Saturday, 13 May 2017

Mass readings in Scots: 5th Sunday in Easter (Year A)

First Reading:

Acts 6:1-7

Noo, i’ thae days, thar gat up a murmurin amang the Grecian Jews again the Hebrew anes, aboot
the weedows bein owerlookit i' the giean-oot o’ the daily breid. And the Twal’ brocht the thrang
o' the disciples thegither, and quo’ they, “It’s no bonnie that we soud lea’ the service o’ the Word o’ God, and ser’ tables. Sae, brethren, look ye oot frae ’mang yersels seeven men o’ gude name, wyss men, fu’ o’ the Spirit, that we may set ower this maitter. But we wull mainteen oorsels aye in prayer, and i’ the service o’the Word.”

And the word was weel thocht o’ o’ a’ the thrang; and they named Stephen, ane fu’ o’ faith and the Holie Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicapor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte frae Antioch. Wham they set fornent the Apostles; and whan they had prayed they set their hauns on them. And the word o’ God grew uncolie ; and the feck o’ the disciples multiply't in Jerusalem; and an unco thrang o’ the priests follow’t the faith.

(From The New Testament in Braid Scots (1904) by William Wye Smith here)
Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 32 (33):1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Rejoyce in the Lord, O ye richteous;
for prayse is cumlie in the upricht.

2 Prayse the Lord wi' herp;
sing untill him wi' the psaltrie, an' ane instriment o' ten strings.

4 For the wurd o' the Lord is richt;
an' a' his warks ar dune in trouth.

5 He loes richteousniss an' juudgemint;
the yirth is fu' o' the guidniss o' the Lord. 

18 Behald, the ee o' the Lord is apon thame that feær him,
apon thame that houpe in his mercie;

19 Til free thair saul frae deæth,
an' til keep thame alæive in scanth o' fude.
(From Psalm 33, in The Book of Psalms in Lowland Scotch by Henry Scott Riddell (1857) here)

Second Reading:
1 Peter 2:4-9

And nere ye to him, that is a leving staan, and repreuit of men, bot chosen of God, and honourit; And ye you self as quick staanis be ye abone biggit in to spirituale housis, and ane haly preesthede, to offir spirituale sacrifices, acceptabile to God be Jesu Crist. For quhilk thing the scriptur sais, Lo! I sal set in Syon the heichast kirnale staan, chosen and precious; and he that sal beleue in him, sal nocht be confonndit. Tharfor honour to you that beleues; bot to men that beleues nocht, the staan quham the biggaris repreuit, this is made into the hede of the kirnale; and the staan of hurting, and staan of sclandir, to thaim that offendis to the word, nouthir beleues it, in quhilk thai ar set.

Bot ye ar a chosen kynn, a kinglie preesthede, haly folk, a pepile of purchasing, that ye tell the virtues of him, that callit you fra mirknessis into his wondirful licht.

(From The New Testament in Scots (1520) by Murdoch Nisbet here)

John 14:1-12

"Dïnnae let yer hairts be sair annoyt. Pit yer trust ïn God, an lippen ïn me forbye. In ma Faither's hoose thair's monie dwallin-places. If that wusnae richt, A wudnae hae toul ye that A'm gaun tae mak a place readie fer ye, wud A noo? An whaniver A hae got a place readie fer ye, A'll cum an tak yis bak alang wi me, sae that whar A be, we'll aa be thegither. Yis ken whar A'm gaun, an yis ken tha róad tae whar A'm gaun."

Tammas turnt an saed til hïm, "Loard, we hae nae notion o whar ye'r fer, sae hoo cud we ken tha róad?" Jesus reponed, "A be tha róad, an tha truith, an tha life. Naebodie cums tae tha Faither but throu me. If ye knowed me weel, ye wud ken ma Faither as weel. Frae noo on, yis dae ken hïm an yis hae saa hïm forbye!"

Phïlip saed, "Loard, show iz tha Faither an that'll be eneuch fer iz." Jesus answert, "Dae ye no ken me Phïlip, tha mair A hae bin amang yis aa thïs time? Oniebodie lukkin at me haes saen tha Faither. Sae hoo can ye say, 'Show iz tha Faither?' Phïlip, dae ye no believe that A be ïn tha Faither an tha Faither's ïn me? Tha wurds A'm taakin til yis ir no jist ma ain. Na,  ït's tha Faither, leevin ïn me, wha's daein hïs wark. Tak ma wurd fer ït whaniver A say that A be ïn tha Faither an tha Faither ïs ïn me; or at the laist, trust me acause o tha warks yis hae saen me daein.

"Noo here's tha truith o ït, oniebodie that pits thair faith ïn me wull dae tha same warks that A dae. Ay, an he'll dae faur bïgger thïngs ner thon, fer A'm gaun tae be wi ma Faither."

(From Tha Fower Gospels  (2016) (Ulster-Scots), Ullans Press, ISBN: 978-1-905281-25-1, Amazon UK here,  Amazon US here.)


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Manent Mercerdi #9: after Macron?

I can't find anything that Manent has written specifically on the election of Macron to the French presidency, but the following excerpts from recent commentary might suggest a Manentian approach:

"The perils in question [of the project of 'significant numbers of the bien pensant [who] came to view both nations and classes as social forms to be steadily overcome' ] lay centrally in hoping for the democratic consent of the governed, while simultaneously eroding the main historical source of what Manent calls social ‘communion’. For it is principally the nation that, since the nineteenth century, has been the political focal point of identity, loyalty and accountability in Europe. Insofar as the EU has sought to shift these foci to other, supranational institutions and imperatives, it has embarked on an unprecedented project, one that is unparalleled, indeed, anywhere else in the world.

"In short, below each nation lies ‘civil society’, which remains politically and economically an insufficient object of aspiration; above each nation lies a putative ‘great, enormous European nation’, of indeterminate boundaries and without historical or cultural ballast. Between these sub- and supranational poles the EU finds itself without real moorings, refusing, as Manent puts it, to ‘define itself politically’, and hence taking on the character of ‘an imperious, indefinite, and opaque movement’."

(from 'What French philosophy can tell us about the EU, nationhood, and the decline of social democracy', Tom Angier here )

'Whereas the state can be neutral about religion and morality, society can never be neutral. In fact, the state’s neutrality, its formless character, is present precisely to protect the myriad beliefs, moral codes, and religious practices that comprise society. A secularism that preserves a flourishing society of diverse religious practice is completely different from a secularism that socially engineers a religiously neutral society. The latter would be a bland formless void, devoid of religious devotion, beauty, or character.

'The secularists who advance such a vision assume that Islam will reform by incorporating itself into France. In assuming this, they think that Islam should no longer be an objective value but rather be recognized as a subjective choice—a manifestation of individual rights rather than objective religious law. Muslims, of course, do not agree with this. For practicing Muslims, Islam is not a subjective choice. When Westerners treat it as one, they render themselves incapable of dealing with terrorism and the integration of Muslim immigrants.

'Manent argues that a radical secularist society, one that is formless because it refuses to be shaped by any religious inheritance, is incapable of inviting outsiders to join it. Just as a house must have walls for the host to invite a guest into it, so a society must have customs, ceremonies, and convictions to invite outsiders to join. But a radical secularist society has none of these things: no borders, no common customs, no ceremonies, no education about a common national life, no patriotism. Without common political life, a country has nothing to offer those coming from outside.'

(from 'Vive la Résistance!' in the Washington Free Beacon, by Ian Lindquist here)

'Now, with the rise of Islamic immigration, France faces the ultimate test of its own new political ideals: the growing strength of a minority that rejects diversity, rejects the supremacy of the individual, and therefore rejects the very ideology that allowed the minority to grow.
The only solution, Manent argues, is for France to insist that Muslims accept a role as French citizens, as participants in a common enterprise. But that cannot be if native French citizens do not first acknowledge their role as citizens rather than autonomous individuals.

'What is the difference between citizens and individuals? Citizens recognize their duties along with their rights. Small children will always behave as individuals. In a healthy society their parents behave as citizens—because there is no better way to train people in the habits of accepting responsibility than giving them the care of their own children.'

(from Phil Lawler, 'Apres moi le deluge', Catholic Culture, here)

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Benedict Option: Prolegomena to any future blogpost that will be able to present itself as a review

I've been putting off tackling The Benedict Option . It's been sitting next to my bed since publication and frankly I'm a little scared at having to read and then comment on it. Anyway, procrastination away! After having finished this post, I shall tackle it and report thereon.

This resolution is in part to do with a Twitter discussion that's been going on for a little while in the Catholic UK blogosphere about the new Catholic Education Service's guidance on LGBTQIIAA+ matters. (Countercultural Father here and Joseph Shaw here give a flavour of the report and the debate.) I simply don't have enough detailed expertise in either English education or the legal/regulatory framework on such matters to get too involved in this. The pressure to adopt the Time for Inclusive Education framework will undoubtedly hit us in Scotland with similar issues shortly. But I did leap in with an expression of sympathy for the dilemma faced by the Catholic Education Service: how to deal with a cultural (and legal etc) environment that frames the discussion and sets out questions to be answered in a way that does not sit easily with Catholic understandings of anthropology, and where that discussion seems to be entirely controlled by LGBTQIIAA+ pressure groups such as Stonewall.

This issue seems to me to be very much at the centre of Dreher's concerns: how an authentically Christian life can be lived out in an environment which is becoming hostile to Christianity. (That doesn't necessarily mean persecution, but it does mean (eg) that expressions of the sinfulness of homosexual sex are no longer 'acceptable' and even in some environments legal.) His solution -well, to be considered!- but the essence is clearly some sort of strategic withdrawal into a more thoroughgoingly Christian space than that offered by a secularising society.

Anyhow, I'm a great believer in Collingwood's idea that you should approach an (archaeological) investigation with questions to be answered rather than just digging around at random. Accordingly, I set out below some of the issues I'm going into this investigation with to see if I can sort them out.

1. Modesty of ambition. One of the reasons I've been so reluctant to tackle the book is that I worry there'll be nothing new there. At various times, I've read quite deeply in the literature surrounding secularisation theory and Stanley Hauerwas so I'm familiar with the difficulties that Christians face in modernity and suggestions about how they should form authentically Christian communities. Dreher's work is short (less than 75000 words I believe) and written by a journalist. So I want to find out: what does it offer that's new? (My suspicion is that it's going to provide some interesting insights into some modern ways of concretely living out Christianity. But it has also provided a 'buzz' around this important issue, and that's a good thing I suspect: we need to be thinking about this more.)

2. Specificity of tradition. Dreher is Orthodox, but the book seems to cover 'mere Christianity' without much worry about denominational differences. I want to see whether this helps or hinders his message. (My suspicion here is that we need to dig deeply into our specific traditions. Catholicism isn't Orthodoxy and neither are Evangelical Protestantism. I would expect the problems and solutions facing each tradition to be different.)

3. Outreach to the non-saints. My main worry is the apparent focus on the gathered saints (or at least saints in making). Catholicism has been a religion of saints doing their best to save a lot of sinners despite themselves. I want to find out: how does Dreher suggest that the 'Benedict' communities reach out to people who are not focused on being saints, but who might just get dragged to purgatory with the grace of sacraments?

4. Finally, inter-community structures and practices. Three things that have really had an impact on my religious life are EWTN, the internet and the Catechism. None of these seem easily into the model of a Benedictine community which is at the heart of the analogy. So I want to know: does Dreher's analysis do justice to the ways in which part of the response to the fluidity of modernity is, to borrow from Evola, 'to ride the tiger' rather than run away from it?

As a final point, part of my reluctance is that I want to like the book and I'm afraid I won't. Inasmuch as one can like a public persona, I do like Rod Dreher: he seems like an honest man trying to do honest things. That's difficult to reconcile with the need in the American religious market to become a personal brand; but although I worry that I should probably be spending the time I'm going to spend on the Benedict Option on Duns Scotus and Suarez, he does seem to be trying to deal with an important issue with integrity, and I want to be able to respect and indeed praise him for that.

No doubt other things will emerge. But that's what I'm aiming to get at just now. Wish me luck: I'm going in....