Back in the day, when my group at work did murder boards for VIP presentations, there was a running gag. You'd put up your first slide and some wag would say, "Well, I hate the title." Everyone would laugh and we'd get down to the real work of crafting the message. Sometimes the title did, in fact, stink. Most of the time, it was a joke about how some people like to feel important by finding fault with everything.
And, yes, I do own a mirror. :-)
I'm just starting Richard Rohr's smash hit book, The Universal Christ. I don't hate the title, but the first paragraph made me want to put the book down and never pick it back up again.
In recent years, I have come to see something that my have been obvious to many for a long time. When we argue about religion and theology, we're actually arguing about the kind of world we want to live in.
Italics in the original. Three paragraphs farther in, there are swipes at white men, so you can kind of see where this thing is going.
That gibberish paragraph wasn't written by Rich, who is perfectly capable of writing his own gibberish, it was written by Brian D. MacLaren. Other than the fact that he ends sentences with prepositions and writes nonsense, I have no idea who he is and don't plan to track him down. Let sleeping nitwits lie, I say.
If I wanted a solid definition of religion and theology, I'd turn to Peter Kreeft, but this is a blog post, so it's my job to pontificate with an unfounded air of authority, so, like Brian, I'll just wing it.
Religion and theology are fields of philosophy. They attempt to describe the world as it is. They are governed by logic and must withstand the tests of objective reality. You can do as you like with reality after that. As a Catholic, I'm all in on the Nicene Creed, but the Creed doesn't inform my opinions on tax policy or the designated hitter*.
Conversely, when I argue in favor of personal freedom and personal responsibility, I don't whip out the Catechism. As Ben Shapiro would tell you, it's an argument from authority when the other person might not grant the authority in the first place. If you do grant the authority of the Catechism, it's possible that I might use it was a cudgel in an argument. The hardbound edition on the end of a stick would be most efficacious in certain discussions. Still, it's not universally accepted, so I don't use it often.
It seems to me that in the paragraph quoted above, Brian is telling us what informed his theology, at least in the past. He wanted to trash white men in prose, so he came up with a religion that helped him do that. That's the opposite of the scientific method and logic in general. "I want it to be true, now let's justify it," is no way to build a philosophy.
And so it goes. I'm 20 pages in and trying to remain open-minded. That's not easy to do, but we'll give it a go.
|This is a tree from Alabama. It has nothing to do with the post, but I liked the scene. So there.|
* - The designated hitter is self-evidently an abomination in the sight of God.