Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Usual Subjects

Don't ask me why, but right around this time of the year, every year we have, in PG Wodehouse's immortal words "some slight friction" in matters Jesuit over here in the blogosphere.

This is normal and to be expected and no reason for alarm. Shortly thereafter, summer fruits will be in season, and so the long day wears on.

But just because this thing rolls around with near-Helvetic regularity doesn't mean I oughtn't chuck in my two cents every time it does.

So here goes, taking things in bits.

One of the usual subjects is the matter of These Jesuits vs. Those Jesuits. Without going into the particulars of whether Fr. ______ SJ is the latter or the former, I suggest a good way of looking at this sort of thing is to carefully analyze any relevant writings on "the neuralgic issues" of today: Women's ordination, divorce/remarriage, pro-life issues, that sort of thing. Here's where it can get tricky because many of the more wayward thinkers on these issues tend to be intelligent enough to leave open "semantic lines of retreat."

That such people exist and move and are active is beyond discussion. How to classify them is the key aspect.

That said, I'm personally not very comfortable with adjudicating any Jesuit (or pretty much anyone this side of Stalin) as awful, evil, heretical, etc. To be sure, some of the positions advocated by them can be, and they can also be wrong, ill-reasoned, based on faulty data etc. But to call someone anything is m-i-g-h-t-y dangerous. I recommend you avoid it.

But, feel free to explain why someone (Jesuit or otherwise) is wrong on these issues and you may do so with a luxury of detail. The goal is to straighten someone out, not thwack them over the head.

Now, this leads us to the divisiveness divide. Tricky, this.


Because sometimes divisiveness is nothing more than merely pointing out the obvious. If Fr. ____ SJ is publishing articles in which he advocates the ordination of rabbits and polygamous priests, it's not divisive to point that out. The divisiveness arises from someone in dissent with Church doctrine, not from extending one's index finger and saying "Whoa! Look at that!"

Where the wheels can fall off the wagon is in extrapolating from someone's stances on prudential issues or going off on an ad hominen jag. It weakens one's position, it hardens the heart of those who disagree and alienates those who may not be fully informed as to the various details of the issue at the core of it all.

That leads me to ponder the matter of social structures of sin, which -- and this will seem all nit-picky -- is emphatically not the same bloody thing as "sinful structures." There is no such thing as a sinful structure, because a structure has no free will and therefore cannot sin. Sure, there are structures that are the product of sin and instrumental in its propagation and sustainability. But that's not the same thing.

Those who advocate "Liberation Theology" (in the popular sense, not the strict sense as Ryan Duns has so ably explained) are, sadly, all confused about the matter of prudential judgments and theology and collectivist politics and the like. Sadly, during the Studio 54 years, this (ahem) theology got a lot of traction and it's still a recurring phenomenon like a cold sore. The main problem, natch, with this Liberation Theology is that it provides neither. And, as policy it doesn't work, and never will work. To argue in favor of these policies is like arguing against the law of gravity.

What I'm more wary of than argument and disagreement is acrimony. When acrimony appears, you know Satan has sneaked into the discussion, sowing discord and enmity.

There. Feel better?


-J., going back to work.


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