Friday, March 06, 2009

Lying about books I've read

Woodward of Thursday Night Gumbo links to a Reuters article about the books Briton lie about having read. Here is the top ten list. The ones I've put a "*" by are ones I have read. The ones I put a "?" by are ones I remember reading, but don't know whether I finished. Numbers nine and ten I have no intention of ever reading:
*1. 1984 - George Orwell (42 percent)
?2. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (31)
*3. Ulysses - James Joyce (25)
?4. The Bible (24)
?5. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (16)
*6. A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking (15)
7. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (14)
8. In Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust (9)
9. Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama
10. The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins (6)
As for the Bible, since I've never read it straight through I have no idea whether I've read it in its entirety. I know I've read the entire New Testament, historical books and the wisdom books, but I don't know if I'd read all the prophets.
The one book that I've started to read three times but never got beyond page 700 or so was The Brothers Karamazov.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Taking refuge as escapism

One of the things that has always bothered me about Rahner is the disdain he has for the simple piety of the devout. He is especially hard on those whom he thinks try to escape the harshness of life by taking refuge in Jesus. For Rahner, To “lean on Jesus” in the face of the challenges of life is a sign of weakness. He once said in an interview, “On the one hand, I fear that some are scared by the hard struggle with the world and run therefore to Jesus.” Dialogue, p. 64. I think there is ample reason to have a fear of the hard struggle with the world if we attempt to do without first taking refuge in Jesus. The scriptures give us justification for this:

Psalm 57, for instance, says:
Have mercy on me, God, have mercy on me. In you I seek shelter. In the
shadow of your wings I seek shelter till harm pass by. (v. 2)
And, of course, as we are reminded in today's office of readings, Mt. 11:28 says:
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

I'm reminded of the Buddhist discipline of taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sanga so that one can become a refuge for others. Of course, in Christianity we take refuge in a person and never completely escape our dependence on that person.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Garrigou-Lagrange and Rahner

You know, if you read a history of 20th century theology you get the idea that these two are far apart. On the other hand, there are passages such as this one in G-L which is reminiscent of Rahner's idea of the mysticism in the ordinary. I think G-L says it better, though:

The exclusive use of this descriptive method [for treating mystical theology] would lead one to forget that ascetical and mystical theology is a part of theology, and to consider it as part of experimental psychology. In other words, whoever neglects to have recourse to the light of theological principles, will have to be content with the principles furnished by psychology, as do so many psychologists who treat of mystical phenomena in the different religions. This procedure, however, does not take faith into consideration at all; it permits a supernatural cause to be assigned only to facts which are essentially and manifestly miraculous. Other mystical facts, which are deeper and hence less apparently supernatural, it declares inexplicable, or it tries to explain them by placing undue stress on the merely natural powers of the soul. The same remark applies to biographies of the saints, and to the history of religious orders and even of the Church. --Christian Perfection and Contemplation, p. 19.

St. Casimir and Holiness

The Office today describes St. Casimir as especially practicing the Christian virtues of chastity, kindness to the poor, zeal for the faith, especially in regards to devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the Virgin Mary.

When I die if I will be remembered for these, I will be happy.

Plus a devoted husband and father.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I picked up Christian Perfection and Contemplation the other day and started reading it. I'm finding that G-L is not exaclty the evil neoscholastic that he is sometimes painted to be. For instance, he is every bit as insistant as Servais Pinckaers that St. Thomas's moral theology is distorted by the manuals and later commentaries. Also, he actually admits the value of secular psychology even by unbelievers, so long as it stays in its area of competency. I don't know. I wasn't expecting this.

Admittedly, I haven't read his stuff on nature and grace in detail yet.