Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What wrong with the world?

I’m catching up on a bit of unfinished business. In his reaction to my review, Francis Beckwith made the following accusation:

“It seems that this well-meaning fellow has let his anger get the best of him.”


I, then, made the following point:

“And, of course, we could say that Beckwith let his own emotion get the best of him: ‘my return to the Catholic Church had as much to do with a yearning for a deeper spiritual life as it did with theological reasoning’(129).”

Beckwith then offered the following response:

“If I may come to your defense at this point, I think I can offer a substantive example of what you mean. Here is something from Mr. Hay's post…That quote from my book was lifted out of context and comes at the end after three chapters in which I explain the core of my journey to Catholicism. It is the part of the book in which I talk about my life now…Thus, the deeper spiritual life I spoke of in the book is connected to the theological views that I would eventually come to hold. There is no ‘spirituality’ trumps ‘theology’ meme here. It was a package deal, an organic whole, and one would understand it that way if one read and understood the over 100 pages that preceded the above paragraphs. Apparently, the one who lifted the quote did not read the book with charity or clarity.”


What are we to make of this charge?

1. First of all, he says, “Here is something from Mr. Hay's post.”

Unfortunately, the post he links to is not by me, but by Gene Bridges:


While that’s the sort of mistake anyone could make, it’s ironic to have someone accuse me of careless reading when he misattributes the source.

2. More to the point, did I quote him out of context? Here is what he originally said in his book: “Although it may be difficult to detect from much of what I have written in this book, my return to the Catholic Church had as much to do with a yearning for a deeper spiritual life as it did with theological reasoning” (129).

Notice that in the passage I quoted from his book, he draws a contrast between the reasons he gave in his book, and another motive which you could scarcely detect from reading his book.

In his response to me, however, he accuses me of quoting him out of context because I allegedly disregard 100+ pages of material in the preceding three chapters.

And yet, in the passage I quoted from his book, he admits that it would be difficult to detect this ulterior motive from what he put in his book. Therefore, the larger context of the book is irrelevant since, by his own admission, the larger context barely scratches the surface of this ulterior motive.

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