Sunday, January 31, 2010

It seems to me that your last two posts both dealt with the same idea, that we comfortably live in the world of senses, utilizing and interacting with our spiritual nature, but accepting its reality only in the abstractest of ways. This is connected with an idea I've been kicking around for a while in connection with my history thesis. I find a common theme in my experience with Americans today: it seems there are a few groups. The faithful educated (ideal Catholics, but including other denominations, faiths and even the rare atheist like Camus): learns about human nature and God and the human experience through reason and history/tradition, which includes art and literature and religious scriptures (these obviously have more meaning to Catholics). The faithful uneducated: I don't want to use the term "uneducated" but it fits the matrix here; I mean uneducated about religious belief- people who accept Truth apart from reason. Such people can be very smart and terrific debaters, but I just don't get their goal (who cares if God made the world in 7x24 hours or 10 billion years?). The unfaithful educated: a small group of committed atheists. I don't know if I've really met any of these, but this group would include maybe Desmond Morris (The Naked Ape), scientists who believe in mere forces. The unfaithful uneducated: this is a popular group in universities; these people tend to collect in or near urban areas for their high density of Starbucks locations, where they can sip tall lattes and talk passionately about problems of human rights violations, global issues, religious bigotry and the US empire. This is the group I think that irritates me the most (they end up on TV commentary shows); they hijack the scientific work of the unfaithful educated, but accept the pleasant aspects of the educated faithful's anthropology. Then they whine.
I forget why I got onto this; Oh yeah! I think the unfaithful uneducated group are the ones pushing the materialistic worldview, thinking that their values and abhorrence for genocide comes out of science. They refuse to accept (or even look at) the monstrous results of a-morality, and decry religion as a stewpot of bigotry and violence.
To them I offer Camus, an atheist who was honest enough to recognize atheism's results: “In more ingenuous times, when the tyrant razed cities for his own greater glory, when the slave chained to the conqueror’s chariot was dragged through the rejoicing streets, when enemies were thrown to the wild beasts in front of the assembled people, the mind did not reel before such unabashed crimes, and judgment remained unclouded. But slave camps under the flag of freedom, massacres justified by philanthropy or by a taste for the superhuman, in one sense cripple judgment.”
The spiritual life is most important for personal growth and Love of the Lord and the full life, but even from an impersonal philosophical point of view, it is necessary for preserving human civilization.

1 comment:

  1. I agree 100%, Basil, that “[the spiritual life] is necessary for preserving human civilization” – and this is because part of human civilization IS spiritual. It doesn’t matter if people recognize it or not: the spiritual life exists. Furthermore, what happens when something that needs nourishment and attention is ignored? Not only does it shrivel and decay, it rots, stinks and parasitically annihilates what is near it – in this case, the physical life of human civilization.

    I like your breakdown of modern Americans, particularly your exploration of the final and fourth group. It reminds me of what I said earlier in connection to the secular humanists. They sip their lattes in their mock black turtlenecks, contemptuous of the “naivety” of Christianity; they praise the “enlightenment” and open-mindedness of modern academia. They fight against genocide, protect women’s rights, and detest totalitarian regimes. Unfortunately, they do not see the gaping nothingness beneath their Starbucks. They rip away the foundations of morals and the bridge of truth, not seeing that their own highest ideals have simply lost meaning in the void that is secular humanism.