Pope Francis offers some commentary on the principle that “Realities are more important than ideas.” This covers sections 231-233 in Evangelii Gaudium. We’ll look at the first of those sections here:
231. There also exists a constant tension between ideas and realities. Realities simply are, whereas ideas are worked out. There has to be continuous dialogue between the two, lest ideas become detached from realities. It is dangerous to dwell in the realm of words alone, of images and rhetoric. So a third principle comes into play: realities are greater than ideas. This calls for rejecting the various means of masking reality: angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, empty rhetoric, objectives more ideal than real, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems bereft of kindness, intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom.
What do you see as the important bits here?
- I find myself in agreement with the tendency for people to detach ideas from the world, and find themselves detached from any situation in which they hope to influence.
- We’ve certainly seen evidence of this in the words and actions of Pope Francis. He is willing to engage ideas–he is a Jesuit after all. But there must be a link to concrete action. This is what I would call orthopraxis. One can speak the “right” words, espousing orthodoxy if you will. But without right-actions, what good is it?
- It is possible to be intellectual and clever, but lacking in wisdom. In other words, having the knowledge isn’t enough.