Sunday, June 14, 2009

Subverting the Masters of Suspicion

Just a quick thought I had while flying today. I've been traveling a lot, so not much time to write.

Over the weekend I was at a Jesuit ordination, and it got me to thinking about religious life again and the meaning of the vows, especially in our age.

We live in an age still dominated by the Ricoeur dubbed Masters of Suspicion: Nietzsche, Marx, Freud. Though not modernists, each of them continued to argue that there is a subtextual meta-narrative capable of explaining every aspect of life. For Nietzsche: power. For Marx: money. For Freud: sex.

Religious life answers each of these three lords of our age with its vows.

Against Nietzsche: obedience. Obedience is not the destruction of the vital powers, but rather their release in freedom.

Against Marx: poverty. Voluntary poverty, in imitation of Christ and in solidarity with his poor.

Against Freud: chastity. The subtext of life is not sex but desire. Not sexual desire but personal desire. The religious lives this to the full, refusing Freud's reductive determinism, refusing to immanentize the eschaton.

Religious life is a hermeneutic of love founded in the person of Jesus Christ.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ