“Sins of the flesh, let us remember, are at the bottom of the scale. The Church says self-righteousness is at the top. Therefore, I’m in a lot better shape than…”
“You don’t see me disputing the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. There’s no intellectual tension, because I wouldn’t dream of demanding that the Church throw away her hard truths just to lie to me in hopes I’ll feel better about myself. I love the truth, not lies, and I know no one’s feelings are the basis of truth.”
We often translate “philosophy” as “love of wisdom.” But “philos sophia” could also be translated as “friend of wisdom,” or as “friending wisdom.” Thus, in the Greek tradition, the pursuit of truth defies some Kantian extra-existential bend of the mind. Friending another involves intimately binding oneself to the other, and sharing a life together. Believing in a “philosophy” transcends simple assent to certain assertions. It involves a mutual grafting of one’s life onto another’s. Philos involves intimacy, not simply distant recognition. Friendship doesn’t simply involve knowing an address, but showing up for dinner.
“Believing” a philosophy is a matter of living, rather than asserting. Likewise, in Matthew 21’s parable of the two sons, the son who did the father’s will was actually the son who said he wouldn’t, while the son who said he would and didn’t do so defied his father.
My life weaves a worldview. It brings a world into existence and writes a philosophy onto the landscape of history. In my life, I reveal to myself my beliefs, even those I may hide from myself through contrary words. Repentance is not simply an oral formula, but a way of life. The son who did the father’s will was not simply the one who asserted repentance, but the one who was “moved by repentance.”
What good is “the Gospel” if its life does not radiate from my personhood? How could I expect to convince another of “the Good News” if it’s not powerful enough to move me? What good does it do to assert a “culture of life” while promoting a culture of death through the way I live out my relationships, my career, and my sexuality?
My philosophy is the life I live.
28 But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went. 30 And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering, said: I go, Sir; and he went not. 31 Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.
Addendum: Some scattered thoughts on Milo’s effectiveness:
I think he likes to fashion himself as a kind of Augustine, but the tone of his writing betrays him. I think one of his most revealing lines was: “Sins of the flesh, let us remember, are at the bottom of the scale. The Church says self-righteousness is at the top. Therefore, I’m in a lot better shape than…” He postures towards a humility that would place him in the category of “make me chaste, just not yet,” but the second part of the statement reveals it’s just that: posturing. In reality, he thinks very highly of himself. He says, “I wouldn’t dream of demanding that the Church throw away her hard truths just to lie to me in hopes I’ll feel better about myself.” But in reality, this is what every sinner does in sinning: throwing away the “truths” of the Church in order to accommodate a different reality we’d rather dwell in. I’d certainly like for him to be a “work in progress,” but he doesn’t seem to show any kind of indication that he wants to do any “work” at all.
And I think this is why he’s so effective as a culture warrior. He knows certain phrases/ideas to throw around (like Augustine), so that he can posture towards an image of himself as Catholic prophet and saint-to-be, when in reality he relies on man’s basest emotions (sex, anger, self-aggrandizement) in order to gain celebrity, much like the advertising industry. And he advertises a product he doesn’t appear to use himself.