Wherever faith resides

103 Comments

 

While watching the coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral, I was reminded of an episode of the Netflix series The Crown which has stayed with me. In Moondust (Season 3, Episode 7) a fictive Philip, played by Tobias Menzies, watches the 1969 moon landing and it provokes in him a consideration of what his life has been. He becomes despondent and lost in an episode focused on his ‘midlife crisis’, something maybe more imagined than real. After much deliberating, he turns to the Dean of Windsor, Rev Robin Woods — in real-life a dear friend — for solace.

Prince Philip painting. A scene from the television documentary 'Royal Family'. (Getty Images)

With Dean Woods, Philip explains his experience of desolation, of dryness and frustration, does not flow from a single event, or a single moment of crisis. Rather it’s the ‘drip, drip, drip of doubt, disaffection, disease, discomfort’, prompted in part by his mother’s death, and by ‘an almost jealous fascination with the achievement of these young astronauts’ so recently landed on the moon. The fictitious Prince finds himself with ‘an inability to find calm, or satisfaction, or fulfillment’. 

Something is ‘amiss’. Philip identifies that something missing as faith. ‘I am here to admit to you that I have lost it and without it, what is there?’ he says to the group of clergy. The moon landing itself stops being the basis for the loss, but rather a motif that characterises how empty even apparently extraordinary moments can be without faith.

Philip says, ‘the loneliness and emptiness and anticlimax of going all that way to the moon to find nothing but haunting desolation, ghostly silence, gloom. That is what faithlessness is. As opposed to finding wonder, ecstasy, the miracle of divine creation, God’s design and purpose.’

His perception changes, seeing the solution not residing in the apparently heroic human act but instead ‘wherever it is that faith resides’.

Philip says all this before a group of Anglican clergy engaged in courses for renewal whom he has ridiculed for their seemingly inert introspection. Towards the end he says, painfully and poignantly, ‘I now find myself full of respect, of admiration and not a small part of desperation. As I come to say, help. Help me.’

 

"One thing to notice is that this claim of faith isn’t an extra hobby; it’s a deeper, grounding reality in which life is understood. That is surely something striking given the usual dull coverage of royal personality politics."

 

This is a dramatic moment of metanoia, of a change of heart, that the viewer cannot be sure the real Philip ever had. Yet it is imaginable. The charismatic former Anglican Archbishop of York, John Sentamu expressed on the BBC’s coverage preceding the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, sentiments that made Philip’s reorientation plausible.

Archbishop Sentamu described the Duke as one who ‘had a very deep faith’, a faith that grew ‘deeper and deeper’. He was also one to question. The Archbishop wrote on the day of the funeral: ‘Bishops who were invited to stay and preach at Sandringham faced a barrage of serious theological questions over lunch, and there was nowhere to hide. He listened appreciatively but never uncritically.’

The Archbishop suggested that when the Queen greeted her next birthday, her first without her husband in 73 years, she would turn to Jesus Christ and so to God. It struck me as a bold claim. Yet in her Christmas message this year, the Queen herself said: ‘The teachings of Christ have served as my inner light, as has the sense of purpose we can find in coming together to worship.’

So, we have an elderly couple, one of whom has recently died, of Christian faith. So, what? Well, one thing to notice is that this claim of faith isn’t an extra hobby; it’s a deeper, grounding reality in which life is understood. That is surely something striking given the usual dull coverage of royal personality politics. Even as it is an ‘inner light’, illuminating all else, it isn’t without critical reason. Philip’s ‘appreciative but never uncritical’ approach to faith might be said to characterise the approach of a growing number of young people, too.

Recent research suggests that younger people are more open to belief in the non-material than older Australians. 49 per cent of those aged 18-26 believe in the soul, 48 per cent in life after death and 37 per cent in God. It would be wishful thinking from this Jesuit trainee-priest to imagine that this equates to a renewal of Christian faith and practice. But it would be oddly uninquisitive not to be intrigued by what is happening with this cohort. Another report suggests a 33 per cent increase in engagement in spirituality and prayer amongst that same age-group during the COVID lockdowns. This might just imply a yearning for the depth that Prince Philip is portrayed as seeking in The Crown.

It’s strange, committed republican that I am, drawing a link between the apparently curmudgeonly erstwhile Prince and the bright, idealistic young of today. Yet the parallel is encouraging to the extent it suggests younger people are engaging in questions of deeper meaning, of deeper value. It won’t necessarily solve immediate social challenges of poverty, entrenched disadvantage and injustice. But it might make deeper solutions possible.

 

 

 

Julian ButlerJulian Butler SJ is a Jesuit undertaking formation for Catholic priesthood. He previously practiced law, and also has degrees in commerce and philosophy. Julian is a contributor at Jesuit Communications, a chaplain at Xavier College, and a board member at Jesuit Social Services.

Main image: Prince Philip painting. A scene from the television documentary 'Royal Family'. (Getty Images)

Topic tags: Julian Butler, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, The Crown, Archbishop Sentamu, faith, royals

 

 

submit a comment

Existing comments

A thoughtful and sensitive discourse on the inner life of a royal prince and the inner life of young people. From Hilary Mantel's controversial essay about royalty, "Royal Bodies" , these words resonate: "Along with the reverence and awe accorded to royal persons goes the conviction that the body of the monarch is public property. We are ready at any moment to rip away the veil of respect, and treat royal persons in an inhuman way, making them not more than us but less than us, not really human at all." Those words could speak to a faith outlook as well. Perhaps the older generation does not have enough belief in the potential of young people to be adaptable and resilient about their own (young peoples) faith.
Pam | 29 April 2021


You can't find faith. Faith finds you.
AO | 29 April 2021


The institution of the monarchy serves as a constitutional link to God. If the Monarch didn’t have a deep Christian faith, the Monarch shouldn’t be the Monarch. Consorts and children of inferior grades of faith and practice disserve the institution. More to the point is what should apprentice and journey’men’ royals do with their faith given that, for various reasons, they are not allowed to compete much with commoners in work and play. In addition to the usual niche that is used to make a royal useful, something in the armed forces, should be the diaconate of, as it turns out very conveniently, the established church, where, in the name of God, cooking and serving in soup kitchens or cleaning bottoms in disability or aged care homes, or being a paramedic or firefighter, or some similar thing, for a set period of time serves as the formal prelude to the later vocation of meet-and-greet.
roy chen yee | 29 April 2021


Hello Julian. About thirty years ago I lived in St Kilda and had become a sort-of street friend with Neil. He too lived in St Kilda in a sleazy, filthy, exploitative rooming-house for de-institutionalized former psychiatric patients. Neil was a drop-in at the Sacred Heart Mission in Grey St. I do not know if there service is still there. From the age of about twelve Neil (who looked about forty) had passed through the gauntlet of institutions dedicated to the care of people with mental health issues. From what he told me, if the animals at Melbourne Zoo had been treated like the people in care there would have been an outrage. Neil once said that he did not believe in God because his life had been too miserable. Eventually I moved away from St Kilda and lost contact with him. I have often thought of Neil’s comment but have never been able to find an answer. Now, I have stopped trying. Any answer which I could conjure will only be showing arrogance to Neil’s life experience.
Fosco | 29 April 2021


The remarkable thing about Tobias Menzies, Julian, is his painfully stultified and elocuted caricature of a man we cannot truly ever know because Anglican ecclesiology constructs him as Consort-in-Chief, while relegating him to second place in a Ruritanian novel (as we ourselves often do with our post-infallibility papacy), 'husbanding' a kind of Anglican pontiff, albeit with more checks and balances than we care to shackle our man at the Vatican with. Interestingly, a standard response - from a Glaswegian Jesuit college about the difference between 'Them' and 'Us' - was 'We have the Pope and they have the Queen'. As with all God-Talk, our faith-cyphers collapse pretty quickly when we're forced into membership identification. Phillip's misfortune - though once he may have loved her - was to be married to a scaled down post-Revolutionary version of the Sun King. My sense is that he was expressing his dissatisfaction with the shackles of 'make-believe' that encase the British monarchy, while yearning for a life of no-nonsense simplicity and everyday humanity. For Jesuits - and Catholics alike - there are lessons in this that augur interestingly for all of us, not the least of which is to strive after a humanising papacy.
Michael Furtado | 30 April 2021


Fosco: ‘Any answer which I could conjure will only be showing arrogance to Neil’s life experience.’ If your emotions are genuine, they should be respected, but the truth is that nihilism is a bit yesterday. The answer is as simple as the answer to the story of Lazarus’ life experience. Nobody went a small distance to bring salve to Lazarus to disinfect his wounds and perhaps nobody went a smaller distance to bring a dog to Neil to salve his psychic wounds.
roy chen yee | 30 April 2021


I think Prince Philip, who to me was a naval officer at heart, would have had a fairly practical approach to God. A realistic one. There's not much idle, speculative religion of the Cambridge or GTS sort in the Royal Navy, especially in wartime. I think Richard Holloway, the former Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, who talks very practically of life and death, would have been on Philip's wavelength. Philip saw life and death in wartime. The naval hymn is 'Eternal Father strong to save'. You should hear them sing it. It means something. Philip was pretty stiff upper lip. I wonder what he really thought of those who preached to the Royal Family. Archbishop Sentamu displayed real courage in his life. So did Jesus. Courage and utter loyalty to His Father. Many older people have been put off religion for a number of reasons. Dietrich Bonhoeffer talked of ' religionless Christianity' by which he meant something other than humanism. He was appalled by the collaborating Church of his time. He was deeply Christian and died a martyr. I think Philip would have admired and respected both Sentamu and Bonhoeffer.
Edward Fido | 01 May 2021


Fosco: Can any one of us make an absolute reference point of our own "life experience" and assume that comment on it is arrogant and off-limits?
John RD | 01 May 2021


The verbal and exegetical assault, employing images of lascerating cruelty and derision against Fosco's simple and heart-rending account of his experience of the life of a latter-day Melburnian Lazarus provides, yet again, reason for the editors of this august journal (as well as the rest of us) to look critically at those who stalk these columns, ready to pounce on others, like Fosco, who point to the continuing challenge of the Gospels. Lazarus was disdained by Dives who, given to the 'cheap grace' that Bonhoeffer cites in drawing attention to Christ's point about radical grace, ends up in the very Hell that we are threatened with in every excoriating post entered here by these two high priests of the Jewish temple. I am grateful to Edward's citation of Bonhoeffer for bringing this to my attention.
Michael Furtado | 01 May 2021


Hello Edward. Bonhoeffer's paradoxical formulation makes sense in the context of Nazi Germany and the idea of the Erastian state, and has contemporary relevance wherever the Church permits its message and identity to be defined by the State. There is , too, a further consideration of opposition to religion and its truth-claims today: an epistemological stance that truth is unknowable; a self-contradictory assertion - but, hey, never mind, so long as one's passionate about something, and can claim a self-bestowed righteousness and 'humility'.
John RD | 01 May 2021


Julian: Thank you for this reflection. Youth's capacity for God - which you articulate so well here - has been a sustaining factor in my nearly four decades of teaching. A Jesuit university chaplain of my acquaintance, when I was a beginner, defined a Catholic education's primary responsibility as "cultivating the baptismal character of the unique person." A definition that still has traction.
John RD | 01 May 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘Phillip's misfortune’ Phillip’s misfortune is the same misfortune as that of Mary of Denmark and Meghan Markel: to (sweep aside/dump/’struggle’ with ‘conscience’ before renouncing) the faith of the baptism (when the soul had no choice to exercise) for a faith that might have been due to an irreplaceable ‘Love’ but conveniently comes paired with secular good hyperfortune. Edward Fido: ‘I wonder what he really thought of those who preached to the Royal Family.’ If the inner honesty of ‘conscience’ was working, he might, knowing himself, have been amused if they caged around a topic like renunciation of faith. A homily before a diverse crowd on a ceremonial occasion is probably an art of politics and someone in the Orthodox (or Roman Catholic, for that matter) community could cheekily have asked in the newspapers afterwards if moving from Orthodoxy (the word must mean something, no?) to something, by definition, not-Orthodox, is a bit like moving from Position A to Position B for thirty pieces of silver. Anyway, God is merciful and when people put him on the spot, he tries to do something so they can die with good marks.
roy chen yee | 02 May 2021


Hello John RD: yes, I absolutely share your concern. What generalizations can we make from the very unique life-experience of Prince Phillip, let alone an interpretive dramatization of the Prince’s life?
Fosco | 02 May 2021


Michael Furtado: “Dives who, given to the 'cheap grace'….“ Another example of Furtado, PhD’s inexplicable (unless intentional) inability to report the facts (in this case, easily adduced from the story) as they are. Dives was in Hell because he practised no grace in this life. In Hell, he requested an apparition to confront his brothers. That could be considered trying to dine on cheap grace. However, no grace was practised while he was alive. Is it too much to ask Michael the academic to practise the most fundamental level of perception, viz., reporting things as they happen?
roy chen yee | 03 May 2021


I thank Julian from providing links to several of the sources he cites. It's too easy for all of us - believers and non-believers - to accept evidence that fits our pre-conceived views and reject that which does not. The ABC article < https://amp.abc.net.au/article/100046122 > that Julian cites is interesting reading. The 'soul' that 69.7% of respondents believed did or may exist is not necessarily the Christian version of the 'soul' but for many could be more like Plato's version. This interpretation is supported by the finding that belief in a 'soul' was more likely than a belief in God or in the resurrection as a historical fact. Juilan concludes that 'younger people are engaging in questions of deeper meaning, of deeper value.' Perhaps young people have always done that as part of their search for meaning (who am I and where am I going?) but if it is indeed greater now than in the past is it perhaps a consequence of the decline of organised religion freeing them up to think for themselves?
Ginger Meggs | 03 May 2021


Julian despite your claim to be a committed Republican, I sense an underlying admiration of the Duke and the Monarchy he represents as Consort. Do I share this admiration? Perhaps not, as there was too much blood spilled by Cromwell and Henry against the Scots and Irish for me to embrace the Reformation. And for the parallel with the youth of today, they do endure the same struggle to find faith during these periods of isolation, much like Prince Phillip would have done during the War. Despite his jousts with the Archbishops and Preachers over lunch and his personal challenge to rekindle his faith, I admired his naval record, the ships he served on and his ability to mix with the boys. Years ago I was talking to that great All Black prop Keith Murdoch (who worked on our job of pegging out 10km of road to the Burdekin Falls when I was in first year law at JCU), and he had had dinner at Buckingham Palace 3 times on tour and got on the drink one night with Prince Phillip in Auckland. He said he was a great guy with a dry wit and a passion for life. Alas Keith has now also gone to his rest. I also watched the funeral and when the Archbishop gave the homily, I couldn't help but grin at the uncanny resemblance to the scene in Johnny English where he mistakes the Archbishop for an impostor. Thankfully in our father's house there are many mansions and no doubt the Duke will be granted access to one of them.
Francis Armstrong | 04 May 2021


Hello John RD, Prince Philip, like many of us, was an enigmatic figure. He was English by choice and by some was always seen as an outsider. Gordonstoun, Philip's school, was more mainstream Christian, rather than High Church Anglican, like the Woodard Schools, such as Lancing are and that had a marked effect on him. There were rumours Philip had returned to the Eastern Orthodoxy of his youth. I am not sure of that. He was, as I said, a Royal Naval officer through and through. His funeral showed that. He was intelligent rather than an intellectual. That is sometimes an advantage, because intellectuals can get lost in their speculation. He is now before God and reliant on His Mercy, as we all shall be. That is probably the lesson we can learn from most people's lives. There was only one unflawed hero in human history. We can learn the most from that life. Whether Philip really 'believed' or was still searching when he died is not our concern. We need to look to ourselves. Memento mori. 'Ask not for whom the bell tolls...".
Edward Fido | 04 May 2021


Crikey! This bloke seems to be well on the way to canonisation. It was indeed a great miracle that he married Princess Elizabeth and lived happily ever after in great wealth without having to lift a finger or contribute a day's productive work other than promotional appearances that served his security rather than the wellbeing of the hoi polloi who paid all the bills!!! However, the saving grace is that there is already one great saint in his household - Elizabeth Regina II.
john frawley | 05 May 2021


Roy Chen Yee, re. your correction of my reference to Lazarus & Dives in which you white-out Lazarus: yet another example of your bamboozling Bob Jones/Westboro Baptist Church inexplicable (though perhaps intentional) inability to interpret the facts (in this case, easily adduced from the story) as they are. Dives was in Hell because he treated Lazarus 'like excreta'. His press-button unwind of the Lamborghini window to chuck a few miserable cents at Lazarus is widely considered trying to dine on cheap grace. Indeed, only cheap grace was practised while he was alive. Is it too much to ask Roy, ES's resident dissident exegete, to practice the most fundamental level of perception rather than to distort it, viz., reporting things as they were intended to be understood?
Michael Furtado | 06 May 2021


Ginger: On the other hand, it's quite possible, isn't it, that the framework of teachings and practises provided by organised religion (which still exists all over the world) provides greater stimulus for the young as they search for meaning than the truncated vision of life supplied by materialist ideologies?
John RD | 07 May 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘His press-button unwind of the Lamborghini window to chuck a few miserable cents at Lazarus is widely considered trying to dine on cheap grace. Indeed, only cheap grace was practised while he was alive. Is it too much to…practice the most fundamental level of perception rather than to distort it, viz., reporting things as they were intended to be understood?’ The intended understanding that not even cheap grace was practised by Dives is in your church’s official bible, the Vulgate: ‘cupiens saturari de micis quae cadebant de mensa divitis, et nemo illi dabat: sed et canes veniebant, et lingebant ulcera ejus’ or ‘And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, and no one did give him: moreover the dogs came and put their tongues on his wounds.’ Other versions of the Bible do not specify that no one gave Lazarus food but they all say that he was at the gate longing for crumbs from the table which, presumably, was not at the gate, any more than your dining table is at your mailbox.
roy chen yee | 07 May 2021


I think you could count Prince Philip's war service as work, John Frawley. Ditto his unpaid charitable work for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award foundation. The Royal Family do appear to live a privileged life and some do take advantage of it. I don't think he and the Queen are freeloaders. BTW I believe Her Majesty would deny all rumours of sainthood.
Edward Fido | 07 May 2021


Well, Johnny Fraws; Faithful Ted is, after all, and a bit like moi, an Englishman when all's said and done and entitled to not being saddled with the 'black and white', 'love me or hate me' excess of the Gaels. And Phillip was at least ornamental: I pledged my troth to him when I swooned in his presence at the age of five. If you were Lee-Roy you might be aggrieved after Phil's uncouth reference to the slitty-eyed while notching up one too many on the rice-wine. Alas, El Roy will have none of that, preferring instead to castigate Phillocks for abandoning his 'orthodoxy'. Would that Orthodoxy and orthodoxy were one and the same thing, despite Roy's valiant attempt at punnery as well as defending his own harried corner of theology. Alas, the close and inter-communicating relationship between the Anglicans and the Orthodox, predicated largely on the basis of the common Roman enemy that lies between them, has registered not one iota on the 'Royal' (mis)understanding, while he resolutely prefers to lose himself in his encyclopedic knowledge and commitment to the Filioque hair-split and other fancies that we Catholics still abide by. Does God care? I very much doubt it.
Michael Furtado | 07 May 2021


The scriptwriters interpret a character based on their understanding of the character’s words and deeds and the story points they (the scriptwriters) want to make. The actors, first Matt Smith and then Oliver Tobias, interpret the scriptwriter’s words based on how the director wants the part played. It’s a bit pointless basing our understanding of the faith of the real Prince Philip on the portrayal in “The Crown”. Yet most of us didn’t know the man personally, so media portrayals and the memories of people who did know him are all we have to go by. I saw the episode where Philip was so full of admiration for what he saw as the human spirit in the moon landing that he had a private meeting with the three astronauts, only to be disappointed that they were not much more than technicians (very well qualified) just doing their job, without the deeper understanding that Philip was seeking. Don’t know how close that was to the truth. That he questioned his faith seems to be well known based on some of the comments here. Could have been a mid-life crisis linked to frustrations in his life. I don’t know. In other parts of his life he seemed to be practical and pragmatic, so it would stand to reason. If the fictional Philip does give us anything, it may just be a parable about questioning faith that some of us can relate to.
Brett | 07 May 2021


MF. I accept that Phil's role was largely, if not entirely , ornamental - a bit like the statue atop Nelson's column.
john frawley | 08 May 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘Does God care? I very much doubt it.’ What ‘I’ think is neither here nor there because authority is in the seat of Moses even if Pharisees sit in it. What matters is how ‘I’ report what the seat of Moses declares.
roy chen yee | 08 May 2021


Re: Michael Furtado's comment 7 May, made me smile. I am reminded of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" and this verse in particular: "Everyone can see we're together/As we walk on by/(And) and we fly just like birds of a feather/I won't tell no lie." It's a sure sign of esteem to bestow a nickname (or two, or three).
Pam | 08 May 2021


Among the many faith-encounter scenes in the Gospels, there are two I find especially instructive on the nature and dynamics of faith: the annunciation of the angel to the virgin Mary and the meeting of Thomas with the risen Jesus. In either instance, the fact that Mary and Thomas question the respective revelations they are offered indicates that faith, while it transcends them, respects its recipients' reasonable expectations of reality: in the case of Mary, the laws of nature governing conception; and in the case of Thomas, the empirical finality of death. The questions of Mary and Thomas are respected by both message-givers: the angel and Jesus - answers are given which, once received, produce decisive intellectual assent or conviction to the intervention and promise of the supernatural; and a free consent, or fundamental option of responsive self-orientation to what is revealed. In both cases, the revelations given exceed the natural expectations of their recipients; their acceptance produces an existential obedience: a life-orientation that forms the ground for further experience and questions as they arise in the course of discipleship. The listening involved on the part of Mary and Thomas expresses itself in committed assent and action, open to the further influence of the God who speaks and forms through their witness a community of faith.
John RD | 09 May 2021


Brett: ‘that he had a private meeting with the three astronauts, only to be disappointed that they were.…without the deeper understanding that Philip was seeking….it may just be a parable about questioning faith which some of us can relate to.’ A privilege of status is, instead of reading your way through a thicket of obscurity to reach knowledge, to avoid the marathon by insisting that an expert brief you. (US presidents and Australian prime ministers and premiers do this all the time.) Faith, after all, is supposed to come from hearing, where you can simultaneously hear the expert as well as weigh the quality of his interpretation by reading him. Given that a Consort who can pick up the phone to arrange a meeting with astronauts of a foreign power is also likely to be able to pick up a phone to speak to any expert on faith or Faith within the UK or elsewhere, Philip’s Faith, over at least a half-century of access to any expertise, was as substantiated as he wanted it to be, no excuses permitting. In this respect, wealth and status have disadvantages from which most of the 'some of us' are spared.
roy chen yee | 09 May 2021


Given Julian Butler's curious choice of essay for a Jesuit journal, he must inevitably expect the torch of excoriation to engulf the execrable role played by Philpotts in Australia's internal affairs (https://johnmenadue.com/prince-philip-and-gough-whitlam-the-story-the-crown-forgot/?mc_cid=44115801b5&mc_eid=c94eaf696d). And before Roy blasts Brett for getting Tobias Menzies' name wrong let's agree with Brett that the producers let the Brits down badly by failing to reveal the corrupting aspects of their Brobdingnagian monarchy which, not content with robbing its members of their humanity, dull the senses of all democrats about the role that equality plays in ordaining just governance. Here I indulge myself by offering a critique worthy of any reader of an august Jesuit journal. In all the banter ES commands one constant is the allusion constantly made by JohnRD and Roy to both their set standard of orthodoxy and their use of the qualification profile of their opponents to objurgate. In doing this there is fast emerging a vulnerable gap in the conceptual analysis of those who focus on the shortfall between fact and perception and the major contemporary intellectual focus in philosophy on the study of phenomenology and its measurable phenomenographical outcomes: a research field that categorically dispenses with questions of universal truth-based objectivity.
Michael Furtado | 09 May 2021


I’ve no doubt, John RD, that organised religions stimulate some young people to think deeply, but the fact that most Christian children have Christian parents, most Muslim children have Muslim parents, and so on, suggests that such stimulation is ‘truncated’ and that they do very little thinking outside the square. I’m not convinced that every non-organised-religious vision of life is necessarily ‘materialist’ or that ‘materialism’ is intrinsically absent from organised religion; there is, it seems to me, too much evidence to the contrary.
Ginger Meggs | 09 May 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘their use of the qualification profile of their opponents to objurgate. In doing this there is fast emerging a vulnerable gap in the conceptual analysis of those who focus on the shortfall between fact and perception and the major contemporary intellectual focus in philosophy on the study of phenomenology and its measurable phenomenographical outcomes: a research field that categorically dispenses with questions of universal truth-based objectivity.’ The objurgation to Michael’s phenomenography, which he has adopted into his qualification profile, which categorically dispenses with questions of universal truth-based objectivity is that to Michael and his interpretation of phenomenography, human pain is human pain all over the world because human nervous systems work practically identically, be it in Calcutta or on the grounds of Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, but burning widows on their husbands’ funeral pyres carries no implications of universal truth-based objectivity. In other words, God, if you elect to believe in this entity in whom there is no shadow of change, is indifferent to suttee.
roy chen yee | 10 May 2021


Indeed, Ginger, the Abrahamic religions you mention have material components, evident, for example, in their faith rituals, art and architecture - but this doesn't warrant their generic categorising in common understanding as materialist ideologies in the way that, say, the world-view of scientism does.
John RD | 10 May 2021


Michael Furtado: I'd have thought any scientific pursuit worthy of the name aims at objectivity. Since ultimate realities and truth-claims of revealed Christian religion are metaphysical, e.g. the Trinity, there is an inherent shortfall in any academic discipline that would confine them to the realm of the subjective only. Whence phenomenology's authority to dispense with, as you claim it does, the relevance and accessibility of the objective, real and true? Kant? Corporate profit? (which would be highly ironic, as in that world bottom lines are very objective). Is your comment (9/4) an implied reference to biology's (an empirical science) alleged irrelevance by some to the current human sexuality and identity issue? And why do you deem Fr Julian's choice of essay "curious for a Jesuit journal"? It does dare to be more than "phenomenographical", but that's hardly unusual for Jesuit publications with which I'm familiar - and, for that matter, for the Jesuit understanding of education.
John RD | 10 May 2021


You've skirted the issue John RD and taken us further away from Julian's article. If religions really stimulated - or even tolerated - young people to 'think outside the square', we wouldn't have the situation where Christians beget Christians, Hindus beget Hindus, Buddhists beget Buddhists, etc. May I venture to suggest that if you had been born into a devout Presbyterian, Muslim, or Hindu environment and trained in their schools you would have been just as devout a Presbyterian, Muslim or Hindu and you are now a Catholic ?
Ginger Meggs | 11 May 2021


Hello Ginger: I like the “calmness” in the way you express your thoughts. “not convinced that every non-organised-religious vision of life is necessarily ‘materialist’………………” neither am I!
Fosco | 11 May 2021


Hello John RD: But, it is “all about the 60’s”! In the aftermath, the Great Caravan moved to a new place. That’s where today’s young people have been born. There, they are digging their own spiritual well. I do not know what they will find. But, if St Paul is right they may find “the Christ within”: even if they call that experience by some other name. They may well journey their own “forty days in the desert” like Jesus did: even if they call that experience by some other name. How do I know this? Because that’s what Jesus, and Mary Magdalene and St Paul and all the others did.
Fosco | 11 May 2021


Kind of JohnRD to depart from the lambasting he's dishing out to Ross Jones. My criticism of Julian's piece relates to its dubious salience in contrast to Ross' essay. Phillip was hardly an 'Everyperson', so any ensuing discussion and treatment of his life and dubious impact would, with respect, necessarily confine itself to the tea and scones discourse of a surface=skimming Mills & Boone-stacked drawing room of the kind that, from evidence, John is rather more comfortable with conversing with than I am in a Jesuit journal. And judging from the responses of my colleagues here, they appear to be in agreement. As to the matter of objectivity, subjectivity, evidence and empiricism and the vast conceptual distances between them, John would advantage himself no end by reading wider into this epistemological field rather than confine himself to the writings of Jordan Peterson and Harold Bloom in relation to which his frequent references to truth and falsehood would be revealed as no more than the challengeable magisteria of a pre-Vatican II mind-set with which he would seek to shackle Christ's Church. Alas, John's posts are classic examples of a Lost Cause mythology into which he valiantly attempts to breathe new life.
Michael Furtado | 11 May 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘As to the matter of objectivity, subjectivity, evidence and empiricism and the vast conceptual distances between them….’ The Great Commission is a command couched in very subjective terms. It can only be a valid order if it is objectively true. If, as a baptised Christian, you assert that the Command is false, you excommunicate yourself from your faith. If you assert it to be true, you insist that the reservoir of objectivity, viz., the thoughts and feelings of, at least, everyone who is currently living, should be subsumed to a perception that is only native to a few. In theology, there is no vast conceptual distance between the subjective and the objective. What is thought to be a vast conceptual distance is an error of understanding. It is the apparently subjective that is objectively true. The truth of the mustard seed is the tree within.
roy chen yee | 12 May 2021


Thanks Fosco.
Ginger Meggs | 12 May 2021


Being born into a religious tradition is not necessarily determinative of one's faith choices, Ginger, as experience shows. Bhuddists convert to Christianity, and vice-versa, and so it goes for other religions, and people of non-religious backgrounds. Social conditioning plays a part, no doubt, but it is not necessarily decisive or binding in one's religious alignment. The deterministic straightjacketing you propose is a mere hypothesising belied by facts.
John RD | 12 May 2021


You haven't quite called the late Prince Philip a male handbag to Her Majesty, John Frawley, but you've come pretty close. ROFL. If he hadn't married HM I think he would have had quite a reasonable career in the Royal Navy. His war record is quite respectable, and, unlike so many of the British upper class, he never flirted with Nazism. I know it is very hard for anyone of Irish descent to feel there is anything good about Britain and the Establishment there. Believe me, it is not at all difficult for those of English descent. I shall not launch into 'Land of Hope and Glory'. ROFL again. To be serious, I would recommend to all of you the excellent article by Philip Eade 'Prince Philip - an ordinary christian' in the latest issue of the UK 'Catholic Herald'. It is sane and balanced. It appears Roy has grasped the Richard Holloway issue like a roused pit bull terrier. Ah well. Chacun a son gout. It reminds me a bit of the Early Modern witch burnings. Sacre bleu! C'est incroyable. Roy, you're a classic.
Edward Fido | 12 May 2021


Fosco: Despite a world of rapid changes, young people's capacity for truth, as I think you recognise, is a constant. So is the truth uniquely revealed in the person of Christ, our access to the ultimate reality of God accessible through the faith community he gave us and through which he calls us. The '60s were a catalyst for change in the modern era, but not a destination. Further, faith is not as individualistic as you appear to think: it begins in relationship and manifests in community.
John RD | 12 May 2021


Michael Furtado: To the frantic list of descriptors you've invented for me in these pages over several years: "fundamentalist", "Hobbesian", "divisive", "lambasting", "Jansenist", "pre-Vatican II", etc., you add today, by implication, "superficial". What next, and why bother? As far as feeling at home in this Jesuit publication goes, I really think you should put your feet up, as I know of no other so tolerant of ad hominem argument in disputation on serious issues.
John RD | 12 May 2021


I line up with Ginger and Fosco. The openness of younger people to belief in the non-material is not a recent phenomenon but a more eternal condition of growing up and questioning life, faith, values and calling out the standards and double standards of those who went before. “The Times, They Are A’Changin’”. As a baby boomer, I recall questioning things back in the late sixties and into the seventies and pushing against the rules of the older generations, my parents and grandparents. It wasn’t defiance for its own sake. They were questions of meaning and understanding, mixed with impatience that things were not changing quickly enough. It wasn’t a loss of spirituality or lack of faith in something more than us, but a walk down different paths, or at least looking at the different paths. Of course, as we grow older we wonder why the next generations don’t see the world our way. Or perhaps they do see it just as we did back then.
Brett | 12 May 2021


Roy, 9 May: “Philip’s Faith, over at least a half-century of access to any expertise, was as substantiated as he wanted it to be.” You may be right, but it’s a pretty big call on your part and one that can’t be substantiated. Age doesn’t stop questions. Faith, like learning, grows in many ways– hearing, observing, experiencing life, and questioning all of it against our own awareness. It is one of the more intimate decisions of our lives, as I’m sure you would know. Like you, I have no intimacy with the real Philip’s faith, something I thought I made clear. We don’t know if his faith “was as substantiated as he wanted it to be”, or if he still had unresolved questions or doubts and really, it is none of our business. I was responding to fictional Phil, with whom I have a passing recognition based on the character in the writers’ minds, inadequate though that is. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the real bloke and it would be just as valid (and possibly more fun) to draw parables from other characters played by the two actors – Doctor Who and Black Jack Randall.
Brett | 12 May 2021


Brett: ‘big call on your part and one that can’t be substantiated.’ Theoretically, yes. But when you have the probable means to call anyone you want about a matter important to you, the burden is on you as to why you considered or did not consider a particular matter to be important. If the Queen had been taken ill with some rare illness and he had heard of a specialist in, say, Ecuador who had had experience of treating it, do you not think he would have found a way to speak to the expert? You are responsible for what you think is important. And when you have the means to explore whatever you think is important, the burden is so much the greater.
roy chen yee | 13 May 2021


Of course being born into a religious tradition is not necessarily determinative (italics) of one's faith choices, John RD, but being raised in (more italics) one is certainly a strong influencer. How many students from your Catholic school converted to Hinduism as a result of being 'stimulated to search for meaning'? How many students in Muslim maddrasses convert to Buddhism as a result of the stimulation they receive? But you're skirting the issue again. I put it to you that organised religion does not encourage young people to think outside the square, in fact it does quite the opposite, for obvious reasons. The whole purpose of faith schools, for example, is to turn out adherents to that faith. They may also encourage some thinking, but only so long as it remains 'inside the square'.
Ginger Meggs | 13 May 2021


Good morning Edward Fido. I accept your defence of the recently departed Prince and your astute observation from some of my ramblings here in ES that I have inherited some of the irrationalities of the Irish Catholic diaspora. Let me proffer, however, that I am, indeed, very fond of England and its people, particularly my wife of 57 years, a lady of the realm, and two of our children born there and British/Aust dual citizens. My wife is a dedicated royal attested to by the commemorative royal memorabilia she continues to accumulate. My views on the Greek prince are, however, mild compared to hers. I think she must have brain washed me! And Prince Harry is now also well and truly off her adoration list!
john frawley | 13 May 2021


Hello Brett: a true kindred spirit. I think we showed more faith than we realised.
Fosco | 13 May 2021


In his post (9/5), Michael Furtado declares "phenomenology" as the relevant alternative to, if not the measure of, truth-claims in the study of epistemology. Phenomenology itself is a complex phenomenon: though not readily conducive to brief philosophical definition, it has identifiably Kantian provenance insofar as its focus displays Kant's distinctive and emphatic 'turn to the subject', (i.e., the mind and its cognitive processes), preoccupied as it is with phenomena as they appear to consciousness, rather than the Aristotelian concern to establish and affirm cognition's and language's ability to engage and express objective reality - the basis of contemporary correspondence truth-theory in epistemology. Phenomenology's founder as an intellectual field, Edmund Husserl, belongs to the Kantian tradition of transcendental idealism, as distinct from the natural or realist tradition of thinkers who affirm the independence of the known from the knower, and the power of thought to bridge the gap between the two and affirm the real. This latter school in the Catholic tradition includes Aquinas, Gilson, Maritain, Pieper and Haldane; the former includes , in varying degrees, Scheler, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Marcel and Derrida. Aspects of Husserl's thinking, appear in the writings of Rahner and Wojtyla. Any respectable history of philosophy will provide a useful introduction to these thinkers, past and contemporary - though my own preference for those of them discussed before his death in 1994 is that of Frederick Copleston SJ.
John RD | 14 May 2021


Good Morning, John Frawley. Look, I can quite understand people of Irish Catholic descent not being enamored with the British after 400 years of mistreatment under the Ascendancy. The Irish survived by sheer guts: that legendary and undeniable Irish bravery. In the British Army 'The Micks' - as the Irish Guards are known - are regarded with great respect. Most of them are from the Republic and joined in the great tradition inspired by the Wild Geese, who fought so bravely for France. During the Ascendancy even a figure such as Jonathan Swift, who was not exactly pro-Catholic, thought their treatment was appalling. On a personal note, an ancestor, the Reverend John Fido, an Englishman, was briefly the organist at one of the Church of Ireland's cathedrals, St Patrick's in Dublin. He was, like many musicians, a somewhat cantankerous character who terrified the Dean. He left and returned home. I don't think he really liked the ways of the Ascendancy. Your wife sounds a good match for you. It is good having differing opinions. Let us not discuss Mrs Fido here! Look, I think a lot of Brits dislike Philip because he was not a Brit by birth. Some even called him 'Stavros' in derision. Some really believe the old adage 'God is an Englishman!' For heavens sake! I think Harry was deeply traumatized by his mother's tragic death. He really wanted to stay in the Army. I hope the marriage works. I wish him well.
Edward Fido | 14 May 2021


Ginger: Where's the evidence of your thinking 'outside the square' of an apparently committed agnostic stance delivered routinely in Parthian shots towards faith-based affirmations in these pages?
John RD | 14 May 2021


Ginger, you may interest you to learn that in Catholic schools - not only Jesuit ones - where comparative religion is taught as an examinable subject, it is not rare for some students to pursue other religions and non-religions. Buddhism is particularly popular on account of its non- belief in a personal Creator God and the implications of this for human dignity as understood by the Catholic Church. This phenomenon makes it all the more important for these schools to ensure their students have a thorough grounding appropriate to their development and stage of schooling in the central tenets and practices of the Catholic faith - of its nature, an ongoing process, as I imagine you would recognise.
John RD | 14 May 2021


While generous of JohnRD to offer our readers a synoptic view of the twin philosophies that inform our disagreements, I would like to add that naturalism is far more elderly than phenomenology and even its hold over English positivism has waned considerably in recent years. Although a 'social' ethicist, I keenly reject the abject determinism and its potential dismissal of free-will that Catholics cannot avoid in dealing with our moral dilemmas unless innately-preordained. While naturalism places logic and reason at the forefront of all thinking and reflection, phenomenology is more philosophically and cosmologically far-reaching, compensating somewhat for the 'straightjacket/force-fit' that naturalism imposes, and which stymies our discussion of complex phenomena that reason on its own cannot explain other than through reference to revelation. For many this is a big ask, since the boundaries within which naturalism is contained are constantly expanding and, consequently, the laws that apply to it under contested review. While this makes for an interesting debate, phenomenology is not as antipathetic to an understanding and proclamation of the moral claims of Catholics as John sometimes claims. Eminent philosopher though he was at Heythrop, I found Copplestone's pastoral theology, expressed while PP at St Aloysius-on-St Giles, more illuminating.
Michael Furtado | 14 May 2021


The school of naturalism or critical realism as it is more commonly known, as the "elder' of phenomenology in the Western philosophical tradition, makes its current contender look like the new kid on the block yet to prove himself in more experienced and tested company. Even Kant - the main authority usually advanced in attacks on the realist tradition - is relatively new in the context of philosophy's history, and is far from insusceptible of searching criticism such as that made of his thinking by a former disciple, Romano Guardini, and others. Further, although elements of the subjective are evident in the writings of Catholic Doctors of the Church and mystics such as Augustine, Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross, as well as founders of religious orders such as Ignatius Loyola, it is common knowledge that all of them grounded their experience, thinking and practice of the faith in the official teachings and sacramental life of the Church, the reference point for development of doctrine in the Catholic tradition. Subjectivity in itself is not qualification for Doctoral status: the criteria of outstanding holiness, depth of doctrinal insight, and a corpus of writings recognised by the Church as authentic and representative of the Catholic tradition in teaching and practice must be met.
John RD | 16 May 2021


Happy days, Edward F! I suppose that what I am saying, perhaps unfairly, is that the accolades are disingenuous or unearned in the main.
john frawley | 16 May 2021


Hello Ginger: Absolutely! We have to think outside the square because that’s where the people have moved. Recently, I was speaking with a person deeply engaged with catholic education. The demographics of the primary school with which he was involved has rapidly changed. Newer migrant groups with Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim religious heritage have moved into the area. The primary school would not be sustainable drawing only from the diminishing number of catholic families. Was the school to maintain a catholic purity or have a broader religious curriculum embracing the different faith traditions? My answer was simple, dogmatic, hard-line and post-Vatican II: the school exists to serve its community. That community was now multi religious: that’s Australia. Does society need a purest form Catholicism which is ignored by most catholics, or tolerance and respect for all faiths? A secular school was other option. But he rejected that one.
Fosco | 16 May 2021


You make some very good points about England and the Establishment, John F and you do it with humour. Look, I have known some really silly sausages of upper class English people who think the Empire still exists and that all 'colonials' and 'lesser breeds without the law' (Kipling) are somehow 'inferior'. What a load of utter bollocks! They'll never learn.
Edward Fido | 17 May 2021


JohnRD is wise as well as measured in alluding to the many linkages between Naturalism and Phenomenology. In the study of philosophy, and especially its history, readers will note that those philosophical methods and approaches tend to flourish where scholars generally accept that they provide an adequate and all-embracing coda for inquiry into and discerning between the complex and often highly contested claims to problems of moral and ethical significance. Where such means of disassemblement fail to offer clarity and only lead to further confusion and disagreement, moral philosophers tend to consider the methods of evolved philosophies offering methodologies that overcome such hurdles (that is, until such solutions are also eventually shown to be inadequate, which is one of the reasons why philosophy is a 'travelling discipline', rather than an atrophied one securing itself mainly through reference to canonical preference and preservation beyond the lifespan of permanency that it should deserve. Indeed, most practical philosophers, some of them persons of great eminence, are practical ethicists, who resist nailing their colours to one isolated mast, when seaworthiness requires at least two. Ferenc Marton, the 'Father' of Phenomenography is one such. A Hungarian Catholic of Jesuit education, he now works in Sweden.
Michael Furtado | 20 May 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘rather than an atrophied one securing itself mainly through reference to canonical preference and preservation beyond the lifespan of permanency that it should deserve.’ As usual, you’re too broad of brush. For Christians, phenomenography is intellectually governed by the Christian theory that how people see is conditioned by their being sinners. For Christians, phenomenology is intellectually governed by the Christian theory that what people see is conditioned by their being sinners. For Christians, a sinner is anyone who is capable of being tempted by the Devil, as all human beings currently alive are, and as most human beings who have lived were. So, for Catholic Christians, at least, the discussion always returns to the fallibility or infallibility of the Magisterium, and for others to what Scripture can be taken to approve.
roy chen yee | 22 May 2021


The fact that philosophy is a 'travelling discipline' reflects historical change in the conditions wherein conceptual frameworks of its various 'schools' are established. This historical contingency of the discipline, however, does not mean that philosophy as an expression of human reason is incapable of affirming what is knowable, real and true.
John RD | 23 May 2021


Roy (13 May), you can have all the expert advice and support in the world and, in this case, beyond the world. Great if it gives you the answers you are seeking; not so good if your questions or doubts linger afterwards. Actually though, it might be better if all the expert opinions don’t answer your doubts. What is faith if everything is neatly explained beyond question and there is no room for doubt? You say, “the burden is on you as to why you considered or did not consider a particular matter to be important.” True enough because it is ultimately your decision. But once again I should emphasise none of us really knew him and it was really not of our business. Faith is intensely personal and even a Prince does not have an obligation to tie it up into a neat little package for the voyeuristic satisfaction of a remote audience.
Brett | 24 May 2021


I agree, Edward F (17 May), will they ever lose the Empire mentality? Some attitudes will take a long time. A few years ago, someone I know went on a guided tour of Westminster. In the House of Commons, the guide was talking about the Speaker’s Chair, a gift from Australia when Westminster was rebuilt after WW2. The guide referred to the Chair as a gift “from the colonies”. Agree with your comment about John F too.
Brett | 24 May 2021


Were John RD solely concerned with defending a philosophical position, as his numerous posts on the site show, I would have no disagreement with him. His frequent recourse to teleological argumentation, attributed to St Thomas Aquinas, as the ultimate source of his position lets him down in this discussion. According to Aquinas, reason is able to operate within faith and yet also according to its own laws. Thus the theologian accepts authority and faith as his starting point and then proceeds to conclusions using reason. The philosopher, on the other hand, relies solely on the natural light of reason. I contest John's implied positioning of himself as a philosopher! His posts are primarily, and often dogmatically, theological.
Michael Furtado | 24 May 2021


Brett: ‘voyeuristic satisfaction of a remote audience.’ The man’s a role model. He didn’t ask to be one but fortune made him one. When greatness is thrust upon you, live up to it. As to the rest of your post, I’m not sure what you are complaining about. If he has by good fortune been given the means to educate himself about Faith, more than, say, a railway man living in a Glasgow slum, more will be expected of him to know his Faith than the railway man.
roy chen yee | 26 May 2021


I'd like to think my usual contributions to ES encompass both teleology and eschatology: the former being an Aristotelian term; the latter, more scriptural. Michael Furtado is simply mistaken in asserting I "position" myself as a philosopher. If anything, I subscribe to the Augustinian and Anselmian formula "fides quaerens intellectum" (faith seeking understanding) - accepting philosophy, as I've said in earlier ES postings, as the "ancilla" (handmaid) of theology, which I regard as the highest of the sciences - though obviously not in the merely empirical sense in which it is restrictively understood by many today.
John RD | 26 May 2021


I think you, John Frawley and I are basically singing from the same song sheet, Brett. There is something about England. The very stones in places like the Tower are soaked in history, sometimes a very bloody one. When they sing 'Land of Hope and Glory' at the Albert Hall they forget that freedom, for the Irish and the nonwhite population of the Empire, was limited indeed. There is a church in a village in Belgium with a memorial window which has the arms of the various then Imperial nations which came to their aid in WW 1. Right on top is the arms of British India whose troops, including Pathans, Sikhs and Gurkhas fought so bravely against the Germans. There is, currently, no monument in the UK to these Indians and Gurkhas who fought alongside the Australians at Gallipoli, elsewhere in the Middle East and France. The Sixth Gurkha Rifles actually captured the heights of Sari Bair at Gallipoli at tremendous cost and held on for three days but had to withdraw because they could not be relieved. Uptil recently they were paid much less than British troops and could not settle in the UK. Imperial loyalty?
Edward Fido | 27 May 2021


You misunderstand me again Roy, I’m not complaining, just pointing out the obvious. We will never know where his search for meaning led and again, it is not our right to know. Faith is personal. There is no correlation between wealth, power, education or influence and faith. Your Glaswegian slumdweller’s faith and relationship with God is just as real and just as strong as the faith of a prince. Either may have doubts and both may have questions, and this does not have to be a bad thing. The poor railwayman may not be able to call on archbishops to discuss his questions, but he still has prayer and his priest to talk to. Who knows, the local priest in the Scottish slum might even be more suited to discussing questions about faith than the archbishop in his cathedral.
Brett | 27 May 2021


John RD: ‘merely empirical sense’ Judaists believed that a Messiah was destined to appear. From time to time, as Gamaliel implied, judaists fell for messiahs who turned out to be false. Eventually, some pious judaists accepted that one of these messiahs was the Messiah. And, almost immediately, they made a leap of thought that this Messiah was, in fact, God, when there was no particular logical requirement from the then official monotheism to anticipate the necessity of a belief that God would be his own messiah. Certainly, the same Christian tradition that guides Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant hasn’t persuaded the Unitarians that this is so. I don’t think we know when this transition of belief was made because the Transfiguration, at best, only displayed a Nazarene carpenter as an equal to the great prophets. Biblical archaeology has work to do, followers of The Way still being Jews in good standing with the Temple, but is it used as a transmitter of faith in Catholic schools?
roy chen yee | 28 May 2021


Hello Roy. I've no comprehensive knowledge of RE curricula or syllabi throughout Australian Catholic schools, but I would be surprised if the Incarnation were not taught as an historical and theologically epiphanic event - at appropriate levels and in suitable forms (e.g., scripture readings and nativity plays for Primary students, with further researched resources for Secondaries).
John RD | 28 May 2021


JohnRD's epistemology, despite his occasional disorientation amidst the thickets of philosophy, is such that I am glad to see him extricate himself from it. The associate of teleology isn't, however, eschatology, but ontology, which provides, like teleology, but to many Judeo-Christians and others, believers and non-believers alike, an illuminating and equally comprehensive guide by which to wend an ethical pathway through the complexities relating to which evidence shows that John is only able to use his Aristotelian tools. Commitment to one method, because of it being forged through blind loyalty to the magisterium, does not assist the human person on their own to confront and navigate a path through life's complex forks-in-the-road. The voice of conscience, the exercise of freedom, the rejection of a crutch mentality and scepticism that obedience must provide the ultimate basis for decent behaviour and the only foundation for problem-solving defy commonsense. We are - all of us - endowed with a brain, beyond which, for life to exist and flourish on this planet, we cannot appeal to the kind of siege mentality that consistently informs and inhibits John's attitude to the world around him. His views simply fail the tests of moderation and universal acceptance.
Michael Furtado | 29 May 2021


M.F: In realist philosophy - Aquinas, Aristotle and others in this philosophical tradition - teleology is oriented to the purpose or ends of things. As a form of causality, it has a foundation in ontology. However, the dimension of finality makes it conceptually compatible with theological eschatology.
JohnRd | 30 May 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘The voice of conscience, the exercise of freedom, the rejection of a crutch mentality and scepticism that obedience must provide the ultimate basis for decent behaviour and the only foundation for problem-solving defy commonsense.’ The common sense of a situation is the ‘stumbling block’ to all but probably just one view of the matter. In abortion, the stumbling block is whether the foetus is human, in LGBTIQ* (or in divorce) it’s usually whether a dependent child will have both genetic parents owing it protection and love and living under the same roof on 24/365 call and, for other issues, other stumbling blocks, or reductive logics applicable to the situation, will exist. Fancy theories should be assessed by whether they can answer a practical situation with a moral solution. ‘Commitment to one method, because of it being forged through blind loyalty to the magisterium, does not assist the human person on their own to confront and navigate a path through life's complex forks-in-the-road’: life is complex because it is fallen. Why should ‘common sense’ be defined as kowtowing to the fallen? ‘the tests of moderation and universal acceptance’: which you pass by 50% or more at kowtowing?
roy chen yee | 30 May 2021


Michael Furtado's default positions on faith and moral issues are usually traceable to his postulating of an excessively individualist view of conscience and 'common' opinion, usually based on statistics and/or 'updated' theological research. The scriptures (cf Jn 14:23; Romans: 1:5; 16:26; Hebrews 11:1), on which the Church's magisterium bases its official teachings in conjunction with the apostolic tradition, uphold freedom and truth as knowable, instructive and nourishing of the "conviction" and "obedience of faith", as distinct from inconclusive or 'open-ended' speculation. Furthermore, his regular cavalier references to "siege mentality" suggest he is still stuck in the 1960s and 70s when the term first appeared in the West and was usually directed at the Catholic Church with the same reactionary rhetorical connotation, especially on questions of marriage and sexuality. The same anachronism might also be said for MF's recent risible stereotypying of the Campion and Newman associations (neither of which, for what it's worth, can say I'm a member).
John RD | 31 May 2021


Would that Roy were able to employ his natural brainpower to work out what goes wrong with some marriages, whether involving Gay people or straight, and the major role that the Church mercifully plays through the annulment procedure of making things better, not just for the children but for warring parents. In my own instance and contrary to my wishes, my former partner applied for an annulment, which she was granted because it was proven that I had no ability to keep my side of the promises that I had made under duress of wanting to pass off as a straight man. In that sense, the Church granted the annulment and things eventually got immeasurably better for my former partner, myself and our hitherto harried and grossly put-upon children. Subjected to constant disagreement, resentment, anger and stress, what the annulment gave us all was peace, a removal from the kind of enforced expectations of love that neither of us could deliver to each other because of the false pretenses in which it was cloaked, and relief for both children who have grown up to be the most wonderful, loving and balanced adults of their own, both of them with partners.
Michael Furtado | 31 May 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘annulment’. We choose what we do with life’s second chances. It’s scriptural warrant (from Paul) that celibacy is the highest station in life. It’s certainly a most leisured station in which your time and space are all yours (barring the temporary childhood demands of dependent children from the former marriage). The availability of the highest station is, by definition, the highest gift. Given that, in logic, you cannot move to a lesser station without having disdained the higher, whether or not you are in fact aware of having done so, an annulment is a second chance at the highest gift. Staying annulled is, whether or not you are aware of it, accepting the gift. Remarrying, whether or not you are aware of it, is rejecting the gift, and, logically, God (or the Devil) can ask you at the Pearly Gates what thought you put into choosing one or the other, the unconscious making of moral choices being unworthy of a thinking Christian. Do you think Catholic school philosophy classes make their students aware that the everyday genetic impulse to fall in love and reproduce is in fact subject to a prior decision as to whether to reproduce?
roy chen yee | 01 June 2021


Recently retired Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, Massachussets, Peter Kreeft's, "The Best Things in Life", is a very fitting introduction to metaphysical argumentation on relevant topics for senior secondary and university students, especially those dissatisfied with the superficiality of imposed ideology that now masquerades as thinking in many western institutions of learning.
John RD | 02 June 2021


Brett: ‘misunderstand me again…just pointing out the obvious….The poor railwayman may not be able to call on archbishops to discuss his questions, but he still has prayer and his priest to talk to. Who knows, the local priest in the Scottish slum might even be more suited to discussing questions about faith than the archbishop in his cathedral.’ Hypotheticals about maybe the slumdweller this, the slumdweller that, maybe the priest is better suited, etc. don’t make the case. Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Putin, Xi, the Colombian drug lord, Kevin Rudd, Gina Rinehart, Julia Gillard, the Maharajah of wherever …. Wealth and/or status gives you the ability to pick up the phone, or take a plane, to whoever can give you the best advice with no maybes. And it doesn’t have to be the Pope. It could be the Dalai Lama or the most senior Hindu or Islamic authority in the world. Or they could refer you to the best adviser they know. Lucifer isn’t Satan or Accuser for nothing. The prosecuting attorney will turn up at the Pearly Gates to ask how best you used your worldly means to nourish your faith.
roy chen yee | 03 June 2021


I have no idea what you are talking about. Are you contesting the right of the canonical court, itself constituted according to laws underpinned by the Thomism that you and JohnRD never tire of praising, to grant annulments? And please clarify what you mean by stating that celibacy is the higher state. Are you contesting the right of the party that successfully applied for an annulment to re-marry and do you regard annulment as simply bringing closure to the situation I have described. If so, aren't you making a lot of assumptions about the homosexual party, viz. myself, to the annulled marriage? I was told by the canon lawyer dealing with me that I was free to marry. When I asked him how free, his response was 'Absolutely and perfectly free". I contested his response by saying that if I and a fellow man fell in love and wished to marry, we would not be free to do so. His humming and hawing, I later discovered, related to the fact that he was a closeted gay man. Given that it was a priest who persuaded me to marry, doesn't your curious logic construct the god who made me as perverse?
Michael Furtado | 03 June 2021


Michael Furtado: ‘I have no idea what you are talking about.’ I’ll take that on advisement because it seems to me you like playing obtuse. I mentioned Paul so start with him. But a new line of enquiry beckons. “When I asked him how free, his response was ”Absolutely and perfectly free”… persuaded me….” ‘Persuaded me’ is a little Victimology 101. That priest didn’t persuade. You agreed. Are you a robot with no ownership of action? ‘Absolutely and perfectly free’. I guess this priest said so because he wasn’t seated opposite you on stage in front of hundreds of people at a philosophy of language debate. Then, he mightn’t have been quite as expansive as he was in what he thought was a private pastoral situation with a client needing charity. Absolutely and perfectly legally free yes. Maybe even absolutely and perfectly licitly free. But, say it was an 18 year old girl you fell in love with, wouldn’t there be questions you would be obliged to consider? It might be legal and licit but morality would, one supposes, only be established after a process of introspection and discussion. Nothing is absolutely and perfectly free…unless it is.
roy chen yee | 04 June 2021


Roy, you can’t have it both ways. You introduced the hypothetical “railway man living in a Glasgow slum” in your 26 May post as a contrast to a prince. Now you say hypotheticals don’t make the case? All I did was use your own example to underline the point that money, power and influence may give you access to top shelf people who know their stuff, which I’ve agreed all along, but it won’t necessarily mean all your questions and any doubts about your faith are always resolved “with no maybes”. For an enquiring mind, that sort of access may even raise more questions. I resisted the temptation to give your poor Scot a name (Sean did come to mind, after Mr Connery), a good Catholic family of a wife, seven wee bairns and a widowed mother-in-law, or make him a Scottish Nationalist. He is your creation after all. But as he is a faithful fellow, I did give him access to his priest, which I think is fair enough. You write in definites. It’s elitist to say the quality of spiritual guidance is ALWAYS better at a higher point on the food chain, but if you never have questions about your faith, it’s hard to walk in the shoes of someone who does, whatever their social position.
Brett | 04 June 2021


Brett: ‘Now you say hypotheticals don’t make the case?’ My hypothetical concerning Prince Philip is fine. It’s based on the simple idea that if money may bring value in law, medicine, why not theology? Yours are irrelevant: ‘but he still has prayer and his priest to talk to.’ Just like someone with cancer has the local doctor to talk to while someone with money is following up a Mexican cure. ‘it won’t necessarily mean all your questions …are always resolved': That was never the point. You mightn’t get cured in Mexico either, but it occurred to you to step out and look. With Philip, the question was whether (even if too late to do anything about it) he stepped out to ask whether it was OK to trade in a church for a love conjointedly attached to a foreign church. (Like Markle.) Talk to the Cantuar? Probably better to go to the horse’s mouth. The priest at St Nestarios, Battersea? Maybe someone more senior. The Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain at Bayswater? Tricky business telling a consort he might have screwed up. Better delegate up to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Maybe he can loose the binds, if any.
roy chen yee | 06 June 2021


I thought this discussion might be winding up, but now I think you’re winding me up Roy. “My hypothetical concerning Prince Philip is fine… Yours are irrelevant.” Really Roy, now you’re the umpire on hypotheticals? Looks like you’re trying to reposition your argument. You’re point was not “that if money may bring value in law, medicine, why not theology.” You’re point was that money, power etc DO bring value; that they buy top level advice on questions about faith “with no maybes”. I can agree they SHOULD bring value as a generalisation. But no maybes? You do see the difference, don’t you? You’re stating an absolute. My consistent position is that it ain’t necessarily so. The maybes might remain, or new maybes raised, and there is nothing wrong with that. In any case, as I stated previously, we will never know the Prince’s final mind with certainty, and it really isn’t our business to know. Your hypothetical Mexican actually makes my point that you may not get satisfaction, despite the big bucks. That was not your initial position. To your final lines after the horses’ mouth, the word irrelevant came to mind, but I would be the last person to say that about your posts.
Brett | 07 June 2021


Brett: ‘umpire’ If you say your hypotheticals are as good as mine, you’re umpiring. So your complaint about umpiring is, as a matter of logic, unsound. ‘Your point was not “that if money may bring value in law, medicine, why not theology.” Your point was that money, power etc DO bring value;’ Same thing. ‘that they buy top level advice on questions about faith “with no maybes”.’ Yes. The Ecumenical Patriarch is the last go-to guy about exchanging your Orthodox baptismal certificate for love, just as the High Court are the last go-to guys for the Aussie Constitution. ‘I can agree they SHOULD bring value as a generalisation. But no maybes? You do see the difference, don’t you?’ You chase experts to reduce uncertainty, ie., you are chasing certainty. Otherwise, you’d talk to the pubkeeper. ‘we will never know the Prince’s final mind with certainty’ Irrelevant. The question is did he use his assets to chase moral certainty. ‘it really isn’t our business to know’ If it’s your business to know whether to wear a mask, it’s your business to know when to bail from your baptismal vows unless you think one is less important than the other.
roy chen yee | 08 June 2021


'Remarrying, whether or not you are aware of it, is rejecting the gift, and, logically, God (or the Devil) can ask you at the Pearly Gates what thought you put into choosing one or the other, the unconscious making of moral choices being unworthy of a thinking Christian. Do you think Catholic school philosophy classes make their students aware that the everyday genetic impulse to fall in love and reproduce is in fact subject to a prior decision as to whether to reproduce?' (Roy, 1/6). Roy's problem is that he separates genetic impulse from the commandment to love. Granted there are automatons in the animal kingdom who readily dualise the two, and noting that I, like most Catholics in good standing (regardless of whether I am homosexual or not) am a celibate man, what authority does Roy claim to tell me that any decision I make in relation to love will earn the rejection of God and the embrace of the Devil? What Roy seeks to avoid is any discussion of the absurd fundamentalist position that homosexuality is a matter of action and not inclination, in which regard I was being encouraged to marry another woman and repeat my mistake!
Michael Furtado | 09 June 2021


Michael Furtado: Another ‘Did God really say….’ post. ‘what authority does Roy claim to tell me that any decision I make in relation to love will earn the rejection of God and the embrace of the Devil?’ I don’t have any authority that you are going to be rejected by God. The general theme of Christianity is that God loves everybody and we would have to include the Devil in that cohort. I probably don’t need any specific authority to say that the Devil would like to embrace you because it seems to be a general Christian theme also that the Devil would like to tango, individually, with each living being. There is authority that the homosexual inclination is intrinsically disordered. ‘seeks to avoid is any discussion of the absurd fundamentalist position that homosexuality is a matter of action and not inclination, in which regard I was being encouraged to marry another woman and repeat my mistake!’ I’m pretty sure all the Westboro fundamentalists believe that homosexuality is an inclination, not merely an action, which is why while that inclination persists, marriage promises are unlikely reliably to be honoured.
roy chen yee | 10 June 2021


We’re getting repetitive Roy. Now you’re not just the umpire; you also want to move the goal posts. Re-read your earlier posts. You made absolute statements, “always”, “with no maybes” etc that you haven’t been able to support. Now your message has changed to “You chase experts to reduce uncertainty, ie., you are chasing certainty”. It’s closer to my point and not what you said before. My point, if you missed it, is money, power etc don’t necessarily (important word) get you that certainty, even if you are a prince. High level access does not always bring clarity and may even lead to less certainty and more questions from an enquiring mind. Good advice and guidance can come without the big bucks. I don’t see what is so hard for you to grasp. Forget your hypotheticals; they never supported your argument. But do you really think it is any of your business at all to know about the Prince’s final “moral certainty”? You can’t and I can imagine him telling you where to go in rather earthy language. To your mask and baptismal vows, irrelevant.
Brett | 10 June 2021


Brett: ‘My point, if you missed it, is money, power etc don’t necessarily (important word) get you that certainty, even if you are a prince. High level access does not always bring clarity and may even lead to less certainty and more questions from an enquiring mind. Good advice and guidance can come without the big bucks. I don’t see what is so hard for you to grasp.’ The grasping of irrelevancy is all yours. The question was whether Prince Philip, with his click-the-finger access to the best sources of wisdom concerning his religion, used that ability to talk to more than just the religious officials/experts he would normally run into about an issue which should have exercised his mind. Ordinary folks don’t have the luxury of running into other than the religious officials/experts they usually see around them (usually just the parish priest of the moment). ‘do you really think it is any of your business at all to know about the Prince’s final “moral certainty”?’ Imprecisely worded but, generally, yes, old chum. The biblical concept of a stumbling block or a moral scandal cannot exist unless someone in your community is wondering about the morality of your behaviour.
roy chen yee | 11 June 2021


This essay is “Wherever Faith Resides”, with some interesting tangents in the comments. Now Roy, you bring “morality of your behaviour” into it to justify your voyeurism into the Prince’s faith. I don’t know if the Prince had all his questions about his faith answered “with no maybes”. I know from what was written about him that he had an enquiring mind. I can imagine his discussions about faith led to more questions and so on, but I don’t know. Neither do you Roy and, despite your interest, it really is none of our business. Your hypotheticals and condescension don’t change that. “The question was whether Prince Philip, with his click-the-finger access to the best sources of wisdom concerning his religion, used that ability to talk to more than just the religious officials/experts he would normally run into.” You were previously full of the Prince having all his questions answered “with no maybes” by top shelf experts in their field, so I’m glad reality has struck you at last. The Prince could also have had useful discussions from the lower shelves, something you still don’t acknowledge. Wisdom does not always come from authority. The guarantees and certainty that you expect are just not there.
Brett | 12 June 2021


The moderator will be happy because we’re moving into another territory but before we leave (Brett: ‘You were previously full of the Prince having all his questions answered….so I’m glad reality has struck you at last.’), the extract that started all this was: ‘Given that a Consort who can pick up the phone to arrange a meeting with astronauts of a foreign power is also likely to be able to pick up a phone to speak to any expert on faith or Faith within the UK or elsewhere, Philip’s Faith, over at least a half-century of access to any expertise, was as substantiated as he wanted it to be, no excuses permitting. In this respect, wealth and status have disadvantages from which most of the 'some of us' are spared.’ Yes, because he had access to the best advice that status and money would get him, he would have had little excuse for telling St Peter or whoever on the matter of bailing on his vows, ‘I didn’t know that’ or ‘I couldn’t have been expected to know that.’ Life can be tough for the very rich. ‘it really is none of our business’. On baptismal vows? You wish.
roy chen yee | 13 June 2021


I too am glad we’re getting to the end Roy; it’s gone on long enough. You may recall my response to your claim that “Philip’s Faith, over at least a half-century of access to any expertise, was as substantiated as he wanted it to be.” “You may be right, but it’s a pretty big call on your part and one that can’t be substantiated. Age doesn’t stop questions. Faith, like learning, grows in many ways– hearing, observing, experiencing life, and questioning all of it against our own awareness. It is one of the more intimate decisions of our lives, as I’m sure you would know. Like you, I have no intimacy with … Philip’s faith, something I thought I made clear. We don’t know if his faith “was as substantiated as he wanted it to be”, or if he still had unresolved questions or doubts and really, it is none of our business.” I never disagreed Philip’s position gave him access to advice from those in the highest positions, only that wisdom and insight don’t necessarily come with position and status. I never accepted your claim that his questions were answered completely, “with no maybes”. That’s simply unknown. I’ll leave speculation about what is asked and answered in heaven to you, again without accepting that you know. It’s really your opinion against mine and in the end we will have to agree to differ.
Brett | 14 June 2021


Brett: ‘We don’t know if his faith “was as substantiated as he wanted it to be”, or if he still had unresolved questions or doubts….’ And this is where you’re fixating on the wrong meaning of ‘substantiate’. If Phil uses his status and contacts to find all he can about a topic he should be asking questions about, viz. bailing out on his baptismal vows, he can in conscience claim that all the info on the topic accumulated in his head at his deathbed was the best he could do. The fact that there might still be holes in his understanding is neither here nor there because the question always was did he do all he could about a topic he should have asked questions about, not whether he had full and complete knowledge about it. ‘only that wisdom and insight don’t necessarily come with position and status. I never accepted your claim that his questions were answered completely, “with no maybes”.’ Given a choice between asking a parish priest and the Ecumenical Patriarch, who do you think has the definitive answer? ‘It’s really your opinion against mine’ That’s what Biden thinks in Biden v Magisterium. Re baptismal vows, no.
roy chen yee | 15 June 2021


I thought we were done here Roy, however… You do take a lot on yourself to know the unknowable and be so certain about your position. You don’t know the state of faith of anyone else, prince or railwayman, at the time of death. It is entirely personal and you simply don’t know. Neither do I, but I never claimed to know. There are too many uncertainties. I never disagreed that he had the means to have done all that he could on a topic. You say he could get the best advice “with no maybes”. Possibly, but you don’t know that, you don’t know if the advice he got was the best for his situation, you don’t know if the answers he received did not raise further questions with other “maybes”, and all your references to Patriarchs, Magisterium and baptismal vows won’t change that. I don’t argue that he didn't do as you say, but you are definite that he did. Still don’t see the difference? It really is just your opinion against mine. But you don’t even agree that we can agree to differ.
Brett | 17 June 2021


Brett: ‘You say he could get the best advice “with no maybes”. Possibly, but you don’t know that, you don’t know if the advice he got was the best for his situation, you don’t know if the answers he received did not raise further questions with other “maybes”, and all your references to Patriarchs, Magisterium and baptismal vows won’t change that.’ Mate, all organisations have an authority structure, the person at the top speaking for the subject matter that the organisation is supposed to be competent in. When the organisation processes very esoteric and technical information, the best source of advice will be from the top or some expert class within it. Exactly what is it about this simple message that you don’t understand? If the best horsebreeders are in Kentucky, Phil would be talking to Kentucky. Churches, of course, have an apostolic structure with the concept that a person occupies a position similar to that of an apostle if he is called to it by a charism.
roy chen yee | 18 June 2021


Poor Bretty! He don't know he dealin with Gina Riley using nom-de-plum...sorry, nom de ploom...damn; spellcheck willnae work. It must be Magda! All three gels muss know what they talkin about. After all, they Katholik an goin to Sacré Cœur, Glen Iris ;)
Michael Furtado | 18 June 2021


‘Poor Bretty! He don't know he dealin with Gina Riley using nom-de-plum...sorry, nom de ploom...damn; spellcheck willnae work. It must be Magda! All three gels muss know what they talkin about. After all, they Katholik an goin to Sacré Cœur, Glen Iris ;)’. Unacquainted as I am with the informal speech of marginalised communities, I don’t know if this expression of blackface is African-American or Aboriginal-Australian, but should some cultural Marxist busybody from Michael’s preferred side of the sociocultural conversation, the left, wish to cancel him, I will defend his freedom to blackface on the ground that Luso-brown is the new black :fistbump.
roy chen yee | 19 June 2021


At times I feel like “Poor Bretty!” and, sorry to bore everyone, let me try again. Roy, 9 May: ”Philip’s Faith, over at least a half-century of access to any expertise, was as substantiated as he wanted it to be, no excuses permitting.” You might be right Roy, but it’s a big call on your part. Roy, 3 June: “Wealth and/or status gives you the ability to pick up the phone, or take a plane, to whoever can give you the best advice with no maybes”. Agreed, he had that ability, but we don’t know if the advice was as definitive and absolute as you insist, with no maybes. You don’t grasp that access to the best advice doesn’t mean the advice he received answered his questions “with no maybes” or didn’t lead to further questions from his enquiring mind. Neither of us know, so your insistence that he had all his answers is just your opinion. You might possibly be spot on, but don’t rule out that the top shelf advice did not give him the certainty you claim he had. Still don’t get it? It’s not rocket science.
Brett | 21 June 2021


Poor Brett indeed !. Many - too many - of us have been on the receiving end of the judgements of l'infallible petit magister. We try to communicate civilly but to no avail. I'm reminded of the maxim "If at first you don't succeed, try try again; then give up, there's no need to be stubborn".
Ginger Meggs | 22 June 2021


Actuellement, Lee-roy, Luso-brown would be Luso-broyne in Glasgie, where I had the privilege of living for three years, much of it being inculturated by the Jesuits at St Aloysius, and where I had the following delightful experience. Impoverished and requiring dental treatment, I crept into the Dental Hospital where a Pakistani student, foot on my chest and forceps at the ready, asked: 'And wha' side d'ye go fair?' My timid reply: 'Celtic, Jimmae! And your's?' 'Och; Ah go fair the Rangers!' Throwing caution to the wind (as I do with you) I said 'Wash yurr mooth oyt!', to which he sweetly replied: 'Aye; when they asked me Ah told them Ah'm Muslim and they said: 'But wha' kind'ae Muslim are ye? Carflic or Prodstint?' Magda too, although of Polish ancestry on her Da's side, was born there. I bet she's glad she wasn't born in Cracow. Old J-P II, whatever our differences in theology, lacked a Glaswegian sense of humour when it came to lesbianism. (I wish he'd stuck to Chopin, instead). Still, Glasgow taught me all about the difference between religion and faith, justice and oppression, real people and those blighted with artifice, and, obviously, a new sociological question!
Michael Furtado | 22 June 2021


Brett: ‘did not give him the certainty you claim he had.’ As with ‘substantiated’, you misunderstand ‘certainty’ by not reading its meaning within context. A kid studies all year for an exam. By the end of his studying, just before the exam begins, he will be as ‘substantiated’ or ‘certain’ in what he ought to know as he will ever be, because there is no more time to learn stuff. He has a certain amount of chemistry understanding that he ought to have acquired before the exam but he cannot be 100% certain that his understanding is such that he will be able to answer all the questions properly as some of those questions might have a twist. Nevertheless, if he comes from a stable family environment unpestered by extraneous questions about his gender or sexuality, or bothered by the noise of his parents fighting, or distracted by his brother sneaking in a cannabis toke or two with unruly friends in the next room, he will very possibly find the road to a level of understanding which the exam requires easier than the kid down the street with all of those extraneous issues.
roy chen yee | 22 June 2021


Ginger Meggs: ‘then give up’. Absolutely not. If you’re wrong keep coming back with more wrong stuff because there are many ways to make the truth clearer and each additional style may be what someone with a perspective that has been hindering them before needs. This applies to both poles of the conversation.
roy chen yee | 22 June 2021


Thanks Ginger for your words of wisdom. There’s also the definition of insanity apparently misattributed to Einstein about doing (or saying, in my case) the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Time to let it rest and take the dog for another walk. Cheers.
Poor Bretty | 22 June 2021


x

Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up