Friday, June 14, 2013

SO WHICH GROUP IS MORE PERNICIOUS? THE ORGANIZED RIGHT OR THE WACKY LEFT?

Pope Benedict XVI moved us forward with "Reform in Continuity" and "Two Forms of the One Roman Rite" and Pope Francis will continue to move us forward as well, not backwards prior to Pope Benedict, but forward in the New Evangelization! In terms of moving forward, which group wants to go backwards the most, the organized right or the wacky left?



The Bishop of Rome, Holy Father Francis, does not want to go back 60 years, which also means, if continuity means anything, that he doesn't want to go back 50 years, 40 years, 30 years, 20 years, or 10 years. He wants to go forward with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and service to God's people, especially the poor. I suspect too, that the poor are not just the materially poor but also the faith and spiritually poor, those who do not know the love of Christ or the embrace of the Church. These people could be financially rich but extremely poor in faith, morals and discipline.

So not going backwards, but going forwards, what does that mean? We don't know because our Holy Father is sometimes vague on this or sends mixed messages.

1. Certainly we don't want to go back to the 1960's where so many theologians promoted Vatican II by denigrating and humiliating pre-Vatican II faith, morals and worship, not to mention devotion and spirituality. This doesn't mean that there were not excesses in these things 60 years ago, like superstitious practices or a disconnect in how people participated in the Mass. But to completely say that the old was bad and the new is good is, well, like going back 50 years, not going forward.

2. Certainly we don't want the clergy to ditch their sacral role and become nothing but social workers who get burned out, fall in love and get married. That happened 40 years ago in great numbers. Do we want to go backwards to that or do we want to move forward.

3. Certainly we don't want to go back to 1968 and outright rebellion against the pope and Magisterium of the Church by so many who were opposed to the reaffirmation of natural law in Humanae Vitae. We don't want to go back to a time when theologians wanted to be the loyal opposition to the legitimate Magisterium of the Church and set themselves up as a competing "magisterium" a torn in the side to the bishops and pope rather than an assistance to them.

4. Certainly we don't want to go back to clown Masses, Star War Masses and Masses that are purely horizontal, totally creative and have nothing to do with the Latin Rite Mass and its heritage of 2000 years.

5. Certainly we don't want to go back even two years to banal language in the Mass and informal celebrations of the same.

6. Certainly we don't want to go back to gender neutral language in the liturgy not only for people but more importantly and more perniciously for God.

7. We don't want to go back to the 1970's when the 1962 Missal was viewed as a pariah, seen as the forbidden fruit and banned and burned like Nazi and Communist book burnings of a previous era. We want to continue to move forward with the two forms of the one Roman Rite and mutual enrichment, not backwards to a rigid uniformity.

8. Do we want to stay stuck in a Church that has a curia with a "gay lobby" and religious life and the priesthood with the same with an ideology that opposes the Holy Father and the bishops in union with him in promoting natural law, chastity, and opposing the sin of same sex marriage and active sexuality of what ever nature in the priesthood and religious life and infidelity in marriage? Or do we want to move forward with purifying the Church of such nonsense?

You get my drift, I could go on and on and on. We could talk about going back in time and making Catholicism all about churchy politics and power-plays and empowering people rather than humility and service that Pope Francis goes forward with.

So which group is more pernicious and stealthy in highjacking Pope Francis forward looking theology and program?

Certainly it is the wacky left. This ideology has infiltrated rank and file parishes throughout the world with priests and relgious trained in vapid theologies and very wacky ones of yesteryear. I'm speaking of the extreme left that shapes parishes and parishioners into post-Catholics formed in heresies of yesteryear, like gnosticism, pantheism and Arianism. Who wants to go backward to things already condemned centuries ago?

The organized right may be shrill, may fall into some aspects of Palagianism with some of their devotional lives and how they think they should participate at Mass, but they are usually extremely orthodox in other aspects of the faith and are far from post-Catholics. Yes, the organized right tends to circle the wagons and to be afraid, very afraid of doing what Jesus commissioned the Church to do, go out to the world, even if one gets contaminated, with the Good News of Jesus Christ and the need for the whole world to be saved through the ministry of the Church. That means dialogue with the world, like Paul dialogued with the pagans of Athens. He wasn't completely successful, but he did it anyway.

The right tends to closet themselves and become an enclave. We don't want to go forward with that. One can't. That mentality opposes the Great Commission.

45 comments:

Andy Milam said...

The left, by far. Here is why...

1. "Certainly we don't want to go back to the 1960's where so many theologians promoted Vatican II by denigrating and humiliating pre-Vatican II faith, morals and worship, not to mention devotion and spirituality."

This is still the normative view of mainstream theology in the Church today.

2. "Certainly we don't want the clergy to ditch their sacral role and become nothing but social workers who get burned out, fall in love and get married."

This has re-invented itself in an actively homosexual clergy. The same fallout is happening again.

3. "Certainly we don't want to go back to 1968 and outright rebellion against the pope and Magisterium of the Church by so many who were opposed to the reaffirmation of natural law in Humanae Vitae."

What is the percentage of Catholics who contracept? That's what I thought.

4. "Certainly we don't want to go back to clown Masses, Star War Masses and Masses that are purely horizontal, totally creative and have nothing to do with the Latin Rite Mass and its heritage of 2000 years."

And....they still go on, not infrequently. My parents parish has a polka Mass every summer.

5. "Certainly we don't want to go back even two years to banal language in the Mass and informal celebrations of the same."

Why can't we just have Mass in Latin? Why does the complication of the vernacular even come into play. We are not English Rite Catholics (in our instance), but Latin Rite Catholics.

6. "Certainly we don't want to go back to gender neutral language in the liturgy not only for people but more importantly and more perniciously for God."

Check out how many Catholic universities either officially use or unofficially promote the NRSV Bible.

7. "We don't want to go back to the 1970's when the 1962 Missal was viewed as a pariah, seen as the forbidden fruit and banned and burned like Nazi and Communist book burnings of a previous era. We want to continue to move forward with the two forms of the one Roman Rite and mutual enrichment, not backwards to a rigid uniformity."

Riiiiiggggghhhhttttt....that's a nice sentiment, but how many dioceses don't have regular TLM Masses throughout the diocese to enrich the faithful. It's still a pariah.

8. "Do we want to stay stuck in a Church that has a curia with a "gay lobby" and religious life and the priesthood with the same with an ideology that opposes the Holy Father and the bishops in union with him in promoting natural law, chastity, and opposing the sin of same sex marriage and active sexuality of what ever nature in the priesthood and religious life and infidelity in marriage? Or do we want to move forward with purifying the Church of such nonsense?"

And you're bemoaning the SSPX. Those priests, even though suspended and in an "irregular state" (whatever that means), are far more Catholic in word, deed, action, and mentality than the actively homosexual priest.

Here's the deal. Nothing has changed with the Holy Father. The right does not want to closet themselves. If we did, we would have been completely content with the indult and have stayed in our little pockets. As it is, we are the fastest growing segment of Catholicism. We have grown from almost 0 in 1984 to having the TLM completely restored (now it just needs to be properly placed). The Novus Ordo crowd hasn't seen growth like that.

I don't buy this post.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree the left is more pernicious and if left unchecked and unchallenged and not purified would lead to the heresy, to be named as such one day I hope, of post-Catholicism. The right is not post-Christian and certainly not post Catholic.

Anonymous said...

So, how long has God been a male?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

How long has God the Father been a Male, from all eternity, but in time, since the Incarnation and Jesus is still male with His glorified and risen body in heaven. Now that wasn't to hard was it? Even a 5th grader grasps that!

Ludovicus said...

As a traditionalist, I have no desire to go backwards. I do not understand the common albeit misspoken claim that traditionalists want to go back, to live in the past. Such a claim flies in the face of the theology of the Mass for All Time being a glimpse of our future, namely Heaven. I think we are all very happy to go forward so long as we do not forget ourselves; Rome addressing or even correcting errors/bad practices/misunderstandings and providing clarifications will actually enable all to move forward together.
Let us also not be so obsessed with "moving' in any particular direction. Static faith is a dead faith. If we are not static, then obviously there is movement. Return the focus to fulfilling the duties of being Catholic, not on some notion of a spiritual/"t"radition/christian revolution, especially a la social works. Talk about Pelagianism.

Anonymous said...

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 239 "We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God."

Anonymous 5 said...

So, Anon, does that mean that everyone in the Judeo-Christian tradtion who has refereed to God as a male--including Chrisst himself--has been wrong? If not, then how do you explain the discrepancy between that language (including the CCC sentence you quoted, which begins with a male pronoun) and your position?

Anonymous 5 said...

Fr. McD: good step forward re the organization issue, but I still perceive problems. At some points you still fall into language that describes the "left" as a "group." Certainly there are groups that are "leftist" or have "leftist" leadership (e.g., LCWR), but I still don't think those groups they approach the status (as it were) of an SSPX headed by bishops who have officially stated a position that puts them in open conflict (shism, non-schism, whatever) with Rome.

The groups in question tend to be more small-scale movements, sometimes as small as the parish level, that have grown out of something that by the 1960s became almost a folk/populist movement. In that sense modernism evolved like the Enlightenment: It began as an elitist movement and then disseminated out into popular culture. (See Gregory XVI, Dum acerbissimas, September 1835, in which the pope labels the modernists "wicked and cruel men"--reading this citation, Anonymous?).

Additionally, I think this going back/moving forward language is as problematical as left/right. If orthodox Catholics want to "go back" at all, my guess is that the common link among them is that they want to "go back" not to an era, decade, or year, but to a circumstance when the time-honored and clearly doctrinal teachings of the Church were openly taught and honored by the Church; when time-honored devotions and other aspects of Catholic culture hadn't been dismissed and even suppressed. In short, to a time when a CCC would have included balanced citation to all councils, not just VII and the Bible, and to a circumstance in which the pope wouldn't have expressed distaste for being offered the gift of thousands of Rosaries.

Maybe there are some trads who consciously equate this with the 1950s. But for most orethodox Catholics, i'd guess they'd be fine with JPII-style new evangelization as long as it didn't come at the expense of things that the Church taught for centuries that we had to believe and do. In short, the difference between the pre-VII Church and the current church seems at times to be so great that the orthodox have trouble understanding how they can be the same religion, and the Vatican's refusal to tackle the problem suggests that even the Vatican is having that problem.

rcg said...

I think Traditionalists want the Faith to spread like fire, but fueled by Truth. You can never go back. But some floors in our house have sagged and we need to restore them so they will support weight again.

I may be using the term incorrectly, but I am a Restorationist if that means putting the Lord Almighty back in front and the people on their knees. It seems to me that the people who have executed Vatican II, whatever its actual intent, simply did not understand what was in the Liturgy the replaced, or they did not believe it. There is a rot in our Church and it is not on the right side.

There is absolutely no sane argument that the OF is as reverent as the EF, but if you want shrill, just try saying that in an OF parish and listen to the responses.

Very, very few people in the current Church really know 'what the prayer really says'. That is why the New Translation was such a 'bombshell'. That is because the Liturgy was painted and papered over so many items and left unseen that people had no idea what the Catholic Church is really about.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon., Anon 5, and Father McDonald:

This question of gender language in reference to God is actually quite interesting. I sense that some confusion may exist because we have not yet defined our terms.

When we refer to God the Father, I assume that we are not referring to God as a physical male being, with a human male body and a beard (unless God shaves of course). So, what exactly _do_ we mean when we talk of God as “Father”? Here, it may be helpful to have a fuller quote from the relevant section of the CCC:
Section 239: By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

While perhaps not the paragon of clarity, this does seem to advance understanding of the question beyond the simplistic and possibly misleading (of course, simple formulas have their appropriate place too). But here is my question: Does anyone think that the CCC is wrong and, if so, why is it wrong?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5 - I am not suggesting that using male pronouns in referring to God is wrong. But since "God transcends the human distinctions between male and female" is can be just as appropriate to use female pronouns.

Just because we haven't done something in the past doesn't mean it is wrong to do it today.

For centuries the Church refused to accept African-Americans for formation to for the priesthood, but that changed...

Anonymous 5 said...

Well, Anonymous, since you aren't suggesting that use of male pronouns is wrong, then no point in changing the practice, right?

False analogy re who the Church accepted for priesthood. A disciplinary defect/failing. (And just to keep you honest, please provide a source for your assertion re African-American priests.) But can you explain how changing pronouns for God wouldn't affect changes in Catholic theology/doctrine, given the pervasiveness of the concept of the fatherhood of God, which is hinted at by A2?

Ludovicus said...

Hard to believe the Church would prevent African-Americans from Holy Orders when the pope who mandated the Mass be exclussively in Latin(Kyrie the exception) was from Africa.

rcg said...

I think we tread on dangerous ground when we try understand what God is rather than what His role is. It also seems that this was addressed effectively at the foot of the Cross.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5 - Why not, if God transcends the human distinction between the sexes, use language that reflects that doctrine?

If we really believe that God is neither male nor female, then the language we use about God should express clearly that belief. Referring to God solely with masculine pronouns distorts what we believe and teach to be true. That God is not a "he," but a being that is without gender.

From The Chicago History Journal -America's First Black Priest: "St. Boniface had a new pastor, Father Francis Ostrop and was assisted by Father Theodore Wegmann. Fr. Ostrop set up a course of study for Augustine patterned after that at St. Francis Solanus College in Quincy. Fr. Wegmann would teach the course to Augustine. Meanwhile, over at St. Peter’s, Fr. McGirr found a reply from the local bishop to an earlier letter regarding Augustine. Basically, the letter said “Find a seminary which will accept a Negro candidate. The diocese will assume the expenses.” Unfortunately, the point was moot, as the three priests had written every seminary in the U.S., all of which responded “We are not ready to accept a Negro as a candidate for the seminary.” Augustine, or ‘Gus’ as he was now known, was 20 and in his twelfth year of employment at the tobacco factory."

Carol H. said...

As I understand it, God must always be referred to in the masculine because He has complete authority. If He were referred to in the feminine, it would imply that He is submissive, and that is something He cannot be.

This does not mean that God is a man; He created man. This does not even mean that He is male, but He did reveal Himself to be Father, through the words of His only begotten Son. God Himself wants us to call Him Father- to refuse to do so seems a very bad idea to me.

Carol H. said...

Anon,

The Church is much older than the United States. Bishops and Priests in the US, being fallible men, had racial prejudice, the Church, on the other hand, did not.

Some of the earliest converts to the faith were from Africa. I think one of our Popes was from Africa. St Augustine had a Roman father and an African mother. His mother, St Monica is also a saint.

Please don't blame the whole Church for the sins of a few. The Church has no racial prejudice.

Anonymous 5 said...

"Anonymous 5 - Why not, if God transcends the human distinction between the sexes, use language that reflects that doctrine?"

I'll tell you what, Anonymous: take it up with the past 2000 years of Catholics and magisterial usage and get back to me. It seems to me that your earlier statement notwithstanding, they all _have_ been wrong this whole time, by omission if not by commission.

John Nolan said...

Unlike French, English does have a neuter pronoun - "it". Use of the masculine pronoun does not indicate maleness, since it is a grammatical convention that the masculine includes the feminine. In referring to a specific group of people it may be necessary to say "he or she" but this also affects the possessive pronouns, and rapidly becomes tedious. If one says "A good historian must have regard to the provenance of his sources" the addition of "or her" is otiose since it is obvious that historians can be male or female.

Another solecism is using "gender" instead of "sex". The former is a grammatical term referring to nouns (remember 'number, gender, case' when you were learning Latin?) Gender is masculine, feminine or neuter; sex is male or female. I received an official form this week which asked me to identify my sex as male/female/other. Perplexing or what?

Gene said...

Anonymous is just another simpering lib who brings the very same axes to grind about gender, race, the liturgy, the Church, etc. Boring, no?

Anonymous 5 said...

John Nolan: Unfortunately, one of your assumptions has largely been attacked, denied, and effectively thrown onto the trash heap of linguistic history in the last 30 40 years, to wit: "it is a grammatical convention that the masculine includes the feminine." That used to be true. According to popular usage and conception, it is true no longer. The male has moved from inclusive to exclusive, necessitating either gender-neutral stuff, or alternating female/male, or other awkward and inelegant solutions.

Example 1: This is a trite one, but it really works. "To boldly go where no man has gone before" is in itself a bold statement that really did catch the spirit of the space program at the time of the original Star Trek. By the time of The Next Generation in the 1980s, they changed t to the utterly pedestrian "To boldly go where no one has gone before." It is literally less humanistic.

I rememebr an intermediate stage; the 5th edition of Prosser and Keeton's hornbook on Torts, written in the 1980s, kept the male gender throughout, but felt the need to put in a page up front explaining that this wasn't meant to denigrate women. Interestingly, though, this is one place where I have found mixing genders defensible and useful; in law school and case book hypotheticals with multiple actors, often denoted A, B, C, etc, making some of them discrete males and others discrete females helps the reader to keep the actors straight.

But re theology: does anyone know if Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek have gender-neutral pronouns?

Anonymous said...

Gene - Apparently not boring enough for you to ignore, overlook, or otherwise dismiss...

John Nolan said...

Anon 5

I am probably ploughing a lonely furrow but take comfort in the fact that I am right. You yourself seem to confuse masculine/feminine with male/female. This partly stems from the fact that English nouns, unlike those in most languages, are neuter unless they refer to persons or animals with defined male or female characteristics. There are a few exceptions - the Church is feminine because she is the bride of Christ.

A lot of modern usage is based on ignorance; people who say 'barbaric' when they mean 'barbarous' deprive the language of much of its subtlety. Also anyone with half a brain ought to realize that "five times less" is nonsensical. What they mean is "a fifth as much".

This isn't pedantry; a pedant would argue that "to boldly go" is incorrect because it splits the infinitive, but to place the adverb anywhere else would weaken the sense. Fowler maintained that the prejudice against split infinitives, like that against ending a sentence with a preposition, was the result of misguidedly applying Latin grammatical rules to English.

gj said...

Let's see...Jesus, who is God, the second person of the Holy Trinity is and always will be male.
No use of language controversy for me there.
As far as African-s or African American's being denied ordination
I'm not aware of that. Whoever makes thta claim should give us sources for that.
On another matter
Some of the early Church fathers were
from Africa-North Africa.
The indigenous peoples from this
area of Africa are not the same as those from Sub-Saharan Africa
which would include the ancestors
of most African Americans.
They are as different as say, someone from Mexico and someone from
Montana.

Gene said...

Anonymous, the problem with you types is that, while I may be dismissive with regard to your ideology and ignorance, there is still a need to respond to some of your drivel for the benefit and edification of those on the blog who may not be wise to your ways or who may be on the fence regarding certain issues. Believe me, completely ignoring you would certainly be preferable, but one cannot ignore an enemy and they will not let us deal with you in the way with which enemies have traditionally been dealt. So, there you are...

Anonymous said...

Gene - But you haven't responded - you ranted. There's a difference you know. Want to try again?

Anonymous 5 said...

John Nolan: I RESEMBLE THAT COMMENT! I DO TOO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE! WE DON'T HAVE HOMOPHONES IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH! THAT'S SINFUL AND HOMOPHONES ARE WICKED, EVIL GENDERS WHO ARE TRYING TO DESTROY US!

And I once got looked at funnily by some pretty intelligent people because I pointed out, in a law review article, that people were using "gender" to talk about people when they should have been using "sex."

Gene said...

Actually, Anonymous, I have responded to you on a couple of occasions or, if not directly to you then to the issues you represent, and certainly to others of your ilk on a number of occasions and in depth. Anon 5 and Marc seem to be covering it nicely right now. I'll chime in now and again...stay tuned. I really do not understand why you are here, however. I don't go over to Pray for Tail and interrupt their meanderings because I know I would not be welcome. You should show the same courtesy.

Anonymous said...

The discussion was on the use of gender specific language for reference to a gender-free deity.

The following is a rant, not a response: "Anonymous is just another simpering lib who brings the very same axes to grind about gender, race, the liturgy, the Church, etc. Boring, no?"

Followed by: "Anonymous, the problem with you types is that, while I may be dismissive with regard to your ideology and ignorance, there is still a need to respond to some of your drivel for the benefit and edification of those on the blog who may not be wise to your ways or who may be on the fence regarding certain issues. Believe me, completely ignoring you would certainly be preferable, but one cannot ignore an enemy and they will not let us deal with you in the way with which enemies have traditionally been dealt. So, there you are..."

And: "Actually, Anonymous, I have responded to you on a couple of occasions or, if not directly to you then to the issues you represent, and certainly to others of your ilk on a number of occasions and in depth. Anon 5 and Marc seem to be covering it nicely right now. I'll chime in now and again...stay tuned. I really do not understand why you are here, however. I don't go over to Pray for Tail and interrupt their meanderings because I know I would not be welcome. You should show the same courtesy."

So which of these do you consider to be a "response" to the issue being discussed?

Gene said...

They are all responses, Anonymous. However, since you insist...

Christ, himself, calls God "Father" and instructs us to do so. What, then, are the theological and Christological/anthropological implications of your desire to render God sexless and to view Him as neuter? Also, if Christ calls God "Father" and instructs us to do so, what are the doctrinal and dogmatic implications of saying that Christ was wrong or mistaken? I am not asking rhetorical questions here, I'd like your answer.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous,

Why isn’t this issue solved by the CCC section 239 that you quoted in part and that I then reproduced in full above? That section explicates the special theological meaning given to the term “Father,” insofar as we humans are even capable of understanding the nature of God as revealed to us.

Isn’t God beyond language? How can our puny human minds and the language that reflects them capture the full reality of God? And if that is so, why not remain with what tradition teaches us, including of course tradition as taught us by Jesus Himself, as others have suggested above? If the answer is that the use of masculine gender terms reflects “oppressive patriarchy,” then why not understand the term “Father” in the special sense set out in CCC section 239, which does not?

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

Why_don’t_you go over to Pray Tell and challenge them sometimes? And why_wouldn’t_ they welcome it? Or, if they wouldn’t, shouldn’t they welcome it?

Personally, I don’t mind having someone challenge positions expressed on this Blog, including my own. The reason is that such challenge makes me think and helps me learn more, as have the substantive parts of the various exchanges prompted by Anonymous’s challenge regarding the use of gendered language in this particular thread.

Gene said...

Anonymous, You did not answer the questions I posed. You merely asked more questions. God is specifically called Father by Christ. The Church calls Him Father, and the entire body of Holy Scripture understands Him that way. Now, He may indeed transcend the human understanding of that word, but the analogy holds...God is Father.
Now, again, what are the theological/anthropological implications of changing how we call Him? And, my other question which you ignored...what are the dogmatic implications of saying, essentially, that Christ was wrong or that His understanding is now outdated?

Gene said...

Oops...I responded to Anon 2...to many anonymi, which is a lot of silly nonsense. Anyway, No, CCC does not answer my question. God's transcending the human distinction between the sexes is a Doctrine of God issue having to do with how God loves and relates to His children. The Church has always and still does understand God as father, CCC is irrelevant here.

Now, where is the other Anonymous' answer to my question?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

From A 5:

Gene,

I note that your 1:18 PM is as solidly phrased a serious of questions as one could hope for and displays your extensive knowledge of the subject.

I further note that now that someone on this thread has cut through the bull, hyperbole, and ad hominem stuff that's been flying around, the silence of Anonymous in response to your hard-hitting question is truly deafening.

I become more and more convinced every day of your assertion that the very last thing modernists want is to have a genuine and reasonable discussion. I'm reminded of the final line of Screwtape's first letter: "From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

How is section 239 of the CCC irrelevant here? First, it is what we are supposed to believe. Second, it does not only speak about how God relates to His children -- consider the very first sentence. Third, yes, most of the section does concern that relationship but why does that somehow minimize the importance of the issue? For us humans, isn’t that largely the main point about God – how we relate to Him and how He relates to us?

I would still argue that God is beyond our language (“I am Who I am”). However, insofar as our language_is_capable of capturing the nature of God, it may well be the case that the language of fatherhood is closer than the language of motherhood, although God possesses attributes of both, or at least does so analogically. Hence the language of fatherhood would be justified for that reason too, in addition to this being the tradition handed on to us, also by Jesus.

Understanding God as beyond language in this way, then, but as more closely reflected by the language of fatherhood, is clearly not the same as rendering Him neuter, which would again itself confine Him by language – to say that God has no gender is also to presume more than we can actually know.

Also, this approach means that we don’t really have to worry about your questions regarding Anon’s desire to see God as genderless. Such approach places no impediment on seeing the Church as the Bride of Christ or on finding a warrant for an all male priesthood.

If this conclusion grieves Anonymous, perhaps Anonymous can be consoled with the thought that perhaps God considers that men are in far greater need than women of having their masculinity “tamed” than women are in need of having their femininity “tamed.” Hence it made good sense that God should incarnate as a man and that He should call men to be His Apostles (surely Jesus could have called women Apostles too had He wanted to – He was not bashful about challenging social and religious conventions regarding women). Men were, and are, the ones in need of greater transformation. History is indeed largely his-story (to borrow a dreadful neologism) and most of the problems of history have been male problems, not the least of which of course is the thymotic lust for power and glory and all the dead bodies that follow in their wake. So men, perhaps more than women, need to be shown how to be different, and they have to be shown by other men. The fact that it has not worked very well for two thousand years just demonstrates how intractable the problem of fallen humanity is. VoilĂ  – a feminist justification for an all male priesthood. Now watch me get attacked by everyone!

Gene said...

We,, Anon 2, We are now on the dreaded second page, the black hole of threads. However, let me respond here...I'm sure this issue will come up again elsewhere.
We may say that God is "beyond language" in some very general way of saying that He ultimately transcends complete human understanding, however the Church teaches, and Christ teaches, that we may understand Him analogically to a certain extent. After all, if God were totally beyond our understanding, there would be no Church, no Holy Scripture, and no Magisterium. Christ himself told us that He was an "analogy" for God..."if you have seen me, you have seen the Father."

When I say that CCC is irrelevant here, I mean that it does not completely address the issue God's fatherhood. Here: (De Fide) "Revelation teaches that there is in God a Fatherhood in the true and proper sense, which belongs to the First Person only and which is the model for the fatherhood of man and of all created paternity...assertions of Jesus, which testify to His identity of essence with the Father, prove also that His Sonship and the Fatherhood of God are to be understood in the proper physical sense."
The fact that God's Fatherhood is a perfect Fatherhood does not imply that it is either a motherhood or some kind of "neuter hood. This is complete nonsense. It simply means that God 's paternal love is complete and totally unselfish and that He loves us with a perfect love.

When Augustine and Aquinas speak of God's Fatherhood and love as transcending human fatherhood and love, they speak of His loving us with a non-self-referential love. God needs nothing from us and so does not receive anything from us when He loves us. This is unconditional love and perfect fatherhood.
When God, through the Holy Spirit, becomes incarnate of the Virgin Mary in Jesus of Nazareth, He does so in a manner of perfect love...there is no "taking," no need, none of the usual male/female give and take, demands, or dependency. In fact, I like John Calvin's way of putting it: "In the Miracle of Christmas, the Miracle of the Virgin Birth, God made certain that nothing in Christ's Incarnation was predicated upon man's initiative. It involved no "determination of being" by man." Mary becomes the passive and humble recipient for this gift to all mankind, male and female. God "appropriates" Mary as the ultimate model for motherhood and, in her humility and obedience she becomes, ironically, a rock upon which breaks all human (male) initiative and understanding. This is perfect Fatherhood...God only gives to Mary and to us...He takes nothing (because He needs nothing) while giving all...sounds like kenosis, doesn't it? (cont'd)


Gene said...

Now, beside all this, sophomoric discussions of God's sex, or gender, are just incomprehensibly silly. Christianity is a patriarchy; the Church is a patriarchy...get over it. We profess a revealed faith, not subject to the fads and vagaries of culture and politics. God has revealed the structure of the Church and the family to us. It is not negotiable. Although the Church is an imperfect patriarchy, it is founded upon a perfect one. The goal of the Church and the Christian family is to reflect, as perfectly as possible, this gift of unconditional love and paternity. But, there is ample place for maternity/femininity. We call the Church the Bride of Christ because He chose Her and He loves her as a perfect "husband." And, what real power would women have if everywhere they reflected the power of God's unconditional love as the "rock" upon which human reason and understanding break? What true motherhood....to warn her children against pride and presumption, to warn them against the whore reason and her wiles, to guide them in their moral lives and succor them in their suffering. Women, feminists, have sold themselves so short...just as men have done in some of the depradadtions you, Anon 2, mention.

Now, Anon2, I will address at another time your guilt over being male. Let me only say that, despite there being a degree of truth in what you say, the Church and we had better be damned glad that men have known how to use the sword and do violence in our and the Church's defense. I find your comments to be somewhat over-stated.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: Thank you for that thorough and interesting theological explanation. Can you please give me a more precise reference for the quote at the beginning? Is it from the De Fide of St. John of Damascus? I have dome a quick search in that text but cannot find the quote (which does not mean it isn’t there, of course).

I don’t think we disagree on the fundamental points about the use of the term “Father,” the analogical way of understanding God, the Church as the Bride of Christ, an all male priesthood, etc.

And BTW I don’t think I have guilt over being male. I feel extremely secure in my maleness and would certainly not prefer to have been born a woman. However, you and I may have somewhat different conceptions of maleness. Although I am not necessarily suggesting that you do, I feel absolutely no need to “prove” my maleness through any kind of physical violence – and never have from the time I was a boy. But then again, nor did Jesus, the perfect male (I am not, obviously, claiming perfection myself, just making a point about maleness and the model for perfect maleness).

That said, I do recognize that sometimes there is an unavoidable need for physical violence in a fallen world. We agree about that. But the key word is “unavoidable.” Physical violence is not to be preferred and every effort should be made to avoid recurring to it. It is, then, a matter of last resort. Once again, the issues and dilemmas presented are brilliantly portrayed in such movies as “The Mission” (although you do not seem to have such a high opinion of that particular film as I do) and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.” There is a world of difference between those movies, however, and the trite, banal, and desensitizing everyday glorification of violence in the media in America. The script writers for Law and Order, for example, must really be grateful for the prevalence of guns over here. Check out the British version (Law and Order UK) some time – they actually have to use their imaginations when writing the script. So, the prevalence of guns not only results in a lot of unnecessary deaths. It also contributes to the general “dumbing down” of America. Here endeth the rant for today.

Gene said...

So, you are an anti-gun nut, then?

Gene said...

Anon 2, The quote is from, "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma," by Ludwig Ott, Chapter 2, pp. 56-57. It is not a direct quote from De Fide, but he cites De Fide as his source, among others. The section is entitled "The New Testament Doctrine of God the Father."

Anonymous 2 said...

Thanks for the reference, Gene. I will try to track it down. In the meantime, your comment has led me to the original source De Fide by St. John of Damascus. I am looking forward to reading that document more carefully. It seems quite fascinating. You see, the Blog really is a great way to learn things (at least for me, as there is still so much I do not know about our Faith).

And no, I am not “a gun nut,” by which I assume you mean someone who fanatically wants to ban all manner of firearms. Every culture needs to be approached on its own terms. And American culture has a distinctive history and constitutional tradition (including, of course, and most famously in the present context, the Second Amendment, controversial though its interpretation might be). But American culture is rather obviously out of control on this particular point nowadays (on many others too, of course) and some prudent regulation beyond what we have currently is clearly required. The “gun nuts” are, in my view, the fanatics on the other side who, for ideological and/or financial interest, oppose such reasonable measures on principle (as opposed to their likely inefficacy).


Gene said...

Legal double talk. There is nothing out of control about law abiding citizens owning and carrying guns. A firearm in the hands of a law abiding citizen will never pose a threat to anyone other than a thing.

There is nothing controversial in the wording of the Second Amendment except that which Leftist legal word benders have created.


To the Left, "prudent regulation" is the foot in the door to banning and confiscation. These people are not to be trusted or believed. Every word from their mouths is a lie or distortion. It is naive to think otherwise.

Gene said...

My first paragraph above should have ended with "...other than a thug." Sorry.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

“There is nothing out of control about law abiding citizens owning and carrying guns. A firearm in the hands of a law abiding citizen will never pose a threat to anyone other than a thug.”

Accepting the truth of your contention for the sake of argument (and overlooking, therefore, all those cases where a thug uses the firearm of a law abiding citizen to do harm to that citizen or to others), if there is any “legal double talk,” it is in using this point to resist prudent regulation that is not targeted at law abiding citizens but at thugs.

Let’s take an analogy. Many who object to gun control support the NSA program that is currently in the news. This program records all of the phone calls and the internet usage of law-abiding citizens but is targeted not at them but at possible terrorists. Is there really a material difference (not any difference but a “material” one) between this and prudent gun regulation that sets limits on the possession of certain types of firearms and requires universal background checks?

We all have to accept certain limits on our freedom set by government in the interests of the common good. The alternative is lawless and violent anarchy, as Hobbes and even Locke maintained. Moreover, arguably the Founders were influenced not only by liberal Lockean thought, with its emphasis on individual rights and an understanding of the common good in those terms, but also by classical republican thought and its understanding of the common good in more communitarian terms.

There are some on the Left I do not trust and believe and there are some on the Right I do not trust and believe. However, thinking that prudent regulation is the foot in the door to banning and confiscation demonstrates not an absence of naivete but the presence of paranoia. Both the checks and balances of the legislative process and judicial review of legislation for constitutionality should suffice to prevent any fanatical attempts to institute a complete ban or confiscation of all firearms from being successful.

Of course, if it can be demonstrated that any attempt at prudent gun regulation would not work, that is a different question.