Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fr. Bob Barron takes on the Cosmic Impiety of Our Times

Father Robert Barron is the founder of the global ministry, Word on Fire, and the Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the television pioneer holy man, wit, historian and priest, had it made - he spoke to very open ears and attentive minds.  For decades Bishop Sheen was welcomed into the homes of not only American Catholics on the tube ( Catholic Hour, Life is Worth Living and Fulton Sheen Program), but captured the hearts and minds of other Christians and Jews as well.  One of his major topics was the universal fight against Communism.  Like Satan, Communism managed to fool people that it never existed.  Families who lost sons at the Pusan Perimeter, Inchon, the Chosin Reservoir and Pork Chop Hill in Korea, gradually became comfortable with Reds.

Here is a program from Bishop Fulton J. Sheen Program (1961-1968)  from 1968 -  on this taping the Bishop lays the economic, political, psychological and religious advantage of communist keeping non-Marxist nations at war: He nails it at 3:01

Joe Stalin croaked and avuncularly cartoonish shoe thumpers took his place. Americans no longer worried about Reds in academia, the State Department, or organized labor, because, like Joe Stalin, Senator Joe McCarthy croked.  However, Bishop Sheen continued to offer sermons warning against Communism and the devil's co-equal until advertisers to his national television program was limited to MagicKist carpet cleaning and American Catholics, Jews, and Christians became more interested in Laugh In and The Smothers Brothers and the return of Pete Seeger and his Red Banjo from America's basement. How dangerous could a skinny old geezer with a banjo strapped on be to anyone?

Like the Devil, Communism was no biggie.  The very same mindset of Aw-Shucks American hospitality and fair-play bumped science up in place of religious worship.

Now, decades after Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's return to Christ another witty and scholarly priest has stepped onto the American scene -Chicago's own Father Bob Barron, rector of St. Mary of Lake University in Mundelein, IL. Unlike, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Father Barron plays to a very hostile audience.

Like Bishop Sheen, Father Bob Barron has used the communications media (television, radio, print and the web) to engage the Devil and all of his works.  One of the best tools of evil is science.  Science has a huge altar and an enormous pulpit, as well as very talented and very bigoted voices shouting down people of faith who are no less schooled in the arcana of science, yet retain humbled before the author of the cosmos - God.

In the 19th Century, faith was eliminated from the discussion via the usual suspects - Hegel, Dewey and Marx.  Curricula K-20 offers no consideration of thought ( philosophy, science, history or literature) that does not consider culture except through the lens of Hegel, Dewey, or Marx.  American literature in high school text books practically dominates Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Garrison over any other consideration in order to valorize the subsequent identity-politics light weights who string out the canon.   In philosophy of education future teachers of American children receive an eye-dropper of Plato's thin broth redacted of course and feast upon Rousseau, Fichte, Mann, Dewey and now, comically sad but true, William Ayers.

As for science, there is no search for truth, only solutions to problems.  You can go to the moon, but you can not recall why we went there . . .to beat the Commies, Remember?  Commies are not a problem they are our bankers; therefore, cancel NASA shuttle flights.  We are tickled to death that we are getting great pictures from Mars, but why are we there?  What's the plan, there Hawking and Dawkins?

Father Barron chats with a priest scientist Father George Coyne:

Man built cathedrals that attempted to match to awe and majesty of God's love of man.  Man illuminated and preserved the works of Aristotle, Plotinus, Heraclitus, Empedocles and the plays of Aristophanes in beehive stone cells of monasteries far from the reach of savages in order to justify God's ways to Man. That is called piety.  The opposite of piety is pride and pride on steroids is hubris. Hubris is what the Greeks worried about - if man forgets God, Man is screwed.  We like to forget that.   We need Fulton J. Sheens and Bob Barrons.

In my opinion, Father Barron has a tougher row to hoe.  Bishop Sheen's foes, Satan and the Soviets, were much more understood by people during the American Golden Age ( 1945-1972).  I mark the end of WWII and Nixon's Trip to China and the very next year Nixon cleared the way for Roe v. Wade and the American Genocide*.   Once Tricky Dick ate egg-rolls with Mao and chatted realpolitik with Chou En Lai, Americans put on their eatin' pants too, burped away bad thoughts and watched the Tube and nodded that abortion was health care.

Father Barron offers a genuine consideration of modern hubris, or what Bertrand Russell called cosmic impiety, in an article from RealClear Politics.  Here is a salient passage:

 Though the sciences might be able to explain the chemical make-up of pages and ink, they will never be able to reveal the meaning of a book; and though they might make sense of the biology of the human body, they will never tell us why a human act is moral or immoral; and though they might disclose the cellular structure of oil and canvas, they will never determine why a painting is beautiful.And this is not because "science" is for the moment insufficiently developed, it is because the scientific method cannot, even in principle, explore such matters, which belong to a qualitatively different category of being than the proper subject matter of the sciences. The claim that "science" could ever provide a total understanding of reality as a whole overlooks the rather glaring fact that meaning, truth, beauty, morality, purpose, etc., are all ingredients in "the universe."
But as is usually the case with scientistic speculation, Carroll's thought is designed, above all, to eliminate God as a subject of serious intellectual discourse. The first and most fundamental problem is that, like Hawking, Dawkins and Dennett, Carroll doesn't seem to know what Biblical people mean by "God." With the advance of the modern physical sciences, he asserts, there remains less and less room for God to operate, and hence less and less need to appeal to him as an explanatory cause. This is a contemporary reiteration of Pierre-Simon Laplace's rejoinder when the Emperor Napoleon asked the famous astronomer how God fit into his mechanistic system: "I have no need of that hypothesis."
But God, as the classical Catholic intellectual tradition understands him, is not one cause, however great, among many; not one more item within the universe jockeying for position with other competing causes. Rather, God is, as Thomas Aquinas characterized him, ipsum esse, or the sheer act of to-be itself -- that power in and through which the universe in its totality exists. Once we grasp this, we see that no advance of the physical sciences could ever "eliminate" God or show that he is no longer required as an explaining cause, for the sciences can only explore objects and events within the finite cosmos.
To demonstrate the relationship between God and the universe more clearly, it would be worthwhile to explore the most fundamental argument for God's existence, namely the argument from contingency. You and I are contingent (dependent) in our being in the measure that we eat and drink, breathe, and had parents; a tree is contingent inasmuch as its being is derived from seed, sun, soil, water, etc.; the solar system is contingent because it depends upon gravity and events in the wider galaxy. To account for a contingent reality, by definition we have to appeal to an extrinsic cause. But if that cause is itself contingent, we have to proceed further. This process of appealing to contingent causes in order to explain a contingent effect cannot go on indefinitely, for then the effect is never adequately explained. 
Hence, we must finally come to some reality that is not contingent on anything else, some ground of being whose very nature is to-be. This is precisely what Catholic theology means by "God." Therefore, God is not one fussy cause within or alongside the universe; instead, he is the reason why there is a universe at all, why there is, as the famous formula has it, "something rather than nothing." To ask the sophomoric question, "Well, what caused God?" is simply to show that the poser of the question has not grasped the nettle of the argument.

No, Father, we have settled all that.  Science says "toss up those big-ass wind-turbines (NIMBY Rules apply of course) and all is well."  Go to Mars!  "Why?"  Because, there was water there billions and billions and billions of years ago! " And?"  There was water there billions and billions and billions of years ago. 

Keep at them, Father!

REV. ROBERT BARRON, M.A. (Phil), S.T.D., .
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Professor of Faith and Culture
M.A., Catholic University of America; S.T.B., M.Div., S.T.L., University of St. Mary of the Lake; S.T.D., Institut Catholique de Paris. Former Associate Pastor at St. Paul of the Cross Parish. A member of the Catholic Theology Society of America, G.K. Chesterton Society, Paul Tillich Society. Author of The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path, Creation as Discipleship, A Study of the DePotentia of Thomas Aquinas in Light of the Dogmatik of Paul Tillich, Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master, And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation, Heaven in Stone and Glass and Bridging the Great Divide and The Word on Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ and of the Priority of Christ: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism. Articles on theology and the spiritual life have appeared in numerous journals.

*Planned Parenthood continues  to get one third( $ 345 Million dollars) of its funding to murder children from the Federal Government.
Forget Mars.  We got serious business here.

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