Saturday, October 03, 2009

Things as they ought to be?

Koz is mainly in the right to suggest that some, perhaps many, doctrines that have been advanced in the social encyclicals of the past 118 years seem at odds with things "as they are." By contrasting this to things as they ought to be, he implies that Catholic doctrine in general posits goals that are at odds with things 'as they are'; the root example being Christ's commandment to love, which receives plenty of lip service while Christian example too frequently is wanting in terms of performance. Those reborn in the Spirit are new creations, and yet they seem to change little, etc, etc. Chesterton's bon mot regarding Christianity never having been tried comes to mind.

That said, I think that Koz has a slightly different point in mind, that the encyclicals actually try to make observations of things as they and get them wrong; or propose ideals that might be fine if we were dealing with Christian kingdoms, but are very problematic when dealing leaders who are elected by population less and less evangelized and other nations that simply do not believe in the Christian gospel (i.e. Islamic states).

The difficulty in such charges is that the data is lacking, and I wonder what would happen if we actually examined specific phrases or sections of the social encyclicals, which are all readily available at the Vatican website (I may have left some out of that hyper-link barrage). Then analyze with respect to whether these things that ought to be can be understood without recourse to papal obtuseness.

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