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Faith and Postmodernism in the Pub

Last night I gave a talk at the young adults event Theology at the Pub in Melbourne, which was more or less a repeat of a talk I had given in May at Guinness and God in Canberra.  The talk was called ‘Faith in a Postmodern World: Insights from Benedict XVI’.  The talk looks at modernity, Jean-Francois Lyotard’s critique of modernity’s concept of knowledge, and some of Benedict XVI’s seminal ideas about the narrative structure of faith, beauty and the encounter with the God of love.

I was trying to offer a logic for faith in a world that remains suspicious of claims to knowledge that lie beyond the scientific method.

My analysis of Lyotard owes a lot to James K. A. Smith’s clever book, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault to Church. Thanks to everyone who came out for the talks, and thanks especially to Daniel who allowed me to quote part of our email conversation about atheism in the talk.  Here’s the video of the Canberra talk (with thanks to CatholicLIFE and ACU):

Reasons to Believe

I leave tomorrow for a parish mission in Holy Spirit parish, Sandy Bay- Taroona in the Archdiocese of Hobart.  There are twelve of us going from Melbourne for the mission: myself and three of the MGL brothers in formation for the priesthood, two of the MGL sisters, four single men and women and a married couple from Disciples of Jesus Community.  The mission begins on Sunday July 10 and finishes on Sunday July 17.

The first event for the mission is a pub talk that we have called “Questions of Faith, Reasons to Believe.”  In the talk I am going to try to tackle some common objections to belief in God today, such as:
Can I really believe in a God who I can not see, cannot touch?
Have scientific discoveries like evolution disproved Christianity?
Isn’t ‘God’ the projection of my fantasies onto an imaginary super-being?
How can I believe in God when in the past it has led to the oppression of those who have disagreed with the Church?
How can a loving and all-powerful God allow evil in the world and the suffering of innocent people?
Is Jesus the only way to God?

It is a Q and A session though, so the night will go where the questions lead!

One of my main aims in the talk will be to demonstrate the intellectual credibility of the Catholic faith, in order to show that belief in God does not require jettisoning one’s mind.  At the same time, I also hope to at least hint at the truth that the heart of the Catholic faith is not a great idea, but an encounter with Jesus Christ:

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est

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