73. The Regensburg Address of Pope Benedict XVI, Part 2

Pope Benedict XVI expounded on how Greek philosophy ties in with modern theology and how the logos of the Greeks really points to God and his transcendence.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI delivers an address in Regensburg, Germany, in 2006. (Credit: AP)

In the above photo, Pope Benedict prepares to give his Regensburg Address, which resulted in a firestorm of controversy throughout the world. Please read post 72 to get the essential background of this address. In that post, I discussed Pope Benedict’s idea that it was the relationship between Greek philosophy and Christian revelation that built Western Civilization. In this post, I examine Pope Benedict’s thoughts on what went wrong and how to repair the damage.

Continue reading “73. The Regensburg Address of Pope Benedict XVI, Part 2”

72. The Regensburg Address of Pope Benedict XVI, Part 1

Pope Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address concerning the disharmony between faith and reason in the modern world gave rise to much controversy instead of introspection.
Pope Benedict XVI

On Tuesday, September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address to representatives of science from Bavaria at the University of Regensburg, Germany entitled Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections. His 4,000-word address dealt with the very theme of this blog – the relationship between faith and reason, particularly from the perspective of Greek philosophy. As such, the address stands as one of the clearest elucidations of this subject in modern times. His words continue to inspire me as I write this blog.

The Regensburg address also caused much controversy, as the truth always does, stirring up protests and violence throughout the world. Many modern commentaries focus on this controversy, completely missing the entire point of his lecture. In honor of Pope Benedict and in light of his recent passing on December 31, 2022, I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss his Regensburg Address, its controversy, and his take on faith and reason.

Continue reading “72. The Regensburg Address of Pope Benedict XVI, Part 1”

71. Plato’s ‘Crito’: Crito’s Attempt to Rescue Socrates from Death, Part 2

Plato's Crito offers some information on Socrates' view of justice.
Getty Images

In part I of this story, I explained how Crito tried unsuccessfully to convince Socrates to abandon his noble stance of proceeding with his execution and implored him to take the escape route planned out by Crito and others. I discussed how Crito approached the situation from a totally self-centered perspective: What would Crito’s friends think if they thought that Crito did not help his friend escape? It was all about Crito. He was approaching the situation from a common person’s perspective and not from a philosopher’s perspective.

Now Crito, in desperation, tries one last time to deter Socrates from the cup of poison hemlock.

Continue reading “71. Plato’s ‘Crito’: Crito’s Attempt to Rescue Socrates from Death, Part 2”

70. The True Meaning of Christmas – Killing Serpents

This is photo of a statue of Mary crushing the serpent that I took when I attended an African American Catholic Church in Columbus, Ohio.

In reality, many of us do not look forward to Christmas because it is a time of stress at worst, or syrupy sentimentalism at best. This is because we have lost the true meaning of Christmas – the killing of serpents. Once we realize that Christmas is about killing serpents, then our lives will improve greatly and we will be invigorated with a zest for living again.

Genesis 3:15 is the first prophesy in the Bible announcing the coming of the Messiah, the birth of Jesus.1 It is the first Christmas prophecy, if you will, and speaks about the coming of the Savior, a Savior who came to crush the serpent’s head.

So the Lord God said to the serpent…”I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

– Genesis 3:15 (RSV)
Continue reading “70. The True Meaning of Christmas – Killing Serpents”

69. Plato’s ‘Crito’: Crito’s Attempt to Rescue Socrates from Death, Part 1

Socrates' non-philosopher friend Crito tries to convince him to escape his death sentence.
Crito closes the eyes of his deceased friend Socrates in a late 18th century relief by sculptor Antonio Canova

In Plato’s dialogue Crito, we have an account of an attempt by Crito to rescue Socrates from death. Crito had devised a way of escape, but Socrates refused. Socrates’ adamant refusal to save his own life gives us yet another glimpse into the life of this humble philosopher who changed the course of Western civilization.

Continue reading “69. Plato’s ‘Crito’: Crito’s Attempt to Rescue Socrates from Death, Part 1”

68. Plato’s Apology: Socrates’ Defense at His Trial Before His Execution, Part 2

Socrates' testimony prior to his execution seems to indicate that Socrates believed in the one true God.
Socrates Address by Belgian artist Louis Joseph Lebrun, 1867

Socrates left no writings of his own, and all we know about him comes through Plato’s writings, including his dialogue Apology. The Apology is a recounting, through Plato’s eyes, of Socrates’ testimony and the trial leading up to his execution. Of all of Plato’s writings, this dialogue especially captures the human side of Socrates and his belief in a singular god. If we want to know Socrates the man – his desires, motivations, struggles, and core beliefs – then this is the dialogue to read. It is as if Plato takes the two-dimensional, black-and-white image of Socrates that we are all accustomed to and adds vivid color, breathing new life into him and animating him to the point that we feel like we know him.

Continue reading “68. Plato’s Apology: Socrates’ Defense at His Trial Before His Execution, Part 2”

67. Plato’s Apology: Socrates’ Defense at His Trial Before His Execution, Part 1

The trial of Socrates, as presented in Plato's Apology, featured an amazing defense of himself, typical of Socrates' style of getting others to think for themselves.
Trial of Socrates by English School

Most defendants in a capital case have the singular goal of saving their own lives. With Socrates, we get a different impression. Although he would have no doubt welcomed an acquittal, we get the sense that Socrates’ primary goal was to enlighten those in the Athenian courtroom the day of his trial – to encourage them to seek the truth – since he was always the consummate teacher.

Continue reading “67. Plato’s Apology: Socrates’ Defense at His Trial Before His Execution, Part 1”

66. The Only Way to Save the Earth

This painting reminds us of the awe-inspiring nature of Earth as God's creation. The Christian view of climate change can align with the green revolution and the pop culture idea to save the earth if we keep in mind why the earth was created in the first place.
Noah: The Eve of the Deluge, oil on canvas painting by John Linnell, 1848, Cleveland Museum of Art

I want to save the earth just about as much as anyone else. It is all the rage these days. And as I think about it, I probably want to save the earth more than most other people. If you want to save the earth, chances are that your ambitions are actually way too small. You see, I don’t just want to save the earth, I want an entirely new one. This earth seems worn out. Why not replace it?

Continue reading “66. The Only Way to Save the Earth”

65. Euthyphro’s Dilemma and the Relationship Between God and Goodness

St. Thomas Aquinas repopularized the work of the Greeks, including Plato and Aristotle, leading those in modern times to examine what he might have thought about Euthyphro's dilemma.

What is the relationship between God and justice? Is something just because God wills it, or does God will it because it is just? This is the essence of what has been termed Euthyphro’s dilemma. I introduced this in my previous post 64 in the context of Socrates questioning a young, arrogant man, named Euthyphro, on the nature of piety in the eponymously named dialogue by Plato.

In that dialogue, Euthyphro, Socrates posits the question as follows:

Consider this: Is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods?

– Plato, Euthyphro 10a

We can really substitute the words “justice” and “goodness” for the word “piety” to frame the question in more modern terminology. In other words, is something good because God wills it, or does God will it because it is good?

And lest we think that this discussion is not relevant for today, consider the following line by rapper Jay-Z from the song “No Church in the Wild”:

Is pious pious ’cause God loves pious? Socrates asked ‘Whose bias do y’all seek?’1

What is the significance of this dilemma for us today and why did Jay-Z reference it?

Continue reading “65. Euthyphro’s Dilemma and the Relationship Between God and Goodness”

64. Socrates’ Authentic Search for Piety in Plato’s Dialogue ‘Euthyphro’

Socrates found himself in some trouble in Plato’s Euthyphro. He had just been indicted on serious charges by a relatively unknown Athenian citizen. Miletus, his principle accuser, was simply a mouthpiece and puppet for Socrates’ true arch-enemy Anytus, a powerful Athenian politician.1 Miletus’ affidavit stated that Socrates was guilty of corrupting the youth and also of impiety towards the gods – both serious offenses, the impiety charge being especially so.

When the dialogue opens, we find Socrates at the king-archon’s court to answer his indictments. King-archon was one of the nine principle magistrates of Athens.2 This particular court had oversight of legal cases involving alleged offenses of impiety toward the Olympian gods. The worship of the gods, which included various rituals and purifications, fell under the purview of the civil government.

At the court, Socrates just happened to run into Euthyphro, a professional priest who considered himself, and was considered by others, to be an expert in such matters of piety and ritual.3 Euthyphro tells Socrates that he is there to file murder charges against his father.

What is the purpose of this dialogue? At the end, I will give you my unique perspective that I have not seen anywhere else.

Continue reading “64. Socrates’ Authentic Search for Piety in Plato’s Dialogue ‘Euthyphro’”
%d bloggers like this: