6.3.2 Questions for discussion half way through unit

Back to 6.3.1

Unit 6 Contents

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This is a good ‘half-way point’ in Unit 6 to pause to review and discuss what has been covered so far.  You have had an opportunity to reflect on your own experience of family, and to give attention to statistics showing some changes related to family life in Britain. The second part of the unit looked at how what Catholic teaching means by ‘natural law’ fits against the background of the obviously very important question of how we should understand human wellbeing. On the last screen we began to connect that with what we find in CST documents about family life.

Here are some questions for discussion:

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(a)  Discuss the following aspects of your experience of family life (these are some of those listed in the exercise on 6.1.2): 

  • what made your family life good, and what did not
  • the place of parents’ work in relation to the family
  • the economic experience – poverty or prosperity, or something in between?
  • whether the family was outward-looking or introspective
  • how the family related to its local community – were its members involved in activities beyond the necessary things (work, school and shopping)?

(b)  Among the main changes since 1951 which the statistics on 6.1.3 show are the following:

  • The number of marriages each year (per head of population) has halved.
  • The number of divorces each year has gone up about four times.
  • More people live alone (at least over the past 15-20 years), especially in the 46-64 age-group.
  • The proportion of people cohabiting before marriage has gone up from less than 5% to about 80%.
  • Most people now marry in a ceremony unconnected with religion.
  • The proportion of children born to unmarried parents has risen from 5% to about half.

To what extent are you surprised to learn of the changes that 6.1.3 details?

To what extent are these statistics reflected in the experience of your own family and friends?

What do you see as the positives and negatives in these changes?

(c)  What we looked at on p. 6.2.1 can be summed up as follows:

CST’s view that human wellbeing is ‘integral human development’ means that it can include within it a proper recognition of the goods of pleasure and individual freedom.  By contrast, hedonist and voluntarism are reductionist.

Discuss the above statement. 

If you are a Christian and accept the ‘integral human development’ view, how would you try to convince someone of it whose view was basically hedonist or voluntarist?

In other words, in relation specifically to hedonism, how would you argue against someone who said he or she really would be willing to plug themselves into a permanent-pleasure machine?

(d)  What does Catholic teaching mean by ‘natural law’? 

What is the inadequate, indeed misleading, understanding of ‘natural law’ that the work of Henri de Lubac pointed to and sought to correct?

(e)  Discuss what each of the following statements mean, and what points could be made both in defence of them and in critique of them. (They all come from Compendium #213, which was in the reading on the last page.) 

The family, the natural community in which human social nature is experienced, makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the good of society.

A society built on a family scale is the best guarantee against drifting off course into individualism or collectivism, because within the family the person is always at the centre of attention as an end and never as a means.

It is patently clear that the good of persons and the proper functioning of society are closely connected “with the healthy state of conjugal and family life”.1.  [‘Conjugal’ means ‘to do with the relations of men and women in marriage’.]

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End of 6.3.2

Go to 6.3.3 Familiaris Consortio: ‘The Plan of God for Marriage and the Family’

 

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  1. This internal quotation is from Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, #47. 

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