Monday, March 29, 2010

A Concrete Investigation of the Difference I / We Can Make

Last post I alluded to my belief that my training could be of some benefit to Canada. I like to think in very concrete terms; I like to think that the concrete is the end of the theoretical. So what difference can a Colin make? What difference can the truth make in the face of the 'dictatorship of relativism,' as our Holy Father says?

It is not the difference of - if I say it it will be believed and people will change to accord with it. Obviously.

This question is in a way the same as 'how should Catholic people in this country best team-up to promote the true culture of the Gospel?'

What is waste and what is not? There are clues everywhere, but one also has to have a keen sense of that exactly is the problem with Canada - why do people think the way they do, etc.?

The greatest successes in the last few years, likely, have been made by the pro-life movement. Despite the fact that our Prime Minister has really done nothing for it - he has done alot by simply keeping the Liberal from doing what they would - things have radically changed - or begun to change - in the fortunes of the pro-life cause. There are two sign-posts of this: 1) the success that LifeSite has had with the Canadian bishops vis a vis Development and Peace, 2) the growing success of Ottawa's March for Life. I don't know really who or what is most responsible for this: LifeSite or demographics. Dare I say there might be a third factor - a radical change in the constituency of the episcopacy in this country? Frankly, the dead weight is dying off, and the new Prendergast-Collins-Oulette dreikaiserbund is making a great difference.

What can truth do?

If the Ann Coulter thing did anything it was to expose and discredit the idiocy that parades as liberal tolerance and human rights. But do words have any strength is this kind of society? True words can't hurt. And I think the best thing that Canadian Catholics can do it just to say it straight. Don't say it stupidly, but say it straight. This is where I come in. I can say it non-stupidly, and, since I'm not a coward, I can say it straight too. I've gotten my lumps; I have gained the right to keep going. I have suffered for the Gospel; I have every right to proclaim her.

I think a guy like me - a guy with academic credentials - can do alot to advance the cause of truth and right in a socialist regime that would like to deprive me of those rights.

How would I do this?

Just keep doing what I am doing here at OLSWA and in the writing I am doing more and more - this blog included. I really think that OLSWA could be a real bastion of life-culture - by means of gathering and concentrating great Catholic thinking. It is a hard and yet equally good thing to stand up against, against a behemoth socialistic bureaucracy bent upon uniformity and employing all modern technological means to bring this about. It is a fine thing to stand up against it. Not stupidly, but intransigently.

Freedom means that I can tell someone that their words are evil. If I can't do this then I am not free. And if I cannot hear this from another then I don't deserve freedom.

Canada has gone down the wrong road in pursuit of European stupidity. We should have followed the Americans' greater love of freedom. A few Canadians have stood up - most of them before the Human Rights Tribunals. It would be a worthy goal to oppose them at every turn. I think Holocaust-deniers and homosexualists are hell-bound, but here and now let them say what they want. Me, I have to afford myself the same right. I am responsible for what I say to God, not to these peons.

I think one of the most important things a Canadian Catholic can do now is speak. But to learn first what it is he should say. I plan on never stopping speaking. I must arrange my life in such a way as to not impede my own liberty to speak. My employment must not undermine it, my sins must not, my failure to educate myself and others must not.

How This Proclamation of the Gospel and Resistance to Evil Impacts, or Should Impact, my Teaching at OLSWA

I have always scorned apologetics that disguises itself as theology. It's as if theology is nothing other than the catechism, than EWTN, than Fr. Corapi, than Familia, than Catholic Answers. All of these are good things. But they are not theology; they are the beginnings of theology. And, yes, everyone needs to make a beginning. But apologetics makes attractive the faith, Catechism teaches the basics of the Faith, while theology broadens our understanding of the Faith (setting back the boundaries of our un-knowing) and – more importantly – constitutes in itself an intellectual and affective encounter with God.

Yet, I think I have lost sight of the role that apologetics should play in my instruction, not that I should be making the Faith attractive in my teaching – my job is just to set forth the truth in as clear a fashion as possible. I am reminded that I should be doing what I can to teach my students how to make it attractive to others. My task assumes no hostility in my listener, while theirs assumes it. My job is not to sell, but to deepen; to take their minds as far as is possible to them and to me. It is not theology otherwise; it is catechism, apologetics or religious studies – none of which I am interested in doing. Augustine provided for both things – to teach and to persuade in two of his works I can name off-hand. He recognized the importance of both, although he gave decided priority to the former. So, with the example of St. Thomas, I should not only be teaching ‘Thomistic Thought’ as a closed, self-sufficient system, I should be teaching it in a way that provides the student with some capacity to respond to modern presuppositions, etc. For one, if I do not engage modernity I cannot engage my students in the past, since they can only understand through the medium of their own idioms. To grasp that the very substrate of conceptuality changes is the fruit of long engagement. It comes easiest to historians and philosophers, I guess. In other words, to gain Thomas, we must, for instance, go through Nietzsche, Kant, Hume and Descartes. How the modern world thinks is not important in itself; it is important to me in that it allows me to communicate a timeless truth in time.

1 comment:

  1. "I've always scorned apologetics that disguises itself as theology." Interesting thought. Not always an obvious distinction (theology/philosophy vs. apologetics), but an important one. Would you agree that many/most presentations of "Theology of the Body" fall under this category (ncluding C. West)?