Monday, June 25, 2012

The unexpected convert

In case you missed it online, on MSNBC and on CNN, a particularly interesting blogger "came out" last week: she is moving her blog from the "atheist" portal of the cultural site Patheos to the (horrors!) "Catholic" portal and beginning the RCIA process.

What I noticed when the news first hit was that so many of the comments from self-professed atheists seemed to assume that human life has only one dimension that really counts: the intellectual. And that atheists corner that market. While I obviously take issue with the second assumption, it is the first that rally strikes me as sad. What a diminution of humanity! And it is precisely the restriction that the new catechumen could not accept: her approach to the Church came through the recognition thta, in the end, "morality" is a person. And He loves her.

For a summary and all the pertinent links, go to that same Catholic portal for Elizabeth Scalia's observations, among which the following:
We have a long history of brilliant people — atheists and non — who have trained their big brains on Catholicism, intending to either disprove it or simply to splash about in its currents, only to find themselves drawn further in. Catholic teaching has been thoroughly reasoned and laboriously fleshed-out; there is actual thinking, full of nuance and complexity, at its core — where Faith and Reason share a kinship, within which the natural and supernatural wave back and forth, like wind-stirred wheat in a field; it’s a dance of organic wholeness.

14 comments:

David Allen said...

Morality isn't a "person," which is where she gets it wrong. Morality is a construct that comes from our human need to live in societies together. I'm baffled as to how she doesn't see that.

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

She's playing word games, for sure, but in the Catholic tradition that Leah clearly "connects" with, morality is associated not merely with the need to avoid mutual destruction, but with all that is required for the common pursuit of the "good" (understood as a value in itself), and that "good" we recognize as, yes, a Person, the one who, in Augustine's words, made us for himself, so that our hearts are restless until they rest in that ultimate Good who loves us.

David Allen said...

Capitalizing the word "good" doesn't make it a person either.

David Allen said...

"Good" isn't a person either.

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Neither does denying something change its objective reality, David. But it hints at a refusal to even entertain the possibility. Which is just...sad. After all, the possibility that the universal good is a person (or even a Person) opens up some pretty incredible horizons for human thought!

stormy said...

the "Good" is God living in us!

David Allen said...

Please, demonstrate to me the objective reality that morality and good are people. Show me how what I'm saying is incorrect.

David Allen said...

@stormy: Then neither "Good" nor "God" are people, since people don't live inside of each other.

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

"People" and "person" do not mean the same thing, so it seems rather cheap to pretend to use them interchangeably. One is a concrete collective term, the other an abstract philosophical one with a lot more breadth--and history. It is important, for the sake of communication, to respect the meaning of the terms, and that meaning comes to us through the mediation of not only the sounds and syllables, but the history of usage. And "person" is one of those words that is philosophically loaded.
Can the transcendent not be a transcendent person? Why should the rich term "person" be restricted to one manifestation of personhood, and that limited to one species, on one planet? Why such a small notion of person? Even science fiction is willing to play with bigger ideas than that. But, then, science fiction can be a form of philosophy, too....

David Allen said...

If "person" is an abstract philosophical term, then the idea that "good" or "morality" is a "person" is not "objectively real."

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

"Rationality" is an abstract I think we're in a heap of trouble if that means it's not "objectively real."

harv681 said...

Don't sweat it, Sr. Anne. He seems to be nitpicking on definitions that can only be found in his abridged dictionary of secular humanism.

David Allen said...

Rationality can be demonstrated to be real. Please, go ahead and demonstrate the reality of Good and Morality as people, or persons, or whatever you believe the proper term to be. Second request.

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Why is your world so small and so insistently confined to matter, as if everything that could exist in the universe were subject to our five measly senses?
By definition, a transcendent Good (or a transcendent Person) does not fall within the strictly materialist parameters you limit yourself to.
And with this, I close the comments to this post.