Brother ABS has perfectly captured the reign of the hermeneutic of ambiguity in motion. It’s a priceless snapshot of the Second Vatican Conch Shell in action. I invite you to swing over to ABS’s blog and take a gander for yourself; the punchline is worth the effort.
But, first, here’s a little conceptual context:
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
It would be nice if Emerson could at least wait a day to contradict himself. Instead, he does so at least three times in that one curiously famous passage. For Emerson not only assumes that he, perhaps alone among all flesh, actually understands those other great souls, and not only writes in order to be understood, but also also implies that consistency should be consistently forsworn. Oy gevalt. Such leaps in logic chopping are to be expected of solipsists, i.e. those ruled by the ethos of “self-reliance”, which is just a euphemism for self-absorption. On that note, check out ABS’s chronological chiaroscuro.
Speech closing V2 by Pope Paul VI 12/07/1965 —
This secular religious society, which is the Church, has endeavored to carry out an act of reflection about herself, to know herself better, to define herself better and, in consequence, to set aright what she feels and what she commands…
Pope Francis 03/27/2013 —
When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick. The evils that, over time, happen in ecclesial institutions have their root in self-referentiality and a kind of theological narcissism.