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Sunday, April 24, 2005

The transcendence of criticism.

A great letter to the editor in today's Boston Globe, by a retired United Methodist minister:

In the early 1970s, I was concerned about some of the same issues as Pope Benedict XVI when I began work on a thesis entitled, "The Concept of Transcendence in the Christian/Marxist Dialogue." My concern was that Marxists and Christians have a check on their drift into "relativism," and a basis from which to challenge the idolatries of Stalinism, Nazism, and much of Christian fundamentalism, and future temptations.

The new occupant of Peter's Chair does not seem to realize that the opposite of a "dictatorship of relativism" can be the idolatry of assuming that one church, one person (an illusion to papal infallibility), or one government can have the truth in hand, and thus speak for truth without danger of error.

I am as concerned that there be self-criticism in the Roman Church (and in those Protestant churches that have sold their souls to the religious right) that acts as a check on the sort of fanaticism that ends in the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the McCarthyism of the House Un-American Activities Committee, or a scientism that assumes that all human problems can be solved by scientific method.

In our time we desperately need leadership that will open us to greater truth, not anchor us to the idolatries of the past. What we need is an idea of Transcendence that reminds us that all of us — individuals, churches, governments — are finite, not infinite. We are not God. We do not need a renewed idolatry of the sort that many of us hoped had been put to rest by Vatican II and Pope John XXIII.

Rev. James A. Stillman
Jamaica Plain

The false choice that many religious conservatives want us all to embrace — that you either accept the absolute authority of some institution, doctrine, person, or class, or allow human civilization to veer off into the chaos of relativistic individualism — needs to be challenged again and again. When a person, institution, or doctrine claims to be above criticism, beware: You've just found an idol, a false god.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 24 April 2005 at 12:44 PM

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April 24, 2005 09:38 PM | Permalink for this comment

I agree, but the funny thing is that the image being put forth by supporters of Pope Benedict is that he is a humble man. If he is humble, it may be in the sense that he has submitted his own intelligence to the authority of Church tradition. It actually takes a little egoism (certainly Martin Luther needed a lot of egoism) to defy tradition and think for yourself.

I've seen this with my own rabbi back home. When he came to a passage in a holy text which he didn't understand (sometimes because it was absurd) he rejected his own intelligence and said that if one of the greats of Jewish tradition said it, it must be right, and simply beyond his ability to understand it.

Similarly, even though Benedict is clealy whip-smart, he defers to the authority of tradition. This leads to a tradition on auto-pilot.

rodney johnson- M&M:

April 25, 2005 02:27 AM | Permalink for this comment

I see and hear all kinds of funny conditions, yes I know the route in which you see is limited as the only view, or a view that is manipulated into a condition of a way to see and hear.
And God states nor other Gods including the golden calf, yet at church services they like to see the golden calf on thier serving trays.
You can not condition one, without the other.
The church alone can not survive just on God, But does so at the hand of man.
Let God do the guilding of man, any man.
For we can not love our brother with out condition
and we can not love God.

If we condition Pope John XXIII with belief, we condition are selves and Pope John XXIII can not tell us where we need to be. (universal saying)

If we condition God with belief, we condition are selves and God can not tell where we need to be.

Chaos is God's playground, it is where God creates
in subquantum, man does not create, only God has the recipie for creation, man can only manipulate
when a man claims to create, he makes himself into God. The ability of God. A faultisy of illision.

The Spirit energy of man is infinity, Gods spirit energy is infinity.
Energy can not be created or destroyed, by man.
Energy can transfer with out loss into another form of energy, with out loss through efficiency.
Quantum thermo dynamics
Conditions of manipulation into experiences, from the reality of perciving of preception through the 5 senses, God is above and beyond the 5 senses.


April 25, 2005 01:43 PM | Permalink for this comment

All of us need to be more tolerant and we need to examine ourselves even as we criticize other people. I believe that no one is right all of the time, but sometimes we forget that fact. We judge yet do not want to be judged. The truth is the truth regardless of who expounds it !

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