Our Deeper Task, by Stephen P. White

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*Image: Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, a copy of a lost original by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1560 [Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium]. In his 1938 poem, “Musée des Beaux Arts” (as the museum was then known), W.H. Auden wrote in the last stanza: In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

By Stephen P. White, The Catholic Thing, June 25, 2020

Stephen P. White is executive director of The Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America and a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


Stephen P. WhiteA spirit of Gnosticism has been sweeping our nation. It proclaims that a person is whoever or whatever that person claims to be. At the same time, a similar spirit (or is it the same spirit?) strives to wring from America a forced confession: that this country’s “true identity” can and must only be found in the very worst version of itself. We are expected to believe – indeed, to profess – that the identity of an individual is infinitely malleable and plastic, but that the nation’s identity was irrevocably set in stone in 1619 (when, according to the New York Times’ 1619 Project, the first slaves arrived and the country was, on that basis, founded).

There are those who cannot sin, and those who can never be forgiven.

This perversion arises from, and affects, how we Americans address the most basic political question: How ought we to order our lives together? Looking around these days, I am not sure most of us even understand the question. Our arguments on that question run up against the increasingly evident fact that there exists among us no fundamental agreement about who and what we are. Our malignant politics are a consequence of our deep confusion about human nature. …

Read more here:  https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2020/06/25/our-deeper-task/