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Remembering... Gareth Moore, O.P. (1948-2002)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

By Br Thomas Thérèse, O.P. | Br. Thomas Thérèse remembers Gareth Moore's commitment to the Truth and opines we have much to learn from this commitment.

My brother, Gareth Moore OP, was a remarkable man, having taught himself Russian at school. He gained a scholarship to attend Corpus College, Oxford, the first from his school to gain such a scholarship. Later Gareth taught maths in Zambia and, like many Dominicans I’ve met, experimented with a vocation to the Benedictines. In 1977 Gareth joined the Dominicans. Sadly, aged 44, Gareth was diagnosed with renal cancer. Whilst he was in hospital he received many visits from brothers. One brother fondly remembers arriving at his bedside asking, ‘So what have you been doing today Gareth?’ to which he replied, ‘Dying’. This reminds me of the Aristotelian definition of truth ‘If you say of what is, that it is, then you have spoken truly’. Gareth was certainly a man who said things as he saw them.

Gareth recognised that all truth, no matter where it is to be found, or who says it, comes from God who is Truth itself. Following this love for the God who is Truth, Gareth took the Dominican commitment to the pursuit of Truth seriously. Gareth writes, ‘my opportunity and ability to write have been severely limited… I ask the reader for a certain indulgence towards those [errors] which are mere slips and that can be rectified without detriment to the central arguments I am pursuing. But if any of those central arguments themselves are faulty, they should be rejected; for my concern here is, in the end… truth, and the importance of good argument as a guide to it. Thus bad arguments however well-intentioned are to be rejected, including my own’. We still have much to learn from Gareth, especially when our era is often described as ‘post-truth’ and where many would not consider perhaps their own opinion should be rejected.

Gareth has brilliant advice we would all do well to heed. He reminds us that bad arguments should be avoided because they only convince others that there is no good argument underlining our position. This is a debatable point: plenty of people are convinced by bad arguments, otherwise there would be little disagreement. Nevertheless it is true to say that if Christians or the Church hold to bad arguments we undermine ourselves. Bad arguments make us comfortable with untruth, reinforcing our prejudices. We have a tendency to be sympathetic to arguments that seem to support our beliefs – something useful to remember in a culture where social media is so prevalent and destructive. We should submit our arguments to scrutiny to find the truth and be aware we ourselves may be wrong. Argue with the best examples of your opponent to better convince and seek truth. The best way to be listened to is to listen.

The pursuit of truth often meant he could have serious disagreements with his brothers. One of the older members of the community remembers Gareth with great love and warmth, particularly Gareth’s love of his brothers even in disagreement: ‘You know your brother loves you when he’s unafraid of disagreeing with you passionately and then you go to the pub and disagree some more. That was my relationship with Gareth’. Another brother noted a particular gift of Gareth's was to be able to argue on a matter focused solely on the arguments themselves. He says, 'Even though he may be personally invested in an argument, you often couldn't tell. Rather than getting worked up about it like another brother, he stayed focused on the arguments. He was critical and honest enough to follow an argument where it leads and thus reject an argument which he thought untrue even if it would cost him. I miss him a lot'.

Every evening before dinner in Oxford we pray for the dead of the Dominican Order, particularly those who have died on that particular day. We pray especially for Gareth, on the anniversary of his death, December 6th.

Br Thomas Thérèse Mannion O.P.

Br Thomas Thérèse Mannion O.P.

Br Thomas Thérèse is a student brother in simple vows, born on the Wirral. He felt called to the priesthood at an early age. Before joining the Order, he was employed in the Archdiocese of Westminster as a Catechetical and Youth Coordinator. Whilst studying Theology at Heythrop College, University of London, he stumbled across the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist which lead him to discover the Friars of the English Province on YouTube. He entered the noviciate in 2016. He enjoys Ice Skating, History of the Papacy and the writings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. | thomas.mannion@english.op.org

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(Fr Martin J Clayton) commented on 08-Dec-2019 05:51 PM
Very interesting and inspiring, thank you. The comments about truth and good arguments remind me of Thomas Gilby's "Barbara Celarent" - a bracing read!

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