Friday, May 29, 2009

"Dialogue" is the New "Tolerance"

I'm glad that not everybody is fooled by the application of the word "dialogue" to what happened at Notre Dame on May 17th.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean---neither more nor less."

I am interested in learning when the word "tolerance" ceased to mean simply refraining from killing, torturing, and oppressing an identifiable social group and started meaning a sort of unwillingness to accept everything about that group's beliefs and actions uncritically.

The word "dialogue" seems to be undergoing a similar transformation---or maybe I have already missed it. Rather than its literal meaning, which I presume to be "opening words" (dia-logos) it seems to mean a sort of uncritical assimilation to the viewpoint of another.

This tendency of ours to abuse words in this particular way keeps me up at night. I think it engenders all sorts of confusion. I think it makes us dumber.

Human beings have captured a great deal of wisdom in language, and when we deliberately change the meanings of words to suit our practical/political purposes, the vast majority of us are in danger of losing our connection to that wisdom.

This tendency to abuse spoken/written language is one reason why I am thankful that Christianity has preserved its deposit of faith in multiple forms. We have the Holy Scriptures, we have the councils, we have popular piety, we have disciplines, we have the Sacred Liturgy, we have a system of highly interrelated dogmas. They are all saying the same things in different ways.

Are we listening?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kimiec and the Logos of Contraception

Doug Kmiec is consistent in his mediation of the logos of contraception.

Kmiec's latest prophetic utterance is that we should end the homosexual-marriage controversy by eliminating the state's recognition of marriage altogether and having it issue "civil licenses".

If, as the Catholic Church teaches, the state exists for the good of human persons, the state is not free to use, abuse, intimidate, and kill human persons. On the contrary, the state has an obligation to do them good.

And how can the state fulfill its obligation to human persons if it does not even recognize what (or who) a person is?

And isn't the state's concept of a person horrendously incomplete if it does not recognize the single most important inter-human relationship?

Of course, we wouldn't even be having this conversation---about whether or not the state should recognize the marriage relationship, about whether or not a homosexual relationship should be recognized as "marriage"---if married couples hadn't set the stage by embracing contraception and its logos.

Human rights cannot exist as long as we remain in bondage to contraception.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"What Was the One Thing...?"

"What was the one thing that drew you into the Catholic Church?"

I've been asked the same question many different ways and given it as-many unsatisfactory answers. Today is the first day I have a satisfactory response:

"Only the Catholic Church provides the way to surrender every aspect of my life to Jesus Christ."

That's it. That's the one thing. And next time you bump into Home Depot, that's the answer you'll get!