08 July 2011

Enduring Questions, Perfect Answers?

Lovers and Defenders of the western literary/philosophical/theological tradition often point to The Enduring Question of Life as touchstones for all of our humane, liberal studies.  Answering these questions is tantamount to Living Life Well.  I recently ran across an article in a small magazine that attempts to formulate these questions for a postmodern audience; that is, an audience deeply suspicious of Big Narratives like God, Religion, Law, Reason, Purpose, etc., an audience trained in the modernist art of irony, cynicism, and nihilism.  The author's version of the questions precluded answers that Catholics and other Lovers and Defenders would find satisfactory.

Being a Lover and Defender of the Western Tradition and a reader of and thinker about postmodern culture, I thought I'd take a stab at reformulating these same questions w/o the irony, cynicism, etc.

Traditional:  What is man's relationship to God?
PoMo:  What is the relationship between the human person and the divine/transcendent?

Traditional:  What duties are worthy of our commitment to fulfill them?
PoMo:  What are we willing to commit ourselves to wholeheartedly?

Traditional:  What do the lives of heroes teach us about nobility and villainy?
PoMo:  What do the lives of Saints & Sinners teach us about love and mercy?

Traditional:  What does history teach us about liberty and order?
PoMo:  What history teach us about freedom and constraint, responsibility and rights?

Traditional:  What does history teach us about civilization and its decline?
PoMo:  What does history teach us about culture and barbarism, about progress and regress?

My versions aren't all that different from the traditional versions, but I think they open the questions up a bit more and allow a little more room for broader answers.  

Of course, as a Lover and Defender of the Western Tradition, my inclination is to believe that we will find the best answers to these questions in the literature of our ancestors.  Not dogma or formula but rather narratives of how honest men and women dealt with the problems of being human in a world that constantly challenges our innate need for growth toward perfection. 

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1 comment:

  1. The relationship between man and God is like relationship between parents and their children, pure, caring,sweet and spiritual.