Is America bourgeois?
Is America bourgeois?
David L. Schindler
The only soul it is clear that America has not lost is its Cartesian soul.
We cannot deny the fact that the bourgeois culture actually developed on Protestant soil, and especially in a Calvinist environment, while the Catholic environment seemed decidedly unfavorable to its evolution. There is always a temptation for religion to ally itself with the existing order, and if we today ally ourselves with the bourgeois because the enemies of the bourgeois are often also the enemies of the Church, we shall be repeating the mistake that the Gallican prelates made in the time of Louis XVIII. , . ,„ Christopher Dawson, "Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind, in The Dynamics of World History Thus the Catholic Church appears Oriental to the West and Occidental to the East. She is a stranger in both camps, and her home is everywhere and nowhere. . . Christopher Dawson, Christianity East and West In a recent article in Crisis magazine, 1 George Weigel opens up issues which merit serious attention on the part of Catholics in America. The article is occasioned by a charge, expressed some months ago by Cardinal Ratzinger,
that Catholic Christianity in America is marked in significant ways by bourgeois disorder. Weigel's concern is not so much to criticize Ratzinger as to use the occasion to defend American culture from a conventional—progressivist-leftist—form of a criticism that America, in her historical-philosophical roots and/or present cultural circumstances, is a bourgeois, and therefore just so far decayed, civilization. My concern in the present article is to use the occasion provided in turn by Weigel's defense to challenge a certain way of reading American culture as being, in its nature and its history, favorably disposed toward Catholic Christianity. I take Weigel's argument to be representative of what is a conventional form of such a reading (more commonly from the Right); and I take the argument to be seriously defective from the point of view of what I will call creedal Catholicism. Since Weigel's argument was occasioned by Ratzinger's criticism, I will in turn rely on Ratzinger for articulation of the meaning of creedal Catholo-
I. As Weigel notes, the term "bourgeois" has many meanings. Having offered several dictionary definitions of the term, each of them signaling vicious qualities such as avariciousness, excessive concern for one's private and material interests, tendency toward mediocrity and the like, Weigel settles upon what he takes to be Ratzinger's understanding. Though he would likely not embrace all of these features as aptly describing the bourgeois character of American culture, Ratzinger nonetheless "thinks of American culture as gravely deficient morally—as characterized by a selfishness and radical individualism which has little or no concern for fundamental moral norms, or for the common good" (p. 5). Ratzinger's criticism of American Christianity as being bourgeois thus carries within it one or other of the following two assumptions about America: some variant of the Parrington/Beard thesis about John Locke and the nature of the American regime in its founding; or, if not this, then some variant of the "secularization hypothesis" with respect to the character and quality of American culture in the present. The Parrington/Beard thesis finds a radical individualism inscribed at the heart of America's
'George Weigel, "Is America Bourgeois?," Crisis Vol. 4, No. 9 (October, 1986): pp. 5-10. References in the text are to this article.
Communio 14 (Fall, 1987). © 1987 by Communis. International Catholic Revieto
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Is America bourgeois?
self-understanding. America in its Founding was shaped decisively by the Locke of the Enlightenment. The secularization hypothesis holds that contemporary American culture, in a fundamental way, carries within it a "denial of transcendent reference points for personal or civic life" (p. 8). Weigel argues that the historical evidence no longer supports the Parrington/Beard—radical individualist— interpretation of America in its Founding; and that the empirical and other available evidence does not support the secularization theory regarding contemporary American culture. Indeed, to the contrary, Weigel suggests that there is in fact a deep sense of communitarianism in America, as well as evidence of a renewed religiosity. The communitarianism can be seen in America's traditional linking of liberty with civic virtue, and is exemplified further in the propensity which Americans have for establishing voluntary associations and forming committees to address problems. The renewed religiosity is verified in the data provided by recent public opinion polls, and can be seen in the growth of those churches which are not accommodating but are rather standing firm in their interpretation of Christian truth claims and behavioral norms (e.g., evangelical and fundamentalist churches). Thus Weigel is led to his conclusion: "Cardinal Ratzinger wants an evangelical proclamation and a moral catechesis that has not lost its edge. I would suggest that the American present, far from being impervious to such a proclamation and catechesis because of bourgeois decadence and an ill-Founding in the eighteenth century, is open to—indeed eager for—precisely what the Cardinal is calling for: A Catholicism which has not lost its self-respect" (p. 10). Indeed "[i]f there was ever a 'Catholic moment' in America, it would seem to be now" (p. 10). In constructing my response, I begin by drawing attention to what are the two crucial features of Weigel's argument. The first is his definition of "bourgeois." Weigel takes the defining characteristics of "bourgeois" to be selfishness and individualism. So far this seems to me appropriate. The problem nonetheless surfaces immediately—or so I will argue—when one notices that Weigel understands this selfishness and individualism first and most properly in moral terms; when one notices, that is, that he characterizes Ratzinger's concern with respect to American culture as one primarily for its moral deficiency. This characterization may appear to be
innocent, and indeed the obvious import of the single quotation from Ratzinger with which Weigel concerns himself. What I shall argue on the contrary is that this characterization utterly misses what is deepest in Ratzinger's concern as that concern takes its shape from the Founding Documents of Christianity. From within the horizon of these documents, as we shall see, selfishness and individualism are deficiencies first and most properly at the level of theology-ontology. When and insofar as their meaning is properly retrieved at this level, it will become clear that Weigel's moral meaning is seriously inadequate. Secondly, then, having conceived the problem of selfishness in moral terms, and having adduced evidence of America's moral generosity, which he calls its communitarianism, Weigel goes on to offer evidence of America's religiosity. But it is crucial to notice the nature of the evidence which he offers. First there is what is exactly the external evidence provided in survey opinion polls which reveal the fact that Americans (increasingly) believe in a personal God, belong to a church, and the like. And secondly, there is the evidence of growth in those churches which are making rigorous demands on their congregants. Now to be sure Weigel recognizes the obvious ambivalence in the nature of this evidence: that it can be used in support of an America disposed as much, say, to fundamentalist and evangelical Protestantism as to Catholicism. But he takes note of such ambivalence nonetheless only to set the issue aside as impertinent—taking it to suffice for his purposes merely to record a preference for "Catholic incarnational humanism" (p. 10). His reason for so proceeding is made explicit: whatever the distinct nature and requirements of Catholic Christianity relative to other—e.g., fundamentalist and evangelical—forms of Christianity, the point is that the evidence which he has adduced suffices to show that America is in any case Christian in the sense pertinent to Ratzinger's criticism, to wit: "American culture is not predisposing a critical mass of its people to reject even the most severe interpretations of Christian truth and behavioral norms" (p. 9). But of course that is just what is at issue: is the distinction between Ratzinger's—a Catholic-creedal—Christianity and, say, fundamentalist and evangelical Protestant Christianity, a trivial one with respect to the meaning of this statement, that is, as conveyed to us in the evidence offered by
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7s America bourgeois?
Weigel? I suggest that it is not. Or rather, I intend to argue that the evidence which Weigel adduces, first of America's moral generosity and now of its religiosity as shown in public opinion surveys, suffices at best to show that America is disposed to a Christianity, not which is indifferently either fundamentalistevangelical or Catholic, but which on the contrary is precisely fundamentalist-evangelical as opposed to Catholic. To put the matter still more strongly: I intend to argue that the very presuppositions which lead Weigel to take America's apparent moral generosity, along with the external data provided by public opinion polls, as conclusive evidence of America's religiosity are exactly what lead him to overlook other—and indeed abundant—sorts of evidence which testify on the contrary to America's significant and widespread secularization. What are these presuppositions? Christopher Dawson, in discussing the two movements, stemming respectively from the Renaissance and the Reformation, which have dominated Western culture since the sixteenth century, uses the term "extroversion" to indicate the sense in which these movements entail a negation of a distinctly Catholic vision of reality.2 In its etymology, the term "extroversion" means "turning outward." What I propose is that Weigel's argument, from its conception to its conclusion, carries the presupposition of an ontology—an onto-logic—of extroversion. By this I do not mean to say that Weigel advances such an ontology consciously or explicitly. Indeed, in a sense that is just the point: Weigel ignores the ontological dimension of the problem with which he is dealing even as the Catholiccreedal Christianity which sets the broader context for his argument sees that ontological dimension as fundamental. But Weigel does not for all that elude an ontology; on the contrary, he merely advances, now implicitly or unwittingly, a bad ontology, which can aptly be termed one of extroversion. But, once again, I intend to make this claim in the name of Ratzinger as representative of a Catholic-creedal understanding of Christianity. We therefore begin with an exposition of that understanding.
The exposition will draw principally from Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity.3 This book is an effort by Ratzinger to elucidate the central meaning of the Apostles Creed; or, as Ratzinger himself also puts it, an attempt to repeat today what Karl Adam accomplished more than half a century ago in his masterful The Spirit of Catholicism. The explicitly Catholic and creedal context of the book is of course crucial for our purposes. The issue with which we are concerned, then, is that of the nature of selfishness and individualism. Now the terms "selfishness" and "individualism" suggest disorder with respect to what it means to be a self or an individual. Use of such terms involves one just so far thus in the presupposition of some constructive understanding of the meaning of "self" and "individual." Ratzinger's understanding can be found in his treatment of Trinitarian theology and Christology.4 The central elements of that understanding for present purposes can be distilled as follows: (1) Jesus Christ is understood as a relation of unity with the Father. "Son" and "Logos" are both essentially relational concepts: both essentially involve reference to another.5 The "Abba" prayer of Jesus to the Father best expresses this relation of unity. The general point, then, is that Jesus as Christ is one whose very being is a being-relative or -related. Jesus as Christ is "a completely open being, a being 'from' and 'towards,' that nowhere stands on its own." 6 The "peculiarity of Jesus' 1/ of his person . . . lies in the fact that this T is not at all something exclusive and independent but Being completely derived from the 'Thou' of the Father and lived for the 'you' of men." 7 Jesus' "being is pure actualitas of 'from' and 'for'" and as such at once "coincides with God and is . . . the exemplary man." 8 As exemplary man, Jesus is "not man for himself but essentially man for others." 9
2 Christopher Dawson, Christianity East and West, ed. by John J. Mulloy (La Salle, 111.: Sherwood and Sugden, 1981), pp. 24-26.
3 Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity (New York: Crossroads, 1969). "Ibid., pp. 114-204. 5 Ibid., pp. 133 and 136 inter alia. % i d . , p. 134. 7 Ibid„ p. 154. 8 Ibid., p. 170. 'Ibid., p. 179; cf. pp. 175-182 passim; p. 156.
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Is America bourgeois?
(2) Secondly, then, Ratzinger is at pains to stress that this understanding of Jesus Christ in terms of relativity and relation—with the Father, with all men in the Father—is to be retrieved first and most properly at the level of ontology. Relation is not first of all something which Jesus "does" or "achieves": relation, rather, is first of all what Jesus is.10 "Jesus' being itself is service."11 Indeed, this is the whole point of the formulations of Nicaea and Chalcedon (e.g., the homoousion: "one in being"), namely, to express this "identity of service and being, in which the whole content of the prayer-relationship 'Abba-Son' comes to light."12 "The Christology of John and of the Church's Creed . . . acknowledges being itself as act and says 'Jesus is his work.'" 13 "When this is understood it . . . becomes clear why phenomenology and existential analyses [e.g., functional approaches], helpful as they are, cannot suffice for Christology. They do not reach deep enough, because they leave the realm of real 'being' untouched."14 (3) Thirdly, then, this ontological understanding of Jesus' relativity/relationality, of the Trinity and Christology, provides the terms in which human existence is to be understood. The doctrine of the Trinity "passes over into a statement about existence."15 The dominant line in St. John's Gospel can properly be termed a "theology of being as relation and of relation as a mode of unity."16 "When it thus becomes clear that the being of Jesus as Christ is a completely open being, a being 'from' and 'towards', that nowhere clings to itself and nowhere stands on its own, then it is also clear at the same time that this being is pure relation (not substantiality) and, as pure relation, pure unity. This fundamental statement about Christ becomes . . . at the same time the explanation of Christian existence."17 Precisely because Jesus' "'being' is no longer separable from its actualitas it coincides with God and is at the same time the exemplary man. . . ,"18 "The guiding thread [is
Cf. ibid. , inter alia pp. 132-137; 150-151, 168-170 "Ibid. P- 168, emphasis is Ratzinger's. "Ibid. p. 169. "Ibid. P- 170. '"Ibid. "Ibid. P- 135. "Ibid. "Ibid. p. 134. "Ibid. P 170.
the] truth which the Bible expresses in the little word 'For,' in which it makes clear that we as men live not only directly from God but from one another, and in the last analysis from the One who lived for all."19 Pauline and Johannine theology point in the same direction: "As an T,' man is indeed an end, but the whole tendency of his being and of his own existence shows him also to be a creation belonging to the [Body of Christ]."20 The quotations offered here could be multiplied, but these will suffice to indicate for us the central features of Ratzinger's understanding of the self. The principles which best summarize that Catholic-creedal understanding are twofold: there are first the ideas of relation and unity—and just so far love—which express the central meaning of the Trinity and of Christology, particularly as revealed in the theology of St. Paul and St. John; and the ontologizing of these ideas which occurs at Nicaea and Chalcedon (cf. the homoousion). Secondly, then, there is a carrying through of this ontologizing of relation and unity, of love, in the understanding of human existence. It is this second principle of course which is our direct concern in this article. Essentially, following Scripture, Ratzinger affirms that we, all of us, are created in the Word (John's Prologue), that in the Word we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), and he understands this creation and being in the Word in the realistic, ontological sense carried in the Creed and indeed developed in the divinization-deification statements of the Fathers (cf. the theosis and theopoiesis of Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzen, Basil, among others). By virtue of the grace of God we really participate in what Jesus is by nature. All of what was said about the being of Jesus as the (only natural) Son of God is exemplary for our being as (adopted) sons of God. In a word: in the created order of grace what we all are, that is, in our very being, is from-and-for God. In our very being, we are relations of unity with God in Christ and consequently relations of unity with each other in Christ.21 Relative to the question of the meaning of the self or individual, then, we must, in the name of Ratzinger's Catholic-creedal Christianity, say this: the self's relation to other selves occurs first at the level of being and not at the level
"Ibid., p. 174. Ibid., p. 178. Ibid., pp. Y75-\«l,inter alia.
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Is America bourgeois?
of (human, moral) action (exercise of freedom). Relation to others is more properly something I am than something I achieve (do or have), than something J achieve. Likewise with respect to the meaning of the individual: an individual is an individual— is undivided or whole—only in relation, in the relation, that is, to the whole which is the community of all in Christ and which is first (already, in principle) given in being rather than first achieved in doing. In sum, on Ratzinger's understanding of human being (self, individual): we are all of us, in our very being, what we have (always already) received from God in Christ, and in turn from each other in Christ; we are simultaneously, also in our very being, what we are (always already) for God in Christ and therefore in turn for each other in Christ. I offer the following, then, as a summary of the primitive meaning of being and indeed acting which flows from this Catholic-creedal perspective of Ratzinger. First of all, human beings are most properly to be understood in terms of receptivity and in turn inferiority. That is, to be human most fundamentally is to receiver—from God and from all others in God: the primary and deepest activity of a human being is to receive, to bring within, which is to say to interiorize, the relation to God and to all men in God which establishes us in being. In short, Mary's Fiat ("let it be done unto me"), understood in all of its ontological force, exemplifies the most proper activity of human being. Secondly, then, this first and most basic activity of human being is not complete except in responsiveness: in being for what we are from. Our receptivity from God and all others in God is completed first and most essentially in giving (back) to God and to all others in God. In short, receiving and giving are ontologically prior to seeking and taking: our indebtedness to others ontologically (not temporally) precedes our indebtedness to our selves. Finally, then, the spirituality, the way of living, which flows from these dispositions is most properly characterized as one of transformation and integration. The relation to God and to all others in God penetrates to the core of our being and thus orders from within all that we are and hence do and have (are doing and are having). The degree of perfection in human life is directly proportionate to the degree of this penetration, this transformation and integration of all that we are, and hence do and have, in terms of relation to, love of, God and all others in God.
The terms suggested by Gabriel Marcel seem to me to offer an apt way of summarizing these three features of the self which I have offered here in the name of Ratzinger's Catholic-creedal Christianity. On Marcel's reading, the self is to be understood first and most essentially in terms of being as distinct from doing and having. What I take this to mean in the present context is simply that the doing and having which are also essential to the self are themselves properly understood only when and insofar as they are marked anteriorly by receptivity and inferiority, responsiveness, and are so to the purpose of transformation and integration. In a word, this is what it means to say, as Ratzinger does, that the self is social in its ontology, in the very logic of its being. III. If it appears that we have drifted some distance from the issues raised in WeigeTs argument, I can only say that it will become clear as we proceed how each of the features we have noted in connection with Ratzinger's understanding of the self retrieves something significantly lacking in WeigeTs understanding. Indeed, what may appear to be the foreignness of the considerations we have introduced is already an indication of the limitations in WeigeTs conception of the problem. But first of all, we need to be clear about the sense in which criticism is to be directed toward Weigel. I have suggested that Weigel conceives the problem of America's being bourgeois, being selfish and individualistic, exhaustively as a matter of morality. That this is so I take to be evident not only from his explicit formulation of the issue as one of moral deficiency, already noted above, but also and indeed more conclusively from the whole train of pivotal terms and phrases which he employs in his defense of the claim that America is not bourgeois (cf. especially pp. 5-8): "liberty," "license," "private interests," "modern American moral culture"; the common good which reflects "universal moral norms" and is "pursued through what the Greeks and Romans understood by 'civic virtue' "; " 'the free determination of men to live together and work together at a common task' "; " 'political society [as] a work of reason and virtue'." And so on. The terms and phrases offered here could be multiplied, but these will suffice to confirm the scope of WeigeTs conception of the problem, which is reflected again in his summary conclusion:
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7s America bourgeois?
no one who has thought seriously about any or all of these phenomena [concerning the history of the American Founding] can maintain, with a straight face and a clear intellectual conscience, that the American Founding was devoid of a sense of the common good, or that it did not comprehend the linkage between liberty and civic virtue, or that it was essentially 'bourgeois' in its reduction of politics to an expression of private property interests. It just wasn't so (p. 6). What I wish to make clear at the outset is that my criticism of Weigel in the first instance is not that he is wrong in what he says here. Indeed, I am prepared to grant with him that in an important sense it just wasn't so: that is, that the American Founding did apparently have a sense of the common good, saw a link between liberty and civic virtue, and was not "bourgeois" in the sense of reducing politics to private property interests. My question rather is what all this means relative to the primarily theological-ontological concerns of Ratzinger's creedal Catholicism. The issue of the self's socialness is that of the nature of the self in its relation to other selves. We have seen how Ratzinger understands this relation: it is given primitively with the being of the self. We have suggested further how this understanding of the socialness of the self at the level of being in turn founds the primitive meaning of human activity. A self whose very being is social is a self whose most proper activity is marked by: (1) receptivity: acceptance of the other (God, all others in God), relation to whom is an intrinsic feature of my being; and (2) inferiority: the "bringing within" which is entailed in receptivity. Within this context, then, what is the meaning of Weigel's contrary view, wherein the self's relation to other selves is conceived as emerging first at the level of morality, of human action, and thus as a matter first of human liberty? The basic implication, I think, is clear almost as a matter of definition: the view that relation emerges first at the level of action and thus is most properly a matter of the self's liberty entails a denial that relation emerges first and most properly at the level of being. But this is just to say that the self, at the level of its being, is precisely unrelated, is just so far atomic (simply an individual). In short, Weigel's conception of the problem ipso facto instantiates—already as a matter of principle implies—the claim that the relation of others to the being of one's self is external. I hasten to stress: I do not say that Weigel explicitly advances this claim about the self's ontological atomism—the externality of the self's relation to other selves at
the level of being. Indeed, once again, my contention is that Weigel is innocent, at a conscious level, of any ontology; but this innocence nonetheless does not mean that he thereby escapes the implications of an ontology. This externality of relation at the level of being carries an immediate consequence for what counts as the primitive meaning of human activity. If the relation of one's self to others is not something already given with and so already internal to one's being, then that relation is something which must first be both achieved by the self and achieved only and exactly by turning outward. A self whose relation to others is not always already given with, internal to, its being is a self whose activity primitively cannot be receptive and interior activity (cannot be a "bringing within" of the other). Now these contrary views of the being of the self in its relation to others, and the contrary views of the essential features of human activity which flow therefrom, have further meanings and implications, some of which will be dealt with later. My purpose here is limited to showing how Weigel's understanding of the self is extroverted. That extroversion can now be seen to consist in an assumption (however unwitting) with respect to the nature at once of human being and human activity. In terms of human being: the self's relation to others is external. In terms of human activity: the activity which establishes relation in the first instance is what may be called an achievement or doing by the self which is outward-directed. This externality of relation and this primacy of the self's achievement and of outward-directedness constitute what I take to be an ontology of extroversion. Indeed, when viewed in contrast with the Catholic-creedal understanding of being as internally relational and consequently of human activity as primarily receptive and interior, these features are seen to constitute what is exactly the proper definition of an ontology of extroversion. In a word, they are seen to provide the deepest— because ontological—meaning of the extroversion which Dawson sees as characteristic of the two dominant movements of the modern West, that is, precisely in their non-Catholic character. Or again, these features model for us what is a self understood exactly—to recall the words of Marcel—in terms of doing rather than being. Of course the pivotal term in all of this is "bourgeois." Weigel sees the essence of "bourgeois" to be selfishness, and I have already indicated that I so far concur in this
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judgment. But the relevant point concerns the proper meaning of selfishness. And what we can now see is that Weigel's evidence for (what can be called) America's moral-voluntaryist—communitarian—overcoming of selfishness can in fact be appropriately understood as evidence on behalf of America's embrace of what is, from Ratzinger's Catholic-creedal perspective, exactly an onto-logic of self-ishness. Weigel shows us a generosity in America's Founding and history, to be sure; but it is exactly the sort of generosity which, in the primacy it accords externality of relation in its understanding of being, and the self's achievement and outward-directedness in its understanding of activity, leaves intact, indeed models, what is the more primitive onto-logic of self-ishness. But if it is this onto-logic of selfishness which is, from the perspective of Ratzinger's creedal Catholicism, the first meaning of selfishness and hence of "bourgeois," then of course it follows, relative to this creedal Catholicism, that what Weigel has given us is a defense of a bourgeois, as distinct from a Catholic, form of generosity. He has just so far shown us an America which is ripe for a Christianity which is, not Catholic, but on the contrary bourgeois as opposed to Catholic. One might object here that, however true this suggestion, it is nonetheless trivial. That is, however much Weigel fails to notice the distinction between a bourgeois and a Catholic sense of generosity, he has nonetheless shown us an America which is in any case generous in a significant sense. My response to this objection is first simply to note that the distinction which I have suggested between an ontological generosity and a moral-voluntaryist generosity is trivial as a matter of principle only if and in so far as an ontological distinction between Catholic and other forms of Christianity is trivial as a matter of principle. But my response secondly is to suggest that what is, at the level of ontological principle, Weigel's bourgeois as distinct from Catholic understanding of generosity carries in its train profound consequences for his argument regarding religiosity in America. It is to an exploration of these consequences that I therefore now turn. IV. When I read Weigel's discussion of the problem of secularization in contemporary America, I confess that the first image which came to mind was that of the fish which is the last
to recognize that it is in water. But the difficulty of course is that what is required for such a fish to notice the pervasive presence—not to mention any instance—of water, is some anterior knowledge of what water is: the fish will be disposed to "see" the water only when and in so far as it knows what it is looking for. Similarly with respect to Weigel's argument regarding secularization: where he sees no (significant) secularization at all in American culture, I see a secularization which is pervasive. This difference in what we see is a function of different understandings of what counts as secularization. In treating Weigel's understanding, we can best employ the soul metaphor which he introduces when he says that "Chesterton's 'nation with the soul of a church' has not, it would seem lost its soul" (p. 9). There are two very different ways of understanding "soul," and these correspond to what I have suggested is the extroversion of bourgeois Christianity on the one hand and the inferiority of Catholic Christianity on the other. These two ways of understanding the soul can be labelled, respectively, Cartesian and Thomistic. The essential difference between them can be seen in the fact that the latter, in contrast to the former, truly penetrates and orders from within that of which it is the soul. A Cartesian soul, that is, remains outside and thus orders only in an external manner (in so far as it can be said to order at all) that of which it is the soul. A Thomistic soul in contrast precisely enters into—i.e., is genuinely interior to and thus truly transforms and integrates—that of which it is the soul. The difference I am getting at here, then, can be appropriately described as the difference between extroversion on the one hand and incarnation on the other; and the pertinence of such a difference when we recall the context of religion or religiosity seems to me evident. An incarnational—what I take to be Ratzinger's Catholic-creedal—understanding of religiosity requires, as a matter of principle, that the being and activities of the self, which is to say, in turn, the activities and institutions of the culture which the self produces, be just so far truly penetrated and ordered from within (transformed and integrated) by the relation to God and to others in God which primitively establishes the self in being. An extroverted—what I take to be bourgeois—understanding of religiosity on the contrary does not require this sort of penetration and ordering from within. Evidently, then, incarnational and extroverted senses of religiosity give rise to correspondingly different views as to what counts as secularization—lack of religiosity.
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Is America bourgeois?
The point I intend to introduce with these suggestions, then, is that WeigeTs argument on behalf of religiosity in contemporary America is an argument on behalf of religiosity of a bourgeois or extroverted sort. Or rather, the America which he shows us to be not-secularized in any significant sense is an America which is not-secularized from the perspective of a bourgeois-extroverted, as distinct from a Catholicincarnafional, Christianity. In short, the only soul which Weigel shows us America has not lost is what I have called a Cartesian soul. The truth of these statements can be confirmed simply by recalling our earlier argument about the nature of the evidence which Weigel adduces in his defense of American culture. First he offers evidence of a moral-voluntaryist generosity in American culture. But we have seen that this evidence suffices to show in America only and exactly the achievement-extroversion-oriented sort of generosity which stands in contrast with the being-interiority-oriented sort required by Ratzinger's creedal Catholicism. Secondly, then, Weigel goes on to provide evidence from Gallup and Caplow survey opinion polls which shows Americans in large numbers belonging to churches, going to religious services, recording belief in a personal God, and the like. But of course mere recording of the fact that a large number of persons recognize relation to God—believe in God, go to church, and the like—tells us exactly nothing about the sense in which/degree to which that relation is being genuinely received into, interiorized within, the lives of such persons: tells us nothing about the incarnational (i.e., transforming and integrative) quality of that relation in the range of activities taken up by these persons. In a word, recording of such a fact tells us exactly nothing about the quality of a Catholic as distinct from bourgeois religious life of such persons. The evidence which Weigel offers with respect to the rapid growth of fundamentalist and evangelical Protestant churches, then, serves in this context merely to attest further the point to which I am seeking to draw attention. Of course it is in terms of this extroverted sense of religion that Weigel pronounces America religiously healthy; that he is disposed to see America as not (significantly) secularized. It is this disposition that I now want to challenge: by showing how a Catholic-creedal ontology of inferiority and incarnation disposes one on the contrary to see widespread and significant manifestations of secularization.
(1) One important manifestation is materialism. The term "materialism" is used here to signify the manner generally in which American culture is dominated by a concern for the body and the satisfaction of its needs and tendencies: a concern, that is, which comes to expression in the form of a preoccupation with satisfying drives linked variously with consumption, sex, and power. Thus I include in the meaning of the term such things as the tendency—noted by Weigel in one of his descriptions of "bourgeois"—inordinately to value "the acquisition of money and objects." Weigel of course denies materialism in this sense. Or rather, he thinks that his argument about apparently increased moral—i.e., will-ful—generosity and church membership and the like on the part of Americans suffices to refute the charge of materialism. But this is exactly the interpretation I wish to challenge. WeigeTs voluntaryist conception of generosity and extroverted understanding of religion blind him to the much more radical requirement relative to the meaning of materialism which issues from a Catholic-creedal incarnational understanding of generosity and religion. To be sure, an incarnational perspective entails taking seriously, affirming the intrinsic worth of, the body and all of its needs and tendencies. But the crucial difference on such an incarnational understanding of religion, that is, as distinct from the extroverted bourgeois understanding which I have suggested is Cartesian, is that affirmation of the intrinsic worth of the body and its needs and tendencies is linked primitively—and hence transformatively and integratively—with the relation to God and to others in God which is given constitutively with one's very being: is linked primitively, that is to say, with a love which is understood as a matter of onto-logic and not simply as a matter of will. An incarnational-Catholic understanding of religion, as distinct from an extroverted-Cartesian understanding of religion, requires that each and every human act which involves the body, pertains to the body, be truly penetrated and ordered from within—primitively and all along the way—by this onto-logic of love. Of course there are profoundly difficult problems in working out relative to the practice of contemporary America what would count as the overcoming of materialism from this incarnational-Catholic perspective. But in a sense that is just my point: there are problems in this connection, problems which Weigel not only does not see but expressly denies. Having collapsed what is the onto-logic of Catholic-creedal
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Christianity into the voluntaryism of bourgeois Christianity, Weigel takes America's moral generosity and the external evidence provided by public opinion polls regarding (increased) belief in God and church membership to suffice to meet the charge of materialism. But this leaves utterly untouched the question of the onto-logic of materialism. Once the issue is put this way, then, it seems to me that the materialism of American culture becomes obvious. However non-materialistic Americans are in a will-ful sense, the prevailing institutions and patterns of life nonetheless—and I take it manifestly—carry a logic whose intrinsic ordering is toward the satisfaction of the drives linked variously with consumption, sex, and power. That is, these prevailing institutions and patterns of life leave intact, indeed instantiate, an ordering of the satisfaction of the needs and wants of the body which is extroverted: which is not penetrated from within (interiorized), transformed, and integrated in terms of relation to God and others in God. (2) A second form of secularization in American culture can be seen in its secularization of intelligence. What is meant by this can be preliminarily indicated by recalling the fact that, in a classically Catholic culture, not to mention in all traditional religious cultures,22 the holy person was assumed to be the principal source of truth and wisdom. That is, the requisite condition for being recognized as an authentic source of truth was some significant indication of a deepening internalization of one's relation to God. In contrast, in contemporary American society, the person assumed to be the principal source of truth is what may be called the expert. The requisite condition for being recognized as an authentic source of truth is some significant indication that one has mastered certain methods—what may typically be called external methods of observation and verification. What is the fuller meaning of this phenomenon in terms of the problem of secularization? On the Catholic-creedal understanding sketched earlier, the primary feature of being is an inferiority which takes its primitive meaning from two other features: namely, relatedness to God and (ontologically consequent) receptivity. The nature of intelligence which flows from this understanding
22 Cf. on this Sayyed Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred (New York: Crossroads, 1981).
of being, that is, the act of consciousness which most adequately and properly retrieves the truth of being as so understood, is therefore intelligence/an act of consciousness which is marked primarily at once by interiority and receptivity, and by an inferiority and receptivity whose movement is precisely relational—relative to God—and hence just so far integrative in terms of this relation. In a word, Catholic-creedal Christianity carries an onto-logic which unfolds into knowledge, and this consequent onto-logic of knowledge consists in according primacy in knowledge, that is, as a matter of principle and hence in each of its acts, to the features of interiority, receptivity, and the movement toward integration. In contrast, knowledge as most typically understood in contemporary American culture is characterized by extroversion, and that extroversion in turn is essentially linked with two features which correlate in a contrasting way with the features of receptivity and integration. On an extroverted understanding of knowledge, receptivity is replaced by a primary disposition to control. This can be seen in the prevalence of what can be called external methods of verification, in the tendency to relegate whatever meaning cannot be controlled after the fashion of these external methods—after the fashion of this sort of analysis—to the category of the arbitrary, "subjective," "intuitionist," and the like. Secondly, then, on an extroverted understanding of knowledge, the movement toward integration is replaced by a primary movement toward fragmentation (what from a Catholic-creedal perspective is dis-integration): by the disposition to label as confused ("confusion": a mixing together taken to be inappropriate) any effort truly to integrate, which is to say, to relate internally what an extroverted understanding demands be related only externally. In a word, the extroverted onto-logic which we have seen to be tacitly affirmed in Weigel's America also unfolds into knowledge, and this consequent onto-logic of knowledge consists in according primacy in knowledge, that is, as a matter of principle and hence in each of its acts, to the features of externality, control, and the movement toward fragmentation. There are of course both less and more benign manifestations of this extroversion of intelligence. On the less benign side, one can appropriately call attention to the superficiality ("super-fides": "staying on the surface") of mental life in America. Or again: Weigel, in one of his definitions of "bourgeois," notes as one of its characteristic features a "tendency
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toward mediocrity." If by mediocrity we mean something which essentially involves superficiality, then of course it follows that in America's extroversion of intelligence we have an example of its mediocrity. For an extroverted intelligence is an intelligence which turns outward and just so far stays on the surfaces of things. Of course this staying on the surfaces of things is negative—signals mediocrity—only if intelligence and things have their reality rather, and most properly, in interiority and depth, as is the case on a Catholic-creedal understanding. What I'm pointing to here, then, can be seen simply by noting the way in which Americans appeal so readily to the public opinion polls of George Gallup and The New York Times; by noticing how many Americans pay attention to the likes of Phil Donahue; in short, by noting the centrality of sociology in the mental life of Americans. The point here is not to suggest that public opinion polls and external sociological methods of verification have no legitimate use at all. It is simply to suggest that such polls and methods have a legitimacy which diminishes directly with their extroversion: diminishes, that is, in direct proportion to the extent that they become replacements, become mistaken, for the discernment and reflection and prayer that are the hallmarks of authentic intelligence on a Catholic-creedal reading. Of course, and on the other side of the ledger, one must take note of the profoundly positive achievements which are also essentially linked with America's extroversion of intelligence, with its features of control and fragmentation: most notably, achievements in technology and medicine. And indeed it needs to be emphasized in this connection that, on a creedal-Catholic view of intelligence, the features proper to an extroverted view—the features of control and movement toward fragmentation (the breaking up of things and meanings: analysis)—are not excluded simply, but only insofar as they are claimed as primary. In other words, such features continue to have a legitimate place, so long as a context of inferiority—and indeed receptivity and integration—takes precedence. What all of this means in detail, which is to say, the fuller meaning of the two onto-logics of knowledge noted here both on their own terms and in their relation, is a matter which is beyond the purview of the present article. My intention here is merely to point out that, despite the immense achievements in technology and medicine which are the product largely of an extroverted onto-logic of intelligence, there are also profound prob-
lems connected with this extroverted onto-logic; and to point out that these problems are essentially linked with the problem of secularization. Weigel does not take note of any of these problems, but once again that is just the point: his extroverted and voluntaryist conception of religion blinds him to the radical requirements, with respect to the nature and exercise of intelligence, which emerge from within a Catholic-creedal Christianity. Once again, having collapsed what is the onto-logic of Catholic Christianity into the zeiM-fulness of bourgeois Christianity, Weigel takes the moral generosity and the external evidence (provided by public opinion polls) of the performance of certain actions and the fact of certain beliefs to suffice to meet the charge of secularization. Americans aren't secularized because of their moral selflessness and the fact of their belief in God and the like. But the point in the present context is that this leaves exactly untouched the question of the onto-logic of secularization. Weigel's argument leaves unasked what is a train of fundamental questions forced from within a Catholic-creedal perspective relative to the problem of secularization: to what extent has love in its onto-logical and not merely will-ful dimension truly penetrated and ordered from within American intelligence, as that intelligence is reflected in the ordering, the logic, of its economic, political, and cultural institutions? To what extent has holiness as a matter of ontologic, as a matter of intelligence as distinct from will and social action, been made a central concern, a central ordering principle, of American academies, particularly—even—those which would identify themselves as religious? Where in American culture is there any public recognition of the features of inferiority, receptivity and deepening relation to God—and hence deepening integration in terms of God—as matters precisely of intelligence? Where in American culture are these features of inferiority, receptivity and relation to God and integration in terms of God not seen rather to be matters essentially of private will-fulness, of a faith that is arbitrary? These questions of course could be multiplied. I raise them here as a matter of essential concern for any one who operates from within a Catholic-creedal understanding of religion. For the point, simply, is that religiosity—and the perfection of religiosity called holiness—on a Catholic-creedal reading is such that it involves, not only a willing and the performance of this or that action, but a seeing, essentially
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7s America bourgeois?
involves an ever-deepening interiorization, receptivity, and movement toward integration in the intelligence. It follows that however much what I have described as extroverted intelligence is unproblematic—can count as sufficiently religious— from the point of view of religion as understood in bourgeois Christianity, it is problematic—cannot count as sufficiently religious—from the point of view of religion as understood in Catholic-creedal Christianity. (3) The third manifestation of secularization to which I wish to call attention is one whose significance I presume Weigel would not deny. I refer to America's official toleration of the killing of its unborn—resulting in some twenty million deaths since 1973. Weigel does not mention this fact of American life, presumably not because he does not see it as an evil practice, but because he does not see that it is an evil linked with the logic of American culture. Americans are generous and communitarian, and apparently practicing religion in increasing numbers. Against the background of such generosity and religiosity, then, America's official toleration of the killing of the unborn can only be seen as an aberration: it is a counterexample rather than an example of what is truest and deepest in American culture. The principle of my response by now will appear familiar. Official toleration of abortion can be seen as an aberration relative to the history of American culture, but only if and insofar as America's generosity and religiosity are understood in moral and psychological as distinct from ontological terms. As indicated above, I concede the evidence of America's generosity and religiosity—non-self-centeredness— insofar as these are taken in their moral and psychological sense. What I do not concede is that there is evidence of the requisite non-self-centeredness when viewed in ontological terms. On the contrary, we have seen that American culture, despite or rather within its moral generosity, nonetheless affirms, however tacitly, the ontology of extroversion which is, from within a Catholic-creedal framework, exactly the deepest meaning of self-centeredness or self-ishness. What I intend to show here, then, is that America's official toleration of abortion is an example of its official ontology (however tacit) of selfishness even as it is a counterexample of what may in other respects be its psychology of generosity. What this means can be seen by attending to the context which I take to be typical for America's discussion of its
official toleration of abortion: namely, that of "rights." A right in and of itself is a claim I have on an other. As such a right is by definition self-directed or self-centered. Nonetheless it is often asserted that such self-centeredness is overcome when and in so far as this notion of right is universalized: when it is urged that everyone has rights. But a brief look at what is actually occurring here will reveal that such a procedure does not at all entail a transformation or reversal of self-centeredness. On the contrary the procedure merely—exactly—universalizes self-centeredness. In universalizing, to be sure, one asserts that every self has a claim on every other self. But the relevant point to notice, that is, insofar as one continues exclusively to appeal to rights, is that the claim, now intended to be universalized, nonetheless remains, in each of its instances, a claim of the self upon others. Or, in other words, the direction of obligation in each instance of a rights claim, however much that claim be universalized, remains exactly that of others toward the self. What this means of course is that there is not yet introduced, at the level of principle, any obligation of the self toward others. What these remarks are intended to suggest, then, is that the notion of rights as typically understood in America is linked with, indeed exactly presupposes, an ontology of extroversion. The term obligation, meaning literally "being bound to," illustrates the point nicely. On an ontology of extroversion, what one is primitively bound to is one's own self; what one is primitively not bound to is other selves. An ontology of extroversion, in other words, as we saw earlier, founds an onto-logic of self-ishness (self-relatedness) as distinct from an onto-logic of generosity (other-relatedness). It founds an onto- (and just so far primary-) logic of rights, as distinct from an onto- (and just so far primary-) logic of responsiveness. An ontology of rights does not of course preclude introduction of responsiveness at the level of psychology and morality. But that in a sense is just the point: introduction of responsiveness at this level now becomes arbitrary: something for which there has been provided no prior foundation in the being of the self. The bearing of all this on the discussion of America's official toleration of the killing of the unborn I think is obvious. However generous and religious Americans are in other—voluntaryist—respects, they nonetheless have no ontology in terms of which they can found any public defense of unborn life. The rights language to which they subscribe
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insofar as they are typically American removes any ontological basis for saying that we are all primitively and thus unconditionally bound to each other and hence to all unborn human beings: that we are so bound precisely in virtue of our and their being. Indeed the implicit ontology of extroversion carried in conventional rights language actively undermines any such claim: reveals such a claim as arbitrary. Being bound to, being responsive to, an unborn human being is now something I must choose; and indeed the "must" of such choosing, on a rights-extroverted ontology, is keyed exactly to what is my more primitive obligation (being bound and responsive) to my self. The less clear it becomes how the life of the unborn is necessary for my own life (is implicated in my obligation to my own self), the less urgent becomes the "must" of my choosing to be bound or responsive to that unborn life. As this suggests, the ontology of extroversion carried in the typically American appeal to rights has an inner logic of self-ishness whose effect over time is in fact to erode any lingering moral or psychological generosity. In the instance of America's official toleration of abortion, perhaps as much as anywhere else, we have a clear example of this: perhaps here as much as anywhere else, we have an example of how America's official (however unconscious) ontology of extroversion has come home to roost. In sum, then, we can now see that Weigel's apparent failure to notice that legal toleration of abortion is a part of, rather than an exception to, what is deepest in American culture is merely one more instance of his failure to notice the onto-logic which is primitively carried in that culture: one more instance of his failure to engage the issue of self-ishness at the ontological level required by Catholic Christianity, as distinct from the moral level required by bourgeois Christianity. We can see the sense in which America's official toleration of abortion is an example of its secularization rather than—as Weigel presumably thinks—a counterexample to its religiosity. We began this section by noting that Weigel had pronounced America religiously healthy. He had claimed that America is neither secularized nor otherwise seriously defective in a sense pertinent to the charge of its being bourgeois. In response to this claim, I have adduced three counterexamples: what seem to me to be its materialism; its secularized intelligence; and its official toleration of abortion. My argument has been that each of these features is directly a function of the voluntaryism and implied ontology of extroversion which I had
previously argued is the essence of "bourgeois." My argument, in other words, is that these features are instances of a serious defect and a secularization precisely in their character as bourgeois. But, once again, the terms of my argument have been set by the Catholic-creedal Christianity presented by Ratzinger. What this all adds up to, then, relative to what seems to be the presupposition governing Weigel's conception of his task, is that there is an authentically Catholic, that is, as distinct from "leftist," criticism of the bourgeois character of American culture. The introduction of the term "leftist" leads me to my final point in criticism of Weigel.
Towards the end of his article, Weigel suggests that there is perhaps "a curious symmetry, not at the level of prescription, but at the level of cultural analysis" (p. 9), between Cardinal Ratzinger and the progressivists-leftists: the Parrington/Beard historiographers and the dissenting theologians. I agree that there is indeed a curious symmetry, but that it is rather between Weigel and the progressivists-leftists. The irony suggested here can be seen simply by recalling that Weigel conceives the problem of being bourgeois first and most properly as a problem of morality and psychology. That is, he conceives the problem primitively in terms of virtue and vice. Having done so, Weigel goes on in one—important—sense to show his disagreement with Parrington and Beard: he shows America to incline toward virtue where the latter show it to incline toward vice. But the more relevant point, that is, on the matter which is of the most proper concern to Ratzinger's creedal Catholicism, is that, however much Weigel and Parrington/Beard (as presented by Weigel) differ on the nature of America's moral disposition, they nonetheless agree in their conception of the problem of America's bourgeois character as exhaustively one of morality. Weigel and Parrington/Beard in their very disagreement share a voluntaryism. In short, they both implicitly subscribe to an ontology of extroversion: an ontology, that is to say, which is typically American as distinct from Catholic Christian. An analogous point can be made with respect to the "dissenting theologians." However much Weigel and these theologians of the Left may differ in other respects, what they share at the level of ontology, and however unconsciously, is
David L. Schindler VI.
7s America bourgeois?
an extroverted view of the self, with its essential voluntaryism. Thus WeigeTs extroversion and voluntaryism come to expression on the Left in a sort of "congregationalist" conception of Church community (the Church is more like a moral or will-ful community than an organic, ontological community in Christ23); in a view of social justice which stresses the need for changes in structures and policies and programs disproportionately to the (ontologically) prior need for interior transformation whose presupposition is receptivity to the Spirit;24 and finally, in a kind of feminism which pushes forward still another version of modern Western self-ishness ("right-eousness"). In making these comments I do not mean to imply that there are not profoundly serious and positive concerns within each of these examples of theology of the Left: the voluntary dimension of Church community; social justice; heightened awareness of the status and dignity of women in Church and society. My intention is simply to indicate how an assumed extroverted ontology of the self with its voluntaryism is what skews these legitimate and indeed needed concerns into the flawed form that Ratzinger sees as worthy of criticism. Or better, my point is to indicate that Weigel and the dissenting theologians have in common an extroverted-voluntaryist view of the self: have in common, that is, over against the social-ontological view of the self affirmed in Ratzinger's creedal Catholicism. However significantly Weigel and the dissenting theologians differ in other respects—and they do differ significantly—what they all nonetheless share from the perspective of Ratzinger's creedal Catholicism, and however unwittingly, is a bourgeois ontology: what they all are is conventional Americans. My point, then, is simply that WeigeTs Americanism remains Americanism for all of its being on the Right: as such, it does not suffice, again, relative to the Catholic-creedal Christianity of Ratzinger, as an adequate answer to the varieties of Americanism on the Left.
23 Cf., in this connection Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "The ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council," Communio 13, no. 3 (Fall, 1986), pp. 239-252. 24 Cf., in this connection the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's two instructions on freedom and liberation, August 6, 1984 and March 22, 1986.
My criticism of Weigel in this article has been harsh. In justification for this harshness, I can in conclusion only repeat that WeigeTs argument seems to me to cut to the heart of what it means to be Catholic. His success in defending the putative Catholic character of American culture comes at the expense of giving away what seems to me to be the very foundation and essence of Catholicism, that is, as presented by Cardinal Ratzinger. Having already (however unwittingly) read bourgeois-American assumptions into his understanding of Catholic Christianity, Weigel is scarcely prepared to notice any possible incompatibility of such assumptions with Catholic Christianity, either as a matter of principle, or a fortiori as a matter of fact when these assumptions manifest themselves in the patterns of life and institutions of American culture. Perhaps Weigel might be disposed to respond that the alternative assumptions which I have sketched in the name of Ratzinger's Catholic-creedal Christianity, however true they are in themselves, are nonetheless Utopian when seen in their implications for American culture: to object, in other words, that the strongly social (selfless) and incarnational view of the self and of religion of creedal Catholicism, however true in itself, is unworkable in the face of the history and character of American culture. Such an objection merits serious discussion, much more than can be given here. It will suffice to record two principles which should govern such further discussion. First and most simply, it bears underscoring that one who anticipates defending the charge that Catholicism— what I have in the name of Ratzinger called creedal Catholicism—is Utopian is not thereby excused from knowing what Catholicism in fact is, from correctly identifying Catholicism. The appropriate procedure in dealing with the question of a putative incompatibility of Catholicism with American culture is hardly to begin by sliding Catholicism into some form of Christianity which appears to be less Utopian in its implications. That may rescue the workability of such a Christianity relative to the practice of American culture, but it does so only at the expense of begging the question of the Catholicity of that Christianity. In a word, then, the first principle which I would offer in the face of an objection from Weigel regarding the possible utopianism of Ratzinger's Catholic incarnational Christianity is simply that he (Weigel) undertake such an
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objection by answering rather than begging (as he now does) the central question raised in and by his article, to wit: exactly what, relative to Ratzinger's understanding, is a Catholic incarnational Christianity as distinct from other forms of Christianity? Nonetheless, when and if one gets clear about the nature of Catholicism, there remains the substance of the charge of a possible utopianism: perhaps Catholic-creedal Christianity of the sort sketched in the present article is too stringent in its implications for widespread cultural practice. Perhaps the selflessness and incarnationalism of creedal Catholicism carry prescriptive implications which are unworkable in the face of what is the inevitability of selfishness—sinfulness—in human culture. I am thus led to a second principle of discussion in the face of a possible objection of utopianism: namely, that such discussion should remain mindful above all of the distinction, required by creedal Catholicism, between the self in its onto-logic and the self in its morality and psychology, and hence in turn between selfishness (sin) in its onto-logical dimension and selfishness (sin) in its moral and psychological dimension. This distinction must then be carried over in one's understanding of culture: there is a distinction between the onto-logic, or ontological order, of a culture and the moral and psychological practice of that culture. When and insofar as this distinction is noted, we can then, in the face of a charge of utopianism, just so far legitimately ask the following question: does recognition of the inevitability of human selfishness-sinfulness forbid us to work for an onto-logic—an order—of generosity in a culture, even as we recognize that selfishness-sin in its moral and psychological aspects will always be with us? Or must we do as we do now—do what Weigel's argument, with its failure to make this distinction, by implication compels us to do: leave an onto-logic—order—of selfishness-sinfulness in place, even as we (in all those better moments of our culture as signaled by Weigel) work for moral and psychological generosity? In raising this question, I make no pretense of suggesting that its answer is easy. Indeed, I merely want to insist that the question be asked: It is the fundamental question which, in the face of a charge of utopianism, a Catholic-creedal perspective opens up, even as Weigel's bourgeois perspective forecloses it. The present article has made no attempt to describe in detail what would be an American culture disposed to
a truly Catholic, as distinct from bourgeois, Christianity. Its purpose has been only to suggest, in the name of Ratzinger's understanding of Catholic Christianity, what would be the sources and principles of a culture so disposed, and in what its dispositions would primarily consist. Likewise, the present article has made no effort to engage the work of the two Catholic thinkers to whom Weigel appeals in the course of his argument: Jacques Maritain and John Courtney Murray. The criticism of the article is meant to extend only to Weigel and the way he appropriates the thought of these men in support of his thesis. Whether and to what extent this criticism entails a criticism of their thought on its own terms is an important but distinct and thus further question. In conclusion, then, I recapitulate the features of a culture which would be disposed to Catholic Christianity, and the sources and principles from which these features are drawn. A culture disposed toward a truly Catholic Christianity, a Christianity of Ratzinger's Catholic-creedal sort, would be a culture just so far disposed, in Marcel's terms, first toward being as distinct from doing and having—or better, toward a doing and a having informed by the receptivity, inferiority, and responsiveness carried in (a Catholic-creedal understanding of) being. It would be a culture disposed, in Dawson's terms, toward an incarnational as distinct from an extroverted understanding of religion, hence a culture just so far disposed to let religion work into the fiber of its institutions. It would be a culture which in its various activities was prepared to take seriously the full implications of Mother Teresa's meaning when she insists that she is not a social worker, but a contemplative in the world.25 In a word, it would be a culture which gave priority to all that is implied in the ontological disposition of Mary when she utters her Fiat—in the ontological disposition, that is, which, on a Catholic-creedal reading, gathers up the essence of creatureliness. The sources and principles which I take to both found and shape the meaning of these dispositions are the following: (1) the Scriptural texts which indicate that Jesus Christ is a relation of unity with the Father; (2) the Scriptural texts which indicate that we, all of us, are, in and through Jesus
25 Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Life in the spirit: Reflections, meditations, prayers, ed. by Kathryn Spink (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983), p. 55.
David L. Schindler
Christ, also related to and united with the Father; (3) the text of the Creed of Nicaea which ontologizes Jesus' relation of unity with the Father; (4) finally, the texts from the Fathers of the Church which, consistently with the text of Nicaea, ontologize the relation and unity of all men with the Father in Jesus. These I take to be the primary sources for, and indeed already the primary principles of, what I have called Ratzinger's Catholic-creedal Christianity. It is thus these sources and principles which I take to inform first and most decisively any criticism by a creedal Catholic such as Ratzinger of any Christianity seen as defective, of any culture seen as bourgeois: in a word, of any Christianity or culture seen as selfish and individualistic. It is in the light of these sources and principles, then, that I am led in conclusion to restate what I suggested at the outset: namely, that the problem with respect to Weigel's defense and Ratzinger's criticism of American Christianity rests first of all not with Ratzinger's supposed tacit understanding of the Founding Documents of America; the problem rests on the contrary with Weigel's tacit understanding of the Founding Documents of Christianity. •
Retrieving the Tradition Abbyssus abyssum invocat
Henri de Lubac
The soul's habitual knowledge of itself can become the principle of an intimate process of reflection enabling it to recognize its reality as 'image'.
Was Moses right, or Xenophanes? Did God make man in his image, or is it not rather man who has made God in his? Appearances, certainly, are on the side of Xenophanes—yet it is Moses who is right. And at bottom Xenophanes agrees. For they are not speaking of the same God, or of the same image; which is why the argument seems unending. In fact, Xenophanes has no intention of denying the divinity; on the contrary, his purpose is to recall man to the divine when he loses himself among the gods he has fashioned.1 In this the Christian can only approve2 the "intellectual revolutionary," and reckon him among those who have "blazed a trail" to the truth. 3 His contempt for anthropomor-
^ h a r l e s Renouvier has accurately seen the bearing of the critique of Xenophanes, but, conforming to his constant thesis, he regrets it as derogating from the one real God, the finite and anthropomorphic God. Histoire et solution des problemes m6tavhy.siq.ues, p. 15; Philosophic analytique de Vhistoire, 1.1 (1896), p. 447. 2 As does Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 7Am r e theology of Xenophanes, says Werner Jaeger, "springs from an immediate sense of awe at the sublimity of the Divine. It is a feeling of
Communio 14 (Fall, 1987). © 1987 by Communio: International Catholic Review