In a post on the Cathnews Discussion Board, Brian defines the differences between his “perspective” and that of “Expat [a regular commentator on the CDB], or these girls and boys who put together the Cooees in the Clois[t]er blog or David S[c]hutz and his blog.”
I think the difference is this: these guys are “in love” with a culture. They love the music, the liturgical forms, the rubric, even “the laws” but not the laws for what the laws tell us but the language and music of “the laws”. And above all they seem to just lerv this idea of certitude and having a fixed point of reference rooted in the here and now in the personage of a pope, magisterium or call it what you will.
You will recall, of course, from my previous blog, that Bishop Geoffrey Robinson has similarly divided the whole world into two types of people, those who are “seekers after truth” and those who are “proclaimers of certainties”. Brian seems to agree. In fact, I think he rather nails it when he speculates:
I like a lot of those things too but to me all those things are, as it were, “the decoration” to what is really important. They are all the symbols or pointers which are meant to point us to what is important. They would, of course, absolutely deny that they are being idolatrous and they would deny that they elevate the symbols above what the symbols are meant to be pointing to.
He may have something there. Magisterial Catholics generally do not separate the “symbol” from the “reality symbolised”, for eg. we tend to think that it is not idolatry to worship the bread of the Eucharist because it really IS the Body of Christ and not just a symbol of it. Ditto for the Church. Ditto for that stuff about the Pope being the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Christ and all. I guess we’re just funny that way… We never did catch on to this fad for reducing all ecclesial realities to “symbols” for the intangible mystery of the unknowable beyond. But then I remember that years ago during the Council, one Lutheran commentator (Herman Sasse) said prophetically that the Catholic Church had elevated Zwingli as its patron saint.
Brian actually gives a lot of his hand away in this posting. Remember that he is one of these loyal members of the Church who is petitioning the Australian bishops for “reform”. Now read what he says here:
I believe the Church has made two massive miscalculations in the last 200 years. They are the two essential ideas it needs to go back and re-examine. One was the whole concept of infallibility. The other was Humanae Vitae — and, in this instance, it is better articulated why it was a mistake by using its English title “on Human Life”.
But enough about Brian’s opinion on all manner of things–let’s get back to the important stuff: his opinion of me and my blog!
Go look at S[c]hutz’s blog: what is the most immediate thing that strikes you when you open his website: the highest commandment is loyalty is [to?] what he proposes, isn’t it — “to think with the Church”; this almost obsequious sense of obedience to the Pope whatever the Pope might say or think? It’s a commandment virtually higher than importance than the first commandment God himself gave us through Moses.
Actually, its “Sentire Cum Ecclesia” not “Cum Papa” but perhaps it amounts to the same thing. John Weidner, in a comment on a post below, cited a book by Joyce Little called “The Church and the Culture Wars”. She dedicated that book to her mum who told her that she would always be on safe ground if she stuck with the pope. Little’s book is a demonstration of and a witness to that wisdom, and it convinced me to become a Papist. Anyway, I have always thought that “to think with the Church” was the highest ideal for an ecclesial theologian.
Brian is convinced that the Church is just a “cute and comfortable little construct we’d built for ourselves” that takes us away from “the original thrust of Jesus Christ’s original message was all about”. There’s not really much you can say about an attitude like that, except to ask how he has any better information on or insight into Jesus’ original message than the rest of us. He is convinced that the Popes of the last two hundred years (with the exception, of course, of John XXIII) have all been guided by “the forces of darkness”, which especially today are mounting an “enormous and at times underhand and brutally dishonest campaign to subvert Vatican II”. I think we may count that as Brian’s vote against the “hermeneutic of continuity”, don’t you?
Pius IX and Piux X are both written off as “basicall[y] frauds who have done enormous damage to the original and core messages of Jesus Christ”. Maybe that should make me feel better!
His [Pius X’s] canonisation I think has been part of this whole “cult worship of the institution and the office of the papacy” that a significant part of Catholicism has been reduced to and which you see fairly graphically on these myriad of websites set up around the world these days which begin with their new “first commandment” as does David Shutz’s website — above all else, even God himself, I worship the Pope or the Church. I access God through my loyalty and obedience to the Pope or the Church.
Golly. For the record, I don’t “worship the Pope or the Church”, but Brian is right to the extent that I do regard personal loyalty to the Church and submission to the magisterium “out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5) as a way of “accessing” God–or at least accessing God’s Word and will for my life. I guess I take seriously what St Paul said about the Church being the “pillar and bulwark of the Truth” (1 Tim 3:15). I do not see loyalty to the Magisterium as a goal in itself, nor can I share Brian’s belief that such loyalty is “subverting us from the true objective of our religious or Catholic spiritual quest”. Rather, I see loyalty to the teaching authority of the Church as the path on which to travel to the Goal.
Sorry to be so harsh on the people I have mentioned in this post. [apology accepted. No offence taken, I assure you–although I would like you to spell my name properly.] I sincerely believe they need to sit down and take a serious look at themselves and their beliefs. [Been there, done that. See Year of Grace] I fully appreciate they are unlikely to do that because of anything I write though. …They will be incapable of believing Jesus, or God the Father, if Jesus or God the Father made an appearance and said to them, “stop a moment, guys, you need to think all this stuff through again!” N-o-t-h-i-n-g will convince them just as nothing in the whole of Creation, or outside it…
Not quite nothing, Brian, old chap. I have always found Truth fairly compelling.
I read what you had to say, Brian. Thanks for taking the time to say it. But you are right. I will be sticking with “Sentire Cum Ecclesia” as my motto for the time being, I think.