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Friday, December 12, 2008


Ed Peters

"I suppose that Cardinal Dulles' comments about feelings and ideas might put off some people."

Maybe so, but I quite understand where he's coming from. It describes me. Granted, I've come in the last several years to apprecaite the intellectual rigor that at least some "feelings" people bring to their Faith, so I don't overlook it like I used to, but they are, it appears, not typical of the class, and in any case, it not's me. I reserve my "feelings" for folks who think truth is measured by feelings.

One thought on "One's first reaction as a Catholic is to agree with the official teaching of the church." Coming from Dulles, it's a safe enough comment. But I would have phrased it "One's first reaction as a Catholic is to agree with the official teaching of the church, as is one's second reaction, and one's third, and so on, until one gets to a level of inquiry that Newman himself might countenance." fwiw.

American Phoenix

Ed, it also describes me. My natural inclination is always to be suspicious of the emotionalism that so permeates our culture these days. My reversion was more a matter of being convinced that our Catholic faith contains the fullness of truth. I became an attorney because truth is attractive.

May God bless Cardinal Dulles. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord; and may Your perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.


I am very, very glad I read the response of Cardinal Dulles to the first question. I am somewhat of a "revert" to the faith myself, and I got there mainly through reading Lewis, Chesterton, Tolkien, Newman, John Paul II, and others. I have often been disturbed about whether my near absence of any religious emotions indicated some sort of problem I had. Now that I know that such an orthodox Catholic like Cardinal Dulles too had the same mental dispositions, I can be relieved that there's nothing seriously wrong with me, after all!

Raymond Barry

Why are ideas not thought of as spiritual- that is, spiritual as opposed to material. Feelings are far more closely tied to the material world which we perceive through the senses. But where do ideas come from, if not from the realm of the spirit?


WOW! I think hell just froze over. No offense, American Phoenix, but an attorney attracted to truth!!!! I did not think it possible.


"I became an attorney because truth is attractive."

Funny, I quit being an attorney because truth is attractive!

Ed Peters

A lot of people quit being lawyers because they love the law.

American Phoenix

Gentlemen, enough with the attorney jokes! Yes, truth IS attractive! Truth is attractive because it's both good and beautiful at the same time. It can't help but be so. Our lives here on earth, including our professional lives, will never be perfect but they are infinitely perfectible. So we have a lot of work to do and it won't be done sitting on the sidelines. Though perhaps I should have become a canon lawyer like Ed Peters.

Ed Peters

Who's joking? :)

Actually, I'm credentialed in both systems, you know. Like you guys, I know many civil lawyers who have dropped out of practice because of their (genuine) disillusionment with the legal system. But that doesn't always mean they are sitting on the sidelines. They might indeed be trying to restore the philosophical and moral foundations that make law functional.

In the meantime, I know some killer lawyer jokes. But on 2nd thought, we'd better save those; this is a monitored board, you know.

Justin Nickelsen

It was with deep sadness that I learned of the death of Cardinal Dulles on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was first introduced to Dulles as an undergraduate student in theology who, like many, was assigned Models of the Church as one of my texts for Ecclesiology. Ever since, I have been impressed with Dulles’ ability to stay above the fray of theologian-status-dichotomies: “liberal”, “conservative”, “progressive”, “traditionalist”. Better: “brilliant theologian” and “faithful son of the Church”—an unfortunately rare combination, especially in the English speaking world.

May he rest in peace…

Justin Nickelsen
NouvellTheologie (at) Hotmail (dot) com


Fascicnating all. Dulles was a gift to the Church, in the end. But I am struck that there is no mention of his earliy and important affiliation with -- and admiration for -- Fr. Feeney (a modern embrrassment, it seems), given the way their two lives so vivfied differing trajectories post- Vatican II. Readers ought to read Dulles' obit for Feeney in America Magazine, and compare it with his own prose in the book 'The New World of Faith.' Such a comparison suggests what has been lost in a generation.


"...I've never had any great taste for what's called spirituality. I think it deals so much with emotions and feelings. I don't have many emotions or feelings."

I am not sure that I understand this quote, so I readily admit I may be on the wrong track with my comments. However, clearly, the Church has a theology of spirituality that is not based on emotions and feelings. I need not rehearse the litany of saints whose names are associated with this spiritual legacy the Church presents to us.

I tend not to have too many emotions or feelings either, but I do not consider that normal and am not sure anyone else should either. Rather, maybe our disposition should be that we are wounded and need healing in this facet of our lives, regardless of the objective truth we know. Jesus Christ did not become man simply to redeem our minds. The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament are packed with good feelings and emotions! Rejoice!

Yes, I am orthodox, a loyal son of the Church and a devout Catholic, not a relativist driven by feelings. However, feelings are not bad things if they do not obscure the objective truth, and amazingly, those same feelings can bring insight into truth and even provide a greater substantiation of the very truth the Church defends! If you doubt this, you might ask a devout Catholic who knows and teaches great literature.

Ed Peters

Joe, most of us have had the experience of liking someone in our youth, quite genuinely, who later turned out to be, well, less likable. nbd. But that AD has long been on to the salvation question in general is not suprising at all. The last talk I heard him give, just a couple years back, is exactly on this point. Eschatology is making a long over-due come back, boys! Time to get those classic manuals out, as the moderns (pace AD, and Ralph Martin) have next to nothing useful to say about it.

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