THEOLOGY AND BBT
The Big Bang Theory: From Caricature to Complexity (Peter Augustine Lawler): “The Big Bang Theory ultimately points to the limited but real wisdom that comes from understanding two partial truths—that of the personal, judgmental, loving God and also that of the ‘God of nature’ the scientists seek to understand. The show leads us to think about how to put together the two explanations of ‘the Big Bang’—one based on faith in a personal Creator and one based on scientific discovery of the impersonal laws of nature—to account truthfully for both nature and human nature.”
ST. BENEDICT RETROSPECTIVE
Yesterday was St. Benedict’s day; it’s the second of two, as his proper day is March 21st, but June 11th has also long been celebrated. Three monks made simple vows and that’s always a fine moment for the college as well as the monastery.
In the spirit of the day, here’s a reflection on Benedict the saint from Benedict the pope emeritus.
INSIGHT INTO VATICAN POLITICS
Francis Cleans House at Vatican’s Financial Watchdog: “By reforming the Church, Francis is doing more than serving his flock. He is making a contribution to the well-being of people of all faiths and no faith all over the world."
One of the political blogs I follow has the habit of occasionally venturing into theology; surprised to see this today about a bit of Vatican inside baseball.
WEEKLY READING - CALVIN
I’ve been looking forward to this, since despite being a Catholic theologian who’s firmly convinced that double predestination is a horrible blasphemy, I’ve always admired Calvin as a theologian. The sheer architectural brilliance and comprehensive nature of his thought inspires a kind of intellectual awe. If I had landed at a Reformed college rather than a Catholic one (Deo gratias), I could easily have wound up a Calvinist.
In belated commemoration of his deathiversary (May 27, 1564), here’s the Weekly Reader on John Calvin. We’re still working through these sets of Guardian posts on various thinkers (Plato and Spinoza to go).
In their choice of writer, the newspaper really rolled sixes with Paul Helm (Helm’s Deep), who’s one of the best bloggers on the wider Reformed tradition as well as the writer of an amazing Calvin book.
- Part 1: A world figure
- Part 2: A practical theology
- Part 3: Knowledge of God and of ourselves
- Part 4: Word and Spirit
- Part 5: Predestination
- Part 6: The world
- Part 7: Heresy and death
- Part 8: The legacy
For the truly brave, of course, there’s no substitute for Calvin himself. Institutes of the Christian Religion is his Summa, although as it’s two thick volumes, the bravery will definitely be required.
MASONS & CATHOLICS, NO MONTY PYTHON
“Indeed, much of European and American politics over the past two centuries has involved a running and often bitter confrontation between Masons and Catholics. Why is that?"
Follow the link to see why, as Philip Jenkins continues his discussion. It also shows how much, perhaps, of the past had to be forgotten to reach our more ecumenical age. I’m sure the reporter who asked me about this was expecting to hear that there was no problem any more.
And indeed, in the United States, there probably would not be. But how much of that would simply be due to not taking these things as seriously as our forebears did, rather than actual growth in understanding?
WEEKLY READING - AQUINAS
When I was in elementary school, I vaguely remember something called the Weekly Reader that functioned like a newspaper for children. A lot of water and a great many books have gone under the bridge since then, but I thought a Weekly Reading post might be fun to keep up.
The Guardian has a whole series going on major thinkers, and we’ll be reviewing what they have to say on Calvin, Plato, and Spinoza before we’re through. After that, it’ll be far enough into the summer to have some of my own reading built up.
But first, Thomas Aquinas! The following columns by Tina Beattie do a good job on the basics of his outlook. I wouldn’t normally think to find this in the Guardian, but they’re being honest brokers.
- Part 1: Rediscovering a father of modernity
- Part 2: The mind as soul
- Part 3: Scripture, reason, and the being of God
- Part 4: How did the world begin
- Part 5: What does it mean to be human?
- Part 6: Natural law
- Part 7: The question of evil
- Part 8: Thomas for today
- Chesterton, The Dumb Ox
- Penguin Classics, Selected Writings
- Bauerschmidt, Holy Teaching: Introducing the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas
ODD COMBO: FREEMASONRY, MONTY PYTHON, CATHOLICISM
“You absolutely cannot understand the British Empire without masonry”
Monty Python was right!
But still interesting; I’m going to look forward to the next few posts along these lines. Always admired Philip Jenkins’s scholarship.
Ironically, a few years ago, a reporter asked me about the prohibition against Catholics becoming Masons. I’d thought it had dropped out, but it turned out that it’s still in force.
AND JESUS SAID TO SIMON...
And Jesus said to Simon, Son of Jonah B.A. (Philosophy, Oxford), ‘Who do you say that I am?’ And he replied, ‘Given a) the probability that God exists, that is, given fine-tuning, the kalam cosmological argument and the low probability of atheism being true given the modal form of the ontological argument, and given b) the compatibility of incarnation with the prescriptions of Perfect Being theology and given c) the apparently inexplicable things you’re reported to have done (though, given that this is early in your ministry, ideally I’d need to see a few more), and given d) defeaters to the counter-argument from the Biblically defined role of the Messiah, I’d guesstimate that, on a Bayesian account, there is a conditional probability of at least 0.7 that you are in fact the Messiah. At the same time, of course, I should acknowledge that there is a corresponding probability of 0.3 that you aren’t.’ And Jesus responded, “Blessed be you, son of Jonah BA (Oxon). On this rock I shall build my church!”
Alan J. Torrance, “Analytic Theology and the Reconciled Mind”
More complicated but also funnier than saying, Non in dialectica complacuit Deo salvum facere populum suum.
CLOUD, CORPORATIONS, AND TRUST FALLS
Chicago Grid | What if Facebook buys Waze?:
I hand over lots of my personal information to Apple, Google, and Facebook. I use a “trust fall” analogy when I talk about how much I trust each of these companies. You know the exercise: turn your back to this person, close your eyes, count to three aloud, and then fall backwards.
I’m certain that Apple would catch me. My sole worries are of the “accidents can happen” variety.
I’m pretty sure that I’d be safe with Google. There’s a good chance I’ll fall. If that happened, though, it’d probably be because Google often doesn’t really think things through. Google thought I was going to say “1… 2… 3…” and then start falling instead of falling on “3.”
I’m pretty sure that Facebook would watch me fall. I can see myself smacking into the ground, and then Facebook would update my status to “Concussed” without my asking it to. As I struggled to my feet, Facebook would update its own private profile about me and my habits, noting that I trust companies so blindly that I didn’t even try to stop myself from falling. That’s a very valuable demographic for ads about home-refinancing.
POWER OF PAPAL RHETORIC
Sandro Magister: "This benevolence of the media toward Pope Francis is one of the features that characterize the beginning of this pontificate.
The gentleness with which he is able to speak even the most uncomfortable truths facilitates this benevolence. But it is easy to predict that sooner or later it will cool down and give way to a reappearance of criticism."
A very nice examination of PF's rhetorical habits, illustrated in his morning homilies.
UNIVERSAL CALL TO HOLINESS ≠ MINISTRY
Pope Francis and the Reform of the Laity | NCRegister.com
"We priests tend to clericalize the laity. We do not realize it, but it is as if we infect them with our own disease. And the laity — not all, but many — ask us on their knees to clericalize them, because it is more comfortable to be an altar server than the protagonist of a lay path. We cannot fall into that trap — it is a sinful complicity."
Follow the link; it’s worth reading as an example of what PF means when he talks about the necessity of going out and the downside of a “self-referential church.”
HOW TO COMMIT VATICAN JOURNALISM
RealClearReligion - John Allen: The RealClearReligion Interview
When the National Catholic Reporter’s senior correspondent John L. Allen, Jr. was called upon to put a question to Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, the Vatican press officer said: “Holy Father, this man needs no introduction.”
So very true, and the interview gives a model of what sober reporting should look like.
BEWARE PEOPLE WHO REVEL IN BEING "PROPHETIC"
Bipartisan protip: if you want to be a prophet, or if you revel in it, you’re not. And if a President is in your audience, and you’re agreeing with him or telling him things that he doesn’t mind hearing, you’re definitely not.
Rev. Leon and Prophecy - Michael Sean Winters
“I am tired, very tired, of people, clerical or lay, who pat themselves on the back by articulating their positions on this issue or that and claim that they are taking a prophetic stance. All too often, it seems to me that this claiming the prophet’s mantle is designed to keep the person claiming it from the normal method we humans employ to face problems of a terrestrial nature: an argument. Claiming to be a prophet has become a way to avoid argument, not engage it, a way to claim the moral high ground for oneself and, just so, an evidence not of a genuine prophecy which comes from God, but a false prophecy that comes from the desires of the speaker.”
AN IGNATIAN PAPACY
John Thavis on the pope’s ‘reform’ project
Pope Francis came into the Vatican with a mandate to change the way its bureaucracy functions (or disfunctions), in the wake of scandals, leaks and power struggles that have embarrassed the church. It seems to me that he’s taking that task seriously, by laying the spiritual groundwork for change.
He’s approaching the various Vatican environments not so much as the new boss, but as the new pastor.
I think that’s one big reason why he’s decided to continue to live in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guest house, instead of moving into the formal papal apartment. In the Domus, he’s a few steps away from St. Peter’s, as well as the Vatican City governor’s office, and his morning liturgies are accessible to Vatican employees.
In the Apostolic Palace, the pope would have been surrounded by Secretariat of State offices and the usual filters. In effect, the Domus provides a much better pastoral base for evangelizing the Vatican.
GOOGLE LOSES, SAMSUNG WINS
Tightwind.net has it right:
Google makes relatively little from Android while one company—Samsung—makes more operating income from Android than Google as a whole. Think about that! Google is doing the hard work of developing the operating system and applications, but Samsung is capturing all of the revenue and income. Google’s Android strategy failed.The only problem with the notion that Google's exit from the trap is selling devices (Glass, Chromebooks, Motorola-made Google-branded phones) is that we have very little evidence that Google will be any good at it. Google TV, anyone?
This strategy requires Google to attack directly into the arena dominated by Samsung and Apple. I think I’ve seen that before.
EVANGELICALS AND CATHOLICS TOGETHER, POPE FRANCIS-STYLE
Luis Palau: Why It Matters that Pope Francis Drinks Maté with Evangelicals: "One day I said to him, 'You seem to love the Bible a lot,' and he said, 'You know, my financial manager [for the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires] … is an evangelical Christian.' I said, 'Why would that be?' And he said, 'Well, I can trust him, and we spend hours reading the Bible and praying and drinking maté [an Argentine green tea].'"
As husband to a tea-drinking Evangelical, I can relate! (But not to the maté, I’ll take other kinds of tea.)
POPE FRANCIS - ROSS DOUTHAT
A hopeful observation; may it be so! And a style note: until/unless some future Pope takes the name, it's not Francis I, it's simply Francis.
Pope Francis I - Ross Douthat: "First, whatever correlations of factions and forces within the conclave produced this result, Bergoglio won relatively swiftly, which — joined to his runner-up status last time, in a conclave that had a very different slate of cardinal electors — suggests a man with deep reservoirs of support and goodwill among his fellow prelates. Even if he was a compromise choice of some sort, his fellow electors were clearly quite happy to make it."
PROFILE OF POPE FRANCIS
Undoubtedly the beginning of a mighty flood, here’s John Allen from last week with a pre-election profile of the man would be Francis. It’s a good take from one of the premier US reporters on things Vatican.
PENN JILLETTE (PENN & TELLER) WINS THEOLOGY DISCUSSION WITH PIERS MORGAN
Something more rare than rubies... Penn Jillette provides a sterling example of intellectual integrity. He's an atheist, but he's more capable of taking people at their word and respecting the content of beliefs he does not share than Piers Morgan could ever be.
There's a few theological bobbles here and there, but that would be nitpicking. Well worth three minutes of life to watch it.
HELPING US ‘TURN AROUND’ - FR. SCHALL
One for the Georgetown people in particular, but good for anyone. Insight from one of the teachers who contributed most to where & what I am today.
ROSTER OF CARDINAL ELECTORS
The one-stop shopping place for information on the cardinal-electors. Great resource!
POWERPOINT IN THE CLASSROOM — KEVIN TAYLOR
We have picked up a teaching habit that is more presumed than prescribed, and we can’t seem to stop.PowerPoint in the Classroom — Kevin Taylor
DEBUNKING 'CONVENTIONAL' CONCLAVE WISDOM
John Allen, excellent as always.
Debunking 'conventional' conclave wisdom
STUDENTS TO E-TEXTBOOKS: NO THANKS
What’s most revealing about this study is that, like earlier research, it suggests that students’ preference for printed textbooks is reflects the real pedagogical advantages they experience in using the format: fewer distractions, deeper engagement, better comprehension and retention, and greater flexibility to accommodating idiosyncratic study habits.Students to e-textbooks: no thanks
HOW TO ELECT A POPE: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED
Every time a mainstream reporter or pundit opens his or her yap about the church, the pope, conclave, the next pope, or pretty much anything having to do with religion, brain cells die.Save the brain cells and turn to ElectingthePope.net, thoughtfully compiled for your convenience by Catholic netizens.
How to Elect a Pope: A Guide for the Perplexed
WHAT POPES ARE FOR
The end of this pontificate, like the beginning, is a sign of contradiction to those who see every human action in the cynical categories of power and willfulness.(h/t Cardinal Dolan)
What Popes Are For
A QUICK COURSE IN CONCLAVE 101 - JOHN ALLEN
Ideally, this exercise in “Conclave 101”will help make sense of what we’ll be seeing and hearing between now and that magic moment when white smoke rises from a small chimney above the Sistine Chapel, proclaiming to the world that a new pope has been elected.The man to follow, until the smoke is rising.
A quick course in 'Conclave 101' - John Allen
BENEDICT ON VATICAN II: “I REMEMBER I WAS A YOUNG PROFESSOR OFTHEOLOGY…”
One sometimes forgets the power of simple phrases such as “I remember…” for opening and sharing an experience.
Benedict on Vatican II: “I remember I was a young professor of theology…”
RENO ON CONTEMPORARY CATHOLIC THEOLOGY
One of the best rundowns I’ve seen; highly recommended for any of my students.
Reno on contemporary Catholic theology
NINETEEN SIXTY-FOUR: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE...
Deconstructing the economic incompetence of The Economist when it comes to understanding the Catholic Church. TL;DR is “The Church is not Wal-Mart.”
Nineteen Sixty-four: Spot the difference…
THE CHURCH'S DEEP POCKETS, THE BUTLER DID IT, AND MYTHS ABOUT ATHEISM - JOHN ALLEN
John Allen’s column at NCR is a fairly significant proof for the theology of the saving remnant. Essential Friday reading, every week.
The church's deep pockets, the butler did it, and myths about atheism - John Allen
THE NEW YORK TIMES’ EMBARRASSING ERROR
I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I have a new Exhibit A for when I tell my students that mainstream media know nothing of religion or theology. Click the link.
The New York Times’ embarrassing error
CHECKING YOUR FACEBOOK PRIVACY (AGAIN) - PROFHACKER
Time to check the settings; one of those recurrent FB tasks that everyone should do on a regular schedule.
Checking Your Facebook Privacy (Again) - ProfHacker
DIARY FROM VATICAN II
Good piece from Fr. Robert Barron looking back on the Council through Congar’s diary.
Diary from Vatican II
THE NEW ATLANTIS » CHRISTIANITY AND THE FUTURE OF THE BOOK
Christians are, as the Koran says, “People of the Book”; in which case we might want to ask what will become of Christianity if “the book” is radically transformed or abandoned altogether.The New Atlantis » Christianity and the Future of the Book
RAIDERS OF THE LOST RELICS
many of the Bible-related archaeological claims made in recent years have been tainted with “exaggeration and speculation the likes of which haven’t been seen since pieces of the ‘true cross’ were found all across Europe in the Middle Ages.”Raiders of the Lost Relics
WHEN IT COMES TO RELIGION, EVERYBODY’S AN EXPERT
As I would not opine seriously on the best procedures to follow with respect to open-heart surgery (as I have absolutely no medical training), why are so many others who have never had anything to do with religion so quick to comment on serious matters of religion?So very, very many. Interesting answer in the piece as well.
When it comes to religion, everybody’s an expert
DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THEOLOGY . . . - WEIGEL
There is ample room for exploration on Catholic theology; for if theology is not religious studies, neither is it catechism. But for that exploration to be authentically Catholic — and thus of use to the Church — it has to take Scripture and Tradition as its baseline, and it has to begin from the premise that the doctrinal boundaries of the Church, rooted in Scripture and Tradition, point exploratory theology in the right direction.Don’t Know Much about Theology . . . - Weigel
GOING PAPERLESS ON A MAC - PROFHACKER
It’s the 21st century, I really should try to do this.
Going Paperless on a Mac - ProfHacker
THE FIRST WIRED PRESIDENT
Lincoln saw his first telegraph key only three years before he ran for president, in a hotel lobby while riding circuit in Pekin, Ill. Always fascinated with technology, he peppered the operator with questions.
In the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, but entirely non-fictional!
The First Wired President
BXVI AD LIMINA TALKS
Every five years or so, by tradition, the bishops of a given country make ad limina visits to Rome. Centuries old, the practice is a way of maintaining communion with the universal Church. It also offers the pope a chance to comment on the state of the Church in that country.
The bishops of the United States are just finishing up their visits, broken up into five batches, which makes it a convenient time to tally up all five of Benedict XVI’s addresses to them. Thanks to Whispers in the Loggia, here they are:
- Whispers in the Loggia: “The Demand of a New Evangelization”: From B16’s Desk, Bench Talk 1
- Whispers in the Loggia: “The Most Cherished of Freedoms”: On Religious Freedom and the Public Square, B16 Talks The States
- Whispers in the Loggia: To the States, B16 Talks Sexuality
- Whispers in the Loggia: To the States, The “Professor-Pope” Talks Education
- Whispers in the Loggia: “New Signs of Vitality and Hope”: For US Church, The Pope’s Last Word
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A DEGREE IN THEOLOGY?
Wonderful post in this graduation month of May; it definitely reflects my experience of these past ten years as I look back and see where our BAC majors have gone.
What can you do with a degree in theology?
A HIGHER OFFICE
Fr. Thomas Williams (no relation) on Catholic social teaching; good interview!
A Higher Office
CONFUSED BY THE EBOOK LAWSUIT? SO IS EVERYONE ELSE.
Still don’t think reinforcing Amazon’s monopsony is the thing to do.
Confused By the eBook Lawsuit? So Is Everyone else.
WHAT DISTINGUISHES ‘EVANGELICAL’ FROM ‘FUNDAMENTALIST’?
Very useful discussion, especially given how loosely people use the term “fundamentalist.”
What Distinguishes ‘Evangelical’ from ‘Fundamentalist’?
NT STUDIES AND THE SEPTUAGINT
I’ve often wondered this same thing. There has to be a systematic theological argument out there for the ongoing significance of the LXX, expanding on Augustine and taking into account that it remains authoritative for the Eastern Church.
NT Studies and the Septuagint
JOEL OSTEEN WORSHIPS HIMSELF
The constant recitation of God’s transcendent goodness and the deference paid to his ironclad ability to lift believers magically out of suffering and woe both subtly downgrade the divine presence into a glorified lifestyle concierge. This God has no real way of accounting for the age-old paradoxes of theology, such as the tolerance of personal and historic evil, or the deeper ironies and unintended consequences of the believing life.
The Prosperity Gospel is heresy in a clown suit.
Joel Osteen worships himself
SOCIAL MEDIA'S SMALL, POSITIVE ROLE IN HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
For most people, the choice is not leisurely walks on Cape Cod versus social media. It’s television versus social media.
Social Media's Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships
THE MIGHTY SCRIVENER… YOU MIGHT NOT EVER USE WORD FOR WRITING AGAIN
Follow-up to the Word post, with a light intro to Scrivener, aka the Batman of writing tools.
The Mighty Scrivener… You might not ever use word for writing again
THE COMING BOOK WARS: APPLE VS. AMAZON VS. GOOGLE VS. THE U.S.
A good description of the darkling plain.
The Coming Book Wars: Apple vs. Amazon vs. Google vs. the U.S.
MICROSOFT WORD: 5 MISUSES AND 7 ALTERNATIVES
Something for the students as they write their papers. I see every one of these misuses and more besides. It’s enough to make me start doing a course just on digital workflows and academic tools.
Microsoft Word: 5 misuses and 7 alternatives
Q & A: ROSS DOUTHAT ON ROOTING OUT BAD RELIGION
Buy the book; I am.
Q & A: Ross Douthat on Rooting Out Bad Religion
HOW THE FIRST CHRISTIANS UNDERSTOOD JESUS' RESURRECTION
Historically, then, how Christians have understood Jesus’ “resurrection” says a lot about how they have understood themselves, whether they have a holistic view of the human person, whether they see bodily existence as trivial or crucial, and how they imagine full salvation to be manifested.
How the first Christians understood Jesus' resurrection
WHY WAS JESUS CRUCIFIED?
Apropos for the day, from one of the best NT scholars I know of, and just the thing for some common misconceptions.
Why Was Jesus Crucified?
SIXTIES LANGUAGE MADE MASS BORING
Fr. Barron hits the spot on how to see the new Mass translation.
Sixties Language Made Mass Boring
A MINOR FRIAR: ADVICE TO THEOLOGY STUDENTS
Equally good for undergraduate majors, graduate students, and those simply interested in theology.
a minor friar: Advice to Theology Students
REPORTERS, BAPTISTS, ROMNEY & ‘CULTS’
Just can’t recommend GetReligion enough for anyone who wants to make sense of the ways that theological points appear in the news.
Reporters, Baptists, Romney & ‘cults’
BIG PICTURE AT WORLD YOUTH DAY: 'IT’S THE EVANGELICALS, STUPID!'
John Allen’s take on WYD just past.
Big Picture at World Youth Day: 'It’s the Evangelicals, stupid!'
THE COMING CLOUD WARS
If Silicon Valley were hosting a basketball tournament for consumer money and mindshare in the cloud, right now we’d be looking at a Final Four of Google, Apple (plus Twitter), Microsoft (plus Facebook) and Amazon (especially if they can make a compelling tablet).
The Coming Cloud Wars
ISRAELITES IN THE ANGLO-SAXON SEA
Fascinating take on Anglo-Saxon religious poetry, referring to this new volume of translations.
Israelites in the Anglo-Saxon Sea
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE IPAD
“The next time you watch a child use an iPad, think about what your knowledge-based toys looked like when you were their age. The iPad is their slide rule; their typewriter; their Commodore 64. As great as the iPad is, it’s more mind blowing to imagine what will soon deprecate it.”
It’s not about the iPad
FR. BARRON ON THE POPE'S NEW BOOK
Fine description of the dynamic between historical-critical and theological interpretation.
(Via Ignatius Insight.)
Fr. Barron on the Pope's new book
THE THEOLOGICAL NECESSITY OF AN HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE
Truer words never spoken: “The moment the “Word became flesh” (Jn. 1:14), history became essential to the task of thinking about and proclaiming the good news of the Bible, and it became essential for very theological reasons.”
The Theological Necessity of an Historical Interpretation of the Bible
PONDERING ISLAM AND ITS DISCONTENTS
Pondering Islam and its discontents: “To put all this into a sound-bite, the church’s approach to interreligious dialogue is moving beyond the tea-and-cookies stage, where the point is simply to be polite to one another. Today a more balanced form of engagement is emerging, which promises more substantive, but also more potentially combustible, conversations.”
Another fine column from John Allen, the one writer who makes NCR worth reading.
Pondering Islam and its discontents
FAITH ABIDES: THE INTELLIGENCE OF BENEDICT XVI | FR. JAMES V. SCHALL, S.J.
Fr. Schall reviews Tracey Rowland on BXVI; not to be missed, and good in the wake of the UK visit to bring home Benedict’s theological vision.
Faith Abides: The Intelligence of Benedict XVI | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
HAWKING AND CREATION » FIRST THINGS
Money quote: “In the end, Hawking on theology reminds me of ill-informed fundamentalists and their efforts at creation “science.” There’s no actual interest in a broad engagement with the challenges of understanding, just a mulish push to make what one already understands into the key for understanding everything else.”
Hawking and Creation » First Things
BENEDICT XVI & THE BIBLE
Here’s the conclusion of a longer article from Fr. Lienhard on BXVI’s approach to Scripture. Well worth reading the whole thing.
“The theology of the Bible elaborated by Pope Benedict XVI in the course of almost fifty years might be summarized in ten theses.
The word of God must be approached with sympathetic understanding, a readiness to experience something new, and a readiness to be taken along a new path (cf. God’s Word, 116).
A true understanding of the Bible calls for a philosophy that is open to analogy and participation, and not based on the dogmatism of a worldview derived from natural science (cf. God’s Word, 118).
The exegete may not exclude, a priori, the possibility that God could speak in human words in this world, or that God could act in history and enter into it (cf. God’s Word, 116).
Faith is a component of biblical interpretation, and God is a factor in historical events (cf. God’s Word, 126).
Besides being seen in their historical setting and interpreted in their historical contexts, the texts of Scripture must be seen from the perspective of the movement of history as a whole and of Christ as the central event.
Because the biblical word bears witness to revelation, a biblical passage can signify more than its author was able to conceive in composing it (cf. God’s Word, 123).
The exegetical question cannot be solved by simply retreating into the Middle Ages or the Fathers, nor can it renounce the insights of the great believers of all ages, as if the history of thought began seriously only with Kant (cf. God’s Word, 114 and 125).
Dei Verbum envisioned a synthesis of historical method and theological hermeneutics, but did not elaborate it. The theological part of its statements needs to be attended to (cf. God’s Word, 98-99).
Exegesis is theological, as Dei Verbum taught, particularly on these points: (1) Sacred Scripture is a unity, and individual texts are understood in light of the whole. (2) The one historical subject that traverses all of Scripture is the people of God. (3) Scripture must be read from the Church as its true hermeneutical key. Thus, Tradition does not obstruct access to Scripture but opens it; and, conversely, the Church has a decisive say in the interpretation of Scripture (cf. God’s Word, 97).
Theology may not be detached from its foundation in the Bible or be independent of exegesis (cf. God’s Word, 93).”
(Via Carl Olson.)
BXVI & THE FRAGILITY OF REASON
Nice piece by Weigel that puts BXVI’s trip to Britain in context of broader Western Civ. issues
BXVI & the fragility of reason
AYAAN HIRSI ALI: HOW TO WIN THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS
Politically incorrect, but nonetheless accurate: “The greatest advantage of Huntington’s civilizational model of international relations is that it reflects the world as it is—not as we wish it to be.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: How to Win the Clash of Civilizations
RAZING GENERATIONAL BASTIONS
Nice updating and reapplication of Balthasar’s thoughts on razing the bastions, from Homiletic & Pastoral Review; good for Gen-X types such as myself to remember!
“Most of the young people I know here at St. Louis University, for example, pray and worship and serve in a “post-dissent” Church… They are not reacting against anything internally within the Church but only outwardly against the alienating harshness of secular modernism.”
Razing generational bastions
BENEDICT XVI ON THEOLOGY
ON “SCIENTIFIC” THEOLOGY
(via Sandro Magister)
Q: Your Holiness, I am Mathias Agnero and I come from Africa, specifically from Côte d’Ivoire. You are a pope theologian, while we, when we are able, read only a few books of theology for formation. It seems to us, nonetheless, that a fracture has been created between theology and doctrine, and, even more, between theology and spirituality. The need is felt for study not to be entirely academic, but to nourish our spirituality. We feel the need for this in pastoral ministry itself. Sometimes theology does not seem to have God at the center and Jesus Christ as the first “theological locus,” but instead has scattered tastes and tendencies; and the result is the proliferation of subjective opinions that permit the introduction, even in the Church, of non–Catholic thought. How can we keep from becoming disoriented in our lives and our ministry, when it is the world that judges faith and not the other way around? We feel “off center!”
A: You touch upon a very difficult and painful problem. There really is a theology that wants above all to be academic, to appear scientific and forgets the vital reality, the presence of God, his presence among us, his speaking today, not only in the past. Saint Bonaventure distinguished two forms of theology in his time; he said: “There is a theology that comes from the arrogance of reason, that wants to dominate everything, to turn God from a subject into an object that we study, while he should be the subject who speaks to us and guides us.”
There really is this abuse of theology, which is arrogance on the part of reason and does not nourish faith, but obscures the presence of God in the world. Then there is a theology that wants to know more out of love for the beloved, is stimulated by love and guided by love, and wants to know more about the beloved. This is true theology, which comes from love of God, of Christ, and wants to enter more deeply into communion with Christ.
In reality, the temptations today are great; above all, the so-called “modern vision of the world” (Bultmann: “modernes Weltbild”) is imposed, which becomes the criterion of what is claimed to be possible or impossible. And so, precisely with this criterion that everything is as it always has been, that all historical events are of the same kind, the very novelty of the Gospel is excluded, the intervention of God is excluded, the true novelty that is the joy of our faith.
What should be done? I would say first of all to the theologians: have courage. And I would also like to express great thanks to the many theologians who are doing good work. There are abuses, we know that, but in all parts of the world there are many theologians who truly live by the Word of God, nourish themselves on meditation, live the faith of the Church and want to help make faith present in our day.
And I would say to theologians in general: “Do not be afraid of this phantasm of the scientific!” I have been following theology since 1946; I began to study theology in January of 1946, and so I have seen almost three generations of theologians, and I can say: the hypotheses that at that time and then in the 1960’s and ‘80’s were the most new, absolutely scientific, absolutely almost dogmatic, in the meantime have become outdated and no longer apply! Many of them appear almost ridiculous. So have the courage to resist what is apparently scientific, not to submit to all the hypotheses of the moment, but really to think on the basis of the great faith of the Church, which is present in all times and gives us access to the truth. Above all, also, do not think that positivistic reason, which excludes the transcendent – which cannot be accessible – is true reason! This weak form of reason, which presents only things that can be experienced, is really an insufficient reason. We theologians must use the greater form of reason, which is open to the greatness of God. We must have the courage to go beyond positivism to the question of the roots of being.
This seems of great importance to me. So, it is necessary to have the courage for grand, broad reason, to have the humility not to submit to all the hypotheses of the moment, to live by the great faith of the Church of all times. There is no majority versus the majority of the saints: the true majority is the saints in the Church, and we must orient ourselves by the saints!
Then, to the seminarians and the priests I say the same thing: consider that the Sacred Scripture is not an isolated book: it is living in the living community of the Church, which is the same subject in all centuries and guarantees the presence of the Word of God. The Lord has given us the Church as a living subject, with the structure of the bishops in communion with the pope, and this great reality of the bishops of the world in communion with the pope guarantees for us the testimony of permanent truth. Let us trust in this permanent magisterium of the communion of the bishops with the pope, who represent to us the presence of the Word; let us trust in the life of the Church.
And then we must be critical. Certainly theological formation – I would like to say this to the seminarians – is very important. In our time, we must know the Sacred Scripture well, partly because of the attacks of the sects; we really must be friends of the Word. We must also know the currents of our time in order to respond reasonably, in order to be able to give – as Saint Peter says – “reasons for our faith.” Formation is very important. But we must also be critical: the criterion of faith is the criterion that we must also use to view theologians and theologies. Pope John Paul II gave us an absolutely sure criterion in the catechism of the Catholic Church: here we see the synthesis of our faith, and this catechism is truly the criterion for seeing where there is an acceptable or unacceptable theology. Therefore, I recommend the reading, the study of this text, and so we can move forward with a critical theology in the positive sense, meaning critical of the fashionable tendencies and open to the true novelties, to the inexhaustible depth of the Word of God, which reveals itself as new in all times, including in our time.
REGULATORS ARE WATCHING GOOGLE OVER ANTITRUST CONCERNS - NYTIMES.COM
The money quote is the subtitle: “Sure, It’s Big. But Is That Bad?” Still, I’d much rather have the Google of 2010 than the Microsoft of the 90s.
Regulators Are Watching Google Over Antitrust Concerns - NYTimes.com
CAN'T QUIT YOU, FACEBOOK
Online Fandom » Why, despite myself, I am not leaving Facebook. Yet.: “The rewards of Facebook are concrete and immediate. The costs are abstract and ideological. When I try to balance the two, the rewards win, but that is because of my friends and despite Facebook. It is not evidence that Facebook is acting appropriately.”
Catches the point perfectly!
BAD FACEBOOK, NO COOKIE
The Big Game, Zuckerberg and Overplaying your Hand « Jason Calacanis
Persuasive argument that Facebook is a net negative to the wider development of the Net, and untrustworthy, to boot. Summarizes the reasons many tech figures are deleting / deactivating their accounts and moving their fan or marketing pages elsewhere (cf. Leo Laporte among others).
Too bad that so much of mine and Emily’s social network is bound up with Facebook, but it’s definitely enough to deter me from expanding my own or my department’s presence there.
SCIENCE VS. RELIGION: WHAT DO SCIENTISTS SAY?
“Much of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong.”
Science vs. Religion: What do scientists say?