Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Them and Ours

I think it was the British historian MacAuley (a later link here, with correct spelling) who noted the Roman Church's solution for keeping schism and heresy to a mimimum. Since it is usually the super-religious rather than the impious who split the Church, Rome has developed Religious Orders for dangerously charismatic individuals and their followers to indulge their special passions and unique enthusiasms while not only remaining within the Fold, but serving it.

Religious Orders therefore have judgments and assessments about other religious orders. From the memoirs of a former Jesuit, who belonged to that Society --one whose charms have always completely eluded me---in the halcyon days before the Vatican Council, this frank appraisal.
Their rules refer to the Jesuits as "this least Society," an expression almost paralyzed with irony. If there is a "least Society" in the bosom of Mother Church, it was assuredly not, on the Jesuits own reckoning, the Society of Jesus. It must be some other confraternity pursuing its own imperfect vision of the religious life. Some were fitfully admired by Ours* in the manner of a connoisseur smiling upon a picturesque ruin, once glorious things like the Benedictines or Dominicans that had fallen into decay. The more remote the ruin, the greater the pretended respect: Carthusians, whom no one had ever seen, were thought to be obscurely worthwhile, but the Franciscans, whatever their imagined service to the Church in the past, were by now unspeakable. Others were mere cartoons: the dimly single-minded like the Passionists; shamelessly self-promoting entrepreneurs like the Maryknollers; the unnumbered hordes of helot brutes posing as Brothers, Christian, Irish Christian, Marist, or whatever; and your parish priest who at least owned up to his inferior status and so won from Ours the same grudging respect that the physician grants to the dentist but withholds from the insolent chiropractor.
*Jesuit jargon for "Jesuits".


Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, this was part of the method by which Catholics could be more or less validly proud of their Church -- and if I may say so, this was a pride in the Church as a moral institution (morality as comprehensible to the "middle class"), and a benefactor to the world (not a "pilgrim people" who loftily dumps on middle-class institutions). Von Harnack: the only visible ecclesiastical institution in the world worthy of appearing.

But then I suppose the difficulty or the extra advantage is that responsibility cannot be evaded by a division between "religion" and "politics," inasmuch as the state properly is the worldly arm of the church.

The Prot method of permitting or even promoting foreground quasi-disunity (as though perhaps e.g. American Presbyterians and American Episcopalians really cared about any doctrinal or ritual differences between them) allows the claim that the church/es can merely speak truth to power.

The RCC could use such a bogus formula to assert that Machiavelli's account of them is inapplicable for the Church is only God's powerless pilgrim people, not powerful prelates but only a ragtag community of déclassé ex-powerful who prophetically stand with the poor and oppress'd and bravely offer critiques of culture [in H.R Niebuhr's sense of culture]. One may render to Cesare Borgia what is Cesare Borgia's, but on the other side of the coin is the visage of his father Pope Alexander 6.

... Pius 12 restored the Church to ship-shape condition after certain unfortunate 20th-century European events, but then the Prelates decided to let the intellectuals implement their version of Catholic Christianity somehow connected with the Council or the application of the Councils "constitutions." ... Father Mulcahey of M*A*S*H (bkw sham, with Orion's Belt?) essentially the same as the Protestant cleric visiting the prison in Chaplin's "Modern Times," but Chaplin did Prots the favour of mocking the cleric, whereas Larry Gelbart[yellow stock, Canaanite species?] succeeded in making Father Mulcahey revered by RCs, who learnt to expect such compliantness from their clergy.

One could say that in any case, the impious intellectuals did not split the church, but I wonder if that is so only in formal institutionality. ... The conservative Catholics I knew at -- seem'd to inhabit a different ecclesio-spiritual environment than the spirit-of-Vatican-2 Catholics at the same institution. The conservatives were more or less completely alienated from the ordinary parish (as surely were the V2 intellectuals): they did not offer what I later learnt is call'd "religious adherence" to the things said by local priests and bishops, and especially not by the prophetic experts hired by bishops to speak truth to power etc on economics, politics, etc etc.

Anonymous said...

What replaced the previous (middle-class) moral reverence for the Church as founded by Jesus Christ and the light unto the nations etc I might now call 'Catholic noir' -- which flatter'd them, and seduced them to a ?daimonic? pride not in their Church, but in the depth etc superiority of Catholics to Prots and, much more importantly, to secularists: pride in contempt for worldly optimism.

e.g. this quotation I find on line about Graham Greene's "Brighton Rock": »Catholics have perhaps the greatest propensity for evil because of their closeness to God.«

What absurd pretentiousness, if I may say so! Obviously one would not say this of Father Mulcahey or Chaplin's Prot cleric. But I wonder really whether one could say this of the writers, many of them converts from evangelicalism, at First Things. (For my own part, I worry that writers at First Things have Shadow material to terrify Rasputin.)

More to the point, orthodox Christianity is not "pessimistic" even though it tends to be deeper than 'secularist' intellectuals (e.g. those of the V2 Council): compare Luther and Erasmus, or Pascal and Cartesians (and the 'least society'). But surely Dante was an "optimist" in that his poem is a Commedia, both very worldly and transcendent of the world; finally an affirmation, not a conclusion that nothing was worth doing.

Leibniz who perhaps provided a deep congruence for Western Christianity that permitted the Peace of Westfalia also gets the better of 'pessimists' (as does Nietzsche with Schopenhauer), which is maybe not ultimately difficult since pessimists teach life isn't worth living but drive us to live anyway.

Catholic noir -- Greene, Waugh and so many others -- replace pride in the Church with pride in superior depth to secularists, at least optimistic secularists. The mission of the Church to the world seems gone: she is no longer a light to the nations, despite the title of the first V2 pronouncement. I can't really see that that was a good trade-off. Having a deeper and darker understanding than Chaplin's cleric or Father Mucahey or "Your Erroneous Zones" is no great achievement. And the shallow secularists mock'd by Catholic Noir are no longer wayward men in need of returning to the bosom of the Church but simply lost causes. ... And perhaps relief from the unrelieved darkness of Catholic noir comes not from contemplating the holiness of the Church and admiring the sanctity of favourite saints, but from reading Bertie Wooster novels.

Well, in any case, the post-Council Church doesn't seem exposed to the danger of accusation by know-nothings et al that she wishes to make the American system her secular or worldly arm.

Hegel too must be pleased since the tabernacle of Catholic noir is only a little obscurely glimmering red light (end of "Brideshead Revisited", if I recall aright, with its fountains fill'd only with dry mirage -- gay mirage? -- water for Japheth), not a shining ambition to _manifestly_ unite the two natures in the hypostasis or substantia of the Son. That is, the post-Council Eucharist is no longer 'external' or into 'the world' (as displeases Hegel, Philosophy of History, sibree, p. 377).

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder whether Hegel can be correct that somewhere Luther argues that the sacrament has _only_ an inner reality.

Luther's doctrine of Real Presence in the Small Catechism seems to deny any only 'inner' meaning. (An inner meaning only, as though the sacrament uses some 'external' (the world, olam) items to rapture a believer out of the world into an inner reality, cheled, 'this world'; seems to deny the doctrine of the Incarnation. Unless perhaps the Incarnation were rather an invasion of the cheled, as with Luther's "Here" I stand, ego negating incoming others. ...

Luther understands the ministry of the Word to be external ("Of the Bondage of the Will" in Rupp & Drewery, Martin Luther documents, pp. 130ff) and in sermons on Baptism and on the Lord's Supper quotes Augustine with high approval "The Word comes to the element, and it becomes a sacrament" (Dillenberger, ed, pp. 233, 235). »If a fornicator comes [to the table], he receives the true sacrament, because it does not lose power on account of his impiety and infidelity. Our unbelief does not alter God's Word.« ibid. p. 235.

(Admittedly, if the Word comes to the element of a self unit originally Self'd by a "fornicator," the result won't be the restoration of the self unit in truth to the Self. But what of that?)

Calvin also puts the sacraments among the "Externals" (Book Four of the Institutes: "The External Means or Aids by Which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein") "THERE-in" signify the "there" the olam.

It is true that Prot "Churches" don't display the Host, but maybe for this reason they feel empty, unlived-in, compared even with Vatican2 sanctuaries? I seem to recall that Tillich says something like this someplace.


Anonymous said...

I wonder then if perfidious Albion's Anglican Christianity is neither Catholic, nor Protestant-Calvinist in its doctrine of sacrament in the BCP catechism:

»an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace« having two parts »the outward visible sign, and the inward [sc in-taking, from 'the world' to 'this world'] spiritual grace« so that accordingly »the inward part« of »the Lord's Supper« is »the Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received [?only?] by the faithful«
-whereas Luther declares that the faithless "fornicator" [unsacred marrying] too receives the Real Presence of Christ (Dillenberger, ed, p. 235).

Perficious Albion may retort that the BCP definition of sacrament congrues with St Paul, who declares that the inner man is built up by Christ, while the outer, secular man in olam is ruin'd (2Cor 4:16); but the point is that the secular ruin is never total, the outer man keeps on trucking; sc then the Incarnation, God's Menschwerdung [sc also Menschwertung?], keeps on manifesting by Passion into the seculum or aion (2Cor 4:8-11).

... External signs maybe compel the Spirit to speak into the world "there," to externalize, although he would rather take inward? especially if there's a certain amount of spiritual competition (war of spirit?)?

Has the Eastern Orthodox Church, at least that which intellectual evangelicals like to join in the Anglo-Saxon world, accepted the perfidious BCP concept of sacrament?

»in every sacrament there is the combination of an outward visible sign with an inward [sc in-taking, from 'the world' to 'this world'] spiritual grace« (Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, New Edition, p. 274).

In the passage quoted by Ware in support of his "This double character, at once outward and inward" concept of sacrament St John Chrysostom does not indicate any support for this concept. Rather, Chrysostom says that "When I hear the Body of Christ mentioned [in the Rite], I understand what is said in one sense, the unbeliever in another [sc because the unbelieving Self has not raised his self in worship of and belief in Jesus Christ]."

Mr. Ware goes on to contrast "appearance" (of bread and wine) with "reality" (the Body and Blood of Christ). This seems to imply no real presence or appearingness. ... He also refers to the "material things" of the sacraments as "a vehicle of the Spirit" just as Christ in the Incarnation took "material flesh" and "made it a vehicle of the Spirit." Does this imply that Canaan (matter, body) by Ham (form, flesh) is taken out of the olam by the new Christian God's Spirit? The neo-Incarnation does kenosis of the olam? But this can't succeed in transcending Inner natura naturans' rejection of natura naturata into the outer.
cc. Welch'sedek

Anonymous said...

Yeesh, "inner" in this passage from the Second Vatican proclamation "Lumen Gentium" (¶8 §2) is worrisome:

»This Church [founded by Christ, "handed over (betrayed?) to Peter" etc], constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in union with that successor,24 although many elements of sanctification and of truth can be found outside of her visible structure. These elements, however, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, possess and inner dynamism toward Catholic unity.«
(p. 23 Documents of Vatican II, ed W.M. Abbott).

BTW re the odd phrase "subsists in" Latin 'subsistit in': subsistere in Latin translates hypostasizes in Greek.
-odd at least to me because it seems to suggest a not that glorious reality in English, where "subsist" has rather not that glorious connotations, for instance "subsistence" as barely sufficient for life. Yet the chandalas, perishing Syrian, the brethren of the Son of Man in Matthew 25, et al, are I suppose the personnel who do the subsistencing.

"Subsist" has a curious technical meaning in philosophy: 'to be logically conceivable [conceived, begotten via logicking, ratio switching] and have being as a conceptual entity that may be the subject of true statements [sc state as in politics]'.

"Subsistence" 1. "the status of something that exists in itself as an individual whole; 2. the status of something whose very act of existing is its essence, as God"

But maybe there is a glorious meaning in "subsistit in" as subsistere can mean "to make a stand against; withstand" -- but I hope not the meaning of subsistere as "come to a standstill" (as in the wheel of Ixion of Schopenhauer's pessimistic ravings; Nietzsche, Genealogy, iii ¶6)

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