Monday, February 09, 2009


With regard to the sentire cum ecclesiae blogging initiative, perhaps I jumped too quickly in medias res. I would like to explain a little more fulsomely why I have thought to undertake the experiment, whence my sense of the need or at least usefulness of it comes, and what I hope to learn from it.

  1. The experiment in democracy that has engulfed the world needs to be guided by the perennially valid reflection on human action that had its first permanent expression in the philosophical writings of the ancient Greeks. That way of thought has been carried to our day by the Christian tradition of thinking. More to this, and more importantly: the philosophical tradition of thinking that began in pagan Athens has been refined and perfected during the course of its transmission through Christianity, a phenomenon that essentially involves, even though it is not limited to, the synthesis of a particular Hebrew theology of history, with the Greek spirit of inquiry into the ultimate reason of things, and the Roman system of social governance (cf.). Western civilization is incomprehensible outside this tradition.
  2. We need to apply the Church's perennially valid way of thinking about politics to the problems that arise in contemporary society; in order to do so, we need to be aware of our present inheritance of the principles of morality is precisely that - an inheritance. This means that it has been developed and refined in history. We need to recover the Church's way of thinking in order to understand and properly apply the known principles of morality in our lives, and especially to our our public intellectual life.
  3. The perennially valid principles of morality, as they are authoritatively enunciated and taught by the Catholic Church, are not imposed by the Church on the world. They are proposed by the Church, with Her authority, in order to guide, i.e. inform and perfect our action in the world. In other words, they emerge from the Church's reflection on the concrete conditions of our life, and if we would be good sons and daughters, we must participate in that reflection, must let ourselves be guided by those who have come before us, in a spirit of docile humility. Our participation in the tradition is therefore essentially a matter of education.
Therefore, those who would think with the Church must learn how to do so. This is a messy, and often imprecise business (I mean the learning process), that is conducted often (though not only) in the equally messy business of life.

I hope to learn with those who would learn with me, in the hope that our learning together might be of benefit to each other and to the Church.


No comments: