All right, Ive finished, at last, a serious read through the new encyclical Caritas in Veritate , recordingfor my own edification, though probably no one elsesthe first thoughts that occurred to me along the way. For what theyre worth, here the ten posts are:
Time now for me to try some second thoughts. What does the encyclical move me to consider that I had failed to consider before? What does respect for Joseph Ratzingers great theological mind force me to rethink? What does respect for Pope Benedict XVIs papal authority demand that I rephrase and reform? What is new in Caritas in Veritate ? And how must I, as a result of its promulgation, change my life?
This, by the way, is how I think encyclicals should be read. If you dont engage the text, determining exactly where it strains you as a reader and believer and thinker, then assent is meaningless.
Much of the commentarysliding, alas, down the greasy and typical old lines of liberals vs. conservatives and quick to shout at its opponentshas failed, I think, to read the text seriously.
But there it is: The division between left and right is real, and it wont be overcome merely by saying that it shouldnt exist. At a quick glance, Id say that the tendency to politicize the text has been much worse on the left than the right: Among the many whove decided this is an occasion to swipe at economic and social conservatives, where is any admission that part of the material in the text forces them to rethink some of their own commitments?
Maybe Im wrongId welcome correction on the pointbut it looks as though, in the innumerable comments that say theres something in the encyclical to displease both conservatives and liberals, the turn is always then to say that therefore conservatives were wrong and must change. Ive seen nothing saying that therefore liberals must also change.
Ah, well, the claim that we should rise above politics occurs in a political context, and, whatever the beyondists say , theres no easy way out of that. Witness my own inability to avoid snarling back here against those whove snarled at me about this encyclical.
Anyway, coming soon: Second Thoughts on Caritas in Veritate .