Saturday, January 3, 2009

Big Universe, Small Universe

"Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true." G.K. Chesterton Orthodoxy 1908. A hundred years have passed and this world still operates the same way. On New Years Eve, my wife I were visiting some relatives. They asked about our son who is a novice in the Jesuits. They are not Catholics, in fact from my family (3)brothers (1) sister, and my wife's family (2) sisters, (2) brothers, we are the only remaining Catholics. Some are Protestant, some are agnostics/atheists, some just don't practice any faith. In explaining that our son had to go through a 30 day silent retreat starting in October, it was obvious that they could not conceive of what that exactly is and why anyone would do such a thing. Later in the evening my wife and I got on to a discussion about their reaction and I told her what I thought. Most Americans, primarily because either they are Protestants or because they subscribe to secular thinking which evolved from liberalized Protestants have a narrow scope or vision of both the world and of Christianity. As Chesterton has already so brilliantly recognized they construct universes that are logically sound, have a set of precepts and beliefs, are ordered and at first glance seem to make sense. The most dynamic and probably the first principal of these universes is that what is new is right and what is old is wrong. Modern thought is just plain right and old universal truths are wrong. Heck, everybody knows that. Again here is the wisdom of Chesterton " Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness" So even though their universe seems rationally sound, their universe is small. This makes it extremely difficult to enter into any intelligent dialogue. Alasdair MacIntyre, philosopher makes the case that we cannot truly discuss morality because the language of morality is in disorder. It has been torn up, regurgitated, re-invented, broken up into these smaller detached philosophies. This is the case when it comes to Catholicism. It is a much larger universe. I personally am too tired to try to explain it. At a night out over some friends house I started to explain Ignation spirituality. I could see that one woman was very interested in his concepts of consolation and desolation but alas the conversation changed. I could tell that this was something rather interesting and altogether foreign. Why does one have to move closer to God? Why would one want to? If you were to interrogate most Protestants on their beliefs it wold boil down to this: "it is in the Bible and my preacher told me so." Here is something else that is frustrating; when someone comes along and offers some sound advice that catches on with the secular world people are astounded. I give you Rick Warren. Now on the surface A Purpose Driven Life is a wonderful book that is kind of a self-help Dr. Phil approach to Christianity. It is a best seller. Mr. Warren has been invited to the White House for the president-elect's inauguration, much to the chagrin of homosexual community. On his website Mr. Warren describes his book as "a manifesto for Christian living in the 21st century...a lifestyle based on eternal purposes, not cultural values" Well I got news for you the Catechism of Catholic Church is and has been a manifesto for Christian living for some time now. You see their universe is too small to know that. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have tirelessly spoken out against the cultural values. They are light years ahead of Mr. Warren on a number of fronts. Mr Warren is an intellectual midget compared to Pope Benedict. I don't want to belittle what Mr. Warren has done or suggest that he is not doing good work or that he is not a good Christian. I don't believe that at all. Thank God for people like him! Its just that my universe has a difficult time out there and I get frustrated. It is not limited to Protestants either. Just check out anything Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden says. So pardon me if I get a little worked up from time to time.

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