Winds Of Doctrine eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Winds Of Doctrine.
the sport of cruder powers—­vested interests, tribal passions, stock sentiments, and chance majorities.  Having no responsibility laid upon it, reason has become irresponsible.  Many critics and philosophers seem to conceive that thinking aloud is itself literature.  Sometimes reason tries to lend some moral authority to its present masters, by proving how superior they are to itself; it worships evolution, instinct, novelty, action, as it does in modernism, pragmatism, and the philosophy of M. Bergson.  At other times it retires into the freehold of those temperaments whom this world has ostracised, the region of the non-existent, and comforts itself with its indubitable conquests there.  This happened earlier to the romanticists (in a way which I have tried to describe in the subjoined paper on Shelley) although their poetic and political illusions did not suffer them to perceive it.  It is happening now, after disillusion, to some radicals and mathematicians like Mr. Bertrand Russell, and to others of us who, perhaps without being mathematicians or even radicals, feel that the sphere of what happens to exist is too alien and accidental to absorb all the play of a free mind, whose function, after it has come to clearness and made its peace with things, is to touch them with its own moral and intellectual light, and to exist for its own sake.

These are but gusts of doctrine; yet they prove that the spirit is not dead in the lull between its seasons of steady blowing.  Who knows which of them may not gather force presently and carry the mind of the coming age steadily before it?

II

MODERNISM AND CHRISTIANITY

Prevalent winds of doctrine must needs penetrate at last into the cloister.  Social instability and moral confusion, reconstructions of history and efforts after reform, are things characteristic of the present age; and under the name of modernism they have made their appearance even in that institution which is constitutionally the most stable, of most explicit mind, least inclined to revise its collective memory or established usages—­I mean the Catholic church.  Even after this church was constituted by the fusion of many influences and by the gradual exclusion of those heresies—­some of them older than explicit orthodoxy—­which seemed to misrepresent its implications or spirit, there still remained an inevitable propensity among Catholics to share the moods of their respective ages and countries, and to reconcile them if possible with their professed faith.  Often these cross influences were so strong that the profession of faith was changed frankly to suit them, and Catholicism was openly abandoned; but even where this did not occur we may detect in the Catholic minds of each age some strange conjunctions and compromises with the Zeitgeist.  Thus the morality of chivalry and war, the ideals of foppishness and honour, have been long maintained side by side

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Winds Of Doctrine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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