Saturday, January 04, 2014

Advice from Camus about integrity in dialogue

“I shall not try to change anything that I think or anything that you think (insofar as I can judge of it) in order to reach a reconciliation that would be agreeable to all. On the contrary, what I feel like telling you today is [if] the world needs real dialogue, the[n] falsehood is just as much the opposite of dialogue as is silence, and ... the only possible dialogue is the kind between people who remain what they are and speak their minds. This is tantamount to saying that the world of today needs Christians who remain Christians. The other day at the Sorbonne, speaking to a Marxist lecturer, a Catholic priest said in public that he too was anticlerical. Well, I don’t like priests who are anticlerical any more than philosophies that are ashamed of themselves.” (emphasis added)

Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion and Death (New York, 1961), page 70.

[Hat tip to JM]


A. S. said...

love Albert Camus. I think he died a Catholic. He was baptized as an infant in Algeria. Close to his death he met Rev. Howard Mumma, a Methodist American who was interim pastor at the American Church in Paris. Camus had gone to hear an organ concert and was drawn by the homily to meet several times with the minister.

When Camus asked to be baptized, Mumma refused evidently acknowledging his childhood baptism.

Between the lines in everything Camus writes their is an integrity, a refusal to trim even when it leaves
him as a minority of one.

Catholicism is integral, ultramontane and intransigent by its very nature. The nouvelle theologie just doesn't work in a Catholic environment. And we suffer for those well intentioned
scholars who thought they could remake the truth. Camus would have understood.

When Thomas Merton was in crisis, involved in an affair with a Louisville nurse, he turned to Camus
for advice. Camus, he tells us, convinced him to end the affair and remain loyal to his vocation as a

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

PHEW! It's a good thing Merton didn't consult my high school theology teacher, a Salvatorian with huge forearms, a barrel chest, a ringing baritone, and a passion for strumming vibrant tunes such as "there is power, power, wonder-working power, in duh blood, [in duh blood], of the Lamb . . ." He left the priesthood a couple years after I graduated and married him a gen-yoo-wine New York City social worker. NEW YORK CITY -- you know, where all the crappy salsa comes from.

Camus has always been an irritation to me. In his books he is every bit the "oh how absurd it is" isolatoe of countless 40s noir movies. In his photos, the cigarette dangles off his lower lip with the stylistic perfection of that magnificent poster boy of cultural exhaustion, Humphrey Bogart. So cool, yet the cigarette makes you stink like death on the outside while it delivers deadly nicotine to your insides. Well, you wanted absurdity.

But then there is also at least anecdotal evidence to suggest that he was not really of that turn of mind. If so, then apparently he did not believe the crap he was writing. Too bad: he is planted, and his crap survives in countless high school reading assignments and college philosophy 101 reading lists, and probably countless online cheater research papers as well.

Only my opinion, of course, but I find it rather easy to be restrained in my admiration of Albert Camus.