A necessary thing

Accordingly, there must be something whose nonexistence would cancel all internal possibility whatsoever. This is a necessary thing.

Kant then argues that this necessary thing must have all the characteristics commonly ascribed to God. Therefore God necessarily exists. This a priori step in Kant’s argument is followed by a step a posteriori, in which he establishes the necessity of an absolutely necessary being. He argues that matter itself contains the principles which give rise to an ordered universe, and this leads us to the concept of God as a Supreme Being, which “embraces within itself everything which can be thought by man.” “God includes all that is possible or real.”

It was a full fifty years ago that I attended Dalhousie Law School.  Of all the classes for the numerous categories of law (contract, constitutional, natural, administrative, procedural, etc.) the most vivid was a singular study of comparative religion. The particulars of the lecture have long vanished.  What however pertains is the enlightenment that different religions spring from identical sources; and, end by similar expression. It was almost laughable to propose – as uncompromising Christianity does – that there is one and only one god. Oddly the most significant upshot of this affair was not an insight into religion (which had the appearance of just another political party) but rather a horse sense into culture and thinking – namely, the abiding similarity of us all in spite of our differences. This I hasten to add is far more than namby-pamby resolve. Indeed it is a rather deliberate and critical wipe of the counter of humanity to remove a collection of dirt, grime and grease deposited over centuries. The convenience of ignorance is astonishing. I am reminded of the taradiddle proposed by King Henry VIII to side-step papal authority for his own purposes. The reputed legal ingenuity of his minion Thomas Cromwell while entertaining was also pernicious beyond recognition.

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, KG, PC (c. 1485 – 28 July 1540) was an English lawyer and statesman who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII from 1534 to 1540, when he was beheaded on orders of the king.

Cromwell was one of the strongest and most powerful proponents of the English Reformation. He helped to engineer an annulment of the king’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so that Henry could lawfully marry Anne Boleyn. Henry failed to obtain the Pope’s approval for the annulment in 1534, so Parliament endorsed the king’s claim to be Supreme Head of the Church of England, giving him the authority to annul his own marriage. However, Cromwell subsequently charted an evangelical and reformist course for the Church of England from the unique posts of Vicegerent in Spirituals and vicar-general.

The ready retort to any challenge of the dignity of these historical figures and their machinations is that one should respect one’s culture and breeding. It does however hold little more water than an equally preposterous assertion that there is a Santa Claus.  Once we remove the hype and pageantry that surrounds these select beings, what remains is often a pitiable narcissism. By the time the poison descends from the top to the lower ranks it has become as outlandish as Jonathan Swift suggested when formulating the proper manner to crack open a boiled egg. And lest any one of us should pretend to guffaw this conjecture I remind you first to consider the fortuity by which you champion your position. if you do so I rather doubt your conclusion will rise to the height of logic.

“…the Emperors of Blefuscu did frequently expostulate by their ambassadors, accusing us of making a Schism in Religion, by offending against a fundamental Doctrine of our great Prophet Lustrog, in the fifty-fourth Chapter of the Brundecal,  (which is their Alcoran). This, however, is thought to be a meer[sic] Strain upon the Text: For the Words are these; That all true believes shall break their Eggs at the convenient End; and which is the convenient End, seems, in my humble Opinion, to be left to every Man’s Conscience, or at least in the Power of the chief Magistrate to determine.”

With respect to the division created by madmen such as Adolf Hitler it is but a distinction without a difference notwithstanding the obvious violation perpetrated by them. It should not however replenish a similar though somewhat less offensive conduct of others who are devoted to aggrandizement at the expense of others. Nor by extension is there anything wrong in the maintenance of customs and habits which enjoy the same entertainment as the Easter Bunny. The distinguishing trick is to rise above the necessity to impose the ritual on others.

“Oh, I admit,” he went on, with his own peculiar smile, gently ironical, disillusioned and vague, “I have every useless thing in the world in my house there. The only thing wanting is the necessary thing, a great patch of open sky like this. Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life, little boy,” he added, turning to me. “You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.”

Excerpt From
Proust, Marcel. “Swann’s Way.”