Saturday, April 7, 2012

A lovely little play on words

"prayers are vainly cast upon the air unless hope [(spes)] be added, from which we quietly watch [(expectemus)] for God as from a watchtower [(specula)]."

     John Calvin, Institutes III.xx.12, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Library of Christian classics 21 (Philadelphia:  The Westminster Press, 1960), 865); COS IV, p. 311 l. 38 ff. ("preces in aerem frustra proiici, nisi spes sit annexa, unde velut e specula Deum quieti expectemus").

     There is a lovely little play on words here.  For specula, -ae (fem.) is two different words in Latin, really:
  1. from the verb specioa look-out, watchtower.
  2. diminutive of spes, which is related to the verb spero (the 1st edition of the Oxford Latin dictionary, though, says spatium):  a little hope, ray of hope.
Far from unique to Calvin undoubtedly, but none the less striking for that.
     Moreover, specto, on which ex(s)pecto (cf. expectemus, "we . . . watch") is built, is itself related to specio, being a frequentative of it:  specio, to look at, behold; specto, to look at carefully, contemplate, observe, watch.

One sings anyway

"whereas Watts and Wesley and Cowper's Olney collaborator John Newton are uttering their hymns as it were from the pulpit, Cowper is one of those who sit at their feet, reporting faithfully how it seems to him, there, in the pew.  Perhaps the clearest example is 'Sometimes a light surprises' (no. 162).  One may have read this poem, or more probably sung it, many and many a time before realizing that the crucial word in it is the first.  'Sometimes'only sometimes, not always, not even very often!  The 'holy contemplation' that is thereafter evoked, the sweet security, the unforced adorationall this is distinctly not what any one, it seems, should expect to experience at all often, in church or out of it.  It is not presented as the normal condition of the Believer.  Above all therefore it is not the pay-off, the guaranteed reward for going to church and trying to behave well.  On the contrary one earns such fitful and infrequent benefits (though 'earn' is the wrong word anyway, for a Calvinist such as Cowper) only by first suffering through afflictions and desolationsthe 'season of clear shining' comes only 'after rain', only 'when comforts are declining'; and there is no guarantee that it will come, even then.  Similarly, one sings anyway; the consoling words that one sings strike dully and inertly Sunday after Sunday (one is even, so some might say, 'insincere' in singing them); it is only sometimes, on one or two Sundays out of many, that 'a light surprises' and the words take on heartfelt meaning, 'while he sings'. . . . An evangelist, or even the earnest incumbent in the pulpit, would surely prefer not to have the insecurity of the whole arrangement announced quite so bleakly. . . . [But] once one has taken the force of 'sometimes', the poem affects a fusion of states of feeling that one would have sworn were incompatible:  of grateful security ('But he will bear us through') with wistfulness, even weariness, almost resentment.  The opening word of the poem casts a beam of pathos and qualification across everything that comes after."

     Donald Davie, "Introduction," The new Oxford book of Christian verse, ed. Donald Davie (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1981), xxv-xxvi.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sources of the full text of the Nijmegen Declaration/Nijmegen Statement of 1968 (17 December 1968) entitled "Freedom for Theology"

  • Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 17 December 1968
  • Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 17 December 1968
  • New York times, 17 December 1968
  • [London] Times, 18 December 1968 (according to Herder correspondence, below).
  • Concilium (German, French, English, Dutch (Concilium: internationaal tijdschrift voor theologie 1969), Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish)
  • "Freedom for theology." Herder correspondence: a monthly review of the Christian world 6, no. 2 (February 1969): 46-48.
  • "Declaration of 1,360 Catholic theologians on the Freedom of Theology (1968)."  Küng in conflict, ed. Leonard Swidler (Garden City, NY:  Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1981), 26-30.  Swidler does not give his source.  
     According to Hans Küng, this "emerged in Tübingen" ("On the standstill in ecumenism:  Where I stand," Christianity and crisis 41, no. (1981 February 2), 9 (3-11), "a slightly abridged and edited version of an address . . . [delivered] at [the] Pacific School of Religion," and published in full in vol. 59 no. 1 of the PSR Bulletin, the issue dated January 1981).  So was Nijmegen where the offices of Concilium were located?
     If the Declaration was published in an English issue of Concilium, I overlooked it.
     I have also seen this same declaration attached to Zürich.

Some other as yet unverified possibilities:
  • Catholic voice (25 December 1968): 5?
  • National Catholic reporter (1 January 1969)?
With thanks to Stephen Sweeney for the diversion.

     Update:  Thanks to Chris, below, I have added the reprint in Küng in conflict, ed. Leonard Swidler (above), and the following notes from Hans Küng, Disputed truth:  Memoirs, trans. John Bowden (London and New York:  Continuum International Publishing Group, 2008), pp. 46 ff.:  "At the Concilium Foundation Meeting in Paris on 12 October 1968", Küng suggests to Congar, Rahner, and Schillebeeckx "a declaration 'On the Freedom of Theology'", which Küng drafts back in Tübingen and from there submits first to the three others and then to "all the section directors through the Concilium secretariat" (46). "Once all the editorial committee of Conciliuma group of around 40 theologians, men and women, from the most varied nations and theological disciplineshave accepted the declaration it appears . . . on 17 December 1968 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the New York Times and other papers.  At the same time it is published in the various editions of Concilium (German, French, English, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) and the theologians of the world are asked to subscribe to it.  A small miracle occurs:  the declaration is signed by 1360 Catholic theologians from 53 countries and sent to the Foundation Board of the Papal Secretariat" (47-48).  "Professor Joseph Ratzinger of Tübingen also signs and has never withdrawn his signature" (48).