Thursday, 4 January 2018

Discourse

Amoris Laetitia just won't go away and therefore neither does my blogging about it.  I read what the bishops of Kazakhstan had to say about the document and I sighed to myself and said "ahh clarity".   But that is not the point.  AL has not been written as a document for clarity, but a document designed to take a discourse further, for understanding to evolve and discernment to grow, because there is only Immutable Truth and we must grow in our understanding of that truth through discourse.  AL only makes sense within a discourse that is essentially Hegelian in nature: thesis - antithesis- synthesis (in endless cycle).  It is evolutionary and creative.  The bishops out East take an essentially Scholastic view: there is Immutable Truth, this is how it is expressed, these are some "counter-truths" and these are some objections to these "counter-truths" to prove how real the Immutable Truth actually is.

Within the Church, Scholasticism is viewed with distrust and even loathing.  The finger of blame can be pointed squarely at Pius X, because his heavy-handed insistence on it as the only method of teaching led it to be delivered so appallingly in the seminaries and in such a didactic manner, that its essence was lost and it became an object of hatred. Scholastic discourse should be creative. I have a theory that the reason why the Devil's Advocate was abolished as a means of assessing the worthiness of a candidate for sainthood, is that it is a form of discourse that is essentially scholastic.

We have to discourse with what we have. If the Church will not abide scholastic discourse and will only indulge in discourses that see progress and evolution as a real part of understanding the Truth, then we can not be scholastic and expect to get anywhere. I think that this is actually quite widely understood already within the church and that is why the old school Scholastics have been so out on a limb (and looking like they don't have much support).  I think that most realise that there can be no discourse if there isn't a common set of rules for that discourse. The Hegelians simply can't discourse with the Scholastics. The Scholastics don't believe that Hegelian dialectic leads anywhere. There is the most horrific stalemate and the Church is suffering as a consequence.

I work with what is in my toolkit.  I make a living out of reason, logic and working from first principles.  My abilities with memory (recall and retention) are poor.  I have little love for emotive arguments, because I see little need for them.  My toolkit leads me to favour Scholastic discourse.  I will however accept that others have a different toolkit wholly unsuited to this and much more suited to a Hegelian pattern.  If someone is wishing to develop a creative understanding of an issue and their toolkit is based on emotion and on looking at the circumstances people are living under in an emotional way, then they will not turn to Scholastic thought for deeper understanding.  They will be looking to find a creative truth in their feelings and intuition, balancing potentially conflicting ideas to synthesise new possibilities. It doesn't work for me, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work at all.

To me the only possible solution is to reinstate Scholasticism within mainstream Church discourse.  Then simply all that will be necessary for those involved in theoligical discourse is for them to say under which rules they are playing: Scholastic or Hegelian.  Once we have this then we can begin to get somewhere.  Scholastic work will lead to restatement of timeless doctrine and will form the basis of the living and eternal Magisterium.  Hegelian work is about the development of ideas, but can never be magisterial and can never have the status of such.  It has value, a value in recognising that we live in a fallen, messy world and we can see the mess.  It is not a method of teaching, but it is a method of learning with some benefit, provided it is open and sees its own limitations.

*****
What do I care!  My Papa Stronsay Calendar for 2018 finally found its way from my mother's house to my home in Bucharest. I can gaze on those cold, pale blue skies and seas I love so much and those sumptuous pictures of good Liturgy done well. I can't change the Church.  I blog out of frustration but it is futile and I know it.  The best I can do is pray within the liturgical cycles of the Church and pray with confidence to the loving God who has given us so much and so much variety.