Friday, July 17, 2009

Love in Truth

The alignment of political and ideological camps is weird and illogical. For example, I have never been able to understand why most political conservatives, at least the most vocal ones, seem so opposed to earth-friendly, "green" principles, and to despise what they call "enviromentalist wackos". Is the uninhibited use of fossil fuels, for instance, really a traditional value? Is unfettered capitalistic development truly "conservative"?

Likewise, I can't figure out why tax-funded abortion, embryonic stem cell exploitation, and euthanasia should be enshrined as liberal or progressive values. What's so "liberal" about such a despairing, inhuman, and cruel cheapening of human life?

Or again, those who champion "gay" rights seem inevitably to posit their ideology as one of "love", while fearing or deriding those who hold to the unique sanctions of traditional marriage. The cornerstone of civilization and of human love is portrayed as "hate", and its perverse dismantling as "love". Go figure.

Yet the need to align with one's camp is so strong that the values and slogans are embraced, logic be damned.

The above is one reason why I am a Catholic. The Church founded by Christ is one camp whose values remain logically consistent through the whole spectrum of issues. Not that all Catholics are perfectly faithful to the principles, but the principles themselves are solid and consistent. To a logician, this is vitally important.

Pope Benedict XVI Pope Benedict's latest encyclical is a wonderful example of this. Its title, Caritas In Veritate ("Love in Truth"), sets the tone. Love and truth are not opposed, but complementary.

Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. (¶ 3)
Likewise, love and logic are complementary.
Intelligence and love are not in separate compartments: love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love. (¶ 30)

Within this fusion of love and truth, faith and reason, Pope Benedict straightens out all kinds of tangled and confused ideas. As a result, there is something in this encyclical for everyone, regardless of their ideological camp. And there is something in Caritas In Veritate to disturb every ideologue, too. The principles of economic development, environmental care, the sanctity of human life, and the central importance of stable traditional families and other topics are all brought together in a way that makes perfect sense, though no single political ideology is wholly embraced. The reason for this is simple: The alignment of political and ideological camps is weird and illogical, while Caritas In Veritate is the logician's answer, a breath of fresh air to one who loves truth and esteems love.

Slow that I am, I have only begun to appreciate the depths of this important encyclical. Please read it for yourself.

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