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
- Plato: Complete Works; ed. John Cooper
- Vergil’s Aeneid; Sarah Ruden translation
- The Confessions; by Saint Augustine
- Francis of Assisi; Augustine Thompson
- Summa Theologica; St Thomas Aquinas
- Dante’s Divine Comedy; Anthony Esolen
- Sixteen Plays; William Shakespeare
- Collected Poems & Prose; Robert Frost
- Various Songs and Lyrics; Bob Dylan
- Pride and Prejudice; by Jane Austen
- The Prairie; James Fenimore Cooper
- Sophia Peabody Hawthorne; Valenti
- The Age of Innocence; Edith Wharton
- Novels: 1930-1935; William Faulkner
- The Last Closet; by Moira Greyland
- Provocations; essays, Camille Paglia
- Nostalgia: Going Home; Tony Esolen
- Compendium of the Catholic Catechism
The Appalachian Riders For Our Lady have a particular interest in the season of Ascensiontide, which we consider nearly as important as Advent and Lent. My particular interest is: That ecclesial bodies with very different ecclesiologies seem to have very similar understandings of theology proper, e.g. the Trinity. Emphasis on “seem”.
Thomas Gwyn and MaryAlice Dunbar
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 the Nicene creed. God is able to sustain what was initially established (..I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it) and it is wrong-headed to try to start over on one’s own.
By the way, I’m a Platonist insofar as I agree with his advice that studying mathematics is an essential preliminary to philosophy.
On the other hand, technology is very important and clearly the most important technology is language. The language experts are not the philosophers but the poets, broadly defined.
“Don’t get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)