14 July 2009

July snippets

  • Since Pope Leo XIII published Rerum Novarum in 1891, he and his successors have on occasion seen fit to publish social encyclicals on topics related to political, economic and social issues. Now Benedict XVI has released the most recent such document, Caritas in Veritate, on which I will undoubtedly be commenting at some point. The current Pope's third encyclical is written against the backdrop of the current economic crisis and, apparently, in somewhat tardy observance of the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's Populorum Progressio.

  • Historical-critical approaches to the Bible attempt to determine the various layers of sources seemingly interwoven in a single canonical book or group of books, such as the Pentateuch and Samuel/Kings. Such efforts can be speculative at best and not infrequently based on the highly contestable undergirding assumptions of the critic him- or herself. Papal biographer George Weigel appears to be employing something of this method in analyzing Benedict's new encyclical: Caritas in Veritate in Gold and Red. Could it be that Weigel's own convictions influence where he sees Benedict's hand (good) and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace's hand (bad)?

  • Despite pleas from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the (American) Episcopal Church has now effectively broken with the larger Anglican Communion. Where it will go from here remains to be seen, but it will have difficulty maintaining any pretence to catholicity, and perhaps even to Christianity, if current signs are any indication.

  • On this 220th anniversary of Bastille Day, I shall celebrate the occasion by citing Edmund Burke's sage advice to the French Revolutionaries:
    You would not cure the evil by resolving that there should be no more monarchs, nor ministers of state, nor of the gospel; no interpreters of law; no general officers; no public councils. You might change the names. The things in some shape must remain. A certain quantum of power must always exist in the community in some hands and under some appellation. Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names; to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to the occasional organs by which they act, and the transitory modes in which they appear. Otherwise you will be wise historically, a fool in practice.

  • My recent post, D. G. Hart and 'world-and-life-viewitis', has stimulated considerable debate in the comments window and a response from Hart himself: Losing the Keys and Finding a World View. Rather than add to the comments, I shall post a fuller counter-response on the blog itself. Stay tuned.
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