Archive for November, 2006


Sunday, November 12th, 2006

The Church of England is the established church. This is a formal arrangement, political and cultural. I suspect there is informal establishment as well. Look at the history of the US as a “Christian nation,” and at the idea of “Christendom.” This informal establishment is cultural but not political. I remember the story from my old home town of new president of a major local industry being of a different denomination than the previous president, and all the major executives switching from the old president’s church to the new one.

So I suspect there are two kind of disestablishment, formal and informal. we are seeing the disestablishment of the cultural establishment. I suspect that such a move of executives would not happen today. Church is just not that important any more. The theocons, religious conservatives, are working to undo this, to effect a political ideology of Christian establishment in the political and cultural realms. On the opposite side we hear the idea of the “end of Christendom” greeted with various degrees of welcome, some gleeful and some grudging.

I am not sure where I stand on this. The idea of a Christian culture is pretty tempting. On the other hand, it is unrealistic in the world I can see coming into being.


Sunday, November 5th, 2006

If everyone in every age decries this present age as a declining from the past in the present age, perhaps it is declension that is to be doubted.

St Sebastian/Acceptance of Gay People

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

In group the other week we were talking about society pushing in and my pushing back. The group leader drew a diagram of a persona in a circle surrounded by scads of arrows pointing in forcing him or her to be who the others say they should be. We also had a woman in the group whose life had been virtually destroyed by others’ judgments of her for her lesbianism. I suddenly saw the image of St Sebastian. This image may have that kind of depth. And no wonder that it is adopted by gay people.

Also, Sebastian was a war resister.

I also said in group that I had always been in accepting places since becoming an adult. Then I realized that I was one of the people making those places accepting.

On Going Commando

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Underwear is no longer necessary to protect outer clothes that cannot be easily cleaned. Today we have cottons and other easily-washed fabrics and the machines to wash them.

The Catholic Thing

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Modern Roman Catholicism yielded and then stiffened, yielded at the Council and then stiffened after. A kind of failure of nerve maybe? After the windows were opened, they could never be fully shut, so there is still movement. The previous movement had been against Modernism, a part of enlightenment rationalism, and the Council opened to it. The reaction afterwards set some limits, and some limits were probably needed.

The question that needs to be asked now is how to speak to a new generation when the ethos, the mores, the very mythos, of the enlightenment are being challenged. I wish I could have paid more attention to that class at Harvard, “Magic, Science, Religion, and the Question of Rationality,” or at least had saved the notes and syllabus.

Popish Plot?

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

I have been reading The Theocons by Damon Linker, former editor of First Things, conservative journal of Fr Richard Neuhaus. The book is a history of the theoconservatives, the intellectual leaders of the religious right., such at Richard John Neuhaus, George Weigel, and Michael Novak. It deals with how the ideology and ideologs of the Christian right have developed. Linker demonstrates how the base of their ideas is conservative Roman Catholic thinking. He connects the ideas with the current pope as well as the previous one. Linker also shows how this ideology is opposed to the separation of church and state and in favor of a Catholic Christian commonwealth.

Anyway, what strikes me is the conversion of Neuhaus from Lutheranism to Roman Catholicism and the priesthood. By so doing, Neuhaus clothes himself in the magisterium of Holy Mother Church and so puts on the official teaching authority of the Church, and so he teaches magisterially and officially. Good career move.

What’s so important to the theocons about the Catholic commonwealth is that there is a set and certain order. There’s no room for dissent; you can win every argument satisfactorily just by knowing the “party line.” What powers the party line is logic, well, reason and rationality, and a kind of blind, and blinding, trust in rationality alone that seems to me almost fanatical. But then, I don’t trust in rationality, and certainly not in rationality alone. It strikes me that within the limits of its system it could have been rational for Hitler and his ilk to have done the Holocaust. It followed from their premises. But that’s ridiculous. The premises were thoroughly immoral.

The theocons talk about moral reasoning, and having been trained by Jesuits in moral reasoning, it can be tempting to just have a line of reasoning to follow. But we also need to have a sense of, well, the ridiculous. I remember the business of the punctured condom. It’s how you collect a sperm sample for fertility analysis without imposing a barrier to conception. So when we came to our study of the birth control encyclical, I made the argument that since no form of birth control is 100% effective, and none of the methods are a barrier to conception, but only render it highly unlikely, so all methods of birth control are licit. It’s that sense of the ridiculous that we need to bring to all of reason and rationality. Reason is not sufficient. It often seems cold and inhuman.

I’m glad I’m an Anglican. For Hooker, reason is less that systematic Enlightenment rationality, and more the everyday sense of life as it is lived and reflected on, everyday understanding of everyday events.

I guess we have to find the limits to reason.

I have started rereading Hooker’s Lawes.