Wednesday, 7 July 2010


In an essay entitled 'Solidarity, Justice and Power Sharing', by the controversial theologian John Boswell, I recently came across this footnote.

At the age of seventeen, I heard a young militant of the Catholic left in France describe his regular combination of reciting the Rosary with a 'see, judge, act' rubric orientated towards social justice and contre le capitalisme. It made a strong impression.

His foot note made a strong impression on me too. I never met an individual who described his faith like that, but I did meet many people who collectively have influenced my thinking by living in that way. Nowadays, 'see, judge, act' seems to be viewed with deep suspicion as a rallying cry for what is left of 'liberation theology' in the West. To my mind though, that rich and comfortable academics disregard the thinking of a theological and philosophical movement which denounces their abuse of resources comes as no surprise. It might not be fashionable, but this is one of the first things I have read since coming to Oxford that has reminded me of why I am here in the first place. I dislike pomp and circumstance. I find certainty disconcerting. But, searching for a way to help the voiceless speak a message to be heard by the powerful, that is worth my time. As for traditional pieties, I have a great affection for them - faith is what inspires my schemes. Rather conversely, the Rosary grounds my expectations, reminds me to walk more slowly, to take each day as it comes, and do, quite simply, what I am meant to be doing when I am meant to be doing it.

NB. If you really want to know why John Boswell was controversial it was because he was a.) Catholic, and b.) Gay, and he wrote about that a lot. If his writings on that topic are as insightful as his work on solidarity, I would recommend that they are worth reading, if only as an interlocutor. Sadly, however, this at present, is not my interest or field of work.

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