Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Recommendation: On Inoculating Moral Philosophy Against God by John M. Rist

Published by Marquette University Press in 2000, this small book (100 pages), authored by Professor John M. Rist, is the Aquinas Lecture he delivered at Marquette in 2000.  Here are excerpts from his concluding remarks:
To leave the intellectual ghetto does not mean cutting ourselves off from our intellectual roots. There is nothing more ludicrous than the Christian who, despising the Eurocentrism which some wrongly malign in his religion, engages in high-minded dialogue with exponents of other traditions without any serious knowledge of his own. In the eyes of the more honourable members of such other traditions (including the tradition of secularism) such Christians are merely sad, to the more cynical they are useful idiots.
Instead of courage in moral debate (as in moral practice), there is always the possibility of going along.... And that going along can be rationalized. If I do not get this [academic] appointment because I am counter-cultural (and Christianity is counter-cultural in our world, as in Augustine's, though not in that of Aquinas), someone much worse, from the Christian point of view, will be appointed.... I should conclude by noticing that all one is asking of the theist is that he not compromise the truth about ethics as the price of apparent success, intellectual or other. Stubbornness in itself is no virtue; knowing what cannot be compromised in a hostile environment certainly is. Otherwise Socrates would not have drunk hemlock, Thomas More would not have lost his head, and Jesus would not have been crucified. (pages 99-100)

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