By Tom Quiner
Is there anything wrong with being naked in public?
Most sane people would say yes. Why? Because we are more than the animals who roam the earth unclothed.
However, in San Francisco, public nudity has been a common occurrence. There, the Board of Supervisors wrangled over banning public nudity, finally prevailing in a narrow 6 to 5 vote a little over a year ago.
A pro nudity protestor explained his defense of public nudity:
“It’s telling people they should be ashamed to be naked, and that’s totally wrong.”
Wrong? By what standard?
It’s certainly not wrong by Judeo-Christian standards. Modesty is more than right, it is rational.
Think about the controversies swirling in our midst these days. Public nudity is small potatoes compared to abortion and so-called gay marriage.
Are these controversies good or bad?
The great Catholic communicator of the 20th century, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, suggests that in a way, these controversies are good:
“The Church loves controversy, and loves it for two reasons: because intellectual conflict is informing and because she is madly in love with rationalism.”
The secular Left attacks the Church for exactly the opposite of that reason. The Left suggests the Church is the one that is irrational, and that it is the Leftists that are the sane ones.
Not according to Bishop Sheen:
“The great structure of the Catholic Church has been built up through controversy. It was the attacks of the docetists and the monophysites in the early centuries of the Church that made her clear on the doctrine concerning the nature of Christ; it was the controversy with the Reformers that clarified her teaching on justification. If today there are not nearly so many dogmas defined as in the early ages of the Church it is because there is less controversy — and less thinking. One must think to be a heretic, even though it be wrong thinking.”
The moral confusion of the age provides just the controversial climate for the Church to step forward and make the case for rationality.
A sleeping giant has been awakened.
A local Episcopal church took a slap at us Catholics with an advertising campaign that boasted,
“Come to [name of church] where you don’t have to check your brain at the door.”
For the record, I was raised in the Episcopal church. I love that church of my youth. What I found in the Catholic Church astounded. It is rich with intellectual thinking and the pursuit of rationality. The Church does not follow the crowd by bowing to the whims of the age. The Church steadfastly adheres to, and discerns, the Truth.
Catholic Mass engages my mind as well as my soul each week.
Bishop Sheen tells us:
“The Church asks her children not only to externalize their thought and thus produce culture, but also to internalize their thoughts and thus produce spirituality.”
In other words, we have to live in the world. We are called to influence the world, but the energy comes from the power of prayer, from the internal life, as Pope John Paul II characterized it.
Bishop Sheen continues:
“The constant giving would be dissipation unless new energy was supplied from within. In fact, before a thought can be bequeathed to the outside, it must have been born on the inside. But no thought is born without silence and contemplation. It is in the stillness and quiet of one’s own intellectual pastures, wherein man meditates on the purpose of life and its goal, that real and true character is developed. A character is made by the kind of thought a man thinks when alone, and a civilization is made by the kind of thoughts a man speaks to his neighbor.”
Yesterday, your neighbors would have been aghast at human abortion. Today, many of your neighbors think there’s nothing wrong with human abortion. Tomorrow, they may think there’s nothing wrong with killing infants.
Yesterday, your neighbors would have been aghast at the idea of two men or two women getting married. Today, many of your neighbors think there’s nothing wrong with allowing adults of the same gender to marry. Tomorrow, they may think there’s nothing wrong with an adult to marry a child. Or for three or more people to get married. Or for a man to marry a tree.
Here in Des Moines, there’s no call to allow people to roam the streets naked, as in San Francisco. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
New thinking is nothing new. The Catholic Church, says Bishop Sheen, has actually been strengthened by the controversy that always comes with newness.
Interested in knowing the Truth on these new ideas? Look to the Church that is madly in love with rationalism to help you find your way.