Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nietzsche--PC's Founding Philosopher

Fr. Jim Schall, SJ, is a marvelous writer and intellect. He wrote a short essay in which he quoted some of the remarks of Benedict XVI (who often quotes Nietzsche, not as a guide, but as a marker) and draws some conclusions.

Nietzsche, who in some sense brought modernity to a close by exposing its own inner incoherence, is always interesting to read. Pope Ratzinger, good German scholar that he is, will cite him rather often. A sense of poignancy hovers over the reading of Nietzsche. We sense the disappointment that he felt over Christians themselves who, in his strict view, do not, as he thought, really believe what the faith holds to be true. This practical disbelief in the truth of Christianity, however, is increasingly prevalent in Western societies over a century after Nietzsche's death.

The only alternative open to him, in Nietzsche's own mind, was the famous "will to power." This much-pondered principle was in fact a license to construct our own world, to declare our freedom precisely by rejecting all previous explications, particularly those stemming from Plato and Christianity, from natural law or faith....

...Nonetheless, Nietzsche's agenda or inspiration, in many forms, can be found at the roots of much of modern culture, particularly academic culture. We live with a dogmatic relativism that empowers us, so it is claimed, to depend on neither nature nor grace, on nothing but our own willed social and personal constructs, whatever they are

[In November], Benedict XVI spoke about marriage [:] "Today, the order of marriage, as established in creation and of which the Bible tells us expressly in the narration of creation (Genesis, 2:24), is gradually being obscured, ..."To the extent that man seeks in new ways to build for himself the world as a whole, thereby ever more perceptibly endangering its foundations, he also loses his vision of the order of creation with regard to his own life. He considers he can define himself as he pleases by virtue of an inane freedom."

In the red-higlighted section of the above graf, we have the very definition of PC and all that surrounds it. It is an artificial re-construction of Nature, which endangers the foundations of the world so constructed.

Fr. Schall's conclusions have more to do with the balance of B-16's lecture(s) to the German bishops, which concerned both marriage (above) AND the sacred nature of life:

One aspect of it is the commitment to life from conception to death, that is, its defense against abortion, against euthanasia, against manipulation and man's self-authorization in order to dispose of life. People often seek to justify these interventions with the seemingly great purpose of thereby serving the future generations, and it even appears moral to take human life into one's own hands and manipulate it. However . . . the knowledge also exists that human life is a gift that demands our respect and love from the very first to its very last moments, also for the suffering, the disabled and the weak

So Schall writes:

Recently, I saw an article of some theological professor who argued that if we are ever to get along with the Muslims, we need to downplay the two central doctrines of Christianity, the Trinity and the Incarnation, so that we can better get along. No doubt, if we cease to be Christian, if we cease to affirm the truth, including especially the truth that guides us from revelation, everyone will find us easier to get along with. We will have gained tolerance at the price of what we are to hold.

It is "PC" to get along. It also endangers the foundations of dialogue and understanding--it minimizes the value of truth in the present to gain some vague (and unknown) benefit in the future.

Maybe, kinda, sorta, some...vague...benefit.

No comments: