Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell plans to ask new principals of Catholic schools to make a "religious submission of intellect and will" to the teachings of the Church. Now it is easy to foresee the reaction. Diogenes has a cartoon from the Brisbane Times that asserts that this submission makes you brain dead and he then goes on to talk about "Thinking Catholics."
The term "Thinking Catholics" used by some progressive Catholics annoys me. Though when I was an atheist I was annoyed by atheists who called themselves "Brights" and "Freethinkers." All of these terms are an evidence of intellectual pride and I though I didn’t like the terms I remember the pride of being an atheist as being smarter then those dumb theists who blindly followed a faith. Reading some "Thinking Catholics" I detect this same pride which is in many ways similar.
I have wondered if at the creation of the Angels if the Satan and those who fell with him considered themselves "Thinking Angels?"
Now I consider myself a "Thinking with the Church Catholic" and those how have the mind set as evidence by the cartoon would consider those like me a "Unthinking, with the Church Catholic" which only shows their ignorance. Thinking with the Church means that you actually have to find what the Church thinks first before you can do any religious submission of intellect and will. Those that think this is easy again are misinformed. I certainly know in my case there would a slew of things that I believed and held that had to be abandoned in the face of Church teaching. It is just that when I investigated these convergences on my way into the Church and the reasons they were taught that I found those teachings to be true and my previously held assumptions to be false. So contrary to what "Thinking Catholics" assert you have to do a lot of thinking to be faithful to the Church and it is certainly not a case of blind intellectual faith in the Church. Now in my case it did help that I believed in the Church prior to believing all that she taught and this attitude helped me to better understand to some degree what she taught. As Augustine said, "I would not believe the Gospels if it were not for the Church."
One of my favorite stories taht I have read was in Alice Von Hildebrand’s book The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich Von Hildebrand when she describes her husbands entry into the Church. He was taking private lessons from a priest when he told the priest that he was ready to enter the Church. The priest knowing that Dietrich was against the Church’s teaching on contraception told him he would not bring him into the Church until he assented to it. Dietrich Von Hildebrand immediately made a declaration that he believes what the Church teaches despite his own lack of understanding and previous disagreement. Dietrich Von Hildebrand went on to wonderfully defend the Church’s teaching and to teach about the evil of contraception later in his life.
Thinking Catholics try to assert that faithful Catholics have to leave their brain at the door to be faithful to the magisterium where in fact the opposite is the case. To be obedient to the teaching authority of the Church you must leave you intellectual pride at the door and that whatever intellectual gifts you might have will be fully exercised in understanding and defending what the Church actually teaches.
When was the last time a “thinking Catholic” wrote Fides et Ratio?
As a slight modification of my famous quote “Freethinkers are neither,” I offer the amended version: “Thinking Catholics are neither”.
Where Christ once warned us not to call another man a fool (“Freethinker” in English), the fool today uses it as a name of self-congratulation.
Mt 5:22. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
The free thinker is drawn to the fools bumper sticker that says “A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work unless it is open.” – The prudential man knows that this sort of mind is more like an unattended outhouse on the highway, just about everyone stops and fills it full of s…
Great point about submission of our understanding, Jeff! In fact, that may be the biggest share of Christ’s crucifixion that most of us will receive as Catholics–it KILLS, but it leads to new life!
And I think Mark is right about the “open mind” theory. It took me ages to realize that far from being a virtuous act, “compassionate listening” makes a whore of the listener. In fact this virtue that isn’t could be the cause of the blindness of today’s liberals.When you open your heart to lies and truth, forgoing your judgment AND discernment so as not to offend anyone, you leave yourself open to every sort of sickness. Pray for the liberals!
The term “Thinking Catholics” used by some progressive Catholics annoys me.
Me too. Thinking isn’t much of a benefit or an honor if you’re not very good at it. An orthodox Catholic can tell you that a “thinking Catholic” has obviously made some cognitive errors if he’s arrived at opinions contrary to the Magisterium. I’m still waiting for the “thinkers” to offer a counterexample.
For this is one of the very queerest of the common delusions about what happens to the convert. In some muddled way people have confused the natural remarks of converts, about having found moral peace, with some idea of their having found mental rest, in the sense of mental inaction. They might as well say that a man who has completely recovered his health, after an attack of palsy or St. Vitus’ dance, signalises his healthy state by sitting absolutely still like a stone. Recovering his health means recovering his power of moving in the right way as distinct from the wrong way; but he will probably move a great deal more than before. To become a Catholic is not to leave off thinking, but to learn how to think. It is so in exactly the same sense in which to recover from palsy is not to leave off moving but to learn how to move. The Catholic convert has for the first time a starting-point for straight and strenuous thinking. He has for the first time a way of testing the truth in any question that he raises. As the world goes, especially at present, it is the other people, the heathen and the heretics, who seem to have every virtue except the power of connected thought. There was indeed a brief period when a small minority did some hard thinking on the heathen or heretical side. It barely lasted from the time of Voltaire to the time of Huxley. It has now entirely disappeared. What is now called free thought is valued, not because it is free thought, but because it is freedom from thought; because it is free thoughtlessness.
[GKC, The Catholic Church and Conversion CW3:106]
If “thinking” means “enlightened” in the actual sense of ‘deceived by false lights’, then the “thinking Catholic” spends his/her thought in a circle that revolves around him/herself, in which case the thought is not dynamic, but static. I only know because i’ve been there, and the only way out is to leave oneself behind and LEAP into the Truth.
Maybe if one thinks he’s thinking he should STOP? 🙂
That’s my existential tickler for the day.
I think that I think, therefore, I AM not? (:
“Thinking” Catholics, “thoughtful” Americans, etc., all really bother me as well. To the point where I can’t stand to read newspaper letters to the editor or even comments on most blogs. When I would see the arrogance used by those who use these terms with their implications that to not share their views deems you beneath their intellect (which is OBVIOUS to everyone else who “thinks”…why not you dummy?) I used to get mad. Anymore I just laugh. As Cardinal Pell, and Jeff, point out it’s just plain ol’ pride, arrogance and ignorance.
As a convert to the Catholic Church fourteen years ago, I’ve said many times that the Catholic faith is so rich and so vast in all the philosophy, writings, etc., that it was analogous to having a Ph.D. My former Protestant churches which I do respect simply did not have the depths and history…and was akin to an 8th grade education. You’re on your way to graduating…you’re just not there yet.
“Thinking” Catholics actually stopped around junior high…looked at the syllabus in store for them, rejected it as too hard, and deemed themselves knowledgeable. The “thinking” Catholics actually stopped thinking…forever frozen in their stubborness and whining because the rest of us have moved on without them, embracing the truths while doing our homework. 🙂
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