Courtship fails, opinions?
#31
Apologies for the late reply. I haven't had a lot of free time lately.

(08-24-2014, 09:46 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote:
(08-24-2014, 05:52 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: I think the problem here is that the rules and practices governing interactions between the sexes always exist within a given social context. The whole courtship model is obviously not supported by the conditions of modern society, so those who promote it or seek to practice it end up relying on their own private judgment, which inevitably results in all kinds of craziness and unhealthy behavior. I think one can say similar things about those who try to promote the concept of chivalry in modern society. This goal is certainly admirable in its way, but it's silly to expect the concept to influence any large number of people when present material conditions do everything to discourage chivalrous behavior. Attempting to promote traditional practices and values in a piecemeal fashion simply won't work. Somehow, you've got to change the whole culture, or at least build a coherent alternative culture that doesn't finally end up in the dead end of private judgment and individual choice.

Also, I don't think we should be so quick to dismiss arranged marriages. Our modern preference for companionate marriages is really just a prejudice--though, of course, prejudice is not necessarily a bad thing--with no basis in reason or observation, and it has arguably done more to destroy the institution of marriage than anything else.

Isn't that something the Church do?

It's something the Church ought to do, but I think it's pretty obvious that much of the Church is devoted to compromise with the dominant culture. Just look at Cardinal Kasper's recent proposals regarding communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

(08-24-2014, 09:46 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Also, if a thing is in fashion or not in no way tells us what we should do. So, indeed, it doesn't really matter if chilvary is in fashion: this says nothing on what our attitude towards women should be. We might as well be the quixotesque figures we seem to be called to be.

I agree, of course. We just have to do what's right. I suppose I had more in mind those who talk about promoting chivalry within the broader culture. Telling young men to be chivalrous isn't going to have much effect when our whole system of social and material relations punishes that sort of behavior.

(08-24-2014, 09:46 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Also, I don't wish to debate MacIntyre, but I think he got this quite wrong: we do choose, to a certain extent, our communities. A Franciscan chose to be a Franciscan and not a Dominican, likewise a Benedictine chose to be a Benedictine and not something else. Even the origin of these communities teach us something about how one create practices and values. We are first called by Christ, and we choose respond to it: we choose to live the form of Christ, to live in the Church. To deny this is to make the Church the apparatus of power.

Good points. I suppose I would say that a Franciscan could only choose to be a Franciscan or a Benedictine a Benedictine because he was part of a community--the Church--in which those paths were available options. He could project himself onto those possibilities and look to various models of that sort of life in a way that was only possible for someone living within the community of Christians.

Of course, we can point to the creation of new communities and so forth, but even here, I'm not sure that we can really think of people "choosing" to be a part of these communities in the same way that, for instance, a modern religious consumer might choose to be a Baptist rather than a Presbyterian. Consider Christ's calling of the Disciples. I don't think He overrode their freewill or anything, but it's obvious that they were, in some sense, impelled to follow Him. Charisma and authority come into play here, I think, and so even in these foundational events, there is something that goes beyond choice. This also gets us close to the mystery of sovereignty.

Also, I think we have to consider the fact that the Church does practice infant baptism and things like that. Children born into the Church are, or at least are supposed to be, brought up in the Faith and inculcated with the habit of virtue. At some point, I suppose, there does need to be an authentic choice to make all of this one's own, but still, most Catholics throughout history, I think, did not really make an active choice to live in the Church, or at least they did not do so initially, and I don't really think we can say that people aren't real Christians until or unless they can make a choice free from external interference.

On the last point, I think the Church must have a complicated relationship with power, and I don't think we should see power as an inherently bad thing. After all, it's a creative force. There's an inherent fecundity to it. As Foucault puts it, "In fact, power produces; it produces reality."

(08-24-2014, 09:46 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Though I'm not against arranged marriage (my odds would be good with a girl of my social class, but, alas, I have to trust only in my charms), they also require a much more rigidly structured society, with clear families, etc. Sons and daughters of divorced parents (just to take one example of the problems one would face with arranged marriages today) would be in a tough spot.

Yes, I agree that arranged marriage wouldn't work in our society for a whole host of reasons. An attempt to implement something like it, I think, would probably lead to all sorts of unhealthy developments, which seems to be a problem with a lot of these movements, as noted in regard to the Christian patriarchy thing later in this thread. Still, I think arranged marriage has quite a lot to recommend it, so I don't think we should dismiss it as somehow being incompatible with Christianity or anything like that.
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