296 Slices
Medium 9781442252189

Unforgetting an Unlikely Bond: Barth, Balthasar, and the Future of Ecumenism

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Unforgetting an Unlikely Bond: Barth, Balthasar, and the Future of Ecumenism

Peter J. Casarella

D. Stephen Long’s impressive monograph engages three highly controversial debates. The first concerns the reception of the theology of Karl Barth today and especially his not-so-consistent statements about post-Kantian European philosophy and Roman Catholic theology. This tangled web is mainly but not exclusively a concern of Barthians. The second debate is of far greater concern to Roman Catholic theologians than the first and concerns the future of ecumenical rapprochement in light of the exchange between Barth and Balthasar that took place from 1940 to 1968. The third has to do with what Christian ethicists today can learn from the elusive but profound bond forged in Basel. Any respectable publisher would have jumped at the chance to release a book on any one of these topics. That Long has delved deep into all three areas makes this book particularly fascinating and surprisingly complex. Caveat lector: reading Saving Karl Barth is no walk in the park. But the challenge of negotiating the cumbersome terrain is well worth the effort.

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Medium 9781538105863

Ivan Illich, Catholic Theologian (Part II):

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Ivan Illich, Catholic Theologian (Part II):

Illich And Catholic Social Teaching

Colin Miller

In a previous essay in these pages,1 I argued that for Ivan Illich the modern world is at its heart the doxological betrayal of Catholicism, an idolatrous technocratic liturgy prohibiting the true cultus from which it is ultimately derived. Like all cults, modern tools seek to subsume all of life into their rites, and yet, perhaps as never before, these rites mask their character as foreign with a new set of fundamental certainties feigning Christian truth. So the trusting, hopeful, fleshy, useless eucharistic liturgy is replaced by various systems expected to deliver a terrestrial salvation in the cathedrals of medicine, education, transport, and cybernetics. The Church’s irreducible personalism—the contingent particularity of embodied existence in space and time—is abstracted into possibilities and risk management and explained by behaviorism as the way things have to be. Persons become manipulatable concepts. The body becomes a chartable system in need of upkeep, its once salutary suffering first taxonomized and then reduced to a minimum. The pursuit of truth is separated from a tradition-bound way of life and replaced with bare, un-situated nominalist “information,” and a moral order reducible to the play of power. In this world, subsistence work or gendered practice dissolves under economic analysis into interchangeable units of “activity” always vulnerable to being unmasked as inequitable instances of the will to power and the violation of rights. This, for Illich, is the corruption of the best, which is the worst.

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Medium 9781442252189

Doing Theology in the Enigmatic Rift

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Doing Theology in the Enigmatic Rift

William L. Portier

I

On Ash Wednesday 1968, Karl Barth gave his last public lecture. He delivered it conjointly with Hans Urs von Balthasar. Both spoke on church unity and the Second Vatican Council. Not long after, on 10 December 1968, Barth died at the age of eighty-two. Their joint lectures reflected a collaborative friendship of nearly three decades that began shortly after Balthasar moved to Basel at the end of 1939. Balthasar was a young Jesuit of thirty-four, a new university chaplain at Basel; Barth, twenty years his senior, was already an established scholar and teacher. The younger man wrote asking Barth if they could meet. In Saving Karl Barth, Stephen Long tells the story of what happened as a result of that meeting on 29 April 1940.

This is a passionately ecumenical study. As a story, Saving Karl Barth dramatizes, in impressive historical detail, the shape theology would have were it done as “the practice of friendship.”1 If Catholicism “haunted” Barth and Barth “preoccupied” Balthasar, Long shares deeply in their common preoccupation with the rätselhafte Riss, the “puzzling crack” or “enigmatic rift” (239) that gave Christian urgency to Barth’s and Balthasar’s ongoing conversation and still divides Protestants and Catholics in the West. We can neither explain nor ignore this rift. Long began his own theological studies in the ecumenical space created in the United States by the effects of the Second Vatican Council. In the meantime, official ecumenism has stalled. Catholic and Protestant theologians retrench or ignore one another. Saving Karl Barth offers theology as the practice of friendship as the way to keep going on the ecumenical path. For Long, the ecumenical friendship of Barth and Balthasar challenges us “to affirm Christ as the center of our common faith and allow that center to radiate into all things, without allowing those things to somehow usurp the center” (282). Barth began this conversation from a self-proclaimed posture of “dogmatic intolerance” (4), while Balthasar went to Basel hoping to convert Barth (13). “Our task,” concludes Long, “is not to take up where they began but where they ended” (282). Far from a mere option in the subfield of ecclesiology, ecumenical conversation is simply the way Catholics and Protestants must now do theology.

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Medium 9781538102718

Saint Paul At Sea: A Mystical-Political Reading of Moby Dick via Stanislaus Breton

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Saint Paul At Sea: A Mystical-Political Reading of Moby Dick via Stanislaus Breton

Travis Kroeker

I recently taught a graduate seminar on Leviathan, with the two primary texts being Hobbes’s political philosophical classic and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The Ignatius Critical Edition of Melville’s classic includes three essays in “Contemporary Criticism,” which begins with Robert Alexander’s “Apocalyptic Readings of Moby Dick: What Ishmael Returns to Tell Us” and ends with Stephen Zelnick’s “Moby Dick: The Republic at Sea.”1 Alexander’s apocalyptic reading opposes the dominant view (at least since Lawrence Thompson’s 1952 Melville’s Quarrel with God) that Moby Dick is an ultimately despairing nihilistic novel. He argues that Ishmael in the end bears witness, Jonah- and Job-like, to an apocalypse of divine mystery in nature, in a spirit of humility that saves him from the “degraded view of both the human person and nature that entered Christianity in the Reformation” (669). What is unveiled is a prophetic return to the “medieval sacramental world view” of Dante’s Commedia that may save modernity from its impersonal, disembodied, and disenchanted Calvinist iron cage. So far, so Weberian—except for, you know, the salvation part. Salvation will come from medieval Catholicism. How apocalyptic is that??

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Medium 9781442229266

On Truth and God: 1. Ipsa Veritas and Late Modernity

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

On Truth and God: 1. Ipsa Veritas and Late Modernity

Robert W. Jenson

Early in the Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas posed the question, Utrum Deus sit veritas, “Whether [or not] God is truth.” He responded with an analysis of truth’s ontological location—to which I shall return—from which he concluded “that not only is there truth in [God] but that he himself is supreme and primary truth itself.” Translated into more modern jargon: “God” and “truth itself” refer to the same reality despite being different descriptions—as do, for famous example, “Venus” and “the morning star.” One might define late modernity or, more fashionably, postmodernity as the period in Western history when Thomas’s question and answer will be met with blank expressions—or, in the case of some especially sheltered scientists, with shocked sputtering. “Whatever would ‘truth itself’ be? Anyway, just keep religion out of epistemology!”

One can diagnose late modernity’s conceptual handicap starting from either subject or predicate of Thomas’s conclusion. One can say late modernity cannot understand discourse about God because it rejects the notion of truth itself, because it will not believe that when one says “This is a true proposition” or “This is a true sphere” one is stating a fact. Since late modernity is thus alienated from truth itself, it must eventually lose also the One who is such truth. Or one can say late modernity cannot grasp the notion of truth itself because it does not trust in God. Both diagnoses are accurate, and do not quite make a circle. It is the second and simpler that I will here usually pursue.

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