Via Russel Shaw
“Social issues.” It’s a squishy, equivocal term suited to a mentality ill at ease with the hard-edged implications of “moral issues” and “morality.” What implications? That there are definite moral truths that show some things to be always and everywhere wrong and deserving of condemnation. Not what the “social issues” mindset cares to hear.
There’s some helpful thinking on this subject in a new book by an archbishop that I want to recommend. But before getting to that, let me do a little scene-setting.
Much of the debate about social issues, moral truth, and the like has focused so far in this election year on Rick Santorum and his run for the Republican presidential nomination. Think what you will about Santorum’s candidacy, he stirred up a hornets’ nest. A typical reaction from the secular left comes from aWashington Post columnist named Lisa Miller, who, in a state of extreme exasperation, delivered this wisdom:
“’You can’t go home again,’ Thomas Wolfe said. Modernity is here, with all its progress and imperfections, and no matter how hard they pray, Santorum and his flock will never be able to turn back time.”
Leaving aside the appositeness of using the title of a novel published 72 years ago to argue that there’s no looking back, Ms. Wheeler has a point. It’s the point typically made by liberal pundits who wish to tell us their particular take on modernity is the only correct one—and if you don’t like it, lump it.
But there’s a different way of thinking. Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, gave it an ironic twist when he said, “Truth is like a threshing-machine; tender sensibilities must keep out of the way.” Note that bothersome word: truth.
The quote is the lead-in to A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America, a new e-book by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. [It’s available as an e-book for just 99¢]. This is a feisty manifesto by an admired leader of the Church.
I read this the other day and thought it quite worthwhile. Not exactly surprising for something written by Archbishop Chaput. He makes some very interesting observations that specifically apply to the Church in the United States.