Best response I’ve seen yet. BTW, do go read Bottum’s essay.
Look at Bottum at his best, then. In Commonweal he argues persuasively that today’s Americans—young Americans especially—do not find the Catholic case against same-sex marriage persuasive because they do not accept the fundamental premises on which those arguments are based. Most of our contemporaries have come to look upon the world in purely material terms, he says, and the most important goal of the Catholic Church must be to direct attention toward the supernatural. As he puts it, “The goal of the church today must primarily be the re-enchantment of reality.”
There you have it: the artist’s desire to introduce his audience to some striking new perspective on the world. But here I found myself, more than ever, at odds with Bottum. The Church is not an artist, the world is not an audience, and there is no need to “enchant” reality. Here I think Bottum slips into the error of thinking that faith is a sort of “value-added” service that can enrich reality, by superimposing a layer of charm on everyday life. That is not how I understand the Catholic faith.
Faith is not a matter of adding something on to reality; it is a matter of plunging deeper into reality, of aligning oneself with the truth about the human condition. Reality is alreadyenchanted, if you will. As Catholics, as apostolic witnesses, we are not trying to convince our neighbors to recognize something different from everyday reality; we are trying to help them recognize what is true, good, and beautiful in the reality that we all perceive.
The truth about marriage is beautiful, it is good, and it is something that everyone can understand. Ten years ago, in Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithstated at the outset : “The Church’s teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world.”