Monday, August 21, 2006

Taking care of some loose ends

1) I have received a number of interesting emails regarding 'Muscular Christianity' (which I errantly called 'masculine Christianity', even though the idea is basically the same), in which I've learned more about the quasi-movement than I perhaps wanted! The term is apparently drawn from an exchange between Newman (!) and Charles Kingsley, who is the chap whose attacks on Newman's 'poping' led to the writing of the Apologia pro vita sua. This 'exchange' took place in the writing of historical novels with competing points of view. It is not yet clear who is responsible for the actual term; according to some sources found via googling, it seems to have been in a review (possibly by Newman) of a Kingsley novel. Today, there are at least three books available with the title, Muscular Christianity, two of which are studies of the rise of sports in England and the U.S.

2) Thank you also to those who have responded positively (no negative responses so far!) to the previous post on triumphalism. I received interesting confirmations of some of the thoughts therein from recent discussions with our community's French tutor and with Abbot Primate Notker Wolf, OSB of Bavaria. My views, I realize, are deeply affected by the situation in post-Christian Europe, especially on the continent. There, triumphalism is really a dead end, a laughable kind of looniness in most parts. Much of pop euro culture unfairly lampoons Christianity, of course, but the gospel must be preached in real cultural situations, not in ones we feel we ought to find if everyone were fair.

3) A previous post on tradition demonstrates that a lack of triumphalism does not mean jettisoning tradition. The comment on this post from an anonymous reader is helpful in summarizing briefly some of these themes.

A central issue in this area will continue to be the interpretation of Vatican II. In this regard, let me conclude by saying that I think it is a shame that in the writings of those who, in the words of one blogger I've read, see the Council as an 'asteroid hit', more mention is not made of the outstanding examples and writings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Both of these men are highly creative, knowlegable of the global scene and yet deeply immersed in Tradition. Personally, I believe that the longevity and creativity of the pontificate of JPII is one of the great gifts from God after the Council. He was clearly the man for the job! The stability of a 27 year pontificate of such an energetic man seems to me evidence that the Council itself was clearly God's gift. A series of short pontificates with weak popes could have had really devastating consequences for the Church. So here's to God's providence!

Let me end this post with a word of hope! Abbot Notker, whose recent book Worauf Warten Wir? (What are We Waiting for?) is a best seller in Germany, told me that the pontificate of Benedict XVI is starting to have positive effects in their common homeland.

1 comment:

Edith OSB said...

A friend xeroxed two chapters from Dominican monastic Timothy Radcliffe's book, What Is the Point of Being a Christian? They present a very interesting analysis of the process that leads to our division into camps of traditionalists and progressives. He is aware that each are focusing on some truths that the Church has always taught, and criticizing some current situations that are real and need work. In these chapters, he proposes the idea that Catholics need to learn to listen, hear, and understand (in the deep meaning of understand used in ancient societies - to be able to see the world from another mindset with love) how our faith and our Church looks from the points of view different from our own.

I am looking forward to reading the book. I don't think we will make much progress in healing the scandal of discord within the Church until we can have the kind of understanding he proposes.


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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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