Happy birthday to my brother, Aaron!
As Aarons labors in the papio-educational complex, it is fitting for today that I offer Fr. Z.‘s insightful comments on Samuel Gregg’s recent article about il papa, “Benedict XVI: In No One’s Shadow.” Gregg writes:
Christianity, Benedict argued at Regensburg, integrated Biblical faith, Greek philosophy, and Roman law, thereby creating the “foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.” This suggests that any weakening of this integration of faith and reason would mean the West would start losing its distinctive identity. In short, a West without a Christianity that integrates faith and reason is no longer the West.
Today, Benedict added, we see what happens when faith and reason are torn asunder. Reason is reduced to scientism and ideologies of progress, thereby rending reasoned discussion of anything beyond the empirical impossible. Faith dissolves into sentimental humanitarianism, an equally inadequate basis for rational reflection. Neither of these emaciated facsimiles of their originals can provide any coherent response to the great questions pondered by every human being: “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?” “Where am I going?”
So what’s the way back? To Benedict’s mind, it involves affirming that what he recently called creative reason lies at the origin of everything.
Fr. Z. notes [in bold]:
Of course none of this fits into sound-bites. “Pope Attacks Pathologies of Faith and Reason!” is unlikely to be a newspaper headline anytime soon. [But it has in the blogosphere. Thanks, Mr. Gregg.] That, however, doesn’t nullify the accuracy of Benedict’s analysis. It just makes communicating it difficult in a world of diminished attention-spans and inclined to believe it has nothing to learn from history. [Again, as part of my own liturgical reflection, I note that we are dominated by distraction,and at the root of that distraction is timor mortis, which Augustine calls our hiems cotidiana. The focus on the Cross is what cracks that distraction and brings us into touch with the mystery which both terrifies and attracts. If liturgical worship doesn’t accomplish this over time, it has failed.]
Gregg’s article appears in The American Spectator—surprising material for a political rag.