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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

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 actually 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, as I keep bumping into people who want to persuade me that Catholic moral teachings make sense from a secular viewpoint, that there are independent secular reasons for their teachings, or when this is not the case we see theologians and religious leaders dissenting from the traditional teachings. The point is that it's not true - on the contrary, the Catholic 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, it becomes incoherent and bizarre. Rowland makes the same point very clearly and strongly, though obviously for a different purpose.

So will secular people please stop defending Catholic moral views on the basis that 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 Tracey Rowland's credit, she does not make such a claim ... however flimsy the rest of her argument may be.

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.