Thursday, November 17, 2005

Farewell to Idealism

Chapter member Mike Turner OPL submitted this meditation:
I can remember a few years ago how my interest was captured in a way that I could not explain by Father Corapi's remark: "The truth is not something; it's somebody."

Today, I was paging through a book of my son's -- "Where the Right went Wrong," by Patrick Buchanan. I ran into a quote from the 19th century anarchist Sergei Nechaev. "The revolutionary...has no interests, affairs, feelings, attachments, property, not even a name that he can call his own. Everything in him is absorbed by one exclusive interest, one thought, one passion -- the revolution..."

There was a time when I would have thought that the difference between the Christian and the revolutionary (as described by Nechaev) is that the Christian is wholly dedicated to an ideal that is valid, while the revolutionary is dedicated to an invalid ideal.

But today I understood that the difference is much more basic. The Christian is not fundamentally an idealist. The object of our faith is not a set of principles. The object of our faith is the Triune God. And the work of the Christian is to save souls. Put another way, our work is to make friends for God.

This is both reassuring and sobering. Reassuring because you don't have to have special training or a spiffy IQ to make friends, just a good heart. Sobering because some of us aren't terribly good at making friends, even though it has been our proper work since early childhood. (Sobering also because of our helplessness in communicating God even to ourselves, let alone to unbelievers. I am a blind man describing what God looks like; a deaf man describing the sound of his voice.)

St. Paul doesn't preach that "X is true." Rather, he says, "I preach Jesus Christ." Not an idea, but a person.

1 comment:

  1. Very important remarks Mark! I thought for a long time that Christianity was a purer form of platonism. It itsn't. It it realism and as you say it is not about correct ideas but about the Person of Jesus Christ. I think it is Laberthonnière, the french philosopher who wrote a wonderful little book called, I remember correctly "Le réalisme chrétien et l'idéalisme grec".