Friday, July 20, 2012

I'd Ask you not to Tell my Dad

But dad has been dead for almost four years now, so he certainly knows better than any of us now!

I want to make a confession on behalf of the Catholic Church, you know, the Bride of Christ, the very one whom St. Augustine traced from the first just man, Abel, to the end of all things, when Christ will be all in all. I'm not sure if I have the authority to do so, but anyway...

Most of us are not really disciples of the Word of Truth. Not very good ones. We fear truth,in fact, almost as much as anyone else.

I say 'almost' and that's an important concession. It's akin to saying, "I didn't mean to get drunk," rather than "I planned out getting plastered" in confession, or "I watched bad movies repeatedly," versus "once."

Most people, regardless of race, creed, or colour are not very committed to truth for its own sake. It's a sad thing, a potent indictment of our species, really. I am not talking in this case about prevarication, lying. I am talking about a commitment to following the data wherever it leads. Newspapers report only what, and only in the way that, confirms its editorial prejudices. Politicians, artists, controversialists... all the same. Some I scrutinize for this rather heavily, like LifeSiteNews. And, you know what, they do better than most would presume. Still, I hold them to a higher standard than other journalistic entities, because I expect them to be better, and they're not perfect. But, sure, better than most. (Better than Rosica. My standard jab duly inserted.)

I am a convert. I came from the secular sphere. I know it. I was disgusted by it, and so boarded St. Peter's Barque. But I entered without abandoning, but rather fully intending to be able to find endorsed, my father's highest ideals of love of truth. It wasn't that he'd agree with the path I had chosen. That wasn't the point. Did one - did I - behave according to his best assessment of the evidence at hand? That was the only question that mattered. This was what he was saying in so many words when he told me hoped I would enter an order like the Jesuits. It was love of the truth that mattered most. As a lover of the history of science and philosophy he knew full well what contribution the Jesuits had made.

But tautologies are one thing. Everyone agrees that truth is better than not-truth. Yet when it comes right down to it, how much do we really love the truth? God made the world. It is what is. Statements are true when they correspond to what is. What is is the way God made it. We should love the works of God. We should celebrate them and seek to know them, simply because by knowing them we catch a glimpse of the Creator, the One who really is. Tautologies and dialectic. Great.

I became a Catholic because I knew it was true. First, I encountered the liberals who disgusted me because they were either too stupid to know the very religion to which they professed adherence, or they lied about adhering to it. It's not that being stupid is a sin or a disgrace, but a lover of truth has little 'interest' in the stupid. They can't help him.

Then I met the conservatives, who, obviously, couldn't qualify in quite the same way as being too stupid to know their own religion, at least in its basics. Of course, that didn't mean that they loved truth for its own sake. It meant they knew and liked the basics of Catholicism.

Yet it is this latter group who has most often been a source of disappointment to me in recent years. People whose commitment to the truth runs no deeper than the facile assimilation of truth and basic, unreflective Catholicism. That's fideism of a stamp not much different from that of Luther and Islam. I pity these, but have no use for them as an intellectual who wants to move ever closer to the Word of Truth. The enemies of truth are the enemies of Christ. We are, of course, all pitiable children. But, the Peter Pans, truly a breed...

I know many people would look with curiosity at someone like me. I have hoards of family members and friends - indeed, intellectuals like myself - who both respect me as a thinker and as a man of integrity, but wonder how I can yet profess an archaic creed. It is interesting, I've got to say! I find it interesting and it is me myself who is of interest to me myself! Many people suppose that any believer who really loves the truth who is confronted by the truth would abandon their false religion. But I have read all these things, and I have yet to find a non-Catholic truth!

 But the most remarkable people I have met in my nearly twenty year peace in the Catholic Church are Catholic scholars who are the real deal - most of these I have only met through their books. At their head are surely those like Ratzinger. (Do you know how often I dream about him? It's truly bizarre!). Also, von Balthasar whose works I cannot stand, but whose love of truth I adore; De Lubac; and my wayward son, Christoph Schonborn, whose waywardness is not a lack of integrity, but surely only of prudence...

So, were he still with us today, promise that you wouldn't tell my dad what I have admitted: that Catholics are not unanimously in love with the truth as they are supposed to be. Some are chauvinists. Some have simply allowed our native desire to know God to languish.Why am I making such a big deal out of this: surely, every clan has so many members who care not a fig for truth? Yet, this is the clan that "triumphed over him [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb  and by the word of their testimony;  they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." 

Every other nation can shirk this essential human vocation, but not us.

Forgive me if I've written this post a thousand times before.


  1. I'm not convinced. I don't know any conservatives who "care not a fig for truth." Some conservatives come to a different conclusion about what the truth is than I do, but that's not because they don't care about truth. It's because they are guided by different principles, or perhaps (to be more accurate) by a different emphasis on certain principles over others, though we would agree on the validity of the principles in general. Of course, there is an objective truth, so in some sense one of us is wrong, but each of us is convinced he is right. (The trouble with liberals is that they don't acknowledge that there is a "right.") Are you really sure that the conservatives you've met don't care about truth? How do you know this? I'm really curious -- possibly I'm naive and am missing unmistakable signs.

  2. Yes, I would say there is a difference between acknowledging the existence of truth, which cons certainly do, but this is not bona fide love of truth. Love seeks to know ever more of its beloved, not to cage her and deprive her of vitality. How's that for a metaphor, Christine? lol.

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