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Dr. Edward Sri speaker at St. Thérèse lecture series Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
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Speaker and author Dr. Edward Sri gives his talk “Who Am I to Judge: Responding to Relativism with Love and Logic” at Holy Name Heights in Madison on October 18. It was the latest in the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Lecture Series in the Diocese of Madison. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- “Talk about love as quickly as you can . . . put it in the context of God’s love and God’s plan” was the advice given by Dr. Edward Sri when it comes to talking with those close to us about right and wrong.

Sri offered this advice, among many other suggestions, to his listening audience in the oratory at Holy Name Heights in Madison on October 18.

That advice came during his talk, “Who Am I to Judge: Responding to Relativism with Love and Logic.”

The talk was part of the St. Thérèse of Lisieux lecture series in the Diocese of Madison.

Sri is a theologian, author, and well-known Catholic speaker.

He has written several best-selling books, including A Biblical Walk through the Mass, Walking with Mary, and Who Am I to Judge? — Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love.

Sri is also the host of the acclaimed film series Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained.

He is a founding leader with Curtis Martin of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), where he currently serves as vice president of formation.

Defining relativism

The event began with evening prayer, presided over by Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, who thanked Sri for coming to the diocese.

“We’re very blessed to have him tonight” Bishop Morlino told those gathered.

Sri opened his talk by recalling a time in college when his roommate was learning about moral relativism or, “the idea that there’s no truth,” and every individual can make up their own reality.

 

Sri coyly asked him if that was true for everyone.

While the roommate admitted relativism didn’t make any logical sense, Sri recalled that “I did not change his mind.”

He added there is no “elevator speech” or quick points that will help anyone change their ideas on morality, but he did offer some “keys” to responding to relativism.

He said they weren’t arguments, but “key attitudes” and “key approaches”.

Law=love

The first key that Sri explained was that “law equals love.”

He added that when people are being talked to about truth and morals, “the last thing they think about is love.”

He advised everyone to “understand and frame all of our conversations about morality around love.”

To explain how a moral law comes from love, he used the example of his baby son, a “climber,” who ended up climbing onto the family’s monkey bars.

He noted, after any danger was averted, he had to make a law, or a “monkey bar decree” that his son could not climb on them, or like the Father, “give the moral law because I love him” and don’t want him to be hurt.

Everything the Catholic Church teaches about morality comes from God, Sri said. “It’s all about love.”

Making a judgment versus judging a soul

The next key was to emphasize the difference between making a judgment and judging someone’s soul.

He remarked that a quick and common relativist rebuttal to judging someone’s actions is that the Bible tells us that Jesus says not to judge.

He remarked many people, especially young people, do not want to be called a “bigot” or anything of the like, so they’re scared to say anything, or be indifferent.

“Indifference is not love,” Sri said emphatically.

“Our culture is getting us to be indifferent to people God has placed in our lives”.

He added that, “You have a responsibility to share the truth” with those who are making immoral decisions in their lives, although it might take time to build that relationship with that person, especially in the case of a family member.

When making judgments about someone’s actions, Sri told everyone, “God gave you a mind, he wants you to use it.”

“Love is to will the good of the other” and “seek what’s best for the other person,” he added.

Relativism is not neutral

His next key was relativism is not “neutral”.

He used examples of “for me” morality.

Instead of fully standing up for the faith, especially in social situations, one might say abortion and gay marriage are wrong “for me” in order to hang into their Catholic upbringing and values, but not impose a viewpoint on others that might be accepted.

He said when people start adapting “for me” morality, “they no longer have a compass to guide them” or “a standard outside of them to guide them,” and they may slowly find themselves doing behaviors and actions they hadn’t before, and they may even act as a relativist themselves.

“You realize you’re not the same person you used to be,” he said.

He remarked this happens to college students far too often.

Sri added that if one denies there is an absolute truth, one denies Jesus who is “the Truth”.

Relativism is a mask

Sri added that relativism could be used as a “mask,” also.

He used the example of a young man he spoke with at a recent conference.

The young man said he was a practicing Catholic, but used a “for me” approach to the controversial moral issues.

After they both determined the young man could be considered a relativist, Sri asked him if he’d pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament about it.

The next day, the man approached Sri and said he discerned he wasn’t really a relativist, but merely was using it as a mask to rationalize some immoral behaviors he had been partaking in.

“I was so moved by this honest, humble young man,” Sri said about the man, who had even argued that the 9/11 attacks were “good” for those that carried them out, according to a relativist mind set.

Approaching with love

When it comes to having a dialogue with someone who is a relativist, Sri encouraged everyone to not “just debate the issue, love the person, and learn from your own experience.”

He added to “have more compassion, patience, and gentleness with them” when discussing what could be emotional topics.

Additionally, he told of the importance of finding a “doorway to get to a legitimate dialogue” to converse about the foundations of morality.

He advised to ask them questions about why they believe what they do and help them come to truth on issues of morality.

For more information on Edward Sri, go to his website at http://edwardsri.com/

 
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