Friday, 5/23/14

    1. Peter Principle on display
    2. Cardinal Kasper, bomb-thrower
    3. May this be the last gasp
    4. Missing being born again
    5. Peter Leithart utters another fatuity

1

John Kerry illustrates The Peter Principle: he’s an okay Secretary of State, but Commencement Speaker is beyond him.

2

Cardinal Walter Kasper has suggested that as many as half of Catholic marriages are “invalid.” Ross Douthat, an observant Catholic, wrestles with that.

I cannot claim expertise in Catholic dogma or sacramental theology, but I do recall the phrase ex opere operato, which seems a poor fit with Cardinal Kasper’s thoughts.

So I dabble and wave a caution flag because if the Roman Catholic Church – the most prominent contender for the title “The Church” in the Western world, and for that reason a special target of the Evil One – gets it wrong, there’s collateral damage to much of serious Christendom.

3

Another bad omen for everyone but the NAHB and other fans of bubbles: suburbia rebounds.

4

Jessica Misener’s kind of catastrophic loss of faith (akin to that of Bart Ehrman) is one of the reasons I keep blogging the tacit theme “historic Christianity is not like that.” Rod Dreher responds to Misener (or is it just “about her”?):

I regret, for Misener’s sake, that she was so focused on an all-or-nothing hermeneutic (something that, as she apparently grasps, is a modern invention) that she found she couldn’t believe Scripture at all. The experience of both ancient churches offer her a far more complex understanding of Scripture, one that does not require one to be a modernist who takes the entirety of the faith within quotation marks.

Misener regrets it too. She’s got too much intellectual integrity to believe something she thinks is not true simply because it made her feel good. But she also seems to have too much intellectual integrity to dismiss it all as an opiate …

5

Peter Leithart, a guy I’ve been reading for a long time who is now at the center of a little storm called “the future of Protestantism,” has been saying some uncharacteristically silly things as he wrestles with his Calvinist tradition’s defective ecclesiology. But he may have outdone himself this morning::

Why not become Anglican? some have asked since I laid out a case for “Reformational Catholicism” at the forum on the future of Protestantism at Biola University last month. Anglicans, they tell me, already have what I want. Others wonder why I stay in a “sectarian” Presbyterian denomination. Others ask, Why not drop the “Reformational” and become just “Catholic”?

Thanks to all, but no thanks. I’ll stay put, as long as they’ll have me. I have pragmatic reasons for staying put. If I were to move into a new ecclesiastical world, I’d have to pick my way through a new, bewildering landscape, pocked with unknown landmines. I’d have to figure out all over again who my friends are, and my enemies. Even pragmatic reasons aren’t entirely pragmatic. As James Buchanan put it, the status quo isn’t decisive, but it does have ethical weight.

My main reason for staying put is theological. God is alive, and that means he surprises, and that means he frustrates the silly projections of creatures who can’t see past the horizon. Jesus will unite his church. He asked his Father to make his disciples one, and the Father won’t give his Son a stone when he asks for one loaf. But the united church won’t look like any of the products presently on the market. God is an entrepreneur who is in the business of creating new markets.

(Emphasis added) What a remarkable mash-up of Calvinist fatalism and evangelical fascination with novelty! I find it strangely hopeful so bright a man is uttering such rubbish. It suggests that he’s ecclesiologically cornered, and may soon come out with his hands up. “God hasn’t stopped frustrating expectations,” he says, seemingly unaware that it may be his own that are in for frustration.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.