Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Humanism and Christianity by Martin C. D'Arcy S.J.

Martin Cyril D’Arcy S.J. (1888 -1976) was a leading Catholic intellectual. Let me cog the summary from Wikipedia:

Martin Cyril D'Arcy SJ (1888–1976) was a Roman Catholic priest, philosopher of love, and a correspondent, friend, and adviser of a range of literary and artistic figures including Evelyn Waugh,[1] Dorothy L. Sayers, W. H. Auden, Eric Gill and Sir Edwin Lutyens. He has been described as "perhaps England's foremost Catholic public intellectual from the 1930s until his death".

The book I’m reading now Humanism and Christianity was published in 1969. It sets out with trenchant clarity the state of play at a time when self-indulgence was regarded as a bounden duty. He distinguishes between two varieties of humanism not just the one we are familiar with in Ireland that writes letters to the Irish Times complaining about the teaching of Christian Doctrine in Catholic schools.

Humanism, if it is taken to mean a belief in human nature to such a degree that man is held to be capable of creating a perfect life out of his own resources, ignores God and religion, and is therefore agnostic by disposition. On the other hand, if we mean by humanism merely that men and women should develop their own powers and rely upon them, so far as possible, then it is compatible with religion.

It would be churlish to add the embarrassing fact for the agnostic humanist that a very great deal of magnificent art and architecture was created by men of faith. Now if they can only be persuaded not to build a swimming pool on the top of Notre Dame!

A source of the decline of religion D’Arcy observes is that:

Modern impressionism rules, and the new forms of entertainment have stolen the minds and hearts of our generation. The result is an indifference to religious faith which hardly deserves the title of scepticism. It is so easy now – until tragedy strikes or threat of war – to live from day to day with a monotonous employment of some hours listlessly or ambitiously carried out in shops and factories, for the remaining time to be spent in mindless jamborees, the newspaper, the radio or T.V., the football stadium, the faces coming nearer and nearer as the years pass to those of a complete nonentity. Nonentities do at times pas muster for humanists!

Have things improved? Only a moral imbecile would hold that they have.

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