Monday, April 27, 2009

Class: MHP: Truth, Freedom and the Human Person

I) Homeland Security: Any one-issue religion that pretends to absolute truth is fundamentalist and equivalent to “religious totalitarianism.”
News Report: April 12, 2009

Homeland Security on guard for 'right-wing extremists'
Returning U.S. military veterans singled out as particular threats

A newly unclassified Department of Homeland Security report warns against the possibility of violence by unnamed "right-wing extremists" concerned about illegal immigration, increasing federal power, restrictions on firearms, abortion and the loss of U.S. sovereignty and singles out returning war veterans as particular threats.The report, titled "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," dated April 7, states that "threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts."It suggests that worsening economic woes, potential new legislative restrictions on firearms and "the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks."

The report from DHS' Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines right-wing extremism in the U.S. as "divided into those groups, movements and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups) and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.""[T]he consequences of a prolonged economic downturn – including real estate foreclosures, unemployment and an inability to obtain credit – could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past," the report says.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Official Document:

(U//FOUO) Rightwing Extremism: Current
Economic and Political Climate Fueling
Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment
7 April 2009

(U) Prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis
Division. Coordinated with the FBI.

(U) Scope

(U//FOUO) This product is one of a series of intelligence assessments published by the
Extremism and Radicalization Branch to facilitate a greater understanding of the
phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States. The information is
provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement
officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks
against the United States. Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must be
conducted in an overt and transparent manner, clearly identifying United States
Government sponsorship.

[Notice that there is such an instrument as “the Extremism and Radicalization Branch” of the “Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division Coordinated with the FBI.” The large question is: Who decides what is “Extremism and Radicalization?” And we find the following statement with an asterisk at the bottom of the page:

“* (U) Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration].”

II) Epistemological Presuppositions to the Above:

The Real War


Published NYT (op. ed.) Tuesday, November 27, 2001

“If 9/11 was indeed the onset of World War III, we have to understand what this war is about. We're not fighting to eradicate "terrorism." Terrorism is just a tool. We're fighting to defeat an ideology: religious totalitarianism. World War II and the cold war were fought to defeat secular totalitarianism “Nazism and Communism” and World War III is a battle against religious totalitarianism, a view of the world that my faith must reign supreme and can be affirmed and held passionately only if all others are negated. That's bin Ladenism. But unlike Nazism, religious totalitarianism can't be fought by armies alone. It has to be fought in schools, mosques, churches and synagogues, and can be defeated only with the help of imams, rabbis and priests.

The generals we need to fight this war are people like Rabbi David Hartman, from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. What first attracted me to Rabbi Hartman when I reported from Jerusalem was his contention that unless Jews reinterpreted their faith in a way that embraced modernity, without weakening religious passion, and in a way that affirmed that God speaks multiple languages and is not exhausted by just one faith, they would have no future in the land of Israel. And what also impressed me was that he knew where the battlefield was. He set up his own schools in Israel to compete with fundamentalist Jews, Muslims and Christians, who used their schools to preach exclusivist religious visions.

After recently visiting the Islamic madrasa in Pakistan where many Taliban leaders were educated, and seeing the fundamentalist religious education the young boys there were being given, I telephoned Rabbi Hartman and asked: How do we battle religious totalitarianism?
He answered: "All faiths that come out of the biblical tradition of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the tendency to believe that they have the exclusive truth. When the Taliban wiped out the Buddhist statues, that's what they were saying. But others have said it too. The opposite of religious totalitarianism is an ideology of pluralism” an ideology that embraces religious diversity and the idea that my faith can be nurtured without claiming exclusive truth. America is the Mecca of that ideology, and that is what bin Laden hates and that is why America had to be destroyed."

The future of the world may well be decided by how we fight this war. Can Islam, Christianity and Judaism know that God speaks Arabic on Fridays, Hebrew on Saturdays and Latin on Sundays, and that he welcomes different human beings approaching him through their own history, out of their language and cultural heritage? "Is single-minded fanaticism a necessity for passion and religious survival, or can we have a multilingual view of God” a notion that God is not exhausted by just one religious path[RAC1] ?" asked Rabbi Hartman.
Many Jews and Christians have already argued that the answer to that question is yes, and some have gone back to their sacred texts to reinterpret their traditions to embrace modernity and pluralism, and to create space for secularism and alternative faiths. Others “Christian and Jewish fundamentalists” have rejected this notion, and that is what the battle is about within their faiths.

What is different about Islam is that while there have been a few attempts at such a reformation, none have flowered or found the support of a Muslim state. We patronize Islam, and mislead ourselves, by repeating the mantra that Islam is a faith with no serious problems accepting the secular West, modernity and pluralism, and the only problem is a few bin Ladens. Although there is a deep moral impulse in Islam for justice, charity and compassion, Islam has not developed a dominant religious philosophy that allows equal recognition of alternative faith communities. Bin Laden reflects the most extreme version of that exclusivity, and he hit us in the face with it on 9/11.
Christianity and Judaism struggled with this issue for centuries, but a similar internal struggle within Islam to re-examine its texts and articulate a path for how one can accept pluralism and modernity” and still be a passionate, devout Muslim” has not surfaced in any serious way. One hopes that now that the world spotlight has been put on this issue, mainstream Muslims too will realize that their future in this integrated, globalized world depends on their ability to reinterpret their past.

III) “Dominus Iesus:”

1. 1. The Lord Jesus, before ascending into heaven, commanded his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world and to baptize all nations: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15-16); “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:18-20; cf. Lk 24:46-48; Jn 17:18,20,21; Acts 1:8.”

2. “...The roots of these problems are to be found in certain presuppositions of both a philosophical and theological nature, which hinder the understanding and acceptance of the revealed truth. Some of these can be mentioned: the conviction of the elusiveness and inexpressibility of divine truth, even by Christian revelation; relativistic attitudes toward truth itself, according to which what is true for some would not be true for others; the radical opposition posited between the logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East; the subjectivism which, by regarding reason as the only source of knowledge, becomes incapable of raising its “gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being”;8 the difficulty in understanding and accepting the presence of definitive and eschatological events in history; the metaphysical emptying of the historical incarnation of the Eternal Logos, reduced to a mere appearing of God in history; the eclecticism of those who, in theological research, uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and theological contexts without regard for consistency, systematic connection, or compatibility with Christian truth; finally, the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.
On the basis of such presuppositions, which may evince different nuances, certain theological proposals are developed — at times presented as assertions, and at times as hypotheses — in which Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and salvific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them….”

6. “Therefore, the words, deeds, and entire historical event of Jesus, though limited as human realities, have nevertheless the divine Person of the Incarnate Word, “true God and true man”13 as their subject. For this reason, they possess in themselves the definitiveness and completeness of the revelation of God's salvific ways, even if the depth of the divine mystery in itself remains transcendent and inexhaustible. The truth about God is not abolished or reduced because it is spoken in human language; rather, it is unique, full, and complete, because he who speaks and acts is the Incarnate Son of
God[RAC2] . Thus, faith requires us to profess that the Word made flesh, in his entire mystery, who moves from incarnation to glorification, is the source, participated but real, as well as the fulfilment of every salvific revelation of God to humanity,14 and that the Holy Spirit, who is Christ's Spirit, will teach this “entire truth” (Jn 16:13) to the Apostles and, through them, to the whole Church….”
9. “In contemporary theological reflection there often emerges an approach to Jesus of Nazareth that considers him a particular, finite, historical figure, who reveals the divine not in an exclusive way, but in a way complementary with other revelatory and salvific figures. The Infinite, the Absolute, the Ultimate Mystery of God would thus manifest itself to humanity in many ways and in many historical figures: Jesus of Nazareth would be one of these. More concretely, for some, Jesus would be one of the many faces which the Logos has assumed in the course of time to communicate with humanity in a salvific way.”

The Person of Jesus Christ is God and Absolute truth. The key to get at what is going on here is to distinguish two epistemological levels such as Philips remarks to Nathanael: a) we have found the Messiah; b) Come and see! The one tells us “about” Christ. The other is “to experience Christ” for ourselves directly.

IV) The absolute is the human person made in the image of the Son of God. The mechanics of this Christian anthropology is self-determination that is the true meaning of human freedom. Self-determination is the absolute that produces the uniqueness of each person and way of thinking. It is the key to the document Dignitas Humanae: religious freedom.
[1] That is, because of the absolute truth of self-mastery, self-possession, self-gift, each person decides for himself how he will direct himself to God – or not.

a) The Ikon of Freedom: “The crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lilies it fully in the total gift of himself, and calls his disciples to share in his freedom” (Veritas Splendor” #85).

b) Self Determination (self mastery): as mechanism of freedom. Karol Wojtyla wrote in Naples in1974 on the occasion of the 700 anniversary of the death St Thomas Aquinas:

“In Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, we read that ‘the human being, who is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself or herself except through a disinterested gift of himself or herself’ (24)…

“(I)f we wish to accentuate fully the truth concerting the human person brought out by Gaudium et Spes, we must once again look to the personal structure of self-determination….

“Only if one can determine oneself… can one also become a gift for others. The Council’s statement that ‘the human being… cannot fully find himself or herself except through a disinterested gift of himself or herself’ allows us to conclude that it is precisely when one becomes a gift for others that one most fully becomes oneself. This ‘law of the gift,’ if it may be so designated, is inscribed deep within the dynamic structure of the person [as absolute].”

Only by mastering myself do I become more radically unique as self. The irreducible difference of persons as free totalities that cannot be reduced to numbers is based on this power that is grounded in the truth of Christ as God-man. For He masters His human will to live out His obedience to death on the Cross (Jn. 6, 38). He is not killed. He wills and determines Himself to die.

This also applies, then, to the freedom and autonomy we possess to decide about ourselves and think the way we can – as our thought and desire. The declaration of religious liberty is all about this.

All of this, then, is to assert that true freedom and pluralism is not the result of relativism, but the result of the absolute truth of the human person as revealed prototypically in Jesus Christ,
[3] who is the perfect image of God. The absolute truth of Christ is not an exception to man, but his revelation and meaning.

[1] “The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men [this is an “absolute”] should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in associations with others. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.

“It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are person, that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore bearing personal responsibility, are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth. But men cannot satisfy this obligation in a way that is in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy both psychological freedom and immunity from external coercion. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective attitude of the individual but in his very nature;”
Dignitatis Humanae: Declaration of Religious Liberty, December 7, 1965

[2] Karol Wojtyla, “The Personal Structure of Self-Determination” Person and Community Lang (1993) 194.
[3] Gaudium et spes #22: “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come, Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling…

[RAC1]“As a remedy for this relativistic mentality, which is becoming ever more common, it is necessary above all to reassert the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ. In fact, it must be firmly believed that, in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ [Jn. 14, 6], the full revelation of divine truth is given: ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the son wishes to reveal him’ [Mt. 11, 27]: ‘No one has ever seen God; God the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has revealed him’ [Jn. 1, 18];
For in Christ the whole fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form’ [Col. 2, 9-10].

[RAC2]The key is the thomistic text: S.. Th. II-II, 58, 3 Respondeo: "Now actions belong to supposits and wholes and, properly speaking, not parts and forms or powers, for we do not say properly that the hand strikes, but a man with his hand, nor that heat makes a thing hot, but fire by heat, although such expressions may be employed metaphorically. Hence, justice properly speaking demands a distinction of supposits, and consequently is only in one man towards another. Nevertheless in one and the same man we may speak metaphrically of his various principles of action such as the reason, the irascible, and the concupiscible, as though they were so many agents: so that metaphorically in one and the same man there is said to be justice in so far as thea reason commands the irascible and concupiscible, and these obey reason; and in general in so far as to each part of man is ascribed what is becoing to it. Hence the Philosopher (Ethic. v. 11) calls this metaphysical justice." Note also this propriety of attribution of action to "supposits" or persons is critical in the case of the humanity and divinity in Christ. The whole of Constantinople III depended on getting this right with regard to the freedom of the human will and its personal identity with the divine.

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