Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Parable of Mac vs PC

We were talking today at lunch about computers and how Macs and PCs first came out on the market. One of the brothers said that Mac got "beta-maxed," ie that a superior product (like Beta Max was over VHS) "lost out" in the overall market competition to a product that was not as good but which was able to proliferate itself in the market faster.

As I understand, Mac computers are better than PCs (of course I'm no expert... I just listen to what my computer friends tell me). Yet, PCs were able to spread a lot quicker as the rights to make products for PCs was also sold more readily and because PC wasn't as costly as a Mac. So, whereas Macs were very exclusive, PCs were all over the place and so were things to go with PCs. Mac came out with the mouse and PCs copied it. Windows, they say, was a way to copy the Mac operating system (despite the fact that windows was many times more unreliable and susceptable to failure and errors). One brother, who is an ardent Mac user, was talking about the review of Microsoft Vista he had read. According to him the author sarcastically pointed out that Vista is in "no way" trying to imitate Mac's operating system (when in fact it is).

The guardian commented on how surprised he was that despite the almost total dominance of PCs on the market today, Mac has managed to hold on. He said that he thought this was due to the fact that Mac has such a better product, that when someone switches to Mac, they don't just become a Mac user, but a Mac lover. They even, he said, become missionaries for Mac.

I couldn't help but be surprised at how much this conversation reminded me of the difference between the good and conterfeit goods in the spiritual life. You see, we are often tempted by ourselves, by the world, and by the enemy to settle for good enough... to do that which is easier, more convenient... that which seems to be good, but in the final analysis just doesn't cut the mustard in comparison to the real thing.

Just one example of what I mean can be seen in how today's culture tries to sell sex. It presents it as the end all and be all of life, as something utterly pleasurable which should be sought for its own sake and that should seek it for one's own gratification. In the "comercial" that gets played either in movies or on TV shows or in books, "liberated" sexual intercourse is marketed as being the ultimate expression of freedom and the pleasure it produces as something higher than heaven itself. In trying to eliminate the competition, this "comercial" puts down marriage either painting it as a slavery or claiming that monogamy is something that people are not capable of, or, even worse, marriage is degraded from being holy and a sacrament to being another exercise of freedom in a business-like contract, which anyone and everyone should be given the right to engage in no matter if the union of two certain persons would be an affront to the natural moral law.

In front of the message of the competition, this comericial tries every which way to discredit, distort, or disdain those who promote the other, better product. Oh, and since any other way would be difficult and mean restraint or moral responsibility, the easier more widely available "product" of sex is promoted as being the truly better product.

Yet, like Mac vs PC, the better product is always the better product and will remain the better product no matter what the competition says. In the example above, true human sexuality, oriented toward the good of the human person and with the true love kept in mind will always result in greater overall happiness than a fling here and there ever will. Not only is sex good, it is holy. It is not something base, but something sublime. The pleasure itself does not bring one to heaven, but the sacrament it is, the union of a man a woman in Christ and committed to growing in love, reveals the glory of God. It has two extremely valuable goods... the union of spouses in intimate sharing, giving and receiving, and procreation! And if anyone thinks that the idea that sex is holy is just the ramblings of liberal priests or nuns or something not really taught by the "institution" of the Catholic Church, all that has to be said is that Pope John Paul II dedicated a huge chunk of his Wednesday audiences to the so called Theology fo the Body. In a talk he gave, he told men that they should deny themselves immediate gratification during sexual intercourse for the purpose of ensuring that both they and their wives climax together.

No only this, but the vision of marriage in comparison to the counterfeit takes into consideration that when two people have sexual intercourse there is a bond that is formed, that it has definite reprocussions on the psychological aspect of the person... that in giving oneself to another one finds greater fulfillment and greater ability to give when one is free from the fear of being abandoned should one get in a fight over the toothpaste. The giving in sexual intercourse in marraige, therefore becomes much more than just the mutual using for physical gratification in the counterfeit, but it becomes a giving of the whole self to the other, yes, physically, but also mentally and spiritually.

One could go on. But the point is this, that no matter what example is being used, whether it be holy matrimony vs sex alla Hollywood, or promotion of life vs life as a consumer product (to be disposed of when inconvenient), or you name it, the true good is always better than the conterfeit lesser good. Just like Mac is better than PC. Sure it's costlier (just like the real good is always more difficult, requiring more sacrifice and effort), it's not as widely available (the choices for counterfeits always outnumber the choices for the real good), but it's better (just ask the saints and all those who have found true joy).

So remember, always go for the better product. No offense Bill Gates.


Charles of New Haven said...

Save this for your next homily to young folks - and give it before those Mac v. PC ads run their course. You are within the genuine tradition for Franciscan preaching - using examples from the daily life of the culture. Great stuff! (If I borrow it I'll give you credit!)

Br. Chris Gaffrey, ofm said...

Br Charles, Thanks for the complement and the encouragement. I was actually thinking about you today as something you said about religious having a bourgeois sense of entitlement was on my mind. The cause had to do with a nun cutting in line, but I should be used to seeing that by now.

Adam of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary said...

I love you, you heretic......I don't know if you realize it but you have just proved my point in the Orthodox vs Catholic dialogue! Mac is Orthodox, and PC is Catholic hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!!! It is a beautifully amusing analogy and one that I have always ascribed to MACs , that they are truly Orthodox, despite the fact that the great number of MAC users are leftist liberals who espouse the PC side of your analogy. I want to claim back the MAC for all of us Orthodox conservative traditionalist monarchists who faithfully copulate in the holiest of ways with our spouses! :) Mad props to JPII for his efforts to tell the woefully Augustinian puritan west that it is not only ok, but good to make use of the body in marriage for the benefit of the soul (if done right). Man is ontologically disposed to having his body serve his soul so that his soul can serve his spirit and therefore bring him into closer communion with God. This ontology was perverted in the fall of Adam and now we struggle to turn our soul away from serving the body and once again to serve the spirit. Theosis, us greeks call it (how truly inaccurate to call myself Greek, for within this devilishly anglo soma there is nary a whisper of greek, but in my effort toward theosis truly I would place myself among them hahahaha!!!) You may find it more patristically accurate to concentrate more keenly on the admonitions of the Golden Mouthed, rather than the affirmations of the late occupant of the see of Rome. St. John Chrysostom and many other fathers whom I could name if I cared to get up out of my chair and grab a few references (namely St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Anbrose, I think...St. Jerome? I'd have to dig deeper again to verify but def St. Chrysostom and St. Gregory) Sexuality, according to patristic consensus, is actually unequivocably contrnatural to man's ontology and anthropology. These garments of skin we posess in our post fallen state are subject to corruption and we reproduce now, instead of above the animals, in the same way as they do, clearly below our intended purpose. St. John Chrysostom, known for his particular and sometimes downright damning words, regularly extols the vitue of virginity over sexuality and asserts that sexual copulation is a misfortune resulting from the fall. Being a father of five so far and no stranger to the VERY SUBLIME experience you described above with regard to married sexual love, I find the Golden Mouth's words to be none too golden indeed! However, I am an idiot of the most profound degree and demonstratively incapable of even supposing to question St. John. SO I don't. What can do and have done, is to seek in the words and pastoral bent of one father who says the same thing in a different way than another. So St. Gregory of Nyssa was my tender and loving doorway to understanding St. John. St. Gregory says that we posessed bodies in the garden, though these bodies were not like those we posess now. He does not say what they were like but he affirms what they were not. Apophatic.....the fathers love to define something by what it is not. He says we would have reproduced surely, as God commnded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and to multiply, however, we would have reproduced in some other manner, perhaps spiritually, by the will of God, and thereby begat other men. Again, he doesn't say how this would have been done andwisely avoids speculation on the subject, but he does indeed affirm exactly what St. John says often in his preaching to various audiences. St. Gregory is careful to affirm also the married experience of sexual union, saying that it is blessed in as much as it is experienced as is necessary to maintain procreation well being and not abused as filth and perverted. So, I totally get what JPII was up to in a modern pastoral sense, with the waiting until both can climax together etc, but the climax should not be the goal. The very best sex is that in which the conjugation, the coming together is the climax, not the physiological ejaculatory response that is 99% the ultimate expectation. This is true for my marriage as well as folks far more holy than I am (that is to say, most any other human being alive is more holy than I am!).
As far as nuns cutting in line, next time give sister Maria dela Pain in the Backside a whack in the knees the next time she cuts in the cafeteria! hahahahaha Your oatmeal florentini scallopini tetrazini is far more important than her "bourgeois sense of entitlement" hahahahahahahhahaaa!!!! I am so naughty! Peace, I love you, and do be reminded that there is a nice black robe awaiting you when you come into his kingdom, that is, into the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church! Many years to you, my brother.


Br. Chris Gaffrey, ofm said...

Oh Adam of St. Tikhon's, you're so on crack, which, of course, is why I love you!

No offense to the Golden Mouthed, but as I like to say in reference to St. Thomas Aquinas, not everthing a saint said is dogma. St Gregory and St. John were obviously influenced by a platonic disdain for the body (they were greeks you know... platonic thought still influenced them).

Also, thanks of the clarification, I never meant to insinuate that the sexual climax was the goal of sexual intercourse, only that for sexuality to be an expression of married love it requires discipline and ascetism (of which the climax together bit was only an example). Right on! Two goods, unitive (the conjugation) and reproductive... I know you already live that are the chitlins? When's Angie due again?

No, Sr. Maria didn't cut me or my brothers... I made sure of that... but she did cut all the people who had waited with us for at least an hour at the post office. I gave her a piece of my mind... almost like the "cease and disist" incident at IHOP... but maybe you didn't here about that one (You were definitely in that Confederate city by then).

By the way, thanks for the offer on the black rob. Still got to do what I think God wants of me... if He tells me anything different, I'll let you know... please pray for me.