Saturday, February 26, 2011

Truth-Seekers vs. Open-Minded Cowards

Wow. Archbishop Sheen has such a way of nailing it on really relevant topics! I've often wondered why "openness of mind" seems such an oft-idolized, twisted concept. Here we have the distinction between a necessary open mind and a narcissistic one.

The open mind is commendable when it is like a road that leads to a city, but the open mind is condemnable when it is like an abyss.

Those who boast of their open-mindedness are invariably those who love to search for truth but not to find it; they love the chase but not the capture; they admire the footprints of truth, but not catching up with it. They go through life talking about “widening the horizons of truth” without ever seeing the sun. Truth brings with it grave responsibilities; that is why so many keep their hands open to welcome it but never close them to grasp it.

The real thinker who is willing to embrace a truth at all costs generally has a double price to pay—first, isolation from popular opinion. For example, anyone who arrives at the moral conclusion that divorce prepares the way for civilization’s breakdown must be prepared to be ostracized by the Herods and Salomes of this world.

Nonconformity with popular opinion can be expected to bring down opposition and ridicule upon the offender’s head.

Second, those who discover a truth must stand naked before the uplifted stroke of its duties or else take up the cross that it imposes. Those two effects of embracing truth make many people fearful. In their cowardice, they keep their minds “open” so they will never have to close on anything that would entail responsibility, duty, moral correction or altered behavior.

The “open mind” does not want truth for truth implies obligation, which predicates responsibility, and responsibility is the only thing the “open mind” is most eager to avoid. Avoiding responsibility only results in the abdication of one’s free will to another, whether it be to an ideology or to a director. The only real solution is for those with “open minds” to grasp truth, even though it does involve a change in behavior, for ultimately it is only truth that can make them free.
—Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Way to Inner Peace (New York: Alba House Publishers, 1994)

7 comments:

Megan Stepniewski said...

What an excellent post! I absolutely love Fulton J. Sheen!! A quote to complement your post:
"Keep your mind wide open, but not so much so that gray matter spills forth."

Young Mom said...

I have no real problem with choosing to grasp what I believe to be truth and commiting to the obligations that entails. I do have a problem with being forced to see everyone else who has not grasped my version of truth as misled and wrong. I cannot dictate change in other people's behavior, or judge them for not coming to the same conclusion that I have. (Although it is that hardest for me to not be judgemental and harsh when it comes to harsh and judgemental religious people :)

Claire said...

Megan: Wow. Is that quote from him too, or someone else?

Young Mom: Another reason I'm grateful to be Catholic...truth isn't about just my own personal conclusions or "how I see it", but is what is provided by Christ through Mother Church! :) Like a good mom She is there to help us sort through this thing called life and help us differentiate between actual goodness, or falsehood twisted to merely appear good.

Young Mom said...

And that would be a powerful feeling to have that understanding. But even if the Catholic Church is %100 percent correct, (as so many people believe it is, and so many apologists have saught to prove) that still does not mean that we should judge or marginalize those who have not yet come to that conclusion. I get so tired of watching christians judge not only non-christians, but also fellow christians and catholics. Why do I come across catholic bloggers who leave nasty comments on blogs of gay non-catholic people? Or highly followed and respected catholic bloggers who write posts practically wishing that every priest born before 1970 would die ASAP as well as calling priests names for being too "feminine" or to "compassionate" and not attack dog enough. I'm tired of the religious elitism, and sometimes I think that quotes like this one you just posted can be used badly and out of context to beat people over the head because they don't subscribe to "the truth".

Anonymous said...

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of it's victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep. His cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -C.S. Lewis

Anonymous said...

See Matthew 15 (8-9)
Opposition to popular opinion has nothing to do with why ridicule is brought upon some Christians. It is their Judgement upon others that brings animosity.
It is possible to hold true all of the teachings of the Catholic Church, and live what you believe without making others feel as if you are holier than they are. The only thing is, you actually have to believe that you aren't holier than they are.

Michelle said...

Hi, I found your blog from a link on Catholic Exchange's website. I am excited to add it to my list of blogs I read. I am a young Catholic mother of a little boy (almost 5) and a little girl (just turned 1.) The issues working against parents today to raise pure, chaste children are numerous, but I am excited to see an ever-growing movement among young adults (such as yourself) to help create a culture of light and life. I'm adding your blog to my list of blogs I follow! Thanks for your thoughts!

This is a great analysis of "open-mindedness" by the way. Love Archbishop Sheen!