Constantly Risking Absurdity
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Terry Eagleton on the Pope

This is the strongest criticism I've read about the pope so far:

"He was one of the greatest disasters for the Christian church since Charles Darwin."

Sheesh! But did Charles Darwin really wreak havoc on the Christian church? I mean, really? Who did we lose, besides a few Victorian intellectuals, and my brilliant friend, Andy? On the other hand, I guess Darwin is responsible for spawning all those fundamentalist creationist books...

Eagleton's hatred is a bit dissapointing, especially since Paul J. Griffiths last summer wrote such a compelling essay comparing John Paul's critique of capitalism to Eagleton's own. Look at this:

"Eagleton identifies capitalism and liberalism as the main enemies of this way of understanding ourselves. Capitalism is committed, in his opinion, to the idea that humans are infinitely plastic, that our appetites can be shaped into ever-new forms without constraint by nature. The market requires such a view so that it can educate our desires into inexhaustibly new patterns of need and consumption. And liberalism is the enemy of virtue-theory, he thinks, because of its subjectivism and its tendency to be unable to commit itself to anything other than a formal set of constraints upon what human beings should do. Capitalism and liberalism are among Marxism’s traditional enemies. But as so conceived they are also, in considerable part, the enemies of Catholicism. Pope John Paul II’s objections to the empty formalism of successive drafts of the prolegomenon to the European Union’s Constitution are in essence the same as Eagleton’s objections to liberalism; and the critique of unconstrained capitalism found in such papal encyclicals as Rerum Novarum or Centesimus Annus would not be out of place in the pages of After Theory."

I wonder if Eagleton knows about this--he used to be Catholic. "The path from the Tridentine creed to Trotskyism is shorter than it seems,” he wrote. His Catholic upbringing made it easier, he has said, to reject classical liberalism and capitalism. But apparently he had no love for the late Holy Father.


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The intimations of a mild-mannered Paraguayan undergraduate, studying Eng. Lit. and philosophy in a small, midwestern Jesuit college.

Email Me: constantlyrisking [at] yahoo [dot] com


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