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    Further Explanation B...


At the very heart, and in oversimplified form, this is what I see as the fundamental difference between the political and non-political frames of reference that are in competition…

Both postulate, or assume, that there is such a thing as "Absolute Truth". They would also both postulate, or assume, that such a thing comes to us, or is the Creation of, the One who created everything. In other words, God is the author of the Absolute Truths that we all seek.

Where, I submit, they begin to radically differ is in their understanding of both where this Absolute Truth resides and how we access it as the flawed human beings that we are.

I re-iterate again: what I am writing now is over-simplified and exaggerated to bring out the differences. Those in the political frame of reference tend to see this "Absolute Truth" as something akin to a big block of concrete or blocks of stone that is immutable. It was created at the beginning of time by God and is slowly being revealed to us. It is revealed to us through agencies such as the Church. Fundamentally, it is envisioned as basically a set of rules or formulae. How we access Absolute Truth is by learning those rules and formulae and then by becoming obedient to them. The vision is "political" because it tends to characterise people as either "in" or "out" – they are prepared to accept their particular political interpretation of what those rules/formulae are, and how they are to be obeyed, or they are not and therefore they are "outside" the chosen elite.

Those in the non-political frame of reference do not see things in that Newtonian, quite "black or white/right or wrong/us and them – never-twain-should-meet" frame of reference and reject it.

They would tend to envisage the "Absolute Truth" as not being something akin to blocks of concrete but something altogether more amorphous that resides essentially in the Mystery that is God. The "Absolute Truth" is in fact part of the Mystery indeed, most probably, the actual core of the Mystery of the Divine. The human condition is that we catch imperfect glimpses of this Mystery through the agency of gifted individuals and the Institution of the Church. The "Absolute Truth" though is not something that is unchangeable in the sense that it was created at the beginning of time and remains immutable throughout time. This is hard to understand but is similar to the Mystery of a concept such as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in modern Quantum Physics where something is perceived to be both Absolute and Non-Absolute at one and the same time. In other words Absolute Truth has a paradoxical quality. Such an understanding is very hard to grasp for a person in the political/Newtonian science frame of reference. They simply have no "hand-rails" or frame of reference within their paradigm through which to be able to grasp it.

The great difference between the two frames of reference though is connected with how we make ourselves obedient to this Absolute Truth. Those in the political frame of reference, I submit, see it as something akin to a hoop-jumping exercise. The rules are there and the essential task of life is to learn what they are and to learn how to jump through all these obstacles until we fully grasp what that truth is and can, in a sense, "touch" it. If we've been good girls and boys at the end of the whole process God will "let us in on the full secret" and we'll find ourselves in heaven.

The non-political frame of reference does not see it that way at all. It sees the very purpose of life as being one of seeking to enter that "Absolute Truth" or Mystery. It is not a long, gradual process of seeking to conform to something immutable. It is not a hoop-jumping exercise. It is a whole process of learning to think like the Divine – a long process of becoming more "holy" or "whole". It is the process of becoming whole or holy that gives us access to this Absolute Truth which is not something that is immutable but which is something that is Mysterious and not fully graspable within our x, y, z, t, Cartesian frame of rational/scientific/political reference. Gifted individuals and the institution are perceived as guides towards the truth rather than as possessors of the Mystery and the Absolute itself or even a partial understanding of the Absolute.

In my recent experience I think one of the best places where this difference was brought out in a dramatic way was in Archbishop Pell's proposition last year that the Church should overturn its teaching on the Primacy of Conscience. He saw it is as "confusing" to ordinary people. The impression I have is that the Cardinal got rolled on that issue and is probably doing a lot of thinking in his spare time wondering what nuclear explosion he set off and trying to get his head around it all (hopefully not to come back for another dose*).

The Cardinal is one whose frame of reference is overtly political. He puts forward a hoop-jumping vision of what Catholicism or the Christian imperative/quest is about. There are a set of rules out there we have to learn and then conform to. That is not how others in the non-political frame of reference see the Christian or Catholic imperative or quest. Our quest is primarily to journey into the Mystery. It is by the very journey into the Mystery that we gradually access this "Absolute Truth" that lies as the shared joint objective of our search. Our prime quest is obedience to the will of God and through that, and our personal growth in "holiness/wholeness", that it will be gradually revealed to us what the "Absolute Truth" is. Those in the political frame of reference would seem to suggest that our prime obedience is to the institution and it is through our obedience to the institution that the "Absolute Truth" will be gradually revealed to us and through that we will gradually get to know God and, hopefully, eventually get to heaven.

*From information that has reached me on the weekend, I suspect the Cardinal is coming in for another session of personal reflection as it seems two significant Conferences of Bishops in the world have expressed significant misgivings about the work of his Vox Clara Committee on the English translation of the Mass. It's going to be interesting to see what the Bishops of North America have to say as well.

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