[first published March 1, 2016]
by Dr. David Pence
Tracey Rowland, from Australia, is a favorite lady theologian. This hour-long talk is about culture in the thought of John Paul II and Pope Benedict.
Most pop culture celebrities are not only post-Christian but their lives are often what philosophers call 'narrative wrecks.' The narrative or story of their life contains so many twists and contradictions that their personal integrity has been shattered. They often employ an entourage of minders, including life coaches, to advise them on how to conduct their professional and private affairs. Whereas the life of an ordinary Christian is described in the sociology journals as a life 'celebrated recurrence' where certain feast days and liturgies are celebrated the same way year after year, and where there is only one model of a perfected humanity, that of Jesus Christ; the lifestyle that was celebrated by the elite of the generation of 1968 was one which gave priority to originality and difference. The more original the lifestyle, the greater its difference from that of an ordinary person, the more likely a person was to qualify for celebrity status.
This reminds us that modern evolutionary culture favors progress toward some indeterminate future as the ideal. Christians seek fulfillment through conformity to an already incarnated Person. Surely such a fundamental difference will be expressed in how we teach both history and the natural sciences.
Here is a short article on Dr Rowland and the theological basis of Catholic education.
Here is another lecture by Dr Rowland on Dostoyevsky and Beauty. She relates this to the Trinitarian Anthropology and emphasis on beauty in the works of Pope Benedict and Hans von Balthasar. She highlights the objection to the rationalism of the West by the great Russian novelist. She then posits that the theologian Joseph Ratzinger resonated with this critique, and began his 'Deus est caritas' encyclical as Pope Benedict with the very un-Kantian Christocentric proposition that "truth is a Person." Behind all the "value-free moralisms," says Benedict, there is a theology and anthropology. Particularly, there is strong predilection toward an "ontology of original violence" found in Hobbes, Freud, and almost all atheist accounts of mankind. This is very different than the Christian Trinitarian/Eden account of human origins.
These insights instruct our own project (see Thursday posts on Christian Realism) in countering the atheistic account of international relations based on Social Darwinism and perpetual conflict. Christian realism is based on a very different anthropology of accord. Pope Benedict called for a "daring new anthropology, Trinitarian and Christocentric." That was exactly the anthropological project of Christopher Dawson proposing a more Christic account of history and the lives of nations.