Saturday 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

Our Lady of Haddingtonpray for us!

John Haldane –the leading Scottish Catholic philosopher- was recently reappointed Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture. His reaction embodies all that I struggle to say much less clearly on this blog:

Reacting to his reappointment, Professor Haldane said;
"One of Pope Benedict's priorities is the re-evangelisation of Western civilisation and bringing Europe back into Christendom. The way to re-evangelise Western civilisation is through cultural dialogue; that is through re-interpreting the arts and philosophy through a Christian perspective. There is a larger issue than declining numbers in churches and that is about convincing at a cultural and intellectual level. As a Catholic intellectual, I am very happy to be associated with this."

The many issues on which Catholics find themselves at odds with ‘modernity’ are in large part cultural ones: previous generations accepted Christian culture but failed to live up to it; our generation no longer even accepts large parts of the Christian world view.

In the end, all the debates about same sex ‘marriage’, euthanasia, the role of religion in the public square and so on boil down to profound cultural challenges to the Catholic world view. The answer to those challenges of course involves the sort of vigorous public and political defence that the Scottish bishops have put up against the proposed same sex ‘marriage’ legislation. But beyond that, it must involve a daily struggle to demonstrate the truth, beauty and goodness of Christianity and, in particular, Catholicism as a culture.

A happy New Year to all my readers!


  1. And a Happy New Year to you also!

    I guess that Our Lady is holding a lily and not a taper?
    Do you know the origins of this image?

  2. Happy New Year, Richard! The only thing I know of its history is through the link:

    There it states that the image is a result of the following process:

    'Here, then, was a model costume for the Three Kings. Moreover, I learned of a seal of the erstwhile nunnery of Haddington, deposited in the British Museum, with the inscription ‘House of Our Lady at Haddington’. Thus, equipped with two images, and stimulated by the surge of interest in restoring St. Mary’s, I commissioned a wood carver from Oberammergau, then living in Norfolk, to carve figures of the Magi and of Christ in his Mother’s arms. The result is a wonderfully tranquil portrayal of Christ’s Mother, visible to all in the Lauderdale Aisle.'

    That suggests to me that (unless the models were more explicit than appears -can't find them online) that it's a re-imagining rather than a reproduction. (If anyone has more information, please let me know.)

    I'm afraid typical Scottish thoroughness in carrying out the Reformation has left a wasteland even more appalling than in England and Wales! I'd suspect (given the Anglo-Catholic background and explicit reference in the link) that the image of Our Lady of Walsingham must have been a model, explicit or implicit.