The Absurdity of Truth

“Absurd” is the word that stands out for me from among a few angry words recently directed in “our family’s direction”. The occasion will remain secret, but the context was the supposed absurdity of applying the truths of the Catholic faith to those who are no longer, or have never been Catholic. The underlying premise is that what Catholics think and do is the Catholic’s business, but their beliefs have absolutely no bearing outside that small sphere of influence. To think otherwise is absurd. And I can sympathize to a certain extent, if not with the thought, at least with the feeling. Certainly, he who subscribes to this premise is in fairly good company, in that it is only a local and particular manifestation of western culture’s dominant paradigm of relativism. The whole western world thinks in this way, and not only about Catholic beliefs. And being a person who himself inhabits that western world, I am, of course, not untainted by this stain. I am positive it must manifest itself in me in many different ways. And if not always in concrete acts, I can surely sympathize with those who have long since abandoned the difficult task of swimming against the tide, only to be swept away by our culture’s dominant current. Oh, how easy it would be, how sweetly warm and fuzzy and cozy it would be if I could look the world in the eye and tell them that what they are doing is just fine for them. I will keep my truth to myself, as long as they keep theirs to themselves. A happy little truce.

But I can’t look anyone in the eye and say that. Because it is false. It is a falsehood that has been stamped in my very bones from all eternity. If I believe something to be true, then by golly, I am right and the world is wrong. And they are welcome to believe otherwise. But they don’t. Because they don’t even believe that they are right. And so they can’t argue that I am wrong. They only say that I am intolerant. If only the world would believe anything, we’d be a lot closer to figuring something out. But they don’t believe anything, and so we are lost. We are all tiny isolated individuals locked inside our own moral universes. With no way of communicating anything of import. Except for the weather. And that our feelings have been hurt by intolerance.

To become Catholic is to step out of relativism into solidity. To become Catholic is to place oneself at odds with the world. It is to be a sign of contradiction. It is a sundering.


~ by Rob on August 22, 2007.

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