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    An alternative...

Raphael,
Thanks for this interesting post even if, at the end of it all, I disagree with the conclusions you would seek to have us draw. I must say that I do miss the conservative conferences since I've moved out of the camp that persists in trying to analyse matters of the spirit through a political lens. They do have some stimulating discussions on many things even if, in the end, I fear their emotions do get in the way of their intellect.

What I would continue to share with people like Alisdair McIntyre and similar others, perhaps Maggie on this board, is that, to quote you line, "the secular humanist and Nietzschean traditions which inform contemporary ethics will deteriorate into nihilism'. (I always get confused on how to spell Nietzsche but I looked it up and I suspect what I have used is the correct way of writing Nietszcean. Forgive my pedanticism, it's a bit like try to remember how to spell Lefebvre. LOL)

What really gives me the sh*ts though about the sort of reactionary* position you put forward here is (a) that it persists in trying to categorise everything into neat little boxes and (b) when something does not fit into one of their "neat little boxes" they persist in either trying to ignore it or in trying to fit it into the nearest category of box they've thought up. It's a sort of endeavour of trying to categorise all people who do not think like me as somehow being agents of the devil or some malign force.

The position you have put would seem to argue that there are only two possible positions to be held on the principle matter in contention. It almost, but not quite, would put forward the sort of proposition that all the non-reactionary and non-conservative thinkers in the Church are on a one-way, slippery slope to nihilism or becoming apostles of a Peter Singer type philosopher.

What I think is wrong with your argument, and if you have picked up his argument correctly, the speaker at the Chesterton conference who gave you the warm fuzzies, is that it assumes that the only alternative to the conservative position that you hold is that everyone else is trying to get the Gospel, Church teaching or the insights of Christ to conform to modern culture. I appreciate that there might be some in the world who would hold such a view. Personally though I find their numbers exceedingly thin on the ground. I think they are largely a figment of the imagination of the right – the "straw men" put up as a constant target to knock down and further the conservative agenda.

There is an alternative cobber. Some people actually believe the conservative agenda is all wrong as to how it interprets the "truths" that Christ is trying to give us. They see those "truths" in a radically different way to yourself. They also want to give those "truths" to the world – i.e. to modern culture – because they believe those "truths", differently interpreted as they maybe to the right wing or obsessively political thinkers, are the pathway for humankind's salvation and redemption. They are not about trying to rewrite Church teaching and the insights of Christ so that they will conform to the world. They are seeking to provide the different interpretation of those "truths" which they believe will be more accessible to the world. In other words the equation is that the world still has to conform to the truth, not the truth to the world.

The difference is that the understanding of what the truth actually is is radically different to what you would have us believe. I would argue that the reason why the Church has been losing the battle for hearts and minds for the last half century is precisely because it has got all ballsed up with this weird, hoop-jumping interpretation of what "truth" actually is and that is what the world has been running away from.

The "truth" I seek in my life today requires a far harsher discipline, and placing of trust in God, than anything that I encountered in that long period of my life when I would have counted myself as a conservative. The "truth" which I seek to proclaim to the world might well be couched in very different language to what you might use, or like, but it requires a far more radical conversion of heart, I would submit, than anything you, or your conservative and reactionary mates would seek to inflict on us – or the rest of the world.

I think it is wrong to assume that the architects of Vatican II had an agenda to try and proclaim a new gospel that conforms to the world. It was a radically new way of interpreting the old truths in a way (a) that better conformed to what the ultimate "truth" actually is and (b) which, for that reason, has better chance of "converting" the world to Christ. The true spirit of Vatican II is no different to the conservative agenda in that it expects the world to conform itself to a challenging and radical message from Christ. Where it differs to the conservative agenda though is in its interpretation of what that "truth" actually is though. It is not putting forward a proposition though that the Gospel ought be "watered down" to conform to nihilistic and laissez fair philosophies.

In this department of thinking I think this Pope is something of a radical. He, it seems to me, is putting forward a similar proposition. There are other areas of thinking where he is far from a radical and I just thank God that we are not expected to believe that everything a Pope says is infallible or procured by some kind of direct telephone line to the Holy Spirit.

*Raphael: it is reactionary rather than merely conservative because it is fundamentally formulated as a reaction against something rather than as an empowering or affirming endeavour of trying to conserve something which is good. Our mate Peter, as UDS observed some days ago, does not seem to be interested in discussion but would seem to share in the right wing prediliction for endeavouring to force his views down the necks of others until they are gagging. He'll "lecture from the pulpit" with his posts but he's not going to come down and converse with the ordinary mortals whom he believes are inferior to himself.

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