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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Historical Method For Beginners

'From our perspective, the difficulty of apprehending, in the three- and four-voice works, the several different texts sung simultaneously seems almost insuperable. But our perspective is, of course, irrelevant.'

- M.S. Gushee, 'The Polyphonic Music of the Medieval Monastery, Cathedral and University', in Man and Music: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, from Ancient Greece to the 15th Century, ed. J. McKinnon(London, 1990)

This cheered me up immensely.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kulchur

Scottish Opera's Der Rosenkavalier is delightful - the orchestra do a magnificent job, which is particularly important for Strauss. They paint the landscape beautifully The production's delightful and the acting splendid. The one marginally lower point is that Octavian comes across as more like a pantomime principal boy than a really convincing breeches job, but in this opera that isn't particularly problematic. Anyway, it's a great four hours, go if you get the chance.

In other news, I'm afraid I was even more excited to realise (finally) that the Divine Comedy has a new album out - Victory for the Comic Muse, which one hopes is not intended as their/his final album. (I can probably be mapped fairly exactly in the ranks of Divine Comedy fandom by the fact that I know their first album was the now-hard-to-find Fanfare for the Comic Muse, but I've never got round to obtaining a copy.) Herewith, then, a self-indulgently detailed review. Well, I hope Zadok will be vaguely interested to read about it, if no one else.

Victory follows Absent Friends in Neil Hannon's return to form after the post-Secret History glitch of Regeneration (I know it was nigh on six years ago, but it still smarts). This is fairly standard Divine Comedy stuff, with jolly, knowing orchestration, sometimes veering in a slightly more countrified direction than before, sometimes with strong hints of the Penguin Café Orchestra. The first song, 'To Die A Virgin', reads like The Smiths, but sounds, well, like the Divine Comedy - though I'm not entirely convinced by this return to teenage kicks after the domestic notes of the previous album (and in the knowledge that Mr Hannon is a married man and a proud papa). 'Mother Dear' is either very sweet or very sinister, and I'm not sure it quite pulls off either. 'Diva Lady' is a typical Hannon satirical portrait - good sharp fun, though not quite up to his best; taking a pop at celebrity culture isn't that hard, really, is it?

'A Lady of a Certain Age', in contrast, is an absolute classic and by far the best song of the album - a lovely delicate drawing of a washed-up Englishwoman, left high and dry by family and society after a youth 'At Noel's parties by Lake Genoa/ Scaling the dizzy heights of high society/ Armed only with a cheque book and a family tree.' It's as poignantly affectionate towards its subject as it is scathing of those who let her down - 'Your husband's hollow heart gave out one Christmas Day/ He left the villa to his mistress in Marseilles...' One of Hannon's best. 'The Light of Day' is rather a let-down after this, a bit of a maunder through love's miseries and optimism, though it sounds perfectly nice if you don't listen too hard to the words.

'Threesome' provides a mid-album intermission with a nice little piano instrumental. 'Party Fears Two' I didn't get at all, but it's a cover of a song by the Associates (no, I don't know who they are), so I'll let him off. It's probably just about worth it for the jaunty strings with completely gratuitous glockenspiel and tuba. 'Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World' is a sweet paeon to his girl's inexplicable charms: a bit insubstantial compared to some earlier Divine Comedy love songs, but unashamed retro fun. 'The Plough' is very well constructed as a song - the sort of miniature epic Hannon does so well - but loses major brownie points for the cheap anti-religious pseudo-philosophy in verse two.

Those who think Hannon is all right but a bit pretentious will have their worst fears confirmed by 'Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont'. I loved it.

If only it had been the last song of the album. Less happily, that place is held by 'Snowballs in Negative', rather beautiful but possibly the most nakedly despairing Divine Comedy song I've heard. It's the logical conclusion of the philosophy hinted at in many of his songs, but at least he usually pretties it up.

In short, then: more of what Neil Hannon does well, some it fit to rank with his best, most of it not quite. But if you like this sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like.

Why does writing about popular culture do really weird things to my prose style?

Finally: the twenty minutes I caught of the new BBC1 sitcom, Jam and Jerusalem, on Friday night, weren't outstandingly funny. But what justifies the series and possibly my entire licence fee is the fact that the theme song is a cover by Kate Rusby of 'We Are The Village Green Preservation Society'. Genius, genius, genius.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saturday's Early Music Show -

- is rather fun; sixteenth-century Scottish music (don't be scared off by the terrible picture). Available online until Saturday.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Deo gratias

Nicaragua bans abortions, and attempt to liberalise abortions in Chile fails.

More nonsense on Condoms

I don't understand what these characters who want 'movement' on the Church's teaching on barrier contraceptives are after. The only possible document they could obtain of any authority would be a declaration to the effect that: the gravity of the mortal sins of sleeping with one's spouse even though infected with AIDS combined with the callousness of not trying to mitigate the risk by the use of a Condom is cumulatively greater than the gravity of the mortal sins of sleeping with one's spouse even though infected with AIDS and further distorting the act by using a condom.

This may well be true but it is the equivalent of saying that the direct killing of a terminally ill patient is a grave evil but if you do insist on doing so you will be sinning more by killing them directly than by starving the person to death because in the second case you are at least showing some respect for the civil law.

True or not this is almost completely irrelevant. The doctor in question would, if unrepentant, be going to Hell either way and the only consequence of saying it would be to incite headlines such as "Vatican says starving terminally ill the lesser evil" or more likely "Vatican gives green light to withdrawal of food and fluids".

In general the Church has not wasted her time giving tips on how to go to the fourth circle of Hell instead of the fifth.

It is completely clear, not least from the Compendium, that the use of contraceptives is intrinsically immoral in all circumstances regardless of one's intention in doing so.

"498. What are immoral means of birth control?

Every action - for example, direct sterilization or contraception - is intrinsically immoral which (either in anticipation of the conjugal act, in its accomplishment or in the development of its natural consequences) proposes, as an end or as a means, to hinder procreation."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Via Moderna

"The comparison I am about to make is perhaps bold, but it is easily verifiable. With Ockham we witness the first atomic explosion of the modern era. The atom he split was obviously not physical but psychic. It was the nadir of the human soul, with its faculties, which was broken apart by a new concept of freedom. This produced successive aftershocks, which destroyed the unity of theology and Western thought. With Ockham, freedom by means of the claim to radical autonomy that defined it, was separated from all that was foreign to it: reason, sensibility, natural inclinations, and all external factors. Further separations followed: freedom was separated from nature, law, and grace; moral doctrine from mysticism; reason from faith; the individual from society."

Servais Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, (Edinburgh 1995) 242

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another blow against the Balthasarians

For the last thirty five years the words 'pro multis' in the Eucharistic Prayer have been mistranslated as 'for all', giving succour to universalists and fueling accusations from 'traditionalists' that the vernacular Mass in the Novus Ordo is invalid. This translation flatly contradicts the exegesis of the words of institution given by the Roman Catechism:

"The additional words for you and for many, are taken, some from Matthew, some from Luke, but were joined together by the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Spirit of God. They serve to declare the fruit and advantage of His Passion. For if we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed His blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race. When therefore our Lord said: For you, He meant either those who were present, or those chosen from among the Jewish people, such as were, with the exception of Judas, the disciples with whom He was speaking. When He added, And for many, He wished to be understood to mean the remainder of the elect from among the Jews or Gentiles.

With reason, therefore, were the words for all not used, as in this place the fruits of the Passion are alone spoken of, and to the elect only did His Passion bring the fruit of salvation. And this is the purport of the Apostle when he says: Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many; and also of the words of our Lord in John: I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me, because they are thine."

Now the Holy See is insisting that the translation 'for many' be restored to all vernacular texts of the Mass. Bit by bit the enemy of the Catholic Faith is being overthrown....

Debate over Balthasar

From the First Things website: December Featured Article: 'Balthasar, Hell and Heresy': Alyssa Lyra Pitstick /Edward T. Oakes, S.J.

I leave commentary to Aelianus, as he has A Clue about such things.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Left and Right

Orthodox Catholic political reason cannot be either of the right or of the left (or of the centre for that matter). The reason for this is that the ideas of right and left are derived from an error inimical to orthodox Catholicism: Nominialism.

If there is no reality to universals, if man has no nature, then there is no good-for-man common to all men. The end of any given man (if such a concept can be retained at all) therefore differs from the end of all other men by the very fact that they are many. Perhaps by more, perhaps by less but it differs. There can be no common good between all men. It might appear that the common good is the facilitation of the widest range of unconstrained action for the individual compatible with the unconstrained action of all other individuals (liberalism). But this is false, for in a nominalist universe some or all men may require constraint upon other men in order to obtain their ends/desires (authoritarianism).

Thus the logic of nominalist political reason is either to create a liberal society in which to pursue one's vices openly, or pretend to create a liberal state and secretly exercise constraint in the pursuit of private vices, or to create a frankly authoritarian state for the benefit of those who share one's vices, or to create a frankly authoritarian state based on a mythical realism in which one does not believe in order to secretly exploit it in pursuit of one's private vices.

Here we have the full modern political spectrum. The extreme right-wing position is the most honest and the most evil the moderate left wing position is the most seductive and so the most dangerous. Ill catechised Catholics unfamiliar with the perennial philosophy obsess about one particular issue actually or purportedly dear to one of these groups (anti-abortion, anti-poverty, anti-death penalty, anti-war, state recognition of religion, anti-communism, anti-capitalism) and align themselves with that group. They accordingly fail to recognise the group they have chosen agrees or pretends to agree with Catholics on some of these issues for ideologically incompatible and usually abhorrent reasons. They then accuse the Catholics who have fallen in with the other camp, of not really caring about the issues their camp cares (or pretends to care) about and of obsessing about the others.

Generally, the Holy See avoids this nonsense and so everyone is confused as to how it can be anti-abortion and anti-war and anti-death penalty and anti-poverty and anti-socialist, refuse to condemn war or the death penalty in theory or to endorse capitalism. This is seen as inconsistent or opportunist when in fact the Holy See is proceeding on the basis of a completely different world view to that of almost everyone else including a lot of 'Catholics'.

Marxists are a bit of an exception to this general rule and do not fall into the right-left dichotomy (which is why their regimes appear to be both) because they are actually realists, extreme realists who think that the common good is separated from and potentially incompatible with the good of the individual. They are also very badly wrong about what that common good is.

The logic of these reflections is that Catholics should join political parties on the basis of their practical proposals, try to reverse and refuse to co-operate in their immoral policies, and strive through evangelisation to place political culture on a sound intelectual basis. In the case of some parties this may be practicaly impossible as their official ideological basis may already be incompatible with the faith. They will just have to be fought. But my enemy's enemy is not necessarily my friend.
OK, so thinking about blogging a novena is also really pointless if you're going to spend half the week out of the office at the appropriate moment! Happy feast day of St Albert for yesterday...

And happy feast day of St Margaret of Scotland today! Some favourite Margaretine anecdotes later, if I get round to digging them out.

Also, to clarify my earlier post about Prospect and, the media and religion - I have (I hope obviously) nothing against Tories being religious or Catholics being Tory or Tory-flavoured papers being friendly to the Church. The unfortunate part is if this association is exclusive: such that Catholicism, or religion in general, can in some people's eyes (particularly left-wing eyes) be seen as being part of a particular political programme, and/or a particular political grouping can see itself as having dibs on Christianity. In general this is surely dangerous, and it certainly cannot be healthy in today's Britain, where none of the political parties is without elements of policy which are seriously inimical to Catholic thought.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Doctrinal Note of the Dogma of Subsistent Relations

(Clue: the answer is in the title)

De Fide Divina et Catholica Definita

"First, then, the holy Roman church, founded on the words of our Lord and Saviour, firmly believes, professes and preaches one true God, almighty, immutable and eternal, Father, Son and holy Spirit; one in essence, three in persons; unbegotten Father, Son begotten from the Father, holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; the Father is not the Son or the holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the holy Spirit, the holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son; the Father is only the Father, the Son is only the Son, the holy Spirit is only the holy Spirit. The Father alone from his substance begot the Son; the Son alone is begotten of the Father alone; the holy Spirit alone proceeds at once from the Father and the Son. These three persons are one God not three gods, because there is one substance of the three, one essence, one nature, one Godhead, one immensity, one eternity, and everything is one where the difference of a relation does not prevent this. Because of this unity the Father is whole in the Son, whole in the holy Spirit; the Son is whole in the Father, whole in the holy Spirit; the holy Spirit is whole in the Father, whole in the Son. No one of them precedes another in eternity or excels in greatness or surpasses in power. " D703

17th ECUMENICAL COUNCIL (FLORENCE 1438-1445)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Islam and reason

Quite an interesting article on Prospect's website, unhappily entitled The Pope was Wrong but helpful in giving examples of significant Islamic theological engagement with the Hellenistic philosophical tradition. The author doesn't seem to have a particularly clear take on matters Christian - the use of 'Catholic modernists' to include Benedict is very infelicitous! - but this is fair enough for a lecturer in Islamic studies, I suppose.

I rather like Prospect. It doesn't have any particularly strong ideological bent, at least as compared to the rest of the intelligent or would-be intelligent media in Britain; its articles are as likely to annoy a Guardianista as a Spectator-reader, and the editor is keen on debate: this month's print edition had an article in defence of the Pope's Regensburg address (only the beginning visible to non-subscribers on the web).

At the same time, the religious illiteracy so prevalent in the British media is certainly present. The article defending the Pope is (from a Catholic point of view) an exercise in stating the obvious, an outsider's guide. The cover picture (which should be shown next to the cover story) is also particularly frustrating: whichever part of the editorial hierarchy is responsible for that, just doesn't get it.* I should be used to this sort of thing by now, but it still surprises me. The dominant part of the British intelligentsia are simply cut off from their past - they are part of a different conversation (is 'conversation' the new 'discourse'? or have I just been unduly affected by nine years of New Labour?), and Christians have to get used to talking to and with this entirely different cultural sphere. Um, that's a bit of a mixed metaphor (do you think the new liberal cultural sphere looks like this?!), but you probably know what I mean - especially as I may be the last Catholic in the West still to be surprised by this development!

I do wish that the Telegraph and the Spectator weren't the only non-religious papers in Britain whose writers regularly seem to have A Clue about religion - and even then, all too often there are columns defending religion as a useful cultural artefact regardless of the matter of truth. It's unfortunate that being religious is so often now associated with right-wingery, in the minds both of BBC/Guardian types and of Tories who happen to be religious themselves.


* In case we have any American readers who aren't familiar with the whole EU deal: in the Prospect picture, some clever graphic designer has clearly thought, 'Ooh, wouldn't it be cunning to illustrate this headline by taking the EU flag and using the stars as a halo on Jesus and Mary?', apparently quite oblivious to the fact that the twelve stars on the flag were apparently chosen precisely with the Virgin's crown of twelve stars in mind, so it's really a bit daft to use them a) for Our Lord's halo as well and b) as if the combination were in general an exciting clash of iconographies. Sigh.

Prayers for academia day 7

(Blogging a novena is somewhat undermined by not being in front of a computer at the weekend. Well, I dare say you'd got the idea by now...)

Deus, qui Praedicatorum ordinem copiosa Sanctorum sobole fecundare dignatus es, atque in ipsis heroica omnium virtutum merita sublimiter coronasti, da nobis illorum sequi vestigia: ut, quos hodie sub una celebritate veneramur in terris, iis perpetua tandem festivitate associemur in caelis. Per Dominum...
O God, fountain of all holiness, you were pleased to enrich your Church with the varied gifts of the saints of the order of Preachers. May we, who honour them in this earthly celebration, follow in their footsteps and so join them at last in the eternal festival of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Deus qui beatum Albertum Pontificum tuum atque Doctorem in humana sapientia divinae fidei subiicienda magnum effecisti: da nobis, quaesumus, ita eius magisterii inhaerere vestigiis ut luce perfecta fruamur in caelis. Per Dominum...
(O God, who made blessed Albert, your bishop and doctor, great in human wisdom made subject to divine faith: grant us, we beseech you, so to follow in the path of his teaching that we may enjoy perfect light in heaven. Through Our Lord...)
St Dominic, pray for us!
St Albert the Great, pray for us!
St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
St Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
St Peter Martyr, pray for us!
St Vincent Ferrer, pray for us!
St Raymond da Penafort, pray for us!
St Hyacinth, pray for us!
St Rose of Lima, pray for us!
Bl Jane of Aza, pray for us!
All ye Dominican Saints and Blesseds, pray for us!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Poles in Scotland

Prayers for academia, day 4





O God, fountain of all holiness, you were pleased to enrich your Church with the varied gifts of the saints of the order of Preachers. May we, who honour them in this earthly celebration, follow in their footsteps and so join them at last in the eternal festival of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Deus qui beatum Albertum Pontificum tuum atque Doctorem in humana sapientia divinae fidei subiicienda magnum effecisti: da nobis, quaesumus, ita eius magisterii inhaerere vestigiis ut luce perfecta fruamur in caelis. Per Dominum...
(O God, who made blessed Albert, your bishop and doctor, great in human wisdom made subject to divine faith: grant us, we beseech you, so to follow in the path of his teaching that we may enjoy perfect light in heaven. Through Our Lord...)



St Dominic, pray for us!
St Albert the Great, pray for us!
St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
St Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
St Peter Martyr, pray for us!
St Vincent Ferrer, pray for us!
St Raymond da Penafort, pray for us!
St Hyacinth, pray for us!
St Rose of Lima, pray for us!
St Catherine de' Ricci, pray for us!
Bll Diana, Cecilia and Amata, pray for us!
All ye Dominican Saints and Blesseds, pray for us!

Pic of St Hyacinth and St Dominica from In Illo Tempore. Pic of St Catherine de' Ricci from the Moniales.

Hello to Ebomania, a nice Weegie blog who even links to us. Found via Paulinus.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Red poppies for remembrance unChristian?

'... the red poppy implies redemption can come through war'... Tyuh-huh...


More from the think-tank in question, Ekklesia: 'the language and imagery about ‘fighting for freedom’ and ‘the glorious dead’ which often accompanies war remembrance reinforces a belief that violence is redemptive. We think that is a dangerous idea, that it contradicts the central Christian message, and that it is the root of a lot of our problems in today’s violent world'. Or maybe... that if war can be just, some things are worth fighting for and some things have to be fought against. Who would say the Second World War was redemptive - exept inasmuch as its outcome saved us from something much, much worse?

Interestingly Ekklesia's values include seeking 'alternatives to abortion', which is a bit luke-warm but more than you'd expect from something that 'promotes progressive theological ideas in public life.'

Error analysed

Interesting post from the First Things blog suggesting one reason why pro-abortionists think pro-lifers are weird and stupid (and vice versa...).

Prayers for academia, day 3


O God, fountain of all holiness, you were pleased to enrich your Church with the varied gifts of the saints of the order of Preachers. May we, who honour them in this earthly celebration, follow in their footsteps and so join them at last in the eternal festival of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Deus qui beatum Albertum Pontificum tuum atque Doctorem in humana sapientia divinae fidei subiicienda magnum effecisti: da nobis, quaesumus, ita eius magisterii inhaerere vestigiis ut luce perfecta fruamur in caelis. Per Dominum...

(O God, who made blessed Albert, your bishop and doctor, great in human wisdom made subject to divine faith: grant us, we beseech you, so to follow in the path of his teaching that we may enjoy perfect light in heaven. Through Our Lord...)

St Dominic, pray for us!
St Albert the Great, pray for us!
St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
St Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
St Peter Martyr, pray for us!
St Vincent Ferrer, pray for us!
St Raymond da Penafort, pray for us!
Bll Diana, Cecilia and Amata, pray for us!
All ye Dominican Saints and Blesseds, pray for us!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Prayers for academia day 2


O God, fountain of all holiness, you were pleased to enrich your Church with the varied gifts of the saints of the order of Preachers. May we, who honour them in this earthly celebration, follow in their footsteps and so join them at last in the eternal festival of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Deus qui beatum Albertum Pontificum tuum atque Doctorem in humana sapientia divinae fidei subiicienda magnum effecisti: da nobis, quaesumus, ita eius magisterii inhaerere vestigiis ut luce perfecta fruamur in caelis. Per Dominum...

(O God, who made blessed Albert, your bishop and doctor, great in human wisdom made subject to divine faith: grant us, we beseech you, so to follow in the path of his teaching that we may enjoy perfect light in heaven. Through Our Lord...)


(This has been shamelessly stolen from someone else's WYD pics.)

St Dominic, pray for us!
St Albert the Great, pray for us!
St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
St Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
St Peter Martyr, pray for us!
St Vincent Ferrer, pray for us!
All ye Dominican Saints and Blesseds, pray for us!

You Know You Are A Medievalist When -

- you hear someone saying, 'They brought in an annalist to regrade our jobs,'

and you think,

'Annalist? I didn't know the University had an annalist. And what's he doing regrading jobs?'

And then you think,

'Oh... right... analyst...'

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pray for the Universities

There are many things to cause sorrow at present. There is this, which Aelianus mentioned the other day. The student newspaper at my University is stuffed full of grim things this week, beginning with a front-page article complaining that some arts subjects threaten to fail students who repeatedly avoid tutorials (what? Humanities students expected to show evidence of work?!); then moving on to a celebration of free contraception to be supplied on campus; followed by an article encouraging women to speak out about their traumatic abortion experiences in order to support free 'choice'... obviously...

However, happily it turns out that today is the feast of All Dominican Saints. Who better to ask to pray for the intellectual health of the nation? I thought it would be good to start a novena. (Yes, I know novenas usually run up to the feast. Better late than never, no?) Which would also make it a novena up to St Albert the Great's feast on 15th November. All prayers for academia gratefully appreciated!






O God, fountain of all holiness, you were pleased to enrich your Church with the varied gifts of the saints of the order of Preachers. May we, who honor them in this earthly celebration, follow in their footsteps and so join them at least in the eternal festival of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

God of truth, you made Albert renowned for the gift of combining human wisdom with divine faith. May we remain true to his teachings and through the advance of human science come to a deeper knowledge and love of you. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.




St Dominic, pray for us.
St Albert the Great, pray for us.
St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
St Catherine of Siena, pray for us.
All ye Dominican Saints and Blesseds, pray for us.



(Texts from here.)

Para-Liturgical Reform

I was just reading a post on Fr Schofield's Blog which remained me of a minor para-liturgical reform I 've had in mind for a while. I few years ago I was watching a small firework display in my Auntie's back garden when Berenike rang me on my mobile. 'What are you doing?' she demanded in her familiarly imperious tone. 'I'm watching my Auntie's fireworks' I replied. 'Isn't that a rather Protestant thing to do?' she demanded. 'Not at all, I am celebrating the fact that we used to show as much commitment as the Muslims'. At this point my Auntie glowered at me as I was standing right next to a good family friend who is a protestant from Northern Ireland (and a thoroughly nice chap) for whom Catholic terrorists are not an amusing seventeenth century phenomenon. Actually, I don't think it would be wise, prudent or moral to try and redeem Bonfire Night by turning it into a celebration of Guy Faulks. It would be much better for Catholics to move Bonfire Night to 21st March, the day Thomas Cranmer was burnt at the stake. No there is something worth celebrating. We could burn him in effigy instead. As a wise man put it...
"Thomas Cranmer, a name which deserves to be held in everlasting execration; a name which we could not pronounce without almost doubting of the justice of God, were it not for our knowledge of the fact, that the cold- blooded, most perfidious, most impious, most blasphemous caitiff expired, at last, amidst those flames which he himself had been the chief cause of kindling."
I had a similar idea for Halloween. On the Eve of All Hallows Catholic children could dress up as military saints like, Martin, George, Joan of Arc etc. and ambush pagan children in the street confiscating their ill gotten earnings and donating the money to the poor. A pilot scheme could be launched in Glasgow where there would be the largest number of enthusiastic volunteers. But then 31st October is 'Reformation Day' the day Luther nailed his theses to the Church door in Wittenberg so it is strangely fitting that this is commemorated by people dressing up as evil spirits and restless ghosts.

Doctrinal Note of Thomistic/Augustinian Teaching on the Trinity

I doubt anyone is very interested in this, but I have something of an obsession with it. A lot of dodgy types try to jettison the teaching that the Eternal Word proceeds from the Father per modum intellectus and the Holy Spirit from both per modum voluntatis. Different dodgy people have different reason for doing this. Muscovisers want to ditch the Filioque and they think to lay the ground work by attaching the doctrine of the Logos. Neo-Modernists detest the perennial philosophy and so detest a doctrine that underlines both the perennial philosophy's unity and verity and ties it inextricably to the most sublime articles of faith. This truth is most beautifully expressed by Raphael's two paintings "The School of Athens" and "The Exaltation of the Blessed Sacrament" where the doctrine of the Incarnate Word is shown as the truth which reconciles the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. It is with reluctance that I describe this teaching as Augustinian/Thomistic as it is not their invention but at least implicitly a part of the deposit of faith as is clear from Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Athanasius.... Indeed, though it doesn't say it is de fide or think it wise to preach on the subject at length the Roman Catechism goes so far as to assert that

"Among the different comparisons employed to elucidate the mode and manner of this eternal generation that which is borrowed from the production of thought in our mind seems to come nearest to its illustration, and hence St. John calls the Son the Word. For as our mind, in some sort understanding itself, forms an image of itself, which theologians express by the term word, so God, as far as we may compare human things to divine, understanding Himself, begets the eternal Word."

Anyway, the reason I'm going on about this is that I have finally tracked down the Wednesday audiences where John Paul II says what he things the doctrinal note of the teaching is.

First on the Son...

"It is certain that this eternal generation in God is of an absolutely spiritual nature, for "God is Spirit." In the cognitive process of the human mind, man, in knowing himself, produces an image of himself, an idea, a "concept," that is, a "conceived idea," which from the Latin verbum (word) is frequently called the interior word. By analogy with this process, we dare to think of the generation of the Son, or the eternal "concept" and interior Word of God. God, in knowing himself, begets the Word, the Son, who is God just as the Father. In this begetting, God is at the same time Father, as he who begets, and Son, as he who is begotten, in the supreme identity of the divinity which excludes a plurality of "Gods." The Word is the Son of the same substance of the Father, and with him he is the one God of the Old and New Testament revelation.

The whole Christian tradition contains this exposition of the mystery of God's inner life, which is inscrutable to us. If the divine generation is a truth of faith contained directly in revelation and defined by the Church, we can say that the explanation given of it by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church is a well-founded and certain theological doctrine."

Then on the Holy Spirit...

"The Holy Spirit is "sent" by the Father and Son, as he also "proceeds" from them. For this reason he is called "the Spirit of the Father" (e.g., Mt. 10:20; 1 Cor 2:11; also Jn 15:26), but also "the Spirit of the Son" (Gal 4:6), or "the Spirit of Jesus" (Acts 16:7), since it is Jesus himself that sends him (cf. Jn 15:26). Therefore the Latin Church professes that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (qui a Patre Filioque procedit) while the Orthodox Churches profess from the Father through the Son. He proceeds "by way of will," "in the manner of love" (per modum amoris). This is a sententia certa, that is, a theological doctrine commonly accepted in the Church's teaching and therefore sure and binding."

To say that these two doctrines are Sententiae theologice certae is to assert that they are, though not directly revealed, inextricably logically connected to directly revealed truths. Thus, though not (yet) heresy to deny them, it is nevertheless an error. Furthermore, because it is deduced from revealed premises, it is definable. And, if it was defined, that would make its denial a heresy. One can but hope...

Tolkien and Thomism














Two interesting pieces on the Thomism of Tolkien's writings by,

Michael Waldstein

&

Andrew Nimmo

Don't agree with everything they say but it would be tedious to point out where. Tolkien is very much a Thomist and an Augustinian (all real Thomists are Augustinians and vice versa ). I find followers of Darth Balthasar can have an unhealthy interest in Tolkien because the role of the Valar appeals to their occultist tendencies. This was far from Tolkien's intention who described Charles Williams (who HuvB cites with approval) as 'a nasty little witch doctor'. I heard a talk on Tolkien by a Balthasarian once who started trying to reinterpret the Valar as 'archetypes' in most disturbing way. I objected at the time that the eternal types are identical with God and the Angels (and the Valar) are just creatures. He backed off but did not explain himself. It was only later that I read Balthsar's thing on Tarot cards and discovered what was really going on.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Another step towards National Socialism

Great to see the classic arguments on parade...

1. The problem is new (so you don't need to feel guilty if you opposed it in the past).

2. Its not about selfish individualism its about responsible parenting.

3. Infanticide will help reduce the number of abortions.

4. The establishment is in favour.

5. Enlightened foreigners are already doing it.

6. It going on already and its important to get it out in the open so it can be regulated.

7. Every person should be a wanted person.

And, last but not least, the one we've all been waiting for...

8. "The college's submission was welcomed by John Harris, a member of the Government's Human Genetics Commission and professor of bioethics at Manchester University. 'We can terminate for serious fetal abnormality up to term but cannot kill a newborn,' he said. 'What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it OK to kill the fetus at one end of the birth canal but not at the other?'"