Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Five-Year Review (2009-2014)

In 2009, I started this weblog as a way of recording my notes for my next project, a broad look at the state of the war between the supporters of reason and the supporters of mysticism in the USA in our time. Until 2013, I spiraled slowly above the battlefield. I briefly looked at each of a wide range of mystics and their cultural products (mainly their books). I have been reserving—as dessert—my look at the advocates of reason. There are few of them. (I did look at the work of one supposed advocate of reason, Sam Harris, and I showed that he is a mystic.) 

After four years of sampling various forms of mysticism, I turned to a closer look at one institutional advocate of mysticism, the Catholic Church. It is wealthy. It sends representatives into every major sector of the society of the USA. It is large and growing. It has long historical and intellectual roots. It is philosophically sophisticated and articulate.

In the last half year or so, I have recorded—in various book reviews and essays—my notes on the Catholic Church and particularly its scattered views of reason and mysticism. For example, I have examined The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the long book that the Church uses as its handbook for educating Catholics, especially new members of the Church.

From my preliminary study of the Catholic Church and its role in the war of mysticism against reason, I have tentatively concluded that financially, socially, politically, and intellectually, the Catholic Church is the most formidable movement working for mysticism in the USA today. Now I am ready for my next step: To determine the Church's exact position on mysticism versus reason and then to find out what steps Catholics are taking to spread their ideas. Pope John Paul II's encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) present's his official position in 1998. My next post, perhaps in a few weeks, will review it.

Burgess Laughlin
Author of The Power and the Glory: The Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith, described here

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