instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

They blog so I don't have to

Flos Carmeli has been quite a joyful place of late.
We will not know joy until we come to love and trust... But love and joy both come in their own time through God's all-giving grace. I can make small motions toward these, but in the end it is God who grants them in their fullest as we dispose ourselves to receive them.

After all of this it boils down to--where is joy to be found? In gratitude, in grateful acknowledgment of all that God has given me, has shown me, has made of me, has offered me. This is the beginning. It is the small movement of will that disposes us to receive even greater graces. Gratitude--the simple courtesy to say, "Thank you," to the One who loves us.

Veritas looks at la nouvelle theologie's question, whether the death of God for us is Liberalism.
Now, why is liberalism understood in this sense the death of God for our times? Because of its amazing capacity to create and sustain (false) antagonistic dualisms, e.g. faith and reason; body and soul; church and state; religion and life. Note well: I'm certainly not denying that each element of each pair of terms is distinguishable from the other… that's obviously true. My point here is that liberalism doesn't merely distinguish between (for example) faith and reason: rather, it puts them in opposition to one another at a fundamental level.

Ultimately, liberalism is so problematic because of its propensity to separate religion from "everyday life". I'd submit that the vast majority of Americans fail to structure their lives according to their faith at an ontological (as opposed to moral) level. Were you to ask someone how being Christian informs and shapes (for example) their profession, you'd be lucky to get more than, "I don't cheat, lie, or steal because of my faith" (i.e. moralism). What we're talking about here is the split between the faith believers profess and the lives they live which Vatican II and Pope Paul VI referred to as the great drama of our times. And I think a convincing argument can be made that the origin for this drama is liberalism.

In a post on medieval studies at Cambridge, Contemplata aliis Tradere turns up a website on the disputatio. It includes this description of the quodlibetica disputation, when masters "made themselves available to deal with a question 'raised by anyone on any topic'":
What characterized it, in fact, was its capricious, and impromptu aspect, and the uncertainty which hovered over it... In the quodlibetica dispute anyone could raise any question. And that was the great danger for the master who was responding. The questions of objections could come from all sides, either hostile or shrewd -- anything was possible. He could be questioned in good faith to learn his opinion; but someone might have tried to force him to contradict himself, or to force him to speak on controversial subjects which he would have preferred never to broach. Sometimes it was a curious foreigner, or a worried soul; sometimes a jealous rival or curious master who would try to put him in an awkward position. Sometimes the questions would be clear and interesting, other times they would be ambiguous and the master would have great difficulty in grasping their exact significance and true meaning. Some would be candidly confined to the purely intellectual realm; others above all had implications of politics or of disparagement.... It was thus essential that whoever wanted to hold a quodlibetica dispute have an uncommon presence of mind and an almost universal competency.
Nowadays, universal competency is generally regarded as a fundamental human right.