21 January 2013

The Emetic

I suggested on twitter that an online antidote to any bad results of The Tablet might be called The Emetic.  This isn't it, but it gives an idea of the ground The Emetic might have to cover.  In my last post I highlighted something unCatholic in an editorial.  From the same issue, here are a few more highlights.

(For the record, no Tablets were purchased to make this blog post.)

An advert for a course at an Anglican Retreat Centre leads to a link which contains the following:

Your human love is God’s love incarnate. Your human forgiveness is divine forgiveness. Grace is everywhere. God loves us unconditionally – and cannot remember our sins!
But we have forgotten all about this real meaning of the Incarnation. We still keep God ‘out there’ and build huge walls between the sacred and the secular. We need to remember, that simply to live as best we can, is to be full of God, no matter what.

Daniel is a priest in the diocese of Leeds and has published widely on aspects of Spirituality and Ministry.
With many years’ experience as a Parish Priest, he was also Episcopal Vicar for Formation in the diocese for five years. Prior to that he was Head of the Religious Studies Department at St Mary’s College of Education, Strawberry Hill (University of Surrey).

A former teacher, Margaret has been involved in collaborative ministry and spirituality at parish and diocesan levels. She is a member of Leeds Justice and Peace Commission, a worker for CAFOD, dedicated to promoting local and global justice."

If God can't remember our sin, reconciliation becomes a bit automatic, doesn't it.

Sarah Maitland writes:

"One problem I find with the new translation of the liturgy is that it uses so much insider jargon. “Consubstantial”, “chalice”, “dewfall”, “we may merit to be co-heirs”: none of this language is going to play well in our daily lives, at work, in the pub, in our own homes."

Should someone with such an impoverished idea of daily life be writing about prayer?

In its article on Vatican II Fifty Years On, the Rev Dominic Mulroy OSB opines:

"The ghosts at the feast of Vatican II were Pius IX’s “Syllabus of Errors” and Pius X’s condemnation of Modernism. The legacy of these was a perception that the Church had allied itself definitively with a dogmatic tradition that was hostile not only to everything that could be dubbed “liberal” but also to the multiple facets of modernity.
The successive battles over the texts of Vatican II’s doctrinal and pastoral constitutions represented a very significant confrontation between two powerful currents of thought within the Church. The first (which was presumed by many to be the dominant one) was a way of thinking that would now be regarded as “fundamentalist”; the second was the new spirit of open and eirenic enquiry that had been quietly developed, in many fields, during the pontificate of Pius XII and that had inspired John XXIII to summon the council.
In the event, Vatican II came to represent a decisive rejection of the “fundamentalist” option. The term is appropriate in this context for several reasons. The fundamentalist cast of mind, whether in religion or in other areas of discourse, is one that prefers clarity to complexity. It likes to claim “ownership of the truth”, is distrustful of dialogue, and prefers the safety of known tradition to the risks of innovation.
When the council opened, many took it for granted that this was the way the Catholic Church did its business, and were amazed when the proposed drafts were, one after the other, thrown out. A new question was being asked: was the Church’s traditional way of formulating doctrine and making decisions a religious necessity or a cultural accident of history?"

I love the idea that somebody who disagrees with the condemnation of Modernism asks whether the Church's way of deciding things might be a cultural accident of history.  Meanwhile a Jesuit, Fr Gregory Baum proclaims:

"The council summoned forth faith, hope and love in people’s hearts, making them yearn for freedom,justice and universal solidarity"

Ah, THAT's what is was all about.

Fr Luke Bell OSB has an excellent article about "internships" at Quarr Abbey. A lady who lives in Austria writes an article about the Church in Germany's investigation of clerical abuse which seems to take for granted that the Church is trying some sort of cover up.  Lawrence Freeman (a third OSB) writes about a Hindu monastery.

Mr Paul Billington writes about spiritual mentoring in the parish and says:

"Moving on from the strict confines of behavioural science to parish life, but holding the notion of it in mind, we can learn to focus more broadly than the ritual aspects of church practice. Essentially, being Church is about being a community. It is about how we live together, how we share a fundamental and faith perspective of life that shapes everything we do and say. In other words, it is about how we incarnate our faith in the flesh of living and of life. This is based on a raw behavioural science principle that states simply that our behaviour demonstrates our priorities. In this sense, through our everyday behaviour, we tell the world, even without conscious intention, about what motivates us. The X Factor must be one of the greatest money-spinners on television. It displays the
nervous, self-conscious and sometimes remarkable talent of new blood for huge audiences. During the course of two months, the contestants are mentored fabulously into becoming stars. Mentoring is a powerful personal-development and empowerment tool which helps people progress. It is becoming increasingly popular as its potential is realised."

I'll just point out "being Church" and leave the rest to you.

The letters page contains what probably reflects the breadth of view of those who read The Tablet: they represent readers' reaction rather than editorial policy so I won't comment on them.  Neither will I comment on the Arts and Books sections, which could come from any weekly or Sunday - though it's rejection of the new Fr Brown series - "It's a stinker" - makes you realise that all is not lost!

The Church In The World seems uncontentious and covers more or less what one would expect any Catholic weekly to cover. 

Robert Mickens writes from Rome.  You need to read the whole column to get the picture, but here's one bit so you get the flavour:

"He said this was because homosexuality undervalued the importance of male female differences and because same-sex relationships were “de facto, self-referential”. Professor Pessina heads the bioethics
department at the Catholic University in Milan and is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. His article came just days after Italy’s highest appellate court ruled that a woman currently in a same-sex relationship could retain custody of the child she had while in a previous relationship with a man.
The court rejected the father’s argument that his son would suffer “negative repercussions” for his development if the two women raised him, saying that claim was based on “mere prejudice” unsupported by scientific data. The judge obviously failed to use her reason and consult the Vatican."

Ho ho ho, Robert.

News from Britain and Ireland has a large article about Bishop Brain forbidding Catholic schools in the Salford diocese from applying for Academy status (can he) though it points out that he will be offering his resignation this year.

An advert for the "Westminster Faith Debates" should have been rejected:

"What does faith, in its diversity, have to contribute to our understanding of a good life and a good death? And what does the contemporary climate of opinion have to say to faith?

Stem cell research, abortion and the ‘soul of the embryo’? Speakers include Prof David Albert Jones and Dr Abdul Majid Katme. Wednesday 13 February.
Too much sex these days – the sexualisation of society? Speakers include Donna Freitas and Jenny Taylor. Wednesday 27 February.
Is it right for religions to treat men and women differently? Speakers include Rabbi Harvey Belovski and Mary Ann Sieghart. Thursday 14 March.
What’s a traditional family and do we need it? Speakers include Prof Rosalind Edwards and Polly Toynbee. Wednesday 27 March.
Do Christians really oppose gay marriage? Speakers include Prof John Milbank and Prof Tina Beattie. Thursday 18 April.
Should we legislate to permit assisted dying? Speakers include Lord Charles Falconer and Dr Giles Fraser. Thursday 2 May."

Oh dear!

I learned of the death of Fr Chris Dyckhoff SJ, one of the priests to whom, under God, I owe the fact that I did not lose my faith at University: however wrongheaded I may have come to think him, and he me, subsequently, there are some debts which cannot be repaid in this life, and they were all owed in one direction.  Requiescat in pace.

So there it is.  Not as uniformly bad as it could be, but imbued with a sort of right-on trendiness as though Tony Blair had just become PM and it was 1997 all over again.  But where it is bad, it is very, very, bad.  Its instinct isn't grounded where I think a Catholic weekly's instinct ought to be grounded. 

A moderate, non-AngloCatholic, non-Evangelical, Anglican would find nothing to upset him in this edition of The Tablet.  I don't mean that as a compliment.


James said...

Good work Tony

Simon Platt said...

As I read your post I thought "I should make a comment about St Wilfrid's, Preston" ... and then I read the news about Fr Dyckhoff, whom I never knew personally as I have had little to do with St Wilfrid's since before he came parish priest there. I shall pray for him.

I have quite often made my confession at St Wilfrid's; the Jesuits there have been good in making the sacrament easily available. But yesterday I was disturbed to read in a local guide for penitents, available in the pews, that (I paraphrase, from memory but fairly, I think) although we should pray for the grace to overcome our sins, if we fail to overcome a particular sin that might be a sign that "God is less bothered about it than we are" (that last, I think, is verbatim or at least almost so). What scandal can that cause, not least in these days when consciences are so neglected!

Let us pray for the authentic renewal of Christ's church in these lands!

Tim said...

There is other stuff in the guide to reconciliation at St Wilfrid's that trips my alarm. I'm paraphrasing from memory too as you're not supposed to take the guide away with you but it's along the lines of: "People have different views on what is right or wrong and we should try to be aware of the Catholic Church's view and take it into consideration before we make up our own mind."