I was pleased to receive this booklet from Richard Hooker today. It is updated into modern English by Peter Toon, and thus far it is eminently readable. Hooker clearly disagrees with Rome on Mary; he writes:
…let us, first of all, acknowledge that there never has been, and there is not now, any person, male or female, who is absolutely righteous, one in whom there is no unrighteousness. Even the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom, with St. Augustine, we honor for the sake of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is not to be regarded as without sin and thus righteous. The claims made by certain schools within the Roman Church that she is without sin are to be rejected. Christ paid a ransom for all, and she is included in the “all.”
Aristotle discusses the good life in his Politics, and describes the good life in terms of “goods” that should belong to the happy man. These goods are goods of the body and goods of the soul. He says:
No one would call a man happy who had no particle of fortitude, temperance, justice, or wisdom [i.e. none of the goods of the soul]; who feared the flies buzzing about his head; who abstained from none of the extremest forms of extravagance whenever he felt hungry or thirsty; who would ruin his dearest friends for the sake of a farthing; whose mind was as senseless, and as much astray, as that of a child or a madman.
If only Aristotle lived in our day – *plenty* of people would call a man happy with no particle of fortitude, etc. in our day. It’s all about money in the common mind – having it, getting it, or not having it. I don’t think this it new however, because Aristotle continues:
Any modicum of goodness [i.e. of the 'goods of the soul'] is regarded as adequate; but wealth and property, power, reputation, and all such things, are coveted to an excess which knows no bounds or limits.
I go on to say that Evangelical Religion does not object
to handsome churches, good ecclesiastical architecture, a well-
ordered ceremonial, and a well-conducted service. It is not
true to say that we do. We like handsome, well-arranged
places of worship, when we can get them. We abhor slovenliness and disorder
in God s service, as much as any. We would have all things done “decently and in order.” (1 Cor. xiv. 40.)
But we steadily maintain that simplicity should be the grand
characteristic of Christian worship. We hold that human
nature is so easily led astray, and so thoroughly inclined to
idolatry, that ornament in Christian worship should be used
with a very sparing hand. We firmly believe that the tendency
of excessive ornament, and a theatrical ceremonial, is to defeat
the primary end for which worship was established, to draw
away men s minds from Christ, and to make them walk by
sight and not by faith. We hold above all that the inward and
spiritual character of the congregation is of far more importance
than the architecture and adornments of the church. We dare
not forget the great principle of Scripture, that “man looketh
on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
(1 Sam. xvi. 7.)
There are certain left-wing intellectuals that I admire for their ability to diagnose the maladies endemic in our current condition, despite their failure to come up with the correct solutions. Camille Paglia is one, and perhaps Michael Houllebecq is another. David Coward summarizes Houllebecq’s views of society in his September, 2005 review of La Possibilite D’Une Ile in the Times Literary Supplement. Coward writes:
It starts from the premise that in our post-faith, commodity-rich culture, personal gratification has become the highest good. The pursuit of pleasure prioritizes the self and, in the process, promotes separation and dispersal. As a result, society has reverted to its fragmented, pre-civilized form and is filled with unlinked, unfulfilled, unhappy egos…The “supermarket society”, with its offers of a constantly renewed selection of cheap, easily attainable goods, has delivered a death blow to religion.
In the wake of the Enlightenment, believers became citizens. Citizens have now turned into customers, who cannot conceive of a future, let alone of an afterlife, except in terms of increasing wealth and the acquisition of consumer products for status and satisfaction…Having lived for extended periods in Ireland and Spain, two deeply Catholic countries, he was struck by how quickly religion had collapsed in both places in the wake of modernization. He considers that Islam will go the same way. Fiercely supported at present by the young it will disappear in its turn, dismantled by the same appetite for consumer goods that marked the end of Communism in former Eastern Bloc countries. Like Christianity or punk, he says, it will leave only aesthetic remains. A greater threat by far, dealt with in his new novel, is the barbarism which is the true legacy of the 1968 revolution and the hippie generation: social, intellectual and moral deregulation.
James Jordan writes in his Theses On Worship:
I believe that we are moving into an era of hardened materialism in the United States, and one of the effects of this will be the increasing impotence of parachurch evangelistic movements and “method” evangelism. These things had their place in calling a people with a Christian memory back to God, but hardened materialists don’t have the Christian memory. When you ask them “Why should God let you into heaven?” they don’t care.
For the Church to be effective we must see the return of parish ministry. The local church in a given place must reach out to those living within walking distance, by offering to “be there” in the context of death. This is the context in which the Kingdom comes, and it is the context in which worship takes place.
Michael O’brien offers this insight:
Q: How can literature be used to transmit the Christian message?
O’Brien: By restoring men and women to an understanding of their eternal value, and at the same time restoring in them a sense of wonder and consciousness of the splendor of existence. We are all involved in a great drama, the Great Story. Yet the nature of the new democratized cosmos fundamentally distorts how we understand the shape of reality.
The truth is, we live in a hierarchical creation that is involved in a vast and complex war that will last until the end of time. Born into this war zone, we are profound mysteries to ourselves, inherently glorious and potentially tragic. Yet by and large, modern culture has destroyed this sense of mystery.
A good summary of Rudy Giuliani at the Chronicles site:
So this is where the mainstream conservative movement has led us: to more and more “conservatives” signing on to support the pro-abortion, pro-gay rights Giuliani, who as mayor of New York favored gutting the Second Amendment and protecting illegal aliens from possible deportation in his “sanctuary city.” The NRO crowd has no shame, if we are supposed to take seriously praise for the character of the adulterous Giuliani, who cheated on his second wife before marrying wife number three, herself the veteran of two prior marriages. But it does have principles of a sort: If the GOP were to nominate Ron Paul rather than Rudy Giuliani, one can be sure that Lopez would fill NRO with invective denouncing Paul. All NRO cares about is support for endless war in the Mideast, and all of Giuliani’s many flaws will be overlooked, since he has made it clear he fully supports the way Bush has waged “the War on Terror.” Indeed, with both Norman Podhoretz and David Frum as advisers, Giuliani promises to be even more mindlessly belligerent than Bush.
It is instructive to note what God was pleased that Solomon did *not* ask for when he asked God for one thing:
the life of those who hate him
It seems that all of these are things that we are regularly told to pursue in our brief life.
The Oxford Anthology of English Literature says this of Protestantism:
The Reformation must be seen as an institutional process which, after it had succeeded in establishing Protestant churches, continued like a kind of permanent revolution, to unfold in the individual positions and visions of particular religious thinkers. Its primary movement, from the time of its beginning in the sixteenth century, was toward the internalization of institutions: individual conscience, rather than the structure of a church hierarchy to mediate between God and Man; an identification of Christ as the Light of the World with an inner light within men, and so forth.
I think that this feature, the permanent revolution, is what led to our current secular society, as well as the acceptance within the Church of un-orthodox doctrines. Rejection of the community through time and the reading of the community at large led to a constant search for newness, innovation if you will. This is the blessing and the curse of the Protestant condition.