November 18, 2007

Indispensable man...

(I'm not, by the way, signing on to the views on the War on Terror of the columnist who dubs himself Spengler. But for 'thought-provoking," he's hard to beat. And this book sounds great; I'm surely going to read it.)

Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians by Fergus Kerr. Reviewed by Spengler

It may seem eccentric to hail a theological text by a Scots Dominican, ranked 133,692nd in recent Amazon sales, as the year's most important work on global strategy. Now that I have your attention, humor me for a paragraph or two.
To win a gunfight, first you have to bring a gun, and to win a religious war, you had better know something about religion. America's "war on terror" proceeds from a political philosophy that treats radical Islam as if it were a political movement - "Islamo-fascism" - rather than a truly religious response to the West. If we are in a fourth world war, as Norman Podhoretz proclaims, it is a religious war. The West is not fighting individual criminals, as the left insists; it is not fighting a Soviet-style state, as the Iraqi disaster makes clear; nor is it fighting a political movement. It is fighting a religion, specifically a religion that arose in enraged reaction to the West.
None of the political leaders of the West, and few of the West's opinion leaders, comprehend this. We are left with the anomaly that the only effective leader of the West is a man wholly averse to war, a pope who took his name from the Benedict who interceded for peace during World War I. Benedict XVI, alone among the leaders of the Christian world, challenges Islam as a religion, as he did in his September 2006 Regensburg address. Who is Joseph Ratzinger, this decisive figure of our times, and what led the Catholic Church to elect him? Fr Kerr has opened the coulisses of Catholic debate such that outsiders can understand the changes in Church thinking that made possible Benedict's papacy. Because Benedict is the leader not only of the Catholics but - by default - of the West, all concerned with the West's future should read his book...
....Kerr's subtitle is, From Neo-Scholasticism to Nuptial Mysticism. By this he means something quite accessible to laymen and non-Catholics. Between the early years of the 20th century, and the papacies of Wojtila and Ratzinger, emphasis in Catholic theology shifted from attempting to prove the tenets of the faith by philosophical argument, to portraying God's self-revelation through love by reference to such Biblical texts as the "Song of Songs". The present pope's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est ("God is Love"), summarizes what Kerr calls "nuptial mysticism".[3] ....
...In Kerr's engaging account, the rationalistic mainstream was challenged by theologians at the margin of the Church, such as the French Jesuit Henri de Lubac and the Swiss Jesuit Hans Urs von Balthasar, now widely regarded as the greatest Catholic theologian of the century. They were encouraged by the research of medievalists such as Etienne Gilson and Marie-Dominique Chenu, who challenged the Enlightenment distortion of Thomas Aquinas. These dissenters spent long and lonely years in the wilderness, sometimes forbidden to write or preach. Their day came with the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and the reigns of John Paul II and Benedict XVI....

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at November 18, 2007 6:41 AM
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