We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Truth hurts. Ayaan Hirsi Ali confronts liberal complacency.

H/T Orbis Catholicus Secundus

Harvard University faculty member and best selling author Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a few choice words for western intellectuals.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AkAGc5nOXw
[ partial transcript ]
(1:35) For more than a decade, my message has been simple: Islam is not a religion of peace. (Wait... don't hang up the phone just yet!) When I assert this, I do not mean that Islamic belief makes all muslims violent. This is manifestly not the case: there are many millions of peaceful muslims in the world. What I do say is that the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam. Moreover, this theologically sanctioned violence is there to be activated by any number of offenses, including but not limited to adultery, blasphemy, homosexuality and apostasy—that is, to leave Islam (Consult the Catholic Catechism for a much more highly nuanced distinction between persons and behaviours 2357, 2358, 2359).
Those who tolerate this intolerance do so at their peril.
(2:15) As someone who who has known what it is to live without freedom, I watch in amazement as those who call themselves liberals and progressives, people who claim to believe so fervently in individual liberty and minority rights, make common cause with the forces in the world that manifestly pose the greatest threat to that very freedom and those very minorities. (There should be nothing surprising about the fact that liberals and progressives are not willing to defend inalienable rights... because their worldview does not admit the reality of rights which precede and trump the state. Their "saviour" is the state. At the first encounter with evil, liberals run for cover and hide behind the real heroes of freedom.)
(2:37) In 2014, I was invited to accept an honorary degree from Brandeis University for the work I have done on behalf of women's rights in the muslim world. That invitation was withdrawn after professors and students protested my criticism of Islam. My subsequent "dis-invitation", as it came to be called, was no favour to muslims. Just the opposite. By labelling critical examination of Islam as inherently racist, we make the chances of reformation far less likely.
There are no limits on criticism of Christianity at American universities or anywhere else, for that matter. Why should there be of Islam? (Because a double standard and/or hypocrisy is preferable to fairness and the truth? Because pseudo-intellectuals are too cowardly to stand up for freedom?) Instead of contorting Western intellectual traditions so as to not offend our muslim fellow citizens, we need to defend both those traditions and the muslim dissidents who take great risks to promote them.
—text transcribed from the video. Times in parentheses refer to the video. Closed-captioning is available on the video. Complete script at: https://www.prageru.com/courses/political-science/islam-religion-peace
Ayaan Hirsi Ali's call for a reformation of Islam is a risky undertaking. Ali has increased her exposure to sanctions and unjust censorship by providing a blunt criticism of foundational Islamic texts which, in her opinion, are the fonts from which violent Islamist groups draw their strength. Ali says, for example, that "the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam". By exposing the nexus between a violent ideology and what muslims believe to be the inerrant text of the holy book of Islam, Ali has struck a raw nerve in her former religious community. Her forthright critique of her former religion has led to threats against her life.
It remains to be seen how much of an effect Ali's work will achieve among Western academics who are, as Ali puts it, preoccupied with "contorting Western intellectual traditions... ." She reminds us that we need to defend those (intellectual) traditions.

There was a time when western intellectuals had the spine to defend the Solzhenitsyns, Vaclav Havels and others who were subject to persecution by those clinging to an oppressive ideology. More than ever, the West needs its bona fide intellectuals to stand up for reason and inalienable rights. Otherwise, an already fading academic freedom will be reduced to a quaint idea.

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