One of the most valuable things, for me at least, about keeping a blog is the questions and criticisms that people offer in response to what I've posted.
Certainly this has been the case with my recent series of posts on the psychology of pastoral leadership. One commentator in particular, David, has offered a number of penetrating observations. (Unfortunately, my shift from Holscan to JSKit for my comments means that David's comments and questions have not shown up here—I suspect I need to go back to Haloscan or possibly move my blog over to Wordpress, but this is for another day.) You can read David's comments here, here and here. (I hope!)
As a recent article in The Tablet suggests (thank you Sr Macrina), one of the difficulties in a discussion drawn from the catholic moral tradition is that most of us are unfamiliar with the philosophical presuppositions that frame the discussion. That is certainly true with my own thoughts on subsidiarity. As I allude to in an earlier post (which can be read in its entirety here), subsidiarity presupposes at least a basic understanding of natural law. But this of course raises another question: Which view of natural law?
Natural law theory has had a much greater influence, I think, in Western Christian theology than in the Eastern Christian theology. Indeed, two contemporary Orthodox theologians—Fr Alexander Schmemann and Vladimir Lossky—seem to reject the idea that natural law has any application in Christian theology since (following ironically enough, an argument which St Augustine, that paragon of Western theology, would have embraced) what is "natural" for human is our state before Adam's transgression. Now what we know about humanity is profoundly unnatural.
In an essay that appeared several years ago in The Word, "Pastoral Considerations on Current Problems: Sex, Natural Law and Orthodoxy,"
Fr. George Morelli, a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist and Coordinator of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, offers what seems to be a typical criticism of natural law. In response to the idea that extra-marital sexual relations are not contrary to "natural law" Fr George writes:
Rather Christian obedience is of a different kind.
I will, in my next post, offer a response to the Orthodox rejection of natural law.
Until then, your comments, questions and criticisms are not only welcome, they are actively sought.
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