For a truly subversive Newman?

16 12 2010

From Eamon Duffy:

But if Cornwell absolves the Vatican of trying to conceal the potentially embarrassing sexuality of a candidate for sainthood, he is inclined to think that the beatification of Newman may nevertheless represent an attempt by an authoritarian church to tame a troublesome and unconventional intellect, and to neutralize Newman’s usefulness to critics of current Vatican policy. Newman was, by nineteenth-century Catholic standards, a deeply unconventional theologian. Soaked in the writings of the Early Church Fathers, he disliked the rigidly scholastic cast of mind that cramped the Catholic theology of his day. He was one of the first theologians to grasp the historical contingency of all theological formulations. Accordingly, he resisted doctrinaire demands for unquestioning obedience to contemporary Church formulae as if they were timeless truths. He was an ardent defender of the legitimate autonomy of the theologian and of the dignity of the laity as custodians of the faith of the Church. He was scathingly critical of the authoritarian papacy of Pope Pius IX (Pio Nono), who held the office between 1846 and 1878, and he opposed the definition of papal infallibility in 1870 as an unnecessary and inappropriate burden on consciences. “We have come to a climax of tyranny,” he wrote. “It is not good for a Pope to live 20 years…. He becomes a god, [and] has no one to contradict him”…

To resolve this apparent contradiction between a religion of objectively revealed truth and the flux of Christian doctrines and practices, Newman wrote at Littlemore a theological masterpiece, the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845). Its central claim is that the concepts and intuitions that shape human history are dynamic, not inert. Great ideas interact with changing times and cultures, retaining their distinctive thrust and direction, yet adapting so as to preserve and develop that energy in different circumstances. Truth is a plant, evolving from a seed into the mature tree, not a baton passed unchanging from hand to hand. Ideas must unfold in the historical process before we can appropriate all that they contain. So beliefs evolve, but they do so to preserve their essence in the flux of history: they change, that is, in order to remain the same. “In a higher world it is otherwise; but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

I used to make the intellectual mistake of thinking that the Hegelian dialectic, in the triad “thesis-antithesis-synthesis”, was prone to the worst form of institutional crony idealism. The position of the current hegemonic institution is the teleological resting point toward which all of history is driven. That is not a fair reading. Really, the process is not about how the Ideal emerges from the purely contingent, but how the contingent becomes the Ideal. Or rather, how the Ideal is the contingent merely viewed after a process of double negation.

Thus, once one has introduced the idea of change into the realm of the Divine, the Divine is not somehow salvaged from the contingent, as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, but the Divine becomes the radical contingent. The Truth is the void that drives the process forward but is never obtained precisely because it is void. The religious experience is not an opening one’s eyes in the light of day, but a sort of ascent into the darkness. Certainty is the realm of idols in that sense.

Perhaps Newman would not be on the “orthodox” side today precisely because his system is process-oriented, not a “results-oriented”. If he had lived today, he would not have been in the “just right church”. The fact that many issues are up in the air, not just with theologians and certain “dissident” prelates, but in the entire orbis terrarum, would perhaps be a primary issue in his mind. Perhaps with him, faith is not some sort of inertia in the face of change, but a willingless to believe in spite of change. Perhaps change is the very object of belief itself, not an obstacle to it.


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26 responses

27 08 2012
Timothy

Fortunately, Mr. Vasquez, you are only an intellectual, not an oracle.

23 12 2010
Chris

“However, more than 75% of U.S. Catholics believe the church should allow the use of contraception, according to a recent Gallup poll (Roylance, Baltimore Sun, 4/10).” (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/22678.php)

AV’s “96%” may be a bit hyperbolic, but the point remains: the vast majority of Catholics, at least in the US and Europe, use artificial contraception and have no moral qualms about doing so.

22 12 2010
Arturo Vasquez

You’re right. In the spirit of “95% of men masturbate, and 100% lie about it”, so I would say that 96% of Catholics contracept, except for those not having sex.

22 12 2010
Paul Palsson

Why does Arturo Vasquez believe that 96% of Catholics cotracept?

18 12 2010
Henry Karlson

Have you read Ficino at all? “Dabbling with the occult” is quite common with Ficino — and those who followed after him in his Platonism.

I would say the modern world is far more occult than most realize, and we are all talking on the computer, one of the most powerful occult devices ever created.

18 12 2010
Francis

Ah. Rather constructive. I guess I will stop taking this seriously and get back to the sane, not fun “ecclesial, mainstream Christian [metaphysic of reality.”

Since I just read this and it is somewhat relevant:
When finally the dreadful words crepuit medius could be uttered over a guilty Christendom, long eaten away at by the illness of the Great Schism, then it was necessary to take up the following words too: et diffusa sunt omnia viscera ejus.
Something of the innermost bowels of the Church had been torn out of the Church by the Reformers, something of her heart continued to beat outside her heart, in a transposition for which we have no metaphor. Not only are all the validly baptized outside the Catholic Church her children in truth, belonging to her by right and whom she misses bitterly because her breasts year for them and the pain of the milk that is not sucked torments her; there is much more than this: profound mysteries, things that often only her saints knew…in this way the love of the Church has been moved out of her, tragically and utterly irremediably, often still recognizable in the pieces of her lying about in front of her doors. But the more they become dissolved in the world, the more unrecognizable they become. Finally they will be concealed in the elements of the cosmos, like the chorus that dissolves itself at the end of the Helena-act, like a beloved tomb that one continues to visit for a long time although it has lain empty for years…”

18 12 2010
Robert Hiyane

“I would posit another model. I suspect that the Haitian voudoun metaphysic of reality (at least as interpreted by Maya Deren) is far closer to the reality than the ecclesial mainstream Christian one.”

This is INSANE! How come more people are not calling AV out on this. Yes, he has an interesting blog that can be “fun” to read but this is cukoo, cukoo, cukoo. You can quote Zizek or Hegel or twist Newman or Church Fathers but none of them would agree with this craziness.

AV is being dangerous in and growing worse in his attacks on the Faith. This has ceased to be a Catholic oriented blog (even from the School of Pope Julius II as the blog claims or Neoplatonism) and has gone over to the botanica as AV writes about. It is dabbling with the occult and justifying the unjustifiable and obvious.

17 12 2010
Turmarion

I am starting to go from founding my beliefs not in some sort of mystical ascent in which we get beyond thinking (say in theurgy), but to one in which the very failure of thought, the negation, must be analyzed in the most rigorous exercise of self-knowledge (negation of the negation).

Interestingly, this strikes me as on the one hand very much similar to the concept of jñana yoga in Hinduism, and on the other a bit like Eastern apophatic theology, or the theology of St. John of the Cross.

As to the rest, it makes sense. Maybe I would be Hegelian to the extent of seeing it as coming down to a dialectic between the folk, fringe, “heretical” stuff and the “official” institutional Church, where you can’t dispense with either (however much they may dislike each other) but you can’t sign on completely to either one, too. The Christian life, such as it is, comes out of the interaction.

17 12 2010
Arturo Vasquez

Well, you can win an argument by addressing reality or you can do it by moving goal posts and saying you kicked the winning field goal that way. If there is something that I have concluded about Mike & friends’ argumentative style is that they tend to argue using the latter method. “Catholicism” will win as an institution because “Catholicism” is invincible. The antagonism is always outside of the Platonic definition of “Catholicism” floating in the ether. How things look in reality, well, your mind is playing tricks on you. Don’t pay any attention to that. God forbid we should argue that change exists in the very idea itself. Otherwise, the sky would fall, we would have to curl up in a fetal position in the corner, dogs will marry cats, etc.

On Newman, I will by no means say that “if Newman were alive today, he would believe X”. However, I will say that Mike and Co. never address the actual role of the orbis terrarum in Newman’s discourse. To reiterate, they are all about an impressionistic sense of how Newman’s system would work, without perceiving the living heart of it. The fact that 96% of Catholics contracept may have been a bigger deal for Newman than the neo-ultramontanists (when are they going to beatify Manning?) Perhaps today he would say that we are still “waiting for the echo”, as in the question of Papal Infallibility. And he may be the last to posit that reception by the laity has nothing to do with truth. After all, was he not willing to accept Marian dogmas and other popish things precisely because the orbis terrarum, as seen in the laity and clergy, and not just the Vatican, accepted them with an organic faith?

Perhaps, paraphrasing Chenu, beatifying Newman is giving him a first class burial. Otherwise, development is just a self-fulfilling prophecy, which begs the question, what is its purpose?

17 12 2010
Arturo Vasquez

I think you are right about Zizek, and I am by no means a follower of Zizek, though I think he makes some good points. My reference to dialectical materialism was more in the sense that I never have really ditched Marxism as a means to analyze reality. Even a superficial survey going back to the inception of my writing would betray this quite starkly. I was never able to balance it with an affinity to Neoplatonic thought. That doesn’t mean I am going to dispose of my studies of Neoplatonism altogether; as others have insinuated, it is hard to be religious without being a Neoplatonist on some level. However, even in my studies of Hadot, he is never quite clear HOW we choose an ethical path; only that philosophy is a way of life that is a consequence of that choice. I suppose I am now choosing to look at this through another prism. Unlike Marx and Zizek, I am not a vulgar materialist in the sense that I think that THIS is all there is. But the THIS part is far more omnipresent and inescapable than I have sometimes let on. The whole anti-Hegelian, anti-rational impulse is not a viable option. I am starting to go from founding my beliefs not in some sort of mystical ascent in which we get beyond thinking (say in theurgy), but to one in which the very failure of thought, the negation, must be analyzed in the most rigorous exercise of self-knowledge (negation of the negation). That seems to be a far more honest way of putting things in the context of the 21st century.

I would posit another model. I suspect that the Haitian voudoun metaphysic of reality (at least as interpreted by Maya Deren) is far closer to the reality than the ecclesial mainstream Christian one. I think this is also the system revealed on the margins of Catholic discourse, precisely in what has been called “folk Catholicism” for lack of a better word. I will give a few examples:

1. Immanence vs. transcendence: in voudoun, the loa are really the energy or life force of the people manifested in individual avatars. The loa are in the blood, in the body, not outside of it. While Catholic saints and angels can’t be spoken of like this in an institutional sense, the very real kinship relationship with the saints and other spirits in some contexts hint at a deeper relationship than the common one of intercession in the communion of saints.

2. Beyond good and evil: in voudoun, the concept of good and evil is much more ambiguous, though it is there. But a good choice and a bad choice, a good petition and a bad petition, always have immediate consequences, as do dealings with forces that are morally ambiguous. “Folk Catholicism” also has this risque, borderline bizarre flirtation with morally questionable things. One thinks, for example, of the prayer to Santa Librada in early modern Spain by expectant mothers, that translates something like, “may it be as sweet coming out as it was going in”. Or the prayers in Argentina by thieves to San Alejo to give them distance in a chase by police (“alejar” in Spanish meaning “to separate”)

3. Service vs. faith: The hougan will say that he serves the loa, or that he serves a certain loa. The traditional Catholic family has always had a saint or image that they might be in the service of. Whether or not they go to Mass regularly, participate in the institutions, etc. is beside the point. Religion lies not in belief but in action. Thus, one also negotiates with the familial spirits, one expects things from them, and they are punished when not received, etc.

Again, if someone read me closely, they would conclude that I am not even a Christian. However, my task is not to answer the question of identity, but to problematize it. What we obsess about in terms of Christianity would not have been the concerns of the average Christian taken over the course of two thousand years. It may have been of the elites, and if one wants to perceive the faith of the elites as being the vox Dei simpliciter, there is nothing I can say that will change your mind. But for me, especially in the modern era, this whole Catholicism thing is up in the air. As I have said, the future is not what I would prefer (sober “apostolic” Christianity), but rather the faith in ecstasy as seen in Pentecostalism, spiritism, etc. I am not an apologist for the future, but I just call it like I see it.

17 12 2010
Stanislaus

I still don’t think that the analogy is a good one. Pelagianism still believes in a God who intervenes in nature, who answers our prayers, who sent His Son into the world to die for our redemption. So even though one’s salvation is dependent solely on the one’s free will, there is still an external world governed by the good God, who excepts things of you, may act on your behalf, etc. Zizek’s main lesson is about this external state of affairs.

17 12 2010
dominic1962

That’s right, not actual Pelagianism, but in a sense that we attain “salvation” by ourselves. “Salvation” being any sort of fulfillment, finding of meaning, transforming the world etc. etc. you want to mean by that. Christ can be seen as a man who can show us the way, but he doesn’t do anything for us.

17 12 2010
Turmarion

If we are indeed alone and there’s nothing superhuman, then why bother to transform the world? If there’s no meaning in the cosmos, then it seems to me that looking out for Number One, doing unto others before they do unto you, or just drifting about in despair are equally legitimate courses of action as transforming the world is.

That’s where I have issues with Derrida, Zizek, and many other similar modern philosophers. They seem to have a very convoluted and confusing way of saying something along the lines of “There’s no God or meaning, but we ought to be OK with that.” Well, Nietzsche and later the existentialists said the same thing much more bluntly, and they accurately saw that if there is no God or meaning, then we actually shouldn’t be OK with it. Hence the Nietzschean Will to Power whereby one heroically makes meaning anyway, and the anomie, alienation, and absurdity expressed in existentialist literature.

I never have liked secular humanism in its various flavors very much, since to me it seems to have a simpleminded, Pollyanna-ish view of human nature and no concept at all of tragedy, to say nothing of a rather shallow form of atheist/agnostic belief and a totally unwarranted belief in inevitable progress. Nevertheless, I’d still take it over the more modern stuff, because at least it’s earnest (even if too much so at times!) and it doesn’t use complicated obfuscation to get to its point. It just says, “We’re on our own, yaay! Now let’s make the world better!” Silly and naive, but straightforward and honest, at least.

I’m not dismissing Zizek, Derrida, and the others tout court, or saying we can’t learn from them. I’m just saying that IMO in the big picture, they’re not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, and said much better and more clearly at that.

One other critique of their position–to “move beyond metaphysics” is itself a metaphysic, right? And once more, it’s been done before and better by the analytic and positivist philosophers of the early to mid 20th Century–and it didn’t really work out then, either.

17 12 2010
Stanislaus

I’m no Zizek scholar myself, but I don’t think that he’s talking about any sort of personal salvation. When I say that he treats Christ’s death on the cross ‘as a ladder’ i mean conceptually, i.e. Zizek uses the death of Christ on the cross, abandoned, without any help from above, as a sort of parable, the lesson of which is that we are on our own, there is nothing superhuman, that is on our side, or that even cares about what is happening. To throw the ladder away means basically to move beyond metaphysics grounded in religion, to working to transform the world, but again, here transform doesn’t mean anything like it does in Pelagianism, Zizek is a Leninist, and of course, an atheist.

16 12 2010
dominic1962

“Someone like Zizek sees Christianity as being capable of moving beyond reliance on supernatural forces, e.g. ‘the death of Christ on the cross allows us to realize that we are on our own.’ Hence it’s a ladder, but one that you can throw away.”

I haven’t read much of Zizek, but if that is the case, how is this interpretation much different from Pelagianism? Christ’s death on the cross is just a “ladder”, something (presumably) we have to “climb” on our own? I guess there is just nothing new under the sun…

16 12 2010
Stanislaus

I guess the reason that I’m asking is that, up until now, when you were driven by your neo-platonic tendencies, it seemed that there was some sort epiphanic element that the religious structure of Catholicism allowed you tap into, another, higher world, and now I’m just wondering, if that element is excised, what remains of Catholic teaching, practices, etc? Are you saying that seems that reinterpreting Catholicism in terms of dialectical materialism doesn’t require you to modify your relationship to it?
Someone like Zizek sees Christianity as being capable of moving beyond reliance on supernatural forces, e.g. “the death of Christ on the cross allows us to realize that we are on our own. ” Hence it’s a ladder, but one that you can throw away.
Someone like Vattimo or Caputo sees it as a tradition that opens us up to some irreducible ethical dimension, so it retains some sort of positive role.
So maybe I’d rephrase my original question from ‘why do you remain Catholic?’ to: How does the move from Neoplatonism to dialectical materialism affect your relationship with Catholicism, and by that I would mean, your relationship to the ‘divine’? How do you pray to, sing to, offer sacrifice to, the placeholder for the ‘radically contingent’?

16 12 2010
Henry Karlson

Of course, how much Newman looked to de Maistre is in question — but he gave the nod to de Maistre on the issue of doctrinal development. Some say he was told by others about de Maistre’s position. Even if so, de Maistre’s influence on others is certain.

16 12 2010
Henry Karlson

Michael

Newman certainly looked to de Maistre, and said as much, as precedent for his position; and though we don’t have as many people talking about him today, de Maistre’s influence in the 19th century was great. But we both agree, Newman helped bring this idea into prominence.

16 12 2010
Michael Liccione

Arturo:

I think [Catholicism] is the only religion in the modern Western world that merits the name, in that it tries to mix universality and systematic rigor with plurality and local manifestations of the supernatural. Do I think it works? No. But it is still a noble try. As I have written above, I am pessimistic to the point that I think the whole thing is on the verge of collapse, at least a major section of it.

Western intellectuals have been predicting the collapse of “the Catholic thing,” which you correctly identify, ever since the so-called “Enlightenment.” My response to you is the same as to them: the Church, like philosophy, always has and always will bury her undertakers.

I’ve long thought that the attitude you share is an all-but-inevitable reaction to the scandal of particularity, which is really the difficulty, for many, of seeing the mutual inherence of the universal and the particular. There’s no way to “get it” from the outside; one has to live it from within the tradition, as you clearly recognize. Your own contribution is to point out that “the outside” is now “inside” the Church. I agree that such is the case for many individuals; but to conclude that’s it the case for the Catholic thing as such, one must assume that its intensional reality is reducible to its extensional reality. Only, it isn’t. And that fact lies at the core of the Catholic thing.

Best,
Mike

16 12 2010
Michael Liccione

Henry:

I see your point. You could even have made it more cogent. The idea of doctrinal development actually goes back to St. Vincent of Lerins; see Chapter 23 of his Commonitory. Yet on this point, Newman had much more impact than St. Vincent or either of the figures you cite. Indeed, at the time Newman wrote, Bossuet was much more typical of Catholic thought on the subject; as for the West in the centuries after St. Vincent, many appear to have thought that the filioque was a clear tenet of the original “apostolic” faith rather than a development. It took until the mid-20th century for the majority of Catholic theologians, and Rome, to shed a quasi-fundamentalist attitude toward doctrine. The magisterial accession appears only in Dei Verbum §8. As the present pope’s remarks have indicated, Newman’s thought was the main engine for that.

Best,
Mike

16 12 2010
Arturo Vasquez

“He may mean something along the line of ‘introducing change into the way we perceive the Divine’…”

Correct. When we speak the Divine, is human perception ever excluded? Is there a way to speak where there is no human perception?

16 12 2010
Arturo Vasquez

Lots of issues raised here, but I will only answer the question of why I remain Catholic. But I turn the question on its head: why should I cease to remain Catholic? The entire project of religious anthropological phenomenology that I started a few years ago puts that question to me as the most interesting one to answer. For the vast majority of religious history, one’s beliefs were always communal. That is, not only was what you believed determined by power (“cuius regio eius religio”), but it was determined by where you were born, what your kin believed, how that belief related to everyday life, and so forth. In the history of religion, we see the rise of proselytism and religions based on individual assent (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism), but the story of these is that quickly they too were joined to questions of kinship, geography, and power. Should one stay honest and say that “I believe because my ancestors believe” is not being faithful to the original message of Christ/Mohammed/Buddha, or does one try to “work it out” so to speak, knowing full well that we don’t spring spontaneously from Zeus’ head, but are always conditioned by cultural, kinship, and political issues? I think the true agnostics are not those who renounce a religion because they find they can’t believe in it, but the ones who find life so absurd and inexplicable on one level that they look at their ancestral creed and say, “sure, why not?” I think that 99% of the time, when the modern person asks, “what should I believe”, he has already answered his own question prior to posing it.

That being said, I don’t see myself essentially that far off from mainstream Catholicism, and my problems with it are far too abstract or complex for someone to come along and say, “Arturo, you’re a heretic and outside the Church”. If there were a heresy trial of yours truly, I am convinced that there would be a hung jury at the end of it. That is mainly because in terms of sexual morality issues (the great bête noire of modern Catholicism) I agree with the Church only insofar that I have some attitudes attributable to my latent Platonism or Stoicism. In terms of ecumenism, I think it is intellectually dishonest to think that all religions can move in the same direction, and so forth. In other words, I often agree with Catholicism, but not necessarily for the reasons that a “normal Catholic” (if such a thing exists) should.

That all being said, I do suspect that Catholicism is the last great ancient system, a border if you will, between ancient and modern attitudes towards the divine. I think it is the only religion in the modern Western world that merits the name, in that it tries to mix universality and systematic rigor with plurality and local manifestations of the supernatural. Do I think it works? No. But it is still a noble try. As I have written above, I am pessimistic to the point that I think the whole thing is on the verge of collapse, at least a major section of it. I don’t think that Catholicism has ever understood its true nature, and has had to fill the gap with political and physical coercion. But one could also say that its strength is in this fundamental misunderstanding of itself. It wants to think that every historical contingency that arises is the result of rational Providence, when in reality it is just dumb luck or the manifestation of the universal principle that “shit happens”. It also would like to think that all of its local accoutrements are somehow flawless outgrowths of some sublime “incarnational principle”. They are not. In the end, if the modern person is to believe on any real level, he must do so in spite of the difficulties involved. After all, we only live less than a century if we are lucky, and what is that in the ebb and flow of the cosmic drama?

16 12 2010
Henry Karlson

Newman didn’t even introduce the idea of the “manifestation and apprehension of the deposit of divine revelation develops over time.” One could find many examples of this idea before him (some orthodox, some not). Joseph de Maistre, for example, was an immediate source for Newman. Nicholas of Cusa at least had the notion in relation to liturgy.

Newman, I would say, was the one who got it popular and brought it up in a time when the common person could appreciate it because of changes in society from evolution, Hegel, Marx et. al.

16 12 2010
Stanislaus

By terming God as the ‘radically contingent’, are you asserting that the notion of God has no referent, but not because there is no entity for it to refer to, but rather because it is a placeholder for absolute non-identity, where absolute non-identity would be that whatever entities and events are implicated in its use, there is nothing to ground their identity other than a process by which a people constitutes itself as having a past in attempting to comprehend itself. This in turn would mean that the notion of the Christian God provides a way out of finding any absolute, any meaning grounded in anything non-human, anything that isn’t part of this process of constituting oneself as historical. Am I getting you right?

But then, if you accept this line of thinking, then there is still the matter of whether you can simply put ontotheological notions behind you, realizing that ‘we are on our own,’ a la Zizek, or locating the divine in the phenomenologically irreducible ‘call of the other,’ a la Derrida as channeled by Caputo. Either way, it’s a translation of ontotheological notions into action, eliminating any talk of entering some sort of state of incommunicable bliss involved in contemplating the holy in favor of responding to whatever it is that history, that justice, calls you to. The Caputo/Derrida notion still retains a place for a positive notion of divine revelation, though a very weak one. So where do you locate the holy or have all the gods taken flight? Does anything resist the processes outlined by dialectical materialism? If nothing does, than how can you remain Catholic? (I’m curious myself, I’m trying to find excuses to cling to my Catholicism)

16 12 2010
Turmarion

I used to make the intellectual mistake of thinking that the Hegelian dialectic, in the triad “thesis-antithesis-synthesis”, was prone to the worst form of institutional crony idealism. <b<The position of the current hegemonic institution is the teleological resting point toward which all of history is driven.

But Hegel himself was somewhat inclined towards this error, wasn’t he?

My problem with Hegel is the same one I have with most 19th Century philosophers (and many scientists, sociologists, etc. of that era)–that is, he wants to come up with a nice little system and then impose it on reality with a sort of Procrustean disregard for the actual facts on the ground (historical, anthropological, or otherwise). Freud is notoriously bad for doing this, for example (his egregiously bad history and anthropology in Civilization and Its Discontents is a good and mercifully short example), and IMO Marx, when he strayed from his profound and near-prophetic description of capitalism into history and philosophy was equally bad.

Of course, this gets back the the contingent vs the Ideal, as you’ve discussed much of late, and as I mentioned in more detail in my comment on your last post.

On the other hand, I’d say to Michael that when Arturo says, “Thus, once one has introduced the idea of change into the realm of the Divine, the Divine is not somehow salvaged from the contingent, as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, but the Divine becomes the radical contingent,” I’m not completely sure that by speaking of “introducing change into the realm of the Divine” he means that the Divine changes. He may mean something along the line of “introducing change into the way we perceive the Divine”; though I’m not completely sure on this. Arturo, wanna help us out?

The Truth is the void that drives the process forward but is never obtained precisely because it is void.

While I’m at it, Arturo, this is a fascinating statement that I’d love to see you unpack, if you have the time and inclination to do so. It sounds a little like Eckhart’s “God above God” or the Buddhist shunyata; though of course I could be completely wrong.

In any case, I agree that were he alive today, Newman would be even more of a persona non grata than he was during most of his career during his life. I also think that those who give a fig about his sexuality one way or the other really need to get a life

16 12 2010
Michael Liccione

How has Newman introduced change, never mind Hegelian dialectic, into “the Divine?” I’ve heard that rather blithe claim before, but I find no evidence that he would have bought it. Newman believed that God in se is immutable. What he would have said about your use of ‘the Divine’, I leave to speculation.

What Newman did introduce, thank God, was the idea that the manifestation and apprehension of the deposit of divine revelation develops over time. If he known about encoded DNA, he would almost certainly have welcomed and employed it as an analogy. At any rate, it would help illustrate that he didn’t believe that the kind of change he recognized entails subtraction from or addition to said deposit, any more than the development of an organism adds any genetic information to what it started with. Still less did Newman believe that “Truth” is a “void” or that “change is the very object of belief itself, not an obstacle to it.”

Really, where do you get this stuff?

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