Thursday, July 03, 2014

There are four lights.

Although I'm a classic Star Trek kind of gal, I  was usually content to watch Star Trek New Generation. The show's writers got heavy handed at times when pushing certain repugnant social views  and there are some episodes that I can't stomach to this day. I was very fond of Picard, Worf, and Data,  tolerated Riker, loathed Deanna Troi and was delighted when that horrible Wesley Crusher left the show. I think one of the greatest performances Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard ever gave--and there were many---was  in the two part "Chain of Command" episode. Picard has been taken prisoner and tortured. He is told that the pain will stop and he can live in comfortable captivity for the rest of his life if he says he sees five lights flashing when there are obviously only four. Picard refuses to lie to please his torturer and says there are four lights.

In a meeting with some members of the Franciscans of the Immaculate the pope may have  paraphrased a quote from St. Ignatius Loyola indicating that if the pope says something black is really white then we must believe it is white. What did the Holy Father mean by this? It is impossible to say and I won't speculate as so many people have done. I'll only say that the Holy Father appears to have gotten the quote wrong. St. Ignatius Loyola said or wrote:

We should always be disposed to believe that that which appears (emphasis mine) white is really black, if the hierarchy of the church so decides. 

Saint Ignatius was not telling his order that they had to believe that an actual black object was white if the pope said so. That would have been ludicrous and a rejection of the logic that Jesuits became famous for. The saint was saying that if you think something is true, good etc. based on your own knowledge or experience, be docile and wise enough to realize that you don't know everything and in fact, you know practically nothing compared to the dogma of the Church. You may think it's okay to divorce and then take a lover as long as you don't live in the same house but the Church says it is not. You may think it's okay to miss Mass a few times in a month but the Church says it is not so. You may think that your concubine is the same as a wife but the Church says it is not so. Really, the saint was NOT saying go be a simpleton.

If your priest, a nun, a bishop or even the pope says it's raining when you can clearly see that it is not you are not bound to believe that or parrot it back. If you are told there are five lights when you see darn well that there are only four you are free to have the courage to say like Picard, beaten, exhausted, terrorized that no dammit, "There...are..FOUR...lights!"  


newguy40 said...

Ah... yes. This was my second favorite episode of TNG. One of the most chilling parts of this episode is when the chief torturer invites in his son to witness Picard's agony. The torturer merely says, "Well son, he is human and not like us. They don't feel pain or love the way we do." That level of "othering" I found very disturbing.

My favorite episode of TNG is Yesterday Enterprise but then again I like time travel and alternate history stories.

Boniface said...

Great TNG tie-in!

Maybe you are not aware of this gem. We used to call each other at work and prank each other by leaving this on the voicemail.

Dymphna said...

Awesome, Boniface. Now I'll have to use this on someone.

Lola said...

I shared this post with my dh in recent 'news'. Pick nearly a dozen current events, we still see four lights. Thank you!

I love TNG, and feel the same way you do about the main characters. How did you feel about "Q", Geordi, Guinan or Tasha? So many great episodes, that I can tolerate the meh episodes.

Dymphna said...

I loved Q. I didn't love Guinan but didn't hate the character either. Tasha Yar just never gelled with me. I don't think the writers knew what to do with her but I did love the Maquis episodes.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

" You may think it's okay to marry for the third or fourth time but the Church says it is not so."

So, if you are widowed twice you may no longer remarry? Widow of Bath seeking a fifth husband after four had died was a sinner?

Whoa ... are you Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox?!

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

More probable St Ignatius was thinking of whether "montes pietatis" were violating or not the ban on usury. He was probably admonishing Jesuits to, like, not consider "montes pietatis" usurious after Leo X had decided otherwise on V Lateran Council.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Or wait, was exact quote about sth appearing white and Pope or hierarchs deciding it was black?