Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Salve Regina

Harry Christophers and the Sixteen

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Church Impotent

I have not yet started The Church Impotent by Leon Podles, but in reading the description of the book  I question the support for his thesis. Is he overreaching in his genealogy?

"In an original and challenging account, he traces this feminization to three contemporaneous medieval sources: the writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the rise of scholasticism, and the expansion of female monasticism."

After all, St. Bernard was instrumental in the creation the Christian knight and the military orders. Thus, I am a bit baffled. There will be an element of the "feminine" in Christian spirituality, for both males and females, in so far as we are the recipients of God's grace. (The Song of Songs) But what men should o when enlivened by charity and grace will be different from what women do, as grace builds upon nature.

As for the criticism of the scholastics... I will have to see what he says. Could his criticisms not also be applied to the monastic theologians?

I think it would suffice to locate the breakdown of Christian spirituality with the destruction of Christendom and the rise of the modern-state, and to look at Church-state relations and how the Church has fared.
Talk of human dignity as a foundation of understanding justice or morality -- is it really necessary? In so far as we need to understand that human beings are not the same as the other animals, having the same nature and end as we do. Beyond that? It seems to be a matter of prudence, whether to use such a term when it has been defined by moderns in conjunction with freedom, as a bare fact (or sovereignty).
Medievalists.net: Why the Medieval Idea of a Community-Oriented University is Still Modern
Health Education Through the Ages

BBC: Medieval priory uncovered in Wombridge

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bringing the little ones to our Lord.

An internet petition to recall the YouCat (via Ite ad Thomam). I could see why some would fault those behind the petition as being extreme. Even if they're correct in their assessment, they haven't done the work necessary to convince bishops (and theologians and Catholic intellectuals) of this. Wouldn't their money and energy be better spent on alternate forms of catechesis?

Introduction to the Presentation of YOUCAT

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn

This morning I was thinking of Pope Benedict XVI's defense of WYD. Apparently enough had voiced their criticisms of the event that he believed he should respond. Is it just a defense for the legacy of Pope John Paul II?

Even if the youth have the proper mindset, focusing on the liturgy as the center of it all, does it give too much legitimacy to the cult of youth? After all, would they get as excited about the Sunday liturgy? And how is a youth Mass celebrated by the Pope different from a Sunday 5 P.M. Lifeteen Mass? Should the youth be encouraged to think of themselves as being so distinct from their elders? (We have to make Catholicism "cool." I was going to say "hip" but that word is obsolete. "Cool" has been replaced, too, but I won't use the slang currently in vogue.) There has been a history of youth retreats and such. (The late pontiff used to minister to youth groups when he was a priest.)  But does this only encourage our youth to think in accordance with our political economy, instead of struggling against it? Does it promote infantalization? Our young people should be encouraged to cultivate their spiritual life, but this must be tied to a better understanding of the lay vocation, and simply accepting the status quo may only confirm them in mediocrity or frustration.

Just as a long journey precedes the celebration of World Youth Day, a continuing journey follows it. Friendships are formed which encourage a different way of life and which give it deep support. The purpose of these great Days is, not least, to inspire such friendships and so to create places of living faith in the world, places which are, at the same time, settings of hope and practical charity.

Friendships with whom? Those from home who accompanied them? Or with those who live in different countries? Yes, some of these friendships may last, but for the most part, they will just be fond memories of a great time shared by all. Using the cultivation of friendship to justify World Youth Day... or the expression of the universal character of the Church. How about teaching our youth how to better live as members of particular societies, or what friendship entails? Who is going to preach against excessive mobility? (Or resignation to a state of affairs that is far from ideal?)
Virtuous Leadership: I'm curious as to why the author identifies temperance with self-control, when it seems to me that the latter is closer to continence then temperance. I could add something about the marketing of the book and its projected audience, but... I won't. I was also thinking about the adapting of Austen to a modern milieu. Why doesn't it work? Because the virtues of the characters have to be understood with respect to their social roles, and their social roles are quite different from anything that might be seen as analogous today. (Darcy as a businessman? No.) Without those social roles (and the concomitant cultural expectations), would they have acquired the same virtues?
Fr. Z: I hate this book more than any other book ever published.
(A History of the Athenian Constitution to the end of the Fifth Century B. C. by C. Hignett)

Heinrich Isaac, missa Virgo prudentissima, Gloria

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Bellarmine Report: The Vatican’s “YouCat” Catechism: Weak on Homosexuality, Contraception, Euthanasia, Evolution, and Scripture. (via Ite ad Thomam)

Despite being a Dominican before, Cardinal Schoenborn's involvement with many dubious enterprises does make one suspicious. Nonetheless, I think the criticism of the YouCat's handling of homosexuality is excessive:

Implied in the words “homosexually oriented” is the idea that homosexuality is a congenital condition, not a learned behavior or a perverse life-style one decides to enter. By implying that homosexuality is “a lack, a loss or a wound” and not a decision by a mature adult to transgress God’s laws (as Scripture and Tradition say it is), YouCat seeks to elicit pity for homosexuals due to the fact that they are simply “born that way,” as it were, and thus denied the opportunity of sexual “union” that other people possess. YouCat further implies that if the homosexually oriented person “accepts and affirms” this congenital condition, he can do so knowing that God can make good of it because He “lead souls to himself along unusual paths.” Instead of telling the homosexual that his sexual tendencies are an outgrowth of his uncontrolled concupiscence and that he should pray to God to have the power to eradicate this state of mind, he is told, more or less, to accept his condition and hold God to blame for making him homosexually oriented. His only consolation is that God will make up for it by using the condition to lead him back to God. In effect, homosexuality is treated no different than if YouCat were talking about a mongoloid baby, since, similar to YouCat’s understanding of the homosexual, the deformed child can also use his condition as a “springboard for throwing one into the arms of God.” In the end, YouCat neither calls homosexuality a sin, nor does it say that homosexual inclinations are perverse and need to be remedied.

What is the definition of homosexuality? The sexual lifestyle? Or the mere attraction to members of the same sex? Nor do I see the YouCat blaming God for the disorder: "A lack, a loss, or a wound—if accepted and affirmed—can become a springboard for throwing oneself into the arms of God." The lack or loss or wound is a consequence of Original Sin, and can be explained as a bodily defect.

Similarly, with respect to the use of "demonizing" in regards to masturbation. Is it a sin? I think so. But what needs to be avoided is repressiveness that stunts the development of healthy sexuality. Now, I don't have a copy of the YouCat, so I don't know if it deals with masturbation at length or offers good pastoral advice. Maybe it's treatment is insufficient, maybe it isn't -- there's nothing within the critique showing that the paragraph is too brief.
Sentimentality or Honesty? On Charles Taylor by Mark Oppenheimer
(via Mirror of Justice)

But Taylor is no Nietzschean, and he does not want to romanticize what we might call Extreme Catholicism. Not only is that premodern Catholicism unrecoverable, Taylor says; it had to expire in order for us to become a more charitable, humane species. Taylor argues that with the Protestant Reformation came an “affirmation of ordinary life” (the term is discussed at length in Sources of the Self) that refocused religious devotion on the daily acts and works of ordinary people while elevating the sufferings of those ordinary people to a matter of divine concern.

Where exactly is his evidence for this? Sounds like self-loathing Catholicism, if anything. Taylor has not been a priority, and I haven't acquired Sources of the Self yet... Another Canadian to bug me?

Proposition four: “That is the task at hand: how to live a life that is personally authentic—a goal the medieval church would not have understood, much less approved of—while giving that life meaning, spirituality, fullness.” In other words, how can we keep our modern humanity without losing what is best from the more enchanted past?

It is on this question that the personal Taylor and the political Taylor converge, in ways that can be quite satisfying. It might seem that the Taylor who writes about the modern personality (Sources of the Self, The Ethics of Authenticity) and the Taylor who writes about the modern state (parts of A Secular Age and Multiculturalism and “The Politics of Recognition”) are working on two different projects. I don’t think that is so. Although I could not find a place where Taylor connects the two urges, it seems to me that “authenticity,” a word he uses only for the personal project, is actually the word he wants for the political project too.

Philosophers like Rousseau tend to see political community as the natural enemy of personal authenticity; the state is what represses our true selves. (I have to thank my friend Matthew Simpson, the philosopher and Rousseau scholar, for clarifying this point.) But as I read Taylor, he seems to say that just as any given woman in Quebec wants to be true to herself, the Québécois want to be true to their culture. It is the same problem on two different levels. It is the Romantic urge personally and politically, and in both cases it seems to appear, historically speaking, just on either side of the year 1800. The political urge makes no sense without the personal one. Taylor recognizes this equivalence implicitly, and his work argues for it, but he never quite formulates the extent to which, for him, the personal is political.

True to their culture? Or true to their roots? What is Romantic about the desire to maintain one's identity in the face of those who would take it away? Such an urge pre-exists modernity.