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January 07, 2009



Nothing is more laughable than the quixotic attempts to reconcile "Enlightenment progress" and the eschatological vision of the Christian faith. With Wall Street crashing down on your head, "Enlightenment progress" has shown its ugly head. The Christian faith cannot be married to any worldly notions of human progress. Your progressivist ideology is showing through. It has been tried and it has been found EXTREMELY wanting.

Ranjit Chatterjee

Ah, Father O'Leary, you are an intelligent man. I am too. So I love your gymnastics and somersaults. Please kindly take a look at the books on Derrida as a Jew. I talked to him about it--he was very clear in his non-deconstructive personal mode. Or at my Wittgenstein & Judaism: A Triumph of Concealment--sorry if I mentioned it to you before.
All the best and cheerio,

Spirit of Vatican II

Ranjit, I do regret never having met Derrida, and I have no doubt that he had a deep Jewish piety, just as he had a generous commitment to various concrete political causes and hopes.

However, I find the abstract talk of messianicity in his "Specters of Marx" rather laming. I don't think it really enables or founds his concrete commitments and hopes. The book is actually one of those that bury Marx, a thinker who clearly needs to be retrieved for new uses today. Also, is the later Derrida a "quasi-transcendental" thinker any more? I mean, does his transcendental regress take us to startlingly aporetic structures such as differance (sic) -- as explained in Rodolphe Gasche's study -- or is he just another transcendental thinker in the line of Husserl, laboriously expounding conditions of possibility of eschatological protention in a way that does nothing to retrieve the power of concrete eschatological traditions.

Tony, I do not think the Enlightenment -- which I see as an ongoing and self-correcting project -- can be so easily dismissed, nor do I think that the Persian-Jewish-Christian eschatological structures can so easily be transferred to our times. The only diehard eschatologists of this kind usually group in sects. Human needs, for peace and justice, and the principle of hope, are the basic phenomenological data. Grasping these data with modern sophistication, in light of modern biology etc., we listen again to the divine promises coming to us in ancient sources such as the Prophets or the New Testament, and we seek to articulate those promises in a convincing way for today. It is what John XXIII called aggiornamento and reading the signs of the times. He was not a naive optimist, but he knew that the Gospel counsels optimism about the world not despair of the world.


Dear Jo,

you're a mysterious man for me ... You feel so un-at-ease with church teachings, even in important points, appealing to such or such work of such or such people to support your point of view.
However, the fact remains that I can't see what can be positive in your blog : you spread distrust.
Honestly, how can you serve this Church as priest ? Isn't that contrary to the sense of honor to claim to serve the Church while saying again and again that her teachings are no longer right in the light of what the Church should teach (in your eyes) ?
This disturbs me.

So why not focus on what you find great in the Church's... official teachings?
Wouldn't that be more interesting for every one?
And then, loyalty toward the Church would be restored.

Frankly my limited brain can't see why you're still in a Church that seems to you ... so out of date?
How can you respect celibacy if you think it's an archaic idea? etc... How can you teach anything to your parishioners and bring them to Christ, if the Church's words and Christ's are out of date ? What remains of your authority ?

I think it would be interesting to hear you on these subjects (please not as in a court, but because this seems impossible to me to understand. However I don't pretend to have the knowledge to judge that : but my common sense can't grasp that).


Spirit of Vatican II

"Frankly my limited brain can't see why you're still in a Church that seems to you ... so out of date?
... if the Church's words and Christ's are out of date?"

Of course I do not think that the teachings of Christ and His Church are out of date. But since 1978 we have seen a restorationist clampdown that has reached a pitch with the recent batch of episcopal appointments. Against this there has been an insurgency, partly inspired by the memory of John XXIII and Vatican II, and my voice can be inscribed in that insurgency if you will, just as yours seems inscribable within culture-war rhetoric.

You should not tell people "the Church has no place for you" and consign those you disagree with to the dustbin of heresy. My ideas are perfectly unmysterious to anyone familiar with modern philosophy, theology and literature, and I am well enough grounded in Scripture and the Fathers to have a lot of resistance to heretical deviation.

"So why not focus on what you find great in the Church's... official teachings? Wouldn't that be more interesting for every one?"

It would indeed be more interesting, if they would read it, instead of obsessing about my criticisms. Perhaps you might try such pieces as the following, which are quite in the line you recommend: "Love Conquers All" under the rubric Benedict XVI or "Pauline Faith, Hope and Love", below.

"And then, loyalty toward the Church would be restored." A suspension of critical thought, freedom of expression, open discussion, is not loyalty, but disloyalty.


Thanks for having answered, Jo.

Those are complicated issues, I mean : free will and revelation, dogma and theology and the living and organic links between all of them!

I don't know what you mean by "culture war rhetoric"... But it's true that we are generally bad at exploring ourselves, even with good will (lol). Note too that i'm not a native English speaker, so my wording is dependent on my readings and my scholarship!!!

What I know is that I like to understand the links and to find coherence in any system. When I can't see them, I try to search why, how, etc...

" A suspension of critical thought, freedom of expression, open discussion, is not loyalty, but disloyalty."
I completely agree with that, Jo. However, as priest perhaps there are things that have to be said person to person. Is the internet a good tool for expressing things like that?

That was my minute of hard philosophy.

Have a good day.





An interesting essay with some thoughts on eschatology as well as a critique of Orthodox theology.

Spirit of Vatican II

Thanks for this, I will read it with interest.


" When Edward Schillebeeckx saluted the 1979 Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua as a sign of the Kingdom, that was perfectly intelligible. Liberation Theology was admired for its integration of concrete political and social struggles for justice and peace with an eschatological vision derived from the Prophets and the Gospels."

## If Jesus had wanted to bring in the Kingdom by violence - why did He address Peter as Satan, & why was He crucified ?

To bring in God's Kingdom by violence (were such a thing even possible) makes the KIngdom of God no better thamn than the wicked kingdoms of men - the KoG is degraded to a this-worldly kingdom, which means that it it is forced to belong to this present and passing age, the age that will pass away when Christ comes in His Kingdom. It makes the Kingdom of God unrighteous - it becomes the sort of set-up that is entered only over
mounds of corpses.

Something is very wrong indeed if such a kingdom as that is thought to be the Kingdom of God or to be anything like it.

Spirit of Vatican II

Were the Sandinistas so violent? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaraguan_Revolution

They were violently harassed by the US for years.

Spirit of Vatican II

Moreover, Jesus promises that the struggle for the Kingdom will involve violent persecutions. (On the political-social dimension of Christianity, just count the number of references to social justice topics such as poverty and money in Luke-Acts.)

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