Monday, April 23, 2018

Post-resurrection Christianity

I want both of my readers to know that I have not given up blogging or stopped this modest effort to foster the diakonia of koinonia on-line. My reason for not posting this month is a very good one: I have been busy doing things that matter to me. Some of what I m currently working on will show up on here on Καθολικός διάκονος.

In the meantime, I was thinking this morning of a deeply insightful book I read some years ago now: Louis-Marie Chauvet's Symbol and Sacrament: Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence, which remains an important book some 24 years after it was published. Chauvet sees the Emmaus experience of Clopas and his unnamed companion as central to post-resurrection Christianity (see Luke 24:13-35). Writing of this pericope found in the twenty-fourth chapter of St Luke's Gospel, Chauvet insisted that
The passage of faith thus requires that one let go of the desire to see-touch-find, to accept in its place the hearing of a word, whether it comes from angels or from the Risen One himself, a word recognized as the word of God
The desire to see-touch-find leads us back to Jesus' dead body, which is not the body we receive in the Eucharist

Road to Emmaus, by Fritz von Uhde, 1891

As St Paul wrote: "For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance" (Rom 8:24-25).

"Luke in effect asks his audience," Chauvet continued, "'So you wish to know if Jesus is really living, he who is no longer visible before your eyes? Then give up the desire to see him, to touch him, to find his physical body, for now he allows himself to be encountered only through the body of his word, in the constant reappropriation that the Church makes of his message, his deeds, and his own way of living. Live in the Church! It is there that you will discover and recognize him'" (Symbol and Sacrament 166) It is the Eucharist that makes the Church the Body of Christ. The most concrete proof or disproof that we receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is the lives of those who receive it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fifty Years Ago in Memphis

Fifty 50 years ago today Dr Martin Luther King was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray. In a song off U2's Unforgettable Fire album (my favorite U2 album by miles) entitled "Pride (In the Name of Love)," Paul Hewitt (a.k.a. Bono Vox) sang: "Early morning, April four/Shot rings out in the Memphis sky..."

It was Dr, King, a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, echoing the words of the one he sought to follow (see Matthew 12:26), who said- "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that"- Martin Luther King.

In his memorable speech, delivered while standing on the bed of flatbed truck in Indianapolis, Indiana, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, whose brother, John, was assassinated in 1963 and who himself would be assassinated in Los Angeles in a few days over two months, said this:
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God"

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness; but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black."

"... and say a prayer for our country and for our people."
I have little doubt that, as a Catholic (the most devout of the Kennedy brothers), Bobby also prayed for the repose of Dr King's soul.

MLK and RFK remain people who represent the best of what we are and point us to what we, as a people, might yet be.

"How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?" Bob Marley

Monday, April 2, 2018

Why Orwell still matters

This morning I saw piece on the New York Magazine "Intelligencer" page that I found disturbing but hardly surprising: "News Anchors Reciting Sinclair Propaganda Is Even More Terrifying in Unison." The lead-off of this piece by Chas Danner is what I can only describe as Orwellian:
Over the last week or so, local television news anchors across the the country have joined together to paradoxically warn viewers about the “troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” The identical, seemingly earnest editorial messages paid lip service to the importance of fact-checking and unbiased reporting, but they also complained about “false news” and “fake stories.” If that seems to echo the rhetoric of President Trump, it’s probably because the statement was written by one of his allies
I use the adjective "Orwellian" in the awareness that it is increasingly incomprehensible to people, which I also find discouraging.

It is apparent to anyone who has paid attention over the past three decades or so that our so-called fourth estate has been in failure mode for a long time. There are some exceptions, of course. But we now live in a strange time when fake news, parroted by the mainstream media, is deemed real news. At the same time, independent and conscientious journalists and media outlets are dismissed as "the MSM" and their reporting on real matters, things that matter, is dismissed as fake news.

Truth be told, as frustrating as the Stormy Daniels affair and the independent counsel's Russia investigation, which has been irretrievably compromised by its being turned into a media circus, are really distractions from what is really happening right under our noses: tax "reform," healthcare "reform." immigration "reform," the military-industrial complex and its accompanying saber-rattling, etc. It bears noting that in his Easter Urbi et Orbi (i.e., "The City and the World"), Pope Francis took of the latter of these by noting the "apparently endless war" in Syria, the conflict happening the Holy Land, as well as in Yemen. Let's not forget how important perpetual war was to Oceania in 1984. Far from desiring the re-uniting of altar and throne, it is tremendously important for the Church to maintain her independence in order to be prophetic. What does it mean to be prophetic? It means to speak the truth fearlessly irrespective of consequences.

I am currently reading Orwell's novel Coming Up For Air. He wrote this novel about a decade prior to 1984. In it, Orwell introduced many themes he would take up more explicitly and thoroughly in 1984. While I think fair to call Orwell a prophet of sorts, it wasn't really that difficult to see where things were headed. In Coming Up For Air, the main character, George Bowling, worries, not so much about the impending war (WWII), in which he was too old fight (he was a veteran of the Great War) but about "the after-war" -
But it isn't the war that matters, it's the after-war. The world we're going down into, the of hate-world, slogan-world. The coloured shirts, the barbed wire, the rubber truncheons. The secret cells where the electric light burns night and day, and the detectives watching you while you sleep. And the processions and posters with enormous faces, and the crowds of a million people all cheering for the Leader till the deafen themselves into thinking that they really worship him, and all the time, underneath, they hate him so that they want to puke. It's all going to happen. Or isn't it? Some days I know it's impossible, other days I know it's inevitable (George Orwell, Coming Up For Air [San Diego: A Harvest Book reprint, 1969], 176)
As I finish Coming Up For Air it is fascinating for me to see in middle age how much Orwell shaped my politics. I read a lot of Orwell between the summer that separated my junior from my senior year in high school and when I began college some three and-a-half years later.

One result of reading Orwell was my decision not only to study Philosophy but my deep interest in the philosophy of language and my on-going fascination with Wittgenstein's philosophy (as well as my later fascination with the writings of Samuel Beckett). The second result was Orwell is largely responsible for forming my views of both capitalism and Marxism.

Because last Friday was Good Friday I did not post a traditio. To make up for that I am posting a YouTube link where you can listen to Orwell's "Politics and the English Language, which, at least in my opinion, remains his most important work of non-fiction:

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Urbi et Orbi- Easter 2018


Easter 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

Jesus is risen from the dead!

This message resounds in the Church the world over, along with the singing of the Alleluia: Jesus is Lord; the Father has raised him and he lives forever in our midst.

esus had foretold his death and resurrection using the image of the grain of wheat. He said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). And this is precisely what happened: Jesus, the grain of wheat sowed by God in the furrows of the earth, died, killed by the sin of the world. He remained two days in the tomb; but his death contained God’s love in all its power, released and made manifest on the third day, the day we celebrate today: the Easter of Christ the Lord.

We Christians believe and know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint. It is the power of the grain of wheat, the power of that love which humbles itself and gives itself to the very end, and thus truly renews the world. This power continues to bear fruit today in the furrows of our history, marked by so many acts of injustice and violence. It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment, where there are migrants and refugees (so often rejected by today’s culture of waste), and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.

Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war. This Easter, may the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course, that humanitarian law may be respected and that provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed by our brothers and sisters, while also ensuring fitting conditions for the return of the displaced.

Year B Third Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 3:13-15.17-19; Ps 4:2.4.7-9; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:25-48 “You are witnesses of these things,” Jesus tells his incredulous...