About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rowland on communicating Catholicism

Like the other pieces by Catholic theologians that I've been looking at over the last couple of days, this one by Tracey Rowland is about how Catholics should communicate and "frame" their message to make it more persuasive. It's interesting to see theologians make suggestions like that to other Catholics.

The most important thing about the article from my viewpoint, however, is that it demonstrates exactly what I've been saying. Here in the US, I keep bumping into people who want to persuade me that Catholic moral teachings make sense from a secular viewpoint. I.e., there are independent secular reasons for these teachings. But this is not true - on the contrary, Catholic moral teachings make sense only in the context of a larger worldview that is distinctively religious, and which includes a "sacramental" view of the world (yes, that's the word I've been using). Divorced from all this, Catholic morality becomes incoherent and bizarre. Rowland makes the same point clearly and strongly, though for a totally different purpose.

So, will secular people please stop defending Catholic moral views on the basis that they could somehow stand on their own outside of a broader religious view of the world? This is one claim that we really should put behind us. To Rowland's credit as a theologian, she does not make such a claim.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I once had a discussion with a friend on the ethics of abortion. He, being a Catholic, was opposed to it as it is the killing of a human life. He couldn't give a satisfactory secular reason as to why killing human life is wrong yet we can do whatever we want to other forms of life.

The whole abortion debates seems to me to be over the question of whether the entity being killed is a human life or not. It seems to be based on a Christian assumption of the value of human lie, which may seem defendable in a religious context but, for me at least, seems very odd in a secular context. This is just one example of people believing that Catholic/Christian teaching can make sense in a secular worldview but don't really.

Good post BTW.