Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Catholic Restorationists

You know, it occurs to me that I wouldn't mind being part of this group. HT Mark Shea. Just a quick glance makes me think they might be the heirs of C & T. I don't share their absolutism about the restoration of the Tridentine Mass, but I think some kind of liturgical restoration is important.

Tradition and innovation in theology

R.R. Reno pleas for a new standard theology as necessary for genuine creative innovation. He uses the work of Fergus Ker to argue that the Heroic Generation of theologians (Congar, Rahner, de Lubac, etc.) destroyed the old synthesis without putting something in its place that would allow for the kind of innovation they rightly pursued. I heartily concur. And, I think it is happening. St. Thomas is not dead, nor is St. Augustine.
What is needed is not a new exploratory project, however traditional in intent. Our current situation is absurd. Unlike professors in most disciplines, America's theology faculties offer almost no introduction to the basic logic of their subject. Instead, like Kerr's list of the good and the great in twentieth-century Catholic theology, most professors socialize their students into all the innovations and complexities of the Heroic Generation. We teach the extraordinary insights of Balthasar, Congar, Lonergan, and de Lubac, and we do so without first framing their work in terms of a settled, comprehensive, and well-argued systematic theology. Fearing the narrowness derided by the Heroic Generation, we end up with a shallowness they would have despised.
He actually pleas for a return to something like the old manuals.
We need to recover the systematic clarity and comprehensiveness of the neoscholastic synthesis, rightly modified and altered by the insights of the Heroic Generation and their desire for a more scriptural, more patristic, and more liturgical vision of the unity and truth of the Christian faith. We need good textbooks — however much they might not satisfy a literary genius like Hans Urs von Balthasar and the soul of a poet like Henri de Lubac — in order to develop an intellectually sophisticated faith.
I am working right now on just such a work for God: One and Three.

I especially like this on Rahner:

Karl Rahner was not the most brilliant thinker of his generation, and he certainly was not the most original. But he emerged as the dominant figure after Vatican II because he was patient. Rahner's dry, technical essays carefully integrated — some would say insinuated — his novel ideas into the standard frameworks of the day. As Kerr observes of Rahner, "Whatever revision or innovation he proposed, he wanted to expound in continuity with neoscholasticism, die Schultheologie, which he so often lambasted." He worked within the system to show how his transcendental theology could be molded into a teachable, textbook system in which the scaffolding of older ways of thinking was redeployed to serve a new direction in theology. Balthasar and others might criticize the emerging Rahnerian consensus after Vatican II, but the vacuum they created ensured its triumph.

Today the failure of Rahner's misbegotten, post-Kantian, faux scholasticism is plain to see.

Separation of the sexes

Notre Dame has single sex dorms. They also have a system of "parietals." Students may only visit opposite sex dorms during certain hours. When I was at ND the dorm council of my dorm (Carroll Hall) "abolished" parietals, at the instigation of one of my close friends. I was in Austria at the time, so didn't participate in the rebellion. Even at the time I don't think I was supportive. Now I'm sure I'm not. In fact, I would go for greater separation than is practiced now.

I think college students—and adults--are often too confident that they have reached the point where they don’t need this kind of separation. Most traditional cultures keep something of this kind of separation until marriage. And I think the traditional cultures are right.

Andrew Byrne of uses Harry Potter to explain it this way:

One way of doing this, which is worth pointing out, is the practical
separation in Hogwarts school, between boys and girls, giving space for respect
to operate. Separate dormitories (though, interestingly, we are never told what
goes on in the girls’ dormitories, since the story is told principally from the
point of view of Harry). By keeping boys and girls separate in that way, not
forcing them, all the time, to be together, Rowling creates space for each of
them to be themselves, without having to put on an act (such as we see in the
Triwizard Ball, where both boys and girls change, in the presence of the
opposite sex: girls become stunningly beautiful, boys awkward and timid).
Sometimes parents and authories who are reacting against the permissiveness of our culture go too far in the other direction. I can tell stories about homeschool parents and others who go ballistic just because a boy is talking with a girl unchaperoned. One incident I know of the boy and girl in question turned out to be brother and sister, to the embarrassment of the grownup involved.

Still, I think the point is valid, even for adults. A distinctive men's and women's culture and space is good for the interaction of the sexes.

HT Nancy Brown.


One thing I like about this site is that in his "This Day in Ancient History" feature, he includes Christian events.

I think this counts as ressourcement for the purpose of aggiornamento

Actually, what I like is that the content is very rich (not shallow or platitudinous). The music rocks, of course. I always wonder what it would have been like if the geniuses that gave us all that rock music had been active believers. HT Dawn.