Confronting the obvious question of how a If a man in the fullness of his days, at the end of his life, can pass on the wisdom of his experience to those who grow up after him; if what he has learned in his youth, added to but not discarded in his maturity, still serves him in his old age and is still worth teaching the then young—then his was not an age of revolution, not counting, of course, abortive revolutions.
The world into which his children enter is still world, not because it is entirely unchanged, but because the changes that did occur were gradual and limited enough for him to absorb them into his initial stock and keep abreast of them.
This compels us to reconsider the civic project of American Christianity that has for the most part guided our participation in the liberal public order for at least a century.
Encompassing the Social Gospel movement of the early twentieth century and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at the beginning of the twenty-first, this project has transcended the historical and theological division between Catholics and Protestants.
Of course, for Protestants, the fate of the United States and the fate of American Protestantism have been deeply intertwined from the very beginning, so adherence to the civic project must stem not simply from confidence that American liberty was generally hospitable to the flourishing of Christianity but from a deep, if inchoate, conviction that the American experiment itself was the political outworking of a Protestant sense of “nature and nature’s God.” For Catholics, whose experience in this country was at least initially very different from that of Protestants, common commitment to this project is testimony to the long shadow cast by John Courtney Murray.
Essay On Christendom
Catholics generally find his argument for the compatibility of Catholicism with the principles of the American founding convincing because they believe that the argument has been vindicated by the growth and assimilation of the Church in the United States and by the apparent vitality of American Catholicism in comparison with Catholicism in Europe.ccording to Hans Jonas, the birth of modern science was bound up with the advent of a radical new view of reality, a “technological ontology” that conflates nature and artifice, knowing and making, truth and utility.This metaphysical revolution has set in motion a perpetual historical revolution, whose interminable machinations continually threaten to overwhelm the revolutionaries themselves.The regulatory state and ubiquitous new global media throw their ever increasing weight behind the new understanding of marriage and its implicit anthropology, which treats our bodies as raw material to be used as we see fit.Today a rigorous new public morality inverts and supplants the of our Christian moral inheritance.If, however, a man in his advancing years has to turn to his children, or grandchildren, to have them tell him what the present is about; if his own acquired knowledge and understanding no longer avail him; if at the end of his days he finds himself to be obsolete rather than wise—then we may term the rate and scope of change that thus overtook him, “revolutionary.” By this measure, there can be little doubt that we live in revolutionary times, even if this revolution is the full flower of seeds planted long ago.What availed as the common wisdom of mankind until the day before yesterday—for example, that name natural realities as well as social roles, that children issue naturally from their union, that the marital union of man and woman is the foundation of human society and provides the optimal home for the flourishing of children—all this is now regarded by many as obsolete and even hopelessly bigoted, as court after court, demonstrating that this revolution has profoundly transformed even the meaning of reason itself, has declared that this bygone wisdom now fails even to pass the minimum legal threshold of rational cogency.This ostensibly modest view of government opens up space that is then filled with the Christian substance that animates civil society.One needn’t be ungrateful for the genuine achievements of American liberalism in order to question the wisdom of this project and its guiding assumptions.First, a purely juridical order devoid of metaphysical and theological judgment is as logically and theologically impossible as a pure, metaphysically innocent science.One cannot set a limit to one’s own religious competence without an implicit judgment about what falls on the other side of that limit; one cannot draw a clear and distinct boundary between the political and the religious, or between science, metaphysics, and theology, without tacitly determining what sort of God transcends these realms.