Faith & Reason: November 2012 Archives

I hate Jesuitism. Perhaps you do too. We stand in good company with Nietzsche and of course with Jesuit Father James Schall.

Full disclosure: I love Father Schall's work. I love Nietzsche. Both get things correct. It may be surprising that someone as "crazy" as Nietzsche would interest me, or even Catholics. Several years ago I began to believe, after reading another Jesuit's use of Nietzsche's thought in one of his essays that we Christians need to take this man seriously. Whether you agreed with the philosopher and Schall is unimportant. What is crucial is that your horizons are stretched and forced to clarify and verify what we know to be true. Nietzsche means to be provocative, even nasty, but to dismiss him is wrongheaded.

Father Schall published an essay "On the Art of Jesuitism" looking at Nietzsche's experience of Jesuits and their approach. You will be challenged in what both philosophers have to say.

Father James V. Schall, SJ, is a professor at Georgetown University and a well-published author. Father Schall is due to retire from GU.
In recent years, we have seen a significant interest in teaching the faith more authentically, but also we've become more attentive to answering the real questions believers and unbelievers have. With the Year of Faith fully engaged now, I think we need to attend to three unavoidable questions whether we are teaching teens, adults, or expanding the horizons of our faith and understanding of the cosmos we live in.

There are no easy answers in proposing the Christian faith to others, especially to teens. Do you want pablum when considering real questions?

The front page of today's New Haven Register carried an article by Jordan Fenster, "Right-to-die bill may be discussed by legislature" by which the citizens of Connecticut were alerted to the possibility that in the next session of the legislature the question of assisted suicide will be on the table. Following the defeat of Massachusetts ballot on the same subject last week, the contagion is now again flowing south. Already three US states, Oregon, Montana and Washington, allow for physician assisted suicide. 34 states prohibit lethal doses of medication that would end human life.

Let me say from the outset, this is not a Catholic issue. Persons of belief and unbelief ought to be concerned about the potential passing of a law that legalizes medically induced suicide. Hence, this is not a conservative issue. This is not a an anti-human dignity issue. It is just the opposite: this is a human issue. Who we are a human beings, and how we teach each other is a human issue that is informed by what we believe and how we behave. Committing this legislative error is a problem of education. Recall that in the past when a similar bill was brought to the CT voters it failed only 51-49%.

Several weeks ago there appeared in the New York Times an intriguing OP-ED article that I believe we need to seriously consider in the discussion of physician assisted suicide. Considering voices that differ from ours need to be thoughtfully taken into account because we are people use who reason to frame our moral lives. We can't simply dismiss the other and therefore I appeal to people of belief and unbelief to reasonably discuss what's at stake. When we rush the discuss without fact we always get burned.

In my opinion not enough attention has been devoted to considering how this legislation has been lived out in this country and in others, nor have we considered the philosophical, theological, sociological and human consequences of such an act. Most often our heart-strings are pulled, even stretched leading us to decide weighty matters without due attention to the reality in front of us --to the person and people and intimately connected with life and death issues. We also don't always adequately consider the eternal consequences of killing someone before natural death happens. 

Who's life are we "making dignified" by engaging death before it's naturally presented? What really is human dignity? What does it mean to be truly a man or a woman in relationship with other men and women here-and-now, and following death? To what extent does fear, anxiety and perceived suffering dictate how we think and act toward others? Are we sufficiently aware of and sensitive to the difference between ideology and being a person, no matter how debilitated?

Here is Ben Mattlin's October 31, 2012 New York Times article published online.

Suicide by Choice? Not So Fast

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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This page is a archive of entries in the Faith & Reason category from November 2012.

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