Dark Brightness

Bleak Theology: Hopeful Science

Teaching is essential.

David Stove was one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. He is a correction to the inchorenece of Kuhn and his mystical paradigms. But is life was a tragedy: the high church of Atheism did not sustain him in his old age. Instead he chose a rope. His son, devastated, looked for comfort and was converted by a bunch of wise Catholics.
Old fashioned wise catholics, who catechized him properly. As he writes.

I think Father X knew that to the adult mind—even the adult mind as uninformed on vital issues as was my own—emotion is not enough: it is pitifully, painfully not enough. It can be, to a mind periodically disordered anyway, a lethal drug. What such a mind needs is a solid diet: neither the thin watery gruel of quasi-New-Age “spirituality”, nor the pure tabasco of fire- and-brimstone threats. Those who have had the privilege of reading Radio Replies will know how nourishing it is, how fair-minded its author is, and how incapable he is of intellectual sharp practice for the sake of making a cheap point. Those who have not yet read it, are in for a great and sustaining pleasure.

One of the issues about living the Christian life, and how to behave, and how to cling to Christ, and the disciplines of faith… do not spring anew. They have to be taught. People do not want to do this. It is hard work. It is a struggle. You need to have a methodology of living — you cannot rely on emotion, At this point let’s turn to today’s reading.

Colossians 1:24-2:7

24I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.

1For I want you to know how much I am struggling for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me face to face. 2I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments. 5For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

6As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

We should honour those who teach. For it is hard, difficult, and requires care. Each person is different. Each person needs different motivations (I should know: the standard methods do not work for me or my boys).

Take, as an example, the habits of faith: meditation on the word, prayer, fasting. What R Stove writes here applies to me — though I am protestant — but I do spend most of my day thinking…

Extreme difficulty in prayer, above all in mental prayer, seems very common among converts. (Waugh undeniably found it so, and lamented as much to Arnold Lunn.) Intercessory prayer for anything but the most urgent of life’s necessities still alarms me, in part because of the opportunities it gives to the most swinish self- indulgence (“gimme gimme gimme”), and in part because my memory is so bad that simply learning the most basic prayers of our church—the Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity, the Memorare, the Confiteor, and so onranks with the hardest intellectual work I have ever been required to do.

We cannot rely on people constructing the habits of faith from their instincts, or rely on the guidance of the spirit. Paul had to teach this: and his giftedness was such that many were cured. If Paul had to teach, and Jesus himself had to teach, we have to explicitly teach the habits and practices of faith.

In short, we still need the Catechism. And most believers are woefully ignorant of the wisdom contained in these documents.

2 thoughts on "Teaching is essential."

  • David Collard says:

    Why do you say Stove was one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th C? Was it his work on induction, or something else?

  • chrisgale says:

    His defense of classical logic, primarily. Although is essay on Cricket and the Republic was  a gem.  Plus a bit of antipodean bias: he is sensible and from Australasia.

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