Spiritual literature can be a great aid to an aspirant, or it can be a terrible hindrance. If it is used to inspire practice, motivate compassion, ad nourish devotion, it serves a very valuable purpose. If scriptural study is used for mere intellectual understanding, for pride of accomplishment, or as a substitute for actual practice, then one is taking in too much mental food, which is sure to result in intellectual indigestion. (152)
I had been brought up to be something of an intellectual, but there seemed at the time no connection between my newly formed ideas and the world to which I had returned. Indeed, I did not even recognize my ideas as ideas at all: they seemed to be culled from somewhere else and did not belong to me. I did not know then what I am just beginning to know now: that my ideas were indeed mine, that I had reacted and changed and moved, that I had already analyzed and synthesized, rejecting some thoughts, adopting others, putting yet others away for a while to be thought on. I did not recognize how mentally active an individual I had become, already divorced from the world through my own thoughts, my own perceptions of right and wrong, of honour and justice, of what mattered and what did not. (2007: 117)
We are all familiar with intellectuals who speak only on behalf of their country, class, religion, 'race,' 'gender,' or 'sexual orientation,' and who shape their opinions according to what they take to be the interest of their affinity of birth or predilection. But the distinctive feature of the intellectual in past times was precisely the striving for universality; not the unworldly or disingenuous denial of sectional identification but the sustained effort to transcend that identification in search of truth or the general interest. . . . In today's America, neoconservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide the ethical fig leaf. There really is no other diifference between them.
Notre Dame can and must be a crossroads where all the vital intellectual currents of our time meet in dialogue, where the great issues of the Church and the world today are plumbed to their depths, where every sincere inquirer is welcomed and listened to and respected by a serious consideration of what he has to say about his belief or unbelief, his certainty or uncertainty; where differences of culture and religion and conviction can co-exist with friendship, civility, hospitality, respect and love; a place where the endless conversation is harbored and not foreclosed.