Friday, October 20, 2017

Well, good for her. And count me among those who "seemed to be sure what was right and what was wrong."

"Gerty Pestalozzi and Eduard Thurneysen really tried to understand the different problems each of the three had and did not advise a certain direction.  But others seemed to be sure what was right and what was wrong. . . .  His mother very often expressed how little she agreed to what he was doing.  In 1933, when they consider the option of divorce, he tells his mother that he is tired of having to discuss all issues with her:  'Again:  I would be very happy if you could tell yourself that a man who is 47 years old should be able to know what he does when he comes to such a conclusion after a marriage of 20 years, and if you could trust this son of yours who after all is not unfamiliar to you that he does not want unscrupulously [(er nicht gewissenlos will)].'  His mother responds the following day harshly that God’s commandments are for all.  'What is the most brilliant theology good for, if it is to be shipwrecked in one’s own house [(Was hilft die scharfsinnigste Theologie, wenn sie im eigenen Hause Schiffbruch leidet)]?'"

     Christiane Tietz, "Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirschbaum," Theology today 74, no. 2 (July 2017):  106-107 (86-111).  There are problems with this article:  the fact that the wife of Barth's youth gets only a few lines in a footnote by way of a biography, but Charlotte, nine short paragraphs in a eponymously entitled sub-section of the main body; the clumsy translations; Tietz' (starstruck?) refusal to cut bait (as exemplified by the condescension exhibited here towards those who "seemed to be sure what was right and what was wrong", as well as the word "harshly"); and so forth.  And then there are the serious problems with Barth as outlined by (but by no means condemned in) it:  the compromised life, the theology of personal "experience [(Erfahrung)]" (!) and feeling constructed to justify it, and the implications of the said theology of personal experience for the very great confusions our own time, despite Barth's purported "No!" to all of that (though of course I am by no means a Barth specialist!).  If this makes me "'the legalist that under different circumstances [(i.e. without the persistent adultery) Barth] might have become'" (111), then so be it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"intellectual resources about which the contemporary academy, for the most part, has only crude and tendentious intimations"

     "What . . . academicians [invoking ‘the academic motif of intellectual freedom, patient research, evidence-based judgment, and rational argument’] ignore . . . is that the gospel within the church has continually been at the center of intense and critical dialectic:  textual, hermeneutical, historical, intercultural, philosophical, theological.  Further, the church has steadfastly recognized the revelatory powers of inspiration, witness, repentance, and communal conflict within and without, as a stimulant to continuous redefinition and purification.  These are intellectual resources about which the contemporary academy, for the most part, has only crude and tendentious intimations.
     "Christian scholars knowledgeable in the long dialectical tradition of their faith know that it has zestfully grappled with criticism in diverse cultures and centuries.  It has been able to learn:  often when it was right, and also from when it was wrong.  If Christian scholars have the insight and the nerve to believe that the gospel and its church are gifted, that together they offer a privileged insight, a 'determinative perspective,' then they will be grateful to grapple some more, using the very insights of the gospel to judge critically both the church and the academy and the culture.
     "But if they lose their nerve and are intimidated by their academic colleagues, . . . they, too, will end up judging the church by the academy and the gospel by the culture.  In time, they will probably lose the capacity to tell them apart.  They will fail to judge the academy, or to notice intellectuals who are in thrall, not free; argument that is not rational; judgments that have become dogmas roughly enforced."

     James Tunstead Burtchaell, The dying of the light:  the disengagement of colleges and universities from their Christian churches (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 1998), 850-851.
     . . . sophisticated learning is [not] like wealth and power, those inexorable corrupters of authentic faith.  Yet . . . higher learning, if not an irresistible seducer, is still a very able one.  The mind's affluence does seem at least as beguiling as that of the body.  There was, in the stories told here, little learned rage against the dying of the light.  Yet this book is written in the belief that the ambition to unite 'knowledge and vital piety' is a wholesome and hopeful and stubborn one.  It is a shame that so much of yesterday's efforts has become compost for those of tomorrow. 
     . . . The failures of the past, so clearly patterned, so foolishly ignored, and so lethally repeated, emerge pretty clearly from these stories.  Anyone who requires further imagination to recognize and remedy them is not up to the taks of trying again, and better.

Veni Creator Spiritus

  Standard critical edition fingered by the 3rd rev. (2005) edition of the ODCC:  G. M. Dreves, Lateinische Hymnendichter des Mittelalters 2 =AHMA 50 (1907):  193-194.

God's "grace would not be grace without His [wrath]"

"the grace of God would not be grace if it were separated from the holiness in which God causes only His own and therefore His good will to prevail and be done, holding aloof from and opposing everything that is contrary to it, judging and excluding and destroying everything that resists it. And grace would not be free grace if it were bound to any single form of its appearance and manifestation, if God always had to show Himself monotonously as 'love,' or what we think of as love, if He were not permitted to negate that which has to be negated, if He could not conceal Himself when He is resisted, revealing His grace only in the alien form of unwillingness and wrath. Above all, grace would not be grace, the serious and effective address of God to man, the effective establishment of fellowship with him, if God did not oppose man's opposition to Himself, if He left man to go his own way unaccused and uncondemned and unpunished, if He ignored the miserable pride of man, if the man of sin had nothing to fear from Him, if it were not a fearful thing to fall into His hands (Heb. 1229). . . . His grace would not be grace without His judgment. . . ."

     Karl Barth, CD IV/1, 490 =KD IV/1, 545-546.  But of course, on the other hand,
That His grace would not be grace without His judgment is just as true as the supposed opposite with which it is indissolubly connected, that there is no holiness of God which can be separated from His grace, and therefore no wrath of Godthis is something which, unfortunately, A. Ritschl did not even remotely understandthat can be anything other than the redemptive fire of His love, which has its final and proper work in the fact that for our sake, for the sake of man fallen in sin and guilt, He did not spare His only Son.

Monday, October 16, 2017

"You owe God a penny, and He will not accept a pearl from you in its place."

"You owe God a penny, and He will not accept a pearl from you in its place.  Having lost chastity, do not allow fornication to remain in its place and give alms because of it:  God will not accept them, for in place of sanctification He requires sanctification....
     "Saint Ephraim said, 'In summertime, do not struggle against the scorching heat in winter clothing.'  Let each man reap by means that oppose the iniquity he has sown.  Every disease is cured with its own remedies.  And you, who are overcome with envy, why do you battle against sleep?"

     Saint Isaac the Syrian, Homily 5/42-43.  The ascetical homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian, rev. 2nd ed., trans. from the Greek and Syriac by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Boston, 2011), 156-157.  Cf. Mystic treatises by Isaac of Nineveh translated from Bedjan’s Syriac text with an introduction and registers by A. J. Wensink (Amsterdam, 1923), 43-44/63.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

"The art of man is the expression of his rational and disciplined delight in the forms and laws of the creation of which he forms a part."

     John Ruskin, The laws of Fésole . . . (Boston:  Dana Estes & company, 1877), 11 =chap. 1, All great art is praise.  I was put onto this by Michael Hanby:  "Homo faber and/or Homo adorans:  on the place of human making in a sacramental cosmos," Communio:  international Catholic review 38, no. 2 (Summer 2011):  230-231 (198-236).

"One world at a time."

     "By his own account [Parker] Pillsbury then remarked to Thoreau, 'You seem so near the dark river, that I almost wonder how the opposite shore may appear to you.'  Thoreau's answer remains, for all intents and purposes, his last word:  'One world at a time.'"

     Robert Hogue Harrison, "The true American," New York review of books 64, no. 13 (August 17, 2017):   17 (14-17).
     But would that be the Christian view?  I wonder that, too, about these beautiful words, also quoted (from Walden) on p. 17:  "Be it life or death, we crave only reality."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"the triumph of action and technologism over contemplation"

     "The crisis in liturgy is therefore a crisis of the first order that goes right to the heart of the 'social question,' and thus the human question.  Objectively, the loss of a transcendent horizon signals the eclipse of what Cardinal Ratzinger calls liturgy's 'cosmic dimension,' the relationship between the paschal mystery and the meaning and destiny of the universe.  Liturgy thus loses its connection with life.  Subjectively, it represents a deficit of adoration, wonder, and gratitude.  Both are reflected in the inorganic and a-cultural character of contemporary liturgical development and its failure to generate a culture of festive gratitude capable of reflecting the mysteries of creation and redemption in time and space or to penetrate the world of human making.  The crisis in liturgy thus reflects the triumph of action and technologism over contemplation.  To acquiesce to this crisis is ultimately to deliver up the laity to the inhuman dynamism of technological culture.  For if there is no place for beauty and for contemplative making in the life of the contemporary Church, what hope is there for the future of human making as a whole?  Those who would argue for the 'democratic' leveling of liturgy, for removing of all trace of grandeur or mystery or transcendence in the name of 'the people' argue at cross purposes with themselves."

     Michael Hanby, "Homo faber and/or Homo adorans:  on the place of human making in a sacramental cosmos," Communio:  international Catholic review 38, no. 2 (Summer 2011):  234-235 (198-236).

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"You do not pay any attention to what you are praying, yet you want God to?"

Σὺ οὐκ ἀκούεις τῆς εὐχῆς σου, καὶ τὸν θεὸν θέλεις εἰσακοῦσαι τῆς εὐχῆς σου;

     Pseudo John Chrysostom, De Chananaea (On the Canaanites) =PG 52, col. 458.  Literally, "You do not hear your prayer, yet you want God to hearken to your prayer?"  The subject is those who "'recite innumerable verses of prayer, yet are withdrawn; but they know not what they have said.  Their lips move but their ears hear not'" (DS, sv Attention (tom. 1, col. 1063), by R. Vernay).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cardinal Bellarmine warns Pope Clement VIII in 1602 that he is no theologian

From the autobiography of 1613:

"Nevertheless [Bellarmine] himself often warned [(admonuit)] the Pope that he should beware of self-delusions [(fraudes)]; and that he should not think himself capable, by personal study (since he was not a theologian), of arriving at an understanding of the most obscure matters; and openly predicted to him that that question was not to be defined by His Holiness; and when [His Holiness] reiterated [that it] would be self-defined [(replicaret se definiturum)], [Bellarmine] responded:  ‘Your Holiness will not define it,’ and he predicted this same thing to Cardinal del Monte, who later reminded [Bellarmine] himself [of this]."

"Ipse tamen N. saepe admonuit Pontificem, ut caveret fraudes, et ut non putaret, se studio proprio, cum theologus non esset, posse ad intelligentiam rei obscurissimae pervenire, et aperte illi praedixit, a Sanctitate sua quaestionem illam non esse definiendam, et cum ille replicaret se definiturum, respondit N.:  Sanctitas vestra non eam definiet, et hoc idem praedixit Cardinali de Monte, qui postea ipsi N. in memoriam revocavit."

From the letter of 1602, as translated into German, with the original Italian (which I do not really read) inserted:

"the way [of self-study that] you have taken [will] turn out to be too long and too hard for Your Holiness."

"la via che ha preso riesce molto lunga e molto laboriosa a V. Beatitudine."

"such a great effort on the part of Your Holiness is not necessary, and you have already seen and read enough."

"tanta fatica della Sta Vra non è necessaria, e già ha visto e letto assai."

"many popes have, without struggling away at studying, happily condemned many errors with the help of councils and universities, and others have by much studying brought themselves and the Church into great suffering."

"molti Pontefici senza faticarsi in studiare hanno felicemente dannati molti errori con ajuto di concilii ed accademie, ed altri con molto studiare hanno messo in gran travaglio se stessi e l chiesa."

"Most Holy Father!  I do not mention these things to prevent you from studying, but to encourage you to consider that the way is too long, and that on this way the Church suffers the greatest harm."

"Bmo. Padre non dico queste cose per divertirla dallo studio ma per metterle in considerazione che questa via è troppo lunga, et in questo mezzo la Chiesa riceve grandissimo danno."

"commend the matter to God and then . . . decide to put this fire out quickly."

"raccommandi il negozio a Dio, e poi si risolva di estinguere presto fuoco."

     For the sources, go here.  Bellarmine was profoundly opposed to Pope Clement VIII's determination to master the intricacies of the de auxiliis controversy because he didn't think him capable of grasping and then deciding correctly on his own a matter that the Jesuit Bellarmine himself had been studying professionally (in opposition to the Dominicans) for thirty years.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The primary sources on Cardinal Bellarmine's slap-down of Pope Gregory VIII in 1602

Letter to Pope Clement VIII (1602):

* Italian original:

Autobiographical account (1613):

* Vita ven[erabilis] Roberti cardinalis Bellarmini (Louvain, 1753 (Rome, 1676, but composed in 1613)), p. 43 

* Sammlung der neusten Schriften, welche die Jesuiten in Portugal betreffen 4 (1762):  Latin/German, p. 84/85 ff.
* Selbstbiographie des Cardinals Bellarmin (Bonn, 1887)

     For some excerpts, go here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Semper ambigua

"The concept of the semper reformanda has been popular with persons of very different views.  And this popularity lies undoubtedly in the vagueness in which the semper reformanda is wrapped."

"de semper reformanda-gedachte bij personen van zeer uiteenlopende opvattingen populair is geweest.  En deze populariteit ligt ongetwijfeld in de vaagheid waarmee het semper reformanda omhuld is."

     J. N. Mouthaan, "Besprekingsartikel:  Ecclesia semper reformanda:  modern of premodern?," Documentatieblad Nadere Reformatie 38, no. 1 (2014):  89 (86-89), translation mine.  One of Mouthaan's contributions to the history is Anna Maria van Schurman's reference to "een 'ware particuliere gereformeerde, ofte sig reformerende kerke'" in 1670.  But unlike Johannes Hoornbeeck, who wielded the reformanda against schism, Schurman used it as an expression of schism.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

interior intimo meo


"Although being is not irrational, it is nonetheless always more than what a mind can comprehend just by looking at it.  As created being, it is not infinite; yet even as finite being it can never be so exhaustively captured that there is nothing further to grasp.  The infinite Creator has equipped it with the grace of participation in the inexhaustibility of its origin.  You are never finished with any being, be it the tiniest gnat or the most inconspicuous stone.  It has a secret opening, through which the never-failing replenishments of sense and significance ceaselessly flow to it from eternity [(Es hat eine geheime Öffnung, durch die ihm immer neue Vorrätte an Sinn und Bedeutung vom Ewigen her zufließen)]."

     Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-logic:  theological logical theory, vol. 1, The truth of the world (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2000):  107, underscoring mine.  I was put onto this by Michael Hanby, "Homo faber and/or homo adorans:  on the place of human making in a sacramental cosmos," Communio:  international Catholic review 38, no. (Summer 2011):  216 (198-236).  The quote appears on p. 113 of the German edition of 1987.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

redemptio-libertas, adoptio-hereditas

"O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption, look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters, that those who believe in Christ may receive true freedom and an everlasting inheritance.  Through."

"Deus, per quem nobis et redemptio venit et praestatur adoptio, filios dilectionis tuae benignus intende, ut in Christo credentibus et vera tribuatur libertas, et hereditas aeterna.  Per."

O God, by whom to us both redemption comes and adoption is offered/accomplished, turn, [being] benificent, your attention to the sons/children of your love, to the end that, upon those who believe in Christ, both true liberty is bestowed, and an eternal inheritance.

     Collect for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Roman Missal.  This is present in the Wilson edition of the mid-8th-century Gelasian sacramentary.  Bruylants, nos. 96 and 98 (vol. 1, pp. 45-46), fingers the post-790 sacramentary of Gellone, a sacramentary in the Gelasian tradition.  It also occurs as no. 427 in the post-790 Hadrianum, a sacramentary in the Gregorian tradition.  Father Z gives the pre-2010 "translation" as
God our Father, you redeem us, and make us your children in Christ. Look upon us, give us true freedom and bring us to the inheritance you promised.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mahlmann, quoting Dittmer, on the phrase ecclesia semper reformanda

The traditional dichotomous division . . . of [the] church into [a] spiritual community (inward, eccl[esia] abscondita, proprie, community of believers) on the one hand, and [a] bodily community (outward, eccl[esia] visibilis, improprie, community of the baptized) on the other, must . . . be extended out into a trichotomously articulated concept of the church (I-III).  According to this [conception] it is (I) its pneumatic foundation ([the] opus Dei [(work of God)] that establishes the church as [a] spiritual community.  Within the sphere of the church as traditional so-called bodily community one must distinguish further between the dimension of [the] bodily community as (II) concept or typically ideal way of speaking or regulative idea, and th[at] dimension of the] bodily community as (III) [that] historical reality to which ecclesia semper reformanda est applies.   While the four classical notae internae or essential properties of the church (one, holy, catholic, and apostolic) are applicable to level I, the two reformed characteristics or notae externae (Word and Sacrament as means of grace; cf. CA 7) are to be applied to level II.
     "According to [the systematic theologian Johannes M.] Dittmer, ecclesia semper reformanda can therefore be applied exclusively to aspect of the 'church' no. III, and has therefore a narrow significance.  The call [for perpetual reform issued by] the formula can never [1] touch upon aspect of the 'church' no. II—that is its mission [(Auftrag)], the 'administration of the means of grace instituted by God' (CA 5, 7, and 8), to put it in the ancient phraseology [quite] deliberately—[2] dispense with it, or even [3] want only to alter ([i.e.] improve upon) it.  And certainly not aspect no. I of the 'church', for this is, as worked [(gewirkt)] by the means of grace (aspect II of the ‘church’ no. II), the opus Dei solius [(work of God alone).  But] in order that this might be grasped even more precisely, I propose to tease out of aspect of the 'church' no. III, in the sense of the optimal, an aspect no. IV in the sense of the deficient historical accomplishment of its task, and to relate ecclesia semper reformanda only to this aspect of the 'church' no. IV.  Every understanding of the formula that goes beyond this narrow significance is illegitimate, since this—to put it with Balthasar Mentzer (1565-1627)—[would be to] destroy 'die gantze Ordnung vnsers Heyls | und alle die Mittel | welche Gott zu vnser Seligkeit verordnet hat [(the entire order of our salvation | and all the means | that God has established for our beatitude)]'."

     Theodor Mahlmann, "'Ecclesia semper reformanda': eine historische Aufklärung: neue Bearbeitung," in Hermeneutica sacra: Studien zur Auslegung der Heiligen Schrift im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert:  Bengt Hägglund zum 90. Geburtstag, ed. Torbjörn Johansson, Robert Kolb, and Johann Anselm Steiger, Historia hermeneutica:  Series studia 9 (Berlin:  Walter de Gruyter, 2010), 383 (381-442).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

mysterio > virtute

"May this sacred offering, O Lord, confer on us always the blessing of salvation, that what it celebrates in mystery it may accomplish in power.  Through Christ our Lord."

"Benedictionem nobis, Domine, conferat salutarem sacra semper oblatio, ut, quod agit mysterio, virtute perficiat.  Per Christum Dominum nostrum."

A salutary benediction upon us, O Lord, may this sacred oblation always confer, that what it advances in mystery it may bring to a conclusion/perfect in virtue.  Through Christ our Lord.

     Super oblata, Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Roman Missal.  =Bruylants no. 81 (vol. 2, p. 32), from the 8th-century Gelasian sacramentary.

T. S. Eliot in 1935

"the fundamental problems are problems of theology":

"at a moment when ecumenical Christianity is engaged in a fight for its existence it finds itself deeply divided.  The most important divisions by no means always coincide with confessional differences; they are often found within the same confession.   Deeper in many cases than the differences which separate one confession from another are disagreements in the conception of God, in the understanding of His relation to the world and His purpose for mankind, in the interpretation of man and of the Christian ethic. . . ."

     T. S. Eliot, "The Christian in the modern world," a previously unpublished lecture "delivered at the annual meeting of the Church Union Literature Association at Church House on January 31, 1935."  "Outside the catacombs," Times literary supplement no. _____ (July 7, 2017):  18 (16-18).

Saturday, September 2, 2017

ICEL, the International Commission for Emotivism in the Liturgy

Sankt Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, 390, p. 84 (c. 980+)
How the heck do you get from
Domini est terra et plenitudo eius; venite, adoremus eum 
The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; come, let us adore him
Come, let us worship God who holds the world and its wonders in his creating hand 
(Antiphon to the Invitatory, Saturday, Weeks 1 and 3)?
Come, let us worship God who brings the world and its wonders from darkness into light 
(not yet sure where this one comes from)?

Friday, September 1, 2017

"The Christian can accept a fact which is incompatible with Christianity: he cannot accept a theory which is incompatible with Christianity."

     T. S. Eliot, "The Christian in the modern world," a previously unpublished lecture "delivered at the annual meeting of the Church Union Literature Association at Church House on January 31, 1935."  "Outside the catacombs," Times literary supplement no. _____ (July 7, 2017):  16 (16-18).  Eliot is discussing the distinction between "support[ing] a system which is in existence," and "giv[ing] assent to one which is as yet ideal," namely either Communism or Fascism.

"What ideological and semantic shifts might achieve better results, by enrolling everyone in a more productive dialogue?"

"Like Gay, when attempting to discuss white privilege, Eddo-Lodge encounters denial and defensivenessthis is, she says, 'one of the reasons why I stopped talking to white people about race.  Trying to convince stony faces of disbelief has never appealed to me.'  Gay is more circumspect.  'We need to stop playing Privilege or Oppression Olympics', she says, 'because we'll never get anywhere until we find more effective ways of talking about difference.  Indeed, Eddo-Lodge nuances her own stance:  'I am also an insider in so many ways.  I am university-educated, able-bodied, and I speak and write in ways very similar to those I criticize.'  This begs the question:  if we accept that privilege is 'relative and contextual', as [Roxanne] Gay suggests, do we need to re-examine the notion and naming of white privilege?  What ideological and semantic shifts might achieve better results, by enrolling everyone in a more productive dialogue?"

     Bernardine Evaristo, "Check your privilege:  a provocative argument about race relations," Times literary supplement no. ____ (July 7, 2017):  12.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The "'structural' sin of modern liberal cultures"

"the peculiarity of our age lies precisely in its ability to render invisible, as it were, the primacy it accords to relations of power, through its claim of a technology or technical expertise or institutional procedures considered 'neutral' 'in themselves,' and thereby supposedly equally open to moral or immoral use.  Our age's distinctive 'imbecilism,' in other words, consists in its ignorance of the more basicontological-theologicalsense in which a false primacy of power-relations is  hidden already in this claim of neutrality."

     David L. Schindler, "The meaning of the human in a technological age:  Homo faber, Homo sapiens, Homo amans," Communio:  international Catholic review 26, no. 1 (Spring 1999):  90-91 (80-103).
what is most objectionable about 'proceduralism' is not so much that it grants priority to (putatively empty) form over substance, but that the priority it grants to form itself already hiddenly contains (however unwittingly) the substance of mechanism.  'Empty' procedures are exactly the mechanized hence dumb procedures that Bernanos saw as the content of imbecilism.
     . . . an appeal to 'formal' institutional procedures and freedom of choice as the primary means for putting forward a genuinely creaturely notion of the self just so far already embodies (however hiddenly and unwittingly) a contrary, technological notion of the self.  Here, then, we see the peculiar difficulty in dealing with modern technological problems:  those who would offer a solution to these problems characteristically appeal to methods that imply a primacy of the (mechanistic) anthropology-ontology which, at the most basic (objective) level, generates the problems in the first place. . . .
     . . . particular attention must be given to the distinct way in which modern liberal societies conceal their (ontological-spiritual) ambiguity and indeed 'voluntarize-privatize' their sin:  that is, by claiming to have carved out 'public-institutional-technical-procedural' space empty in principle of any ('evil') ideology, leaving evil to be exhaustively identified with an always (supposedly) private abuse of freedom [(99-101)].

Hope springs eternal

"Believers told each other stories of how Hitler carryied a well-thumbed New Testament in his vest pocket.  Even in 1941, a rumor spread 'that Hitler had experienced a conversion [and] now confesses the Christian faith.'"

     Alec Ryrie, Protestants:  the faith that made the modern world (New York:  Viking, 2017), 273, citing The Third Reich and the Christian churches, ed. Peter Matheson (Edinburgh:  T & T Clark, 1981), 96.  This is followed immediately by the section on the German Christians, whose "de-Judaized Bible," the Botschaft Gottes (Weimar:  Verlag Deutsche Christen, 1940), got it nowhere with the Nazis (273-277).

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"the empathetic freedom felt by interpreters of such distant epidemics, and their willingness to judge individuals’ failings or heroism"

Unauthenticated source
     "Eyam plague was not, of course, a romantic interlude in village life: the bloody weight of the epidemic is unavoidably asserted by the death roll of the parish register, whether it was over three-quarters or under one half of the inhabitants who died. The villagers, Mompesson, Stanley and their neighbours may or may not have saved the area from further infection, but that this question remains unresolved hardly diminishes the horror of the events they experienced. This very extremity of experience which gives the story its enduring interest must also give us greatest pause for thought when seeking to understand such events or to interpret the heroic or romantic narratives that continue to permeate accounts of epidemics, even in the more recent inversions where the old heroes are dethroned and bravery reinterpreted as tragic ignorance. It is salutary to contrast the empathetic freedom felt by interpreters of such distant epidemics, and their willingness to judge individuals’ failings or heroism, with the more recent recognition by historians and others of the difficulties of addressing and representing traumatic events such as genocide, which constantly escape our attempt to grasp and describe them. As William Mompesson noted after the epidemic had drawn to a close: 'The condition of the place has been so sad, that I persuade myself it did exceed all history and example.'"

    Patrick Wallis, “A dreadful heritage:  interpreting epidemic disease at Eyam, 1666-2000,” History workshop journal no. 61 (2006):  50 (31-56).

"The real city produces only criminals; the imaginary city produces the gangster."

     Robert Warshow, as quoted by Oliver Harris in "LA confidential," Times literary supplement no. ____ (August 11, 2017):  26.

"Is it wrong to take the minority position on the grounds that so many people can't be right?"

     Barton Swain, "Intellectual honesty," Times literary supplement no. ____ (August 11, 2017):  17.
This is where intellectual honesty comes into it.  I find it hard to dislike a public figure whom the vast majority of writers and intellectuals detest and fear and expend enormous amounts of energy denouncing and ridiculing.  Maybe they're right.  Maybe [Trump] is all the things his despisers say.  But there's just not much fun in joining the parade.  Writers don't write what everyone else is writing, because if they do no one will care enough to read them.  My instinct is to distrust, or at least to be bored by, what everyone agrees is the true and right view of things—not because I'm so high-minded and independent, but because I'm afflicted with that writerly perversity that can't quite be happy in any overwhelming majority.  It's not so much contrarianism—the desire to contradict for its own sake—as a suspicion of consensus. 
     Is it intellectually dishonest, though, to hold a view in part because you regard those who hold the opposite view to be silly or off-putting or distracted?  Or to ask a related question:  Is it wrong to take the minority position on the grounds that so many people can't be right?"

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sententia semper reformanda

On the rather astonishing history of the saying Ecclesia reformata et semper reformanda, my summary of a comment by Theodor Mahlmann:

These, the concept's rather innovative and elemental roots in late 17th-century Dutch proto-Pietism (rather than the 16th-century Reformers) aside, it was in fact the 20th-century Reformed theologian Karl Barth who from 1947 both crystallized (Mahlmann (2010), 384 ff.) and popularized the saying we tend to think of as so ancient today.

Yet within a decade or so, Barth himself had forgotten that 
he had been the one to assemble it into an aphorism, and was asking the Catholic theologian Hans Küng—who, following Barth, had called the Catholic Church, too, an "Ecclesia reformanda" in an unpublished lecture delivered at Barth's invitation in January of 1959, and was later instrumental in getting the phrases "Ecclesia . . . semper purificanda" and "perennem reformationem" inserted into the documents of Vatican II (Mahlmann (2010), 391n43)—if he (Küng) could perchance shed any light on its presumably ancient origins (since by that time Barth had apparently accepted that the formula, too, was owed to ancient tradition (in the German of Mahlman (2010) at 388, "scheint Karl Barth . . . gar angenommen zu haben, diese verdanke sich alter Überlieferung").  It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that Peter Vogelsanger, editor-in-chief of the journal Reformatio, was calling it "th[at] ancient [(alt)] Reformed formula of the ecclesia semper reformanda" as early as 1961 (Mahlmann (2010), 394)!

Etc.  Sententia semper reformanda!

See Theodor Mahlmann, "'Ecclesia semper reformanda': eine historische Aufklärung: neue Bearbeitung," in Hermeneutica sacra: Studien zur Auslegung der Heiligen Schrift im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert:  Bengt Hägglund zum 90. Geburtstag, ed. Torbjörn Johansson, Robert Kolb, and Johann Anselm Steiger, Historia hermeneutica:  Series studia 9 (Berlin:  Walter de Gruyter, 2010), 381-442.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"whether the human body—the sexually differentiated bodies of men and women—has any inherent meaning prior to the arbitrary imposition of one by an act of will"

"the deepest theological meaning of the Reformation. . . . turns not on whether the Son assumed human nature—most communities that identify themselves as Christian still agree on that—but rather, ultimately, on whether there really is such a thing as nature, including human nature, for the Son to assume.  Of course the answer to this question determines not only the meaning of the Incarnation and every other theological question, but whether we can any longer mount a coherent and comprehensive defense of the humanum.
     "It is around this question of fundamental anthropology and the salvation of the humanum that the New Reformation is likely to take place, even if that too is not always fully clear to the people and communities that take part in it.  For it is ultimately this question that is dividing Protestant communities internally, and it is ultimately the Church’s various attempts to maintain and even deepen the understanding of the human person as a per se unum, a meaningful body called in love to a gift that is comprehensive, complete, and fruitful, that has provoked the most vociferous opposition from the world, from other Christian communities, and from within the Church itself.  These facts suggest that the Catholic Church, though battered and bruised from without and humiliated by scandal within, will remain for all that the last bastion of a complete and genuine humanism capable of comprehending the incomprehensible mystery of the person in its totality.  As those who find themselves stranded have this question forced upon them, they may find, like Peter himself, that there is nowhere else to turn."

Insofar as the Reformation is not sustained by theology, or rather insofar as the real theological stakes of the Reformation remain misidentified [(cf. 567.2)], none of the factors currently upholding it is sufficient to prevent it from succumbing to the ravages of contemporary culture or is capable of preserving those traditions in their distinction from that culture [(568)].
Cf. this, which strikes me as problematic for those "conservative" groups operating on the margins of the mainline:  "few Protestant denominations maintain their separation from Rome out of commitment to the same theological convictions that prompted their separation in the first place" (567).
     There is much more of value here.
     The heading comes from p. 570.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Not a Spiritual presence only, but a Christological one as well

"the Lord was not satisfied with sending the Holy Spirit to abide with us; he has himself promised to be with us, even unto the end of the world.  The Paraclete is present unseen because he has not taken human form, but by means of the great and holy mysteries [[1a] we offer] [1b] the Lord submits himself to our sight and touch and through the dread and holy mysteries, because he has taken our nature upon him and bears it eternally.
     "Such is the power of the priesthood, such is the Priest.  For after [2] once offering himself, and being made a sacrifice he did not end his priesthood, but [3] is continually offering the sacrifice for us (leitourgei tēn leitourgian hēmin), by virtue of which he is our advocate before God for ever."

     Nicholas Cabasilas, A commentary on the divine liturgy 28.3-4, as trans. Hussey & McNulty (Crestwood, NY:  St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1977), 71, as reproduced in David Bentley Hart, The hidden and the manifest:  essays in theology and metaphysics (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2017), 195.  Greek:  Explication de la divine liturgie, trans. Salaville, ed. Bornert, Gouillard, and Périchon (Paris:  Cerf, 1967), 178.  The numbers I've inserted draw attention to the "threefold sense" in which the Eucharist is, for the Orthodox (and of course Catholic) tradition, a sacrifice (193- ).  "[we offer]" has been inserted into the words of Nicholas to bring them into line with the schema as presented on p. 193, where the stress is on [1a] our "offering of bread and wine and so of ourselves (our substance)," though there is no question of [1b] the Lord's not "submitting himself to our sight and touch" and taste in the form of the Real Presence (that being indeed the burden of the entire essay, despite the purely obligatory excursus on the Orthodox hesitancy with respect to unleavened bread and transubstantiation (200.1-203.1).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church"

". . . ne respicias peccata nostra, sed fidem Ecclesiae tuae. . . ."

     The peace, Communion rite, Roman Missal.
     Marie-Thérèse Nadeau, on pp. 103-106 of Foi de l’église:  évolution et sens d’une formule, Théologie historique 78 (Paris:  Beauchesne, 1988), follows the scholarship back into early 11th-century Germany, or, more specifically, "an ordinary of the Mass of Minden c. 1030," Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 1151 Helmst. (105).  In the 1570 Missal of Pius V (and probably earlier) it was one of three prayers said by the priest in private just before communion (104):
. . . ne respicias peccata mea sed fides Ecclesiae tuae. . . .

The commandments as "the first and indispensable condition for having eternal life"

"the young man's commitment to respect all the moral demands of the commandments represents the absolutely essential ground in which the desire for perfection can take root and mature, the desire, that is, for the meaning of the commandments to be completely fulfilled in following Christ."

     John Paul II, Veritatis splendor (6 August 1993) 17.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Soul or flesh?

     "Someone will say to me, 'But the sin of Adam deservedly passed on to his posterity, because they were born of him.  Can it be said then that we are born of Christ, that we can be saved because of him?'  Do not think of these things in a carnal manner and then you will see how we are born of Christ, our parent.  In these last times Christ certainly received a soul together with the flesh [(animam . . . cum carne)] from Mary.  It is this flesh [(hanc)] which he has come to save.  It is this flesh [(hanc)] which he has freed from sin.  It is this flesh [(hanc)] which he did not abandon in hell.  It is this flesh [(hanc)] which he joined to his spirit and made his own.  And this represents the marriage of the Lord, joined together in one flesh, so that according to 'that great mystery' they might become 'two in one flesh, Christ and the Church.'  From this marriage is born the Christian people, with the Spirit of the Lord coming from above.  And at once, with the heavenly seed being spread upon and mingled with the substance of our souls, we develop in the womb of our [spiritual] mother, and once we come forth from her womb, we are made alive in Christ.  And so the Apostle says, 'The first Adam [became] a living soul; the last Adam [became] a life-giving spirit.'
     "Thus Christ engenders life in the Church through his priests, as the same Apostle states, 'And indeed, in Christ I have begotten you.'  And so the seed of Christ, that is, the Spirit of God, produces through the hands of the priests the new man. . . ."

     Pacian of Barcelona, On baptism 6.1-2, trans. Craig L. Hanson, FC 99 =Iberian Fathers 3 (1999), 91-92.  =CCSL 69B (2012) =SC 410 (1995) =PL 13, cols. 1093D-1094A.  Cf. LF, trans. E. B. Pusey (1894), 382, where this is sec. 7, and where the ambiguity of the Latin demonstrative hanc (which, all considerations of context aside, could refer back to either animam or carne) is preserved:
In these last days Christ took a soul with the flesh from Mary.  This He came to save.  This He left not in hell.  This He joined to His Spirit and made His own.  And this is the marriage of the Lord, joined together to one flesh. . . .
Cf., however, this sermon as reproduced in the Liturgy of the hours (Office of Readings for Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time, vol. 4, p. 111), citing PL 13 (not one of the modern critical editions) above:
In these times of salvation, Christ received body and soul from Mary.  He came to save this soul, not to leave it in hell.  He united it with his spirit and made it his own.  And this is the marriage of the Lord, the union of two in one flesh. . . .
With this translation (of whose origin I am unsure, though it can be found on Universalis) we return to the sound non-literalness of Hanson:
It is this flesh that he came to save, that he did not abandon to the underworld: he united it with his own spirit and made it his own. This is the marriage of the Lord, united with the flesh of man. . . .
I suppose that by "this soul" the Liturgy of the hours (and indeed the original hanc) could be referring to the whole, i.e. (in Pusey's translation) the "soul with the flesh from Mary" (animam . . . cum carne . . . ex Maria).  Unfortunately, "body and soul" (rather than "a soul with the flesh from Mary") doesn't lend itself well to this interpretation.

participes > conformes > consortes

"Made partakers of Christ through these Sacraments, we humbly implore your mercy, Lord, that, conformed to his image on earth, we may merit also to be his coheirs in heaven.  Who lives and reigns."

"Per haec sacramenta, Domine, Christi participes effecti, clementiam tuam humiliter imploramus, ut, eius imaginis conformes in terris, et eius consortes in caelis fieri mereamur.  Qui vivit et regnat."

     Post communion, Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Roman missal.  Though consors appears several times in Bruylants, this prayer is not present.  Corpus orationum traces it back to no. 4470 of the Missale Parisiense of 1738, which it says derives from

  • Heb 3:14:  "participes enim Christi effecti sumus si tamen initium substantiae usque ad finem firmum retineamus", "For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end" (Douay-Rheims).
  • Rom 8:29:  "nam quos praescivit et praedestinavit conformes fieri imaginis Filii eius ut sit ipse primogenitus in multis fratribus", "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren" (Douay-Rheims).
  • 2 Pet 1:4:  "per quae maxima et pretiosa nobis promissa donavit ut per haec efficiamini divinae consortes naturae fugientes eius quae in mundo est concupiscientiae corruptionem", "By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world" (Douay-Rheims).

Friday, August 18, 2017

A beautiful Radnerian reading of Jeremiah

"We have to think of [Jeremiah], therefore, not merely as the one who stands magnificently alone in opposition and resistance to this people, but the one who is [like God himself] together with this isolated people, the representative of its election and calling, in solidarity with its being and status as a sinful people, sharing with it—and with a greater severity of suffering than that of any other member—the destruction which has come upon it in consequence of its sin.  Jeremiah is the man who with this people suffers all that is threatened, the sword and famine and pestilence, and finally disappears with it into the unknown, because he himself can and will be only one of this people, a man of this people in the truest and fullest sense, because his election and calling as a prophet is nothing other than the election and calling of this people in nunce."

     Karl Barth, CD IV/1, 476 (underscoring mine) =KD IV/1, 529 (note the emphases lacking in the English translation, in part because the last two have been translated out of it):
Man sehe ihn also gerade nicht nur als den diesem Volk gegenüberstehenden und widerstehenden großen Einsamen, sondern mit diesem ja ebenfalls einsamen Volk zusammen, als den Exponenten seiner Erwählung und Berufung, in seiner Solidarität mit seinem Sein und Stand als sündiges Volk und mit ihm – schwerer leidend als alle seine anderen Glieder – auch dem daraus folgenden Verderben verfallen. Jeremia ist der Mann, der alles diesem Volk Angedrohte, das Schwert, den Hunger und die Pest, darum miterleidet und schließlich darum mit im Dunkel verschwindet, weil er selbst nichts Anderes als einer der Seinigen – ja im eminentesten Sinn: der Seinige, der Mensch dieses Volkes sein kann und will, weil seine persönliche Erwählung und Berufung zum Propheten nichts Anderes ist als in nuce die Erwählung und Berufung dieses Volkes.
"And this time Jeremiah, too, . . . . disappears into the darkness" (473) | "And so they disappear and Jeremiah with them" (474):
Even at the end of all his years of conflict, [Jeremiah] could not alter the fact that those who had been saved in the catastrophe only appeared to have been saved in order to returnand he himself had to go with themto [Egypt] the house of bondage. . . . A circle againback to the zero point which had once been the bleak point of departure at which the election and calling of God had found his people, or rather made it a people [(475)].
I have not been able to determine whom to credit for this graphic rendition of the photograph.
     (And by "A beautiful Radnerian reading of Jeremiah," I mean the entire excursus covering pp. 468-478.)

Not a puzzle, not even a problem, but a mystery

"A culture whose very view of reality is technological, with all the assaults on human dignity that inevitably follow, will have every incentive not to think about the profound questions of human existence that for so long animated Western culture.  Education will largely consist in learning not to ask them, and so will be scarcely distinguished from ignorance.  But more worrisome still, the inhabitants of such a culture will be unable to think deeply about such questions, because there will be no depths to think about; for they will have already reduced [1] reality to an assemblage of superficial 'facts' and [2] thinking to the arrangement and manipulation of those facts.  For such a society there would simply be no such thing as a profound question, only problems awaiting technical or managerial solutions.  A society whose members are thus unable to think cannot ultimately be a free society, because they can never see beyond and thus transcend the fate which their powers have unleashed.  Their only consolation, and this is also their curse, is that they might never know the difference."

     Michael Hanby, "The gospel of creation and the technocratic paradigm:  reflections on a central teaching of Laudato Si'," Communio:  international Catholic review 42, no. 4 (Winter 2015):  738 (725-747).  The heading comes from pp. 18-19 of Mystery and philosophy (1957), by Michael B. Foster, though the burden of that book is a very different one.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"The almighty power of [God's] grace does not do despite to the freedom of man."

"The almighty power of [his] grace does not do despite to the freedom of man [(tritt ja der Freiheit des Menschen gerade nicht zu nahe, does not in any way encroach upon the freedom of man)].  On the contrary, it is the basis of it.  The God who is almighty in grace distinguishes Himself as the Creator from the creature, and therefore the being of the creature from his own being.  He does not deny but gives to man his proper place in relation to Himself.  He elects and calls him to be His partner, to an obedience which is not forced but free."

     Karl Barth, CD IV/1, 467 =KD IV/1, 519.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Responsible judgment

     "This should teach us never to judge the actions of our neighbor without having reflected very well beforehand.  Even then, of course, we are only entitled to make such judgments if we are responsible for the behavior of the people concerned, that is, if we are parents or employers [(pères et mères, les mâitres et mâitresses)], and so on.  As far as all others are concerned, we are nearly always wrong."

     St. John Vianney, Sermon for the Eleventh Week after Pentecost, On rash judgment.  The sermons of the Curé of Ars, trans. Una Morrisy (Chicago:  Henry Regnery, 1960), 40.  =Sermons (Lyon:  1883), vol. 2, pp. 409-410, italics mine.
Ce qui doit nous porter à ne jamais juger des actions de notre prochain sans avoir bien réfléchi auparavant, et encore, seulement lorsque nous sommes chargés de la conduit de ces personnes, comme pères et mères, les mâitres et mâitresses; mais, pour toute autre personne, nous faisons Presque toujours mal.
That's clearly the passage in question.  And yet the translation has to be doing some unmarked selection, as the rest of the surrounding text in English isn't just right there.  (The closing prayer of King David on p. 41 appears, e.g., a full three or four pages later, on p. 413 of the French.)
     But in any case, note that Vianney speaks only of the extreme difficulty ("nearly always") of judging accurately in cases for which we bear no responsibility.  It would be interesting to see how this gets fleshed out in the larger context of the whole of his sermons, e.g. in his opposition to dancing and such.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Homo artifactus/a; or Made, not begotten

"This [technocratic] conflation of what were once called the speculative and the practical orders means that technologically generated exceptions and possibilities now largely govern how we think about what is true.  This is difficult to see from within the paradigm, as we have largely grown accustomed to it, but once it is noticed, it appears to be a constitutive feature of contemporary thought.  Again the examples are endless.  The so-called sexual revolution, for instance, is most fundamentally the technological revolution turned on ourselves, not only in the deep sense that the canonical dualism of sex and gender presupposes a more basic dualism between the affective part, usually thought to be the locus of personal identity, and a meaningless material body regarded as a kind of artifact, but also in the more mundane sense that the technical conquest of human biology is its practical condition of possibility.  Just as same-sex 'marriage' would have remained permanently unimaginable were it not for the technological conquest of procreation, so too would it have never been possible to think that a man might 'really' be a woman if we did not think it were technically possible to transform him into one.  And yet these technologically generated exceptions have occasioned a radical rethinking of the whole of human nature, sexuality and embodiment."

     Michael Hanby, "The gospel of creation and the technocratic paradigm:  reflections on a central teaching of Laudato Si'," Communio:  international Catholic review 42, no. 4 (Winter 2015):  735-736 (725-747).

Friday, August 11, 2017

"be doers of the word, and not hearers only"

"for Gregory, this process of sanctification is one in which a kind of 'trinitarian' structure intrinsic to human existence becomes an ever purer mirror of the Trinity.  The Spirit meets us, successively, in our practice [(praxis)], word (logos), and thought (enthymion), the last of these being the principle (archikōteron) of all three; for mind (dianoia) is the original source (archē) that becomes manifest in speech, while practice comes third and puts mind and word into action.  Thus the Spirit transforms us, until 'there is a harmony of the hidden man with the manifest'; and thus, one might say, the Spirit conducts the Trinitarian glory upward into our thought, making our own internal life an ever fuller reflection of God's own 'circle of glory.'"

     David Bentley Hart, citing Gregory of Nyssa, De perfectione at GNO 8/1:210-212 =PG 46, col. 284A =FC 58, trans. Callahan, pp. 120 ff., as well as Adversus Macedonianos at GNO 3/1:98-99.  "The hidden and the manifest:  metaphysics after Nicaea" (2009), in The hidden and the manifest:  essays in theology and metaphysics (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 163 (137-164).  Cf. Hart on Augustine's somewhat different trinity (and, by comparison with Gregory's "'from glory to glory'," "rather homely" sense of continuous transformation "throughout eternity" (revelation as sanctification (154))):  "it is only thus that the coinherence within us of memory, understanding, and will is raised to the dignity of the divine likeness":
Insofar, says Augustine, as we know God, we are made like him, however remotely; and when we know God, and properly love this knowledge, we are made better than we were, and this knowledge becomes a word for us, and a kind of likeness to God within us.  And it is only thus that the coinherence within us of memory, understanding, and will is raised to the dignity of the divine likeness; the mind is the image of God not simply when it remembers and understands and loves itself, but only when it is able to remember and understand and love him by whom it was made [(162, underscoring mine)]....