Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs on dogma...

Our Lady told Father Gobbi on July 4, 1986 that, "In the darkness which has come down upon the world and is spreading throughout the Church, how many minds are becoming obscured by errors and dried up by the ever widening spread of doubts; how many intellects are being contaminated with error which leads many to become lost and to stray from the way of the true faith....If you look to my Immaculate Heart and allow yourselves to be penetrated by the ray of my light, your minds will obtain the gift of divine wisdom and will be drawn by the beauty of the truth which Jesus has revealed to you."

I am struck by how many people - Catholics included - are eulogizing Steve Jobs at the moment.  Many revere the inventor and innovator as some sort of "Tech God."  There are endless testimonials for this man.  Many of my friends on Facebook have been singing his praises.

I don't pretend to know everything about Steve Jobs.  And I have no interest in speaking ill of him.  But there is something which concerns me about his thought.  And it is this: Mr. Jobs has been widely quoted as having said: "Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."  See here. These words have received much play in the liberal mainstream media. 

Now here we encounter a problem.  If Mr. Jobs had simply said, "Don't be trapped by other people's ideology," or "Think outside the box," or "Don't let others define who you are or what your goals are," I wouln't be concerned.  But he specifically used the word "dogma," which primarily refers to religious doctrine. In his book entitled The Electronic Christian, Archbishop Fulton John Sheen so eloquently warned that, "The modern man must decide for himself whether he is going to have a religion with thought or a religion without it. He already knows that thoughtless policies lead to the ruin of society, and he may begin to suspect that thoughtless religion ends in confusion worse confounded.

The problem is simple. The modern man has two maps before him: one the map of sentimental religion, the other the map of dogmatic religion. The first is very simple. It has been constructed only in the last few years by a topographer who has just gone into the business of map making and is extremely adverse to explicit directions. He believes that each man should find his own way and not have his liberty taken away by dogmatic directions. The other map is much more complicated and full of dogmatic detail. It has been made by topographers who have been over every inch of the road for centuries and know each detour and each pitfall. It has explicit directions and dogmas such as, 'Do not take this road - it is swampy,' or 'Follow this road; although rough and rocky at first, it leads to a smooth road on a mountaintop.'

The simple map is very easy to read, but those who are guided by it are generally lost in a swamp of mushy sentimentalism. The other map takes a little more scrutiny, but it is simpler in the end, for it takes you up through the rocky road of the world's scorn to the everlasting hills where is seated the original Map Maker, the only One who ever has associated rest with learning: 'Learn of Me...and you shall find rest for your souls.'

Every new coherent doctrine and dogma add to the pabulum for thought; it is an extra bit of garden upon which we can intellectually browse; it is new food into which we can put our teeth and thence absorb nourishment; it is the discovery of a new intellectual planet that adds fullness and spaciousness to our mental world. And simply because it is solid and weighty, because it is dogmatic and not gaseous and foggy like a sentiment, it is intellectually invigorating, for it is with weights that the best drill is done, and not with feathers.

It is the very nature of a man to generate children of his brain in the shape of thoughts, and as he piles up thought on thought, truth on truth, doctrine on doctrine, conviction on conviction, and dogma on dogma, a very coherent and orderly fashion, so as to produce a system complex as a body and yet one and harmonious, the more and more human he becomes. When, however, in response to false cries for progress, he lops off dogmas, breaks with the memory of his forefathers, denies intellectual parentage, pleads for a religion without dogmas, substitutes mistiness for mystery, mistakes sentiment for sediment, he is sinking back slowly, surely, and inevitably into the senselessness of stones and into the irresponsible unconsciousness of weeds. Grass is broad-minded. Cabbages have heads - but no dogmas." (pp. 74-75).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that, "The Church's Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these." (CCC, 88).

How critical is dogma to one's faith life? Again the Catechism explains, "There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith." (CCC, 89).

There are many voices out there which seek to paint the Church as "rigid," "reactionary," "tradition-bound," "out-of-date," and "archaic" because she refuses to abandon divine Revelation in order to accommodate "modern man."  But the words of the Catechism are our sure guide: "if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith."  And if our lives are not upright...


Anonymous said...

Can't you let the man rest in peace instead of dragging your increasingly paranoid viewpoint into it?

Have some charity. Oh, I forgot. That's only for the select few that "praise" and "worship" you.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

There is a huge difference between attacking a person and attacking his or her erroneous ideas. That you fail to understand this difference speaks more to your paucity of intellect than anything else.

Paranoid viewpoint? Which of my views constitutes "paranoia" in your estimation? The Church is being assailed on all sides today. If you cannot see this (when many Church leaders have spoken about it), again this would suggest something about you.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

For your consideration anonymous:

Wendy said...

Excellent article Paul. Thanks for sharing. I like Michael O'Brien's piece too. Anonymous is living in denial. Or is simply an atheist. One of the comments which accompanies O'Brien's article, from someone calling himself/herself "Mouse," states "I notice that Christians everywhere have the same sense of what’s coming…truly we must prepare ourselves now and never forget that whatever we suffer in this life is worth it for the sake of fidelity to Christ and eternal life with Him. Because we may lose everything, if we are faithful, like the first Christians did. We must really love one another, and be ready to help each other too…no more post-modern isolation where you’re afraid to know your neighbor too well in case you might be inconvenienced or something!"

Most of the other comments are from Christians who have this same sense; that we are living the days of the Apocalypse.

Anonymous is blind. Another promoter of false charity. A "charity" which embraces sin and error. It is ironic that he/she should accuse you of lacking charity for defending truth. Because the liberal notion of charity is actually contempt for souls. And anonymous has embraced this idea of "charity."

Ted Loiseau said...

Anonymous, your comment is childish and unwelcome here. Until you can behave as an adult, please refrain from posting comments here. This is a Catholic Blog. If you don't care for for Catholic teaching, don't come to this Blog. But no one here is going to jettison their faith because you don't care for it. Nor will your hate-filled commentary bear any weight here.

jac said...

Anonymous, probably are you atheist?
Then why to worry about Steve Jobs. He is no longer and forever. Then, which "charity" and for whom? This has no sense.
If you are not atheist, pls let me know where, in your opinion, the man is "resting in peace".

Stewart said...

My sentiments exactly Jac. As far as I know, Jobs wasn't a believer. Without God, how can he be said to be resting in peace?

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