Saturday, June 9, 2012

Well Said, Sir

"If everything is negotiable in principle, nothing is stable; no basis exists on which Catholicism could with any intellectual honesty assert its self-definition as being a religion rather than merely a volunteer community group with a rich artistic and architectural heritage."

A very fine piece from Richard Waghorne, which is dated April 13th but which I only discovered now, in which he contemplates the weirdness of the Association of Catholic Priests appealing to opinion polls rather than Church doctrine (and also coins the wonderful phrase "the hermeneutics of majoritarianism".)

I don't want to be rude about liberal Catholicism, but trying to engage with it can be fist-bitingly frustrating. It feels a little like trying to follow the staircases and pillars in one of MC Escher's paradoxical drawings. One would think that the indispensability of dogma in revealed religion would be a self-luminous principle, or at least one that could be arrived at by a few minutes' thought. In any case, there are the fossils of innumerable Christian heresies to point the moral. How can people who have spent their lives thinking about religion not get it?

I understand atheism. Atheism is plain and honest as daylight. I've noticed that many religious writers, such as Lewis and Chesterton and Pope Benedict, write about atheism with a perceptible respect, almost with affection. In fact, I would say that atheism represents a spiritual territory that is a vital part of the human condition, one that often receives voice in the Bible-- from the Book of Job to the Psalms to Christ's terrible cry upon the Cross.

But progressive Christianity-- what is it? How does this house divided against itself manage to stand, even temporarily? It has no substance at all, and it is difficult to vanquish it because your bayonet simply passes through the mirage of its body.

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