The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Protestantism and Humanity

Thomas Cranmer devoted the full powers of his position as Primate of All England to inculcating the Protestant faith into every fiber of English life and law. In so doing, he shattered forever medieval Catholicism's hegemony over English society, stealthily destroying its ingrained religious semiotics, severely disrupting its instinctive communal rhythms. The noted Cambridge historian Eamon Duffy has recently drawn a lush and often lyrical portrait of the world Cranmer sought to leave behind: a beautiful world of soaring church towers, newly built, and instructive irridescent interiors, softly candlelit; a balanced world where affective personal piety grieved over the sufferings of Christ but festive bonfires abetted neighborly fellowship made jolly with ale; a supernatural corporeal world where saints and sacramentals diverted demonic fury and fecundated husbandry and home; a supernatural spiritual world where human tears averted the doom of divine wrath as well as celebrating the indwelling presence of divine love; and, above all else, a supernatural sacramental world where liturgy marked life's milestones and offered the daily miracle of one's maker. What would make an archbishop of Canterbury want to end such a world as this?

Thus Ashley Null begins the book, Thomas Cranmer's Doctrine of Repentance. And I too ask the question "why?" Having had some experience with Protestants, I have to wonder what precisely they find so offensive about our Catholic practices. It just feels that they are subtracting the human element from Faith, and trying to make a "better" religion that is an enemy of our Good One. It is a textual religion that is falsely angelic in its worst manifestations.
As I have said elsewhere, it seems Protestants want God to treat them like "mature adults" who need nothing else but the "pure word of the Gospel" and the most stripped down sacramental life in order to believe. Thank God the true Church has adapted to the weakness of our human frailty!


At 10:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But see, I'm a Protestant for exactly the reason you're praising Rome.

I don't see how saying you're irreformable and that you'll kill anybody who disagrees is adapting to human weakness. Cranmer repented from his Protestant heresies and then retracted that repentance when it was apparent he would not be allowed to live (political move? perhaps), thrusting the hand he signed his bill of repentance with into the flames first. That's a profoundly human guy. Tons of warts, but tons of heart.

At 12:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides, the last time I attended the "True Church", it had gone far beyond anything Cranmer might have envisioned in terms of sacramental minimalism.

At 3:58 AM, Blogger Rebecca M said...

You say: "...I have to wonder what precisely they find so offensive at Catholic practices..."

First, in THIS century, you can no longer make generalizations about Protestants given all the numerous denominations and varying sects.

Secondly, perhaps it is not Catholic practices, but phrases such as "falsely angelic" and "True Church" to which some Protestants take offense.

But, if we return to generalities, I think the hierarchical structure of Catholicism is uncomfortable for many Protestants, and this is largely due to the political ramifications of the two different models (unfortunately).

Catholics and Protestants both have a sordid history of oppression and violence. In the end, on the human level, it comes down to differences in faith, which to my mind, cannot be argued. A belief in God is a belief in God and there are martyrs in all religions to prove it.

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