Commitment, Continuity, and Conversation

The particular spirituality of the Appalachian Riders For Our Lady is based on our three foundational principles of commitment, continuity and conversation in addition to the general Catholic evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability adapted to a lay context. The Riders strive to promote a conversational culture, proclaiming Christ crucified, authentically Christian and Catholic, in the midst of a world largely lacking culture of any sort.  Our vows of commitment, continuity, and conversation do not necessarily mean that we have any natural inclination or talent in these areas. My booklist which is in a way deep in history (each Rider, during their novitiate, settles on at most 24 books of primary importance) is:

  • Bible, unabridged Revised Standard Version
  • The Liturgy of the Hours, unabridged
  • World’s Oldest Alphabet; D. Petrovich
  • Exodus commentary; Thomas White
  • Herodotus: Histories; Tom Holland
  • Ezekiel commentary; Robert Jenson
  • Vergil: The Aeneid; by Sarah Ruden
  • Greek Grammar; Mathewson & Emig
  • Matthew; W. C. Davies & Dale Allison
  • New Testament; David Bentley Hart
  • Athanasius; ed. Khaled Anatolios
  • Saint Jerome; by Stefan Rebenich
  • The Confessions; by Saint Augustine
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy; Anthony Esolen
  • Sixteen Plays;  by William Shakespeare
  • Collected Poems & Prose; Robert Frost
  • The Lyrics 1961-2012; by Bob Dylan
  • The Fatal Conceit; Friedrich Hayek
  • U.S. Foreign Policy; W. A. McDougall
  • Veritatis Splendor; Saint John Paul II
  • Compendium of the Catholic Catechism

Essential to the culture of the Appalachian Riders For Our Lady is participation in daily Mass at our particular parishes (7am Mass at St Ambrose in Salt Lake City  in my case) and our encouragement of increasing use of the Liturgy of the Hours.

wasatch

Thomas Gwyn and MaryAlice Dunbar

Christian Perspectives

The foundation of everything is Christ Jesus, and him crucified. However, beyond the personal aspects of that, what are the implications for our social relationships?

I want to commend the Catholic perspective to you. Of course, that raises several questions:

  • Is it reasonable to speak of THE Catholic perspective?
  • Is my characterization of this perspective warranted?
  • Can one also speak of THE Protestant perspective, especially given the range of protestant ecclesial bodies?

I propose that the protestant perspective is that the Christian life is best lived and considered from the primary viewpoint of the individual or, at most, the congregation. On the other hand, I commend the Catholic perspective: the Christian life is best lived and considered from the primary viewpoint of the universal Church, the Bride of Christ, extended in spacetime and militantly subsisting in the Catholic Church whose chief steward is the bishop of Rome. Besides addressing those preliminary questions, I intend to commend the Catholic perspective in three aspects:

  • better able to cope with adversity
  • more resources for spiritual formation
  • closer alignment with the scriptural canon

All these points are controversial; however, I intend not to argue for them but rather to chew on them.  The difference between a primarily individual perspective and a primarily ecclesial perspective also has a significant political component since the State desires no competitor to its hegemony (see, for example, Alan Jacobs biography of The Book of Common Prayer which documents how this worked out in England) and hence is inclined to favor an individual perspective which it can divide and conquer.

I’m also assuming that the more alive an entity, the more applicable the principle that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In addition, whenever possible I’d like to phrase matters sociologically rather than ecclesiologically. A major advantage of a perspective more social than individual is that one can “check one’s answers”– the boredom of, for example, discussion about end-time scenarios or sectarian doctrine being that one can not check one’s theory in one’s day to day life and interactions with others as one can, on the other hand, regarding ethics and how to live in community.

On a personal level, I think the core of the Protestant error centers on the attempt to place faith above love (see Luther’s commentary on Galatians) contra Saint Paul and the Catholic tradition.

The noted Evangelical scholar Mark Noll, in the book ‘Is the Reformation Over’, argues that Catholic and Protestant disagreements really come down to different understandings of the nature of the Church.  I don’t disagree; however, I very much disagree with the view that “well, maybe so but that’s not important to me..it’s my personal relationship with God that is important.”  The nature of the Church is essentially intertwined with the work of the Holy Spirit, as is reflected in both the Nicene and Apostles creed.  God is able to sustain what was initially established and it is wrong-headed to try to start over on one’s own.

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Two World Wars

Two World Wars: I respond to the rhetorical hyperbole of ‘Trump is Hitler’ with ‘No, Trump is Churchill’. See Sayet’s article on the culture war and Heiden’s article on The Darkest Hour.

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Speculative Execution and the Gospel

The recently publicized matter of security issues with modern computer CPU design is very interesting from a Thomist perspective, and in fact from  the viewpoint of any serious Christian philosophical perspective.  Now of course, existentially, the most important matter remains ‘is the Gospel true’; however, leaving that aside for the time being consider instead: if the Gospel is true, what are the implications?  Surely one implication is that to assume one can accurately predict the future is to be heading for a fall and will have serious security risks.

Modern CPU design is deeply pipelined and in order to get the fastest performance out of this has also adopted speculative execution To quote from WhatIs.com, “Speculation (also known as speculative loading ), is a process implemented in Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing ( EPIC ) processors and their compilers to reduce processor-memory exchanging bottlenecks or latency by putting all the data into memory in advance of an actual load instruction.”

Inherent in this, I think, is an over confidence in our ability to predict the future which is dangerous and it is to be expected that security risks would arise. Further, given the nature of modern cloud IT structures, these security risks will have major financial implications.

Who would have thought that being an IT Manager would lead one back to Saint Thomas Aquinas?

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Nine Dylan CDs and One Song

  1. The Times They Are A-Changin’ – 1964
  2. John Wesley Harding – 1967
  3. Blood on the Tracks = 1975
  4. Senor – 1978
  5. Trouble No More #1 – 1979
  6. Trouble No More #2 – 1981
  7. Oh Mercy – 1989
  8. Dylan Unplugged – 1995
  9. Time Out of Mind – 1997
  10. Tell Tale Signs #2 – 2008

 

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The Fundamental Historical Fact

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This is the fundamental historical fact and it changes everything. Among other consequences, it changes the nature and significance of history and historical research in comparison to experimental science.

Many people, both Christians and non-Christians, do not think much about the consequences of this, for various reasons.  And, of course many folks do not consider it to be a historical fact at all. However, IF it is a historical fact, then it certainly warrants very careful consideration and has wide-ranging implications.

This course will be studying Christian reflection on this fact during the period from Saint Athanasius through Pope Saint Gregory — roughly the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries in the Christian calendar.  The previous posting, from Dec. 11th, lists the texts we will be using.

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Five Early Doctors

Early Doctors of the Church

The text below is from Wikipedia.

Doctor of the Church (Latin doctor “teacher”) is a title given by the Catholic Church to saints whom they recognize as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.

In the Western church four eminent “Fathers of the Church” attained this honour in the early Middle Ages: Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, and Saint Jerome. The “four Doctors” became a commonplace among the Scholastics, and a decree of Boniface VIII (1298) ordering their feasts to be kept as doubles in the whole Church is contained in his sixth book of Decretals (cap. “Gloriosus”, de relique. et vener. sanctorum, in Sexto, III, 22).[1]

In the Latin Church, the four Latin Doctors “had already long been recognized” in the liturgy when the four Great Doctors of the Eastern Church, John ChrysostomBasil the GreatGregory of Nazianzus, and Athanasius of Alexandria were recognized in 1568 by Pope St. Pius V.

Athanasius

Athanasius (c. 296–298 – 2 May 373) is counted as one of the four great Eastern Doctors of the Church in the Roman Catholic Church.[3] In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is labeled as the “Father of Orthodoxy”. Some Protestants label him as “Father of the Canon”. Athanasius is venerated as a Christian saint, whose feast day is 2 May in Western Christianity, 15 May in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and 18 January in the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. He is venerated by the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutherans, and the Anglican Communion.

Basil

Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great (330 – 379), was an influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early Christian church, fighting against both Arianism and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea. In addition to his work as a theologian, Basil was known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. Basil established guidelines for monastic life which focus on community life, liturgical prayer, and manual labour. He is remembered as a father of communal monasticism in Eastern Christianity.  Basil is considered a saint by the traditions of both Eastern and Western Christianity. His feast day is January 2nd.

Ambrose

Ambrose (c. 340 – 4 April 397), was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374.  was one of the four original Doctors of the Church, and is the patron saint of Milan. He is notable for his influence on Augustine of Hippo.

Jerome

Jerome (c. 27 March 347 – 30 September 420)  is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate), and his commentaries on the Gospels. He is recognised as a Saint and Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion.[7]

Augustine

Augustine (13 November 354 – 28 August 430) is recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church, the Eastern Christian Church, and the Anglican Communion and as a preeminent Doctor of the Church. He is also the patron of the Augustinians.

Gregory

Gregory (c. 540 – 12 March 604) is a Doctor of the Church and one of the Latin Fathers. He is considered a saint in the Catholic ChurchEastern Orthodox ChurchAnglican Communion, and some Lutheran denominations. Immediately after his death, Gregory was canonized by popular acclaim.[5] The Protestant reformer John Calvin admired Gregory and declared in his Institutes that Gregory was the last good pope.[6] 

 

Bibliography/Syllabus

For the class/discussion, in addition the Bible, unabridged Revised Standard Version, we will use the following books:

  1. Athanasius – Khaled Anatolios
  2. Basil – Stephen Hildebrand
  3. Ambrose – Boniface Ramsey O.P.
  4. Jerome – Stefan Rebenich
  5. The Confessions – Augustine  (Everyman Library edition)
  6. Gregory the Great – George Demacopoulos

 

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Faith and the Future

…the future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith.  It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves.
To put this more positively: the future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality.  Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial.  By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened.  He sees only to  the extent that he has lived and suffered.  If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other.  Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us.  If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are.
From Ratzinger’s 1969 book ‘Faith and the Future’
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Baldwin of Ford, Archbishop of Canterbury

Baldwin of Ford was the 39th archbishop of Canterbury. His birthdate is unknown and he died on November 19th, 1190 AD. He was a Cistercian monk and the abbot of their Abbey at Ford, in Devonshire, before being elected to the see at Canterbury in 1180.

“The Spiritual Tractates were written almost entirely during the decade Baldwin lived at Forde, probably as sermons which were then recast later. They reveal a man thoroughly and happily at home in cistercian spirituality, an acute theologian well aware of contemporary currents, and one of the last true representatives of the rich patristic-monastic tradition.”

In the Liturgy of the Hours, the second reading for November 3rd has this extract from one of his writings:

The word of God is alive and active
The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely. These words tell us how much power and wisdom there is in the word of God for those who seek Christ, who is the word and the power and the wisdom of God. This word, with the Father from the beginning and co-eternal with him, came at its own chosen time, was revealed to them, was proclaimed by them, and was humbly received in faith by its believers. A word, therefore, in the Father; a word in the mouth; and a word in the heart.
  This word of God is alive. The Father gave it life coming from itself just as the Father’s own life comes from himself. The word is not just alive, therefore, it is life, as it said itself: I am the way, the truth, and the life. Since the word is life, the word is alive to give life. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses. He gives life, as when he calls the dead man out of the tomb, saying Lazarus, come forth.
  When this word is preached, the voice of its preaching which is heard outwardly calls forth a voice of power that is heard inwardly, that voice by which the dead are restored to life and their praise raises up sons for Abraham. So this word is alive in the heart of the Father, alive in the mouth of the preacher, and alive in the hearts of those who believe and love. If a word is alive in this way, how can it not also be active?
  The word is active in creating, active in guiding the world, active in redeeming the world. What could be more active? What could be more powerful? Who shall tell of his powerful deeds? Who shall proclaim the praises of the Lord? It is active when it works, it is active when it is preached. For it does not come back empty-handed: wherever it is sent, it prospers.
  It is active and cuts finer than a double-edged sword when it is believed and loved. For what is impossible to the believer? What is hard for the lover? When this word speaks, its words transfix the heart like a flight of sharp arrows, like nails hammered deep into its very essence. This word is sharper than a double-edged sword in that it cuts deeper than any strength or power, it is finer than anything made by human ingenuity, sharper than any human wisdom or learned speech.
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