Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Pope's Talk on Faith and Reason

I finally got a chance to read the Holy Father's "controversial" talk given this week in Germany. Though I found it challenging reading in places, I found it to be a reflective and thoughtful consideration of the importance of faith and reason working in unison.

I appreciated in a particular way the Pope's references to God as 'logos' - which means both 'reason' and 'word'. I've had a personal affection for St. John the Evangelist and the opening of his gospel since I was a child. I remember in particular taking "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God" for my "confirmation quote" in eighth grade. I loved St. John for his faithfulness at the Passion and I found his words sensible and mysterious at the same time. The Pope offers them again as a reminder of the reasonableness of God and how this is essential to our Faith:

God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as “logos” and, as “logos,” has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is “logos.” Consequently, Christian worship is “spiritual” worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).

This talk offers an important message to our times for many reasons. One that strikes me in particular is that many Christians, reacting against the evils of modern culture and not necessarily well-educated in their faith, can be tempted to think it more godly to ignore reason and the workings of the intellect when it comes to matters of the faith. This is really just an opposite extreme from what we recognize as a modern error. It presents a dichotomy in life in which truths from different subjects are compartmentalized and seem incompatible with each other. In the end, it severely limits the impact of Faith on our lives. Faith shouldn't be limited to things which are overtly religious; faith is supposed to illuminate our entire lives and our way of thinking. Faith doesn't suppress the intellect - it works with all of God's gifts to us and helps us to live our lives more fully and in union with God.

I'm not going to go into the political controversy this has caused. There's enough of that in the news and in the Catholic blogsophere already. To me it just provides further indication that people need to read this text for themselves, though commentary would certainly be helpful. Here are a few things that flesh out parts of the speech and might be helpful in better understanding it.

"The Pope's Speech: Lending Islam a Hand to Avoid a Downward Spiral" by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ

"Faith and Reason" at Clairity's Place Also see: a post on the Vatican's clarification

Also see: What DOES Benedict think of Islam?


teresa said...

Hi, l2l mom, I found you through a link from another blog I read, and this is not related to your post, but I wanted to ask a question. I have your regular website bookmarked (have for awhile now) and I thought you may be able to lend some advice. I am looking for a phonics program, or something fr my 5 year old, and bought Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and that was a mistake. I really don't like it. I wanted to use the MODG curriculum, because I really like Berquist (even though her husband never gave me good grades!) and I would like to do a classical curriculum, but this does not seem to be the book for us. Have you used anything for beginning phonics that you have loved?

thanks so much,

Love2Learn Mom said...

Hi, Teresa.

What I've done is kind of complicated. I started with really simple Montessori ideas applied very informally (the best explanation I've seen is in Montessori Read and Write by Lynne Lawrence, though my first experiences were gleaned from some Montessori-trained teachers I knew). I went from there to 100 Easy Lessons which wasn't right for us (and it was an especially poor fit for my oldest for some reason). What I did was study the techniques and rules in The Writing Road to Reading and apply them in a very informal way with my daughter, especially as she was reading through the Bob Books. We did use the phonogram cards consistently until she knew them by heart. We moved from there to the Catholic National Readers (old readers reprinted from the 1890s). We did some follow-up in early grade school with MCP Phonics.

I've pretty much used the same materials with all the kids so far, adjusting it as needed. My six and eight year olds also enjoyed the CHC Phonics readers and a big book of Dick and Jane stories someone gave us.

I try to take things in a very unhurried way. I don't "require" anything until first grade (though I try to be available to feed interests beforehand and certainly make educational games and activities available). At that point I want them to go over the phonogram cards with me once each day and practice some reading each day.

Hope that helps some.