Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hard Heads and Soft Hearts

Our task as Christians today is to contribute our concept of God to the debate about man… God himself is Logos, the rational primal ground of all that is real, the creative reason that gave birth to the world and that is reflected in the world. God is Logos – meaning, reason, and word, and that is why man corresponds to God when his reason is open and he pleads the cause of a reason that is not allowed to be blind to the moral dimensions of existence.”

Values in a Time of Upheaval, 112

Reflection – G.K. Chesterton once said that we should strive to have hard heads and soft hearts. We need to be clear, disciplined thinkers, on the one hand, and tender merciful lovers, on the other. He went on to say that the modern world was characterized by soft heads and hard hearts—full of lots of sentimental guff and fuzzy headedness about ending suffering or caring about this or that vulnerable group—and the end result being heaps of corpses piled up to the heavens, a civilization steeped in blood and carnage.

‘Sentimentality leads to the gas chamber.’ I don’t remember right now who said that, but it is quite true. When we lose our hard heads—our sharp, clear, rigorous adherence to human dignity and rights and the absolute moral principles that flow from that rigor—we end up bathed in blood.

All of this is related to contributing ‘God to the debate about man’ which Ratzinger says is our task today. Of course the context in which he writes about this task is the field of political and cultural engagement. Hard heads and soft hearts, because God is both Logos (reason) and Love.

God enters in here necessarily for two reasons. First, as Creator He assures us that both our reason and our love, our hard heads and soft hearts, are grounded in the deepest reality. It is not just advisable or practical to think things through carefully; if we don’t, we have stepped outside of reality. It is not just ‘nice’ to be loving; to live without love is a living death. That both reason and love flow from the Center, Source, and Heart of reality establishes the deep necessity of these human actions.

Second, we need God’s help to be reasonable and loving! Sin darkens our intellect and warps our will back onto ourselves. God’s revelation establishes us in truth; His grace establishes us in love.

There’s much more to be said about all this, of course. My thoughts this week, though, are drawn (as my faithful readers may have noticed) to the March for Life in Ottawa this Thursday, and to the whole tragic situation of abortion in our society.

I find it difficult to write about abortion, you know, and rightly or wrongly tend not to ‘go there’ on this blog too often. The horror and utter evil of it makes it difficult to write about without descending to the level of less-than-helpful rant and screed.

In relation to this whole Logos business, it seems to me that legal, socially sanctioned abortion is safeguarded in Canada by a whole cloud of obfuscation, equivocation, euphemism, and smokescreen. At all costs we must keep the bare physical reality of what happens in an abortion from being made clear and plain. At all costs we must hide the reality of abortion behind closed doors and a conspiracy of silence.

This is why I consider the work of SilentNo More to be one of the most important pro-life initiatives out there. For women (and some men) to speak plainly and clearly about what they have experienced in their encounter with abortion, what happened to them, to their children—painful as this is, it is truth, and it must be expressed. I am very glad that they have become such central figures and leaders of the March for Life both in Canada and in the States.

God is Logos and God is Love. Truth and Love are one and indivisible. Hard heads and soft hearts are both needed to turn our society away from its ruinous course. We need to think clearly and love deeply—there are, literally, lives at stake.

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