Saturday, October 23, 2004

What Natural Disaster are you? Take the quiz!


"Let Him Be Anathema" Dept.

To divert a bit into sports for a moment -as I have not discussed sports at Rerum Novarum for a long time- the following was posted to a discussion forum by yours truly on Wed, 20 Oct 2004.

For those who are Yankees fans, I should note in advance that I have no objection to your team - only one player on it. That player used to be a Seattle Mariner and I should note right now why I view one of my former favourites as I currently do. It all boils down to loyalty and being honest my friends.

For you see, when Alex Rodriguez claimed that his resigning with the Seattle Mariners "was not for money" and then went out and signed the richest (by far) contract in sports history with the Texas Rangers, I placed a curse on him of sorts.{1} The criteria of the curse was as follows: may he continually bat over .300, hit 40-50 or more homers a season, drive in 100-110 or more runs a year, and NEVER win a World Series!!! The Yankees acquiring Rodriguez from Texas made that "curse" change cities and now Texas has a better team and they are going to get better still. The Yankees though went from a team I have always respected to a team with a player whom I do not. And contrary to my normal mantra of Mr. Spock where "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few", I make an exception when it comes to baseball: damn the team who acquires Rodriguez whomever they are.{2}

Frankly, the sooner the Yankees are eliminated in the process the better it is for me -even though Boston deserves to never win a World Series ever again for selling Babe Ruth!!! The Yanks have too much World Series experience for me to want to risk them going there so I must root for Boston: a team I frankly liked seeing handed their keisters by the Yankees prior to Rodriguez joining that group. But I digress.


{1} Lest anyone think this is purely a "sour grapes" bit, I should note that I did no such thing with Randy Johnson or Ken Griffey Jr who left Seattle prior to Alex. In Randy's case, I felt the management stiffed him (claiming he was "too old" and his back was "too questionable") and that he would prove them wrong. His four NL Cy Young Awards made that prediction come true. In Griffey's case, he claimed it was about family and being closer to his family year round that was the reason not money. And he proved this by signing for about seventy-five million less than he could have gotten to play for the Reds.

By stark contrast, Rodriquez obviously lied through his teeth with the talk of the importance of the team and "it's not about money" when quite obviously it was. He did not like playing in a more pitcher friendly Safeco Field, then let him play in all the hitters parks he wants. May he make his money and put up his individual numbers and NEVER win a World Series. That is my wish and I am rooting for former Mariner prospect Derek Lowe and company to shut the door on the Yanks.

As far as Boston is concerned, may they make it to the World Series and lose to the....HOUSTON ASTROS. (Though if the Cardinals make it to the big show, may the trophy go to them.)

{2} Unless (of course) Alex were to return to Seattle for less money as per his originally stated "the money does not matter" mantra. If that happened, I would lift the "curse", forgive him his trespasses, and all would hopefully go back to normal.

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Friday, October 22, 2004

A Weblog Amendment:

Essentially I am livid at the notions that the mainstream media (i) can run unpaid commercials for John Kerry in their broadcasting (ii) promote anti-Bush films like Fahrenheit 911 as "documentaries" and yet (iii) have the audacity to try to claim that an actual documentary on John Kerry's which does not paint him in a Messianic light is somehow "an unfair campaign advantage for Bush" and (iv) the Democrats have filed lawsuits to try and prevent that film from being seen.{1} For these reasons, the link below has been added to my Ecumenical Jihad margin of links in perpetuity all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Stolen Honour: The Documentary John Kerry Does Not Want You To See


{1} Again, did the Republicans file even one lawsuit against Michael Moore for his film??? The answer is no -though many of them did of course criticize the accuracy of the film's portrayal of events -along with some Democrat and Independent voters. Among many such criticisms was this one from Conservative Republican Debbie Schlussel, this one from Libertarian Dave Kopel -who claims to be voting Republican in 2004 for the first time- and this one narrated by Democrat Dick Morris. (The former policy advisor to Bill Clinton in his tenures as first Governor of Arkansas and then as President of the United States.)

I remind you that there were no lawsuits filed by anyone critical of Michael Moore to try and censor his film. (By those often referred to as the ones who supposedly want to "stifle free speech.") But notice that those who claim to be "for freedom of expression" are the very same ones who are trying to shut down freedom of expression on the film Stolen Honour by suing those who try to propagate it!!! The blatant hypocrisy of the so-called "freedom of speech" crowd and their primary presidential candidate again manifests itself in spades.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

On Historical Figures, Development of Doctrine, and Briefly on Different Views of Historical People and Events:
(Dialogue With Tim Enloe)

[Prefatory Note: The text to which I will be responding to in full can be read HERE. As far as the response you are about to read, the bulk of it was written over a month ago. - ISM]

Well Shawn, it may be that I'm caricaturing your position. It is hard to pin you papalists down sometimes, since your theology is simultaneously semper eadem and yet always changing via "development of doctrine". Heh.

Imagine that, a bit of what is called "paradox" in theological matters!!! I am hesitant to discuss development of doctrine with you because you have not read familiarized yourself enough with the basic theses that go into and support the overarching theory itself. It would be akin to me discussing exercise science with someone not only ignorant of the seven principles of productive exercise but also lacking an adequate foundation in understanding Dr. Hans Selye's theories of the G.A.S. on the human organism and how to apply them. In other words, it would not be a fruitful use of my time.

Seriously, though, I only mentioned PD as a convenient summary of the "hierocratic" position that I have always taken to be implied by your "root and matrix" phraseology.

Actually, it is not my phraseology. I got it from an Orthodox theologian believe it or not.

No doubt you know that the very word "hierarchy" itself comes from PD (Greek: hierus + archus) and that it was precisely because he in particular was confused with Paul's disciple mentioned in Acts that so many generations of Christians thought his Neoplatonic vision of power descending from the originating One at the top was so in tune with the Christian revelation. Of course there were earlier precedents; I never denied that.

You do seem to deny that a number of foundational principles enunciated by PD were already in place prior to PD -even if the terminology to describe them (and even some of the concepts themselves) are not as precise as they would be later. If I am misunderstanding you here, then it would help to qualify your view a bit.

I just don't understand why you think your case can be proved merely by referring to early precedents.

Aaah but Tim, you are doing the same thing in trying to show a continuity for conciliarist thought as a viable ecclesiological outlook of the Middle Ages!!! I could just as well turn your very attempts around on you with the same question of "how can you prove your case by merely referring to precedents Tim???" Indeed, we could both take this approach and succeed in getting nowhere. Or else we can recognize a couple of necessary presuppositions that go into trying to demonstrate the viability of any proposed theory that would purport to have a long-standing pedigree to it.

The first step in establishing the presumed veracity of any theory involving the enlargement of an earlier principle is to show that the earlier principle (which was subsequently enlarged and developed) has a root in the earlier period in time. It is profoundly difficult (if not impossible) to argue for the enlargement or refinement of an earlier more nebulous conception if evidence of a less-enlarged or less-refined conception are not to be reasonably ascertained in precedents from an earlier time period. Another way of saying it is that if there is no evidence of at least the fundamental points which are present in all manifestations of the conception at the very beginning then it stretches if not obliterates credibility to assert that later manifestations are developments or enlargements of an earlier principle or conception. You obviously recognize this fact to some degree; else why would you try to show support for the kind of conciliarism that came to fruition in the late fourteenth-mid fifteenth centuries with recourse to precedents of earlier centuries??? This sort of thing works both ways yet you seem to want to see it only on one side rather than both for some reason.

All kinds of things have pedigrees.

Yes but the entire purpose of a theory on development of doctrine is to separate legitimate later manifestations of earlier principles from illegitimate ones: legitimate ones being seen as "developments" and illegitimate ones as "corruptions."

Perhaps that's why the early apologist Lactantius ridiculed the argument that truth is guaranteed by appealing to an unbroken succession of rulers, pointing out that pagans reason that way, not Christians. Huh.

It is true that Catholicism does have as a criteria for doctrinal truthfulness an understanding of apostolic succession that involves an unbroken chain if you will. However, there is a good amount more to it than that. You would seem to suggest that Catholic understanding on this issue renders us incapable of knowing whether John Paul II or the Japanese Emperor Akihito heads the Church founded by Christ. Both are parts of a chain of unbroken succession - JP II from Peter and Akihito from Emperor Jimmu. Because you obviously do not believe the aforementioned subject involves that much convolution, I am at a loss to see how you can have the temerity to do with this subject the same kind of oversimplifications that you used to repeatedly deride Catholic Answers (CA) of doing with Protestantism as a whole (in your days at Steve Ray's old board).

I well remember you making the criticism that CA dealt with Protestantism as if the latter were all Fundamentalists. (Indeed, I have often recognized this and agreed with you on the subject.) I therefore have to conclude that you either see this as an example where there is a permissible double standard (i.e. that it is okay for you to do this kind of generalizing but not for CA) or perhaps you simply slipped up here. Out of charity I would presume the latter though admittedly I cannot recall many threads of yours I have read where this problem does not occur with a degree of habituality to render such a presumption (of a mere "slip up" on your part) to be more difficult for me to presume.

Furthermore, as Catholic theology does not guarantee certainty merely by appeal to an unbroken succession of rulers, Lactantius has hardly given you the kind of solid argument against apostolic succession you seem to think he has. If I am reading your comments correctly here, you appear to be asserting that Lactantius ridiculed this argument merely because it has a parallel in how pagans reasoned. I have to ask therefore if you do not believe that there was no possibility that Lactantius might have possessed at least a tad bit of bias against principles that mirrored themselves in paganism. I remind you that Lactantius was of pagan birth and upbringing. Furthermore, his aversion to pagan reasoning and concepts obviously was not a consistent one because he did not seem to have an aversion to the notion of a "Son of God": a term he used to refer to Jesus Christ in his Divine Institutes.

For those who know their history "Son of God" is a quintessentially pre-Christian pagan conception if ever there was one!!! For one example of many I could list, there is the pagan Greek Hercules who was the son of Zeus -the king of the gods. Another example that comes to mind offhand is the character from Babylonian mythology Gilgamesh who was reputed to have been both human and divine. I suppose if Lactantius was really being consistent in the thread of argument that you are advancing, then he would not use "Son of God" to describe Jesus at all -the term itself originating in paganism after all.

I also find it further of interest that you happened to choose from among the Fathers one who was certainly brilliant in his rhetoric and systematic form of argumentation but whose writings had (i) a limited understanding of more complex Christian argumentation and (ii) an even less understanding of the Scriptures. (I doubt you could find a Church Father with less Scriptural familiarity than Lactantius actually.) Lactantius was primarily an apologist of the Justin Martyr school: one that focused more on primary subject matter and less on interconnected secondary issues if you will. For one who seems to want to fight the Enlightenment notions of "pure reason" and the like, your choice of Lactantius from the Fathers to advance a point of argument has some noticable irony to say the least but I digress.

The rest of this note is a little strong, I will warn you in advance, but I know you from your writings enough to know that you can both give and receive strong words.


You've generally speaking taken an uncompromising position toward me, so I'm going to respect you enough to take the same toward you.

I have taken an uncompromising position in some respects this is true. However, I have also sought to represent you fairly in our discussions and have been rather critical of others whom I sensed were not properly representing you. (I doubt I need to remind you of many interventions at Steve Ray's old board when we used to post there and my treatment of some of the less-nuanced and more generalizing of the participants there.)

Now it may be that I'm reading certain features of the worst kind of Medieval papal theory into your Modern papal theory, but you've yet to disabuse me of that notion.

I see you as reading into my views (as well as the views of the Catholic Church) an understanding of ecclesiology that is fundamentally unbalanced. I also see you confusing to some degree the conciliarist backlash of the mid-second millennium with a proper conception of church authority which has two spheres to it if you will. Another way of saying it is that you are pitting papal primacy notions against a conciliarist notion as necessarily antonymous of one another when they are not.

I have mentioned many times that the Catholic understanding of Church authority includes not only papal primacy but also a recognition of the authority of the bishop in his dioceses as being a smaller model in many respects of the pope's authority over the Church. Furthermore, I have noted many times the ancient understanding of episcopal collegiality from which mid-second-millennium conciliarism was a perversion of. (Not that I blame the conciliarists entirely for this of course as the proper understanding of episcopal collegiality had been overshadowed by an expansion of papal prerogatives beyond the ecclesial scope and into matters which they were ill-suited for.) In short, the all-absorbing prerogatives of the early second millennium papacy was bound to result in a backlash with the latter having (to some degree) a viable principle behind their movement.{1}

I don't pretend to understand your life's journey in full, but for a while now various things you've written seem to indicate to me that you were once a "Traditionalist" but now you've so completely and vehemently rejected that position that you seem unable to demonstrate a balanced alternative to it.

I have rejected the excesses of what frequently goes under the banner of "traditionalist" thinking this is true. My alternative if you will is ressourcement oriented which is actually a very balanced approach for those who are interested. (Though it takes a fair amount of research to come to this understanding I admit.)

I cannot quote you directly as I have no "McElhinney Files" corresponding to your "Enloe Files",

Well, there is my weblog and my web essays on various subjects. As far as "Enloe Files" go, it does not bode well for quoting your weblog and posting the links to your actual statements (for verification of usage by the readers) if you delete the texts to which I link to. I have many links to your older weblog which are not working anymore -any information on where that material can now be accessed would be appreciated. (That way I can change the links so that readers can assess my usage of your words if they so choose through easy verification via clicking on the links that go to that material.)

but I will say that I have found various pieces of your rhetoric against Traditionalists to be rather extreme and just about bordering on a blind and perhaps even fideistic acceptance of what you have called "the divinely willed order of things".

You need to take into account the audience I am addressing: people who claim to accept a number of the same foundational presuppositions that I do. Obviously when such people claim this but by their statements manifest an ignorance of the deeper issues involved -including the undeniable truth about Church history having greater variegated theological outlooks to it than the Counter-reformation polemic that they commonly embrace generally likes to admit to- then of course I am not going to meekly interact with their (often very dogmatic) assertions by any stretch. No, in such instances I will take the wrecking ball to them metaphorically speaking.

Now amazingly enough, you are even more long-winded than me so I will admit it is likely I have missed some qualifications and nuances that may be present in your voluminous writings.

Look on the bright side: I am more economical in verse than Ian McLean (SecretAgentMan) is.

But the last time we talked about this you insisted that the proper way to view Christian theology is as "biblical Platonism" and offered supporting examples that I felt could only be construed as such if one was already assuming a Realistic philosophical standpoint--the very thing which is in dispute. Hence, I concluded that your whole perspective is an instance of question-begging and am still waiting for you to provide something more substantial than essentially "Jesus set it up this way, so end of discussion."

If memory serves, I was noting examples within the Scriptures of the very same "Platonist" concepts that you were being critical of. Let us look at the thread itself by quoting the relevant parts in brackets. Your words will be in black and italicized:

Now it is true in one sense that the Papacy is "independent of the words that have been heaped on top of it", and even independent of the texts that historians assemble and weigh. But this is precisely because, contra the ambiguous use of the words in the statement, the Papacy is not an "idea", but a flesh-and-blood thing in the flesh-and-blood world. It grows and changes with time, as all living, breathing things do.

Again, why the "either/or"??? There are ideas in the abstract and there are ideas which being put into a specific form thereby move from the merely intangible to the tangible. But that does not mean that they lack an intangible element to them.

What the statement is really asking of us under cover of the ambigous term "idea of the Papacy" is to think and act like Platonists--that is, to capitalize "Idea" and imagine that that "Idea" (or in Platonic language, that "Form") is the metaphysically-independent, ontologically-unchangeable archetype for every physical manifestation of "pope" that ever has or ever will appear in the world of space and time.

Before continuing this subject, it would behoove the readers to take note of how "Platonist" many parts of the Scriptures are. Some examples worth noting are these...

For the sake of economy of verse, I will snip here the fifteen odd examples under seven major headings that I posted as supporting evidence of an arguable biblical witness to concepts of "Platonism" and post the concluding portion of this citation.

If the Catholic approaches the papacy with a degree of Platonist rationale, it would seem that there is no shortage of precedent set in the Scriptures for doing this. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum circa October 24, 2003]

My argument in other words was not "question-begging" unless having recourse to the Scriptures to provide evidence for positions one espouses is "question-begging." As the latter would call into question by logical implication the entire biblical methodology as employed by the Protestant self-styled "reformers", you would be skating on thin ice to upbraid me for utilizing the same methodology simply because you do not agree with the positions I defend.

I guess that works for Catholics, but it leaves the rest of us scratching our heads wondering when you guys will ever show us some basic respect and stop pretending that merely invoking mantras and axioms constitutes meaningful Christian discourse.

First of all, everyone relies on axioms who does not want to reinvent the wheel on every discussion. So this charge is hardly as one-sided as you want to make it. In your tradition you have three solas which serve as your axioms and Protestants invoke them by implication at least as often as Catholics invoke axioms of theirs.{2} Furthermore, I have noted publicly on many occasions the willingness to dialogue with you on foundational presuppositions that undergird the operative points of view from which we see the same subjects. There is no recourse to axioms in such a format - simply an examination of what goes into how you and I (and others of differing worldviews) view the evidences that we see from divers sources. That offer is still open should you want to take me up on it. For one who is critical of "axiomatic argumentation" this should be a subject that would be of interest to you but I digress.

See, that's what drives me nuts about your kind of ecclesiology. Whatever I'm missing about the Possibly Really Nuanced Views of I. Shawn McElhinney, I have read and interacted with a lot of primary sources relevant to the development of the "general school" of papalist theory of which you appear to me to be a dedicated adherent.

I am an adherent to the teachings of the Catholic Church, not necessarily to the means whereby they are commonly enunciated. All too often people read too much into a statement or too little -or they make assumptions about the proper sense of a text that it in no way conveys. It is probably safe to say that you are likewise an adherent to the axiomatic "solas" of the sixteenth century but not necessarily to the ways that they are commonly represented.

And I'll tell you this, Shawn, the more I learn about the position of ultra-dogmatic hierocratic papalism and the more I see its divisive and destructive course passing through the history of the Church, the less sympathy I have for it and its Modern defenders.

I do not recall requesting any sympathy from you or anyone else. However, the shoe fits both ways.

For the more I learn about the via moderna paradigm that undergirded the weltanschauungs of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and company -and note the destructive pseudo-"Enlightenment" principles that flow from the arbitrary notions of said "reformers" with the corresponding deChristianization of the west in subsequent centuries up to the current day- I am hardly one who has sympathies for those who want to prescribe the same "remedy" for curing Christendom as the one pro-offered by those of the sixteenth century who are often called "reformers." Whatever excesses and problems that the medieval expansions of the papacy had on Christendom, they were nowhere near akin to those which the novel notions of subjectivity introduced into Christendom by the "reformers" such as Luther and company entailed.{3} But that is neither here nor there.

I have offered to set aside all of these a priori axiomatic positions on our parts{4} and go to the root of the entire plant: the foundational presuppositions that we both have. Let us consider them in dialogue and how they shape our respective views of reality.

Modern Catholics are surely a lot "nicer" than their Medieval forebears, but they're still as a general rule just as rationalistically rigid, just as immune to reasonable criticism, and just as unable to see the forest of their own schismatic tendencies for the trees of their Beautiful Grand Ideas about "the Church".

Modern Protestants are a lot nicer than their sixteenth century forebearers too but (as a rule) they are just as dogmatic about their subjectivist and individualistic views of the subjects of controversy, just as unwilling to call into question the very foundation of the basket in which they often put all their theological/philosophical eggs (meaning the so-called "reformation"), just as prone to fideism when their methodologies are stripped down to brass tacks, and just as prone to fits of rage when this is pointed out to them. Again, this kind of criticism cuts both ways.

Modern popes aren't hermetically sealed off from their forebears but are still profoundly shaped by what their forebears did.

And Protestants today are somehow not shaped by the views and deeds of their forebearers???

And the popes of the mid-14th century clear through to the end of the 16th were simply arrogant fools who destroyed Christendom in the name of their own personal prerogatives and repeatedly refused to take responsibility for their own actions--preferring instead to blame all the "heretics" who "contumaciously" denied "Divine Law".

What a simplistic assertion this is!!! How is this any different than me saying that all the so-called "reformers" were seditionists who were out for their own glory and were desirous of others following them instead of Rome or other authorities??? How on earth do these kinds of broadbrush caricatures serve any worthwhile purpose Tim???

Well if you want "contumacy" and rebellion against what was good for the WHOLE of Christian society rather than what was good only for the selfish Roman See with its utterly bloated understanding of its place relative to other authorities...

And whom are we to trust as having the good of the WHOLE of Christian society as their altrusitic mission??? Why those whom Tim says did of course!!! How wonderfully question-begging this whole enterprise happens to be...

you ought to try an experiment.

Just me huh???

That is, try to stop seeking facile refuge in pious aphorisms about what your "faith" requires you to believe (regardless of the actual course of the world over many centuries)

Tim, I am reminded here of my attempts to show you your obvious inconsistencies on this score with the subject of the Trinity in years gone by. The responses I received for this from you at the time were (to put it nicely) far from the usual irenic tonality that has for the most part characterized our discussions. Indeed, your entire thread of response at that time was an attempt to take uncritical refuge in certain beliefs that you accept without questioning of them as much as you may assert of any uniquely Catholic one (or ones) that I adhere to. Mr. Spock would scratch his head in puzzlement at the attempt to have it both ways on your part but I digress.

and take a good long, hard critical look at John XXII, John XXIII, Eugenius IV, Pius II, Sixtus IV, the Renaissance Popes, Julius II, and Leo X before you look at John of Paris and William Durandus the Younger and William of Ockham and the conciliarists and Wessel Gansfort and Luther and Calvin.

What makes you think I have not already done this Tim??? It must be the fact that I do not agree with you that somehow I could not have done this -your view of these subjects being merely the perspicuous historical understanding of these matters all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Indeed, I have looked at every name you have noted on that list and have studied the subjects pretty thoroughly{5} except for William Durandus (of whom my familiarity is pretty scant by my own admission). I will not claim to have read every scrap of material out there on any of these subjects and I know you have not either.

Those men tried to save the Church;

As I see it, often they tried to save their own theological opinions first and foremost. Do not for an instant try to tell me that the motives of William of Ockham were pure -particularly since the Franciscan Spiritualist movement he was a part of was on the receiving end of a papal condemnation by John XXII. Gee, there was no personal interest on his part of trying to undermine the pope who had condemned the movement to which he was an adherent of. Nope, Ockham was purely Schwitzerian in his whole outlook. Yeah right, he had a beef against John XXII because the latter condemned a movement to which he was a strong adherent. That was probably the motivating factor against his invective against the papacy as a whole: to get at John XXII who was on the whole a pretty good pope. The latter's one character flaw was that he was temperamental by nature. He was also not a spiritual man in the manner which is ideal for a pope to be; nonetheless that is hardly worth the invective which you would seem to throw at him.

I fail to see why you raise John of Paris in this discussion since the only episcopal power which ever censured him was his own bishop. John of Paris from what I can deduce was willing to retract the areas where he erred (on matters of faith) if he could be shown that they were de fide. My guess is that you picked John of Paris because he took the side of secular rulers against Boniface VIII in the Church-State conflicts of the late-thirteenth and early fourteenth century. As his position defended the king's right to depose a pope but not the converse; the logical implications of his outlook was the later Erastian model which -like the Caesaropapist model prior to it- made the Church subordinate to the State.

Whatever the problems of Boniface VIII (and there were many), he at the very least recognized this danger for what it was (and is) even if his motives were mixed at best. Indeed, it is a presumed superiority of the temporal over the spiritual that is the hallmark of movements such as the so-called "Enlightenment", empiricism, atheism, communism, fascism, and nazi socialism. And it can be argued that all of the above have a trajectory back to your beloved "reformation" which started the entire notion of mass revolt against authority in the first place{6} but enough on that subject for now.

As far as Eugenius IV and Pius II go, my guess is that you have a beef with them because of their support for the doctrine of papal primacy -Eugenius IV who oversaw its definition at Florence in the all-important sixth session of that synod{7} and Pius II. The latter is interesting because as Aenis Silvio Piccolomini, Pius II supported your particular weltanschauung of conciliarism.{8}

The latter position was what he took in his earlier non-clerical (and dare I note hedonistic) days. Later on, after he had undergone a religious reformation and also assumed the clerical state, he opposed your precious conciliarism -issuing as pope the Apostolic Letter Excrabilis. Other than a bit of nepotism, he was a good pope. You probably do not like him because he had the temerity in your eyes to oppose conciliarism. Any notion that a pope would oppose conciliarism of the mid second millennium because it was an actual error seems to be ruled out of court in advance by you. This is an example of filtering the evidences you obtain through a preconceived hermeneutic of your own whether you realize it or not.

Furthermore, the "Renaissance Popes" tag is very wide and such fundamentalist-like broadbrush painting strokes are unbefitting of someone who would attempt to lecture others about history.{9} There were good and bad popes of this period: it was not one giant black mark as you assert. Sixtus IV was a mixed bag certainly (to put it nicely) but he was hardly the "embodiment of all things evil" that you would seem to say of him.{10} Julius II was a good military commander and humanist but a very poor priest -and popes are supposed to be priests first and foremost. (Thus, his defects were not minor by any stretch but then again: I never said they were.) Likewise Leo X was not a good priest by any stretch either -he was too taken in by the excesses of the Renaissance and clearly intended to "enjoy" his pontificate rather than actually take serious actions towards needed church reformation.{11}

I would not (and never have) returned a favourable overall verdict on Sixtus IV, Julius II, or Leo X. About all that can be said of them is that when they did their duty (as Sixtus IV did in annuling Frequens and Leo X did with issuing the Apostolic Letter Exsurge Domine against Luther) their actions are commendable. That the latter situations were far less frequent than their other less-commendable (again to put it nicely) activities is unfortunately true; however I have never pretended that it was otherwise. In many respects, the popes and their adversaries were men of their own times. A historical inquiry that seeks to be just has to take this into account at all times or else it fails in any reasonable attempt to be objective with the evidences. Even if it is not fully achievable, objectivity should always be the goal in such inquiries. Otherwise, the inquirer is involved in plugging bits and pieces from the historical record into their own preconceived weltanschauung and not trying to do a service to truth at all.

the popes just tried to save their own pride.

All of this is question-begging Tim. I am not about to pretend that all the popes you note had sterling motives by any stretch. But you seem far too willing to presume that those who styled themselves as "reformers" were pure of motive and merely altruistic. They made no significant errors at all indeed they could not have because they "meant well." This is akin to the outlook of political liberals who eschew substantive policies in the name of those promoting token (or "symbolic") gestures "meaning well" regardless of the actual worth (or lack thereof) of what they had to offer.

Check, and mate.

Only if it is legitimate to beg the question can you claim that there is some kind of "checkmate" here. But if it is okay to beg the question, then all your criticisms of me are without valid foundation since that is what you accuse me of doing. So if your accusations of me are correct, then your approach is internally contradictory and illogical. One cannot achieve checkmate when they take a step backwards for every step forwards on the proverbial "chessboard" and essentially are peddling in place but I digress.

I have little patience these days for men who talk big about "history" but then fly off into the world of invisible, immutable, infallibly known Platonic Forms and pretend they're engaging the issues in a way that automatically places the burden of proof on everyone else.

You would seem to see this as a case of others having to defend their positions but of you as receiving some kind of "free pass" to avoid the same kind of scrutiny. It is as if you by virtue of being Tim Enloe can merely posit whatever you want (however convoluted and internally contradictory) and people should merely accept it without question. Such a stance in practice (regardless of what you say in theory) is a kind of defacto assertion of infallibility on your part because whatever lip service is being paid to you being fallible, you sure are stone-certain of your least for the moment anyway.{12}

For one who now has a big interest in history --something you used to deride me about back on the old Converts board interestingly enough-- and who is dead set against Enlightenment notions of "pure empiricist" understandings of things, you sure seem to want to confine all historical research or understanding to this plane.

Indeed your deriding of the "invisible" or the "intangible" is amazingly similar to how agnostics and atheists attack the outlooks of people of religious conviction. They too reject beliefs in what cannot be seen and see what is visible as having pre-eminence over all. They too see religious explanations (which usually involve a degree of the intangible by their very nature) as being inadequate and prefer mathematical and scientific ones. Their reasons for this: mathematical and scientific ones are emperical whereas theories about the supernatural are not; ergo, they can verify empirical evidence whereas evidence of non-tangible sorts cannot be so they throw it out of court without a hearing as defacto false.

You appear to have an Enlightenment view of history fundamentally speaking if you reject any notion of the invisible or the supernatural (aka "non-tangible") elements that are involved. I remind you that it is the Enlightenment sorts who are purely empiricist in their approach to subject matters. And of course should you accept any invisible or non-tangible elements, you are then being purely arbitrary in your approach to limit such factors to only what YOU happen to like and disregard the rest: an approach that smacks of the kind of purely arbitrary subjectivist rationale common to those whose paradigm of reference is grounded in solipsism.{13} But I digress.

Metaphorically speaking, a pox on your Roman house if you can't provide anything better than that. 2,000 years of Christian theological discussion and you Catholics still want to think like pagan Greeks, still want to mess around with childish things like Forms and Essences and this great quest for infallible creaturely knowledge.

Considering that the major doctrines about God were framed in the fourth and fifth centuries on principles borrowed from Greek philosophy, I want to see you become consistent and jettison everything: notions of the Trinity, of God having three "persons" in one "being." Notions of Jesus possessing two "natures", all the beliefs that are based on these "pagan Platonist" notions. Become a man and put away these things which you deem "childish." Or else cease your inconsistent, arbitrary, and (dare I say it) childish carping and discuss real issues rather than simply expect people to accept what you say simply because you say it.{14} But of course you will continue to arbitrarily accept the earlier trinitarian doctrines without subjecting them to the same empiricist historical scrutiny that you do later developments that you do not like.

Consistency in short is hardly a concern it seems to your particular weltanschauung. Pardon those of us who have actual criterion of what separated a valid theory from an invalid one -and who see your theories (from what we can discern of them) as being of the latter rather than the former classification.

Say, how about helping yourselves to a little real "development of doctrine"?

As I noted at the beginning of this note, you are out of place attempting to talk intelligently about this subject since you have continued to claim you have not read not familiarized yourself enough with Newman's theory on development: a deficiency that renders impotent any attempts you make to reference his theory productively in these kinds of discussions{15} even if the reference is in the form of an "aside comment" as you ended your note with.

Now then, what has any of this (what you said or what I just said) got to contribute to fruitful dialogue??? Do you want to continue to criticize axiomatic references by others while refusing to relinquish your own axioms -or presume without warrant that those who disagree with your interpretation of history to be in need of an "education" on the basis of them disagreeing with your interpretations thereof???

I will close again with another invitation to dialogue on foundational presuppositions -as I have extended to you on numerous occasions in the past year. I have less time for this enterprise than I did previously but I do not see a timelimit of sorts on this discussion; therefore I make the invitation to discuss these subjects with you again.

Let me know if you are actually interested or not -and do not take offense please at how I will interpret a lack of interest here on your part in light of the way you seem to want to approach the complex vissitudes of church history.


{1} It is my opinion that the backlash against the papal centralization began after the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) when Pope Clement V basically told the Council Fathers that either they went along with him on a particular judgment -and thus it would be decreed in the name of the pope and other bishops- or the pope would do it himself. Whatever problems there are in conciliarist theories -and there are many from a functional as well as historical aspect- it is not difficult to understand the undercurrents that developed at the time and would affect the Church until the so-called "reformation" and also the later Jansenist heresy. [Excerpt from the Rerum Novarum series An Outline of Various Church Models Throughout History (November 24, 2003)]

{2} See this link where I go over workable definitions for concepts such as theory and thesis.

{3} The Enlightenment is clearly an offspring of the "reformation" in the manner whereby (i) what is valued is individualism over the common good (ii) they both entail a rejection of an objective religious truth in favour of a subjective notion of individuals being free to believe (or not believe) as they choose and (iii) a rebellion against authority.

{4} Which in a sense is what they are because you came into your study of theology with antipathy towards Catholicism and in my case it was to some extent the converse.

{5} Albeit not all the names have been studied with the exact same degree of comprehensiveness of course. (No one can claim they have given equal time to every subject you list -not even you can do this.)

{6} And (of course) the attempts of the so-called "reformers" to claim religious authority themselves was of such a subjective and arbitrary nature that the later so-called "enlighened" (for all of their flaws) at least saw what following the formulae of the so-called "reformers" out to its logical extension entailed.

{7} Where he sought the assistance of the eastern Emperor and Greek theologians of the eastern Churches to forge a reunion of Christendom which ultimately did not work out.

{8} I am sure you are aware of his role as secretary to one of the conciliarist bishops at Basle in 1432 and also his role with the election of an antipope Felix V to "replace" Eugenius IV whom he believed was lawfully deposed by the Basle synod in 1439.

{9} Based on how you sought to list the personages in your response, it certainly appears as if you are trying to lecture me on this matter.

{10} My guess is that your main beef with him was his annulment of the decree Frequens - a decree which (unlike Haec Sacrosancta) was actually approved by his predecessors after it was voted on at Constance.

{11} I say "serious" because Lateran V was a half-hearted (at best) attempt by Leo X and Julius II to reform the Church. As far as your pope list goes, I am surprised you did not mention Alexander VI: someone who was one of worst popes in Church history and by far worse than any of his contemporaries. (You have to go back to the tenth century and part of the eleventh to find popes who rivaled or were worse than him.)

{12} In light of how often you have deleted past writings of yours or radically reconfigured over and over again various stances you have taken (which you were equally stone-certain about in the past), I find this notion of being some "supra-historical man" rather strange.

{13} A definition of solipsism can he read at the Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG.

{14} Your own form of the "Jesus set it up this way, so end of discussion" axiom except it is more of a "Tima locuta est" kind of rationale.

{15} See footnote two.

{16} Since writing the bulk of this note, I have learned that you recently read Newman's theory on development as of late. (The strike marks in the above text were added to what was originally written to reflect this circumstance.) However, there is still a HUGE difference between reading something and actually comprehending it. (The latter is usually not well done in too close a proximity to the first reading of a work: particularly a work that expressly aims to set forth a theory and all that goes into that endeavour.) This is a subject I noted in responding to David Palm's manifested intention to interact with a writing of mine that he had merely skimmed at best and clearly (based on what he said about it) did not properly comprehend. You can read my criticisms of David and this methodology HERE. I submit that if you are not careful, you will do with Newman's work what David has done with mine.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Miscellaneous Musings on the Hypocrisy of So-Called Liberal "Tolerance"

this is an audio post - click to play

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Monday, October 18, 2004

Miscellaneous Threads For Viewing:

More may be added to this list later this evening but in the meantime...

--According to Debbie Schlussel, conservatives should enjoy Trey Parker and Matt Stone's latest cinema creation Team America World Police.{1}

--Though it is a bit old (meaning it dates back about three weeks), this link from Christopher Blosser's Watching Michael Moore BLOG is of interest to this commentator. For you see, Dick Morris (former Clinton political advisor and narrator of a new documentary FahrenHYPE 911){2} has challenged Michael Moore to a debate. To quote briefly from the article "Joe Louis once said of a fighter who enters the ring with him that he can run but he can't hide. It is time for Michael Moore to come out of hiding and answer for the misrepresentations, misconceptions and mischaracterizations in his movie." Moore vs. Morris: talk about a mismatch of epic proportions!!!

--As the previous link seems to present an appropriate time to repost Fifty-Nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11, that is what will be done at this time.

--This writer found the following thread on Pro-Democrat vote fraud earlier today when perusing NewsMax. It ties in nicely with what was talked about in yesterday's audioblog post to this humble weblog on election voting.

--This thread on French News Wire Propaganda from Little Green Footballs is interesting because it shows yet again whose side of the war on terror the French news agency Agence France Presse is actually on. Charles points out the wider context that Agence France Presse conveniently did not i nclude in their story. Presumably they would say that this was an "accidental oversight" or "not germane to the story." Yeah right!!!

--In other LGF news, Russian President Vladimir Putin makes the "startling" announcement that "International terrorism has as its goal to prevent the election of President Bush to a second term"..."If they achieve that goal, then that will give international terrorism a new impulse and extra power." Very astute observation Mr. President, We at Rerum Novarum happen to concur with that viewpoint as well.


{1} The creators of South Park apparently slam many media liberals and their allies such as Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Michael Moore, the French, and others. Those unfamiliar with Parker and Stone's work (which this writer to some degree is familiar as he watches South Park on occasion) may not be aware that Parker and Stone are basically equal opportunity satirists.

{2} Which unlike Moore's work is an actual documentary rather than a Mein Kampf style propaganda piece. With regards to Morris, if truth be told, whether you agree with him or not (and this commentator has disagreed with Morris a number of times), he is nonetheless one of the most brilliant political tacticians of this generation.

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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Miscellaneous Musings on Elections and Voting

this is an audio post - click to play

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