By popular acclaim, I have decided to write another post. It has been quite a while.
I might go a bit Patristic on this...
I have been attempting to engage a self-proclaimed “atheist” in debate. This isn't an easy thing to do: without being snobbish (well trying not to), I find it very difficult to engage in debate with anyone who hasn't been taught how to, or indeed, has an Arts degree, where you tend to pick up the basics. It started, as many things do on Facebook: a friend of mine had linked to the Holy Father's recent words on social networking sites, and the care we should take when approaching them: not creating a persona for ourselves, engaging in them in a Christian manner, and so on; much of which he has said in one form or another over the last few years or so of his Pontificate. A friend of my friend then posted a somewhat derogatory comment on the Holy Father's most illustrious words, without any qualification, I think the words were “utterly ridiculous” or something of that nature. I took offence at this on one count, having always been taught “if you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all”*, however, it was not so much that she was criticising the Holy Father that irritated me (a great many people do, as well we know), but rather it was the absence of any qualification to the statement: three years of a degree, and a good many years spent in the company of Dominicans have taught me to back up my arguments with evidence, reason and logic: this she did not do.
I therefore felt within my rights to point out that the Holy Father was actually making a few very good points about decent use of the internet. One or two other people, one of whom I did not expect to chime in support for His Holiness, did so. From the comments of the Holy Father's most recent detractor it became apparent that it was not his comments she took issue with (I doubt she read them through to the end) but rather the person who made the comments. She accused him of being naïve and out of touch, and that his “opinions” were “outdated”. Each comment she made ignored any previous questions she made, which were answered. She then did the most wonderful thing. She said that it didn't really matter what he or anyone else said, she would not change her opinions. This was something akin to dynamite for myself (less charitable than whom there are not many) and I must confess to a sin against charity by pouncing on it and accusing her of being somewhat narrow-minded and bigoted in her refusal to listen to Truth. She then stated that we had no clue as to what the Truth was. And there it was, shining down the millennia: Pilate's question to Jesus: “what is Truth.”
It was something that had been occupying my thoughts for a while: seemingly that every successive generation of government has played Pilate (and I can't help feeling, especially in the last 100 years) and stood before the Church to ask her “What is Truth?” and then, as Pilate did, not hung around, but gone out to the crowd to ask their opinion instead, who would rather see the criminal released than the Christ.
Why is it that the secular world will seemingly never listen to the voice of the Church? I cannot help suspecting that it is the voice, rather than what is said. Par example. The Church has said for yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeears beyond telling that life begins at conception and that contraception doesn't work overly well in stopping spreading STDs. Now, many trendy lefty types (I use this term advisedly) have scoffed at these out of touch, stuck in the mud celibates. What could they possibly know about sexual morality and human life, and it's beginning and end? Well, as it has turned out, quite a lot, as I'm sure we all know. But this is sadly irrelevant, because morality has overtaken science: it doesn't really matter if life begins at conception and ends at death- quite often life wouldn't be very nice for them, so it's best if we bump them off now, to save us, I mean them, embarrassment and pain.
Talk about a voice crying in the wilderness... However, I do rather suspect that the Church will still be answering the question at the top of this page long after the current political and moral ideas have faded from memory. We always have before.
*And latterly: “if you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come and sit next to me”