July 31, 2006

Tale of Two Intellectuals

It's interesting to read the opinions of Jeffrey Hart in his latest book on the history of National Review. The Dartmouth professor and Catholic convert is very comfortable with the Church on "things unseen" but disregards her pronouncements on "things seen", pointing to past teachings on usury and present teachings on artificial birth control, abortion and stem cell research.

What Mr. Hart giveth, Mr. Hart taketh away. First he writes in favor of the Church:
As regards the question of 'what church?' my short answer would be that the Catholic Church has been successful in guarding its long-perfected metaphysics, or doctrine about God, while Protestant churches have failed through what Dryden called a 'downhill Reformation'. Individuals cannot do the work that has taken centuries to complete.
While later,
It seems clear in considering church ethical teaching that the ethics of the present and past seem "natural", while the new seems "unnatural".
Poor, benighted Church doesn't realize that the new will seem natural eventually and any rules against it are fruitless and intellectually scandalous. What a sorrow it is that our morality is driven by technology rather than the other way around, and yet Hart seems comfortable with that or certainly not fearful of it. He particularly scorns Humane Vitae and yet what is ironic is another intellectual, Malcolm Muggeridge, found that the crown jewel of church doctrine, one of the main proofs for him that the claims of the Catholic Church were true.

Guess you can't please all of the people all of the time, 'eh?

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