Saturday, February 4, 2017

"The universe of creatures will never [be allowed to] fall back into nothingness."

"Thomas, who recognizes without hesitation that the creature is nothing by itself, will never say that the creature is nothing in itself, or that it tends towards nothingness ('Tendere in nihilum non est proprie motus naturae, qui semper est in bonum, sed est ipsius defectus [(Properly speaking tendency to nothingness is not a movement of nature, which always has a tendency to the good; but it is a defect of nature that it tends to nothingness)]', De pot. q.5 a.1 ad 16).  It is always supported by the Word who has given it being and who maintains it in being in a permanent fashion (De pot. q.4 a.2 ad 8 and 14; Summa theol. I.34.3.ad 2).  Thomas is certain of this:  universitas creaturarum nunquam in nihilum redigetur [(the created universe will never be annihilated)] (De pot. q.5 a.4 co.)."

     Jean-Pierre Torrell, “Thomas d’Aquin,” Dictionnaire de spiritualité 15 (1991), col. 765 (718-773).

Who knew?

 "progressive labor reformers embraced the minimum wage for its power to exclude as well as to uplift.  The minimum wage  would, more efficiently than the literacy test, target the inferior races of southern and eastern Europe by identifying inferiority not with illiteracy but with low labor productivity—the inability to command a minimum wage.  [Paul] Kellogg's race hierarchy could not have been plainer.  A minimum wage for immigrants, he said, would 'exclude [Angelo] Lucca and [Alexis] Spivak and other 'greeners' from our congregate industries,' reserving American jobs for 'John Smith and Michael Murphy and Carl Sneider.' . . .
     "Some minimum wage advocates, such as Sidney Webb and John A. Ryan (author of the Minnesota minimum wage law), claimed that firms' labor costs would not increase, because higher wages would make workers become more productive. . . .  But such efficiency-wage claims—the idea that wages were more the cause than the consequence of labor productivity—were half-hearted and exceptional.  Indeed, both Webb and Ryan acknowledged that a minimum wage would cause some workers to lose their jobs, namely, those whose services were [(often for reasons grounded in racial inferiority)] worth less than the minimum rate. . . .
     "The more conservative American economists . . . opposed the minimum wage on these grounds [(the grounds that 'the state would have to care for the workers idled by minimum wages')]....
     "[But] The many left progressives who advocated the minimum wage, among them Father John Ryan, Charles Henderson, Matthew B. Hammond, Henry A. Millis, Henry R. Seager, Arthur T. Holcombe, and Albert B. Wolfe, agreed that the minimum wage would throw the least productive employees out of work or prevent their employment in the first place.  But these reformers saw the removal of the less productive not as a cost of the minimum wage but as a positive benefit to society.  Removing the inferior from work was not a regrettable outcome, justified by the higher wages for other workers.  Removing the inferior from work benefited society by protecting American wages and Anglo-Saxon racial integrity.
     "By pushing the cost of unskilled labor above its value, a minimum wage worked on two eugenic fronts.  It deterred immigrants and other inferiors from entering the labor force, and it idled inferior workers already employed.  The minimum wage detected the inferior employee, whether immigrant, female or disabled, so that he or she could be scientifically dealt with. . . .
     "So identified, the inferior workers could be returned to their homes (in the case of mothers not otherwise deficient) or brought under the surveillance of the stateinstitutionalized, segregated in rural colonies, or even sexually sterilized. . . ."

     Thomas C. Leonard, Illiberal reformers:  race, eugenics & American economics in the Progressive Era (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2016), 159-160 (but the relation of Progressive-Era minimum-wage advocacy to racism is stressed here and there throughout the book).

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as Head and Heart of the Church ("Spiritus sanctus est cor Ecclesiae")

     "Thomas was not original in speaking of the Holy Spirit as the soul of the mystical Body.  But he was alone in his epoque (Martin Grabmann, Die Lehre des heiligen Thomas von Aquin von der Kirche als Gotteswerk:  ihre Stellung im thomistischen System und in der Geschichte der mittelalterlichen Theologie (Regensburg:  G. J. Manz, 1903), pp.. 184-193) in making him [(lui)] play the role of 'heart of the Church' (Summa theol. III.8.1.ad 3; De ver. 29.4.ad 7):  if, in the Church-body to be head is fitting for Christ, for he has manifested himself in a very visible fashion, the role of heart falls back on the Holy Spirit.  'It is the heart, that is to say love, that is the supreme cause of the life and unity of the Church' (Journet).  Th[at] metaphor calls for another:  charity comes from the Holy Spirit, as blood from the heart; binding all of the members to one another, [charity (elle)] makes [it so] that the meritorious works of each profit all of the others.  The Holy Spirit is the heart of the communion of the saints (Jean-Pierre Torrrell, "La pratique pastorale d'un théologien du XIIIe siècle: Thomas d'Aquin prédicateur," Revue thomiste 82 (1982):  237-240 (213-245))".

     Jean-Pierre Torrell, “Thomas d’Aquin,” Dictionnaire de spiritualité 15 (1991), col. 761 (718-773).  As for the masculine language, though "lui" is both masculine and feminine, Torrell uses "le" for the Holy Spirit throughout this article.

Luke 18:11

"There were certainly no crying Statue of Liberty memes for the Syrian Christian and Iraqi refugees who were effectively barred by the Obama administration. That is because, in this context, the Statue of Liberty is reduced to a Statue of Wokeness.

"For many political activists, wokeness (being conscious of injustice) is merely a social-sorting mechanism. Wokeness isn’t about injustice, as such. It is about caring about the right people in a way that emphasizes your moral superiority over other Americans."

     Pete Spiliakos, "The Statue of Wokeness," First things, 2 February 2017.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"to teach half of any whole is really to teach no part of it." Or, "[Mere Christianity] is in fact no [Christianity] at all."

"the Establishment, for instance, accepts from the Catholic Church the doctrine of the Incarnation; but at the same time denies that Christ is in the Blessed Sacrament and that Mary is the Mother of God; who in consequence will venture to affirm that such of its members as hold the Incarnation, hold it in virtue of their membership?  the Establishment cannot really hold a Catholic doctrine, a portion and a concomitant of which it puts on one side.  The Incarnation has not the same meaning to one who holds and to one who denies these two attendant verities.  Hence, whatever he may profess about the Incarnation, the mere Protestant has no real hold, no grasp of the doctrine; you cannot be sure of him; any moment he may be found startled and wondering, as at a novelty, at statements implied in it, or uttering sentiments simply inconsistent with its idea.  Catholicism is one whole, and Protestantism has no part in it."

     John Henry Newman, The idea of a university defined and illustrated, Discourse V ("General knowledge viewed as one philosophy"), ed. I. T. Ker (Oxford:  The Clarendon Press, 1976), 429 (Appendix I).  Newman then goes on to make the same point about Islam (shades of the 2015-2016 Wheaton College Larycia Hawkins controversy).
     "any moment he may be found startled and wondering, as at a novelty, at statements implied in it":  as was I the day I (raised Quaker) realized that God is still (and will be forever) incarnate (a truth brought home to me, it should be admitted, by a Presbyterian seminary professor); as were two members of my extended (and at least historically Quaker) family on the day that, many years later, I made that same claim in their presence.
     Cf. this nearby passage.

"the actions of saints are not always patterns for us"

Actions can be "indifferent in the abstract, not in the concrete.  Eating, sleeping, talking, walking, may be neither good nor bad, viewed in their bare idea; but it is a very different thing to say that this man, at this time, at this place, being what he is, is neither right nor wrong in eating or walking.  And further, the very same action, done by two persons, is utterly different in character and effect, good in one, bad in another.  This, Gentlemen, is what is meant by saying that the actions of saints are not always patterns for us.  They are right in them, they would be wrong in others, because an ordinary Christian fulfils one idea, and a saint fulfils another.  Hence it is that we bear things from some people, which we should resent, if done by others; as for other reasons, so especially for this, that they do not mean the same thing in these and in those."

     John Henry Newman, The idea of a university defined and illustrated, Discourse V ("General knowledge viewed as one philosophy"), ed. I. T. Ker (Oxford:  The Clarendon Press, 1976), 426 (Appendix I).

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The preacher as man of Sodom

Honore Daumier,
The Destruction of Sodom, c. 1850.
"The living Word that enkindles and enlightens hearts is only present where the voice [(i.e. vox Verbi)] corresponds to the Word.  'The preacher must be a voice, because he must be conformed to the interior Word, that is to Christ [(Praedicator debet esse vox, quia debet conformari Verbo interiori)]', opines Nicholas de B(a)yard.  God only works through the preacher if he can recognize the voice of the messenger as his own voice.  [Only] then does the Word give sound [(Klang)] to his voice.  If the life of the messenger does not correspond to his proclamation, then the sermon is not worthy of being called God’s Word; indeed, it is the expression not of love but of vanity or acquisitiveness.  Such preachers are like the men of Sodom, who wanted to break down Lot’s door with sinful intentions.  God shuts the door of grace in their face."

     Zoltan Alszeghy, S.J., "Die Theologie des Wortes Gottes bei den mittelalterlichen Theologen," Gregorianum 39 (1958):  696 (685-705), quoting, besides Nicholas de B(a)yard, Gaufridus, Declamationes Prol. (PL 184, col. 437); Dionysius the Carthusian, Enarr. in 1 Reg. c. 1 a. 8 (Op. 3, p. 281); and Peter Cantor, Verbum abbreviatum c. 6 (PL 205, col. 38).  Alszeghy is dealing, of course, with the unresolved medieval tension between preaching as sacramental on the one hand and sub-sacramental on the other.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

"Theology has its departments towards which human knowledge has no relations. . . ."

"as to its Creator, though He of course in His own Being is infinitely separate from [the universe], and Theology has its departments towards which human knowledge has no relations, yet He has so implicated Himself with it, and taken it into His very bosom, by His presence in it, His providence over it, His impressions upon it, and His influences through it, that we cannot truly or fully contemplate it without in some main aspects contemplating Him."

     John Henry Newman, The idea of a university defined and illustrated, Discourse III.4 ("Bearing of theology on other branches of knowledge"), ed. I. T. Ker (Oxford:  The Clarendon Press, 1976), 57.  This is rooted the medieval (and especially Thomistic) doctrine of relations, itself founded on the Christian doctrine of creation:  the universe is really related to God, but God is not really related to the universe.  Except that Newman isn't using "relations" in quite the same way.  Because God is in no way dependent on the universe, there are things about Him (considered ad intra) that we would never know did He not reveal them.

"you . .. fashioned for us a remedy out of mortality itself, that the cause of our downfall might become the means of our salvation"

Piero della Francesca, c. 1463
"it belongs to your boundless glory, that you came to the aid of mortal beings with your divinity and even fashioned for us a remedy out of mortality itself, that the cause of our downfall might become the means of our salvation, through Christ our Lord."

"Ad cuius immensam gloriam pertinere . . . ut mortalibus tua deitate succurreres; sed et nobis provideres de ipsa mortalitate nostra remedium, et perditos quosque unde perierant, inde salvares, per Christum Dominum nostrum."

     Preface III of the Sundays in Ordinary Time, Missale Romanum.  This comes from the 7th (or even in some places 6th or 5th) -century Veronese (or "Leonine") sacramentary, no. 1115 = p. 141 in the 1956 edition of that ed. Mohlberg (which specifies also, among early sacramentaries, the Gelasian, the Gregorian, and the Ambrosian):
"ad cuius inmensam pertinet gloriam, ut non solum mortalibus tua deitate succurreris, sed de ipsa etiam mortalitate nostra nobis remedium prouideris, et perditos unde |:quo:| perierant, inde saluaris:  per."
This came out in the older "translation" of the new Missal as:
"You came to our rescue by your power as God, but you wanted us to be saved by one like us."