Why So Much About Just War?

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I share this bit of correspondence I wrote to a blog-friend:

I realize that one of the reasons I obsess about certain things (homosexual civil unions and war) is that they represent very theoretical very distant things that I'm never likely to do anything about to really sin anyway. It effectively takes my mind off of the more pressing sins that I commit by the dozen without giving it two thoughts. I can agonize at length about the theory and never really have to put it into practice, whereas if I did that for real temptations, I might be provoked to change.


But to give myself credit as well--one of the reason for obsession is to come to terms with Church teaching as it really is, not as I would have it be. Sometimes I have to hit my head against that stone over and over again before I can crack open my mind enough to let in a new conception or a new nuance. Ah, to be like Bernadette. But then Jesus warned us, "To whom much is given, much is expected in return."

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The following excerpt from Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet is an illustration of the principle in its extreme, but the principle, if moderated, may be a wothwhile one:

“His (Sherlock Holmes’) ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it”

"’You see,’ he (Homes) explained, ‘I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.’

"’But the Solar System!’ I (Watson) protested.

"’What the deuce is it to me?’ he interrupted impatiently; ‘you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.’"



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 17, 2004 8:22 AM.

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