Saturday, February 28, 2004

Brief Response to Tim Enloe:

This is a response to Tim's response to my comments located HERE which were an extension of my previously enunciated request to him.

Tim:

The main reason I want to discuss the foundational premises rather than the subjects that you want to discuss now is because I can determine in advance where we will arrive at in dialogue if we do not do this. Indeed, I am experienced enough in dialogue to anticipate future impasses and want to therefore avoid them if at all possible. And one such impasse is inevitable if all we do is hurl citations at one another and attempt to reduce complex theories into propositional formats that miss the finer details where God is often to be found. You often emphasize wanting to get to the nuts and bolts and avoid the kinds of generalizations that often impede fruitful dialogue. My intention here is to provide for doing just that.

To start with, we both agree and have often stated in divers ways that history is a complex mosaic. For that reason, we need to get beyond the individual interpretations of the data and into the operative points of view behind those interpretations. That is why I would rather focus on operative points of view first before even discussing the differing theories.

As a veteran of many of these kinds of discussions, you are not unaware of how people can continually miss one another like ships passing in the night.{1} My time for dialogue is not extensive nor will it be for the rest of the year. I am interested therefore even more than I normally am in getting behind your theory to attempt to better understand where you are coming from. And in such a discussion, I would likewise strive to provide for you a window to viewing things as I view them. Once that is achieved, our odds of having a fruitful dialogue on these controversial subjects increase substantially over what they will be if we do not do this.

This is the reason for the request I made to you. Hopefully this brief clarification will help explain why I posted the entry I posted. And again I ask: is this an area that you have any interest in going over at all??? For like you I have little patience for apologetical "dog and pony shows" no matter who is putting them on.

My interest is a dialogue on ideas and the presuppositions that colour those ideas. As I trust that you also have this interest, I extend to you again this invitation hoping that you will take it. Few people are willing to have this kind of discussion but I believe (and long have btw) that you are willing to go beyond conventional approaches in your desire to better understand any subject you study. (Be it theology, history, philosophy, or whatever.) This is why I addressed this request specifically to you.

The other points I touched on briefly can be dealt with another day. They are not going anywhere soon -indeed they have not in hundreds of years. So we need not worry that they will if we focus for a few months or whatever on the very prisms through which either of us view any data we appropriate to defend our respective distinctions of outlook. Surely you can concur with me there I presume.

Note:

{1} I remind you of the one year go around you had with Gary Hoge on the meaning of the term "perspicuity" as a case in point of precisely the kind of thing I am saying here. (Not to say I have been free of such go-arounds myself in my life of course.) But they are the sort of thing I desire to avoid or make the likelihood of them happening as remote as possible if at all possible. (Particularly in light of the even greater time constraints on my time that I noted earlier in the month.)

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Meditations on The Dark Night of the Soul:
(Aka "the Rerum Novarum 2004 Lenten Spiritual Instruction")

The previous installment of this series can be read HERE.

PROLOGUE

IN this book are first set down all the stanzas which are to be expounded; afterwards, each of the stanzas is expounded separately, being set down before its exposition; and then each line is expounded separately and in turn, the line itself also being set down before the exposition. In the first two stanzas are expounded the effects of the two spiritual purgations: of the sensual part of man and of the spiritual part. In the other six are expounded various and wondrous effects of the spiritual illumination and union of love with God.

STANZAS OF THE SOUL

1. On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.


2. In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised--oh, happy chance!--
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.


3. In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide,
save that which burned in my heart.


4. This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me--
A place where none appeared.


5. Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!


6. Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.


7. The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.


8. I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.


Begins the exposition of the stanzas which treat of the way and manner which the soul follows upon the road of the union of love with God.

Before we enter upon the exposition of these stanzas, it is well to understand here that the soul that utters them is now in the state of perfection, which is the union of love with God, having already passed through severe trials and straits, by means of spiritual exercise in the narrow way of eternal life whereof Our Saviour speaks in the Gospel, along which way the soul ordinarily passes in order to reach this high and happy union with God. Since this road (as the Lord Himself says likewise) is so strait, and since there are so few that enter by it,[St. Matthew vii, 14.] the soul considers it a great happiness and good chance to have passed along it to the said perfection of love, as it sings in this first stanza, calling this strait road with full propriety 'dark night,' as will be explained hereafter in the lines of the said stanza. The soul, then, rejoicing at having passed along this narrow road whence so many blessings have come to it, speaks after this manner.

BOOK THE FIRST

Which treats of the Night of Sense.

STANZA THE FIRST

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.


EXPOSITION

IN this first stanza the soul relates the way and manner which it followed in going forth, as to its affection, from itself and from all things, and in dying to them all and to itself, by means of true mortification, in order to attain to living the sweet and delectable life of love with God; and it says that this going forth from itself and from all things was a 'dark night,' by which, as will be explained hereafter, is here understood purgative contemplation, which causes passively in the soul the negation of itself and of all things referred to above.

2. And this going forth it says here that it was able to accomplish in the strength and ardour which love for its Spouse gave to it for that purpose in the dark contemplation aforementioned. Herein it extols the great happiness which it found in journeying to God through this night with such signal success that none of the three enemies, which are world, devil and flesh (who are they that ever impede this road), could hinder it; inasmuch as the aforementioned night of [purificative] contemplation lulled to sleep and mortified, in the house of its sensuality, all the passions and desires with respect to their mischievous desires and motions. The line, then, says:

On a dark night

To be Continued...

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Friday, February 27, 2004

On the 2004 Election:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

After some soul-searching today, this writer concluded that as President George W. Bush has showed some backbone on *the* defining issue of our age (the defense of marriage){1} that the previously noted plan to write a confutation of the positions taken by Professor Kevin Miller is now indefinitely postponed. It is possible that this writer may resume them before the election but right now more important issues are before us -one of which is the subject of this posting.

Despite (i) reservations on many issues as your weblog host has noted previously and even (ii) the same host having personal doubts as to the reasons for his taking of this stand, your weblog servant has decided that he must vote for George W. Bush a second time. It is true that this weblog noted previously that the illegal aliens issue would be the final straw against any voting for Bush if the latter approved of that in legislation. However that proposal remains in the "ideas" stage and is not likely to be a factor for a while if it is at all.{2} For that reason, it is necessary to switch gears here from one defining issue (national security and the survival of this nation) to another (the survival of civilization in general).

All of this weblog writer's defenses of the three fundamental rights of man (life, faculties, and production essentially) -both in past as well as any future applications of the principle-{3} hinge on the recognition of the importance of considering with any proposal the factor it plays on the public order of society as well as society's common good. Homosexual so-called "marriage" would be a millstone around the neck of the public order and it would kill this civilization as promoting homosexuality to the detriment of marriage has in every extinct culture that preceded us.{4}

Whatever his convoluted rationale for coming to the defense of marriage is, President Bush has nonetheless done so and no one else with any reasonable chance of being president has taken his stance on this crucial issue. And while Professor Miller is wrong about making abortion *the* defining issue over and against numerous other issues that more directly impact the existence of this nation;{5} nonetheless marriage is not only *the* defining issue for defending the existence of this nation but it also is *the* issue for defending the existence of all civilization. Therefore, it requires a circling of the wagons and no concessions of any kind whatsoever.

Frankly, your weblog host's Constitutional mind is appalled at the idea of having to amend the Constitution on such a self-evident matter.{6} Nonetheless, whatever will kill this demon and bury it six hundred and sixty feet underground (as opposed to a mere six feet) will receive his concurrence. The natural instinct of Us at Rerum Novarum is admittedly to oppose a Constitutional amendment on this issue. However, if it is not subordinated to the common good of society and right public order -which appear to require it if there is to be any stopping of the lawlessness on the part of judges and mayors- then We are not being true to the very principles that this weblog seeks to inculcate.

For fidelity to principles is a requirement of this weblog writer -as is the fact that the judges and mayors who are violating federal and state laws in granting such recognition of this abomination{7} will not be adequately checkmated without such a stance being taken by a significant number of people. Ergo, it must be done here as much as anywhere else.

For the reasons noted above, We at Rerum Novarum will be supporting not only George W. Bush for president this election but also a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. These are two notions which repel this writer by his own admission. Nonetheless, they have been judged by him as necessary if we are not to throw up a serious roadblock on the route to going the way of ancient Rome.

Notes:

{1} We refuse to say "traditional marriage" as if to imply that there are other kinds of marriage other than that between a man and a woman.

{2} And that there are over seventy Republicans in congress vehemently opposed to that proposal now has this weblog writer breathing a bit easier on that issue at this time. (Though of course the right to go postal on it later is of course reserved.)

{3} See this margin link for one example of many that could be noted here.

{4} And as such it cannot possibly contribute to the common good of society.

{5} Such as national security. And while Bush's squishy position on abortion could be expounded upon at this time, your weblog host will refrain for the sake of not blogging up a SAM-like post in the process.

{6} In that the Constitution recognizes no "right" to homosexual pseudo-"marriages." But then again, it is also self-evident that the Constitution has no recognition of any "right" to abortion under any circumstances. So perhaps missing the obvious on the subject of marriage on the part of society's useful-idiot so-called "moderates" should not surprise on second thought.

{7} The root problem here is in large part due to a common misunderstanding of what constitutes a right properly understood.

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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Briefly on the Syllabus of Errors and its Frequent Misuse:

COMMUNION Message Board got sideswiped by a spurious quote from the Syllabus of Errors condemning democracy.

The Syllabus does not condemn democracy in toto. It condemns a particular form of democracy of course but that is all.

I looked at your piece for help, and was particularly delighted with your comparison of the "smoke of Satan" with the "spirit of Vatican II." Nice stuff.

Well, it is true unfortunately. And the errors of understanding the Syllabus come just as often from the so-called "progressivists" as they do the so-called "traditionalists." Fundamentalism is hardly limited to the so-called "traditionalists" by any means -indeed arguably the so-called "progressivists" are worse culprits of it. (Their claims of being "more enlightened than thou" notwithstanding.)

God bless you and yours.

And God bless you and yours as well XXXXXX. I have not seen you since the old days at Steve Ray's board before the Novus Boardo format was imposed. May your Lent be a fruitful one.

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Rerum Novarum Weblog Adjustments:

Blogs Added:

Dr. Phillip Blosser's Scripture and Catholic Tradition BLOG

Amy Welborn's Open Book BLOG

In the case of Amy's weblog, I got tired of having to click on the old weblog address for the new weblog so the change was finally made. (Lent is not a time for further procrastination on changing these things of course.)

Blogs Transferred:

Amy Welborn's old weblog and G. Thomas Fitzpatrick's old weblog were transferred to the "inactive" weblog categorization.

Blogs Removed:

I finally got sick of the one-track minded agenda of Bill Cork's weblog. One can only handle so much drivel and this writer has had his fill. It is too bad because he once had a very good weblog. But failing to maintain one's balance on delicate or heavily nuanced issues can affect anyone who is not careful unfortunately. Nonetheless, I can no longer in good conscience tacitly endorse by my linking to it that weblog anymore so I now no longer will.

As Lent is a time bereft of pomp and ceremony, all I will note here in brief is that these weblog links are added, transferred, or deleted in perpetuity all things to the contrary notwithstanding.


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Miscellaneous Weblog Perusals:
(And Added Musings Where Applicable)

---Our good friend Dave Armstrong has weighed in on the Passion with a post-viewing review of the film. This writer thanks Dave for waiting until *after* seeing the film to review it...sadly there were even some Catholics who lacked the fundamental decency to do this. In the words of that great western philosopher James Hetfield, "sad but true..."

---The father of Christopher Blosser, the esteemed Dr. Philip Blosser is apparently among the readers of this humble weblog.{1} This writer recalls Christopher mentioning it to him in passing before that his father had a weblog but time constraints prevented Us from looking into it until today. Dr. Blosser's weblog can be read HERE. And though the entry is almost a month old now, We still must mention Dr. Blosser's very good response to the criticisms of Catholic theologian Richard Gaillerdetz.{2}

Astute readers of this weblog know that this writer has used (albeit with some reservations) the work of Gaillerdetz before.{3} And Gaillerdetz is a pretty good theologian for someone of his outlook.{4} But he is nonetheless somewhat sloppy in certrain areas of key importance including the subject of biblical study. Nonetheless, We render a blanket endorsement of Dr. Blosser's weblog which will be added to Rerum Novarum very soon if not when this post is completed under the "occasional indulgence" classification.{5}

---Our friend Lane Core Jr. has a lot more sticktuitiveness on the political front than this writer can hope to have. For those interested in following the political issues closely, Lane's blog is tough to beat.{6} We recommend Blog from the Core as an excellent 2004 presidential campaign site.

---Envoy Encore's Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner Patrick Madrid put a fine rip on this writer's good friend Pete Vere's love for beer. (It really perked the spirits when We saw it earlier today.) Pat appears to be taking advantage of Pete only blogging on Sundays during Lent{7} -wise strategy Pat...very wise :)

---Eve Tushnet does not seem to get the idea of what blog quizzes are all about. They are supposed to be humourous and lighten the mood a bit. That is not easily accomplished by taking the Which federal rule of civil procedure are you? quiz. Oh well, to each their own supposedly.

On the brighter side, she at least has the Yankee or Dixie quiz up which this writer will be taking later on today if the time is there to.

---The Curt One of St. Blog's issues a sobering review of The Passion -again this writer thanks him for seeing the movie first before reviewing it. He also has several funny novelty things and even a strange kind of complement to your humble servant at Rerum Novarum.

One note Jeff: this writer while being at times lengthy (yes yes, "at times" is a stretch of Ruthian proportions there), the real key is that there is no attorney involved in the mix. When you consider that The Secret One is an attorney, you can see how he can pack over fifty footnotes into a blog post{8} replete with a ton of "the party of the seventh part shalt henceforth be known as the party of the seventh part" kind of stuff :)

---Jeanetta of De Fidei Oboedienta has an interesting quiz that this writer intends to take later on. It is important after all for everyone to know what historical lunatic they are right???

There will be more weblog notes later on if there is time for it. But right now "the time is gone, this blog is over...thought [We'd] something more to saaaayyy..."

Notes:

{1} Vindicating yet again what this writer has noted before about the quality of the readers of this weblog.

{2} This writer does not put theologian in quotes in Gaillerdetz' case. However, that does not mean his outlook is not without its own problems.

{3} See this link for example.

{4} Meaning of course a so-called "progressivist."

{5} Because he only blogs on occasion.

{6} If it even can be this side of the real "political only" blogs.

{7} All is fair in love and war presumably and apologetics to some extent is war so Pete cannot complain.

{8} We believe that twenty is about the most ever done in a single post at this humble weblog. (Though perhaps a multipart thread may have approached fifty at one time or another.)

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Miscellaneous Musings:
(On Communion Reception)

I first saw the practice of communion by intincture at a Maronite mission liturgy where the priest communicates everyone in that manner. It involves the priest dipping the communion bread in a small bowl of communion wine and then placing the host on the tongue of the communicant. I have long felt that this is the best way to administer communion and at least five reasons come to mind to support this idea. Consider the following:

---Communion by intincture would eliminate the argument that the sign value of communion under both forms is impaired by only receiving under one form.

---Communion by intincture would cut down on the amount of wine needed at mass.

---Communion by intincture would as a result of the second point eliminate any preceived need for so many additional "extraordinary" ministers. (Thus such usage would easily be cut at least in half for functional reasons.)

---Communion by intincture would make the arguments about "sanitation" viz double reception a non factor.

---Communion by intincture would settle once and for all the communion in the hand controversy and do so in an indirect manner.

In short, I see no other means of administering communion which has this many advantages going for it at once. For that reason, I exhort the readers to work to have this method instituted at their own parishes.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Meditations on The Dark Night of the Soul
(Aka "the Rerum Novarum 2004 Lenten Spiritual Instruction")

Before starting this thread, please go HERE to see the outline of what this series will cover and on what days material will be posted.

The prologue and introduction of the work -which this installment will cover- were written by E. Allison Peers. (Whose translation of St. John's work was widely viewed as surpassing all that preceded it.) On Friday we will start with St. John's own prologue and the stanzas which he intends to expound upon. All of this is necessary to set the table for what will follow in this series which will run throughout Lent. Oh, in this series, all my words will be in black font for easier differentiation from the purple font. -ISM

PROLOGUE

"It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that the verse and prose works combined of St. John of the Cross form at once the most grandiose and the most melodious spiritual canticle to which any one man has ever given utterance.

The most sublime of all the Spanish mystics, he soars aloft on the wings of Divine love to heights known to hardly any of them. . . . True to the character of his thought, his style is always forceful and energetic, even to a fault.

When we study his treatises--principally that great composite work known as the Ascent of Mount Carmel and the Dark Night--we have the impression of a mastermind that has scaled the heights of mystical science; and from their summit looks down upon and dominates the plain below and the paths leading upward. . . . Nowhere else, again, is he quite so appealingly human; for, though he is human even in his loftiest and sublimest passages, his intermingling of philosophy with mystical theology; makes him seem particularly so.

These treatises are a wonderful illustration of the theological truth that grace far from destroying nature, ennobles and dignifies it, and of the agreement always found between the natural and the supernatural--between the principles of sound reason and the sublimest manifestations of Divine grace."

E. Allison Peers

INTRODUCTION

SOMEWHAT reluctantly, out of respect for a venerable tradition, we publish the Dark Night as a separate treatise, though in reality it is a continuation of the Ascent of Mount Carmel and fulfils the undertakings given in it:

The first night or purgation is of the sensual part of the soul, which is treated in the present stanza, and will be treated in the first part of this book. And the second is of the spiritual part; of this speaks the second stanza, which follows; and of this we shall treat likewise, in the second and the third part, with respect to the activity of the soul; and in the fourth part, with respect to its passivity. [Ascent, Bk. I, chap. i, sect. 2]

This 'fourth part' is the Dark Night. Of it the Saint writes in a passage which follows that just quoted:

And the second night, or purification, pertains to those who are already proficient, occurring at the time when God desires to bring them to the state of union with God. And this latter night is a more obscure and dark and terrible purgation, as we shall say afterwards. [Op, cit., sect. 3.]

In his three earlier books he has written of the Active Night, of Sense and of Spirit; he now proposes to deal with the Passive Night, in the same order. He has already taught us how we are to deny and purify ourselves with the ordinary help of grace, in order to prepare our senses and faculties for union with God through love. He now proceeds to explain, with an arresting freshness, how these same senses and faculties are purged and purified by God with a view to the same end--that of union.

The combined description of the two nights completes the presentation of active and passive purgation, to which the Saint limits himself in these treatises, although the subject of the stanzas which he is glossing is a much wider one, comprising the whole of the mystical life and ending only with the Divine embraces of the soul transformed in God through love.

The stanzas expounded by the Saint are taken from the same poem in the two treatises. The commentary upon the second, however, is very different from that upon the first, for it assumes a much more advanced state of development. The Active Night has left the senses and faculties well prepared, though not completely prepared, for the reception of Divine influences and illuminations in greater abundance than before.

The Saint here postulates a principle of dogmatic theology--that by himself, and with the ordinary aid of grace, man cannot attain to that degree of purgation which is essential to his transformation in God. He needs Divine aid more abundantly. 'However greatly the soul itself labours,' writes the Saint, 'it cannot actively purify itself so as to be in the least degree prepared for the Divine union of perfection of love, if God takes not its hand and purges it not in that dark fire.' [Dark Night, Bk. 1, chap. iii, sect. 3.]

The Passive Nights, in which it is God Who accomplishes the purgation, are based upon this incapacity. Souls 'begin to enter' this dark night

when God draws them forth from the state of beginners--which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road--and begins to set them in the state of progressives--which is that of those who are already contemplatives--to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God. [Op. cit., Bk. I, chap. i, sect. 1.]

Before explaining the nature and effects of this Passive Night, the Saint touches, in passing, upon certain imperfections found in those who are about to enter it and which it removes by the process of purgation. Such travellers are still untried proficients, who have not yet acquired mature habits of spirituality and who therefore still conduct themselves as children.

The imperfections are examined one by one, following the order of the seven deadly sins, in chapters (ii-viii) which once more reveal the author's skill as a director of souls. They are easy chapters to understand, and of great practical utility, comparable to those in the first book of the Ascent which deal with the active purgation of the desires of sense.

In Chapter viii, St. John of the Cross begins to describe the Passive Night of the senses, the principal aim of which is the purgation or stripping of the soul of its imperfections and the preparation of it for fruitive union. The Passive Night of Sense, we are told, is 'common' and 'comes to many,' whereas that of Spirit 'is the portion of very few.' [Dark Night, Bk. 1, chap. viii, sect. 1.] The one is 'bitter and terrible' but 'the second bears no comparison with it,' for it is 'horrible and awful to the spirit.'[Op. cit., Bk. I, chap. viii, sect. 2.]

A good deal of literature on the former Night existed in the time of St. John of the Cross and he therefore promises to be brief in his treatment of it. Of the latter, on the other hand, he will 'treat more fully . . . since very little has been said of this, either in speech or in writing, and very little is known of it, even by experience.'[Ibid.]

Having described this Passive Night of Sense in Chapter viii, he explains with great insight and discernment how it may be recognized whether any given aridity is a result of this Night or whether it comes from sins or imperfections, or from frailty or lukewarmness of spirit, or even from indisposition or 'humours' of the body. The Saint is particularly effective here, and we may once more compare this chapter with a similar one in the Ascent (II, xiii)--that in which he fixes the point where the soul may abandon discursive meditation and enter the contemplation which belongs to loving and simple faith.

Both these chapters have contributed to the reputation of St. John of the Cross as a consummate spiritual master. And this not only for the objective value of his observations, but because, even in spite of himself, he betrays the sublimity of his own mystical experiences. Once more, too, we may admire the crystalline transparency of his teaching and the precision of the phrases in which he clothes it. To judge by his language alone, one might suppose at times that he is speaking of mathematical, rather than of spiritual operations.

In Chapter x, the Saint describes the discipline which the soul in this Dark Night must impose upon itself; this, as might be logically deduced from the Ascent, consists in 'allowing the soul to remain in peace and quietness,' content 'with a peaceful and loving attentiveness toward God.'[Dark Night, Bk. I, chap. x, sect. 4.]

Before long it will experience enkindlings of love (Chapter xi), which will serve to purify its sins and imperfections and draw it gradually nearer to God; we have here, as it were, so many stages of the ascent of the Mount on whose summit the soul attains to transforming union. Chapters xii and xiii detail with great exactness the benefits that the soul receives from this aridity, while Chapter xiv briefly expounds the last line of the first stanza and brings to an end what the Saint desires to say with respect to the first Passive Night.

[Even though we are only going to cover the first book of the series, I will nonetheless keep the outline of book two in the introduction section. It will follow in sequence from this point. - ISM]

At only slightly greater length St. John of the Cross describes the Passive Night of the Spirit, which is at once more afflictive and more painful than those which have preceded it. This, nevertheless, is the Dark Night par excellence, of which the Saint speaks in these words:

'The night which we have called that of sense may and should be called a kind of correction and restraint of the desire rather than purgation. The reason is that all the imperfections and disorders of the sensual part have their strength and root in the spirit, where all habits, both good and bad, are brought into subjection, and thus, until these are purged, the rebellions and depravities of sense cannot be purged thoroughly.'[Op. cit., Bk. II, chap. iii, sect. 1.]

Spiritual persons, we are told, do not enter the second night immediately after leaving the first; on the contrary, they generally pass a long time, even years, before doing so, [Op. cit., Bk. II, chap. i, sect. 1.] for they still have many imperfections, both habitual and actual (Chapter ii). After a brief introduction (Chapter iii), the Saint describes with some fullness the nature of this spiritual purgation or dark contemplation referred to in the first stanza of his poem and the varieties of pain and affliction caused by it, whether in the soul or in its faculties (Chapters iv-viii). These chapters are brilliant beyond all description; in them we seem to reach the culminating point of their author's mystical experience; any excerpt from them would do them an injustice. It must suffice to say that St. John of the Cross seldom again touches those same heights of sublimity.

Chapter ix describes how, although these purgations seem to blind the spirit, they do so only to enlighten it again with a brighter and intenser light, which it is preparing itself to receive with greater abundance.

The following chapter makes the comparison between spiritual purgation and the log of wood which gradually becomes transformed through being immersed in fire and at last takes on the fire's own properties. The force with which the familiar similitude is driven home impresses indelibly upon the mind the fundamental concept of this most sublime of all purgations.

Marvellous, indeed, are its effects, from the first enkindlings and burnings of Divine love, which are greater beyond comparison than those produced by the Night of Sense, the one being as different from the other as is the body from the soul. 'For this (latter) is an enkindling of spiritual love in the soul, which, in the midst of these dark confines, feels itself to be keenly and sharply wounded in strong Divine love, and to have a certain realization and foretaste of God.'[Dark Night, Bk. II, chap. xi, sect. 1.]

No less wonderful are the effects of the powerful Divine illumination which from time to time enfolds the soul in the splendours of glory. When the effects of the light that wounds and yet illumines are combined with those of the enkindlement that melts the soul with its heat, the delights experienced are so great as to be ineffable.

The second line of the first stanza of the poem is expounded in three admirable chapters (xi-xiii), while one short chapter (xiv) suffices for the three lines remaining. We then embark upon the second stanza, which describes the soul's security in the Dark Night--due, among other reasons, to its being freed 'not only from itself, but likewise from its other enemies, which are the world and the devil.'[Dark Night, Bk. II, chap. xvi, sect. 2.]

This contemplation is not only dark, but also secret (Chapter xvii), and in Chapter xviii is compared to the 'staircase' of the poem. This comparison suggests to the Saint an exposition (Chapters xviii, xix) of the ten steps or degrees of love which comprise St. Bernard's mystical ladder. Chapter xxi describes the soul's 'disguise,' from which the book passes on (Chapters xxii, xxiii) to extol the 'happy chance' which led it to journey 'in darkness and concealment' from its enemies, both without and within.

Chapter xxiv glosses the last line of the second stanza-- 'my house being now at rest.' Both the higher and the lower 'portions of the soul' are now tranquillized and prepared for the desired union with the Spouse, a union which is the subject that the Saint proposed to treat in his commentary on the five remaining stanzas. As far as we know, this commentary was never written. We have only the briefest outline of what was to have been covered in the third, in which, following the same effective metaphor of night, the Saint describes the excellent properties of the spiritual night of infused contemplation, through which the soul journeys with no other guide or support, either outward or inward, than the Divine love 'which burned in my heart.'

It is difficult to express adequately the sense of loss that one feels at the premature truncation of this eloquent treatise.[On this, see Sobrino, pp. 159-66.] We have already given our opinion [Cf. pp. lviii-lxiii, Ascent of Mount Carmel (Image Books edition).] upon the commentaries thought to have been written on the final stanzas of the 'Dark Night.' Did we possess them, they would explain the birth of the light--'dawn's first breathings in the heav'ns above'-- which breaks through the black darkness of the Active and the Passive Nights; they would tell us, too, of the soul's further progress towards the Sun's full brightness.

It is true, of course, that some part of this great gap is filled by St. John of the Cross himself in his other treatises, but it is small compensation for the incomplete state in which he left this edifice of such gigantic proportions that he should have given us other and smaller buildings of a somewhat similar kind. Admirable as are the Spiritual Canticle and the Living Flame of Love, they are not so completely knit into one whole as is this great double treatise. They lose both in flexibility and in substance through the closeness with which they follow the stanzas of which they are the exposition.

In the Ascent and the Dark Night, on the other hand, we catch only the echoes of the poem, which are all but lost in the resonance of the philosopher's voice and the eloquent tones of the preacher. Nor have the other treatises the learning and the authority of these. Nowhere else does the genius of St. John of the Cross for infusing philosophy into his mystical dissertations find such an outlet as here. Nowhere else, again, is he quite so appealingly human; for, though he is human even in his loftiest and sublimest passages, this intermingling of philosophy with mystical theology makes him seem particularly so.

These treatises are a wonderful illustration of the theological truth that grace, far from destroying nature, ennobles and dignifies it, and of the agreement always found between the natural and the supernatural--between the principles of sound reason and the sublimest manifestations of Divine grace.


To be Continued...

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Musings on a Lenten Project:

Along with Rerum Novarum going to its customary Advent/Lenten purple colours sometime tomorrow, a spiritual instruction on the entire "nuts and bolts" of the spiritual life will be blogged during Lent.

Work from the upcoming series has surfaced as a source most noticably in recent essays written by this writer -and also in recent writings revisions as well. (Though its use to lessor degree was in earlier versions of this writer's essays as well.)

The theme of that spiritual instruction series will coincide with the Passion in some key respects. For it seems appropriate as we prepare for this lenten season that climaxes in life coming forth from death to likewise prepare ourselves through death for a rebirth in life. But to do that means we must first go forth unnoticed from our houses of contentment and journey through the Dark Night of the Soul.

Join Us at Rerum Novarum as this weblog outlines reflections on the journey through the Dark Night throughout Lent starting tomorrow with the first installment. After that point, the successive installments will run on every Tuesday and Friday after Ash Wednesday until Holy Week. At that point, the final four installments will run on Tuesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday to complete the cycle. (The intention is to cover the entire first book of the two book series.) Other stuff theological, social, philosophical, political, etc will also be blogged during Lent but this series will be the primary weblog material for the period up to and including Holy Saturday.

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Guest Editorial on Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ
(By Mark Downey)

Commentary on the upcoming guest editorial will follow by Stephen Hand of TCR (in blue) and your weblog host in regular font. But first and foremost, Mark Downey's editorial.

Oh, for readers who are not familiar with his story, the email above is for contacting him about either the article you are about to read or his story. I am not comfortable discussing other people's experiences with the SSPX preferring to let them tell you in their own way. Having noted that, I give you Mark's reflections on the aforementioned upcoming movie:

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A VATICAN II TRADITIONALIST?

A public, well-known figure proclaims that he has been inspired to proclaim the Love of God through Our Lord Jesus Christ. This well-known person has stated that every human being is a child of God. He proclaims that anti-semitism is a sin. This famous personage has consulted with, and sought help from, those of the Jewish faith in order to help him spread God's love.

Similarly, this inspired man has met with representatives of different religions. He has entered Protestant churches and held meetings with Protestant ministers in order to garner their support in this most important work of evangelization. While proclaiming that the Catholic Church has the fullness of the means to salvation, this man has made it clear that non-Catholics can attain to salvation.

Is this writer referring to Pope John Paul II? Not at all. He is referring to none other than Mel Gibson, who is what I will label an, "ultra-traditional Catholic". It is common knowledge that Mr. Gibson has produced a powerful portrayal of the last twelve hours of Our Savior's Life. Mr. Gibson insists that he has been inspired to present this wonderful work in order to show forth the immense love that Our Lord has shown us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

What is an ultra-traditional Catholic? An ultra-traditional Catholic is one who stands in judgement of Vatican II and the Popes who have promulgated its teachings. This type of Catholic maintains that he or she must practice the Faith outside of communion with our present Pope. Why would such a Catholic wish to do such a thing? There are several reasons. The ultra-traditionalist maintains that the Pope presides over a modernist religion which is not completely Catholic. To them, the evidence is overwhelming. They condemn the Pope for being ecumenical. They condemn the Pope for teaching that every human is a child of God. The ultra-traditionalist condemns the Pope for meeting with Jews and apologizing to them for the anti-semitism of some Catholics throughout history.

The ultra-traditionalist condemns the Pope because the Pope teaches that non-Catholics can find salvation outside complete visible unity with the Catholic Church. The person, of whom I speak, condemns the Pope for meeting with Protestants. The Pope asks their help in evangelizing the world with the message of God's love through Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is heresy to the ultra-traditionalist.

By now, you may be asking, "Why is Mr. Gibson an ultra-traditionalist when he practices the same ecumenism that is condemned in the Pope? It is a good question and one which needs to be considered. During an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Gibson was asked why he practiced the Catholic religion outside of normal Catholic boundaries. Mel stated that there was much confusion in the Catholic Church today and, when there is confusion, a Catholic must hold fast to the traditions. There is nothing wrong with this statement as far as it goes. We cannot blame Ms. Sawyer for failing to follow up with a more pertinent question. "But isn't it true that the head of your Church, on earth, allows Catholics to practice their Faith with the traditional rites and sacraments? Why must you still remain outside?"

There are one of two answers to this question. Mel Gibson is not being completely honest or he really agrees with the ecumenical approach of Pope John Paul II. If Mel is as ecumenical as he has been acting (see Mel Gibson's Movie, Ecumenism and the Bride), then, his ultra-traditionalism will fade in time. I prefer to believe that Mr. Gibson is being honest. I shall not entertain the idea that Mel refrains from telling the whole truth in order to guarantee the success of his production.

For if Mr. Gibson is truly a believer in the "ultra-traditional" mentality, and he spoke his mind clearly, then, his move would be a box office flop. The ultra-traditionalist builds walls to separate himself, or herself, from all who do not hold the pure "faith". The true believer, in ultra-traditionalism, would never meet with Protestant ministers in order to garner their support for spreading the Good News. In fact, the ultra-traditionalist considers this to be a sin against the First Commandment, or indifference, if you will.

I choose to believe that Mr. Gibson is not really an "ultra-traditionalist" at heart. I refuse to believe that he is being hypocritical in order to sell his movie. In the attempt to practice his Catholic Faith without the confusion (which is certainly in abundance), I believe Mel finds himself swimming in the dangerous whirlpool of "private judgement Catholicism". This happens, all too often, with good and well meaning Catholics. It happened to this writer. One begins by seeking a refuge and finds that Satan lurks within the refuge. There simply is no refuge to be found behind a wall or chapel surrounded by walls.

How many times have we heard the cloistered say that the Monastery is not a place to hide from the world. One cannot bring God's love to the world while carrying a bag full of stones in order to build walls or cast upon the publicans and sinners. Our Holy Father knows this and let us pray that Mel has learned this truth by experience.

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I pray for this movie's success, since, if our own numbers, and all around media attention in general show anything, the whole world, it seems, is riveted precisely as the forces of darkness cram all round us until we can hardly breathe. This convergence signals some "fearful symmetry" ------ prefiguring a battle between the woman and the dragon? (Rev 12) Who can say? We are told to "watch" (Mk 13:37) the signs of the times. We are not "end of time" freaks, not by a long shot---- but we aren't walking with both eyes closed either. Beatitudes while we live, beatitude, pray God, when we die.

Pass the article around. See the movie. Pray that many people will be touched.

Indeed that is precisely what We at Rerum Novarum intend to do on all fronts. The movie will be viewed at sometime during Lent -possibly tomorrow if necessary work-related stuff can be completed first. As far as what this weblog has noted on the subject, interested readers can peruse these links in order from oldest to most recent:

Dialogue on Mel Gibson's Movie (Parts I-II)

On "Traditionalism", "Antisemitism", and Mel Gibson --A Response to the Constant Criticisms of Bill Cork

Miscellaneous Morning Musings (On The Passion of the Christ, etc.)

And while We do not always concur with the viewpoints of those whose work runs as Guest Editorials, on this subject it seems fitting to note that there is profound concurrence with Mark's view and not merely in a cerebral sense. That is part of the reason why this weblog has hurled thunderbolts at Mel Gibson's critics no matter whom they happen to be. As was noted in the musings post, there is enough hypocrisy by these people in the way they treat this movie -compared to other movies of true worthlessness which they are as silent as church mice on- to float a battleship around. Without a shred of doubt.

For this movie has the potential to generate a rebirth on awakening in many souls and a birth in souls whom never understood the magnitude of the subject being dealt with. And of course the movie also has the potential to reaffirm to even the active members of the Mystical Body of the gravity of what Our Lord went through and shine a bright light onto their hidden sins and failings to prompt a call to repentence and conversion. And THAT is the *real* reason why many in the media -even some Catholics- have sought to shut it down either by calling for boycotts, libeling the maker of the film, or trying to tar and feather him via a disgraceful form of guilt by association. We have one name for such people and it is "Legion." That is all We will say on them and their deeds.

Please reflect on Mark's words above and make it a mission to see this movie during Lent. And pray for its success and also for the full awakening of its maker Mel Gibson. We view him as Stephen Hand does essentially -as one who does not come across as arrogantly schismatic as so many do... [Whose] faith is simple, innocent in some degree of the complex of dogmatic issues involved and that he is working his way through them slowly and carefully. That is one reason why this weblog and its writer have taken the approach to Mel that it has the entire time. Another reason is because to do so is an example of true and authentic charity -a tone we might add that reverberates throughout Mark's editorial above.

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Monday, February 23, 2004

Brief Response and a Request to Tim Enloe:

Tim's words will be in black font. This will constitute a partial response to what he wrote HERE -the incomplete nature of the response being due to time factors and also because of a desire to focus on one subject matter in this thread.{1} Any sources I quote will be in darkblue font.

If you're not all that interested in Roman Catholic issues, you should probably just skip this entry. The following is a reply to a post Shawn M. made to me in this comments box. Shawn's comments are in all italics.

My previous words will be black font italics for this post.

And just because something is "challenged" does not make it illegitimate. Jesus' credentials were continually challenged by his enemies amongst the Scribes and Pharisees. The fact that they challenged Him does not mean that He was not whom He claimed to be. If this was the case with the Lord, why should it be any different for his Vicar who is merely the chamberlain for the king???

Shawn, this statement is mere question-begging.

It addresses the point that you often (consciously or otherwise) seem to imply: that the challenge of a position in and of itself means that the challenger has a viable alternative position. My point is, if Jesus Christ Himself did not go unchallenged, then no lessor authority could expect to. I know that you hold the pope to be of lessor authority than God Incarnate. Yet as the challenges to the latter did not make his claims invalid or dubious, the same can reasonably be seen as the case in the claims made by the popes. This does not constitute a defense of the popes Tim, only an appeal to you to not apply your rationale so selectively.

How would you take it if I answered a point you made about Christian political theory's relevance to Vatican I papalism by saying, "Just because something is asserted does not make it legitimate."

I would say you are right. And of course non-believers say the same thing about Jesus Christ's divinity. It rests as any view does on an assertion being made -which in and of itself does not mean that it is true.

I find this to be probably the single greatest flaw of the papalist position--it's simple inability to grasp that rational disagreement with its principles really is possible.

There is no "inability to grasp" this involved Tim. If Catholics did not have an ability to understand that there are possible differences of viewpoint, then our defense of the binding obligation that even an erroneous conscience has would be non-existent. (Binding to the extent that the person honestly believes that they are right.)

This is why I took exception to your post from months ago wherein you cited a Catholic scholar chiding the rest of the world for supposedly failing to consider that papalism might actually be "the divinely-willed order of things."

That was a "points to ponder" segment. They are usually short and are intended to engender my readers to muse on the particular point posted. I do not even have to agree with a statement to post it under "points to ponder" though I usually do.

The segment you refer to was a simple offhand comment by Thomas F.X. Noble expressing an approach to the papacy issue that those who oppose themselves to the papacy never stop and consider. How such a statement constitutes a "chiding" is beyond me.

Why can't you Catholics grasp the fact that it's most often YOU who are guilty of failing to comprehend the basis of any other theory, because ALL you can see is your blazing "self-evident" Thomistic truisms and their echoes of Neoplatonic Forms.

You like to bring up Neoplatonism and criticize various forms of Realism a lot Tim. That is of course your right to do so; however my interest is not in defining myself against the positions of others per se but instead in setting forth my own arguments on their respective merits. For this reason, I am going to request at this time that you do likewise on the subject I am about to reiterate: set forth your own position on the matter of "universals."

For that seems to be the common base of your theological/historical musings. I therefore make a respectful inquiry yet again as to which outlook on universals that *you* embrace. If it is not Realism in some form or another, then that leaves Nominalism and Conceptualism as the only other variant views of the concept of "universals" that come to my mind.

For as I have noted in other places, I see serious functional problems with both nominalism and conceptualism viz their application in reality as opposed to in the abstract. And if you are going to base your theory on either of those outlooks, it therefore stands to reason that you should acknowledge the significant weaknesses of your paradigm in doing so.

For you want to harrangue realism and its variants but every time I have raised a discussion of your operative point of view viz. universals, it has gone unresponded to. I believe that it is because our responses can be quite lengthy and therefore it is not possible to respond to everything there. For that reason, I will cut this response short and refer you back to the various posts where I have written on this subject. For this point gets to the very root and matrix of your entire outlook and knowledge of your tendencies here can go a long way towards people seeing things as you see them.{2}

Here are the related threads in sequential order from oldest (September 2003) to newest (December 2003).

On Papal Primacy and Church History --Part I (Societas Christiana vs. Rerum Novarum)

On Papal Primacy and Church History --Part II (Societas Christiana vs. Rerum Novarum)

"The Enloe Files" Dept. (Part I --Recapitulation of Dialogue Themes)

I realize they are long and there is a lot gone over in them. You may also find in scanning them that I brought up a point or three that you either did not see before or feel you can more adequately respond to now for whatever reason. I ask that you not do that and instead focus only on the parts of the above threads that deal with nominalism, conceptualism, and realism.

For you can say all you want about what history "says" to me and to others but different people read the same subjects and events differently. Unless you are going to utilize the same dogmatism on subjects that you claim that Catholics use, you will have to do more than simply list a bunch of historical events (or texts from medieval writers) and assert that they justify your theory.

I remind you that a text without a context is a pretext. And as you reject the realist outlook and continually opine against it and against anything related to it (such as so-called "biblical platonism"), I do not believe it is unreasonable to request for you to outline what your differing philosophical view from these points are, why it differs, and to do so with perspicuity.

If whatever I or others write is immediately tagged as "realist" by you -which is a convenient escape hatch as I see it- how about putting your own weltanschauung up for similar scrutiny??? For I believe you have confidence in your theory and that it will hold up under reasonable scrutiny when it is completed. Surely as that is the case -or else you would not be spending so much time on it- you can at the very least outline in a reasonable manner your differing view from realism in the area of "universals."

This process if you undertake it would (I believe) make it much easier for you to anticipate in advance (and thus reasonably avoid) the criticism that will come from some corners. Essentially people will say (and I predict this in advance I might add) that you criticize the foundational tenants of others outlooks without setting forth the manner whereby you approach the same issues. This will get you summarily dismissed by other people who will see this as an example of epistemologically trying to "have your cake and eat it too." (Or trying to avoid answering the same queries for your theories that you think others should have to answer for theirs.)

For your interest in setting forth a probable theory into the arena of ideas must involve the same kind of disclosure for it to be given its just due by others who are interested in the truth as you would expect of them in advancing theories of their own. As I have noted elsewhere:

[D]ialogue must involve (i) clarity for the person being addressed (ii) an absence of arrogance or offensive terminology (iii) confidence in our own words and the good faith of all parties involved and (iv) the prudence to make allowances for the psychological and moral circumstances of his hearer recognizing that not all audiences will accept something in the same sense. (For this reason, adaptation of the manner of presentation to the best advantage of the other party is necessary.) [I. Shawn McElhinney: On the Intricacies of Dialogue - A Commentary (c. 2003)]

The reason the dialogue is not easy is because few are the people who take any subject seriously who have an interest in engaging those who refuse to set out their own "boundary markers" and/or to clarify key points of their operative viewpoint if you will. This makes it very difficult for people to properly see things -even if only for a moment- from the other person's viewpoint.{3}

Your response is critical of a preceived "inability" of myself or others to see things from other people's viewpoints. I find this ironic in that much of my criticisms of so-called "traditionalists" and so-called "progressivists" are precisely for this reason. They have no interest in being understood or of being bridge-building. Instead it is only in their own visions of being "truely more reformed than thou" but in their own ways{4} that they want to be accepted.

Now I know that you are genuinely interested in bridge-building;{5} therefore I appeal to your own concerns for the revitilization of the societas Christiana to please do what is requested of you here. At the very least it will make it easier to know how you are approaching these issues.

Notes:

{1} I am sure my faithful readers are stunned to see a thread from me on only *one* subject ;-)

{2} I cannot see any dialogue on our respective theories of papal primacy as bearing fruit without this being raised antecedent to such a discussion.

{3} To tell the truth, it is very difficult to carry on a dialogue: Many dialogues, even of Plato are fictitious, juxtapositions of monologues. Each stays as they were. This is so often what happens at assemblies and congresses. The true dialogue demands an effort which is continual and almost heroic, which consists first in trying to see from the other's viewpoint. Leibniz, that mind so open and elastic, said that the position of the other is the true viewpoint of politics and morals, and this going out of oneself to adopt --if only for a moment--the point of view of one's interlocutor he calls quite simply: love. [Jean Guitton: Dialogues of Paul VI With Jean Guitton pg. 163 circa. 1967 (as quoted in I. Shawn McElhinney's commentary On the Intricacies of Dialogue (c. 2003)]

{4} In the case of the self-styled "traditionalist" it is usually "more Traditional than thou" and with the self-styled "progressivist" it is "more Enlightened than thou." But the underlying theme to both positions is the same.

{5} For why would you be going through the efforts you are doing at your weblog -only to be on the receiving end of slings and arrows from former "friends" of yours- if this was not the case???

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"Happy Birthday to Us" Dept.

Today is the eighteen month anniversary of the existence of this humble weblog. Every six month anniversary has been noted in some form or another. The six month anniversary was a compendium of weblog firsts and some candid reflections on the development of the various ingredients that goes into the multifaceted gumbo that is Rerum Novarum. The one year anniversary was one of rather minor notation -and was attached to a subsequent "points to ponder" segment from the Leo XIII encyclical from which this weblog was named.

The problem with doing a similar thread is that this weblog has flowered in so many directions that any attempt to adequately cover them all would appear to be an exercise in self-aggrandizement -which your humble servant wants to avoid.{1} Suffice to say, it could be shown that this weblog became more political in the second six months of its existence as well as more proactive on many fronts.{2} Much of what was blogged in the second six month period -particularly from June 2003-August 2003-would provide ideas for what was to come in the third six month period.

The third six month period was particularly focused on developing core philosophical approaches to the subjects of religious freedom, political freedom, supplying working definitions for concepts such as "rights" and "freespeech", and -most importantly of all- a setting forth of the three fundamental rights of man and enunciating a workable theory on their importance. (As well as the unified nature of said rights.{3})

The fall of 2003 saw this weblog become even more explicitly political than it was in the second six month period -the difference being that the target this time was not the Supreme Court and its idiocies but instead the idiocies of the Democratic candidates and the growing invisibility (and seeming impotency) of President Bush as a leader.{4} Theologically in this timeframe there were too many subjects covered to deal with in a manner that would do them justice. But enough on the past and at this time it would be good to look ahead.

Though not an iron-clad position, it is not inaccurate to say that this weblog will probably be less political for a while. (Mainly because Lent is upon us and this writer has an idea for twice-weekly spiritual meditations on a classic book of Catholic spirituality.{5}) Your humble servant is frankly sick of discussing the election at this time though of course readers who want to discuss it can send emails and if the subject is compelling enough, this writer will certainly reconsider that position and set aside the aforementioned rule of the near-future.

In summary, the long enunciated intention of this weblog towards theological/political/social/philosophical ressourcement and recapitulation remains intact, though it goes through various cycles -mainly based on what this writer wants to muse on. And that focus can be quite diversified topic-wise, as the eighteen month trackrecord of this weblog amply demonstrates.

This weblog will to some extent remain active despite previously noted needs to scale back on blogging.{7} But in the process, this writer would be remiss to not at this time thank the readers for their loyalty in this endeavour. With God's will and your readership, Rerum Novarum will continue -and hopefully age like a good wine in the process.

Notes:

{1} It is after all not conducive to maintaining an approach of humility by making a list of "see, I told you so" points.

{2} Including taking the initiative of providing application of key abstract concepts previously enunciated in the first six months.

{3} Meaning, if one falls, all three fall; ergo they must be defended as a unit for maximum potential benefit.

{4} Not to mention criticizing his more frequent terminal bouts of the rovehaze in recent months.

{5} Politics is too divisive a subject to deal with during Lent if it can be reasonably avoided -barring extraordinary situations occurring of course.

{6} Not fitting into the categorical "boxes" that lend themselves to such recognition is no small reason why this is the case and always will be.

{7} See this link for details if you have not already.

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Sunday, February 22, 2004

An Update on the Planned Response to Professor Miller:
(And more on the Mel Gibson/Hutton Gibson situation)

The planned response to Professor Miller that I mentioned in recent days has yet to be drafted even in a preliminary form. I wish to apologize to you for this. A cold has plagued me since Wednesday evening/Thursday morning has made getting to that task in light of my workload{1} close to impossible. For that reason, I want to revisit the Mel Gibson/Hutton Gibson subject.

Now my views on this subject are known to my faithful readers. Other commentators have weighed in on it as well including comments by Christopher Blosser of The Ratzinger Report and (what I discovered via Christopher's weblog){2} an excellent and insightful blog post by The Dyspeptic One. The response to Professor Miller can be addressed later on -not only because of my lack of energy to do it but because of how soon Mel's movie will be coming out.

Again, for the record I refuse out of charity to pronounce on Mel's film without seeing it first.{3} And not only out of charity is this position taken but also out of that stubborn interlocuter in my psyche known as "consistency."{4} But that is another subject for another time perhaps.

Notes:

{1} Which I have resolutely stuck to and it has not diminished much at all. (As a result I am too exhausted to undertake it at this time.)

{2} Christopher's weblog definitely belongs on anyone's list of blogs monitored at least semi-frequently. (I think he has perhaps the most underrated weblog at St. Blog's.)

{3} For those who have done this have manifested repeatedly the lacuna of authentic charity that such tactics involve.

{4} I have repeatedly jumped on self-styled "traditionalists", self-styled "progressivists", or those often called "conservatives" whom I have seen over the years act in this manner. (In various discussion/media forums.) Thus, even if I was not concerned with the charity element of the equation, the consistency factor alone would demand that this principle be applied; ergo I have done so here.

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