Today, the Word on Fire Blog features a short commentary, written by Ron Belgau, friend of the ministry, on the fusion of two entities that often appear to be at odds: contemporary culture and the tradition of the past.
Contemporary culture is suspicious of the past. "Tradition" is almost always a negative word, associated with those who are out of date and set in their ways. Against this negative image of our ancestors, modern culture congratulates itself on the amazing progress of applied science: life-saving new medications, interplanetary space probes, and the astonishing breakthroughs in computing and telecommunications.
Faced with this modern disdain for the past, it is easy for me to make the opposite mistake, and uphold Catholic tradition by heaping suspicion on all things modern.
Recently, however, I was reminded of the danger of this approach while reading John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism
Father Steve reviews William Cavanaugh's book,
The Myth of Religious Violence, which tackles the frequent claim that "religion" is at the root of violent actions throughout history.
One of the prevalent and widely accepted narratives of our culture promotes the idea that religion exhibits a propensity towards violence. From the Crusades, to the Salem Witch trials, to the terrifying events of September 11th
, religion is seen as the primary culprit in perpetrating a great deal of hostility and, as such, is a phenomenon that must be kept under cautious survellance, its power sharply curtailed. This is the narrative that “reasonable” people have come to accept. But is it true?