Now listening to : Bill Evans, "You Must believe in Spring"
Especially : you'd think i'd go with the theme from mash, but i'd actually choose 'the peacocks' at the moment.
There are two tattos I think about getting. One is the name of a greek demi-deity who runs away from involvement in the world but gets it anyway; the other is a phrase from a quote by a sufi saint who advocates getting rid of any afterlife-related reasons for loving god. There'd be one on either hip and the point would be to point out just by walking what i'm moving towards -- namely, a finding of everything i find important in the lived and temporal world.
Which means: aknowledging the visceral implications of my mental acrobatics. OK, then.
Bernard Lonergan (to the best of my remembrance of lectures past) was a jesuit (wh-i-i-i-i-ch would also be catholic) theologian who figured prominently in the more intellectualist approach to faith that came about with vatican two. Things like talking and thinking about one's faith in, for example, the language one speaks. Well, i bet he'd still want you all to take latin, let's not go overboard, he's still a jesuit.
His take on the imago dei (humanity as in the image of god), via aquinas, is that it is our process of understanding, our intellect, which is the appropriate vehicle for bringing us into right relation with god. This is cool, because i'm a big nerd who likes thinking, and wants other people to like thinking, and for everybody to be really good at liking to think together. Ah, but you see the problem i'm heading into here, right? That mental acuity, the lust for logic, becomes the measuring stick of faith; maybe of salvation. Which, on the one hand, is admittedly very catholic - it's about the WORKS, y'all. On the other hand, you could read Lonergan here - especially if you're getting him translated through me, a self-confessed lover of smart - as cutting off the apparently stupid from grace. More importantly for social applicability, you get a bunch of self-righteous theological scholars who look down on 'C' students in the same way Calvin's elect look down on the preterite.
Now, from the perspective of social applicability again, i'm less worried about the repercussions of this for public behavior towards the down syndrome girl i babysat for in highschool. At this cultural point, the knee-jerk reaction to protect the weak-who-are-innocent-who-are-slowerminded (this again is a definition by appearance; it's our received and constructed positioning of them in our social framework, nothing more) is so inextricably meshed with our modern american sense of humanity ( - am i wrong? could you actually see anyone, the most hardened of libertarians possibly though not at all definitely excepted, sponsoring a 'let's enslave the developmentally disabled because they are full of sin' rider on the budget? - ). My worry would be propping up one's bad opinion of the guy who does worse than you on a homework assignment, or the woman behind you in line who has no idea what might have prompted Harriet Miers to withdraw her nomination. I may already do those things, but then i feel bad about it. I in no way give myself religious license to back up my pet peeve with the peever's subsequent damnation.
So i really LIKE Lonergan's intellectualist apologia; it's personally very satisfying, and i think it has trememendously beneficial implications for faith - catholic faith, in blinding particular. But for me to make a statement like 'It is through our intellect that we know god', would be irresponsible. Appropriately nuanced, it's great (you could make it communist intellect - from each according to their means; you could tweak intellect to mean consciousness; there's other options, i'm sure, but you get the idea.); but you'd have to be SO careful ALL the time, not to end up subtly convincing yourself you've got the word of god to go on when you hate an idiot. Idiot is, of course, as tweakable a word as intellect. And to hold one definition steady while you let the other simply point towards someone/thing you dislike -- well, that's how we navigate life ( for Max Weber tells me so ), but not how we justify values.
So goodbye, Mr. Lonergan. I may bring you up at parties, but i won't cite you in my manifesto or ink your byline near a rib.