Sunday, August 07, 2005

Apologia Pro Vita Sua (50-57)

"Here I make a remark: persistence in a given belief is no sufficient test of its truth; but departure from it is a least a slur upon the man who has felt so certain about it " (50).

The first half of the phrase is the most resonant to me. In these polarized days, I feel like I see, more and more, the inability to argue for truth in any other way except to point to how vehemently a belief is held or how long it has been held.

"But in 1827 I accepted eagerly the stanza in the Christian Year, which many people thought too charitable, 'Speak gently of thy sister's fall'" (53).

Wow. May people think too charitable indeed. I can think of very few people in my public or private acquaintance who strive to speak gently about much of anything, least of all another's fall. And by speaking gently I don't mean equivocating. This word is a strong one. It bears thinking upon and trying to put into practice. It may not always lead to reconciliation with the person or object of one's disagreement as it did in Newman's case, but surely it leaves open greater avenues and possibilities for this to happen than does the hardening that comes with always speaking and thinking so uncharitably.

No comments: