HOW TO USE CHAPTERS
5 - 7
the process of asking better questions, making higher-quality mistakes,
then -- at best -- all this book can really 'prove' is that Fr. Keefe makes
better mistakes than you.
For all its learning and scope, then, Covenantal Theology is a
remarkably unpretentious book, because it is a book that thoroughly
believes that it is constantly making mistakes, and seeks only to make
better ones than had previously been possible.
However, if I were forced to choose one word that generally
describes the modern university, 'unpretentious' wouldn't be it. Chapter
6 uses some of Fr. Keefe's language to discuss some present day
Catholic academics whose current intellectual commitments virtually
require them not only to say and do silly things, but also to assume a
very 'serious' and 'grown-up' demeanor as they do so.
People can be of mixed minds about academics and what they do.
Some people think that scientists and other academics do things that
are automatically irrelevant to daily life. Other people appear to
believe that scientists and other academics automatically do serious
and important work.
Both of these ideas are wrong, of course. Many academics take
themselves very seriously, but actually spend their time doing things
that are just silly, if you think about it even for five seconds. Perhaps
unbeknownst to you, the very large majority of 'professional' Catholic
academics in our finest Catholic universities are, as we speak, doing
amazingly silly things, and considering every one of those things to be
incredibly serious and important. Chapter 6 is about them.
Chapter 5, on the other hand, is deadly serious. It is intended to be
shocking and confrontational. There is little chance at this point that
you understand just how new-but-old Fr. Keefe's ideas are. Catholic
theology's present old-but-old ideas are familiar but wrong.
Encountering Mr. Marvin Minsky's truly serious and truly modern
challenge to "freedom of the human will" may help you realize this.
Mr. Minsky gives a very eloquent modern representation of the
paradigm discussed in Chapters 1 - 4. Lots of other serious modern
people think Mr. Minsky's thoughts -- just not as well as he does. Read
what he says carefully -- and prepare to be shocked.
For what Fr. Keefe might say to Mr. Minsky (if they ever met) is
not at all what present day Catholic theologians would say. In fact,
present day Catholic theologians can not answer Mr. Minsky in any
intellectually respectable way. My point in Chapter 5 is to show you
that Fr. Keefe is right: present day Catholic theology can give no
coherent response to the ideas of people like Mr. Minsky, but
Catholicism itself always has and always will give the only response a
Catholic can give.
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.