Keep your eyes and ears open for “lived reality” language

At Fishwrap there are a couple things today which exemplify the starting point of the Left.

First, I note a revealing comment by the Wile E. Coyote of the catholic Left. MSW wrote, inter alia, about the recent death of Charles Krauthammer:

Speaking of the state of conservatism, I cannot fail to note the death of Charles Krauthammer, the former speechwriter for Walter Mondale who became one of the leading conservative public intellectuals in our time. I knew Krauthammer from his days at The New Republic and always appreciated his intellectual rigor even when we reached wildly different conclusions, which happened often. There was a rigidity to his thought, an unwillingness to accept that ideas change, and must change, as they are applied to the real world, but he was no hypocrite as too many Washington, D.C.-based intellectuals are or become.

(No, MSW doesn’t have a high opinion of his own abilities.)

Note what he says: “Ideas change as they are applied to the real world.” Card. Kasper would approve.

Moving on, also at Fishwrap, in a talk the Bishop of San Diego, Most Rev. Robert McElroy exposed his “three fundamental foundations” for his understanding of pastoral theology. Namely:

  • The “assertion that not only the activity, but the very nature of the church, involves at its heart pastoral action to heal the hearts of men and women who are suffering”;
  • Recognition “that the church should mirror the pastoral action of the Lord himself”;
  • The principle “that the church’s pastoral identity and action must be rooted in the life situations that men and women actually experience in the world today.”

There it is.  The Fishwrap piece stresses “lived reality”.

This enables the claimant to set aside just about any doctrine or practice of the Church. What the Church teaches is just a position that can change, according to the perceived needs of the moment. And if you claim that you are being moved by “the spirit” over and against the mere “institutional” Church, all the better. Then you can start the virtue signalling in earnest and even vilify those backward looking mean people who cling to their doctrines and laws against the obvious movements of “the spirit”.

I direct the readership to a post from last February. It’s about “lived experience”.  HERE
Gerhard Ludwig Card. Müller has something to add to the discussion.

These folks on the Left have a fluid relationship with the truth, which is an ever moving target. The scholar Thomas Heinrich Stark pointed out, those who talk about bending the Church’s teachings (and practices) to “reality”, would say that truth can vary from place to place and time to time. What might have once been true doesn’t necessary need to be true now. The German/Kasperite/Rahnerian approach replaces the philosophical grounding of theology with politics (majorities can determine truth, and that might diverge from what people thought in the past). Truth changes according to shifting mores, values, etc. To hell with reason (e.g., syllogisms).

You might read the rather difficult, but dead-on right, essay by Thomas Heinrich Stark in Catholic World Report: German Idealism and Cardinal Kasper’s Theological Project. HERE   In essence, Kasper and Co. replace philosophy with politics: majority rule (“lived experience”) can change interpretation of Scripture, doctrine, whatever.

You can see how pernicious this is.  Be on your guard.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Mark says:

    One would think that in a country where the “majority” of the people came to believe that the extermination of the Jewish people in concentration camps was acceptable, the idea that the majority opinion based on perceived “lived reality” would be viewed with a little less assurance of being the correct opinion.

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    Your ideas must change, and my ideas much change, but not HIS.
    If you tried to get this person to see things our way, you’d find out how “rigid” his thinking is.
    The Left does not ever seem to understand the concept of double standards.

  3. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    Cardinal Kasper denies the miracle accounts in the Gospels, calling them “legends.” Among those he denies are the Transfiguration; the feeding of the 5000; the command of the storm; and the raising of the widow’s son, the daughter of Jairus and Lazarus. (Walter Kasper, Jesus the Christ, 1974, pp 90-91).

    He defines “salvation” and “The Kingdom of God,” as follows: “each individual can feel himself accepted and approved without reserve…we are not doing justice to another person when we merely give him whatever he has a right to; we have to accept him as a person and approve of him.” (Same book, p. 87).

    He also rejects the apostolic witness of St. James (1:17) and the Council of Nicea about the perfection of God and his dominion over morality and history: “The God who sits enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offense to Man.” (Kasper, God in History, 1967)

    The “lived experience” theme is also one of his themes, from other works. I suppose he may be the originator of that, but I am not certain.

    But you can see his path with his disbeliefs and new-age beliefs: there is no Kingdom of God until all LBGT behavior, divorce and remarriage, etc etc are accepted and approved – by the Church.

  4. Mike says:

    We’re going to have to keep living through the 1970s until we rise up and demand shepherds who preach Truth.

  5. richdel says:

    I don’t agree at all with the “lived reality” that people “actually experience” usurping doctrine and tradition, but it would seem that if this theory had anything to do with the development of doctrine or moral theology or whatever, then it would only make sense as such if the people’s “lived reality” had something to do with some attempt to live according to the Church’s doctrine. Only then could one identify some sort of interplay between doctrine and lived experience by which one to identify how and in what manner doctrine would develop. However, when the “lived reality” that people “actually experience” has nothing to do with the people’s attempt to live in accord with doctrine, then it becomes anyone’s guess which person’s or persons’ “lived reality” should indicate for us some development in doctrine. It becomes too convenient at that point for one to cherry pick whichever persons’ “lived reality” would serve to lead us toward such development.

    In Bishop McElroy’s case, it would not be the first time he has resorting to cherry picking. He deftly cherry picked statements from Pope Francis in the past when asserting a similar theory – that “the pastoral action of Jesus Christ…does not demand a change of life”, when a more representative presentation of what Pope Francis has said in this matter would be as follows:

    “The Church may render more clear her mission to be a witness to mercy; and we have to make this journey. It is a journey which begins with spiritual conversion.” -3/13/15

    “[Jesus] asks us, through genuine conversion, to open our hearts to a more sincere love of God and neighbor.” – 12/16/15

    “It is never too late to convert, but it is urgent, it is now! Let us begin today!” – 2/28/16

    “In order to convert, we must not wait for prodigious events, but open our hearts to love of God and neighbor.” -5/18/16

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  7. ajf1984 says:

    This bullet point typifies an approach that I just cannot understand: “Recognition ‘that the church should mirror the pastoral action of the Lord himself.'”

    Last time I checked, the “pastoral action of the Lord Himself” (fixed that for ya’) tell someone caught in the very act of a sin that:
    1. He does not condemn her ;
    2. to Go; AND
    3. Sin No More

    Certain folks are really good at items 1 and 2, but they never really seem to get to 3…

  8. TomG says:

    Chris in Maryland 2:

    “The God who sits enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offense to Man.” (Kasper, God in History, 1967)

    “To modern man, the idea of a substitutionary atonement is a moral outrage” (Harry Emerson Fosdick, famous [I should say “notorious”] Protestant preacher of the first half of the 20th century)

    Rank modernism has always been quite ecumenical.

  9. Lurker 59 says:

    At the end of the day, those pastors who desperately desire to accompany others in their lived experiences really only desire one of two things, or both:

    1. The praise of men.
    2. Money in the collection basket.

    I strongly suspect that those who speak at length of “the pastoral action of (the ‘historical’) Jesus” vis a vis the action of the Church can only conceptualize sin and the mission of Jesus in terms of socio-political ‘salvation’. There is no theodicy, no mystagogy, no stark realization of one’s own personal sin and wounded heart, no Pauline anthropology of fallen man unable to break one’s own chains, no conceptualization of the need for real grace and real mercy, in short, no Gospel.

    In their view of things, there is no need for pastors to say to others “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

    In all this accompaniment of others in their lived realities misses the point of salvation and even what we are being saved from — which is largely our own personal hells aka “lived realities”. Salvation is quite very much leaving behind our “lived realities”: the fabrication, lies, disorders, and personal bondage to sin, leaving it all behind and entering into the eschaton of the mountain of the Lord, the city of the Lord, the house of the Lord, and finally the temple of the Lord.

  10. LarryW2LJ says:

    “There was a rigidity to his thought, an unwillingness to accept that ideas change, and must change, as they are applied to the real world”

    So basically, MSW is saying, in his commentary regarding Mr. Krauthammer, that there is no such thing as Absolute Truth – constant, unchanging, written-in-stone, you-can-bet-your-farm-on the Truth.

    That would be the definition of relativism, wouldn’t it?

  11. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I’m not so sure about “lived reality” in the Church. But I do know all about “really livid”.

  12. Midwest St. Michael says:


    Yep, that is their “truth”… and it is absolute.

    Didn’t PF say something recently about not making truth into an idol?

  13. maternalView says:

    I want to know with all this accompaniment and recognizing lived reality how does that help me get to heaven? Will it prepare me to die for my faith?

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