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William Desmond on Default Atheism

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Introductory Note

This post was prompted by a close viewing of the 2017 Thomas Lecture presented by Irish philosopher William Desmond at the Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in southern Indiana on April 6th 2017. The lecture was entitled "The Idiocy of Being in Aquinas' Third Way." Although the presentation nominally served to address St. Thomas Aquinas' third argument for the existence of God, the greater part offered a privileged entry into Desmond's thought, particularly in regard to how the contemporary Western mindset has come to one of default atheism. Desmond offers a highly individuated perspective on the intellectual currents and armoured modes of being that have contributed to this development.

The audio below offers an edited and slightly abridged version of the lecture.



William Desmond on Default Atheism can be streamed using the media player above. A CD quality mp3 file is available for download at: https://archive.org/details/WilliamDes…

In the Presence of the Transcendent. Giuseppe Caccioppoli and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

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The forces that govern secular modernity have long sought to strip the world of its numinous essences. The miraculous has been relegated to the domain of superstitious folly while religion has been deemed an archaic and outmoded institution suitable only for the weak and feeble-minded. Christianity has, for many, become a faded repository of fundamentalisms that serve only to obstruct and impede the progression of "enlightened" liberal thought. Many of the rituals and practices that continue to serve those who remain within the fold of Christianity are seen as merely symbolic at best and deluded at worst.

Yet for those prepared to look more deeply than the dominant view would allow, there remain in the world vivid echoes and reverberations of the miraculous presence and the transformative mission of Jesus of Nazareth. That presence continues to manifest in the lives of those who - for whatever unknowable reason - abide within a spiritually and transcendentally energised rea…

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila

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Among the women of Christendom, the bold Teresa of Avila has succeeded in transmitting a profound and enduring record of the nature of spiritual reality and of Christocentric mystical consciousness. Her biography The Life of Saint Teresa was written in the middle 1500s at the behest of her spiritual directors. In it, she writes with great openness of both her human weaknesses and her extraordinary spiritual attainments. Teresa speaks of the indiscretions of her youth, of her own “depravity”, of her vanity, and of other sins and failings. Interestingly, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina spoke equally scathingly of his own “sinfulness”. One can only wonder where that puts the rest of us. Teresa was able to draw both solace and inspiration from St. Augustine’s “Confessions” at a critical time in her early life. She was thereby strengthened in her resolve to pursue the way of perfection. By virtue of having overcome her own weaknesses, Teresa emerges as one with profound compassion for and understan…