Monday, May 19, 2014

The case for lowest-common-denominator instruction in the church

After accepting the line about the cold rationality and vacuous nature of "Latin theology" for a number of years, my own forays into that region of theological-philosophical studies has revealed very little evidence of such horrors. Sure, manualism was part of the course of studies for most seminarians from the 19th to mid-20th Centuries, but let's keep things in perspective. Not every priest was going to be an intellectual and most probably never had to make use of anything more sophisticated than what is found in the Baltimore Catechism (or some other comparable teaching tool) over the course of their service to the Church. Manualism provided a quick n' dirty entry into philosophy and theology which, though dry, wasn't necessarily incorrect. Given the pathologies which infected the priesthood over the past half-century, one has to wonder if it wouldn't be better for priests to be handed manualism once again lest they go glibly astray on the more "poetical" and "mystical" theological workings of certain figures whose thought leads -- or at least has definitely led -- more than a few folks into all kinds of troubling errors.

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