Saturday, August 12, 2017

Homo artifactus/a; or Made, not begotten

"This [technocratic] conflation of what were once called the speculative and the practical orders means that technologically generated exceptions and possibilities now largely govern how we think about what is true.  This is difficult to see from within the paradigm, as we have largely grown accustomed to it, but once it is noticed, it appears to be a constitutive feature of contemporary thought.  Again the examples are endless.  The so-called sexual revolution, for instance, is most fundamentally the technological revolution turned on ourselves, not only in the deep sense that the canonical dualism of sex and gender presupposes a more basic dualism between the affective part, usually thought to be the locus of personal identity, and a meaningless material body regarded as a kind of artifact, but also in the more mundane sense that the technical conquest of human biology is its practical condition of possibility.  Just as same-sex 'marriage' would have remained permanently unimaginable were it not for the technological conquest of procreation, so too would it have never been possible to think that a man might 'really' be a woman if we did not think it were technically possible to transform him into one.  And yet these technologically generated exceptions have occasioned a radical rethinking of the whole of human nature, sexuality and embodiment."

     Michael Hanby, "The gospel of creation and the technocratic paradigm:  reflections on a central teaching of Laudato Si'," Communio:  international Catholic review 42, no. 4 (Winter 2015):  735-736 (725-747).

Friday, August 11, 2017

"be doers of the word, and not hearers only"

"for Gregory, this process of sanctification is one in which a kind of 'trinitarian' structure intrinsic to human existence becomes an ever purer mirror of the Trinity.  The Spirit meets us, successively, in our practice [(praxis)], word (logos), and thought (enthymion), the last of these being the principle (archikōteron) of all three; for mind (dianoia) is the original source (archē) that becomes manifest in speech, while practice comes third and puts mind and word into action.  Thus the Spirit transforms us, until 'there is a harmony of the hidden man with the manifest'; and thus, one might say, the Spirit conducts the Trinitarian glory upward into our thought, making our own internal life an ever fuller reflection of God's own 'circle of glory.'"

     David Bentley Hart, citing Gregory of Nyssa, De perfectione at GNO 8/1:210-212 =PG 46, col. 284A =FC 58, trans. Callahan, pp. 120 ff., as well as Adversus Macedonianos at GNO 3/1:98-99.  "The hidden and the manifest:  metaphysics after Nicaea" (2009), in The hidden and the manifest:  essays in theology and metaphysics (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 163 (137-164).  Cf. Hart on Augustine's somewhat different trinity (and, by comparison with Gregory's "'from glory to glory'," "rather homely" sense of continuous transformation "throughout eternity" (revelation as sanctification (154))):  "it is only thus that the coinherence within us of memory, understanding, and will is raised to the dignity of the divine likeness":
Insofar, says Augustine, as we know God, we are made like him, however remotely; and when we know God, and properly love this knowledge, we are made better than we were, and this knowledge becomes a word for us, and a kind of likeness to God within us.  And it is only thus that the coinherence within us of memory, understanding, and will is raised to the dignity of the divine likeness; the mind is the image of God not simply when it remembers and understands and loves itself, but only when it is able to remember and understand and love him by whom it was made [(162, underscoring mine)]....

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"one single law, the unchangeable will of God"

     "We believe, teach, and confess that, although people who truly believe in Christ and are genuinely converted to God have been liberated and set free from the curse and compulsion [(Fluch und Zwang | maledictione et coactione)] of the law through Christ, they indeed are not for that reason without the law.  Instead, they have been redeemed by the Son of God so that they may practice the law day and night (Ps. 119[:1]).
". . . the proclamation of the law is [therefore] to be diligently impressed not only upon unbelievers and the unrepentant but also upon those who believe in Christ and are truly converted, reborn, and justified through faith."

     Formula of Concord (1577) Epitome VI (Concerning the third use of the law).1-2, trans. Robert Kolb.  There is much more of value here, and even more in Article VI of the Solid Declaration.  The headline is from Epitome VI.6:  "for both the repentant and unrepentant, for the reborn and those not reborn, the law is and remains one single law, the unchangeable will of God."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Forgiveness and prudence"

"It is easier to forgive but remain passive in the face of the other's error, than to forgive and take corrective measures so that he reforms."

    Francisco Ugarte, From resentment to forgiveness:  a gateway to happiness (New York:  Scepter, 2008), 42.  All of the rest notwithstanding, this, too, is true.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sanguis Christi

     "The emphasis on the Incarnation and on the materiality of religion, which was so central to this developing vision, meant that [Luther] found it in some ways easier to make common cause with Catholic traditions than to ally with those who were part of the evangelical movement.  He retained the elevation of the sacrament, abolishing it only when Karlstadt died in 1541, and in Wittenberg in 1543, when some Communion wine was spilled on a woman’s jacket and the back of her pew, he and Bugenhagen not only licked it off her coat but went so far as to cut out the bits of the jacket they had been unable to clean, plane away the sections of her pew where the wine had splashed, and burn the lot.  The body and blood of Christ had to be treated with utmost respect.  Indeed, it was this insistence on the literal enactment of the sacrament that made Luther so adamant that it be given in two kinds in the first place."

     Lyndal Roper, Martin Luther:  renegade and prophet (New York:  Random House, 2017), 345.  Roper cites WA Bw 10, no. 3888, 4 July 1543, p. 337 (336-342), which cites Johan Hachenburg, Wider den jrrthumb der newen Zwinglianer (1557), Fb (the page to the left)-Fii.  I give here Hachenberg's account as reproduced in WA Bw 10.  Note that tears are said to have stood in Luther's eyes:

Endlich berichtet er [(Hachenburg)] eine interessante Historia, die 1542 in Wittenberg passiert sei (ein Leser [of this copy?] berichtigt:  1544, id mihi narravit is, qui spectator fuit), [page] Fb:  Ein Weibsbild habe zum Abendmahl des Herrn gehen wollen, und wie sie in dem Stuhl vorm Altar habe niederknien und trinken wollen, sei sie unsanft getreten und habe mit ihrem Munde hart an den Kelch des Herrn gestoßen, infolgedessen etwas daraus vom Blute Christi auf ihre gefütterte Leibjacke, ihren Mantel und auf die Lehne des Stuhls vergossen worden sei.  Wie Luther, der gegenüber in einem Stuhle gestanden, das gesehen habe, sei er gleich, wie auch Bugenhagen, zum Altar gelaufen, 'und haben sampt dem Diakon solchs verschütt Blut Christi mit aller Reverenz von des Weibes Mantel so rein als sie gekonnt helfen ab- und auflecken.'  Es sei solchs Luther sehr zu Herzen gegangen, daß er geseufzt und gesprochen habe:  Ach hilf Gott!  Es seien ihm auch seine Augen voll Wassers gestanden.  'Nach gehaltener Kommunion aber ist er zugefahren und hat das Rauchfutter der Leibjacken, darauf das Blut des Herrn ist verschütt worden, weil man’s nicht hat können rein ablecken, lassen ausschneiden und mit Feuer verbrennen.'  Die Lehne des Stuhls habe er abhobeln und die Späne verbrennen lassen.
     Cf. the trenchant words of the former Lutheran theologian Mickey L. Mattox here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"much that is presented as puzzling in Disknowledge is simply biblical."

     Diane Purkiss, of Disknowledge:  literature, alchemy, and the end of humanism in Renaissance England, by Katherine Eggert, in "Good as gold:  how alchemy was poised between science and imagination, a thing more of words than deeds," Times literary supplement no. ____ (March 17, 2017):  27 (26-27).

Real men at work

Mt. Angel Abbey
"I inherited a few of my father's talents.  I could plant a drill of spuds, paint a gate, and set the contacts in my car, but I was not what he would have called 'a tasty man.'  I often look at rows of buildings on a streetscape or motorway and think that all this, one way or another, is the outcome of interventions by other men  Each piece—building, bridge, or flyover—is perhaps the conception of one or two men, but has been executed by dozens or hundreds of other men working together toward a common goal.  Sometimes, walking down a street, I am overcome by shame that there is no place on the face of the earth, aside from the occasional library shelf, which contains any analogous contributions of mine", no place that leaves "a mark on the world that others can stare at, or walk upon, or drive across, or shelter under long after I have departed."

     John Waters, "Back to work," First things no. 275 (August/September 2017):  34-35 (33-37).