Sunday, 6/7/15

  1. Are there two “Benedict Options”?
  2. Grace from the Patriarchs
  3. A God with nothing to do
  4. History rhyming

1

Andrew Lynn at Ethika Politica proposes to save the Benedict Option from Culture War conservatism. I found his title puzzling, but now I guess I see what he means:

[Alasdair] MacIntyre [whose work inspired the name “Benedict Option”] sees our condition as the result of many centuries of development in moral and political thought, while those advocating the popular version pinpoint the origins of the decline within the last decade—in the post-Bush American political landscape. Such a hasty adoption of this “civilizational collapse” mentality should raise several concerns, most centrally whether such culture-despairers might—given the right set of platitude-spouting political candidates in the next election cycle—find themselves drawn back to the seductive hopes of “imperium maintenance.”

For the record, should the record be unclear, I do not “pinpoint the origins of the decline within the last decade.” Nobody in the corners of cyberspace I frequent does that, but I’m not omnipresent.

I blame Obama mostly for cavalier disregard of religious freedom. He could have done much good, but not sufficient good, by arguing that religious freedom need not be (contra his appointee Chai Feldblum) the loser in every conflict with sexual license.

But he didn’t create that liberalism of which both “Liberals” and “Conservatives” are acolytes, nor did he start the sexual revolution that threatens to sweep so much away. The only BenOpters who can be relied on to resist the siren song of some new “Conservative” Huey Long are those who know the toxic weed was planted centuries ago – and if there is a group of BenOpters who think it was planted in 2009, they should not be trusted to endure past next year’s GOP convention.

2

Hmmm.

What may now be my fair city’s largest Church, an essentially if graciously fundamentalist body formerly known as “Baptist,” has a sermon series coming up at its satellite site near campus: “Grace from the Patriarchs.” It even has a photo of an aging gentleman with a long beard.

But he also has an ominous twinkle in his eye.  This could go just about anywhere.

I’m not even positive what they mean by “Patriarch.” I suspect that, in typical Protestant fashion, they’re skipping over the inconvenient facts about the first 1500 years of Christendom and going back to mine Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph & Co.

3

Has not Christian consciousness acquiesced to a great extent — without being aware of it — in the attitude that faith in God is something subjective, which belongs in the private realm and not in the common activities of public life where, in order to be able to get along, we all have to behave now etsi Deus non daretur (as if there were no God). Was it not necessary to find a way that would be valid in case it turned out that God did not exist? And so actually it happened automatically, when the faith stepped out of the inner sanctum of ecclesiastical matters into the general public, that it had nothing for God to do and left him where he was: in the private realm, in the intimate sphere that does not concern anyone else. It did not take any particular negligence, and certainly not a deliberate denial, to leave God as a God with nothing to do, especially since his name had been misused so often. But the faith would really have come out of the ghetto only if it had brought its most distinctive feature with it into the public arena: the God who judges and suffers, the God who sets limits and standards for us; the God from whom we come and to whom we are going. But as it was, it really remained in the ghetto, having by now absolutely nothing to do.

From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger Introduction to Christianity (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1968), via Mars Hill Audio.

4

History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes,
speaks better than I knew, if these stories be true.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.