May 18, 2006

a profound forgetting

A quote from God's Choice, by George Weigel:

...Pope Benedict XVI diagnosed that malady that has sapped Europe's spiritual energies and human strength a long time ago. It is a sickness in the order of ideas and values, a sickness caused by a profound forgetting. One can call that forgetting relativism in regard to morals; one can call it skepticism, bordering on irrationalism, about the human capacity to know things; one can think of it as a more generalized nihilism, in which the very mystery of being has soured.

Whatever the nomenclature, however, the disease remains a matter of amnesia: a deliberate willful forgetting of the truth that the human person "does not himself
invent morality on the basis of calculations of expediency, but rather finds it already present in the essence of things." Today's European crisis, Joseph Ratzinger once wrote, is the result of this great forgetting....

"A great forgetting" seems about right to me.

And "finding" morality already present in the essence of things...How can that happen? How do you do it? Maybe it's analogous to pathfinding through a dense jungly wilderness, rarely seeing a clear way, but always keeping the general direction in mind. Our ancestors worked on it for a thousand generations, struggling, praying, moving forward. They learned painful lessons and slowly scraped together wisdom...and now we just forget.

"...the very mystery of being has soured." That's near the heart of it. That's something too subtle to analyze, and yet we see it all the time.

Posted by John Weidner at May 18, 2006 7:13 AM
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