Bunk!

A reader asks what I think of this Commonweal article.

It’s bunk on the face of it. Fidelity is *not* the answer to the Church’s ills? Faithfulness to the gospel of Christ is *not* the remedy for sin? Yes, yes, the structural issues will have to be dealt with. But the piece reminds me inexorably of Chesterton’s summation of modern philosophers in St. Thomas Aquinas:

Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody’s system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody’s sense of reality: to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense. Each started with a paradox: a peculiar point of view demanding the sacrifice of what they would call a sane point of view. That is the one thing common to Hobbes and Hegel, to Kant and Bergson. to Berkeley and William James. A man had to believe something that no normal man would believe, if it were suddenly propounded to his simplicity; as that law is above right, or right is outside reason, or things are only as we think them, or everything is relative to a reality that is not there. The modern philosopher claims, like a sort of confidence man, that if once we will grant him this, the rest will be easy; he will straighten out the world, if once he is allowed to give this one twist to the mind.

The guy has some interesting insights. So do the lunatics mentioned by Chesterton. But he starts by asking me to swallow the camel of believing that “fidelity…is a simple answer to a complex problem, and like most simple answers to complex problems, it is wrong.”

He might as well say, “Assume for a moment, that bricks and sand are edible. Now let’s start talking about how to cook them.” The premise of the argument is somewhat wanting in actuality.

No, the answer is fidelity, fidelity, fidelity. That comes first. Practical responses have to grow out of that.


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