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Index: Theology

‘Do you know Brunetière?’

Erik Butler: ‘When Brunetière wrote that “battle looms,” he was not exaggerating. Two World Wars, if nothing else, should have proven as much; the struggles for national liberation that emerged when European empires collapsed have dotted the globe with expanding theaters of conflict. The economic and cultural imperialism of gung-ho American capitalism has begotten a market that can operate perfectly well without its creator. Fundamentalism has only flourished in response to “progress” (including, not too long ago, the “scientific socialism” espoused by the Soviet Union).’

Hell.

Alan Wall: ‘What terrifies about Satan and the demons is intelligent cunning and damnable determination, not the multi-coloured yawns of the possessed. It is that which makes them uncanny and terrifying, and it is that quality of hellishness which connects them with the goings-on in From Hell. This quality of transcendent and merciless intelligence is what intrigues us about infernal agents. ‘

Against Mysticism.

Oliver Elton: ‘We must cherish the hope that one day the bitter experience and illusory vision which are at the root of official mysticism may tend to die out, at any rate in the West. The process may be as long as the step from primitive idolatry, and meantime the regular mystics and their dispensaries must hold a regarded place. But science now forces us to think in long periods of time. ‘

The god of Athens.

Thomas Conlon: ‘Christians are panentheists in the very limited sense that they believe that 2000 years ago God became man for a short period. Any wider identification of God with any part of nature weakens the force and radicalness of the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity. Although some of his best friends may be panentheists Cooper, the biblical Christian, is not about to join them.’

Rowan Williams and the freedom of Bonhoeffer.

After all, what other sort of freedom is finally worth having? It may cost us everything we thought we needed to hang on to; but – as the history of Christ’s journey to the cross and the resurrection makes clear – the end of the story is a fulfilment, a homecoming, for which we can never find adequate words. It’s the freedom to be what we most deeply are.

Skirmishes in the battle of Whence.

Science, symbolism, and ideology are getting lumped together in the discourse of the new atheism.

Why on earth would an infinite God bother with Incarnation?

Eastern Christian theology helps us understand the full dimensions of the why of the Incarnation through its concept of theosis, or divinization: God becomes man so that we might become like God—so that we can live comfortably with God forever.

The evolution of mystery.

Maurice Maeterlinck: There is a hopefulness in man which renders him unwilling to grant that the cause of his misfortune may be as transparent as that of the wave which dies away in the sand or is hurled on the cliff, of the insect whose little wings gleam for an instant in the light of the sun till the passing bird absorbs its existence.

• The liturgy of details in the new Roman Missal.

Much of that vocabulary, and a great many of those images, were lost under the “dynamic equivalence” theory of translation; they have now been restored under the “formal equivalence” method of translating. Over the next years and decades, the Catholic Church will be reminded of just what a treasure-house of wonders the liturgy is.

• ‘A luminous antidote to the darkness’ of Hallowe’en, even for Joey Ramone.

By DOUGLAS M. DYE [Juneau Empire] – All Saints’ Day is a luminous antidote to the darkness that so often takes center stage on Halloween. I first celebrated All Saints’ Day when living in Sweden many years ago. During my stay there, I happened to visit my great Uncle Axel on that holy day. Several […]

• Hildegard of Bingen: nobody’s singing nun.

The real Hildegard, however, was of course a hardcore medieval Catholic: among many other things, a defender of hierarchy in Church and society and a hammerer of heretics whose visions were in essence doctrinal expositions of Scripture according with the beliefs of the times.

· A theologian explains panentheism to the bishops, beautifully.

…the Spirit not only dwells within the world but also surrounds our emerging, struggling, living, dying, and renewing planet of life and the whole universe itself. It illustrates this with Luther’s great image of God in and around a grain; with Augustine’s magnificent image of the whole creation like a finite sponge floating in an infinite sea, necessarily filled in its every pore with water; and with the beautiful image of the pregnant female body…

From the Øιλοκαλíα to Franny’s pea-green book.

Fr Andrew Louth: ‘The influence of the Philokalia can be thought of in two rather different ways. On the one hand, we can think of what one might call the reception of the Philokalia: that is, how it was read, who read it…On the other hand, we could think of the influence of the Philokalia in another way: how has the Philokalia affected the way its readers understand the nature of the Christian life, the nature of the Church, and even, in particular, the nature of theology?’

· What’s at the end of the night stair, pray tell?

Human beings work with what they have and the extraordinary thing about successive civilisations is that they are working to the same ends, often in poetic ways and increasingly in scientific ways, but do we think that our current ways are the final definition of four and a half billion years of struggle?

· OMG, there’s actual religiosity in Trollope’s spirituality?

Liturgy is where art and community life meet. Where spirit is not thought but made flesh through hands, knees, and vocal chords. In worship the stuff of art is offered up in the name of the community, not the ego of the artist—or the clergy.