Saturday, November 15, 2008


Normally, I don't go in for conspiracy theories unless it is about Elvis and whether or not he fled fame by getting an obese stand-in to cover for his absence. Mark Shea would put a post like this in the pile "They are tunneling under your house." When I read this article, I thought I could hear the far-off, yet strangely proximate, sound of picks and shovels.

People of good will and religious temperment should approach one another in a spirit of respect and mutual understanding. As Christians, we recognize that elements of the truth are going to be found outside the Christian world, even outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church, because those elements serve as foundations for the proclamation of the Gospel. But merely because you are going to find similar elements outside the Church, it doesn't follow that all these religions are the same. To think this is to mistake the symptoms for the cause of the symptoms.

In Judaism, the reason one cares for his neighbor, the stranger and the alien comes from the fact they too as a people were once strangers and aliens. In Buddhism, the care of others relates to the idea of karma and samsara. In Christianity, we care for our neighbor because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ or because they are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore demand our respect. As this brief, and woefully inadequate analysis shows, the religions might have similar instincts, but very different reasons for what they do. It's the reasons for the actions that underlies the actions and provides the worldview that makes the religious lives of all these people different.

Once again, I think what we are dealing with is a form of "nominalism," in which the philosophical assumption is "we can't really know what something is, so we won't worry about that." Here it is "we can't be bothered to ask the question about the truth value of these various religious claims, so can't we all just get along? Anyway, aren't you all the same anyway?" You'll pardon me if I opt out.

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