Not until fairly recently has corruption been recognized as a valid topic within the social sciences, perhaps partly because it’s not easily verified. Also, shrewd researchers wishing to avoid repercussions in an imperfect world may know when it’s best to keep quiet.
Corruption most often involves bribery and abuses of legitimate authority.¹ In business and government corruption may take place between as few as two people or among a relatively small number or insiders. Some examples in government would be employing a less qualified person than others or closing a business deal as a result of clandestine social and/or economic connections. In business, examples would be market collusion and all types of fraud involving more than one person.
Extreme conspiracy theorists contend that a so-called ‘culture of fear’ is purposefully orchestrated by inherently deceptive governments in order to legitimize wars and bolster certain markets. Along these lines, some believe that corruption has permeated Western culture to a degree formerly associated with so-called third and second world countries. But again, proof is usually hard to find and, most likely, always will be.
Within psychology and especially theology, the term corruption refers to specific individuals or groups whenever an action is deemed morally degrading by another group claiming moral authority. In some circles of Eastern and Western mystical theology corrupt acts are said to “pollute” the individual soul (or in Buddhism, to attract negative skandhas).
These two ideas of corruption – the social vs. the psychological and theological – may at first seem separate. But on closer inspection, they’re arguably connected. As Jesus puts it in Matthew 7:18, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot produce good fruit.” True, Christ is talking about true and false religious prophets in this passage, but it seems fair to generalize this idea to all aspects of life.
So what does this mean for the average person in our imperfect world? Even the upright schoolteacher or respected academic has probably photocopied material that is under copyright. And many decent folks made cassette tapes of their favorite albums back in the day.
The answer to this question has spawned a lot of debate in philosophy and theology about ethics, and clever thinkers have come up with a range of ideas from “situational ethics” to “necessary evil” to try to grapple with the realities of imperfect beings living in an imperfect world.
Moreover, in sociology and economics were hear arguments about the alleged positive aspects of crime–for instance, crime is said to be good for anti-crime businesses and services (e.g. anti-virus software), as well as for neutral market areas (e.g. the old cassette tape). And even the classical sociologist Emile Durkheim believed that a limited amount of crime was good for society because it helped to define boundaries for acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior, this awareness strengthening society as a whole.² But ultimately, it seems only God can know what’s right and wrong, this also being one of Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 7:1).
¹ For a good list of these potential abuses, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption.
² For a good discussion on Durkheim’s view, see http://misssrobinson.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/how-do-functionalists-explain-crime
Corruption - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato.stanford.edu/entries/corruption)
Transparency International (transparency.org)
- ‘Good governance vital to fight graft in society’ (arabtimesonline.com)
- (Video) Study names Chicago most corrupt city in United States (nalert.blogspot.com)
- OpBerlusconi: Anonymous Launches Campaign Against Italian Government – Video (news.softpedia.com)
- Watch Video as Protesters storm Nigeria Ministry of Justice over Corruption (dailygistxtra.com)
- Corruption and Political Parties (anaksisahbom.wordpress.com)
- Pakistan tries new way of tackling corruption (miamiherald.com)
- Punjab tries new way of tackling corruption (dawn.com)
- Ghana’s defence sector corrupt – TI (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- TI reports defense sector corruption (fcpablog.com)
- Political Corruption (towardchange.wordpress.com)
Duns Scotus (1266-1308) was a Scottish Franciscan theologian, likely born in Duns Berwickshire.
Scotus challenged St. Thomas Aquinas on the relation between faith and reason. Aquinas argued that if one first believed, knowledge of God would follow. That is, reason (a form of conceptual knowledge) followed and supported faith (a set of specific beliefs). Therefore for Aquinas faith and reason were closely related.
Scotus, on the other hand, divorced faith from reason, arguing the two were irreconcilable. His quick mind earned him the title of Doctor Subtilis (the subtle doctor). Along these lines, he advocated the theological idea of something halfway between a mere concept and a reality, an idea of interest to contemporary sociologists (especially non-reductive postmoderns) and philosophers.
Like other realist philosophers of the period (such as Aquinas and Henry of Ghent) Scotus recognised the need for an intermediate distinction that was not merely conceptual, but not fully real or mind-dependent either. Scotus argued for an formal distinction (distinctio formalis a parte rei), which holds between entities which are inseparable and indistinct in reality, but whose definitions are not identical. For example, the personal properties of the Trinity are formally distinct from the Divine essence. Similarly, the distinction between the ‘thisness’ or haecceity of a thing is intermediate between a real and a conceptual distinction. There is also a formal distinction between the divine attributes and the powers of the soul.†
Scotus’ defense of the Papacy was ridiculed by Protestant reformers in the 16th century, contributing to the pun “dunce.”
- Blessed Duns Scotus: Defender of the Immaculate Conception (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Blessed Duns Scotus, faithful disciple of Saint Francis (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Lourdes exhibit celebrates Bible (toledoblade.com)
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (c. 500 CE) was a Syrian believed to be the author of a series of works synthesizing Christian and Platonic thought. Also called Pseudo Dionysus,¹ he’s best known for his Celestial Hierarchies, which classifies angels into three hierarchies, each consisting of three thrones.
According to this schema, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones are closest to God. The next set of beings, not quite as close to God, are the Dominations, Virtues and Powers. The third set are furthest from God. They are the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. The highest beings are entirely rapt in God’s glory, continually singing His praises, while the lower two levels interact with mankind.
Dionysius is also known for his distinction between the “affirmative” (kataphatic) and “negative” (apophatic) approaches to theology. The negative approach argues that God is above and beyond worldly, conceptual attempts to affirm or deny the existence of the divine.
Adherents of negative theology believe that God exists in God’s own light and may be approached only through “pure and spotless spirit and prayer.”² This entails getting rid of the worldly dross and hollow intellectualism that apparently obstructs true union between self and the divine.
Because negative theology depends on personal experience to subjectively know God, it can only conceptually say what God is not. Positive theology, however, claims that definite statements can be made about what God is.
Related Posts » Mysticism
¹ He’s sometimes confused with Dionysius the Areopagite, the New Testament figure converted by St. Paul and who later became the second bishop of Athens. The confusion arises over a series of works on mysticism, Corpus Areopagiticum, apparently signed by the author as “Dionysius.”
² Everett Feruson, ed. Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. New York: Garland Publishing Inc. 1990, p. 633.
- The Blessed Silence Icon and Lots of Noisy Talk About It (russianicons.wordpress.com)
- Spiritual Hierachy of the Angelic Kingdom (wed-gie.com)
- Full moon over Athens (travelangeling.com)
In Christian theology, The Holy Spirit is one of the three “persons” constituting the Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.
Each person is said to be eternal, equal, distinct and yet of the same substance. The term Holy Ghost is an old English version of the Latin Spiritus.
In the New Testament Jesus promises his disciples that the Paraclete or Spirit of Truth will return. However, the worldly and evil people of this world cannot and will not see it unless they repent (John 14:16-17).
Around 360 CE the early Christian Church opposed as heretical the idea of the pneumatomachi–-the teaching that Jesus Christ but not the Spirit is Divine.
In 381 the Council of Constantinople repudiated these heretics by declaring the dogma of the Holy Spirit. This was further elaborated in 589 by the Council of Toledo’s dogma of double procession, or the filioque, which stipulates that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
This teaching became popular as the Nicene Creed spread throughout the empire of the Franks from the 9th-century onward. But due to an apparent temporal paradox (How can the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son if the Holy Trinity is co-eternal?), the filioque has been controversial and, indeed, openly attacked by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Many Christians tend to describe the Holy Spirit as an indwelling of the divine. That is, God is wholly-other but also immanent as a numinous experience. On the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Karl Gross cites Evelyn Underhill:
As they know themselves to dwell in the world of time and yet to be capable of transcending it, so the Ultimate Reality, they think, inhabits yet inconceivably exceeds all that they know to be — as the soul of the musician controls and exceeds not merely each note of the flowing melody, but also the whole of the symphony in which these cadences must play their part. » Source
However, a philosophical problem arises with the idea of indwelling. It’s obvious that many religious groups (and individuals) claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit while promoting drastically different agendas. Perhaps a partial solution to this problem could be to say that some of these groups and individuals are closer to enacting God’s will than others.
- Praying for Yourself and Those Whom You Love to Experience the Liberating Power of the Holy Spirit (trinitytuscaloosa.wordpress.com)
- When someone is speaking ‘in tongues’ in the Holy Spirit does this mean that you are speaking God’s language which is ancient Hebrew (wiki.answers.com)
- The Dove and The Holy Spirit (tnlighthouse.wordpress.com)
- walking in the truth…walking in love (evanlaar1922.wordpress.com)
Infused knowledge is a form of knowledge proposed mostly by theologians. It often refers to the direct or imprinted knowledge that Jesus Christ possessed, but the term may apply to anyone. King Solomon, for example, apparently had infused knowledge.
However, most Christians believe that people other than Christ possess far less infused knowledge than that which their savior enjoyed. Even a great herald like John the Baptist, for example, proclaims that “the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal” (John 1:27).
The outstanding Catholic scholar, Fr. John Hardon, defines infused knowledge this way:
The gift of natural (secular) and supernatural (spiritual) knowledge miraculously conferred by God. Thought by some to have been possessed by Adam and Eve, who came into existence in an adult state and were to be the first teachers of the human race.¹
- Excellent Knowledge (reflectionsintheword.org)
- Thinking with Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. , S. T. D. (intostillness.wordpress.com)
- Pointing Others to Christ in a post 9/11 world (jeremysells.wordpress.com)
- Thinking with Fr. John A. Hardon, S,J., S. T. D. – Real Presence (lionessblog.com)
- But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (catholicjournaling.wordpress.com)
- “Who is this about whom I hear such things?” (worryisuseless.wordpress.com)
- The Gospel and Authentic New Testament Ministry – Part 1 (sovereigngraceanniston.com)
- St. Robert Bellarmine on Mary’s Place in the Mystical Body of Christ (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Another Cuppa (nwelford.wordpress.com)
A simple carpenter in the town of Nazareth, Joseph is last mentioned in the Bible when Christ is aged 12 years.
Many believe that Joseph, being much older than Mary, died by the time Christ began his public ministry.
Some feminists and Christians in general believe that Joseph and Mary had sex to produce the Christ child. Theological dogmas and arguments that preserve Mary’s virginity are often seen as patriarchal ploys to subjugate women, devalue sex and define the human body as a sinful object.
Others believe that Christ was fathered by God but Joseph and Mary possibly had another child (James) through intercourse.
Catholic prayer, however, usually describes Joseph as a “most chaste spouse” of the Virgin Mary. And James, Jesus’ alleged brother is regarded as a relative but not an actual brother. This is based on other parts of the New Testament that clearly state that Mary is a Virgin, and an informed understanding of the Greek term for “brother” (adelphos) as it appears in the historical context of the New Testament, along with the Catholic teaching tradition, held to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.¹
Joseph’s feast day is 19 March.
¹ To get a sense for the controversy around the word “brother,” see:
- Jesus Christ (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- St. Joseph and Selling A House (groovyafter50.wordpress.com)
- Roman Catholic Historical Dates You Should Know About! (savoringscripture.wordpress.com)
- Catholic Star Herald – Father Romano named vocation director (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Mary: Mother most chaste, Virgin most holy (catholicexchange.com)
- Biblical Proof That Mary Did Not Continue To Be a Virgin and That Jesus Had Brothers and Sisters (rantsandrage.wordpress.com)
- Did the Bible give proof that Mary had other Children? (idkh.org)
- A Prayer for Fathers (lezrec29.wordpress.com)
Joachim of Fiore (c. 1135-1202) was an Italian monk and prophet who apparently in his youth experienced a significant mystical illumination.
He left his office as Abbot of a Cistercian monastery to found his own, more contemplative congregation at Fiore within the Sila Mountains.
Joachim’s theory of history is often cited by depth psychologists and theologians. He viewed history as a sequence of three periods.
The first period is characterized by Mosaic law where The Father presides and inspires “servile obedience and fear.”
The second period is characterized by “grace, filial obedience and faith,” dominated by the Son. Being imperfect, it ends badly. This necessitates the third period of the reign of the Holy Spirit.
The third period of The Holy Spirit was to begin in 1260 and continue to the prophesied end-times, delivering the rule of “Spirit, liberty and love.”
C. G. Jung believed Fiore’s understanding of the Holy Spirit charged the prophet’s life with innovative ideas with numinous purpose. Jung says this was further enhanced by the apparent synchronicity of Fiore living during the onset of the astrological aeon of Pisces “the beginning of the sphere of the ‘antichristian’ fish in Pisces.”¹
The fish is an ancient Christian symbol, dating back to early inscriptions excavated at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Even if the appearance of the ‘antichristian’ fish symbol is somehow synchronistic with Fiore’s understanding of the Holy Spirit, we should recall that synchronicity is an ethically neutral concept, and an alleged phenomenon occurring in the context of good or evil.
Related Posts » Adam
¹ C. G. Jung, Aion in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79, Vol. 9/2, p. 85.
- The Holy Spirit is withdrawing from the world (georgehachmyblog.wordpress.com)
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: What They Are and How to Use Them (catholicdefense.blogspot.com)
- May the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with You (sjbrown58.wordpress.com)
- 6/12/2011 The Holy Spirit Amazes (richbrownforewords.wordpress.com)
- Meditation: The Work of the Holy Spirit (deaconjohn1987.wordpress.com)
- Fruits and Gifts (cloudygearz.wordpress.com)
- The Work Of The Holy Spirit (catholicjules.net)
- The living water of the Holy Spirit (deaconjohn1987.wordpress.com)
- On the Identity and Role of the Holy Spirit (brokenheartedboldness.wordpress.com)
The ontological argument is a theological position that apparently proves God’s existence. St. Anselm of Canterbury devised the argument, which was later taken up by the French philosopher, René Descartes.
St. Anselm describes God in his Proslogion II as “aliquid quo nihil majus cogitari possit” (that than which nothing greater can be conceived). And he says that such a being cannot merely exist in the “imagination” or “understanding” but must also exist.¹
For Anselm, the very greatest conceivable being must also exist in reality and not just in the mind. Therefore, so the argument goes, God is the greatest conceivable being which by necessity exists.
St. Thomas Aquinas rejected this argument on purely rational grounds, although he did believe in God.
Descartes presented a similar argument to that of Anselm’s, beginning with a method of doubt. After coming to the conclusion, “Je pense, donc je suis” (I think, therefore I am), his next question, similar to that of solipsism, was: “how do I know that the outside world truly exists?”
He was not the first to look at things this way. Thomas Leahey notes that
St. Augustine [354–430 CE] had said, “If I am deceived, I exist,” and Parmenides [515-445 BCE] had said, “For it is the same thing to think and to be.”¹
Descartes’ answer to the problem of whether or not the outside world really exists (with truth limited to inner experience) involved God. For Descartes, God exists by necessity. God must exist in order to be perfect. A perfect God also by necessity is Good. And a God that is Good would not deceive his creatures into believing in an outside world if no such thing existed.
Descartes, then, reasoned that an infinite being must exist. Moreover, he believed that this idea must have come from beyond himself.²
² See explanation of the argument at http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/philosophers/descartes-god.html
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Predestination is a theological idea that takes two main forms.
The first is the belief, articulated by St. Augustine, that some individuals are divinely predestined to reside in an eternal heaven. Many believe the following New Testament passage supports this view:
Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23, NIV).
The second, often called double predestination (sometimes dual predestination), is the belief that God predestines some for everlasting heaven and others for eternal hell.
A much debated question arises here as to whether God would actively endorse or, perhaps, passively permit eternal damnation. This question relates to other questions concerning God’s absolute goodness and power.
Gottschalk of Orbais, an unorthodox theologian of the 9th-century, met imprisonment for holding the view of double predestination.
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Pantheism (Greek: pan [all] + theos [God] = All is God) is the belief that God and creation are one. This is also known as naturalistic pantheism, meaning that nature and the cosmos are identified with God.
This cosmology finds expression in some New Age theories that proclaim “We-are-the-Universe.”
The term panentheism refers to God as existing within but somehow grander than creation (i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). This view is often said to be found in Taoism and Hinduism, as well as the works of Spinoza and Hegel.
But important differences among these perspectives are often glossed over.
The scholar of religion R. C. Zaehner suggests another term, panenhenism, for the belief that the universe is a unified whole without reference to any kind of ‘God.’ Zaehner’s term prefigures semiotic and postmodern concerns to ‘deconstruct’ words like ‘God’ and what they connote for various individuals and groups—e.g. women, visible, invisible as well as outspoken and silent minorities.
To critique the idea of pantheism gets complicated because terms like “the universe” or “nature” may mean different things to different people. For some they’re limiting concepts because they don’t include heaven and hell, as well as all the spiritual powers and beings often believed to reside in these places. Others, however, claim that the words “universe” or “nature” “simply mean “all that is,” which would include heaven, hell and everything else.