Oliver O'Donovan–The Task of Moral Discernment in an Uncertain Present

As far back as 1919, in philosophy’s most generous tribute to the “responsibility” of journalism, Max Weber ignored the reporter’s role entirely; for him it was the political journalist, the promoter of causes, who deserved our admiration and was so ungratefully rewarded. If getting the story right is the reporter’s aim, the editorial staff have their own priorities; the “comment” column or staged interview is better suited to the purposes of routinising, while even the headlines, those sacred pillars of “shock,” may be confected of press-officers’ and PR hand-outs, plans, reports, draft speeches circulated in advance, notices of engagements, statistical projections, contested scientific claims, the insipid flavour of the whole drowned out with the pungent spices of speculation. What we look to the media for is the construction of the world of the moment, and reporting on realities may have only tangential relevance to that.

If “new every morning” is the tempo of divine grace and the tempo of our personal responsibilities, it is because the morning is a time when one can look back intelligently and look forward hopefully. It is the tempo of practical reason. The media’s “new every morning” (quickly becoming “new every moment”) is, one may dare to say, in flat contradiction to that daily offer of grace. It serves rather to fix our perception upon the momentary now, preventing retrospection, discouraging deliberation, holding us spellbound in a suppositious world of the present which, like hell itself, has lost its future and its past.

Read it all.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Theology

2 comments on “Oliver O'Donovan–The Task of Moral Discernment in an Uncertain Present

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I don’t know about discernment, but I find this article is definitely a challenge to comprehension. Translation from Irish, Oztralian or Rowanese into plain English please?

  2. cseitz says:

    Whig accounts of history make our own age without any analogy, because it has progressed into a time without any association. LGBT advocacy claims such a context. One cannot appreciate or understand an ancient building, or figure, or text without a selfie to locate its significance: c’est moi.

    The internet may also contribute to this because it is ‘without morning and evening’ and makes all time into my time right now.

    I suspect this is part of a much larger piece of thinking O’D is engaged in, and difficult to excerpt from.

    As a biblical scholar of the OT/NT canon, it could also mean there is no meaningful account of Christ alive in the OT, because he comes “later”. But of course he is God of God and Light of Light and was indeed slain before the foundation of the world. Whig progressivism can’t understand any of that except as a form of retrospectivism. Calvin argued instead that the Old Fathers knew the LORD. So too Article VII. Everlasting life is offered by Jesus Christ to the OT saints. Because forever and always he is the only mediator between God and Mankind.

    But now we are leaving O’D and his concerns for some of my own…