It seems that Bill Keller’s op-ed in the New York Times has created more of a stir than I had anticipated and, consequently, must be answered not ignored.
I do not know Mr. Keller. He may have once harbored grandiose ambitions for his understanding of Vatican II. He may have been treated shabbily by a priest or bishop. (Who hasn’t?) He may have been poorly catechized. Such questions come naturally to a pastor, and I wish Keller – and everyone – always had the kind of pastor who could apply balm to troubled souls.
But, Keller has put forth his argument, such as it is, as an assertion. He is pronouncing himself on ideas, not experience, and so we can assess his ideas no matter what experiences he has had. Are they true? Do those ideas show a basic grasp of history and, in this case, theology? Could the type of claims Keller makes be made, say, about economics or geo-physics, and stand up to scrutiny? Sadly, the answer to all these questions is undoubtedly negative.