18 September 2010

RELATIVIZING NEWMAN: A BRIEF ANALYSIS

Kris Dmytrenko, blogger at Salt + Blight TV, seems to be confused about Cardinal Newman. Apparently, Newman is "undefined". He writes this:
Who really is Cardinal John Henry Newman?... I’ve learned that it’s not an easy question...Those who try to keep up with Catholic opinion must feel besieged by the dozens of commentaries about Newman... A consensus has emerged that Newman truly is Blessed, as he will be proclaimed in Birmingham, England this Sunday. Yet so much ink has been spilt on the question of whether Newman’s legacy belongs to the Church’s traditionalists or its reformers. Pundits from both camps find evidence to claim him as one of their own. Instead of enjoying Newman’s broad appeal, the ideologues will spoil their weekend, fuming over the thought of their opponents applauding the beatification. The rest of us can simply rejoice...
So for this analysis let us abstract the main components: (1) Newman is "undefined", (2) both "traditionalists" and "reformers" war over Newman's legacy, (3) Newman, rather, has "broad appeal" and, instead (4) we should "simply rejoice" over his beatification.

Thus we proceed...

Component 1. @"undefined": If Newman's views (as expressed in his writings) and life (as given by witness testimony), including the socio-religious implications thereof... if these are indefinable or, more specifically, unknowable, then how would it even been possible for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to decide as to whether or not to proceed with his cause for sainthood? It would be impossible. What sources of information would be employed? Should there be a democratic vote by millions of Catholics worldwide? Are extraneous parties, including Mr. Dmytrenko, more qualified to pronounce judgment? No. Are they more entitled to do so? No. Accordingly, it follows that Newman has indeed (and already) been properly defined by the qualified and traditional authoritative body responsible for effectuating an investigation.

Component 2. @"traditionalists" versus "reformers": Specificity and distinctions are necessitated at the outset. With "traditionalist" is also classified orthodox and/or "conservative" Catholics. By "reformers" is also meant liberal and/or dissenting Catholics. Which of the two is more commensurate with authentic Catholicism? Logic, reason, history and common sense all dictate that the former is reflective of authentic Catholicism. To be sure, even Newman affords confirmation: "I consider my entire life's work, both as an Anglican and a Catholic, to have been a battle against liberalism in matters of religion!" (H/T Catholic Culture) Moreover, His Holiness - as evidenced by the Summorum Pontificum - is redirecting the Catholic ship back to reverent liturgy, which prompts Protestantizing liberals to perform cartwheels. Pope Benedict XVI is also a big admirer of Newman's writings. He is currently in the United Kingdom for Newman's beatification when popes are not normally present.

Component 3. @"broad appeal": Lady Gaga, Karl Marx and Barack Obama have broad appeal. That does not make their views and lifestyles authentic or true. This ascription is a relatvization, effectively saying that neither "traditionalists" or "reformers" are correct on Cardinal Newman. In this context, the phrase is a vague abstraction that disallows judgement, of right or wrong, of truth or error, almost a denial of reason and even a negation of how the Holy Spirit works in the Church.

Component 4. @"simply rejoice". Ignorance is bliss, it seems.

RECOMMENDATIONS: "Who really is Cardinal John Henry Newman?", Mr. Dmytrenko asks. Well, perhaps it is time for him to get back to the drawing board. Do not totally rely, as stated above, on "opinion". It's always good to start at original sources. Here are some suggestions of where to start: (1) An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, (2) Arians of the Fourth Century, (3) Idea of a University, (4) An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent and (5) Apologia pro Vita Sua. Even no need to purchase books. All are available online. LINK


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6 comments:

Al said...

my initial reaction upon reading Dmytrenko's rant was to gag. Upon rereading it was pass the aspirin (ibuprofin, tylenol etc.) he is giving me a headache.

I won't add to what you said on certain points as there is no need to. But I will add 2 of my own.

1. Talking about Conrad Black he adds in parenthesis "While he’s at it, he pens glowing praise for Pope Benedict XVI, ranking him as “one of the greatest intellects who has held that office in several centuries.”" For some reason that strikes me as a left-handed comment. Dmytrenko seems to be slamming the Pope as well as Black for thinking so highly of the Pope.

2. As for Tony Blair's comments, I lost all respect for his version of Catholicism a long time ago. Blair clearly shows his ignorance about how 1 becomes a Doctor of the Church. & it isn't by fiat by Tony Blair. Of course there is still time to declare Newman a Doctor of the Church. But it cannot take place until Newman is 1st declared a saint. Then somewhere down the road a Pope can declare Newman a Doctor of the Church. there is no time limit like Blair seems to be implying.

& despite claims to the contrary, Dmytrenko makes it clear which way he leans in the arguement. & it clearly isn't toward orthodoxy as Newman would. IMHO he is trying to do the very thing he claims to be decrying, hijack Newman for his own purposes.

Marco said...

Salt and Light to a certain degree, conforms to the CCCB,..nuff said!

TH2 said...

Al - No.1: That was my impression too; No.2; Strange as it seems, Blair became a disappointing figure after he converted.

Marco - Good catch. You are correct, though I would elevate that "certain degree" to a higher percentage. Fr. Rosica is certainly buddies with the bishops. Will have more on S+L in future.

Al said...

Have to add this comment os Salt + Light TV for what it is worth: "Salt is good. But if the salt shall lose its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither profitable for the land nor for the dunghill, but shall be cast out." Luke 14:34-35 & I could go on about hiding your light. . .

TH2 said...

Hit the nail right on the head.

TS said...

Well I don't know who Dmytrenko is, but I can tell you from experience you cannot hold a job with the "professional class" of Catholics in the Catholic media or the chanceries unless you show mild sympathy for unsound doctrine and disdain for tradition.

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