Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Do pagans dream of the Cath'lic deep?

Emmanuel College, Cambridge
"Nobody in the West can be wholly non-Christian. We cannot help continuing to be influenced by the old dreams, as for example Marxists, anarchists, utopians, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, and Jürgen Habermas were when they all continued to pursue some version of the old biblical vision of a fully reconciled, free and open future society, the messianic Kingdom here on this earth. Whether or not you personally think of yourself as being a Christian does not very much affect the extent to which Christianity goes on influencing your hopes and your dreams. . . . You may call yourself a non-Christian, but the dreams you dream are still Christian dreams, and you continue to be part of the history of Christianity. That’s your fate. You may consider yourself secular, but the modern Western secular world is itself a Christian creation."

     Don Cupitt, The meaning of the West:  an apologia for secular Christianity (London:  SCM Press, 2008), 66-67.  I was put onto this by Matthew Rose, "Our secular theodicy," First things no. 278 (December 2017):  41 (37-42).  Cupitt, I gather, would say that secular Christians such as himself are, however, the true heirs of the Christian tradition.

Be a vessel, not a channel, a lake without an outlet

William Pye, Cathedral font, Salibury.
"The man who is wise . . . will see his life as more like a reservoir [(concham)] than a canal [(canalem)].  The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water until it is filled, then discharges the overflow [(quod superabundat)] without loss to itself.  He knows that a curse is on the man who allows his own property to degenerate. . . . Today there are many in the Church who acts like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare.  So urgent is the charity of those through whom streams of heavenly doctrine flow to us, that they want to pour it forth before they have been filled; they are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves."

". . . si sapis, concham te exhibebis, et non canalem.  Hic siquidem pene simul et recipit, et refundit; illa vero donec impleatur exspectat, et sic quod superabundat sine suo damno communicat, sciens maledictum qui partem suam facit deteriorem. . . . Verum canales hodie in Ecclesia multos habemus, conchas vero perpaucas.  Tantae caritatis sunt per quos nobis fluenta caelestia manant, ut ante effundere quam infundi velint, loqui quam audire paratiores, et prompti docere quod non didicerunt, et aliis praeesse gestientes, qui seipsos regere nesciunt."

     Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon on the Song of songs 18.3 (1135/1136), trans. Walsh & Edmonds.  SC 431, 90, 92; Sämtliche Werke lateinisch/deutsch 5, 104.  I was put onto this by Jeff Van Duzer.