dialogue requires a healthy mind

Father Robert Barron of Word on Fire has written a thoughtful article on dialogue, in wake of the speeches given at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremonies last Sunday. A snip:

It comes down to that slippery little word “dialogue.” I realize that to say that one is against dialogue is akin to saying that one is impatient with motherhood, patriotism, and sunny days. But the point is this: one should, in certain circumstances, be suspicious of dialogue. The great Canadian Jesuit philosopher Bernard Lonergan laid out the four basic moves that characterize the action of a healthy mind…..

He goes on to describe these four characteristics:

  1. Attentive: Has to be able to absorb the data / facts of a situation
  2. Intelligent: Needs to discern patterns of meaning
  3. Reasonable: Must be capable of reasoning in order to form proper judgments vis-a-vis truth claims
  4. Responsible: Must accept responsibility for the way the judgments formed will affect one’s life and behavior

Father Barron then critiques the way Father Jenkins and President Obama used the concept of dialogue:

What I sensed in both Jenkins’s and Obama’s speeches was a sort of fetishism of dialogue…. The conversation, they seemed to imply, should remain always open-ended, the dialogue on-going, decision or judgment permanently delayed. But dialogue is a means to an end; it is valuable in the measure that it conduces toward judgment. G.K. Chesterton said that the mind should remain open, but only so that it might, in time, chomp down on something nourishing.

Read the whole article here.

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