Sunday, May 15, 2011

On Ignorance

If you have accompanied me over the years of my "Jesuit's Journey" you know that my comment boxes are frequently left empty. I reckon this is a consequence of a deliberate effort to shy away from controversial topics. Hence I seldom write anything about sexuality, abortion, health care, economics, marriage: I have to take responsibility for the content I post here and, in order to be responsible, I often have to remain silent about issues I'd very much like to engage. I cannot engage in controversy, though, as the demands of my primary work - teaching in the high school - must come first. Thus it is that I have to avoid head-on confrontations.

A blog, by its nature something of a public journal, records the life of the author and the way s/he sees the world. I have often tried to give insight into my journey, my life, so that others may come to know how this particular Jesuit thinks. I share, as often as I post, something of my story. My old friend Joseph Fromm, the "author" of Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit would as well take on the mantle of blogger. Yet, as I read Joseph's posts and try to understand the story that his blogging life tells, I recall a portion of  Macbeth's famous soliloquy:

...it is a tale,
 told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
signifying nothing. 
 Over the past few years, I have frequently called Joseph out for what I regard as his appalling ignorance. Just today, I read a post about the Jesuit Father Saju George who is an Indian dancer. You can read it for yourself, of course, but what I love is that Joseph labels it "Liberation Theology." Can someone explain how "A Jesuit Priest who performs Bharatnatym" is a liberation theologian?

Does Joseph really think that Father Saju's dancing is so influenced by Marxist ideology that it "adopts the primacy of politics and economics, which now become the real power that can bring about salvation"? Does Father Saju believe that "the redemption of mankind...occurs through politics and economics, in which the form of the future is determined"? Does Father Saju jettison God, replacing God with the Economy? You don't see that either?? Jeez, I guess neither would Pope Benedict XVI who, in 2008, described liberation theology in the preface to his earlier Introduction to Christianity (you can read the preface by following the link - you can search for 'liberation'). 


Oh! I get it: when Joseph doesn't like something, he labels it. If you don't like the idea of 'social justice' (which has been a part of Catholic social teaching for quite some time), label it liberation theology. Don't like something a Jesuit says? Heck, label it 'liberation theology' because the label-and-dismiss tactic works really well...if you want to display your ignorance.

I use Joseph as an example because he is a prime example of what I see as one of the great malignancies in the Roman Catholic Church. This guy trolls the internet and picks out little articles and gives them titles of his own devising. He gives no criteria for his judgments, he gives no standard by which to measure. We are left to assume that Joseph is himself the measure Jesuit rectitude.

Having taught a number of sophomores these last two years, I can only say that "blogger developmentally" Joseph Fromm is a sophomore. These are the students who generally think they stand at the center of the universe and that things are "good" or "bad" based on personal preference, rather than on any informed or discerned judgment. The only remedy: time, patience, and grinding them down by showing how wrong they are, exposing ignorance, and showing by word and deed better ways to think.

Not bad advice for some of our blogging brethren, eh?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think one time Joe Fromm said labeled an article on solar power "liberation theology." Those nasty Marxists, with their sun, and their energy needs

Rosevean said...

Please don't think that the lack of comments is because we don't care for your posts, it's usually because there is nothing more that needs to be said. Thank you for your blog :o)

Rebecca Randall said...

Your next post should be, "On Anger."

Anonymous said...

What happened to that hypochondriac lady who used to run a list of Jesuits who hadn't offended her? I wish she were still around, because, man, that was a whole effing boatload of crazy!

Joseph Fromm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Duns, SJ said...

Joe, I agree. I do wonder, though, if you really mean what you say: you deleted a reference to my name in a blog post (that you took from another site) in regard to Brother Boynton's work in Haiti. Is that good communication, to edit what you didn't write?

Nevertheless...

So, Joseph, if the quote "my priority is to show the world that an artist can be a social activist too" merits the label "liberation theology" then this leaves me with a question. When I tell my students to pray and comport themselves in a way that both abortion and capital punishment are unthinkable, in ways that that are "socially activist," does this merit the label of liberation theology? When I encourage students to take seriously Jesus' message about the Kingdom of God, does this merit the title liberation theology?

Please enlighten me on this, for surely I encourage people toward social activism in regard to the Kingdom of God. Is this, then, liberation theology? Or is "liberation theology" simply a cipher for things you do not like? Some elaboration would be most helpful.

Joseph Fromm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Duns, SJ said...

Joe, I would love for you to follow the link I mention in the post. Liberation theology, as critiqued by our present Holy Father, is suspect because of its recourse to Marxist ideology and its belief that the political and economic sphere are primary.

So answer my initial question: because I advocate for a pro-life position in a culture of death, is this liberation theology? Because I have a concern for the "widow and the orphan" am I also a liberation theologian? Because I recognize that "para ayudar almas" as Ignatius framed the beginning of the Constitutions ('to help souls') DOES NOT HAVE GNOSTIC OR BODY-DENYING MEANING, that it means helping people in the concrete everydayness they face...does this make me a liberation theologian?

Please, answer this for me. For at the moment, I think you're dead wrong in your premiss that anything that tries to help other human beings is liberation theology.

Anonymous said...

Whats with the erasing of all the comments? Someone is losing an argument, and I know who.

Anonymous said...

@Anon May 20, 12.38 AM: LOL LOL you're talking about Karen Hall at Some Wear Clerics or Some Have Hats, or w-e. She gave up on the Catholic Church around the same time her writing career took off again. Like many converts to the Catholic faith, she went at it with gusto, then petered out when she realized what a bucket of ugly it can be sometimes. I'm so glad I came back to this blog after many months; it's far more entertaining than the others. Plus Ryan Duns is my kind of priest -- thinks before he writes.

Anonymous said...

Yet, as I read Joseph's posts and try to understand the story that his blogging life tells, I recall a portion of Macbeth's famous soliloquy:

...it is a tale,
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.

Over the past few years, I have frequently called Joseph out for what I regard as his appalling ignorance.
--RYAN DUNS

How is Christ, and the charity he demands of a us, and in a particular a priest, served by comments like this?

They are ordained forever. And even if they try to forget, the world never forgets. It knows, by supernatural instinct, what a priest should be and if he shows himself unfaithful, the whole Church suffers by the counter witness he gives to everyone who enters his life.

Ryan Duns, SJ said...

Anonymous,

I see...I can speak out only when it is nice and frilly but when I take a harder edge, when I refer to the comments of a fellow blogger who clearly writes (or copies-and-pastes) in a spirit bereft of charity, this is bad.

Seriously?

How is Christ served? Good question - by drawing further out into the light the lies and deceit perpetrated by a person who claim to follow Christ. I did not call Joseph an idiot, do recall: I simply said that his blog reminded me of this famous bit from The Bard. Surely, literary allusions are not kept out of God's Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Ryan,
Despite the "anonymous" character of the post calling you to charity, the fact that the rest of the actual text of her post is a direct cut and paste from John Hardon should tell you where it came from.

Again, Father, lock your windows.