Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Matt EmersonMay 15, 2014
Saint Augustine and his mother Monica (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Ross Douthat is not the only New York Times writer to hit upon some very Catholic themes. David Brooks's recent column turns to St. Augustine to reflect upon the path to personal knowledge:

The highest rung on the stairway to understanding is intimacy. Our master-teacher here is Augustine. As he aged, Augustine came to reject those who thought they could understand others from some detached objective stance.

He came to believe that it take selfless love to truly know another person. Love is a form of knowing and being known. Affection motivates you to want to see everything about another. Empathy opens you up to absorb the good and the bad. Love impels you not just to observe, but to seek union — to think as another thinks and feel as another feels.

There is a tendency now, especially for those of us in the more affluent classes, to want to use education to make life more predictable, to seek control as the essential good, to emphasize data that masks the remorseless unpredictability of individual lives. But people engaged in direct contact with problems like teenage pregnancy are cured of those linear illusions. Those of us who work with data and for newspapers probably should be continually reminding ourselves to bow down before the knowledge of participation, to defer to the highest form of understanding, which is held by those who walk alongside others every day, who know the first names, who know the smells and fears.

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
David Pasinski
10 years 1 month ago
I placed David Brooks column on our refrigerator and read it to my older teens. He is the conservative this liberal most respects and that column is a classic. Thank you, David!
Matt Emerson
10 years 1 month ago

David, thanks for reading and reply. It's a good column indeed!

The latest from america

Major League Baseball is finally incorporating stats recorded by Negro League players as part of M.L.B.’s official record books.  
Michael O’BrienJune 18, 2024
The first provisional results for the European Parliament elections are announced at the European Parliament building in Brussels June 9, 2024. (OSV News photo/Piroschka van de Wouw, Reuters)
The elections results suggest that European states will set stricter policies on immigration, raising levels of despair among asylum seekers and hundreds of thousands of people living without official status across Europe.
Kevin HargadenJune 18, 2024
Ahead of Juneteenth, Gloria Purvis would like to see the Catholic Church lean into the question: “What is a theological response for making repair for the sin of racism?” The answer, she says, will require “wokeism.”
Christine LenahanJune 18, 2024
Pope Francis’ participation at the G7 summit was not only historic but revealed the high moral standing that the first Latin American pope has on the global stage.
Gerard O’ConnellJune 18, 2024