Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beatification of Rosmini: wonders never cease

Sandro Magister, "Blessed Liberty: The Posthumous Miracle of Antonio Rosmini" (www.chiesa, November 12, 2007), writes:
ROMA, November 12, 2007 – A beatification ceremony is approaching that is a miracle in its own right: the beatification of the priest and philosopher Antonio Rosmini.

It's a miracle because just six years ago, the new blessed was still under a condemnation issued in 1887 by the congregation of the Holy Office, against 40 propositions drawn from his writings.
Magister remarks: "The philosopher Dario Antiseri paints the portrait of this teacher of a form of liberalism open to religion." Rosmini fast tracked ahead of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman?

Sandro Magister's listmania

For the latest updating of Sandro Magister's catalog of informative links on churches, religions, and sects -- including an archive of 20,000 texts of the magisterium and fathers of the Church -- see "A list of sites on Churches and religions" (www.chiesa, November 22, 2007).

Theology position (Catholic)

PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY (Assistant, Associate, or Full) Starting September 2008

Wyoming Catholic College seeks to hire a Professor of Theology. The applicant must have already completed a doctorate in theology and be capable of teaching the full range of theology courses (see revised Catalog, pp. 56–66).

He is expected to be both proficient in and desirous of teaching theology from a Thomistic perspective, in full fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. He must be deeply conversant with Sacred Scripture and able to relate moral and dogmatic theology to Scripture and vice versa. The applicant should also be conversant with the perennial philosophy (philosophia perennis) and ideally with the Latin language.

Especially desired is a candidate who has received a traditional liberal arts education that enables him to teach the discipline of theology with a sympathetic and intelligent awareness of the principles, methods, and great books of other disciplines. The applicant must deeply understand and agree with the vision and mission of Wyoming Catholic College as articulated in the Philosophical Vision Statement, the Catalog, and other printed materials (available upon request). This understanding and agreement must be manifested in the letter of intent.

The professor is required to teach a course load of 12 hours per week in theology as well as in other disciplines he is competent to teach, and to assist in some administrative duties. Faculty at WCC are committed to teaching and serving students as their first and foremost responsibility. At the beginning of each academic year, all Catholic faculty make a profession of faith and take the oath of fidelity. Of course, prior to joining the faculty, a mandatum from the Bishop of Cheyenne must be requested and received by theologians.

Rank and salary are commensurate to teaching experience; salary and benefits are competitive.

A letter of intent with curriculum vitae should be sent to Dr. John R. Mortensen, Wyoming Catholic College, P.O. Box 750, Lander, WY 82520, or by email to

[Hat tip to E.E.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

TLM at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

Friends of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the following is the schedule for the remaining Masses of the Year celebrated by Fr. Samuel F. Weber (pictured right) at Davis Chapel at Wake Forest University:
  • Sunday, 25 Nov: Mass at 1:30pm; Propers for the last Sunday after Pentecost
  • Friday, 30 Nov: Mass at 11am; Propers for the Feast of St. Andrew
  • Saturday, 01 December: Mass at 11am; Propers of Propers for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass Salve Sancta Parens
  • Sunday, 02 December: Mass at 1:30pm; Propers for the First Sunday in Advent (start of the 2008 liturgical year)
You are also reminded of the following:
  1. There are no kneelers in Davis Chapel, you may wish to bring something to kneel upon.
  2. If you have a Missal for the Mass of Bl. John XXIII, bring it.
  3. If you need help with directions and parking, or if you have any other questions, email me
  4. And spread the word. Numbers are important.
Attendance is reportedly growing, with a small choir now practicing for a High Mass on 20 Jan 2008 at Davis Chapel using the book of Rossini Propers. Father Weber is reportedly making copies of parts available, and is actively involved in assisting in the choir in learning its parts -- the introit, gradual, offertory, etc. There seems to be a great deal of enthusiasm among the participants. If you're in the vicinity, make a point of visiting Davis Chapel for Sunday Mass.

I've had the privilege of meeting Fr. Weber when he came to speak at the annual Aquinas-Luther Conference at Lenoir-Rhyne College. A few of you may also remember that he was a presenter at the conference on Fellowship of Catholic Scholar's 29th Annual Convention in Kansas City in 2006 on the topic, "Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Reform of the Liturgy." Fr. Weber led conference participants in learning to chant some antiphonal plainsong Mass settings that he had arranged and printed for the occasion in a booklet for us entitled, Chants for the Order of Mass (2006) ("Back from Kansas City ..." Musings, September 16, 2006). Needless to say, Fr. Weber understands the meaning of good liturgy.

[Hat tip to S.C.]

Does ecumenism have a future?

Avery Cardinal Dulles, in "Saving Ecumenism from Itself" (First Things, December 2007), writes:
For some years now, I have felt that the method of convergence, which seeks to harmonize the doctrines of each ecclesial tradition on the basis of shared sources and methods, has nearly exhausted its potential. It has served well in the past and may still be useful, especially among groups that have hitherto been isolated from the conversation. But to surmount the remaining barriers we need a different method, one that invites a deeper conversion on the part of the churches themselves. I have therefore been urging an ecumenism of mutual enrichment by means of testimony. This proposal corresponds closely, I believe, with John Paul II’s idea of seeking the fullness of truth by means of an “exchange of gifts.”

There are not many examples of the kind of ecumenical encounter I am envisaging, but one comes to my mind. In January 2006, the theology department at Durham University hosted at Ushaw College, a neighboring Catholic seminary, an international conference of Catholics in conversation with Orthodox, Anglicans, and Methodists. Conducting an experiment in what the conference called “receptive ecumenism,” the speakers were asked to discuss what they could find in their own traditions that might be acceptable to the Catholic Church without detriment to its identity. The Catholic participants, including Cardinal Kasper, were asked to evaluate the suggestions and judge their practical feasibility. The discussion, I am told, was informal and did not lead to any set of agreed conclusions.

Unlike some recent models of dialogue, ecumenism of this style leaves the participants free to draw on their own normative sources and does not constrain them to bracket or minimize what is specific to themselves. Far from being embarrassed by their own distinctive doctrines and practices, each partner should feel privileged to be able to contribute something positive that the ­others still lack.

This does not mean, of course, that the churches should be uncritical of themselves or others. Where they express, or hear others expressing, singular beliefs, they should carefully examine the grounds for such views. But that is different from abdicating or suppressing their special convictions as a matter of ­principle.

With this mentality, Catholics would want to hear from the churches of the Reformation the reasons they have for speaking as they do of Christ alone, Scripture alone, grace alone, and faith alone, while Catholics tend to speak of Christ and the Church, Scripture and tradition, grace and cooperation, faith and works. We would want to learn from them how to make better use of the laity as sharers in the priesthood of the whole People of God. We would want to hear from evangelicals about their experience of conversion and from Pentecostals about perceiving the free action of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The Orthodox would have much to tell about liturgical piety, holy tradition, sacred images, and synodical styles of polity. We would not want any of these distinctive endowments of other ecclesial families to be muted or shunted aside for the sake of having shared premises or an agreed method.

Conversely, Catholics would not hesitate to go into the dialogue with the full panoply of beliefs, sustained by our own methods of certifying the truth of revelation. We are not ashamed of our reliance on tradition, the liturgy, the sense of the faithful, and our confidence in the judgment of the Magisterium.

* * * * * * *

John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint expressed a desire to work with leaders and theologians of other churches in seeking ways for the Petrine office to be exercised such that it could be beneficial to them as well as to Catholics. These other churches and communities will have to consider the ways in which they could receive the primatial ministry of the bishop of Rome. A dialogue on this subject is already underway. For some communities, perhaps, the papacy will be the final piece by which to complete the jigsaw puzzle of Christian unity.

Each party will engage in ecumenical dialogue with its own presuppositions and convictions. As a Roman Catholic, I would make use of the methods by which my church derives its distinctive doctrines. I would also expect that any reunion to which Catholics can be a party would have to include as part of the settlement the Catholic dogmas, perhaps reinterpreted in ways that we do not now foresee. Other churches and ecclesial communities will have their own expectations. But all must be open to possible conversion. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us, as Vatican II recommended, “without obstructing the ways of divine Providence and without prejudging the future inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

* * * * * * *

The process of growth through mutual attestation will probably never reach its final consummation within historical time, but it can bring palpable results. It can lead the churches to emerge progressively from their present isolation into something more like a harmonious chorus. Enriched by the gifts of others, they can hope to raise their voices together in a single hymn to the glory of the triune God. The result to be sought is unity in diversity.

True progress in ecumenism requires obedience to the Holy Spirit. Vatican II rightly identified spiritual ecumenism as the soul of the ecumenical movement. It defined spiritual ecumenism as a change of heart and holiness of life, together with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians. We must pray to God to overcome our deafness and open our ears to what the Spirit is saying to the churches, including our own. No mutual rapprochement can be of any value unless it is also a closer approach to Christ the Lord of the Church. We must ask for the grace to say only what the Spirit bids us say and to hear all that he is telling us through the other.
Then we may hope that, by accommodating what other communities are trying to tell us, we may be enriched with new and precious gifts. By accepting the full riches of Christ we lose nothing except our errors and defects. What we gain is the greatest gift of all: a deeper share in the truth of Christ, who said of himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
Cardinal Dulles says some unsettling things here that are bound to provoke controversy and form a sort of counter-point to our recent post on "The rehabilitation of Romano Amerio" (Musings, November 19, 2007). I invite your analysis and commentary.

It was reported in mid-October that Cardinal Dulles was suffering some kind of neurological disorder that severely impaired his speech. Recently I heard his name mentioned during the General Intercessions at a week day Mass, though I am not aware of any more recent details. Perhaps someone can fill us in. In any case, we solicit your prayers for Cardinal Dulles.

[Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., holds the Laurence J. McGinley Chair in Religion and Society at Fordham University. This First Things essay is adapted from a lecture delivered at the National Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Conference at Oberlin, Ohio.]

[Hat tip to J.K.]

The rediscovery of von Hildebrand's legacy

Sue Ellin Browder, "‘Lost Treasure’: Catholic Colleges Recovering Von Hildebrand’s Philosophy" (National Catholic Register, November 4-10, 2007), writes:
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — John Henry Crosby is determined to revive interest in the thought of philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand.

First persuaded by von Hildebrand’s reasoned arguments for the necessity of beauty, Crosby soon was caught up by the story of the philosopher’s heroic fight against Nazism and communism and his suspense-filled flight to freedom. The notion of a “brave philosopher” willing to put his life on the line for the truth inspired him.

“I’ll be involved with this until the day I die,” said Crosby, 29.

His enthusiasm for von Hildebrand is shared by none other than Pope Benedict XVI. As a priest in Munich in the 1950s, Father Joseph Ratzinger attended one of the lectures von Hildebrand often gave on his summer visits to Europe. The subject was “beauty.”

“The joy and freshness of [von Hildebrand’s] understanding of Catholic doctrine were contagious,” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 2000 in the foreword to The Soul of a Lion, Alice’s von Hildebrand’s biography of her late husband.

Cardinal Ratzinger believed the “transcendent beauty of truth” that had captured von Hildebrand’s heart was the “same love for the beauty of truth” that later led him to embrace and defend the magisterium’s teaching on birth control. He did so in a small volume originally titled The Encyclical “Humanae Vitae:” An Essay on Birth Control and Catholic Conscience, reprinted by Sophia Institute Press as Love, Marriage and the Catholic Conscience (currently out of print).

Characterizing von Hildebrand as “a man captivated by the splendor of truth,” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: “I am personally convinced that, when, at some time in the future, the intellectual history of the Catholic Church is written, the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time.”

The Legacy Project

To ensure that all the philosopher’s works will be available in English, Crosby has worked with Alice von Hildebrand and others to set up the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project (

Last month, the Legacy Project brought together more than 150 scholars and devotees from around the world for a conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Scholars focused on von Hildebrand’s growing impact on Christian philosophy.
The philosopher’s impact is making itself felt, too, in university courses. At Steubenville the master of arts philosophy program is furthering von Hildebrand scholarship.

In support of the Legacy Project, Pope Benedict put through a $45,000 Papal Foundation grant to help fund the translation, publication and promotion of von Hilde-brand’s work.
That, my friends, is the substantial first half of the sizeable NCR article, which is well worth reading in its entirety. As a presenter at the recent von Hildebrand conference at Franciscan University and one who has discovered only relatively recently the philosophical breadth of the thinker, I heartily commend Mr. Crosby's Legacy Project to you.

[Hat tip to The Legacy Project Staff]

Update: November 24, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

The rehabilitation of Romano Amerio

Sandro Magister, "A Great Reunion: Romano Amerio and the Changes in the Catholic Church" (www.chiesa) writes:
ROMA, November 15, 2007 – Among the new developments at "L'Osservatore Romano," now directed by professor Giovanni Maria Vian, there is one that concerns a thinker of exceptional prominence in the Catholic culture of the twentieth century: Switzerland's Romano Amerio, who died in Lugano in 1997, at the age of 92.

In 1985, when Amerio published his masterpiece entitled "Iota unum. Studio delle variazioni della Chiesa cattolica nel secolo XX [Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century]," the newspaper of the Holy See scrapped the review of the book commissioned by the prefect of the Ambrosian Library at the time, Fr. Angelo Paredi. The review was judged as too favorable, and "L'Osservatore" chose to be silent about the book from then on. So even the Vatican authorities joined in the intolerant silence that everyone was heaping upon the book and its author.

Now "L'Osservatore Romano" has reversed course. It has decided, not to remain silent about Amerio, but to speak. And to speak well of him.
Summary: "Have the changes of the conciliar era affected the essence of Catholicism, or not? L'Osservatore Romano brings the great Swiss thinker back into vogue. And archbishop Agostino Marchetto demolishes the theses of his adversaries: the 'Bologna school' founded by Dossetti and Alberigo."

Philosophy position (Catholic)

BENEDICTINE COLLEGE, Atchison, KS. Philosophy: Asst. Prof., full-time, tenure-track, beginning Fall 2008. Ph.D. required. We are looking for a person with expertise in the philosophy of nature. (Select “Opening” at for more information.) Prior teaching experience in this area is strongly preferred. Candidates are also expected to teach courses in logic and ethics. Some undergraduate thesis supervision. Applicants must be supportive of the mission of a Catholic college, as outlined in Ex corde ecclesiae; demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to the Catholic philosophical tradition; and be dedicated to high quality liberal arts teaching at a residential college. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. In the letter of application, candidates should speak to their familiarity with the philosophy of nature and discuss its place in an undergraduate curriculum. Send a current CV, three letters of recommendation, and a letter of application to Dr. Jean Rioux, Chair, Philosophy Department, Benedictine College, Atchison, KS 66002-1499. Additional application materials may be requested.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Coming in a couple of weeks

Apologia pro blog sua

Southern exposure

Greetings from North Carolina. We left Detroit after my 9:00am class concluded at 10:30am on Thursday and drove to North Carolina to see the wife's folks. When we left Detroit, temperatures were comfortable -- around 60 degrees. When we reached Tennesee, we ran into snow. Go figure. Today in North Carolina we have freezing temperatures. Probably when we get back to Detroit, we'll find Fr. Dowling barbecuing ribs on his outside grill in cut offs and short sleeves. Global warming and all that, you know. At least in Detroit. Love and prayers ... Pertinaciously, PP

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Gary Wills fisked over abortion op-ed piece

Garry Wills' receives a handsome fisking for his recent L.A. Times Op-Ed article "Abortion isn't a religious issue," by Gregory Popcak, "Give Garry Wills that old-time religion" (The Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2007). Popcak says that Wills might just as well have begun his piece with the fairytale words "Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a man named Gary Wills....":
In his essay, Wills cherry-picks Thomas Aquinas' theology; employs a simplistically idiosyncratic interpretation of Scripture and massacres history, science and philosophy, all in a fevered attempt to assert that people of faith should kneel at the altar of secularism because, he argues, Christian opposition to abortion is a Johnny-come-lately moral position founded on little more than thin air and pious politics.

Oh, really.

Neither faith nor reason supports Wills' claims.
From this point, the skewered subject is rotated slowly, fat sizzling and flaming over the fire, as Popcak prepares his well-studied barbecue. A good read.

[Hat tip to E.E.]

Cum grano salus

Like most everything from that parish newsletter of the self-congratulatory northeastern liberal establishment, the New York Times, this article should be taken with a large grain of salt. Neela Banerjee's "Latin Mass Draws Interest After Easing of Restrictions" (New York Times, November 10, 2007) carries some hopeful anecdotes from young people curious about the old Mass, but also the typical counterpoint defeaters from the usual suspects.

[Hat tip to S. Feldmann]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The place of conversion in evangelization

In the Fall 2007 issue of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Kenneth D. Whitehead reviews Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith by Fr. C. John McCloskey, III, and Russell Shaw (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007):
This short but very readable and interesting book covers the always current question of conversion to the Catholic Faith -- a subject of particular interest today, perhaps, because of what the subtitle of this book calls "the crisis of faith." In today's world of galloping secularism, the faith is supposed to be more and more out-moded and irrelevant; and, indeed, large numbers of those who once adhered to it have now evidently abandoned it.
These large numbers, if Kenneth C. Jones' Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church since Vatican II (Oriens, 2003) is any indication, include large numbers of self-identified Catholics whose beliefs and morals are virtually indistinguishable from those of the secular world around them but are as likely as not to be indignantly taken aback if anyone should ever attempt to call them on it. Yet, the Catholic Faith remains true, the Catholic Church remains "the teacher of truth," as Vatican II affirmed (Dignitatis Humanae 14), and the top priority recent popes turns out to be the very thing mentioned in the subtitle of this book, namely, "evangelization." Whitehead writes:
The main purpose of Vatican Council II convoked by Blessed John XXIII ... was supposed to be nothing else but to equip the Church to bring the truths of the Church to bring the truths of the Catholic faith more effectively before the world. It was even thought at the time of the Council -- naively, as it turned out -- that the Catholic Church was on the verge of gaining large numbers of new adherents through the embrace of ecumenism. What instead became a virtual new era of dissent from, and disaffection with, Catholic truth was not at all foreseen. Sober experience has taught us since then, however, that evangelization is more likely to be brought about -- even in the expanding new Churches in Africa and Asia -- by the very old tried and true method of individual conversion than by any mass adherence to or amalgamation with the Church on the part of those outside her visible boundaries.
Conversion, of course, is primarily what this book is about. One of it authors, Father C. John McCloskey, is a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei, whom I had the privilege of meeting at Opus Dei's Catholic Information Center in Washington, DC, during a January 22nd March for Life several years ago. As Whitehead points out, while Fr. McCloskey would be the last person to claim credit for what only divine grace can effect, he is nevertheless well known today for having guided numerous converts into the Catholic Church, including such prominent figures as ex-abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson, economist and pundit Lawrence Kudlow, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, talk-radio personality Laura Ingraham, Publisher Alfred Regnery, and syndicated columnist Robert Novak. Those who know Fr. McCloskey know that he is a winsome and forthright person who often just simply comes out and asks people, as he does in this book, "Have you ever thought of becoming a Catholic?"

I know there have been some concerns among long-time readers of this blog about Catholic converts who have come into the Church inadequately prepared in various ways -- who may import basic (often various Protestant) misapprehensions about Christianity into their lives as Catholics, who may not be prepared for the level of dissonance they may encounter on the parish level when they arrive, who may end up in some cases leaving the Church and reverting to their erstwhile non-Catholic affiliations, etc. These are certainly legitimate concerns that I share, as our past posts on protestant reverts and cases such as that of Bill Cork illustrate.

Having said that, I would agree with Whitehead when he says that sober experience has taught us since Vatican II that evangelization is more likely to be brought about by the very old tried and true method of individual conversion than by any sort of mass cultural movement or amalgamation with the Church on the part of those outside her visible boundaries. Conversion is the inextricable heart of the evangelization that regularly figures among the highest priorities of our recent popes at the head of Christ's Church. That the subject is laid out in so orderly a fashion here, Whitehead suggests, is likely owed to the organizational gifts of co-author, Russell Shaw.

Of related interest:


"That comfortable liberal world was like a great tree with the trunk already sawed through but still standing with all the leaves quietly rustling, and with us dozing in its shade. We were inexpressibly surprised when it fell and half crushed us; some are talking of setting it up again safely on its severed roots.... The shell of Christendom has been broken, and the new spirit, that of an emancipated, atheistic, international democracy, is dragging us to an industrial socialist future."

-- George Santayana, Winds of Doctrine (1926)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Award winning vocations DVD

"Fishers of Men," an 18-minute DVD that is part of a vocational recruitment project launched last year aby the US episcopal conference, combines images, music, and testimonies, revealing many elements of the daily life of a priest. It was named winner of the Gabriel Award in California, given by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals.

400,000 Anglicans ask for full communion with Catholics

"Traditional Anglicans ask for full communion with Catholics" (TAC-VATICAN Oct-25-2007):
DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- Parishioners from three Church of Ireland parishes have joined traditional Anglicans from 12 other countries in requesting that the Catholic Church receive them into full communion.

If approved by the Vatican, the move would allow 400,000 traditional Anglicans worldwide to be admitted into the Catholic Church.


  • Pope Benedict XVI: "As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated ..." (emphasis added, Letter to the Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, 2007)

  • Fr Manlio Sodi, SDB (one of the most influential liturgists in Italy): "The last edition of the Tridentine Missal ... prepared under the pontificate of Blessed John XXIII, in 1962 ... was abrogated with the publication of the Missal of 1970. (emphasis added, The Missal of Pius V: Why the Latin Mass in the Third Millennium? -- a book given imprimatur on July 12, five days after Summorum Pontificum)
In other news, from reports being gathered by Una Voce from across the country, I gather that there is considerable resistance to the motu proprio at the parish level in a number of dioceses. Apparently a document is being prepared by the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' explaining some points of the motu proprio and offering further clarifications (See also "Directive on Summorum Pontificum confirmed," Rorate Caeli, October 12, 2007)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Jaded: Frank Schaeffer 35 years later

He looks tired, a trifle harrowed, maybe even a bit perturbed. But one can see traces of both his mother's beauty and his father's resolution in that face that we knew back in its less jaded teenage years at Les Mélèzes in Huémoz sur Ollon, Switzerland, back in the early seventies -- back when his good friend Os Guinness was barely in his thirties.
"Frank Schaeffer grew up in Switzerland's L'Abri, an idealistic community founded by his parents, the American evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer. By the time he was 19, his parents had achieved global fame as best-selling authors and speakers, l'Abri had become a mecca for spiritual seekers worldwide — from Barbara Bush to Timothy Leary — and Frank had joined his father on the evangelical circuit. By the age of 23, he had directed two multi-part religious documentaries and had helped instigate the marriage between the American evangelical community and the anti-abortion movement. But as he spoke before thousands in arenas around America, published his own evangelical bestseller, and worked with such figures as Pat Robertson, Jack Kemp, Jerry Falwell, and Dr. James Dobson, Schaeffer felt alienated, precipitating his own crisis of faith and eventually resulting in his departure."
"Departure" may not be quite the right word, if one means an abandonment of his faith, because in a candid interview with John W. Whitehead, "Crazy for God: An Interview with Frank Schaeffer" (Oldspeak, The Rutherford Institute, November 3, 2007), Schaeffer states that he still believes in God and in the unique centrality of the teachings of Christ. Yet that is how the editorial description reads of the new book Frank Schaeffer has just written, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back (Carroll & Graf, 2007). But if by "departure" one means that he has turned jaded about the world of the religious right with which he was previously associated, then that would be true. Here's a case in point:
"The public image of the leaders of the religious right I met with so many times also contrasted with who they really were. In public, they maintained an image that was usually quite smooth. In private, they ranged from unreconstructed bigot reactionaries like Jerry Falwell, to Dr. Dobson, the most power-hungry and ambitious person I have ever met, to Billy Graham, a very weird man indeed who lived an oddly sheltered life in a celebrity/ministry cocoon, to Pat Robertson, who would have had a hard time finding work in any job where hearing voices is not a requirement." (Crazy for God)
I doubt Frank would remember me, although (with one of my sons) I've visited his oldest sister and her family in Huémoz in the mid-1990s -- long after their father's passing in 1984. I've always been a bit saddened by the need he felt to air the family laundry in public. His criticisms of his parents at times seem overly harsh and untoward. On the other hand, I have some sense that much of the junior Schaeffer's angst is the somewhat predictable result of growing up half-neglected in the shadow of near-celebrity parents. Notwithstanding their common human shortcomings, Frank's parents were in many ways great human beings. Both of them bore a shining testament to the truth of the Christian Faith to a generation of lost and confused misfits. Many found their way to Christ at L'Abri. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen quoted Francis A. Schaeffer, Sr. in an interview he gave in the Evangelical magazine Christianity Today before he passed away. The irony is that now Frank Schaeffer in some ways seems just a bit like one of those lost and confused misfits of the Alan Ginsberg generation who used to come staggering into the L'Abri community looking for answers.

It is not hard for me, also the son of missionary parents, to empathize to some extent with the struggle for identity that the junior Schaeffer has experienced over the last three-and-a-half decades. It has been an undertaking that has led him down diverse paths socially, politically, and religiously, leading him out of Evangelicalism into Eastern Orthodoxy -- and whither, God only knows. Many of us knew his father much better than we knew him, even though we may have appreciated some of the work the junior Schaeffer did both in his films and books over the years. I enjoyed in particular his hilariously amusing, if slightly acerbic, autobiographical novel, Portofino (Macmillan, 1992; rpt. Carroll & Graf, 2004). Others of his books, like Dancing Alone: The Quest for Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religion (Regina Orthodox Press, 2002), sounded a disturbingly shrill note (see my review here), declaring that "Protestant theologians are the fathers of deconstruction," tracing pro-abortion views back to Zwingli's view of the Eucharist as mere symbol, and making him come across like a bit of a loose canon. Here, in his latest book, he sounds a bit like he looks: tired, jaded, and still a bit angry. God love you, Frank.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Friday, November 02, 2007

Passing the test . . .

A Georgia State Trooper pulled a car over on I-95 about 2 miles south of the Georgia/South Carolina state line.

When the Trooper asked the driver why he was speeding, the driver answered that he was a magician and a juggler and he was on his way to Savanah to do a show that night at the Shrine Circus and didn't want to be late..

The Trooper told the driver he was fascinated by juggling, and if the driver would do a little juggling for him then he wouldn't give him a ticket.

The driver told the Trooper that he had sent all of his equipment on ahead and didn't have anything to juggle.

The Trooper told him that he had some flares in the trunk of his patrol car and asked if he could juggle them.

The juggler stated that he could, so the Trooper got three flares, lit them and handed them to the juggler.

While the man was doing his juggling act, a car pulled in behind the patrol car.

A drunk, good old boy, from West Virginia, got out! and watched the performance briefly.

He then went over to the patrol car, opened the rear door and got in.

The Trooper observed him doing this and went over to the patrol car, opened the door and asked the drunk what he thought he was doing.

The drunk replied, "You might as well take my butt to jail, cause there aint no way I can pass that test."