Br. Raymund Snider, O.P. makes a  Summa -style inquiry into whether the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas are “boring” —appropriately enough, given that yesterday was his feast day. Particularly charming is the argument from girth:

Objection 1:  It would seem that Thomas Aquinas is fittingly called boring. The works of Thomas are composed of impersonal statements and arguments, which are boring. Now, every agent acts in accordance with its nature to produce something like unto itself ( omne agens agit sibi simile ). Just as nothing can effect heat unless it is hot, so too no one can produce boring writings, unless he is boring. Hence it is seen that since Thomas’ works are boring, Thomas is fittingly called boring.

Objection 2:  Thomas Aquinas is well known to have been of considerable girth. A man possesses phlegmatic humor in proportion to his size. The more phlegmatic a man’s disposition, the more he is perceived as dull, wearisome, and uninteresting. Thus, as a result of his girth, Thomas is fittingly called boring.

Objection 3:  Those who are always correct in all things are annoying. Those who are annoying are also boring. Thus, Thomas, who is typically correct on account of the soundness of his reasoning and the brilliance of his intellect, is fittingly called boring.

In Four Cultures of the West , John W. O’Malley quarters the Christian intellectual and cultural inheritance into distinct modes of expression: 1) prophetic/verbal; 2) legal/rational; 3) humanistic/literary; and 4) performance/ritual. Unsurprisingly, “legal/rational” is the one he squarely marks out as Thomistic (and more broadly scholastic, even “academic”) territory.

Like all of the “cultures,” it must be approached with a certain language and cast of mind to be fully appreciated, lest inadequate charges like “boredom” begin to be heard. While I’ve always been more attracted to, and edified by, cultures three and four, as Br. Snider’s post subtly notes, a visceral dislike of any of these is often reflective only of a reader’s temperament.

h/t: Nicholas Frankovich

Articles by Matthew Cantirino


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