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Friday, July 10, 2015

Doctrine does not fit the format of news

This post about poor news reporting on Pope Francis got me thinking on what has probably occurred to others before: at the very least, news gets it wrong because the format doesn't fit. News reporting goes in for the quick and lasting impression. They work with word count limits. They work for the scoop, so they rush. At worst, they go in with an agenda, so they simply write everything into the story they already had.

The bigger point is this: doctrine is not news. You don't go to a fast food joint for nutrition, so why inform your spirituality from the news? Why not read the encyclical itself? How about that biblical passage? How about that free forum to clarify and go deeper? How about that priest, deacon or prayer meeting group? This is the age when there is practically no excuse for being uninformed.

So don't go for sound bites or news summaries. The whole thing is out there. Just go for it!

[Update: That should teach me not to use the android phone to blog. Too many funny and not so funny mistakes like "Doctrine doors not for the.." That was the original title of this post.  I miss my Nokia n900 with the slide out keyboard! ]

1 comment:

David Roemer said...

Reasons to Believe in Jesus

Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

by David Roemer