Friday, August 31, 2012

The Brony Assimilation: Resistance is Futile

If you've stumbled across RPG Catholic you'll notice I blog quite often on the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Okay, maybe it's more accurate to say every other post is about MLP in some way. Well, just in case a few of my readers have grown interested in "joining the herd," as we Bronies refer to becoming a new fan of the show, here are helpful links:

- All the episodes from seasons 1 and 2 are purchasable from the iTunes store (except for the original "The Last Roundup" with the unaltered Derpy).

- All the episodes from seasons 1 and 2 are available via streaming from Netflix.

- Speaking of the original unaltered "The Last Roundup," the The Friendship Express DVD contains not only the episode with canon Derpy but also four others (including the first two episodes from season 1).

- There's also the Royal Pony Wedding DVD.

I obviously recommend the show, but don't take my word for it, listen to Fluttershy. I'm serious. While she's generally friendly and kind, it's not a good idea to turn her down:

                                                     Fluttershy really loves animals...

                                                    Fluttershy is no longer a pushover...

                                                   Chuck Norris' got nothing on this....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Applejack and the Virtue of Truthfulness: Part 2 (of 3)

                                                Liarjack and Pinkie Promises

We've seen examples of Applejack's honesty in season one, and, now, in season two, AJ begins to show her darker side. While in "The Return of Harmony”, she becomes a habitual liar against her will, in "The Last Roundup" she voluntarily makes a promise that she might never have intended to keep.

In "Return of Harmony," some infighting between the "Cutie Mark Crusaders," Apple Bloom (AJ's little sister), Sweetie Belle (Rarity's little sister), and Scootaloo, unexpectedly brings along the return of Discord from a thousand-year imprisonment in a statuesque prison. As I've noted before, Discord's main motivation is spreading social chaos by creating enmity between the ponies. (But, hey, as Pinkie Pie says, at least all this chaos comes with chocolate milk rain!)

Realists and Nominalists disputing the existence of universals (oh, and of friendship)
Discord uses his powers to corrupt each of the Main Six, in some sense turning their strengths (virtues) into their opposite weakness (vices). Thus, Rainbow Dash, the loyal one, is now disloyal to her friends, Fluttershy, the kind one, is now unkind, Rarity, the generous one, becomes covetous, Pinkie Pie, the playful one, adopts a boorish and joyless temperament, and Twilight, the friendly one, is suddenly unfriendly. In short, the harmony between the Main Six gives way to disharmony. But for our purposes we focus on Applejack, the honest one, who trades her honest disposition for inveterate lying.

Discord used his manipulation to fool AJ into hiding the truth because "sometimes a lie is easier to take." Almost immediately, the lies begin to spew forth from Liarjack's mouth. Twilight is surprised that honest Applejack would lie and initially is in disbelief. But TS's initial skepticism falls under the weight of AJ's increasingly frequent intentional false statements. However, once Twilight rediscovers the "magic of friendship" which holds the Mane Six (and Equestria) together, she manages to heal the rifts between each of her friends, and together they defeat Discord with the Elements of Harmony. AJ returns to her honest self and takes part in a celebration of the Mane Six's destruction of the Death Star, I mean, of the defeat of Discord.

Honest Applejack returns
The excuse of being under the influence of Discord is not available in "The Last Roundup." Applejack travels to Canterlot to compete in a rodeo competition and to help raise money to fix Ponyville City Hall (Derpy's doing). When Applejack doesn't return and sends back a cryptic letter about "not coming back to Ponyville," the Mane Six get suspicious and board the Friendship Express train to Canterlot, promising the Apple family to find out the real reason for AJ's absence.

Apple Bloom's epic sad face
At the Canterlot rodeo, the pony friends find no sign of Applejack, so they move on to the frontier town of Dodge Junction all the way in the outer edges of Equestria. Finally, at the local outhouse the Mane Six stumble onto AJ, who appears to be working as a hired hoof for one of the local ranch owners. Applejack is reluctant to answer her friends' queries over why she didn't return to Ponyville after the rodeo. She wanted a "change of scenery" and took a job harvesting cherries, "end of story." The Mane Six rightfully see that AJ is withholding crucial information and make plans to "get her to spill the beans," as RD puts it.

AJ, I don't think you're being honest with us...
The Mane Six's first attempt to get Applejack to tell the truth meets with failure in a sea of red and yellow cherries. A more ambitious plan unfolds, as Rarity says, "desperate times do call for desperate measures." The Mane Six bring in their truth serum secret weapon: Pinkie Pie! Pinkamena summons all her powers of buffoonery and nonsense to annoy AJ into confessing...until AJ finally cracks and promises to tell her friends the truth at breakfast the next day.

Nopony can withstand Pinkie torture!
Instead of keeping her "Pinkie Promise," Applejack gets out of dodge, literally! The Mane six follow her in pursuit. Once they close in on AJ, Pinkie Pie hops on board the stagecoach and confronts her over the broken promise. AJ seems to say that she didn't break the promise since she never meant to keep it in the first place! "I just can't tell you the truth!" AJ responds. Saddened by her friend's dishonesty, Pinkie Pie leaps off the stagecoach...

You Pinkie Promised!
Just when Applejack thinks she escaped, Rainbow Dash swoops in out of the sky and tackles AJ to the ground. AJ drops her saddlebag, revealing a host of medals she won at the rodeo competition. Apparently AJ didn't do as well as she expected (failing to place first in any contest) and didn't earn any prize money. As the town of Ponyville and AJ's friends had high hopes, she's too embarrassed to admit her failure, thus she stayed in Dodge Junction to work until she could raise money for the Ponyville City Hall repairs.

But Twilight, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash make it clear that they don't mind if Applejack does poorly in rodeos, they're friends regardless. They just want AJ to come back home. Applejack agrees to put aside her pride and returns to Ponyville... (Meanwhile, Rarity and Pinkie Pie get left behind.)

Darn it, now you got me acting all sappy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Applejack and the Virtue of Truthfulness: Part 1 (of 3)

         [As today is the feast of St. Augustine, whose definition of lying as "speaking falsely with the intent to deceive" I incline towards, I think it's fitting I begin my series on the virtue of honesty and the vice of lying.]                                        

                                                           Character Overview


Applejack in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a country pony with a southern accent and like all the members of the Apple family (her brother Big Mac, her little sister Apple Bloom, and Granny Smith) AJ’s special talent is apple harvesting. Unlike her lazy friend Rainbow Dash, AJ is adamant about hard work (sometimes too much, as in her attempt to single-hoovfully buck all the apples in Sweet Apple Acres). AJ’s stubborn pride sometimes gets her into conflict with the other Mane Six (she won’t accept busybody Twilight’s help, she can’t get along with the prissy Rarity, she is extremely competitive with the athletic RD).

The Apple Family

Applejack also embodies the Element of Honesty. As the description tells us, “Applejack would never stoop to tell a lie and this makes her a beacon for those seeking advice.”

"You've never told a lie? You honest, AJ?"

There a few episodes in the series in which Applejack's honesty comes into play and in these series of posts I'll focus on "Friendship is Magic: Part 2," "Party of One," The Return of Harmony: Part 2," and "The Last Roundup." In addition, I'll look at "Green isn't Your Color," which, while it doesn't feature AJ, still focuses on the importance of keeping promises.
                                                Applejack, Don't Lie to Me

We meet Applejack in the first episode of FiM. She invites the newcomer Twilight Sparkle to an Apple family reunion. AJ, of course, teams up with the rest of the Mane Six to look for the ancient pony castle to find the Elements of Harmony to defeat Nightmare Moon (my previous posts on FiM Episode 1 and 2).

In the Everfree Forest, amongst all the trials the new pony friends face, AJ emerges to show her quality: honesty. Twilight almost falls off a cliff, held only by AJ's hooves. Applejack tells Twilight to let go and promises she'll be safe. Being skeptical by temperament (and no doubt afraid of heights), Twilight asks AJ to honestly tell her if she means what she says. AJ responds that she's telling the "honest truth." Twilight decides to trust AJ and does indeed let go. Before she can hit the ground, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, both pegasi, catch Twilight. Therefore, Applejack is true to her word.

Long live the Princess...
Applejack does not appear in the episode "Green isn't Your Color," but her zany friend Pinkie Pie is a suitable substitute. Most of the episode is concerned with the dress designer Rarity’s attempts to gain the notice of Equestria’s famous fashion photographer Photo Finish. Rarity needs a fashion model and the closest candidate is the bashful pegasus Fluttershy. FS is initially reluctant (no surprise) but agrees to help.

While Rarity attempts to find the right dress for Fluttershy in Carousel Boutique, we see Twilight, Pinkie Pie and Spike (Twilight’s baby dragon assistant) mention one of the episode’s themes: keeping promises. Spike agrees to reveal a personal secret to Twilight and Pinkamena but tells them to promise to tell nopony else… He has a crush on Rarity! Twilight doesn’t seem willing at first to keep quiet but Pinky interjects. She tells Twilight that, “You promised Spike you wouldn't say anything. He trusts you. And losing a friend's trust is the fastest way to lose a friend forever!” As if for emphasis, Pinky adds an emphatic, “FOREVER!”

After Photo Finish finishes her shoot, she announces that she intends to make Fluttershy, not Rarity, the new fashion star of Equestria. Rarity is visibly disappointed, but nevertheless tells her friend Fluttershy to promise not waste this opportunity at fame.


However, alone in her thoughts, Rarity is still a bit jealous over not being picked to be Equestria's next top fashion model. After revealing her wish for Fluttershy to fail, Rarity makes Twilight promise not to tell FS. Fluttershy comes into the spa, missing Rarity's departure, and decides to confide a secret to Twilight, making TS promise not tell Rarity that she does not want to become a fashion star but only proceeds because of her promise to Rarity. Twilight desires to break her promise to Rarity and tell Fluttershy how Rarity really feels but stops after a side-glance from Pinky, the element of honesty in this episode.

Trying to unravel the tangle of promises, Twilight comes up with a plan: sabotage Fluttershy's fashion show, ruining her career and thus making it so that Rarity will no longer be jealous of FS. Of course, Twilight makes Pinky Pie promise not to tell anypony.

Twilight's plan goes well until Rarity arrives and uses her charm to sway the crowd into cheering for Fluttershy. Not only is FS back to square one, she's even more popular than before! Rarity walks in on Fluttershy and Twilight having a conversation in the dressing room. Twilight has to keep herself from breaking either of their promises. Luckily, both Rarity and Fluttershy finally reveal what they think to each other. Rarity is jealous of Fluttershy's success and wanted her to fail and Fluttershy never wanted to be a model in the first place. "If we just told each other the truth," Fluttershy says. Rarity and Fluttershy promise never to keep their feelings secret from each other again.

No more secrets between us...Wait, is that 'Lady Gaga' in the background?

Twilight eventually reveals Spikie's secret, but everypony already knows he likes Rarity, so nopony minds, though Twilight still apologizes to Spike anyway...

The episode "Party of One" tests Applejack's honesty as the Mane Six plan a surprise birthday party for Pinkie Pie. Of course, a surprise birthday party requires the birthday pony to be unaware of the party or, as Pinkie puts it, "then it wouldn’t be a surprise." Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Applejack proceed to play a game of deception to keep Pinkamena in the dark while they plan the festivities. Unfortunately, Pinkie Pie plans a party the exact the same day (completely unaware of her own birthday) and is confused at her friends declining to attend and then avoiding her all day. All of the Mane Six offer an "excuse" (and avoid divulging the plan) for not coming to Pinkie's party, including AJ.

Why are all my friends lying to me today?

Pinkie Pie finally gets suspicious and follows RD (with birthday present in tow) to AJ's barn, where the Main Six are setting up the surprise party.  Of all ponies, AJ, the honest one, finds herself dealing with the Pinky at the door. Pinkamena asks AJ what the Mane Six are up to in the barn and AJ responds that they are doing some "construction" work, complete with fake sound effects. Frustrated by the evasiveness and lying of her friends, Pinky misinterprets the Mane Six's intentions to be no longer including her in their social circle (the end of their friendship) and, already being a little crazy to begin with, she edges ever closer to complete madness.

It's all fun and games until Pinkie loses it...

After literally being dragged all the way to AJ's barn by RD, Pinkie Pie accuses her friends of avoiding and lying to her to drive her from the group before finding out that the Mane Six planned to throw her a surprise birthday all along (hence her surprise!). RD also admits that the Mane Six lied but only to keep the surprise. Of course, Pinkie Pie isn’t exactly the moral exemplar of honesty herself… Anyway, Pinkie regains her sanity, the friends reconcile, and the Mane Six get down to serious party business as the episode ends.

Her blood lust sated, Pinkie has a good time at her surprise birthday party

[Next post I'll look at two episodes from season two, "Elements of Harmony P2" and "The Last Roundup, before finishing the series on honesty and lying with some help from Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas.]

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Twilight Sparkle: Element of Friendship, Egghead, Philosopher

Twilight's Library
Just a few books from the Golden Oaks Library:

- Plato, The Complete Works, John M. Cooper, ed.

- Aristotle, The Basic Works of Aristotle, Richard McKeon, ed.

- Henry Veatch, Aristotle: A Contemporary Appreciation

- Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, Joel C. Relihan, ed.

- St. Augustine, Confessions, Henry Chadwick, ed.

- -----------, City of God, Henry Bettenson, ed.

- St. Anselm, The Major Works, Brian Davies, ed.

- St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation, Timothy McDermott, ed.

- Ed Feser, Aquinas

Twilight no doubt studying for her next friendship report...

Neil Armstrong: Requiescat in Pace

The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, passed away today at the age of 82.

I was born almost twenty years after the Apollo 11 mission and didn't have the experience of watching on live televison, but frankly, I'm amazed at the audacity and bravery of astronauts like Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and the NASA crews who worked tirelessly to bring them to the moon and back again safely. We have not been able to duplicate that feat today, even with our more advanced technology. As Brandon says, perhaps we longer dream high enough.

SDG recommends the film In the Shadow of the Moon, which deals with the Apollo program.

John C. Wright on the Natural Law

JCW: Ninja-Trained  Philosopher

Be sure to check out this running debate between the science fiction writer (and fellow Brony) John C. Wright and some of his readers on the natural law. I should mention the excellent comment by Matthew Su, a member of the Thomistic Discussion Group on Facebook, who elaborates on the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical grounding of NLT.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Ironic Intellectual

Groucho Marx: Ryan Shinkel's favorite philosopher

Among the many posts of the wide-ranging "Ironic Intellectual" Ryan Shinkel is one on the natural law, "the law written in our hearts" (Romans 2:15). Also recommended is "The Modern Nihilism?" on the perils of contemporary fusions of nihilism and scientism.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mark Shea on Friendship

The Catholic writer Mark Shea looks at the nature of friendship. Shea highlights a problem DGD, Dr. Phillip Blosser, and I noted before, our society today tends to conflate Eros with friendship, to the detriment of the latter. Thus, close friendships between persons of the same sex are seen as homoerotic. Here's a sample in which Mr. Shea distinguishes between romantic love (Eros) and friendship:

Our culture’s hostility to friendship and our ugly tendency to reduce it to eros or mere animal sexual desire is even more acute and destructive when it comes to friendships between people of the same sex. It is now routine to declare that any close friendship between two persons of the same sex is “really” homoerotic. This blind insistence on casting all friendships in the mold of eros is soul-crushing, because it short-circuits the truly vital and nourishing role that true friendship plays in a healthy human life.

Precisely the joy of friendship is that friends are, if you will, not thinking about each other, nor seeing themselves reflected in the eyes of the other. Eros, properly, has the other as the object, and (as a sort of side benefit) we discover that we can be precious because we are precious to the one we love. In friendship, all this sort of thing is out of place.

Friendship is emphatically about something other than our friend. Friends come together because they share a common love for stamp collecting or Civil War re-enactment or politics or literature or God. Friends can become lovers and sometimes do. But friends, as friends, dwell in an entirely different kind of love from eros and, very often, would be appalled at the thought of their friendship ever being eros.

Update: Did you know Mr. Shea is also an actor? He plays the role of Innocent Smith in a movie version of G.K. Chesterton's book Manalive. Here's a preview:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Edward Feser: Radio Star

The Fez 

The Aristotelian-Thomist philosopher Edward Feser, linked to frequently on this blog, appeared in a recent interview on the Catholic Answers Live radio show. My friend Alfredo Watkins, the "Analytic Scholastic," is the first caller, asking Dr. Feser for a "positive" argument for the first premise (whatever is changed is changed by another) of the First Way. Later on, Alex Yousif, another familiar face and member of the Facebook "Thomism Discussion Group," asks Feser to reconcile the A-T concept of God as Pure Act with the Trinity.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dora the Explorer: The Movie

This video from CollegeHumor, a "trailer" for a Dora the Explorer film, is brilliant (HT: Tim Hsaio):

A Link to the Past: Steam Punk, Anime, and Sci Fi

Just a few interesting web comics, sci fi books, and anime shows catching my attention recently...

First up, I point you to the Girl Genius web comic. Brandon's recommended this steam punk graphic novel a few times and DGD even wrote a gushing review. I've only read through the first volume, but so far I'm intrigued enough to make it through all twelve!

Next up, DGD suggested to me the show Trigun, a western-themed anime about the pacifist gunslinger Vash the Stampede, the "Human Typhoon" with a 60,000,000,000$$ (you read that right, double dollars!) bounty on his head! The first season is available here on the FuNimation Youtube page.

All I want is love and peace!

Lastly, I'm nearly finished with Walter M. Miller Jr.'s post-apocalyptic Sci Fi novel A Canticle for Leibowitz about an order of monks who preserve scientific knowledge after the "Great Deluge." Brandon praised it as "one of the most exquisitely written science fiction novels you will ever read." I'm not inclined to disagree, very highly recommended, especially for my fellow Thomist readers!

Friday, August 17, 2012

On Love and Tolerance: Part 1

More to follow, but for now some preliminary thoughts on the popular Brony slogan "Love and Tolerance," inspired by DGD's recent blogging on certain Brony misunderstandings of sex:

If we understand love in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition (of which, the Christian virtue of charity is the culmination), then a certain relationship with toleration follows:

1. If to love is to will the good of another.


2. If to tolerate is to respect (or put up with) another's differing ideas or lifestyle.


3. If you love someone, you cannot tolerate that which is contrary to the good of another.

If the argument is sound, the relationship you have with another person determines the amount of tolerance you can give to another person's disagreements in ideas and actions.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What's Wrong With the World?

"Dear Sir, What is wrong with the world? 

I am, 

Yours Sincerely, G.K.Chesterton."

- G.K. Chesterton, reportedly in a letter to The Times

Fr. Longenecker gives a similar response when considering the question "What is wrong with the Church?" and offers some advice for Catholics concerned over the state of their parish.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Appletastic MLP: FiM Season 3 Speculation and Other Stuff!

[While preparing my post on Applejack and the virtue of honesty, I thought I'd look at the latest from the MLP: FiM show.]

AJ, you're such a liar, I saw "Applebuck Season" and you needed help from your friends to harvest Sweet Apple Acres! (See video below.) Wait, aren't you the Element of Honesty?

                                           Um, AJ, how do you like them apples?

Up to now, most of what I know of the upcoming season 3 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comes from the two leaked teaser songs from Comic-Con, "Failure, Success" and "Ballad of the Crystal Ponies." The Crystal Ponies toy line adds these three cryptic descriptions in the product boxes:

- "Welcome to the CRYSTAL EMPIRE, a magical place full of hidden secrets! The ponies shine and sparkle here!"

"PRINCESS CADANCE and SHINING ARMOR share a big responsibility! They lead the CRYSTAL EMPIRE together!"


Shining Armor and Princess Cadence oversee their new empire with the Power of Love!

There seem to be four things we learn from the videos and the toys: 1) there is a kingdom called "the Crystal Empire" somewhere in the Northern part of Equestria. 2) The newlyweds Princess Cadence and Shining Armor apparently took control of the Crystal Empire. 3) There are ponies that shine, sparkle, and have something to hide in the Crystal Empire! 4) Twilight Sparkle didn't prepare for something...

But, of course, the Bronies (and the non-Brony fans, as I wouldn't want to forget the Pegasisters and the kids who are Hasbro's original target audience) still have many questions about season 3. I know that I myself am eagerly anticipating seeing if some of my wishes bear fruit, such as:

- I'd like to see my favorite pony Derpy Hooves make more appearances! What I really want, however, is for her to regain a speaking role, but given the "Last Roundup" controversy, such a request might be too much to ask...sigh.

We want Derpy!

- I'd really love to see my favorite of the three princesses, Luna, become a regular on the show! While Celestia hasn't figured much herself in the stories of the first two seasons, her sister Luna thus far has been cruelly underused, relegated to a comic relief role in her one minute of screen time in the "Royal Canterlot Wedding" Season 2 finale. The Lunar Princess deserves better...

We need more of Luna and her Royal Canterlot Disco Dancing.

- The musical duo, Octavia the Cellist and Vinyl Scratch "DJ Pon-3", having their own episode and perhaps performing together! (My other Octavia and Vynil posts are here and here.)

Can House and Classical music mix?

- The boaster and braggart Trixie should return!

Trixie, performer of feats beyond imagination!

- More Braeburn? Perhaps the nameless mule's mysterious past is revealed?

Everyone's favorite Appleloosan!

The Nameless Mule


I also stumbled across these Mad TV spoofs of MLP: FiM, featuring Tara Strong, the voice of Twilight Sparkle:

                                                                My Little Pwny

                                                              My Little War Horse


Fans of both MLP: FiM and Mass Effect, like mewill love this "Commander Pinky Pie" picture from the Mass Effect Facebook page:

HT: Equestria Daily

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Feast of St. Dominic

Today is the feast of St. Dominic, founder of the Order of the Preachers, of whom St. Thomas Aquinas is perhaps its most famous member.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Eve Tushnet on the Death-Haunted Art of Friendship

Eve Tushnet shares a few thoughts on the relationship between friendship and death, along with the idea of friendship as a Christian vocation (Parts 1, 2, 3 are up with Part 4 forthcoming). The series as well as Tushnet’s blog are very much worth reading.


Also worthy of notice are the writings of the Georgetown professor Fr. James Schall, a Jesuit. Among the sundry things he has written, and that are not to be missed, are meditations on Aristotle's philosophy of friendship, including the observation that perhaps his students' favorite section of his class on Aristotle's Ethics are books VIII and IX. He is a fan of Charles Schultz's Peanuts comic strip.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fr. Longenecker on Classical Theism

[I've mentioned classical theism before, here and here.]

"There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that." --  Captain America, The Avengers 

In response to a reader who compares the Judeo-Christian God to Baal, Molech, and "other mythical beings," Fr. Longenecker distinguishes the classical theist view of God from the "straw man in the sky":

The Hebrew God is therefore unique not only because he is the only God of the Hebrews–and pure monotheism is in itself an innovation in the development of religion in the ancient near East–but it is also unique because it is a highly philosophical and metaphysical concept for the divinity. The other pagan god developed from certain earth powers which were personalized or from certain astral or supernatural beings who controlled certain forces of nature. The Hebrew God, on the other hand, is ‘He Who IS” or “He who is existence.”

This is an important distinction to make therefore when discussing the existence of God. Theists often refer to God as ‘the Supreme Being’. This is incorrect from a Judeo-Christian point of view.  God is not the Supreme Being–as if he were the biggest person of all, or even the one who was before all and caused all. Any idea therefore that God is some sort of super magical being in the sky is in fact a straw man in the sky because Christians, Jews and Muslims don’t believe in God in that way. Instead he is what St Thomas Aquinas calls the ipsum esse subsistens. (Subsistent Act of Existing Itself)  God, according to the scholastics, is not only existence itself, but the ground and source of all existence. That this definition is first revealed to the Hebrews within the divine tetragrammaton elevates Yahweh of the Hebrews into a new and unique dimension of divinity.

Furthermore, it is God’s being ipsum esse subsistens that explains the seeming contradiction of God’s transcendence and immanence. Aquinas argues that God is most transcendent from, and most immanent in creation for the very same reason–that he is that existence that is beyond all existing things and yet the cause in and through all created things–being therefore transcendent and immanent at the same time.

We see here a convergence between the God of the philosophers and the Judeo-Christian God, between natural theology and revealed theology, between Athens and Jerusalem, between "Subsistent Being itself " and "He Who IS." As I said before, the new atheist really needs to do his homework and study what educated theists actually believe before he throws out such straw men like the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Flying China Teacup, Irate Lunar Unicorns, and a cosmic superman (who, incidentally, might also be found in contemporary "theistic personalism").

Princess Luna, you're really powerful and awesome and all that, but you're still just a creature like the rest of us compared to the One who is really worthy of worship, the real "Love that moves the sun (and moon) and all the stars."

Ed Feser, who's blogged quite a storm answering new atheist caricatures of God, makes further points regarding the significant differences between classical theism and pagan demi-gods like Zeus or Thor (for all you Marvel Comics aficionados!). Consider the interesting observation that the God of Augustine, Anselm and Aquinas could exist along with Zeus and Thor, as the latter two are mere creatures, contingent beings that are mixtures of act and potency, with essences separate from their existence that must be combined by another. The God of classical theism, of course, being pure act, whose essence is existence, would depend on nothing else to exist (aseity), while conversely, everything else other than God would depend on God for existence, including "demi-gods" like Zeus and Thor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Link to the Past: RPG Edition

Finally, a post on RPG Catholic that has something to do with RPG's! Anyway, Kyle Cupp shared his 10 favorite video games, all of them of the role-playing genre and all made by Japanese companies such as Nintendo (Zelda) and Square Enix (Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger, Vagrant Story, Dragon Warrior III, Dragon Quest VIII).

As for me, I'm not as familiar with the Japanese RPG's. I tend more towards open-world role-playing games made by American and European companies such as Bethesda, Bioware, and JoWood.

I'll go ahead and share a few of my favorites:

Bethesda Softworks

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC)


The game that got me hooked on open world RPG's, massive in scope, with much to do and to explore. Perhaps the biggest knock, besides the occasional bugs, is that the game requires a considerable time investment. The graphics pale compared to, say, Skyrim, but still seem to me charming in their own way. Plus, without all the fancy fast travel and objective markers of the sequels, going around Morrowind feels more like a real adventure.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)


Oblivion expands on the formula of the earlier Morrowind, offering extensive side and guild quests besides the main story. In how many other games can you be a warrior, a thief, a mage, a gladiator, a mercenary for hire, and even an assassin, all at once? The non-playable characters get a serious boost, instead of standing around all day, they follow daily schedules, seemingly living lives of their own. Did I mention that the game features the voices of Patrick Stewart and Sean Bean?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

You can be an adventurer like me too, just be careful not to take any arrows to the knee!

Fallout 3 (Xbox 360. PS3)


An open world RPG/shooter in the style of the Elder Scrolls series, set in a post-apocalyptic modern America, very reminiscent of The Road Warrior.

Fallout: New Vegas (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

An expansion to Fallout 3, taking place in Las Vegas.


Mass Effect (PCXbox 360)

ME is as sci-fi RPG/shooter with a well-written story and a heavy emphasis on making tough decisions with repercussions that reach into the next two sequels. (It's a good idea to get the entire series on one platform, to carry over the saves from ME1.)

Mass Effect 2 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

The stakes go up, the love triangles become more convoluted, the new planet mining is extremely tedious, and the story remains very good for a video game.

Mass Effect 3 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

The Shepard/Tali/Liara love triangle reaches its climax, Garrus continues his calibrations, and the battle for Earth rages on...


Gothic 2 (PC)

Basically like Morrowind in having a large world to explore, many side quests besides the main story, and NPC's with lives. The game starts slow, but once you build up the nameless hero to take on foes more powerful than rats, things get very interesting. While the first Gothic is also worth checking out, the third game isn't as good and is considerably buggier, but does have an awesome soundtrack.