Thursday, August 18, 2005

Apologetiquette

JASON:

At the outset, we should keep in mind that we are talking about a historical phenomenon. Catholics and Protestants agree that certain historical events have occurred, and we agree that these events no longer occur. If you don't discern a historical event by historical means, then how do you discern it? I don't deny that God can communicate with people by other means. He can appear to people in visions, impress truths upon their heart without any historical examination of evidence, etc. But what's being addressed here is apologetics, how we defend a system in public. In other words, we're addressing how we show the truth, not how we know it.

PURPLE PAPIST:

At what point did people lose that little chip in their heads that prevents them from piping up out of sheer ignorance? If you are willing to stop being a complete nimrod for five seconds, the point isn't that they are believed in spite of history, but that they do not need to pass your artificial test of verifiability. I don't care whether Jason thinks that they are unverifiable; he has to prove that anyone should care about his (or your) criteria of verifiability.

You can’t sit down and eat before you set the table.

JASON:

There's nothing wrong with discussing philosophical matters, but the idea that every discussion must begin with dotting every philosophical "i" and crossing every methodological "t" (or if not every one of them, then some inordinately large number of them) is absurd.

We can discuss the disagreements when they arise. If two groups have some common ground, they can begin with that common ground without having to first discuss every conceivable disagreement they might have on every conceivable methodological issue.

Since this is a discussion board between Catholics and Evangelicals, there is already a fair amount of common ground on where to put the knives and forks, is there not?

PURPLE PAPIST:

Don't be stupid! You present forkological evidence without justifying your criteria for evidence, which might as well be not presenting evidence

And my point is that you haven't even covered what would be necessary for the "initial stages" of table setting. It's not that you haven't gone far enough; it's that you haven't even started down the path.

We don't have agreement on the evidence, because we don't have agreement on how one identifies forkological truth in historical information. The question is, and always has been, how do we extract forkology from historical texts.

JASON:

That’s way too vague. You need to be more specific. I would point out that I can't defend my method against criticisms unless those criticisms are stated.

PURPLE PAPIST:

Rather obviously, that would depend on my theory of forkology, which would depend on me making an argument for my theory of forkology. I haven't done that, and I don't plan on doing that. I don’t have the time to recap a hundred years of ressourcement.

TIM POMOLOE:

What’s ressourcement?

PURPLE PAPIST:

It’s French for ad fontes.

TIM POMOLOE:

What’s ad fontes?

PURPLE PAPIST:

It’s Latin for ressourcement.

JASON:

The fact is, you're just using your complaints about methodology, not understanding my views, etc. as an excuse for not making a case for Catholicism and not acknowledging that Evangelicalism is publicly verifiable in a way in which Catholicism isn't.

PURPLE PAPIST:

And that’s exactly the point at which you cross from being an ordinary, reasonable human being to acting like a complete idiot!

JASON:

We’ve had this discussion before. I've already told you what sort of assumptions I have. We've agreed on the objective existence of knives and forks, on the reliability of the senses in acquiring probable knowledge about knives and forks, &c.

TIM POMOLOE:

There you have it! That’s a classic example of low-Church, anti-instrumentalist, historically-discontinuous, Cartetian [sic]-Lockean-Baconian democratized American Evangelicalism’s reduction of truth and meaning to black squiggles on pieces of paper and the intellection which takes place on their basis.

I certainly agree with the Purple Papist that forkology is more than a purely immanent manner, that truth is not confined to “timeless” truths about “objective” knives and forks, and that genuine exegesis does not properly proceed if exegetes pretend that only the technology of grammar and syntax matters to finding and defending truth.

Jason and his cohorts just aren't working with a full deck of cards. I mean that not in the sense of their basic intelligence, but in the sense that they've artificially lopped off whole areas of inquiry and thus lost the ability to articulate their claims in ways that don't come off looking like little more than backwoods Bible-thumping and preaching to the choir.

Oh, I stipulate that they're very good technicians. Unfortunately for them and their Pharisaical pretensions about everyone outside their little forkological clique, technology isn't neutral, nor does it fully describe the reality we inhabit under the sun.

That’s the major point that I fear you are missing in your discussions with Purple Papist--and me. This point about a distinction between the original and existential meaning of forkological propositions, btw, makes a lot of sense to me in light of what I've seen concerning how Pope Gregory VII treated patristic sources. "Literally-speaking", if you compare how Gregory VII cited his predecessor Gregory I, you can only come to the conclusion that Gregory VII was some kind of weirdo who had trouble reading "plain" texts--or else, more ominously, maybe he was deliberately deceptive because he disliked the "clear" truth of the texts he was citing.

But trying hard to understand a nearly totally different conceptual universe of knives and forks opens up different, and more charitable, ways to deal with other Christians on matters of sharp dispute. It's hard, but I think we have to try.

PURPLE PAPIST:

Precisely! We assume that the universal consensus of our Church is correct. St. Athanasius and St. Cyril used allegorical exegesis to establish the basis for Nicene forkology, and that's a good enough pedigree for me.

If you're trying to get forkology out of them, this is a non sequitur. You would only approach them as historical documents if you wanted to get historical information out of them. Whether that would bear any resemblance to the forkological meaning is entirely inscrutable by historical methods.

JASON:

I think St. Cyril was saying that his favorite flavor of ice cream is strawberry. I don't have to limit myself to the historical-grammatical approach, so I can interpret Cyril or Athanasius in other ways.

PURPLE PAPIST:

You’re still majoring in the minors, Jason. How can you even set the table until you present a fundamental ontology for the hyperousios of soupspoons?

TIM POMOLOE:

Perry Robinson has written a couple of ground-breaking articles on that very question:

“A comparative methodological study on the dialectic of table setting in St. Maximus the Forkologist and Pseudo-Dionysius the Spoonerist.”

“The Forkioque of the dinner fork from a teaspoon: a church historical study in the evolution of cutlery.”

JASON:

You still haven’t told us how you would set the table.

PURPLE PAPIST:

As I’ve said before, I don’t have time to give you a crash course in table manners. But just for starters, there are two ways to use a knife and fork to cut and eat your food: in the Evangelical style, one cuts the food by holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand with the fork tines piercing the food to secure it on the plate. Cut a few bite-size pieces of food, then lay your knife across the top edge of your plate with the sharp edge of the blade facing in. Change your fork from your left to your right hand to eat, fork tines facing up. (If you are left-handed, keep your fork in your left hand, tines facing up.) The Catholic style is the same as the Evangelical style in that you cut your meat by holding your knife in your right hand while securing your food with your fork in your left hand. The difference is your fork remains in your left hand, tines facing down, and the knife in your right hand. Simply eat the cut pieces of food by picking them up with your fork still in your left hand.

And under no circumstances may the butter-knife be allowed to fraternize with the teaspoon unless an escort is present.

You can’t just brush aside these deep methodological differences. And that’s before we ever get to the bigger issues over napkin folding and where to place your napkin if you need to pay a little visit to the powder room on the middle of the meal. This is the stuff of schism.

ART WACKO:

Hypocrites! That’s what they are! A bunch of lousy, no-good hypocrites! Where in heck is Bloody Mary when you need her?

JASON:

Hypocrites?

ART WACKO:

The Prots, of course! Why, I have it on good authority that the second cousin of James White’s Great Aunt Ella was once seen in polite company using her dessert fork as a cocktail fork!

Hypocrites, I say. Every last one of ‘em! Where in heck is Torquemada when you need him?

JASON:

I still haven’t heard any of you make a case for Catholic forkology.

DAVE WOEBEGONE:

I’ve written tons of stuff defending Catholic forkology.

JASON:

Such as?

DAVE WOEBEGON:

The Book About Me
All About Me
More About Me
Even More About Me
The Wit & Wisdom of Dave (holy hanky included!)
The Wonderful World of Dave
Friends & Enemies of Holy Mother Dave
The Martyrdom of Dave (a passion play in twenty-seven acts, part I)
The Importance of Being Dave
The Great “I AM”
All You Ever Wanted to Know About Me, but were Afraid to Pay.
First-Person Singular
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Your Davely Devotional
The Autobiography of Dave, vol. 53-
The One-Minute Dave
Dave for the Ages
The Ever-Luvin’ Dave
Davidus et Narcissus
The Church of the Holy Dave
Dave’s Baby Pictures (autographed glossy included!)
The Dave Diary
The Chronicles of Dave, vol. 79-
Exercises In Holy Humility, by Dave Armstrong. Foreword by Dave Armstrong.

But don’t take my word for it. You can see all my book reviews at www.memyselfandi.com. Every one got five stars!

PURPLE PAPIST:

I'm not sure that it's the sort of thing that really needs a basis; it's axiomatic to my ecclesiology of forkology of that forkology is received. It seems to me that it's a good deal easier to look for recipients of forkology than to try to construct what is required for forkology and to determine what is revealed on that basis, so I proceed on that premise without explicit confirmation.

JASON:

You can't define who is and isn't a recipient in the first place without forkology. So, how can you claim that "the historical practice of Catholics" tells you how to derive theology?

Do you appeal to the authority of the church? Then how do you know that there is a church, what authority it has, and what the church has said if you don't limit yourself to the grammatico-historical approach? An appeal to the church must be accompanied by a case for the church having the authority it allegedly has.

And you're not being consistent with your own professed standards. You've told me that you don't think that forkology can be derived from the grammatico-historical method, yet you're using the grammatico-historical method to identify who is and who isn't a Catholic, which is an issue of forkology. And you're using the grammatico-historical method to identify how Catholics of the past interpreted scripture. You can't use the grammatico-historical method to identify Catholics and identify how they interpreted scripture and thereby arrive at forkological conclusions about who Christians are and how we should interpret scripture, then turn around and tell us that forkology can't be derived from the grammatico-historical method.

Probabilities aren't certainties, but they're better than the nothing you're offering as an alternative.

PURPLE PAPIST:

Because it's the only other option consistent with the theory that I was describing. It's Cathoforkology, Orthoforkology, or bust.

Bottom line: I don't care about the substance of your arguments at all!

JASON:

And I’d say that this just about sums up our whole conversation.

11 comments:

  1. "Tim Pomoloe" just cracked me up!

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  2. Dave Wobegone is not as funny as Tim Pomoloe, but it is close.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. Art Wacko was a hoot as well.

    Though you could have called him Art Sicko, but maybe that would have been too obvious.

    I will make sure James White uses the right fork on the cruise :)
    # posted by MarieP : 8/19/2005 6:39 AM

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  5. Yes, by all means make sure he uses the right fork. We must avoid any hint of "scandal." :-)

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  6. Sadly that is pretty close to the way it is.

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  7. Best...post...ever!

    Steve, You win the prize today!

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  8. Too funny to read on the Sabbath.

    Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello, just visited your bible blog, I also have a bible related website, it's about some books which is helpful to understand the God's Words

    ReplyDelete