09 August 2011

Nihilism, Logos, & the New Evangelization

No, I'm not sick. . .nor have I been assumed into heaven! 

U.D.'s server was down from Saturday to early Monday morning.  So, when the thing came back on, I had a backload of email to deal with.  

Also, the day-retreat with the OP Laity was fantastic!  They asked excellent questions and made insightful comments. . .as always.  

If you are interested in the texts I used for the retreat, check out JPII's Novo millennio ineunte (2000) and BXVI's follow-up to NMI in 2000, The New Evangelization:  Building a Civilization of Love and his now-famous pre-Conclave homily from 2005, wherein the future Holy Father coins the phrase "dictatorship of relativism." 

My memory and long-experience with PoMo theory provided most of the fodder for the conference on cultural nihilism and its various rotten fruits in the academy and the Church.  The info on social constructionism came from various internet sources, and I cribbed a few broad notions from the excellent book, Theory's Empire:  An Anthology of Dissent.  

The overall theme of the retreat:  intolerant forms of scientific materialism and cultural Marxism have made it difficult (if not yet impossible) for believers to engage the Public Square in serious spiritual discussions.  Our concerns/priorities are simply "ruled out of order" as private prejudices and consigned to the impotent safety of individual preference and/or mythology.  Various forms of postmodern ideology have eroded the authority of public reason and elevated the narratives of identity politics and power as the sole arbiters of right and wrong.  Since these narratives have no anchor in anything beyond their own structures as narratives, nihilism inevitably results.  The project of the New Evangelization is more than just getting "butts in the pews;"  it's about returning the West to its rational roots, that is, once again educating the public in the intelligibility and purposefulness of reality.  Historically, in the West, we have understood this reality to be the Logos, or the Christ who is the embodiment of Love and Truth.

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  1. looks like Dominicans have their work cut for them.

  2. Fr. Powell -

    I am very sorry I could not make it this weekend. Have you any notes you handed out (aside from those Papal documents already mentioned)?

    Sounds like this retreat would have been right up my alley.

    May God bless you!

  3. Larry, 90% of my notes are just excerpted portions of the docs. If you, leave your email address and I'll send them to you.

  4. Fr., can you give a recommended reading list for those of us who want to be able to better understand and defend the ideas in your retreat...the theme is right up my alley too.

  5. Anonymous10:26 PM

    Have a got a few militant "tolerant" secularists to recognize the intolerance in their bias agaist persons of faith expressing their opinion on political matters. Arguement starts with question, "Should it matter what motivated someone to support, lobby, or vote for X (in the case of elected officials?" Isn't the fact that they are an American and a citizen reason enough to give them the right to express their belief in words and actions (within the scope of the law, of course). Why should a person be denied the right to an opinion (right or wrong) on a political or ethical issue solely because they happen to be of a particular faith or no faith at all? Then when they start saying that religion is unscientific or it can't be proved, start arguing that a lot people arrive at their opinions through unscientic and faulty reasoning or through unethical manipulation by person's or organization's. So should they also be excluded from holding a position and expressing it in public? Should their be a litmus test to screen out the scientifically illiterate? If logic and science are to rule the day, should not scientists be the only people who shoudl be able to weigh in on an issue?