Theological Rant With Changing Parts
Wrong for All the Right Reasons:
I was working in the Main Stacks of the library here in Berkeley when I encountered a book with a brief passage from Ulrich Zwingli's work on the Lord's Supper. I read a brief portion from it, and I have to say that I agreed with it. He's right. What else are we to make of the passages in the Gospels about Jesus no longer being with us. There is a true Absence of Christ in the world, and that absence is what causes us to cry, "Marana tha!" and "Veni, Domine Jesu!" This world is not right.
That's what makes sense logically, but things are not that logical. The more you think about these things, the more your thoughts break down into a mess of metaphors, Scripture verses, and wishful thinking. We are the branches, He is the vine; we are the sheep, He is the Shepard; He is the head, we are the members, etc. "I am leaving you, but I will send the Paraclete...." "Everywhere and in all things, the Word of God wills to enact the sacrament of His embodiment." Anybody bold enough to volunteer what this all means?
Even when we fidget with our beads before the monstrance, there is a Real Absence there. Even there. That is the eschatological dimension that we will never be able to get over in this life. We long for His coming again. There is a Real Absence that eats at us, and if that absence is not there for you, I think you have a real problem:
Vivo sin vivir en mi
Y de tal manera espero
Que muero porque no muero.
Zwingli was just too logical about it. That's the problem.
Speaking of logical, and speaking of Zwingli, I was thinking about priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church. I have now been involved in two churches that do not require celibacy from their clergy (only some clergy in the case of the Orthodox). I think getting rid of the discipline of celibacy in the Roman Church would destroy it, so this is what I propose. Let the priest shack up with a woman and then look the other way. Yeah, you read that right. They've been doing it for hundreds of years anyway, so why not just continue with the dirty little secret....
Oh, that's right, we can't have "dirty little secrets" anymore. Modern educated people are not just hostile to hypocrisy, they actively hunt it down, bring it into the light of day, and then burn it at the stake. At first Christianity was wrong because all of those miracles that Jesus supposedly did are physically impossible. Now it's wrong because no one can possibly live up to it. And that is the fault of us Christians. If we weren't so busy sitting in judgment on the world for hundreds of years, maybe they wouldn't be so harsh on us now. Anyway, I digress...
The Church of the Middle Ages and the early modern period could not (and may have not wanted to) micromanage the behavior of its clergy. Perhaps (and maybe this is just wishful thinking) it knew that canon law and discipline were no match for fallen human nature, so it didn't try to challenge it on a massive scale. Sure, a slight slap on the wrist here and an occasional decree there kept up appearances. But at least people would mind their own business and not expect their clergy to be angels when they themselves weren't even close to this. Indeed, if the greatest intellectual error of modern thought, according to Maritain, is to try to make human learning into angelic infused knowledge, so the greatest problem with modern morality is that it expects man to be angelic. What folly.....
Hypocrisy is bad. But it will always be there. Sorry to burst your bubble.
The Anglican Continuum rocks! Traditional Anglicans are cool, and if anyone wants to pick on them, they will have to answer to me. Then you'll see the real barrio gangsta come out....
Disbelieve nothing amazing concerning the gods or divine dogmas. (The third Pythagorean symbol)
Commentary by Iamblichus: ...[T]his dogma sufficently venerates and unfolds the transcendency of the Gods, affording us a viaticum, and recalls to our memory that we ought not to estimate divine power by our judgment. But it is likely that some things should appear difficult and impossible to us, in consequence of our corporeal subsistence, and from our association with generation and corruption; from our having a momentary existence; from being subject to a variety of diseases; from the smallness of our habitation.... This symbol in a particular manner introduces the knowledge of the Gods, as beings who are able to affect all things.... so that the precept, disbelieve nothing, is equivalent to participate in and acquire those things through which you will not disbelieve; that is to say, acquire disciplines and scientific demonstrations.
-from The Exhortation to Philosophy
See, even the pagans knew it. This needs to be tattooed onto the foreheads of 90% of so called Biblical scholars who claim to be debunking the Bible in order to purify Christianity of mythology. Has it ever occured to these people that they are just disgusting fallen animals who need to burp, wipe their nose, and use the bathroom? Who are they to sit in judgment on the things of God? Indeed, the most authentic scholars are the ones who know the limitations of the human intellect, what it can and cannot know. You won't find many of those types on theological faculties or even on Internet "scholarly" sites where people debate endlessly about minutiae. This type of crypto-angelic cockiness can be found at the levels of the Vatican itself, and many of these guys are wearing funny red hats....
One last Pythagorean symbol:
Do not urinate facing the sun.
I like that. I just thought I would throw that in there.
(Written while listening to Philip Glass' Music with Changing Parts. Hence the title.)