Tuesday, August 29, 2006

First Crush

Laetitia Winery in Arroyo Grande, CA, opens its harvest season with the crushing of grapes in its rare basket presses. We visited the winery the day after our wedding, not too long before we left California, and enjoyed a tasting and a visit with these amazing presses. The winery is just one of several wineries that have popped up all up and down the central and south California coast within the last 15 years. Even our class in Natural Family Planning was held at a winery tasting room up in Paso Robles, CA. So cool! :)

Monday, August 28, 2006

St. Augustine, pray for us

Today I celebrate the feast day of my patron, St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. I am certainly no expert of all of his writing, and St. Blog's is filled with Augustine scholars, so I will leave that for now. Augustine's witness was an important part of my becoming a Roman Catholic. He effectively taught me how to put my intellect to proper use in the sincere pursuit of truth. The pursuit of real truth, that is, as opposed to a self-serving pursuit of truth that seeks it when it is good but avoids it when it starts to reveal things about one's self. The pursuit of real truth is, ultimately, the embrace of that Truth that is the person of Jesus Christ. This is what I believe St. Augustine refers to in Ch. 23, Book 10 of his Confessions when he says that Truth by which all things else are true.

So this selection from Augustine's Confessions is my favorite exposition on the nature of truth. Here is what he writes in the original Latin (emphasis mine):
cur autem veritas parit odium et inimicus eis factus est homo tuus verum praedicans, cum ametur beata vita, quae non est nisi gaudium de veritate, nisi quia sic amatur veritas ut, quicumque aliud amant, hoc quod amant velint esse veritatem, et quia falli nollent, nolunt convinci quod falsi sint? itaque propter eam rem oderunt veritatem, quam pro veritate amant. amant eam lucentem, oderunt eam redarguentem. quia enim falli nolunt et fallere volunt, amant eam cum se ipsa indicat, et oderunt eam cum eos ipsos indicat. inde retribuet eis ut, qui se ab ea manifestari nolunt, et eos nolentes manifestet et eis ipsa non sit manifesta.

Sic, sic, etiam sic animus humanus, etiam sic caecus et languidus, turpis atque indecens latere vult, se autem ut lateat aliquid non vult. contra illi redditur, ut ipse non lateat veritatem, ipsum autem veritas lateat. tamen etiam sic, dum miser est, veris mavult gaudere quam falsis. beatus ergo erit, si nulla interpellante molestia de ipsa, per quam vera sunt omnia, sola veritate gaudebit.
I print the Latin here to point out the juxtaposition in his language between noun and verb references to love (amor) vs. hatred (odium), and truth (veritas) vs. that thing [people] love in place of truth (rem quam pro veritate amant). It's interesting to me to see the way Augustine carefully sets and mixes the dueling themes here in opposition: For example, Love vs. Hatred is Truth vs. Hatred, and Truth vs. that other thing is really Love vs. love of that other thing which isn't true. So it is that a false, self-serving love is not real love, just as a false, self-serving pursuit of truth is not a pursuit of real truth.

Next, if you notice, Truth here is not portrayed as something merely sought, but as something that is active. Truth elucidates; it arouses hatred in those who falsely seek it, and joy (inevitably) in those who seek it with sincerity. This is because real Truth sheds light on everything. As I have emphasized in the text, amant eam lucentem, oderunt eam redarguentem -- they love [truth] when it enlightens them, they hate [truth] when it reprehends [accuses, or unveils] them.

This is where Augustine grabs you, sic, sic, etiam sic (thus, thus, even thus!), to make his ultimate point about the human soul. Man finds himself in the balance between wanting to see what Truth elucidates and not wanting to see his own faults unveiled by Truth. Here even the most lazy soul, honestly desiring Truth, will seek it and find true joy in eventually finding it -- that truth, as Augustine writes, per quam vera sunt omnia (by which all things are true). The sincere pursuit of truth is the pursuit of the One who makes things true, the One who is Truth, who brings to light our sins and sanctifies us by His grace so that we might be made holy in our pursuit of Him.

Here is a full English translation (not mine, somebody elses!):
Why does truth call forth hatred? Why is Your servant treated as an enemy by those to whom he preaches the truth, if happiness is loved, which is simply joy in truth? Simply because truth is loved in such a way that those who love some other thing want it to be the truth, and precisely because they do not wish to be deceived, are unwilling to be convinced that they are deceived. Thus they hate the truth for the sake of that other thing which they love because they take it for truth. They love truth when it enlightens them, they hate truth when it accuses them. Because they do not wish to be deceived, and do wish to deceive, they love truth when it reveals itself, and hate it when it reveals them. Thus it shall reward them as they deserve: those who do not wish to be revealed by truth, truth will unmask against their will, but it will not reveal itself to them.

Thus, thus, even thus, does the human mind, blind and inert, vile and ill-behaved, desires to keep itself concealed, yet desire that nothing should be concealed from itself. But the contrary happens to it - it cannot lie hidden from truth, but only truth from it. Even so, for all its worthlessness, the human mind would rather find its joy in truth than falsehood. So that it shall be happy if, with no other thing to distract, it shall one day come to rejoice in that sole Truth by which all things are true.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Theater District Open House

This afternoon after mass, Christina and I went to downtown Houston to check out the annual Theater District Open House. It's basically an afternoon where all of the theaters are open, and you have a chance to see inside the theaters, take tours, walk around backstage, chat with actors and theater workers, as well as check out some free performances. You also get some opportunities for ticket discounts. We got down there later than we anticipated, but we managed to fill up the afternoon!

First, we checked out the Wortham Center, home of the renowned Houston Grand Opera. We went on a tour of some of the place -- what an amazing theater! We then grabbed lunch at the Hard Rock cafe and then checked out some of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, where the Broadway shows and local theater company productions are done -- a very different building from the Wortham Center. Finally, we caught a free concert of the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall. We're looking forward to seeing some really good shows this season!


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