Is The World Evil?
Three Hierarchies quotes Newman thus:
One literature may be better than another, but bad will be the best, when weighed in the balance of truth and morality. It cannot be otherwise; human nature is in all ages and all countries the same; and its literature, therefore, will ever and everywhere be one and the same also. Man's work will savour of man; in his elements and powers excellent and admirable, but prone to disorder and excess, to error and to sin. Such too will be his literature; it will have the beauty and the fierceness, the sweetness and the rankness, of the natural man, and, with all its richness and greatness, will necessarily offend the senses of those who, in the Apostle's words, are really "exercised to discern between good and evil."
Newman's hostile admiration to secular literature is perhaps in the same spirit as ascetism generally: if it feels good, don't do it. This has both Protestant and Roman Catholic versions. I suppose it's like the gnostic view that the body is bad. The other, correct, view is that God gave us the world to enjoy rather than as a damning distraction.
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