What Are Catholics To Do? | James Kalb | Catholic World Report
We can offer the world something only if we maintain what we have to offer.
The world goes its own way without much regard for the Church, because it has very little regard for truth—that is to say, for reality.
The problems go to the roots of current ways of thinking. The modern movement of thought began as an attempt to attain security and certainty by emphasizing what is practical and by imposing strict standards of evidence. That meant tossing out quite a lot: tradition, revelation, and the insight into natural forms and functions—and their connection to permanent human concerns—that lies behind our understanding of natural moral law.
People wanted to be scientific, and that meant rejecting many normal ways of thinking. They hoped the result would be knowledge that was exact, reliable, and useful, and modern natural science has indeed given us amazing advances in medicine and weaponry. Modern forms of organizing society, such as the modern state and the business corporation, have also proved immensely effective in important ways.
There have also been other results, the most notable of which is the reduction of all seriously-considered human concerns to technology and desire. After all, if higher goods and ultimate truths can’t be measured or produced to order, and it seems we can get by without them by figuring out how to give people what they want, then why not simplify matters and forget about them?
That’s what’s happened in our public life. Everybody who matters is a secularist today, and the situation has far-reaching implications. One is that educated and well-placed people now believe that the institutions on which social order is based should be technically expert, economically rational, morally nonjudgmental, and universal in their reach. So the world should be ordered comprehensively by global markets and expert regulatory bureaucracies, together with subsidiary institutions such as universities, think tanks, media organizations, and various NGOs that serve or try to influence government and business. That, it is thought, is the uniquely rational way of organizing society, and whatever threatens it, or attempts to limit it or introduce other authorities, is irrational, disruptive, and a threat to humanity.