Wednesday, February 08, 2006
HH: Now I want to ask whether or not, in our little time in this segment and the last one, is a wider conflict with Islam inevitable, ... ?
HH: But how do you win the war, Dennis Prager?
DP: If the West believed in something, it would prevail overnight. The problem is you can't beat bad faith with no faith. [Emphasis added.]
HH: But...free press is not what you win with.
DP: You can't beat good faith.
HH: I mean, the idea that a free press, that's not the good that wins the war, is it, Dennis?
MM: I actually think that it is, and I think that one of the things that is positive about this horrible situation, and it is a horrible situation, is aligning some secularists who previously maybe had not fully acknowledged the tremendous danger of the Islamist message.
MM: I mean, there are secular leftists who I think are waking up, particularly in Europe.
HH: All right. When we come back, final comments from Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Joe Carter on the controversy as it escalates, and what, if anything, the United States government ought to say. Clearly, it's not going to say don't publish anything. It can't and it shouldn't. But what should it say about the controversy?
DP: The greatest disgrace to Islam is not the cartoons in a Danish paper. It's the great number of Muslims who murder in the name of Allah. [Emphasis added.]
HH: Quick question. Do you have sympathy for peaceable Muslims who have protested these cartoons?
MM: If it was a peaceful protest? Sure. Why not?
DP: No, because they're...if they didn't protest the infinitely greater persecution of Christians in the Sudan, and by other Muslim societies, then their moral barometer is broken.
JC: I'd have to agree with Dennis on that one. I think the Muslim world should hope to get to the point where they can flagellate themselves for cartoons. I think they've got bigger issues to worry about.
There is so much to say in response. The most important line, it seems, is Dennis's: "If the West believed in something, it would prevail overnight. The problem is you can't beat bad faith with no faith."
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
The Institute of Radical Orthodoxy is the brainchild of three Anglicans: John Milbank, who is moving from Cambridge to the University of Virginia; and two other people from Cambridge: Graham Ward, the Dean of Peterhouse, who is going to Manchester; and Catherine Pickstock, who is a Fellow of Emmanuel College. They have formed a definite school that has disciples.
Their line is that postmodernism is the natural result of the way that Western philosophy has developed. That is to say, the postmodernist critique of Western philosophy is irrefutable in terms of what it is attacking, but postmodernism itself is nothing but nihilism dressed up in fancy clothes. And therefore, the only remedy is the Holy Trinity!
They basically argue that all of the errors or false directions or insoluble problems in the Western philosophical tradition stem from misunderstandings of theology and of revelation. The only remedy is to go back to the source by renewal of a revelatory mode of thinking, which has the Holy Trinity as its center. That is the basic idea, roughly speaking, of Radical Orthodoxy, as I understand it.
It is an overwhelmingly Anglican movement. To be fair, it has been described as a theology in search of an ecclesiology. I would say it’s the first major theological movement in England since the South Bank school of John Robinson, which was a sort of warmed-up Tillich and so much less original.
Radical Orthodoxy’s proponents, then, have constructive as well as critical ambitions, and in the long run the constructive ambitions are the more important. Milbank, Pickstock, and Ward hope to articulate an encompassing Christian perspective that will supersede and replace secularisms both modern and postmodern. Their goal is to uncover a "new theology," new because it renounces the mediations and compromises of so–called modern theology. Yet their positive achievement is uneven, and understanding the failures of Radical Orthodoxy should occasion some sobering thoughts about the way forward. A genuinely postmodern theology requires spiritual disciplines very alien to our terribly creative and rebellious late–modern souls.
However deeply invested Radical Orthodoxy might be in the vocabulary, thought forms, and literature of postmodernism, it rests on a different foundational assumption about what we might call the glue that holds the world together. It is Augustine’s vision of heavenly peace, made effective in the dynamic and binding power of divine purpose, that shapes Radical Orthodoxy’s reflections, not Nietzsche’s violence wrought by an omnipotent will–to–power. This difference allows Radical Orthodoxy to interpret postmodern thought without being drawn into its orbit, giving Milbank & Co. the perspective from which to expose the nakedness of postmodern nihilism.
In discussing piano purchases, he further asked, "If someone is considering purchasing a piano and the choices are between one that is $1,000 and another that is $15,000, is purchasing the less expensive one more noble?" Noble? Is it a matter of nobility? Or prudence?
Anyway, many callers rang and seemed to voice concerns and worries that sounded somewhat manichean or spiritualist. Material goods are neither good nor evil. In a sense, they are neutral. It depends partially upon how they are used. The goods in themselves have no inherent moral value. That morality comes in when consideration is given to how the goods were made, how they were attained, and how they are used.
Creation is good. It is to be used according to its nature. Each item of the material world is to be used according to the nature of the item, according to "what it is for." Very simple.
To say that a wealthy man who tithes generously and demonstrates great concern for those who have considerably less errs because he spends on material items for himself and his loved ones is wrong, misguided, and unrealistic.
We are material beings and so we are made to use the material world. To use it for our enjoyment. To use it for our work. To use it for our betterment. To use it. However, we must use it responsibly, which means that we should use "things" from the material world according to what they are for, according to their natures. Material "things" can be abused and misused, yes, but they necessarily are not so.
Attempts to strive beyond the material world and live a "human" life rejecting the material is really rejecting the "human" part of the life of the human person. Without grace, it is to attempt to be like angels ... and, as has been said countless times, ... when men attempt to be like angels, they quite often end up like devils.
So enjoy the material. Just do it in moderation and with prudence. Perhaps that is what Dennis should have been stressing: moderation and the prudential use of things. Now it is time to play some more CD's and listen to music while I continue to work on the computer and read a book.