vein
All the other senses

With superior harmony

Came into being from nothing?

Atheism simply points out the fact that he did nothing but be born, knows not why, nor when. His father gave him birth, just like his father's father gave his father birth, and so ad infinitum. He sees no reason in anything.

Intellect insists, going back generations, who was at the beginning? What started this chain? Atheism suggests that it is all explicable through corruption of prime matter.

Puedo pensar que la prima materia
se corrompió
y al
primer hombre engendró.

I like to think that prime

Matter became corrupt

And engendered the first man.

But this is sheer materialism, and cannot explain those things in man that cannot be said to be material. This does not explain the reason in the human soul, nor does it explain its immortal nature. Intellect asks:

Y el alma que en él anima,
¿pudo de corrupción tal
¿No lo ves,
siendo inmortal como es?

How can the immortal soul have engendered itself as a result of corruption? Atheism shrugs his shoulders, and denies that the soul is spiritual and enjoys immortality. His only knowledge is that only birth and death are certain. Beyond that he knows nothing else. He suggests that they stop the discussion so as to be friends and proposes an Epicurean ethic:

Yo no sé que hay más que nacer y morir.
Y así argumentos dejemos,

y por que amigos seamos

comamos hoy y bebamos,

que mañana moriremos.

I don't know that there is anything more
Than birth and dying.

And so, let us leave arguments aside,

And so as to be friends

Let us eat and drink today,

For tomorrow we die.

Atheism, who believes not in eternal life and the resurrection of the dead, has read St. Paul or Isaiah, or shares in their sentiments, though not in their faith: "If the dead are not raised, 'Let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'" (1 Cor. 15:32; Cf. Isaiah 22:13) Atheism does not believe in eternal life, and so, like a beast, he falls for a shallow Epicurean ethic. There is no mention of the darker side of Atheism's ethic, one mentioned by the character Ivan in Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, and one reflected in such modern horrors as the Holocaust, or in Stalin's and Mao's brutal policies: "If there is no God, then everything's permitted."

This simply too much for Intellect. One cannot argue with someone who denies first principles. He speaks with the same frustration, perhaps, as King Juan Carlos did at the empty verbal tripe of Hugo Chavez.

Calla, calla, que tan ciega
doctrina no se ha de oír,
pues no se debe arguir

con quien los principios niega.

Hush, hush, such blind

Doctrine ought not to be heard,

As one cannot argue

With he who first principles denies.

Thought becomes belligerent at Atheism's wholesale refusal to reason, at his crass materialism, his carpe-diem attitude.

Discursos buenos ni malos
con él no tienes que hacer,
que éstos no se han de vencer

a razones, sino a palos.

Amigo, si no hay primera
¿quién mueve mi
a darte este mojicón?

Neither good nor bad discourse

Do you have to engage in with him,

Persons like these one cannot defeat

With reason, but with sticks.

Friend, if there is not a First Cause,
Then who is it that moves my

Action to give this this punch in the face?

Thought smacks Atheism in the face. Are you crazy, loco? Atheism asks. Upon learning that it is Thought that hit him, Atheism decides to flee, as he mutters that he has not ever in his life been pleased with Thought and seeks not to have his life burdened by it. Though Intellect attempted to stop the fray, he realizes the vanity of it:

No en vano confieso
sus devaneos
Theos Dios y Antitheos

el contradiós, con que es llano

que los ateístas son
por quien
David repetía
que el no haber Dios
lo decía
el necio en su corazón.

Not in vain,

Do I confess, the idle pursuit
Theos God and Antitheos

The Anti-God; it is plain

That the atheists are those

Of whom David repeated
That he who says there is no God

Is a fool in his heart.

This is a clear reference to Psalm 14(13):1: Dixit stultus in corde suo non est Deus.

It is right to flee from this error, Intellect observes. But this causes Thought to ask what they are now to do:

PENSAMIENTO: ¿Y dónde habrá en quien reposes
si huyes de quien tiene dioses

y huyes de quien no los tiene?

THOUGHT: And where will you ultimately settle

If you run from those who have gods,

And you run from those who have none?

To which Intellect responds:

INGENIO En quien tenga sólo uno,
que si un error a otro igualo,

tener muchos es tan malo

como no tener ninguno.

INTELLECT: To one who has only one
In that I equate one error to another

Of having many gods is as evil

As having none.

In that case, Thought suggests, they ought to go to Africa. Africa is full of Ishmaelites and Hagarites, descendants of Ishamel and Hagar, and they believe in one God whom they call Allah, quien es Dios grande, who is a great God.

Calderón de la Barca

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 5

THE EARTHQUAKE DISPERSED THE PEOPLE who flee in panic, leaving only Gentility, Intellect, and Thought on stage. It may seem that Calderón pulls the earthquake out of sheer air, as if it were a Deus et machina. But the earthquake has historical significance, and it ties in to Intellect's search for God. The earthquake is coupled with a solar eclipse, with darkness, and with the dead spewing forth from graves. Moreover, these natural prodigies all occur at mid-afternoon. All this is a clear reference to Christ's death on a cross. The Synoptic Gospels all attest to these sorts of phenomena occurring at Christ's death. Another reference by Gentility later on in the auto to the Roman emperors Vespasian (r. 69-79 A.D.) and Titus (r. 79-81 A.D.), the emperors who participated in the Jewish Wars and the destruction of the Temple, clearly place the discussion that occurs between Gentility and Intellect between the old dispensation and the new dispensation. Intellect's search for God begins after Christ's Incarnation.

Marc Chagall's White Crucifixion

Gentility, Intellect, and Thought appear at a loss to explain the apparent violation of natural law, in the incipient chaos. What does it portend, Gentility asks repeatedly, that the sky has darkened with a thick veil, that the sun has is in melancholy agony, captured by the bandit of the night, that the stars are errant accomplices of day's theft, that the moon has retraced its steps in light of the sun's misfortune, that the sea groans violently, and that the earth spews out bodies?

¿Cubrirse el Cielo, el Sol oscurecerse,
faltar la luz, la luna ensangrentarse,
los astros irse, el mar embravecerse,
la tierra piedra a piedra quebrantarse,
el fuego helarse, el aire entumecerse,
y todo, en fin, que quiere ser turbarse
tanto que vuelve todo el caos parece?

The heavens covering, the sun obscuring,
Light failing, the moon covered in blood,
The stars departing, the sea angering,
The earth rock by rock breaking up,
The fire freezing, the air thickening,
And all, in fine, disturbed and in disorder
So much so that chaos appears to have returned?

We have crossed from the natural to the supernatural, and so human intellect is not able to comprehend or explain, "el Ingenio humano aún no se halla capaz de saberlo." Dumbfounded, the Intellect can only repeat a similar answer to the six different ways in which Gentility asks the question: that the world is ending or its Creator suffering.

GENTILIDAD: ¿Que todo expira ó su Hacedor padece
sólo me respondes?

GENTILITY: That all is ending or its Creator suffers
is your only response?

Gentility is highly dissatisfied with Intellect's answer. To speak of a Creator is to speak of a first principle, and he who speaks of a first principle also speaks of an immense power, one able to be the origin of everything, and eternally before and after such creation. How, then, Gentility asks, can God who is Creator and has such power, be said to suffer? Does Intellect suggest that God is passible, that is, capable of feeling or suffering?

[Note that the question asked by Gentility is after the Incarnation, after the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus was the Son of God, with a divine nature and a human nature, the second person of the Trinity, that is, God, indeed suffered through his human nature. God, by assuming human nature, has indeed become passible. But since this mystery, being supernatural, is beyond the natural law, neither Gentility nor the Intellect have any knowledge of it, as Faith comes through hearing and hearing by the Word of God. They have yet to encounter St. Paul. Gentility will ultimately find the notion of a passible God foolish. Intellect believes it may exist in mystery, and, as Dionysius, he will find the passible God in the Christian revelation of the Incarnation, a Revelation which allows him to reconcile suffering and God as First Principle and First Cause.

Intellect's expression is Dionysian in origin, though almost certainly legendarily Dionysian. The phrase is a translation of the Latin phrase "Aut Deus naturae patitur, aut mundi machina dissolvitur," which translates as "either nature is suffering, or the world's fabric is dissolving." According to Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church (Vol. 4, § 137), that phrase is (probably wrongly) attributed to Dionysisus in the old Roman Breviary. He is said to have exclaimed it upon witnessing the solar eclipse that followed Christ's death while in Heliopolis, Egypt. The phrase is also found in the 9th century Greek writer Michael Syngelus (or Syncellus or Syncelli) as "ὁ ἄγνωστος ἐν σαρκὶ πάσχει θεός" or "ἢ τὸθεῖον πάσχει, ἢ τῷ πάσχοντι συμπάσχει."]

Intellect intimates that there may be more to things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in Gentility's philosophy:

INGENIO: . . . Y así,
entre tu yerro y mi yerro,
tú creyendo y yo dudando,
a discurrir me resuelvo.


INGENIO: Que aunque implique, uno y otro
puede haber.


INGENIO: Fundamento,
pues tú le estás ignorando
para estar él padeciendo.

INTELLECT: . . . And so,
between your error and my error,
your belief and my doubt,
I resolve to discourse once again.


INTELLECT: That, though it may imply, one thing and another
there may be . . .


Then, that you are ignoring,
That may explain suffering.

It appears that Intellect is close to recognizing "Christ crucified . . . to Gentiles foolishness." (1 Cor. 1:23). Gentility, however, refuses to entertain such foolishness. Intellect refuses to believe in the unknown God. An impasse has been reached. And Thought vacillates until both Gentility and Intellect exclaim in exasperation:

¡Oh, cuál anda entre los dos
vacilando el Pensamiento!

Oh, who goes between us both
vacillating but Thought!

Intellect finally persuades Thought to go with him, in that he offers Thought the promise of a God with eyes, ears, and hands, and one able to suffer, a passible personal God. Intellect believes there must be some reconciliation, some synthesis between these extremes:

Como desvelada la confusión
de mi ingenio
en dos extremos tan grandes
como tu extremo y mi extremo.
En ti imaginando un Dios
de ojos, manos y oídos lleno,

que, como dijiste, sea
causa de causas,
y luego
en mí un Dios imaginado
a la vista de este estruendo,

que sea pasible, he de hacer
de ambas dudas
un compuesto
para asunto de este acto.

el Mundo por cuantas Leyes,

cuantos Ritos, cuantos Fueros

una y otra Religión tienen,
hasta que mi anhelo,
haciendo razón de estado,
la que ahora de dudar tengo,
la causa halle de las causas,
que tenga
(toda oídos siendo, toda ojos, toda manos)
la conveniencia de serlo para padecer.

As if vigilant

The confusion of my Intellect

Between two such large extremes

Like your extreme and my extreme.

In you imagining a God of eyes, hands, and ears full,
Which, as you said, is

The cause of causes, and next

In my imagined God,

In light of this tumult,
Who is passible, I ought to

Make of both doubts a composite

For reason of this act.

Wandering then

The worlds and its myriad laws,

Its myriad rites, and myriad statutes,
One or other religion,
Until my longing,

Based upon the state of state,
That in which I now have doubt

The cause of all causes may have yet
(all ears being, all eyes, all hands)
The ability of being allowing it to suffer.

Gentility suggests that Intellect stay with him to find such a god.

Si intentas hallar tal Dios, ¿dónde, ciego,
le has de hallar si no es en mí,

que en todas partes le tengo?

If you intend To find such a God, where, blind one,
Will you find him if not with me,
Who have the gods of all parts?

Gentility lists seriatim the various pagan gods for Intellect's perusal: Mercury, Jupiter, Ceres, Neptune, Apollo, Juno, Mars, Flora and Venus, Minerva, and Saturn. And Intellect in turn rejects them all. Why? Gentility asks. And he gives his reason:

Porque considero
que quien tiene muchos dioses

no tiene al que yo pretendo,

mayormente cuando en
los que me has nombrado
que a las dos contradicciones
de los dos discursos nuestros
añades otra imposible
de vencer.

Because I consider

That he who has many gods

Does not have the one I seek,
But most of all, when in all

Those gods that you have named

I find that in addition to the
Two contradictions

Raised by our two discussions

You have added another that

Is impossible to overcome.

Gentility wants to know what it is that renders her polytheism, her pagan gods, so unattractive an answer to his search. How? Intellect's responds:

Cómo en lo ignorado
y en lo pasible cubierto

puede algún misterio haber

que por ahora no comprendo.

Pero en lo pecaminoso

no es posible haber misterio
que a la razón natural no repugne,
pues más cierto
es de un Dios
en los delitos
quitarlos que cometerlos.

God's uknowability and
His passibility may be

Covered in some mystery

That for now I do not understand.

But there can be no mystery

In what is sinful

Since that is repugnant to
Natural reason, and it is
Certain that God's being is

To remove sins, rather than commit them.

Intellect then lists the many sins of the pagan Gods, the thefts, the anger, the deceit, the adultery, the jealousy and envy . . . in fine, the viciousness of the pagan gods. This, in itself, is reason for rejecting them and turning elsewhere for an answer. The natural law precludes the notion that God can be sinful, can be the subject of any vice.

This reasoning is enough for Thought; it clinches his loyalty, and he sides thereafter with Intellect. And Gentility departs with an ominous threat that, if these two were the cause of the eclipse and earthquake, she would wreak vengeance through Titus and Vespasian, the Caesars of herImperium.

Gentility departs, and Intellect and Thought ponder their next step. It must be transcendent, a hopeful, confident Intellect suggests. Yet it is Thought who recommends the next step:

Pues en esa confianza
ven, y ya que a tu concepto

desagradan muchos dioses,

pasemos de extremo a extremo,

vamos donde no hay ninguno.

Well in such confidence

Come, and now that your concept

Finds disagreeable many gods,

Let us go from extreme to extreme.

Let us go where there is no god at all.

And so it is that they see Atheism, dressed as an American Indian in animal skins, sleeping on the edge of a crag.

Calderón de la Barca