The Cathedral of Being: Re-enchantment and the Writings of the Popes

Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics 5 (1):Article 2 (2015)
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A rarely discussed issue that bears upon the topic of education is that which takes seriously the relationship between medium and message; how is the content of what is taught shaped by the way in which it is taught? It is a question of especial pertinence today when in all areas of pedagogy we find people advocating the use in education not only of computers but on-line access and the wonders of the virtual world as well. The argument of this paper, via the writings of the recent Pontiffs (and more secular authors with a philosophical and political interest in the area), is that the use of computers and on-line technology is deleterious to all education, but especially to Catholic education. This is because, while the understanding of real presence and mediation are fundamental to the faith, the idea of insubstantiality and friction-free immediacy are of a piece with virtual technology. As a medium of dissemination the latter cannot help but invest the content of the former with its understanding of presence. The paper also touches upon the economic factors at play in the use of virtual technology as well as the utopian hopes this technology gives rise to, hopes that are fundamentally inhuman and therefore at odds with the Catholic faith. The paper argues its point using the trope of fairyland and the opposition between, on the one hand, enchantment, and on the other, glamour.


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