Window Shut?

When asked about the need for the Second Vatican Council, John XXIII said, “I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in.” So how can it be that the new encyclical, Laudao Si, may be an indication that the Roman church is shutting the window that Pope John opened? How especially could a seemingly open, affable, and loose pope like Francis, function as a brake on progress in the church?

Just this morning I was reading Colleen McDannell’s fine book, The Spirit of Vatican II, a reflection on McDannell’s mother and the changes that she witnessed in her pre- and post-Vatican II life. Here is part of McDannell’s account of Gaudium et Spes, Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World:

Given that God acted within the world and not against it, people learned his mysterious designs by studying not only society but nature as well. The Constitution admitted that science and technology could foster a detached orientation toward matter that encouraged the denial of God’s involvement in life, but this need not be the case. Conducted in the correct spirit, science and technology could greatly improve the conditions of humanity. Science as well as philosophy, history, mathematics, and the arts served to elevate humanity to a “more sublime understanding of truth, goodness, and beauty.” (111-12)

The church, in other words, was opening up to the modern world of science and technology, and trying to avoid an overt association with things medieval.

Such openness is not how some are reading yesterday’s encyclical. Rusty Reno, for instance, thinks Pope Francis has impersonated William F. Buckley, Jr., and has stood up to yell “STOP” to the modern world:

Commentators are sure to make the false claim that Pope Francis has aligned the Church with modern science. They’ll say this because he endorses climate change. But that’s a superficial reading of Laudato Si. In this encyclical, Francis expresses strikingly anti-scientific, anti-technological, and anti-progressive sentiments. In fact, this is perhaps the most anti-modern encyclical since the Syllabus of Errors, Pius IX’s haughty 1864 dismissal of the conceits of the modern era.

Francis describes the root of our problem as a failure to affirm God as Creator. Because we do not orient our freedom toward acknowledging God, the Father, we’re drawn into the technological project. We seek to subdue and master the world so that it can serve our needs and desires, thus treating “other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination.” By contrast, if we acknowledge God as Creator, we can receive creation as a gift and see that “the ultimate purpose of other creatures is not found in us.”

In short, without a theocentric orientation, we adopt the anthropocentric presumption that we are at the center of reality. This tempts us to treat nature—and other human beings—as raw material to do with as we wish. For Francis, “a spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable.”

Of course, God is exactly what modernity has forgotten, which means that it too is “not acceptable”—exactly Pius IX’s conclusion. The Syllabus of Errors is exquisitely succinct. Laudato Si is verbose. But in a roundabout way Francis makes his own case against the modern world.

Mark Tooley seconds Reno and wonders whether we will have to give up air conditioners after Pope Francis is finished:

The new papal encyclical addressing climate change comes as I’m having central air conditioning installed in my Northern Virginia home. Likely I’m one of the last people in the notoriously muggy Washington, DC area not to have it. For nine years since purchasing my current home, which is 75 years old with radiator heat, I’ve postponed installation, trying to pretend it wasn’t needed, relying on overhead fans, window and floor units. After all, I largely grew up in the 1970s without it. My parents’ home didn’t have it (until after my brother and I moved out!). Neither did my elementary school. Central air was experienced in grocery stores, movie theaters, public libraries, and my grandparents’ house.

Currently I’m out of town, in pleasantly temperate Grand Rapids, Michigan, attending an Acton Institute conference on faith and free markets. But I can’t wait to get home and experience my new central air conditioning.

Interestingly, the new papal encyclical warns against air conditioning as a supposed contributor to climate change:

55. Some countries are gradually making significant progress, developing more effective controls and working to combat corruption. People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behaviour, which at times appears self-destructive.

Ironically, a Slate.com column, which praises the papal encyclical as “more like a poetry slam at an Occupy Wall Street rally than a formal church document,” notes that in poor countries like India air conditioning is becoming a “human rights” issue:

An estimated 300 million people there—one-quarter of the country—has no access to electricity at all. Just last month the country endured the fifth-deadliest heat wave in world history. In India air conditioning is increasingly becoming a human rights issue. This is what the pope is talking about when he discusses climate change and poverty in the same breath.

But in fact the papal encyclical implies that Indians should go without air conditioning, and electricity for that matter, as 300 million joining the grid ostensibly would heat the planet. Despite rhetoric about renewables, the provision of electricity to the 1.3 billion in the world currently without it primarily requires more fossil fuel powered electrical generators. African and Asian countries are busily building mostly coal powered plants.

Should we in the wealthy West tell the 1.3 billion that they should live permanently without electricity? Many hundreds of millions more have unreliable sources of electricity. And most people globally have no air conditioning. Would they be wrong for wanting it?

Just at the time I need to open the window to let in a breeze, Pope Francis closes it.

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92 thoughts on “Window Shut?

  1. Fine. Just like my comment in a previous thread about trying to ride a bike safely in RCC rich urban area, the pope needs to issue a follow-up addendum declaring the use of overly amplified sub-woofers belting out the lewd, crude, rude (and otherwise socially unacceptable) lyrics of songs (if you want to call them that) accompanied by music (if you want to call it that) reminiscent of an expressway pile-up in slow motion. Likewise, he needs to point to the sinfulness of transgressing on other humans’ tender hearing by driving automobiles and motorcycles with mufflers that don’t muffle or without any at all. That way maybe I can get some sleep with the windows flung open and the A/C turned off. Noise pollution is just as damaging as any other type of pollution.

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  2. The Pope is fr from the first Christian to be concerned about A/C. I can remember churches spltting right down the middle over whether to air condition their sanctuaries in the late 50’s/early 60’s. My memory of the opponents is that they would be appalled to learn that they would be in the vanguard of RC social doctrine, or anything RC

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  3. FWIW, John XXIII’s last words on his deathbed, as reported by Jean Guitton, the only Catholic layman to serve as a peritus at the Council, were: “Stop the Council; stop the Council.”

    Would John the Baptist have used A/C? I see an ascetic component to criticism of its use as well. It has also cost us “eyes on the street” to monitor public safety & morality and promote social ties.

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  4. FWIW, John XXIII’s last words on his deathbed, as reported by Jean Guitton, the only Catholic layman to serve as a peritus at the Council, were: “Stop the Council; stop the Council.”

    Yikes.

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  5. Darryl,

    A/C in the Hillsdale abode or no?

    Had window units in my first house for a few years before going central. Put new central in the latest house shortly after buying. I need my sleep.

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  6. Erik –

    I have a tenant who flips out and refuses to pay rent when his central a/c goes out. Never mind that central a/c is somewhat uncommon around here, and never mind that he is from the south of Ecuador. Of course the name of his country means “Equator.” So I replaced it, cost to me is 4 months’ worth of his (gross) rent.

    Too bad the encyclical didn’t come out a month ago.

    (That’s a joke, of course, everyone)

    I spent my childhood and youth mostly without a/c, in St. Louis, and vacationed by camping on the Gulf south of New Orleans, usually in August. At this point I actually like heat (mostly). I’d even do without window units but for the wife (who would be totally nonplussed if I raised the idea) and baby.

    Where do you live, Erik?

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  7. Kevin – my grandparents lived (and therefore father grew up) in St. Louis, too, and back in the late 20’s and early to mid 30’s when the temperature got so stinking hot that people moved out into city parks to sleep on cots in order to escape the heat. Do you think that people could do the same thing today in our major cities (not having the benefit of A/C) without being raped, mugged, or just plain robbed and murdered?

    My former comment(s), which seem to have escaped the logic of old pope Frank, is that we have descended into a culture of fascist savages who don’t care one way or an other about their fellow citizens… instead it’s just become an in-your-face Bart Simpson-like existence of doing whatever pleases one at the moment. My point is, never mind all of this polluting the planet/global warming/take care of the environment BS – we need to stop living with each other as savages if we’re ever going to do anything about that stuff. So, Frank, when do we start? Better yet, when do YOU, Frank, start to lead the way??

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  8. George,

    “we have descended into a culture of fascist savages who don’t care one way or an other about their fellow citizens… instead it’s just become an in-your-face Bart Simpson-like existence of doing whatever pleases one at the moment. My point is, never mind all of this polluting the planet/global warming/take care of the environment BS”

    Part of Francis’ point is that the latter “bs” follows from the former. Why do you think he also brought up topics like abortion and transgenderism in this encyclical?

    “Better yet, when do YOU, Frank, start to lead the way??”

    When Francis does acts of charity that are noted in the media or could be seen as inspirational or models to follow, the consensus round these parts is they are just shameless photo ops and pr stunts and he is violating Matt 6:1-2. So tails you win, heads he loses.

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  9. George –

    A very fair point. I heard growing up that British diplomats stationed in St. Louis qualified for a ‘tropics’ bonus. It truly gets miserable there, and is still worse elsewhere. A/C is for many a blessing, a life-extender (e.g., the sick or old dying of heart attacks in the heat). I’d never thought of your point in this context, which could probably be applied to other cases as well – a ‘just deal with it and rely on the community’ approach may not be possible when the community is degraded.

    I think Francis does try to speak to your points when he refers to the “disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests…

    In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted?”

    He terms it “use and throw away” logic. I wouldn’t have included endangered species in the same list (I didn’t get time to correct the draft he sent me), but I think his point is that this mindset makes itself apparent in both savagery to man and a careless abuse of man’s sovereignty over nature.

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  10. Just at the time I need to open the window to let in a breeze, Pope Francis closes it.

    Actually, Darryl, your essay was going great until you yourself shut the window on it. To your credit, you do well to cite Richard John Neuhaus’ worthy successor to the First Things editorial chair, R.R. Reno.

    http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/06/the-return-of-catholic-anti-modernism

    You would do even more well to replace your primary expert witness on Catholicism, the liberal dissident Michael Sean Winters, with Rusty Reno if you seek truth and not scoring cheap points.

    To the issue: Pope Francis is surely aware that God could end global warming nearly immediately by giving man boundless energy, say with a breakthrough in nuclear fusion–just as God could end world hunger in a flash or malaria in a flash by a single genetic mutation that would barely qualify as a “miracle.”

    Francis is not trying to save the earth, he’s trying to save the human beings in it, from enslavement to their creature comforts, from their self-centered, self-contained universes that have no need of fellow man or even of God.

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  11. Mark Mcculley
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 12:46 am | Permalink
    While I am making up my mind who was worse (Neuhaus or the Niebuhrs), here’s some Garry Wills

    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2015/jun/18/pope-climate-critics-holy-ignorance/

    Garry Wills is worse/worst.

    Catholics like Michael Novak have taught Catholic businessmen that the free market is holy, and criticizing it is blasphemy.

    You may have valid problems with Fr. Neuhaus or Niebuhr[s], Mark, but Garry Wills is a liar.

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  12. Mark –

    I started reading Wills about 7 years ago, and stopped about 15 minutes later. Something rubbed me the wrong way, and subsequent brushes have proved no more comforting.

    I sampled Neuhaus because I have an older friend whose aunt Neuhaus said was crucial in his conversion (got him interested enough to start visiting the local parish). I didn’t see anything which sustained my interest there either.

    Niebuhr and Rahner (mentioned earlier by someone) I’ve never read. I’ve never heard of Reno or Winters. Either I’m profoundly ignorant of Catholicism or all these guys are totally non-essential to understanding the faith.

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  13. Kevin in Newark
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 2:51 am | Permalink
    Mark –

    I started reading Wills about 7 years ago, and stopped about 15 minutes later. Something rubbed me the wrong way, and subsequent brushes have proved no more comforting.

    I sampled Neuhaus because I have an older friend whose aunt Neuhaus said was crucial in his conversion (got him interested enough to start visiting the local parish). I didn’t see anything which sustained my interest there either.

    Niebuhr and Rahner (mentioned earlier by someone) I’ve never read. I’ve never heard of Reno or Winters. Either I’m profoundly ignorant of Catholicism or all these guys are totally non-essential to understanding the faith.

    Argue your Catholicism sola scriptura, then. It’s the lingua franca. Actually, the Catlicks hereabouts use the Bible more than the sola scriptos do!

    Dude, it’s Darryl who trolls for liberal Catholics such as Winters and Wills to use them as weapons against the Catholic Church. You’re just starting to learn the rules of the game around here. Heh heh, you poor fool. It’s Darryl’s blog, it’s Darryl’s rules. Calvinball! Game on!

    http://calvinandhobbes.wikia.com/wiki/Calvinball

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  14. Kevin
    The Niebuhr brothers were famous mid-20th century neo-orthodox mainline theologians. One of them wrote the serenity prayer from what I recall. One also had an ongoing feud with Billy Graham over structural (social) sin.

    Neither is all that important to the rcc execpt insofar as they have influenced social activism.

    Reno is the big cheese at first things and winters is a prolific reporter at national catholic reporter. Not so important for understanding history but essential for understanding Contemporary developments in
    The rcc in America.

    Wills gets a bum rap. He is an excellent historian whose work on Augustine is quite important.

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  15. vd, t, “Francis is not trying to save the earth, he’s trying to save the human beings in it, from enslavement to their creature comforts.”

    Does Rome’s Chamber of Commerce know?

    When will Francis close the Vatican museums and shops?

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  16. EC, Wills’ Nixon Agonistes is a classic that I doubt is read much these days. The subtitle, The Crisis of the Self-Made Man, hints at its continued relevance. I agree with your assessment of his work on Augustine; I would add that his work on Chesterton is also good.

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  17. DG – Why should he close the Vatican museums and shops?
    -It takes money to care for art and architecture. The Vatican has preserved many important works of unquestioned beauty throughout history, which we now enjoy reproduced in books and digital media, and on the occasional vacation.
    -There are numerous important private collections worldwide, many of which use admissions funds to support unrelated activities.
    -What is the important difference anyway between a public and private collection if both are publicly accessible?

    What ought to be closed is the pornography room at Pompeii (which I visited as a college student… it is seedy, even if historical).

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  18. sdb, tvd,

    There may be much good in them, I don’t mean to attack – just to indicate there are other authors out there which may be more useful (given the shortness of human life) in understanding what is significant about the Church today.

    My expectation at least some of them (and perhaps Michael Novak) will someday be of similar historical interest as Auguste Comte or Herbert Spencer (i.e., influential at the time but of little permanent interest). I could very easily be wrong.

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  19. Erik –

    “In a van by a river” – I’m honestly going to ponder this as I replace a sink trap.

    Why not a houseboat?

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  20. MichaelTX, would you like a return to the Index of Books? McDannell is a respected historian, an observant Roman Catholic, and Basic Books is a responsible publisher. But now I’m supposed to wait for approved readings lists by you? By the Vatican?

    Lots of Roman Catholic historians who study Roman Catholicism agree with McDannell’s account. If Pope Francis is appropriating physical sciences, why can’t Roman Catholic historians appropriate historical sciences?

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  21. Hart,
    Stop. I did not say what you are accusing me of. I said I hope “after” you read that one. Nor did I say that the author would give nothing worth reading. It is only a recommendation for getting a balenced view. Which is something a historian such as yourself should respect, not belittled.

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  22. Kevin,

    Why not sell the art & architecture and give the money to the poor?

    Have you seen OPC art & architecture? Their kingdom is not of this world.

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  23. Speaking of money, when I visted the URC last Sunday and was looking at Christian Renewal, I noticed that Kevin DeYoung’s congregation paid $300k to the RCA to transfer to the PCA. That’s some commitment.

    Hope the RCA enjoys the cash while it lasts.

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  24. DG,

    Depends on the tourism – a Caribbean vacation can be taken in more than one way.

    Let us suppose our tourist is a genuinely hard-working, well-off, faithful family man- I don’t see a problem with his taking a vacation, as long as he uses his time there unto-the-profit-of-his-soul (reflecting on his actions in life, well-being of his children, plans for the future, offering prayer amidst the great beauty around him, enjoying time with the wife I hope he has brought along, benefiting from time spent in conversation with her).

    However, he has to consider his options:

    Option 1) an all-inclusive resort (little to no money spent off-resort, vendors on-resort tightly controlled);
    -owned by a group of American and other foreign investors (revenue leaves the country);
    -built by a Chinese laborers (who lived in a self-sufficient compound during construction, not interacting with or spending money on the populace);
    -in the context of a long-term tax break with the government in exchange for kick-backs, jobs, inclusion as vendors (nepotism, ongoing corruption, no tax revenue);
    -far from any towns, which he may visit once in his week-long stay – mostly he sits on the beach with a rum punch and engages in almost no conversation with locals.

    I don’t see how that qualifies as the best possible transaction (most efficient in terms of delivery of value to all parties concerned, which includes the entire island). It is certainly not a “free market” transaction given the government involvement, but more importantly is that he is in a sense cheating himself and the island he has chosen to visit (I don’t mean to imply significant culpability, but it is still regrettable).

    Option 2) a guest house/b&b or hotel, owned either by a citizen or at least a resident foreigner;
    -who participates in local organizations such as tourist industry groups, (for the betterment of local industry, i.e., cares about the local social/economic fabric);
    -offers no all-inclusive option (money spent at a variety of merchants, supporting a variety of families);
    -who receives no big-boy tax breaks (tax revenue to fund the roads, clean water, electricity, and ‘minimum guarantee’ government purchases of airline tickets, all of which benefit the tourist);
    -is located in a town rather than secluded property (where the tourist as a chance to come to know, love, and benefit from exposure to the culture of the island he is on).

    Bonds of charity are built and much personal growth occurs through conversation – I hope he’ll spend time talking to the locals. One thing he’ll find is that Caribbean people absolutely love their own islands, almost universally, often far more than Americans love the USA- and without attaching complicated ideological requirements to love of country. The culture is more permeated with Christianity as well, even the legal systems (abortion is still illegal in a few).

    All of this can be of great inspiration to us Americans, and we aren’t going to get it all from internal tourism.

    So sure, planes use a lot of fuel. Until the day we Americans get 6-week vacations permitting us to take ships wherever we want to go, planes are the norm. So for tourism, as with most things in life (all created things), it depends how you go about it, how you use it.

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  25. MichaelTX, I know you didn’t say it, but implications and subtexts exist, right?

    To say that McDannell is not balanced begs the question. The historical profession, and Roman Catholic historians, think she is balanced. So — not to make this unpleasant — where does that leave you?

    I ask because I repeatedly hear from the converts (and universalists like vd, t) that these historians are not reliable. Do you understand how fundamentalist that sounds?

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  26. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink
    vd, t, “Francis is not trying to save the earth, he’s trying to save the human beings in it, from enslavement to their creature comforts.”

    Does Rome’s Chamber of Commerce know?

    When will Francis close the Vatican museums and shops?

    That’s incoherent, Butch.

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  27. Erik –

    Come over and help me with this sink trap I’m procrastinating over – I’ll turn on the window units.

    Sell the Vatican collection to Soros, Gates, Goldman Sachs execs? I guess the Vatican could require the art stay-put, and collections and buildings simply transfer ownership in exchange for quite a load of cash.

    A tax could be levied on the admissions revenue, generating an ongoing revenue stream rather than even just a one-time transfer to the poor. Administering the distribution could prove time-consuming, though… and meanwhile the money is sitting with Vatican money managers.

    With all due respect to the citizens and elected leader of the Holy See, I think they’re much better at caring for art and distributing its significance (literal access, interpretation) than the minutia of distributing revenue. I think they get the basic principles of the latter, but details can be tricky.

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  28. Kevin,

    Yeah, I hear Jesus had a killer art collection and lived in palaces.

    Actually, he didn’t.

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  29. DG,
    Yes implications and subtexts do exists. This is why I say read more than just that book and say it is a “fine book”. Even the OPC article on VII recommended and examined the work I have recommended. It is a book of article on VII. Again I think it would be a good book to read. Personal I have read nether. Just read reviews of both from different people. Some positive some negative. I get the idea from the reviews that the book you are reading takes a bit of a rupture presentation if VII, while the one with articles from multiple writers takes a “renewal within tradition” view. Why not read then both before concluding the one you are reading is a “fine book”? I hope to read them both.

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  30. <i.Seth
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink
    That’s incoherent, Butch.

    Log, meet speck.

    Ah, that deadly Calvinist wit.

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  31. Kevin, all I’m saying is that if we’re going to take the encyclical seriously, jet fuel, air conditioning, and trips to Rome will have to go.

    Or is Francis just imitating Al Gore?

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  32. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
    #Icanstillspellincoherent

    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
    vd, t ah, that lapsed Roman Catholic discernment. Seth is Lutheran.

    #doh

    Thx for the tip, Butch. He’s still as flatfooted as you. ;-)?

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  33. Stan Hauerwas; I continue to be puzzled by people who insist on interpreting Neuhaus as a religious conservative when he is so clearly a Protestant liberal. I quite understand that even though Neuhaus wrote the book as a Lutheran soon to be a Roman Catholic, he admirably left clues throughout the book that his habits of thought are determinatively habits learned at the feet of Protestant liberal theologians. Take, for example, the fundamental claim at the heart of the book, which is “that politics is most importantly a function of culture, and at the heart of culture is religion, whether or not it is called by that name.”

    Ernst Troeltsch could not have said it better. On second thought, that may not be true: Troeltsch probably did say it better. He saw quite clearly that if Christians were to assume the task of forming the ethos of modern societies, the “myths” once thought constitutive of the Christian faith must be rejected or reinterpreted. Reinhold Niebuhr learned that lesson well. Neuhaus, like Troeltsch and Niebuhr, wants Christianity to be both orthodox and the “form” of culture. It is nice work if you can get it, but I remain skeptical that even Richard Neuhaus can pull that rabbit out of the hat. Of course, one of the benefits of assuming the mantle of Troeltsch is you get to call anyone who worries about making Christianity a civilizational religion a “sectarian.”

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2004/11/001-the-naked-public

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  34. Erik-

    I think the only thing Jesus hates is sin, and tending to the West’s cultural patrimony is not a sin. Solomon’s Temple was magnificent. We learn to love the Lord through interactions with real beauty in many forms, from liturgy to inspired human artistic productions. The Vatican collections are valuable for this reason in bringing people to Jesus, and they’ve done an extraordinary job caring for them.

    Divesting themselves of the assets would be to endanger those collections. It would be a huge distraction from their primary mission. It certainly beats a hypothetical $3b donation to the UN climate change fund. And would John the Baptist have used a/c if he’d had it (even pre-installed in a tiny cabin)?

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  35. We learn to love the Lord through interactions with real beauty in many forms, from liturgy to inspired human artistic productions.

    We are sanctified by the action of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace – Word, sacrament, prayer. As beautiful as art may be it is not a path to salvation or sanctification.

    The Vatican collections are valuable for this reason in bringing people to Jesus…

    Art, especially of the type that violates the 2nd commandment (Sistine Chapel) is not a means of “bringing people to Jesus” anymore than the elaborate stage shows and “seeker friendly” rituals the evangelicals perform are. Only the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit can do that. Christians need to stick to the means prescribed by God in His word.

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  36. Kevin,

    Ideally the preaching of the Word is what is bringing people to Jesus, not art.

    Museums do a fine job caring for art collections – even in Detroit.

    My main point is, Francis and the Church are by no means poor, so they need to get off their high horse.

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  37. Erik,

    “Ideally the preaching of the Word is what is bringing people to Jesus, not art.”

    Art can be used as a means or aid by which Jesus is preached and glorified.

    “Francis and the Church are by no means poor, so they need to get off their high horse.”

    Rich can be poor in spirit. Poor can be greedy, savage, and selfish.

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  38. Clete – Art can be used as a means or aid by which Jesus is preached and glorified.

    Erik – I’ll go Greg the Terrible on you and ask, “Sez who?”. Show me support in Scripture.

    Clete – Poor can be greedy, savage, and selfish.

    Erik – Find me evidence of Pope Francis ever saying this. Liberals never say anything bad about the poor. Any shortcomings they have are explained by their poverty, which is always caused by the rich.

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  39. Kevin: We learn to love the Lord through interactions with real beauty in many forms, from liturgy to inspired human artistic productions.

    Publius: We are sanctified by the action of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace – Word, sacrament, prayer. As beautiful as art may be it is not a path to salvation or sanctification.

    I am not qualified, at all, to address “sanctification” v. “learning to love the Lord.” But I think of an autobiography I read years back (Amie Dillard’s American Childhood) in which she recalls as a very young girl (toddler perhaps) one day noticing a large, artful depiction of Jesus above the altar (correct term?) in the Methodist church she attended in Pittsburgh. Each week throughout the week it would appear in her memory at stray moments; each Sunday it would be reinforced by being encountered again, gradually burning into her mind, becoming an inextricable part of her.

    Is that sanctification? Absolutely not. But when she is being catechized, she can be taught that these are moments to say prayers of thanks or petition, to reflect on her actions and seek God’s mercy, to think on moment’s of Christ’s life and relate them to hers. From the youngest age a striking image can prepare us for understanding our role as Christians.

    And what’s the alternative, Pokemon? Bugs Bunny? These have vivid effects as well. What sense or order can be drawn from them, though? Do they prepare us for anything at all, or just serve to shut the kid up so the parents can have some ‘peace’?

    Regarding Michelangelo’s nudes or the lactans (breast-feeding) Mary + Christ child depictions, I’m quite sympathetic to the criticisms. The former were better with the fig leafs; the latter I find acceptable (I don’t see immodesty in feeding babies, and it is preposterous the negative social pressure women in our society experience regarding breastfeeding in public; note this doesn’t give license for nude art or nude beaches). Michelangelo was a controversial artist at the time- not because the times were backward, but because his ideas and techniques were a mix of good and bad. Art fetishism is a problem, like any fetishism.

    But Fra Angelico? Ghirlandaio? Anyone who doesn’t know these names (and it is easy to forget or mix things up, happens to me all the time), just do a google images search, it doesn’t take an art history degree or a trip to Rome. FYI, Fra Angelico read the Bible and sang the psalms in community every day of his life.

    Isn’t it likely a great many (given a high volume of tourism over a long period) who have fallen away from the faith find it rekindled when seeing in a Vatican museum a painting or statue that reminds them of something they heard or saw in church as a child? Something forgotten, that they miss, and that they realize can, in fact, come again into their lives, if only they seek it? Art, then, will have prepared them for liturgy and learning more about the life and teachings of Jesus.

    DG – Is Francis inconsistent in welcoming pilgrims but discouraging us from using jet fuel? Given he he calls for us to admire skyscrapers, I think his deeper point is that modern technology is great, rightly used, whether it is social media or jets. The right use is possible only by someone who is grounded in Christianity (although I absolutely would have recommended he make the point more forcefully). I think paragraphs 121-123 address this concisely and are what is at the heart this encyclical (indeed, perhaps 3/4s of what is valuable in it).

    Potentially interesting math: first imagine a family, blessed with adequate means, deciding between a family trip to the Grand Canyon or New York and a trip to Europe (most Americans can probably afford at least one trip in their life time if they make it a priority to economize and plan). A typical transatlantic jet holds 300 people (depending on the model), so assuming an average family size of 4, this equates to 75 automobile trips. I have no idea whether 75 (for the sake of argument) cross-country car trips uses an equivalent amount of resources as 1 transatlantic flight. Any engineers present?

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  40. Erik – that last post came from consideration of your comments, too.

    Regarding your comment on the poor – absolutely, 100%. If I didn’t have a such a fashionable ZIP to maintain, I would go into more detail. Suffice it to say:

    The poor may be blessed, but theirs is not (infallibly) the Kingdom of God.

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  41. Publius
    Posted June 20, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
    We learn to love the Lord through interactions with real beauty in many forms, from liturgy to inspired human artistic productions.

    We are sanctified by the action of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace – Word, sacrament, prayer. As beautiful as art may be it is not a path to salvation or sanctification.

    One might say that art and music don’t open the door, but may unlock it–beauty can quiet the mind, open the heart. How can anyone look at Michelangelo’s Pieta and not be moved?

    Look for yourself.

    “During the many ages before the invention of printing, Catholics learned their Faith from studying the figures of the saints and holy scenes in the stained glass windows of our churches.

    Furthermore, statues spur us on to put in to practice what we have learned about the people represented. Statues of patriots inspire us to be more patriotic and less self-serving. At the same time, don’t you want to be more modest and pure-minded, more thoughtful of God and of others, every time you see a carving of Christ and His saints? Who can gaze upon a reproduction of the crucifixion without experiencing the same feeling as the penitent thief hanging next to the dying God-Man? Whoever cast his eyes upon the sweet face of Michelangelo’s Pieta, chiseled in immaculate marble, and did not wish to share the priceless purity that beams from her motherly expression?

    Were it not repeated so often I would feel it a waste of time to answer the charge that the veneration of statues is idolatry. The simplest Catholic will tell you that he does not worship or adore or in any way honor the actual marble or stone of that figure. He honors the one represented. Let the Church explain her stand officially. I quote from the Council of Trent:

    “The images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and the other saints, are to be kept especially in churches. Due honor and veneration is to be paid to them, not that we believe there is any divinity or power in them, not that anything is to be asked of them, not that any trust is to be placed in them, as the heathens of old trusted in their idols. . . on the contrary, the honor we pay to images is referred to the originals whom they represent; so that by means of images which we kiss and before which we bow, we adore Jesus Christ and we venerate His saints.”

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  42. Kevin and TVD –

    From Kevin: Isn’t it likely a great many (given a high volume of tourism over a long period) who have fallen away from the faith find it rekindled when seeing in a Vatican museum a painting or statue that reminds them of something they heard or saw in church as a child? Something forgotten, that they miss, and that they realize can, in fact, come again into their lives, if only they seek it? Art, then, will have prepared them for liturgy and learning more about the life and teachings of Jesus.

    One might say that art and music don’t open the door, but may unlock it–beauty can quiet the mind, open the heart. How can anyone look at Michelangelo’s Pieta and not be moved?

    Kevin, I want to stipulate up front that I love Italian Renaissance art in general – some more than others – but the Italian Renaissance was a high point in human artistic achievement. That said, my short answer to the 2 questions you pose are no and no. A piece of art itself may be beautiful but the Church is a wholly inappropriate place for it. It blurs the Creator/Creature distinction by replacing what God Himself has instructed His people to do and how they should approach Him with the works of the creature. God has instructed us on how to worship him and we are to do that – not more or less.

    The most famous pieces at the Vatican (the Pieta and the Sistine Chapel) blatantly violate the 2nd commandment. Yes, they are by any human standard supreme expressions of skill and beauty. But that’s just the point – they are the work of man purporting to supplant the work of the Word. Art in a church either already is or inevitably becomes idolatrous. The awe and wonder people experience in St Peter’s isn’t reverence for the Living God, it’s awe at the work of man’s own hand.

    Yes, we should appreciate the fruit of people’s vocations but the ministry of the Gospel is not something we create to suit our own tastes. God has commanded the manner by which he will be worshiped and to the extent man adds to that, he does so to aggrandize himself at God’s expense. The Romish Church holds vast amounts of wealth including and especially its palaces and rare works of art as a means to awe the people and demonstrate its earthly power. It’s the same reason the French Kings built Versailles – to impress their power upon their subjects. Instead of furthering the work of Christ’s Church such earthly encumberances detract from it and are, at best, a supremely over-realized eschatology.

    WLC:

    Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

    Answer: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature: Whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense: Whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed.

    Question 110: What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?

    Answer: The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments; are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.

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  43. A piece of art itself may be beautiful but the Church is a wholly inappropriate place for it. It blurs the Creator/Creature distinction by replacing what God Himself has instructed His people to do and how they should approach Him with the works of the creature.

    Publius, Aquinas’s aesthetics answer: All beauty originates with God, He is the cause of all beauty.

    “Whence it is clear that from the divine beauty, the esse of all things is derived…”

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  44. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 21, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
    Publius, don’t you know that Aquinas determined that the Vatican museums should charge 16 Euros for admission?

    You two make a great tag team, Darryl. Publius can be in charge of the sublime, and you can be the ridiculous. ;–)

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  45. Publius –

    Just want to say I am extremely appreciative of your writing that out. Mille grazie. Let me reflect on it.

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  46. TVD – Maybe Darryl and I can get a gig in Vegas! We could replace Siegfried & Roy. I think Vegas is looking for an Old School Presby stand-up duo.

    Kevin – Thanks. I tried to refrain from any snark. I think it’s too important an issue.

    DGH – I didn’t pay 16 euros – I just told them to add it Greece’s tab.

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  47. Hart, thought I would share this that I just read from a Church Militant article.

    “They[the twisted philosophical view of man and a poor view of the freedom and autonomy of man] resulted in an atmosphere being created where life would be centered around man, not God, where man is not only free to reject God (which has always been the case since Eden), but where that rejection was lifted up and applauded and enshrined in law as a natural good. From those rejections came further rejections and even further rejections. This has been the case since before the French Revolution, and has accelerated greatly in our day.

    And it has all happened and been prepared for — for all these centuries — because the Church has failed in Her God-given mission of saving the world. And it is sad to say that much of that blame lies at the feet of the Church for not exercising Her authority to discipline errant sons. Too much of the evil in the world today is directly attributable to Catholics gone bad governed by a Church leadership too naïve to understand and comprehend the depth of evil present in the human heart.

    From popes on down, for centuries, there has been too much leniency extended to traitorous sons of the Church, with the belief that not severely disciplining them is a form of mercy that would help bring them back in line. Too many times Rome has simply ignored serious grave problems in dioceses, religious orders, even the Curia itself.

    Certainly it has from time to time addressed the problems in some public fashion and even at times taken some action, but even then there has not been sufficient follow-up to ensure that what was ordered was in fact executed. It has been the case that many leaders, again including popes, have not sufficiently understood the extent of the evil, and that may be owing to some degree to their own sweetness of soul. This kind of treachery with its resultant malice is hard to imagine or even conceive of in the heart or mind of one that is not suspecting of it owing to his own sweetness of character and soul. The average person cannot really think like a psychopathic murderer. We can’t look at the world like such a man does; we don’t even consider the prospect of dismembering a victim after slowly torturing them to death.

    But if you’re going to track such people, you need to think like them, get inside their mind, as law enforcement would say. This is what many, many leaders in the Church for the past centuries have failed to do, or failed to do sufficiently.

    Too many evil-minded people have been given a pass, or a mere slap on the wrist when public excommunication was actually called for considering the depth of their spiritual mischief. Catholic souls have been corrupted not only by other Catholics who are either malformed or vicious, but it has been allowed to happen by other leaders, bishops, cardinals, popes who have not been sufficiently vigilant in the face of horror.

    Even in more recent times, consider the lack of vigilance and in some cases not just neglect but deliberate choices made by many bishops in the case of the homosexual priest sex abuse scandal. But even larger, think of the abhorrent lack of attention paid by leaders to the warping and malforming of the Faith that happens every day in parish religious education programs, RCIA classes, and Catholic schools that bishops either ignore, aren’t vigilant enough over or even in some cases support.”

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  48. @Kevin
    “Sell the Vatican collection to Soros, Gates, Goldman Sachs execs? ”
    I hear Bob Jones (yes THAT Bob Jones) is quite the art enthusiast! Perhaps he could add to his collection.

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  49. @mtx – If “for centuries popes have been too lenient”, maybe the cause is more fundamental to the system?

    The system evolved to wield temporal power, so perhaps further change is necessary now that the temporal power has gone away. I mean temporal power quite broadly – not just military, but the power that comes from social consensus.

    In a world where religious freedom reigns (politically and socially – in other words there is no political or social cost to changing one’s religion, and increasingly there is little family cost either), authority and credibility are indissolubly intertwined. But how can one have credibility without accountability (it isn’t enough to be honest, you have to appear honest)? In this respect, the situation post-enlightenment is similar to pre-Constantine Christianity in important ways. If so, better catechesis and church discipline probably isn’t going to turn things around.

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  50. Clete – Art can be used as a means or aid by which Jesus is preached and glorified.
    Erik – I’ll go Greg the Terrible on you and ask, “Sez who?”. Show me support in Scripture.

    Publius — As beautiful as art may be it is not a path to salvation or sanctification.

    Paul noted that those preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition really were proclaiming the gospel and that was a good thing. So it seems non-ordained means can be effective – perhaps that even extends to art (I’m not saying this is so, but for sake of argument let’s allow it). But so what? Just because God uses what we do, that doesn’t mean it is a good idea. It’s kind of like the debates about torture – whether it is effective or not is irrelevant. If it is wrong to do, efficacy doesn’t change a anything.

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  51. For Rome, ignorance is not only the mother of devotion, but (doncha know?) pictures are also books for the ignorant.

    As in ignorant of Scripture?
    That graven images and idols are teachers of lies Hab. 2:18?

    Does faith – without which it is impossible to please God Heb. 11:6 – come by hearing and hearing by the Word of God “alone” (that old bugabooo again) Rom 10:17?

    Or do we have it on the authority of Michelangelo, Dr. Seuss and the Adventures of TinTin that faith (also?) comes by pictures, plays and puppets?

    What saith St. Doonesbury?

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  52. MichaelTX, all that anti-Catholic bigotry. wash out your keyboard with soap and say five hail Mary’s.

    But thanks. So the question is why convert to Rome if that is true?

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  53. DGH – Yep, lots and lots of exorcism. I think that’s what Henry Phillips had planned for William Tyndale when he let the authorities know where to find him.

    I’m just impressed with the efficiency of the Mexican bishops – a whole country in one sitting? That’s pretty good, no? I need to bring this to my session. Why have we been sitting on our hands for so long?

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  54. Hart,
    There is no reason to come into communion with Rome, except believing what it teaches of itself is true. One must believe it is Christ’s “one, holy , catholic and apostolic Church”. Any other reason is sin to my understanding.

    Sdb, don’t know what to say. I don’t think it had to do with the temporal rule stuff. I think it has more to do with the same thing we all deal with, we don’t like rejection and troubled waters. Popes are just men too. I think most popes in the last few hundred years all have done better than I would. I love reading their works especially.

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  55. Publius
    Posted June 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
    DGH – Yep, lots and lots of exorcism. I think that’s what Henry Phillips had planned for William Tyndale when he let the authorities know where to find him.

    I’m just impressed with the efficiency of the Mexican bishops – a whole country in one sitting? That’s pretty good, no? I need to bring this to my session. Why have we been sitting on our hands for so long?

    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 22, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
    Publius, sit on them longer, please.

    So, does Dr. Fundamentalis the 2th reject the existence of demons and devils working in this world and all that stuff? Are you less Catholic than the pope or is the pope more Fundamentalist than you?

    Fascinating, Captain.

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  56. Erik, sdb –

    Detroit may have done a great job caring for art so far (Bob Jones likewise), but the Detroit Institute of Art is under some pressure to sell part of its collections to cover its pension liabilities and unpaid water bills (and perhaps it should, especially a Van Gogh dubious in both quality and authorship).

    This situation would have been unthinkable in the 1950s (or even 1960s?), when Detroit ranked as one of the most economically powerful cities on the planet. The French Revolution, Swedish Invasions of Poland, and various wars in Germany have all had more serious tolls on their cultures’ patrimonies (although Sweden and Russia aren’t complaining).

    Besides, we’d all have to go to Dubai or Bentonville, Arkansas instead- which means more air conditioning use, so case closed. Nothing against Arkansas, my childhood memories of camping in the swamps there in August and hunting (mosquitoes) are… indisputably memorable.

    Side note, in the unlikely event anyone is looking for evidence Rome is as unsafe as anywhere else: during the Sack of 1527, Lutheran mercenaries of the Hapsburg Emperor rampaged the city after crying out for “Pope Luther! Pope Luther!” and

    “the population of Rome dropped from some 55,000 before the attack, to a meagre 10,000. An estimated 6,000 to 12,000 people were murdered. Many Imperial soldiers also died […] from diseases caused by the large number of unburied dead bodies in the city.

    The pillage only ended when, after eight months, the food ran out, there was no one left to ransom, and plague appeared.” (Wikipedia).

    Times change, and the tone of papal encyclicals can change.

    Just at the time I need to open the window to let in a breeze, Pope Francis closes it.
    And DG- referring back to the article title / metaphoric conceit, is it a contradiction on Francis’s part that he both shut the window on you and is asking you to turn off the A/C, or is he just mean?

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  57. Kevin in Newark,

    The 20th Century saw Poland wishing that only Sweden would invade again.

    Don’t think the Vatican couldn’t be sacked someday, too. Remember “Don’t store your treasure where moth & rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal?”

    Are you sure you’re not Bobby on Fire Island?

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  58. Erik –

    Don’t think the Vatican couldn’t be sacked someday, too. Remember “Don’t store your treasure where moth & rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal?”

    Ok, so Southern Brazil it is – peaceful, prosperous, organized, temperate (at least toward the mountains). Did I read correctly at one point you have 1m+ Brazilian Presbyterians in association (in some sense) with the OPC?

    Bobby’s on Fire Island? I think the last term I had to look up from a post was “unregenerate”, participation here is definitely an interesting culture-builder. My wife and I used to day-trip more to the quaint, historic, and naturalistic parts of the North Shore – annual hike in Caumsett state park on the Sound, boat tour in Oyster Bay, ice cream in Northport etc.

    It appears from a quick search that Bobby’s on Fire Island offers ‘massages’ – I couldn’t bring myself to click on the link to verify whether they use sulfur treatments (i.e., brimstone). Very likely the best place on Fire Island to find it, either way.

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  59. vd, t, I think human depravity is usually sufficient to explain evil in the world. I don’t need it to be exotic to believe in it, or to think that a little Hitler lurks in all of us.

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  60. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 23, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, I think human depravity is usually sufficient to explain evil in the world. I don’t need it to be exotic to believe in it, or to think that a little Hitler lurks in all of us.

    Thx, Butch, a literal Adam but no literal demons [Lk 9:49:50]. Roger that, checking off my Calvinist scorecard. But you guys do seem pretty capricious about your literalism sometimes.

    For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

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  61. Butch, literally it wasn’t a mullet. Not that you ever let the truth interfere with what you write. 😉

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  62. Pingback: Window Shut?
  63. Publius –

    I started on a response, but the more I read your comment the more I realize I should be asking questions instead. Most importantly, would you recognize the summary below as your argument?

    FYI, I am neither nominalist nor legalist (just someone who enjoys parsing language for a few hours on a Tuesday night), there are no traps intended. Logic 101 style:

    I’ve defined a few terms (“”) which I would appreciate if you’d correct to terms you think more suitable. Single quotes means I’m having trouble with a concept (either my ignorance or I think it is problematic).

    Without further ado:
    Publius? (via Kevin)- “The Argument”:

    a) The presence of representational art (a “work”) either during Christian worship or in a space devoted to it inevitably ‘adds to’ the worship commanded by God (“right worship”)- indeed, ‘some’ worship is then directed to a work of Man, as well as to Man-as-creator-of-art.

    b) No qualities of that work (sacred subject matter, beauty, skill, origin as fruit of one’s vocation, ability to inspire awe) introduce an exception to the argument.

    c) Caveat: it is conceivable a community could use them rightly for a time, but this will inevitably change (Art in a Church either already is or inevitably becomes idolatrous: “inevitably becomes” implying a prior non-idolatrous state) – or, if you’ll permit me to slightly overstate it for literary purposes – that the coyote can defy gravity, but not for long).

    Part II (“Assumptions”):
    1) Worship is ‘ministry of the Gospel’ (is identical to; or essentially contains; or is essentially contained by; or inevitably occurs alongside -?).
    2) Worship is directed at a Creator (whether God, or Man-as-creator-of-xyz).
    3) God has commanded the manner by which he will be worshiped (“right worship”).
    4) Right worship excludes anything which may even potentially divert worship to Man-as-creator.
    5) ‘Adding or subtracting’ anything to worship, which includes the presence of a work, is for Man to aggrandize himself (whether or not as a part of of the liturgy, whether or not intended to be a part of worship) and divert worship from God.
    6) It is also (at least typically) something done to ‘to suit our own tastes’.

    Part III:
    a) The ‘Romish Church’ (there’s no place like Rome, dear) uses “everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination” to “charm and bewitch the simple and ignorant” (John Adams, 1774, if I may put his words in your mouth) in order ‘demonstrate its earthly power’ and ‘impress that power on its subjects.’
    b) Artistic works are ‘earthly encumbrances’ and cannot be used to further the work of Christ’s Church – in fact they detract from it. (Since you’ve praised Italian Renaissance Art, I understand you believe they are of value in some contexts – use by Mama Ecclesiae clearly excepted – no need to elaborate unless it helps clarify your argument).
    c) Artistic works are ‘a supremely over-realized eschatology’ – (intriguing, but could you clarify?).

    Additional questions –
    -Is the argument that the physical work is worshipped, or a known or hypothetical creator of the work (man in general), or something else?
    -How do we know with such precision as to details of what “right worship” is? (you’ll have to tell me the correct term to use- “Reformed Worship” or “Traditional Reformed Worship” to distinguish from ‘mainstream’ Evangelicals?).
    -E.g.: patterns & geometric shapes, architecture with straight lines v. curves, using wood v. plastic v. stone, clear glass only or is slightly tinted ok, how high can the ceilings be, is carpeting allowed, what is the proportion to be allocated to where the liturgical action takes place v. where the congregation gathers, are plants permitted, are flags permitted, anything clearly decorative of any nature at all, the dress of the celebrant, the precise forms of words used, Biblical translations used, etc. (Or do some of these not touch upon right worship?)
    -If representational art implies a creator in the context of worship why don’t decorative arts?

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  64. Erik,

    I will now look up “Nucky Thompson” – but if you have me Googling a gay bar or worse, realize the search will be residing in the new NSA Utah data center (20 football fields large) for the rest of my life, with untold possibilities for future corporate/government data-sharing.

    In this cultural environment, it could at some point be helpful, actually.

    … Looks really interesting and well-done. Love the subject and setting, and it looks like it has a plot and addresses politics and broader cultural issues. I will ask the wife if she wants to watch it (she’ll say yes); assuming we can get it on Roku (Netflix or Youtube).

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  65. Walton,

    Helpful as a basic conceptual distinction – thanks – but where best to find more detail?

    Like

  66. one cheer for capitalism?

    I will grant that Brooks is on to something. Yes, he repeats the mantra about capitalism lifting millions out of poverty a little too superficially, as if nothing else but capitalism has contributed to the alleviation of poverty. And, he notes that the self-interest of capitalism often generates new discoveries and innovations that help everyone, as if there was no creativity in the age of monarchs or before Adam Smith set quill to scroll. Still, Brooks is right to note that modernity’s fundamental project, and justification for both markets and for modern democracy, is that self-interest is a given in human nature and can be harnessed in such a way as to achieve mutual benefit. The problem is that self-interest is not a Christian virtue.

    Who ever thought non-Christians should practice Christian virtues?

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  67. DG,

    But how can we discern the heart to tell when someone innovates so they can buy a bigger house or so they can help everyone? And how can I ever hope to determine my motives for working?

    Though self-interest may not be a Christian virtue, it’s not a Christian vice. Surprisingly though, work ethic is a Christian virtue.

    Like

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