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Fulton Sheen: “The nature of certain things is fixed, and none more so than the nature of truth.”

15 January 2017

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“Belief in the existence of God, in the Divinity of Christ, and in the moral law are considered passing fashions. The latest thing in this new tolerance is considered the true thing, as if truth were a fashion, like the hat, instead of an institution, like a head. At the present moment, in psychology the fashion runs towards Behaviorism, as in philosophy it runs towards Temporalism. And that it is not objective validity which dictates the success of a modern philosophical theory, is borne out by the statement a celebrated space‐time philosopher of England made to the writer a few years ago, when he was asked where he got his system. ʺFrom my imagination,ʺ he answered. Upon being challenged that the imagination was not the proper faculty for a philosopher to use, he retorted: ʺIt is, if the success of your philosophical system depends not on the truth that is in it, but on its novelty.ʺ In that statement is the final argument for modern broad‐mindedness: truth is novelty, and hence ʺtruthʺ changes with the passing fancies of the moment. Like the chameleon who changes his colors to suit the vesture on which he is placed, so truth is supposed to change to suit the foibles and obliquities of the age, as if the foundations of thinking might be true for the pre‐Adamites and false for the Adamites. Truth does grow, but it grows homogeneously, like an acorn into an oak; it does not swing in the breeze, like a weathercock. The leopard does not change his spots nor the Ethiopian his skin, though the leopard be put in bars or the Ethiopian in pink tights. The nature of certain things is fixed, and none more so than the nature of truth. Truth maybe contradicted a thousand times, but that only proves that it is strong enough to survive a thousand assaults. But for any one to say, ʺSome say this, some say that, therefore there is no truth,ʺ is about as logical as it would have been for Columbus, who heard some say, ʺThe earth is round,ʺ and other say, ʺThe earth is flat,ʺ to conclude: ʺTherefore there is no earth at all.ʺ It is this kind of thinking that cannot distinguish between a sheep and his second coat of wool, between Napoleon and his three‐cornered hat, between the substance and the accident, the kind that has begotten minds so flattened with broadness that they have lost all their depth. Like a carpenter who might throw away his rule and use each beam as a measuring‐rod, so, too, those who have thrown away the standard of objective truth have nothing left with which to measure but the mental fashion of the moment. The giggling giddiness of novelty, the sentimental restlessness of a mind unhinged, and the unnatural fear of a good dose of hard thinking, all conjoin to produce a group of sophomoric latitudinarians who think there is no difference between God as Cause and God as a “mental projection”; who equate Christ and Buddha, St. Paul and John Dewey, and then enlarge their broad-mindedness into a sweeping synthesis that says not only that one Christian sect is just as good as another, but even that one world-religion is just as good as another. The great god “progress” is then enthroned on the altars of fashion, and as the hectic worshipers are asked, “Progress towards what?” The tolerant answer comes back, “More progress!” All the while sane men are wondering how there can be progress without direction and how there can be direction without a fixed point. And because they speak of a “fixed point,” they are said to be behind the times, when really they are beyond the times mentally and spiritually.”

Fulton Sheen

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