In the end, only love (of which faith is a particu…

In the end, only love (of which faith is a particular form) can achieve the well-nigh impossible goal of seeing a situation as it really is, shorn of both the brittle enchantments of romance and the disheveled fantasies of desire. Clinical, cold-eyed realism of this kind demands all manner of virtues—openness to being wrong, selflessness, humility, generosity of spirit, hard labor, tenacity, a readiness to collaborate, conscientious judgment, and the like; and for Aquinas, all virtues have their source in love. Love is the ultimate form of soberly disenchanted realism, which is why it is the twin of truth. The two also have in common the fact that they are both usually unpleasant. Radicals tend to suspect that the truth is generally a lot less palatable than those in power would have us believe, and we have seen already just where love is likely to land you for the New Testament. In one sense of the word, dispassionateness would spell the death of knowledge, though not in another sense. Without some kind of desire or attraction we would not be roused to the labor of knowledge in the first place; but to know truly, we must also seek to surmount the snares and ruses of desire as best we can. We must try not to disfigure what we strive to know through fantasy, or reduce the object of knowledge to a narcissistic image of ourselves.

Realist Failures

Realism is always already a failure as a Christian approach to either politics or philosophy (and I believe that the latter is generally more about former when you poke it hard enough), since it takes the world as it is as a given. And yet, the world as it is is fundamentally judged and subverted by the apocalyptic disruption of God’s kingdom that has been inaugurated in the life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ. To think Christianly, therefore is to think apocalyptically, hyper-really; to call into question what is on the basis of what will be. Father, let your kingdom come!