At the end of G.K. Chesterton’s The Blue Cross, Father Brown exposes the identity of the thief Flambeau, who is disguised as a fellow Catholic priest. How did Father Brown learn Flambeau’s true identity? In the course of his conversation with Father Brown, “Father” Flambeau attacked reason. Horror!
Sitting on a park bench, the two had been discussing the immensity of the universe, and whether reason governs the tiniest detail of creation. Flambeau cooly dismisses reason as a manmade concoction that has no hold on anything beyond our own scrupulosity.
Ah, yes, these modern infidels appeal to their reason; but who can look at those millions of worlds and not feel that there may well be wonderful universes above us where reason is utterly unreasonable?
Father Brown disagrees, and advances the traditional Catholic teaching that the entire order of creation is in fact under the rule of reason.
No, said the other priest; reason is always reasonable, even in the last limbo, in the lost borderland of things. I know that people charge the Church with lowering reason, but it is just the other way. Alone on earth, the Church makes reason really supreme. Alone on earth, the Church affirms that God himself is bound by reason.
Reason and justice grip the remotest and the loneliest star. . . . . On plains of opal, under cliffs cut out of pearl, you would still find a notice-board, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’
And thus does Fr. Brown unmask the cunning Flambeau. No informed Catholic worth his metal would attack reason! It’s important to reiterate that, despite contemporary ad hominem broadsides that depict fidelity to the teachings of the Church as ignorant echoes from the Dark Ages, reason has never had a greater ally than the Catholic Church. Even though man possesses free will, he is nevertheless called to use that freedom to align his will and actions to his unchanging nature. It is only when this happens that man is truly free. Authentic freedom is never an autonomous expression. As Pope Benedict said,
Human freedom is always a freedom shared with others, it is clear that the harmony of freedom can be found only in what is common to all: the truth of the human being, the fundamental message of being itself, exactly the lex naturalis. (Address to International Congress on Natural Moral Law, 2007)
At one time, not so long ago, no one, Catholic or not who wanted to be taken seriously in the world, would dare undermine reason. Ah, those were the days.
But speaking of the Dark Ages, it’s hard not to arrive at the conclusion that our civilization is sliding deeper into a dark era of hostility toward reason. Reason has been dethroned as the moral guide to man’s actions and replaced by the will. A will cut off from nature, cut off from reason. A will that is autonomous and supreme, answering to nothing while garishly masquerading as “freedom.” Whether an action is good or evil is no longer evaluated by its alignment to nature, but simply by the fact that it is freely willed. It’s not hard to find examples of this in the news today.
The recent article, “Genderless fashion blurs lines on London catwalks” shines a spotlight on the au courant idolatry of the autonomous will of man (sorry, of person). A female model, going by the name Dove, bounces back and forth from man to woman in fashion shows and is a self-described “gender capitalist.” In the interview for the article, Dove made the following, declaration. “If someone calls me sir or if someone calls me ma’am, I don’t care as long as they have positive intentions. . . . The next big step [in fashion world] is to just drop that label of men’s and women’s . . .”
Great. In other words, truth, biology, reality do not matter. What matters, what is supreme in this new, clouded world are one’s solitary intentions. What matters are the capricious desires of “gender capitalists” like Dove. It’s a remarkable statement on the present state of affairs that one can so easily shrug off science, all in the name of “Because I feel like it!” and no one seems to bat an eye. And this passes for an enlightened society?
If reason is now the enemy, on what basis then can anyone say “Enough!” to the endlessly bizarre and prurient wishes of a disordered will in our sex-obsessed culture? What’s more, coming to the defense of reason, of sanity, will quickly find you tarred and feathered, labeled with any number of hackneyed epithets.
The Flambeaus presently outnumber the Father Browns. Reason is the enemy. It’s all so…”utterly unreasonable”.