Friday, March 27, 2009

Getting the Areopagite cold shoulder

In a conversation this week, I was talking with a friend of mine about how closely American history seems to be mirroring that of ancient Rome.

Britain is our Greece, and we're in the middle of our "Roman Republic" period. While my fellow students of history should be able see the parallels without a side-by-side comparison, my interest, today, is not in the political parallels.

Instead, I have been drawn to consider the aspects of modern American spiritual life that seem to echo the culture of Rome (albeit later on, during the early principiate period).

Apparently, I'm not the only one who sees our current relativistic worldview similar to that of the ancient world.

The Archbishop of Denver, His Grace Charles Caput, compared our current situation as Christians in the United States with the Apostle Paul's trip to Athens, recounted in the Book of Acts:

The archbishop also connected this relativistic spirit to St. Paul’s appearance at the Aeropagus, recounted in the Book of Acts. At the Areopagus, a prestigious place of debate for Greek philosophers, "Nearly anything was tolerated, so long as no one claimed to have an exclusive and binding claim on the truth," the archbishop explained.

He then quoted Acts 17’s description of the Areopagite mindset: "All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new."

"It’s worth paying attention to that description. There’s no mention of truth," he commented, noting that when St. Paul preaches the truth "he’s mocked and despised and his preaching is a failure, at least in the short term."

"Paul’s failure at the Areopagus is a good lesson for the times we face now in America," the archbishop said. "When [Christians] start leading their daily lives without a hunger for something higher than their own ambitions or appetites, or with the idea that they can create their own truth and then baptize it with an appeal to personal conscience, they become, in practice, agnostics in their personal lives, and Sophists in their public lives. In fact, people who openly reject God or dismiss Christianity as obsolete are sometimes far more honest and far less discouraging than Catholics who claim to be faithful to the Church but directly reject her guidance by their words and actions."


More of His Grace, here.

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