Friday, October 31, 2008

The Catholic faith
  • More than nostalgia: In this conversation, originally on how the young are discovering traditional religious forms and blogged here earlier, Huw and other critics have a point. To observers young fogeyhood can seem like play-acting. Given fallen human nature, what to Catholics is simply a matter of not reinventing the wheel, keeping things from other ages to worship God, can degenerate into worshipping name-the-historical-period or one’s fanciful version of it (often the 1950s for example), a kind of narcissism not only idolatrous but unlike the lively un-self-conscious religion Arturo writes about. BTW what I do was originally based on my early experience of the old stuff. My religious journey in fewer than 40 words: take middle-of-the-road Anglicanism 40 years ago, see someone put Catholic beliefs behind it like the Carolines and Tractarians did and then, like the ritualists 100 years ago, rev up the practice to match them.
  • Fr Dwight Longenecker might have some answers to all that here: The divine comedy. Also, the romance of religion. Or this man wasn’t being silly at all.
  • Our weapons are the harvest scythe and sword of the spirit both. This ‘happy warrior’ battle talk is what makes the faith vital and real for me, and I realize that the perhaps the greatest fault of the modern church is that it has lost the desire or the need to be the church militant. The church has become feminized, emasculated and undone. The great church militant has become like a soppy old Labrador, only interested in another tidbit and rolling over to have her tummy scratched.
  • Inventing a deity who not only won’t but can’t get in your way, a sort of concierge to the upper middle class, what Theo Hobson likes about Anglicanism’s Erastianism, a religion that knew its place and took orders from the government. A deity who can’t seem to do anything except take orders from a bunch of secular-humanist leftists is not a deity anyone ought to waste any time on. Or from neocons for that matter. Aslan is not a tame lion. (BTW this is still found on the ground in Rome too. Pope Benedict’s got a massive cleanup to do.)
  • Nothing new: When I was training in England for [Roman] Catholic ordination we had a sixties-type Dominican come to lecture us about sacramental theology. ‘So you see, whenever we give a poor person a bath it is a baptism... whenever we feed the hungry it is Eucharist.’ We former Anglicans were aghast and didn’t buy it. One of them said, ‘Excuse me, Father, this might be revolutionary for you and something totally new, but this is nothing more than the sacramental theology of the Salvation Army...’
  • Answering Biden: ‘I know that my church has wrestled with this for 2,000 years.’ In fact the Catholic Church does not wrestle with the question of abortion. It never has. It never will. [Medically unnecessary, that is, almost all] abortion is always a terrible evil, and those who sanction it are guilty.
  • How abortion might be related to the housing crunch.
  • Newman on the impossibility of cafeteria Catholicism.
  • In many ways confession should be like a visit to the dentist. When you go to the dentist you don’t wring your hands and feel terribly guilty about tooth decay. Neither does your dentist make you feel bad or decide to drill without novacaine to teach you a lesson. No, you ask for him to examine you. He says there is tooth decay and he needs to drill and fill. That's that.
  • I’ve always contended that there are definitely such things as ‘extra-terrestrials’. They don’t live on other planets. They live in another dimension. They’re what we’ve always called angels and demons.

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