Category: Natural Law

I’m a pagan

by Andrea Elizabeth

because I love dogs and nature. I elected to stay home from Church today because I believe Circe needs me. She was getting bolder and bolder till I left her for 7 hours Thursday while I went to far away Denton to Liturgy, Church cleaning and fiddle group for Rebecca. When I texted my son, who was home, to let Circe out on a leash, he said it was too late and she had made 3 messes near the front door. She hadn’t done that all week. And, I found out when I got home, since he didn’t trust her, he tied her to a tree and left her in the back yard. By the time I got there she had dug under the deck barrier and her choke collar was pulled very tight. When she saw me she nervously came out half way but wouldn’t continue till I unhooked the leash, even though I had pulled her some slack. She was a lot more nervous after that, though she would follow me and the dogs a little ways from the house. She bounded a bit Friday and was more attracted to our deep woods section where she can disappear. She waited longer to come to me when I called as well, but at least she came. Since she wont come to this son, not her owner, I told him that if he’ll sit on the porch with the door open in the morning, she would follow our other dogs out and do her business. He’d just have to watch her and call them all in afterwards. His other mistake was having the other dogs outside while she was inside alone. I should have given him more direction before I left. My bad.

So, while Liturgy was going on, I cross-stitched and listened to St. John of the Cross’ Ascent of Mount Carmel on Audible.com, which my husband had downloaded and recommended. I feel that there are such extreme views in the Church. Either you’re a total ascetic, creation is contemptible and only spiritual contemplation on God is good (St. John), or you’re a liberal who thinks that gay sex is good because they love each other’s createdness. It is very hard to find balance. I don’t believe creation is bad or that it cannot be loved. There is a difference between selfish, exploitive love and selfless appreciatory love. And to the other side, there is a difference between selfless appreciatory love and indulging in inordinate desire. What should be emphasized is obedience to God’s commands and will concerning what to do with one’s time. There is a time to devote oneself in action and affection, and a time to withdraw to pray. Hopefully one can develop prayer while with others. One should love God more than creation, but not despise it as he doesn’t. He assumed created flesh so thus it is hallowed.

This dichotomy is why I believe some people carelessly exploit contemptible nature, or forsake the Church and say they feel closer to God in nature. I do think one can love nature too much and not give God His due. Normally one should abstain from nature and go to Church on Sunday mornings. One should sometimes abstain from hiking with their dog and cook dinner for their kids who are either too busy or disinclined to hike. Finding the right balance is very much the struggle, and I believe discerned by learning to walk in the Spirit.

the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

by Andrea Elizabeth

Yes, but this is to motivate non-starters. It doesn’t get you to the end. 2000 steps gets you a mile, times 1000 equals 2,000,000. If you’re talking 2,000,000 steps, one single step doesn’t seem to matter very much. Granted the first and the last are the most important because of what they symbolize, but the single steps in the middle are lost in the multitude. The insignificance of a single middle step can make a person take really long breaks because what does a few more minutes matter? I would only have progressed a couple hundred steps. 1/10 of one mile, 1/10,000 of 1000 miles. If one is impressed with statistics, as all democratic people are, then who cares about such a small contribution?

If your goal is 2,000,000 steps, then you better have more motivation than the accomplishment of one step. A step at this ratio is so insignificant than one only takes it in faith. Faith that it will matter when perceptibly it doesn’t. And it doesn’t unless it’s accompanied a million fold; unless it’s a habit. It’s a similar problem with land fill accumulation and pollution. Unless the majority of people change their habits, there wont be a perceivable difference if one person goes green.

One person can start a movement, but the exponents wont be there if he isn’t also extraordinarily gifted in many other areas such as advertising and is very motivated to change the world as well as develop personal good habits. I’m not promoting giving up, however. What I am promoting is finding motivation elsewhere besides counting steps. Step counters are narcissistic. The reason for taking insignificant steps is to prove will-power. There is some merit to that as it is a healthy endeavor, but the purpose of walking is intentionally a journey needful for other reasons. I guess I’m tired of all the motivational amputee and ptsd stories I’m getting on my facebook feed. Yes, I walk to therapeutically overcome too, but I can only do it if I’m in a beautiful setting where there is a desirable point B, with many landscaping perks along the way. If I’m stuck in the city, I will walk to escape having to talk to people or sit still in a gray environment. Walking through grayness is more tolerable than sitting in it.

About a few miles into a nature walk or kayak trip, when the second wind kicks in, and you get in a rhythm, the individual steps and peddles or paddles can become downright enjoyable. I suppose it’s endorphins, but it’s also the drumbeat of the wild. Instead of steeeeep, steeeeep, steeeeep, it becomes STEP STEP STEP! (provided the incline is not too steep) And montras start going through your head instead or ruminations on anxieties. Montras like Lord Have Mer Cy, Lord Have Mer Cy. Or GLO ry to GOD! Or some repetitious lyric to a secular song that is strangely un-annoying in this context. This rhythmic moving for miles and miles is very addictive. And one only has to count to four.

Fascinating interview with William Dembski on the relationship of miracles to the physical world

by Andrea Elizabeth


Thought after first season of Alone

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m glad they chose philosophically minded survivalists. Quotes I remember are “this place will beat the crap out of you.” And “you have to work with nature, not against it.” And ‘if nature doesn’t want you here, you’ll die”. And “nature wont change for you”. And “This otter pellet is such a gift.”

These ideas can seem contradictory, but they’re all true. The participants learned to respect nature, and nature did provide for them, with caveats. Great first season.

pros and cons

by Andrea Elizabeth

Is civilization a necessary evil? Or has it become so only when it comes within arms’ reach?

What comes to mind is that Russian family that escaped the communists by living in a very remote region of Siberia. They survived 40 years on barley until they were found. Shortly after, two of them died of pneumonia, that I assume was gotten from exposure to “civilization”. Then there was the Scottish island shepherds who around the same time abandoned their ancient ways of life to seek medicine after tourists brought disease to their community.

Today I also caved by taking my daughter to a high tech wound care center after trying to treat her shin wound at home for 3 weeks. We kept it free from infection with Epsom salt soaks and over the counter wound ointment, but the center wouldn’t heal over some traumatized tissue that had died. The doctor debrided it with a scalpel after numbing it with lidocaine gel. Back in the day, they did have stitches and knives and bigger scars, but I’m not willing to do that by myself. I suppose I could if civilization wasn’t within reach. I also get my teeth cleaned by similar methods so that they don’t fall out like people’s used to. I just saw a documentary on Texas National Parks that included Fort Davis which has one of the best preserved old forts in the nation. They showed the hospital ward where many young soldiers died from things they wouldn’t have died from today.

But nature is so much more peaceful and beautiful than cities. Until something goes wrong. Then people leave to get help. The Indians were able to develop natural remedies that didn’t destroy nature. I really like Native Americans. I find them less savage than civilized people’s assault on nature. I wish I’d known a toothless medicine man who could have treated her wound better than I did.

Thank you, nature

by Andrea Elizabeth

I have listened so far to 4.5 out of 7 lectures by Fr. Maximos Costas, the translator of The Ambigua by St. Maximos the Confessor, on St. Maximus, given at St. George Orthodox Church in San Diego this past February at their Sts. Sebastian and Mrdarije Institute. Sorry but I don’t see the lectures available online. I know Fr. Maximos has podcasts available on Ancient Faith Radio, but I’m not sure on what subjects. His latest topic that I am listening to is on the contemplation of nature. Nature reveals God sort of like a handkerchief covering an invisible object could reveal something about that object. This reminds me of reading St. Nicholas Veimirovich’s The Universe as Symbols and Signs where parts of creation can lead us to contemplation of God, like a door can remind us of Christ being the door, etc. Fr. Maximos said that nature both reveals and conceals God.

I like to write about points of disagreement rather than just retelling something. I’m not sure I disagree with this teaching, but there is more I wish were said. I do intend to read The Ambigua which may offer more, but I’m kind of doubting it will. I’m not saying St. Maximos has gnostic tendencies, but I could tease this out of him if I were inclined. I’m not inclined, but I’ll just say the following anyway. Seeing nature as an explanation of God is good when one is weaning themselves off of passionate, short-sighted attachment to creation divorced from God. I believe the attachment, wait, maybe not even the attachment, maybe just our consciousness of what we are attached to and our over-the-top, out of control acts, are what is divorced from God. Say we’ve taken a step back and developed detachment towards creation and want to see it for what it is, and not to have power over it, possess it, or consume it unduly. Seeing it as an explanation of God can still put it in the utilitarian category of what this thing can do for me. That it’s a means to an end that I can dispose of, or at least move through or past. What I would like to hear is that nature participates in God, not just reveals and conceals him. Call me a panentheist, but the prayer to the Holy Spirit does say that he is everywhere present and fills all things. I don’t believe nature is God, but I do believe it is enlivened and given identity on its own by him, in addition to communicating who he is, and I’ll also say communicating with who he is. This is why poets and the Psalms personify nature. Rocks can cry out. Jimmy Fallon should be thanking objects for what they are, but not just for what they are to us. Nature is not just a means to an end, even if it does want to be used well.

on chastity

by Andrea Elizabeth

The cure for lust is explained in Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet’s Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses as chastity. I was specifically looking for the place of pleasure in marital relations. Indeed it is more nuanced than the explanations about food. Marital relations are not to be despised as Paul explains in I Cor. 7. But the priorities are laid out as loving and obeying God first for the proper context, and receiving the spouse in Christ before physical pleasure. It is acknowledged that to be purely chaste and not ruled first by pleasure in marital relations is very challenging.

I understand that a monastic seeks to prioritize pleasure in God instead of the physical pleasures of marriage and food, and that there is compensation that a monastic can attain that makes him not miss natural pleasures. Also, that food and marriage can serve to teach us about the delight that can eventually be found in him when our world of necessity is overcome.

back to nature

by Andrea Elizabeth

A science guy on NPR said that what separates us from animals, including chimps, is imagination and flexibility. A termite mound has a big population, but a rigid social structure. Chimps have some flexibility based on deeply knowing the individual members of the group, but they have small numbers. Hunting and gathering worked for small numbers of humans, but as the population grew, more sophisticated ways of managing resources had to be imagined. As did religion and trade values to keep order in society. He said these are all fictions which humans alone are capable of producing. Of course he doesn’t give credence to the idea of God speaking to people to tell them what to value.

Anyway, the though of chimps not imagining anything greater than a banana or a stick is intriguing. It makes me think of tribal people who didn’t innovate that much either. Possibly they did not have the populations to necessitate it, but I’ve heard that millions died due to European diseases, so there must have been a pretty dense population before they were invaded by western ways. I’ll not devalue innovation, but neither do I like the idea that those who don’t need much more than a stick or rock to be content are less evolved. I personally love the stone age. I think I could be happy there. On the way back from Big Bend we visited a cactus garden in Langtry, Tx, near the Pecos River, where Judge Roy Bean set up his law shop that has been restored. There were amazing varieties of uses for each local plant, many medicinal. Medicine, however, often seems to be the justification of modernity. I think complex modern diseases probably require complex modern methods. We often think of the high infant mortality rate of Victorian times, but again, I bet that was largely due to highly populated and polluted cities and the diseases spread from there by trade.

Nature has been either vilified or the meaning of the word obfuscated in modern discourse. As a result people are afraid of the wilderness. I think this is very unnatural and ridiculous. But I must not dehumanize the ones who have fallen into the trap, to use a natural metaphor.

natural law and walking dead

by Andrea Elizabeth

If Walking Dead writers are influenced by Natural Law rather than Imposed or Charismatic Law, then they are working from a place of inner empathy for other people. The heroes of the story have three questions when meeting new people, Clear1)How many walkers have you killed? 2)How many people have you killed? 3)Why? If you haven’t killed walkers for not a good enough reason you are probably self-serving somehow. If you’ve killed people, you need to have a good reason so as to not also be self-serving. This is supposed to be self-evident morality.

But then there’s sex. Adultery is obviously bad because it values self over the person’s spouse. But what if the spouse is dead? Single people can copulate with anyone they want as attraction is natural. It doesn’t hurt anyone and can be seen to help the other. I don’t think people question this on their own. Sex, like food, is good. It’s easier to common sensically rationalize how over-eating is bad since it makes you fat and leads to heart disease, diabetes, unatractiveness, etc. STD’s and pregnancy used to be the argument against unbridled sex, but modern medicine has mitigated many of these effects. Sex is more like eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason why not. Just, Thus Saith the Lord. So, monogamous marital only relations seem to be more of an example of Imposed Law than Natural Law. That is why Walking Dead doesn’t have a problem with homosex or fornication.

I think this is why they killed off Hershel before they introduced the gay people. Hershel represented traditional imposed authoritarian Christianity, and did it well. But he was old and feeble, and that’s not young and vital, especially after he’s dead. So old is bad and new is good. His wisdom was valued, and he died a hero, but he is dead. And dead men have no authority. Unless there is a resurrection, and for Walking Dead, there is no resurrection because that isn’t exactly natural. So, it’s the Resurrection that gives Tradition its teeth. I don’t like the idea of legal laws regulating sexual morality mainly because I don’t want to give the police the right to monitor people’s bedroom and take them to jail if a private consensual of-age act is against the law. If the STD’s don’t get ’em, I guess I’m content with God dealing with it on judgment day. This is also why gay marriage shouldn’t be legal. If the state has the right to say what people can do in the bedroom, then the state can teach it to our children. These things should be taught by family and the Church, and the consequences left to God. Withholding Communion should be bad enough punishment in this life.

The tale told at Big Bend

by Andrea Elizabeth

In the time of the great rising, the dinosaurs moved across the face of the earth. It was the age of giant things. The small were jostled like Tolkein’s, or was it Jackson’s, hobbits in the midst of a rock giant’s war. 

Sometimes things start small, but sometimes they become so by being broken off larger things. Then they tumble from the heights, falling, breaking smaller, and sliding until they are stopped by a protrusion, or they reach rock bottom and become part of a leveling. Here they become lost in commonness. One of the many small fallen things. Lost together in a large basin to hold other things. 
But tales of their former glory are still told in the heights. Their absence leaves cracks, nooks, crannies, and sharper peaks. These are the remnant stronger or just more fortunately placed rocks. The weaker ones become footstools for other weaker, humbler things.