Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book stuff 3, Categories in evangelization and reason

Continuing on my search for the subject of my first book, it seems necessary to take the category of "reasoned evangelization" and analyze it into subcategories. Since I am not entirely sure where to begin, I'll just start somewhere and see where that takes me. Say, for example, "apologetics", which is a time-honored and classical category.

Apologetics can be taken in the broad sense to be any reasonsed defense (or pejoratively, an attack). It evokes a polemical mood, and though this is not necessarily the case, such is suggested by the very title of any classical polemical work beginning with the word "Contra".

Unfortunately, in my experience of popular (and Internet) apologetics, much of what passes for apologetics is in fact sophistry. It is often content to misrepresent contrary positions, and somtimes employs language impotent to satisfy anybody but its own champion. The temptation is for insular communities of the faithful to employ apologists who--so long out of touch with real flesh-and-blood opponents--construct fictitious enemies out of a list of supposed errors.

This points towards an important category of reason prior to apologetics: listening. Reason demands a full account of all positions, and the free mutual encounter of fully developed, mature accounts based on firm foundations. Hence it also requires a representative skilled enough to give it. There is a reason Frederick Copleston chose AJ Ayer as a dialogue partner on the subject of the existence of God; the same reason it would be better to debate Richard Dawkins than Marilyn Manson!

But listening is more than just having, understanding, and being fair to articulate opponents. Listening also requires a perspicuous perception of humanity, the heart, the world; perhaps dasein is the appropriate word. This indicates that the listener must be, if not a phenomenologist or a philosopher, at least a good student, and never an idealogue (one who latches onto, and is blinded by an idolatry to intellectual constructs). Something in the vein of C.S. Lewis.

The defect of Internet polemics is the absence of this prerequisite sympathy and innocence. It is the innocence of Socrates, which relinquishes control of the opponent's thoughts, and, trusting in the unity of truth, merely reminds her of what she already knows. He is the midwife of truth, coaching one to breathe as she gives birth to truth.

1 comment:

Matt of CG said...

--The wristwatch I see laying on this table is only a wristwatch because I perceive it to be, not because it is actually a wristwatch.

--The whole of life is not, but one big, "self-fulfilling prophecy." Maybe some part of you needed to have this experience.

Are we human beings so seduced by the empty promises of EASE that we contrive excuses such as these not to take responsibility for our physical, emotional, and mental actions? Of course, yes.

The purely recursive nature of these thought processes completely halts mental, emotional and spiritual growth on all fronts. Concentrating on what isn't blinds man from what is.

I wonder what a Darfur refugee would say to these widely accepted notions of perception and providence when offered as a valid justification for the refugee's condition?

Jeff, my question to you is, "How would you go about eviscerating two big hunks of nonsense like these to get down to explaining love's true value, the core issue of a persons soul?"