Something wicked this way comes.
I’ve been thinking for some time about how to tackle the above video. It shows a case of violence done by some pro-choicers against some pro-lifer’s passively praying with arms linked to protect the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
A part of me wanted to tie it into Marina Abramovic‘s performance art, and how much violence will be shown to those who are passive. Part of me wanted to talk about how there were more martyrs for the faith in the 20th Century than in all the previous ones combined. But then a most wonderful thing happened: someone read my post on Celibacy! So readers, please go read his piece.
The connection between that piece and the above video is at first obscure. However, at their core, both deal with emotion. The excessively capitalized “Bollocks”, the refusal to accept the science that priests are less likely to offend, and so forth point to how heavily the head is influencing the heart. It culminates in the unsubstantiated claim that if a strait man doesn’t have sex often enough, he’ll abuse a little boy (so married women, don’t go on vacation; or when you get back you’ll find your husband has turned into a pedophile!). All these mesh seamlessly with the chanting and assaulting mob from the video. Their hearts are on fire for a cause, and they will stop at neither decency or reasonability to reach their end.
I tend to write from the head, and this commenter on me wrote from the heart. These two ways, head and heart, have been at war for a long time. In doing research for my recent multi-part piece, I found that after the Scholastics came on the scene to dive to incredible intellectual depths, the first humanists became their counterpart and plumbed the heart. The Franciscans appear to have played a large part in this, but other groups like the Beguines and Beghards also contributed to the movement.
At root, the idea of this early humanism is that you don’t win someone’s heart by engaging in logic with their head. It’s why I blog to help myself understand issues and not to convert souls. Conversion won’t happen from reading me, but from my shedding my life to help those in need; which is an appeal to someone’s heart rather than head.
Here is a great article from the superb blog You Are Not So Smart, which touches on why heads are so hard to change, and why logical arguments are so easy to dismiss. Here is another. I’ve even read that our brains literally shut blood flow to our reasoning center when we read something that doesn’t agree with our preconceived notions (sadly, I cannot find the source).
From all that, I think both the critique of my post as well as the video do an excellent job at rhetoric. The rhetoric is so entrenched in the world that no one wants to be the gal to defend priests, no one wants to be the guy defending churchs. The rhetoric makes us want to belong. We don’t want “Bollocks” yelled at us, we don’t want people spraying us with chemicals. No, we want to be loved and to belong.
The standing tension between head and heart will probably always exist, though some are more immune to one or the other.
In the long term though, each person has both head and heart. To understand theology and pass it along, we need good logic as well as good rhetoric. A merging must occur between the scholastics and the humanists to more fully express the faith. Maybe one day I can be part of that merging process. Until then, enjoy the dichotomy between my posts and posts like my commenter made.