Sunday, December 25, 2005

A culture wars interlude (volley 1)

[Recently posted this at one of Dr. Blosser's blogs. It answers a notoriously liberal priest, "Spirit of Vatican II", in Japan with whom I've locked horns before. The following is rough, but, well, maybe someone will derive some good from it. Long and short of it, the _____ priest SOV2 denies angels, mostly because, I argue, he denies revelation.

At any rate, Merry Christmas, rejoice in the light of Christ our Infant King!]

What grounds your (presumable) belief in the immortal soul that does not ground your belief in angels? Alternatively, what negates your belief in angels that does not also negate your belief in the soul and, in the words of the Nicene creed, "life everlasting"? Both are "imports", as you might say; and then again, neither are: they're both Catholic truth.

Does God “fabricate” his message by tailoring it to our sociolinguistic comprehension? Would He, then, compromise the reality of theophanies by casting them in a sociocultural light appropriate to the witness? Further, in what other way might a man beholding angelic epiphanies describe the indescribable than in the language most closely approaching it in his day? Further, what grounds your belief in Christ the Savior that does not ground your belief in the many saviors of Hellenism? Saviors have been in every culture; should I then presume it is impossible to say Christ is the Savior of ALL cultures? In short, how or why does the merciful “con-descension” of God necessarily negate His holy sovereignty? (As an aside, you completely ignore the widespread activity of angels in the Church today and in all ages.)

As far as cultural borrows go, you may as well say, by analogy, Jesus the Christ could never have been born as a true human since all that DNA of His was but the accrued inheritance of His forebears. Christ, as the embodiment of what and *how* revelation was and is, was and is true Man precisely insofar as He drew upon the biological, cultural and spiritual heritage into which He was made flesh. Being Catholic means affirming God inspired the scriptural authors (and, yes, redactors) precisely in their appropriation of various cultural, historical, philosophical, etc. icons/patterns.

Fr. SOV2, I'm amazed time and again at how "nuanced" you can be in the name of "reappraising" the faith, yet how brazenly wooden you are about facing orthodoxy. Whenever you write I am reminded of a quote by blessed Cardinal Newman:

People say that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is difficult to believe . . . It is difficult, impossible to imagine, I grant - but how is it difficult to believe? . . . For myself, I cannot indeed prove it, I cannot tell how it is; but I say, "Why should it not be? What’s to hinder it? What do I know of substance or matter? Just as much as the greatest philosophers, and that is nothing at all;" . . . (Apologia vita sua, Garden city, NY: Doubleday Image, 1956 (orig. 1864), p.31

What do you, Fr. SOV2, know of cultures, borrows, etc.? As pb said: Hubris, eh? Pot, kettle, etc. Rinse, dry, repeat.

If I may be frank (still), you remind me of a child who has soiled himself sometime during the day, but is unwilling to fess up and simply change his drawers. So all day long the lad squirms and shifts and shuffles: it’s itchy, and he daren’t let a soul find out. It is almost painfully amusing to observe how acutely uncomfortable you are with orthodoxy ('In this day and age--gasp!? Why *I* could never say--!') while also being at such a sheer loss as to how to face yourself and just follow through with a total John Shelby Spong or a Matthew Fox (or perhaps even a Dan Barker?) Of course, in your shoes I would squirm, for you must know, you are famous in St. Blog’s not for being a priest, not for being an alter Christus, but, tragically, for being a liberal caricature, a living meme, a giddy, willful alterer of Christ. Great scott, man, think about it: you’ve apotheosized yourself as some Hegelian Spirit of the Times! You’ve so fixated on liberating the Church that you’ve enslaved yourself to liberalizing this or that comment box. You’ve so aimed to relive the sixties that you’ve actually shrunken yourself in a cliché! It’s hysterical!

At any rate, I wish you a merry Christmas, Fr. Nevertheless, I cringe to wonder if that means anything more to you than a Japanese platitude after indulging in tightly clad fairies? [The ______ priest had said he is willing to believe in angels such as he saw in a Japanese Nutcracker ballet.]

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