“Everyone has opinions . . . but not everyone has a point of view.” Joseph Epstein, “H.L. Mencken for Grownups,” Partial Payments.
Epstein’s remark is critical, citing V.S. Naipul’s condescending remark about one of his characters, “she had a great many opinions but these did not add up to a point of view.” I recall reading some place (another Epstein observation, I believe) that few men can be great essayists before age 40 because a great essayist needs a view of the world, and such a view that cannot be adequately attained before age 40.
My point of view, of course, is Catholic, but that’s kinda vague. Indeed, I suspect there are people out there who might say they have a Catholic point of view, but are scarcely aware of what the Catholic Church really teaches (read: the leftists within the Church that harken to the “spirit of Vatican II” in derogation of anything Vatican II actually taught). On the flip-side, I suspect there are many people out there who would be horrified to hear people say they have a Catholic point of view (C.S. Lewis comes to mind in this regard).
So I started thinking, “What exactly is a ‘Catholic point of view?'” I came up with this list. It’s neither exhaustive nor orderly, but rather haphazard in scope and ascension.
1. The Catholic point of view (“CPV”) respects authority, yet recognizes authority’s limits. The pope in faith and morals, yes, in economics and science, maybe.
2. The CPV rejects the Cartesian mind-body split, embracing the view that the body and soul interact with one another in ways that we often cannot see. We kneel when we pray, and it spiritually feels different than lying supine. (Aside: It’s interesting that, in her illicit love scenes between Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon, Ayn Rand seems to embrace this CPV, albeit wholly unintentionally/coincidentally. It’s a parallel between two PVs that otherwise could scarcely be more different, but a parallel that, if time permits before leaving this earth, I’d like to explore.)
3. The CPV embraces a sacramental view of creation. God (His grace) is found in the mundane, whether it’s a sunset that makes us weep for beauty, holy water, or a fresh bottle of beer. (Yes, TDE readers, writing BYCU is, I believe, one of the most sacramental things I do every week, outside the sanctuary and after active prayer.)
4. A respect for pretty much everything that the modern world disrespects. This list could go on for a long time, but here are a few: smallness, poverty, simplicity, leisure, the helpless, the inconvenient, the slow, and the inefficient.
5. Engagement with tradition. This goes far beyond apologetical issues related to sola scriptura and the age-old question, “Where in Scripture does it say ‘only Scripture’?” It’s an intense regard for the communion of saints, for those who went before us and the conduit of wisdom they provided, as well as for institutions (e.g., monarchy) and modes of thinking (e.g., ancient spirituality) that have been wholly discarded but have valuable insights that people rediscover every day with the help of modern science.Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList